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Friday, May 22, 2015

Favorite things from Trader Joe's

I love Trader Joe's.  And when I went to the store for this blog, I started throwing things in my cart because everything looked so good, I just HAD to include them!  I love that anything I get will be made with natural ingredients, not tested on animals, and no chemicals.  But I had to stop myself.  I know everything there will be of high quality, but there are the things I put on my list and specifically search out, not just looks good as Im passing by.  Here are some of my favorite products from Trader Joe's (In no particular order):

Coconut Oil

Ok, so I know I included this in the "favorite things from Costo" list too, but for different reasons.  At  Costco, you can get a large quantity at a great price, perfect for everything I use it for - smoothies, lotion, eye makeup remover, washing my face, cuticle softener, and more!  But I love the taste of TJ's coconut oil!  When I first found coconut oil, I would pull out the TJ jar and just eat a scoop with a spoon.  I craved it!  I imagine you probably won't go this far, but brand does matter!  And BONUS - it comes in spray form!

Frozen Brown Rice (& the White Rice)

I hate making rice on the stove.  I don't know why.  This rice is frozen, not instant, so I still feel good about the quality.  It comes out perfect every time.

Microwave meal:  Shells with Brie & Asparagus

They have some really good frozen meals.  The following three are pretty much my go-to.  The shells have a big chunk of brie on top that melts into yumminess in the microwave.

Microwave meal:  Fusilli with Vegetables & Basil Pesto

Fresh tomatoes and peppers and pasta with fresh pesto.

Trader Ming's Wonton Soup

This soup is so fresh and delicious.  The wontons are light, not like bricks, and the carrots, snap peas, and all the veggies are so fresh you would think someone made this in their kitchen right before serving it to you!  

Peanut Butter

All natural - just peanuts and a little bit of salt.  I like making my own peanut butter in my Vitamix, but when I don't, this is the PB I keep on hand.

Tartar Sauce

Im a weirdo and I love fish sticks.  Which require tartar sauce.  And this stuff is awesome and not full of gross chemicals.

Organic Mayonnaise

Eggs.  Go organic.  Nuff said.

Lemongrass Chicken Stix

Awesome.  Really really awesome.  I make a little dip with soy sauce, dijon mustard, shredded ginger, and sesame oil.  Throw some sesame seeds in there if you have them!

Chocolate Raspberry Sticks

I don't usually like sweets, but I like having something on hand.  This little box lasts me longer than it would probably last most people.  They are flavorful little raspberry gels covered in dark chocolate.

72% Cacao Dark Chocolate

I don't eat a lot of chocolate, but I like to have this around if I get a craving, which is usually like every other month.  I eat a square of this and Im satisfied.

Sesame Honey Cashews

These are so good I've given them as gifts.  They are a little pricey at $9.99 a bag, but they are cashews after all.  They are tasty and rich and honestly good for you!

Taco Shells

I love tacos.  I love tacos even more than I love fish sticks.  These are all natural corn and make me feel a little bit less guilty.

Instant Miso Soup

I don't know why I bought these in the first place, but Im glad I did!  They make a good bowl of soup.  They include dried tofu and green onion for you purists.  It is a rich soup full of flavor, and great if you get a chill.

Island Soyaki Marinade & Sauce

Yowza!  This is good stuff.  I marinate chicken overnight and grill it and it's sooooo good.  It can be used to marinate chicken, beef, shrimp, kabobs, or used as a sauce over any meat or veggies.


Have you ever had macarons?  They are divine.  Not the coconut MACAROONS.  They are pillows of a cookie with a filling.  Just trust me and try them.  They are just as good as any bakery.

Fruit Preserves

All of their preserves are super fresh.  They are just fruit, pectin, and a bit of sugar.  Full of large fruit, you will swear it's homemade.

Kalamata Extra Virgin Olive Oil

They have several types of olive oil, and I'll be honest, I don't know the difference, but maybe you will.  There are greek and italian oils, of various price range.  I like that it's green, and fresh, and tastes good.

Speculoos:  Crunchy Cookie Butter

It's like creamy peanut butter.  But its tastes like cookies instead of peanuts.  It's weird and really delicious.  Put it on graham crackers, fruit, ice cream, or just on a spoon.

Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

Ok, highly indulgent, and probably won't be purchased for my every day breakfast, and it didn't last me more than a day, but yum.

Salted Caramel Sauce

Sorry I don't have a picture.  I accidentally deleted it.  And ate the rest of the jar.  Im not a sweets lover, but I love this on ice cream, or on a spoon.  Are you noticing this easy-access trend?

Charles Shaw Wine (two-buck chuck)

Technically it now costs $2.99, but worth every penny.  This award winning budget wine was what made Trader Joe's famous before eating healthy and organic was cool.  They have a variety of options  and I've never had a bad one.  Buy the case for under $50.

Although the don't have a large section of soaps and body products, these are a few of my necessary products:

Lemon Kitchen Hand Soap

All natural and smells yummy

Moisturizing Cream Shave

It takes a little bit used to using a cream and not a foam, but it's worth it.  My skin is always so soft, and I like using less chemicals.

Spa Shampoo

No, this doesn't smell like Paul Mitchell, and there are probably other shampoos you would buy specifically for the scent, but I add my own essential oils and Im good to go.  I keep two mixes on hand - rosemary mint & lavender 

And of course there's just really cool stuff at TJs.  I didn't buy these, but I just wanted to show that you can get some really gourmet goods.

Peace.  Love.  Serene.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

It's the Spring Issue!

Oh MAN!  What a great spring!  We've had ridiculously warm days early on, and then a whole bunch of rain, so when I came home from my 6-day Florida vacation, the plants were crazy big!

But let me back up.  While it was starting to get warm here in Michigan, I was fortunate to take a longer-than-a-weekend trip to Florida.  We have a condo in St. Pete on the Gulf of Mexico with a beautiful view of the beach.  This picture doesn't accurately depict the perfect white sand.  We stayed for 6 days and I realized how important those extra days were for relaxation.  When its a long weekend, it's almost time to go home by the time you get there!  We had no immediate plans, and home was so many days away.  It was such a great break from reality!

Now back to the garden.  It's always so great to see that FIRST flower popping through.  Even if it's cold out, it makes me KNOW that spring is on it's way.  I know I know that its inevitable, but with winter in Michigan, sometimes Im not so sure.  THIS was the first flower, the early Crocus, back on April 1st.

Followed by my tulips, including the ones from Holland.  Amazing.   And only a few daffodils.  I must have screwed them up by planting so many tulips.   

And this is my favorite kind of daffodil, with the lipstick, as I like to call it.

So I'm a perennial flower kind of girl.  I love watching them come up in the spring, creating more plants of themselves, the surprise of the flowers, the mourn of the flowers that suddenly didn't come up one year (RIP, Pam's choice foxglove!).  And I would like to say that it's because I don't want all the work of planting annuals every year, but I end up planting every year anyway.  Yes, some of them are perennials.  I literally have no room left in my garden beds!  (my flower guy at the farmer's market said, "You said that two weeks ago when you were buying plants!") But my favorite annuals are dahlias (the big pretty ones), gazenias, cosmos, hot lips (that's what my flower guy calls them - Im not sure what they're really called), and pansies.  I think it's because I like the variation of colors and the graphic element to them.

I wanted to share the spring fertilizer that I sprayed across my lawn and flowers.  I have found that they really like this mix, so I look forward to seeing them flourish:

1 bottle of beer
1 can of Sprite
1/2 cup mouthwash
1/2 cup ammonia
1/2 cup dish soap
Put in hose sprayer - spray early in the morning 

Sneak peak - the first iris has flowered, the rest of them are on their way, and the lilies are threatening to come out soon as well!  Next blog will have the GORGEOUS dahlias I bought this year as well.