How I rate these Trader Joe’s products

Let’s talk about this list. Eating Well put out this list of Trader Joe’s customers favorite products. And I must say I’m surprised.

Let’s go through these one by one. I haven’t tried them all, but I’ve tried a number of them and only a few on my list overlaps with this list.

1. Everything but the bagel seasoning
I would LOVE to know how people use this. A coworker tried the 30 day challenge and swore that this is what got her through, but I have tried it on a number of things and just don’t get it. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love everything bagels. But I think what I love MOST about them are the bagels.

2. Mandarin Orange Chicken
Now, I can’t speak to this personally. I have NOT tried this item and I will say when I bought it from my boyfriend the clerk was telling us how many times they restock this item in a day and it’s absurd. So it seemed promising. But the boyfriend, who LOVES wings, was just not impressed. He was very disappointed, which surprised me. I think it didn’t have any spice to it whatsoever was part of his complaint. Again—I did not try this item, so I have no opinion.

3. Cauliflower Gnocchi
Admittedly, I do not like gnocchi. It’s one of those things that I keep trying because everyone loves so much and it is just mushy and gross. But I love cauliflower, so I thought it might work. Well, it didn’t. Still just mush and not a good flavor.

4. Dark chocolate peanut butter cups
Now, this is the money maker. Yes. Yes. Yes. I love these so much and agree that this should be very high on everyone’s list. I can eat them all. Please hide them from me or offer five at a time, but please don’t leave the whole thing on my desk.

5. Plantain Chips
Have not tried, but certainly interested now. I love plantains in general, so this may be a good snack idea.

6. Nondairy Oat Beverage
I don’t believe I’ve tried this either, but am adding to my list.

7. Avocados
I’m avoiding avocados because of the whole cartel thing. They taste amazing, but this is a problem for me, so I have been avoiding them for the most part, although these come from California, so maybe they’re OK?
8. Unexpected CheddarHaven’t tried it.

9. Scented candles.
Yes, please. I love the honeycrisp apple and plan on buying more of these. Smells like fall and I love it!

I would add these to MY Trader Joe’s grocery list (Note that some are seasonal).

  • Trader Joe’s Winter Wake Up Tea
  • Trader Joe’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Coffee Beans
  • Trader Joe’s Rosewater Toner
  • Trader Joe’s Enrich Moisturizing Face Lotion SPF 15 For All Skin Types
  • Flowers & Christmas wreaths

WW Success!

In just a month, I’ve lost 7.2 pounds on WW. So far, I’ve liked how I can adjust as needed depending on what I have going on that day, week or month. If I know I’m going to be splurging on New Years, I just save up some points for the week by eating a bunch of zero points foods, like fruits, veggies and fish. I haven’t given up my coffee or the occasional sweet, but I have been taking fruit to work every day so that I can snack on an orange or berries instead of desperately searching for something to nibble on.

Last night, I made a cauliflower-crust pizza. The crust was from Trader Joes and I topped it with pasta sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, roasted red peppers and grilled onions. Trader Joes has quite a few frozen foods that are low in points, so I’ll let you know which ones work out well for me. There was a srirachi shrimp bowl that I made on Monday that was really tasty, although it said it was conventional oven safe and then the plastic started deteriorating.

Here’s the first keychain I’ve earned from WW.

One Goal Leads to Another

Reading one of the 12 nonfiction books of the year encouraged me to get the ball rolling on taking a photography class. “Stretch” explains why you should try new things as well as to take all of your different experiences to create new things. At the end of the book, it gives a few ideas on how to become better at stretching, which led me to sign up for a photography class on how to take better photos of objects. I figure since I often need to take photos for Poshmark, it would be good to improve these skills. While I already take photos for the Farmers Market, I find that taking photos outside of colorful objects like produce and food is much easier than say a sweater. The class isn’t until April, but I’m glad it’s finally on the books. I should finish Stretch this evening and it just mentioned the 4-Hour Work Week, which will be my next nonfiction book to read, since I’ve already read about a quarter of it. It’s always fun when one book leads well into another. Hopefully, it will give me some ideas for how to work more efficiently and creatively as well as how to dream bigger.

Weighed in at WW

I’m down three points as of my third WW weigh-in this morning! I’m super excited about the results, since it hasn’t felt all that hard. Sure, I’ve had to say no to some great sweets at the office and sitting around the house, but I’ve also gotten to enjoy lots of bananas and fat-free Greek yogurt with cinnamon, salmon and vegetables and omelets—all things I already love. I also kept a lot of smoked salmon on hand for when I was hungry, as it’s 0 points on the purple plan and always hits my craving spot. My hardest day was NYE, which I totally blew past all of my points for the day, but since I had saved plenty of my extra points for the week, I still made some progress when it came to weigh-in day. I’m hoping this week will be as successful. One of the things I plan on doing to make the week easier is to take in fruits as snacks. This worked yesterday when the cravings kicked in and I ate a whole container of blackberries, which is no big deal because they’re good for you! We also had plantains as an after dinner treat last night instead of the gingerbread cookies I was eyeing. This weekend, I plan on making some lentil soup to take into work with me for lunches—should be 0-1 points! The recipe is from the Chocolate Covered Katie blog if you’d like to try it out as well: https://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2019/01/10/lentil-soup-recipe-best/ I haven’t tried it, but it looks delicious!

Happy 2020!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday relaxing. Here in Texas, it was overcast and cold, so it was a good day to stay in and cuddle and play cards. It’s always nice to have some calm time before the crazy of the year sets in.

I wanted to get a head start on my goals, so I started filling out my passport paperwork just to find out I was supposed to fill it out with blank ink, not blue! But I did find my passport photos while starting to organize my big closet, so it’s one step forward, one step back. I’ve also started reading Stretch, which goes toward both my goal of reading all the books I already have as well as going toward one of my 12 nonfiction books. I really like the overall message of using your resources in creative ways and not just accumulating for the sake of having more. I hope you’re off to a great start of a new year!

Two more days of 2020

2019 is coming to end this week. It’s been a pretty good decade, which follows right along with my own personal decade from 30 to 40 years old. One of the things I think I’ve embraced this last decade is really trying to do the things I want to do instead of just talking about it, which has included visiting Italy, Iceland, Hawaii, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Santa Fe, New York, Cape Cod and several other places. I’ve also been tracking my reading on Goodreads (excluding 2010), which has equated to reading 222 books this decade, which sounds kind of crazy when I look at it altogether. Some of the things I want to do in the upcoming decade are starting my own business, really focusing on how much I save for retirement, being less wasteful (especially when it comes to food and clothing), being more open, vulnerable and honest with myself and others, traveling more, learning to take better care of plants, having better relationships with those I care about, keeping my environment clean and cleared out and maintaining a healthy weight.

I’m hoping my 2020 goals get me started on the right path to all of these things. I’m already making progress with WW, having lost a few pounds in a week and a half. I cleaned and filed my nails last night, adding a nail strengthener to the surface to try and keep them nice and strong. I printed out the paperwork for the passport renewal, so I just need to fill it out, find my photos and passport and take it into the post office or mail it off. I’ve got a few nonfiction books already underway and I contributed $6,000 yesterday to my Roth IRA. When I look at my list, it seems both very doable and intimidating. I think the two that will be hardest for me will be making the T-shirt quilt and making the cake for the cake show, since the show is in February. Something I can do to make sure it happens is to come up with a plan and idea for what cake to make and draw it out, so that will be my first order of business.

Let me know your plans for the next year or decade. I’d love some motivation!

Vitamin ABCs

My vitamins goal needs to be explained. I not only have bottles of pills sitting around my house, but at least two full boxes of vitamins from Careof. While I love the concept of Careof, I didn’t factor in that I am terrible at taking anything daily. I’m not a great routine person to begin with and then the taste of most vitamins make me gag. So, my plan is to use up all the vitamins I have on hand and then create a plan I can actually adhere to, whether that means taking just one multivitamin or determining the vitamins I need the most. I think I have enough vitamins on hand to last about three months, so around March I’ll be doing an evaluation of how I feel and what I think I’m lacking in my diet. I’ve also added a little grassfed, local beef and chicken to my diet lately, so I may not have as many needs as usual (when I’m limiting my animal intake to fish, milk and eggs). I’m also adding a lot of fruits and veggies already, since on WW they are zero points, so I may not need to add anything like Vitamin C or A. And I think I get plenty of D from the sun. This morning for Breakfast #1 I had half a banana and raspberries and now I’m moving on to breakfast #2 of garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli—all chock full of vitamins and micronutrients! What’s been helping me use my vitamins are to put them in one of those weekly pill boxes distributing them out and then leaving that on the counter next to my toothbrush. I know whether I’ve taken them that day (my memory is not the best) and I brush my teeth twice a day, so I’ll have to ignore it twice daily to forget!

Didn’t cut it

Here are the 20 for 20 goals that didn’t make the cut this year:

  1. Read 32 books. I’m at 31 this year and probably could do this, but I like the 12 nonfiction better. I’ll still set a Goodreads goal.
  2. Sell $1,000 on Poshmark. I’ve sold about $300 so far, so this is quite the goal and would mean I’d have to start buying things to sell, whereas right now I just sell things I no longer wear.
  3. Do a weekly home blessing (Fly Lady). Still hoping to do this. I love keeping my condo in a pretty clean state so that when people say they’re going to stop by I don’t freak out.
  4. Buy washer/dryer. Once my big closet is cleared out, I may reevaluate the buying a washer/dryer, but for now I have a few people letting me use theirs and I don’t have the space carved out in my condo for it. Besides, I think it was on my 18 for 18 list and didn’t happen.
  5. Get down to a size 6. I’m hoping my WW venture will hope with this goal.
  6. Buy a bus pass and start riding the bus a few times per month to work.
  7. Perfect my pizza making skills. This might ruin the WW.
  8. Buy diamond earrings. I’m trying to save money right now, so this doesn’t work very well with that goal.
  9. Increase 401K contribution to 15% (did earlier this month).
  10. Attend a yoga retreat.

I still may do any and all of these, so if I find I can do all of it, so be it. One thing I’ve enjoyed doing the last few years was watching an entire TV series of something, but I couldn’t think of anything to watch. Last year was Game of Thrones and the year before was West Wing, so if you have any suggestions, make sure to let me know—It may not be too late for me to add something!

Early Start

I started early on one of my goals for 2020, which is to join WW (Weight Watchers for the uninitiated). It feels like a very middle aged thing to do, but since I needed something to track my food, progress that isn’t going to take up too much time, I think this may be a good plan for me. You get points per day and week and get to spend them however you want. The plan I’m on have some 300 “free” point foods, such as salmon and veggies, so I don’t have to be too in the weeds. Yesterday was my first day of using the app and I only used 6 of my 16 points by having a zero count dinner of lettuce, celery and a can of salmon. It wasn’t too bad (I love salmon and sprinkled salt and pepper on top). Where it’s going to get me is sweets. I bake, so I always have goodies on hand, which is true at the office as well. What I like about it so far, though, is that I can save up my points for when I really want something so I decide when and how to splurge. So, is it important to have sugar in my coffee everyday or can I just save those points and then eat a cupcake? Day 1 was a success, and even though it’s just water weight, I’m down two pounds already. The whole goal is for me not to have to go up a size, which relates to my goal of trying to buy fewer clothes, especially new ones. I’ll keep you posted on my results.

19 for 2019

In 2019, I attempted to reach 19 goals, creating more success than I did in my previous 18 for 2018. Here’s the list, along with how I did.

  1. Pay off car. Well, I wrecked my car, so technically it got paid off, but now I have a new car payment, so not really sure how to judge this one. Sometimes things just work out a bit differently than planned.
  2. Visit Hawaii. Done! I went on a vacation with a friend to celebrate my 40th birthday and her upcoming 50th birthday. I also swam with manta rays and took a helicopter ride for the first time!
  3. Meet up with friends for coffee, lunch dates (weekly or at least 52). I surpassed this in November, so I stopped keeping track. I didn’t feel that it brought me any closer to friends and I spent a lot on lunches eating out more, so will probably not do this one again. I probably should have made a rule that they couldn’t be repeated, but then I’d need 52 people to meet with, which seems like a lot. 
  4. No brand new clothes. This was one of my favorites. I still bought a few used things on Poshmark and I decided to allow myself to buy clothes on vacation as a souvenir, but ultimately, I only bought one brand new thing and that was because I bought my boyfriend something from TJ Maxx and had to return it, so I had a gift card that needed to be used and I ended up buying pajamas with that money. Technically, I haven’t worn them, so I may post them on Poshmark.
  5. Earn an extra $100 a month. This one was easier than I thought it would be, since I get paid to take photos at the farmers market and can decide how often I do it, so I just made sure to pick up at least 4 shifts to cover the $100. Many months, I signed up for 5 and sold things on Poshmark, so I ended making slightly more. I also picked up a few cupcake and cookie orders. I’m hoping to increase this goal in the next year.
  6. Read 44 books. OK. I’m just going to have to finally admit to myself that I’m just not in a place anymore where I can just hunker down and read, read, read, ignoring everything else in my life. I like to keep my condo cleaner these days and I spend a lot of time at my boyfriend’s place and, yes, I often choose Netflix over reading, so while I still read more than the average bear, 44 is just too high right now. I’ve read 31 so far and just don’t think I’m likely to finish 13 in the next two weeks.
  7. Take a self-improvement class. I didn’t define this very well, so I’m going to count the empanada class I took a few weeks ago, because, while it may not help my career or anything lofty, it definitely adds to my baking skills, which I use a lot for mental health. Whatever. I’m counting it.
  8. Volunteer at least once per month or 12 total. I didn’t change this up as much as I had envisioned. I had thought I might try a variety of volunteer activities, but I mostly did the same ones I typically do. A friend and I bake cookies once per month and her husband drops them off at The Christie Center. I did help my boyfriend and his company with a few of their volunteer activities as well as took part in some at my own job, so that was a fun change of pace, but I still want to find my volunteer “thing.”
  9. Start a cooking club. Absolutely did not do this. I even thought I might do a last minute cookie exchange, but time is running out!
  10. Take 20 hikes. Also, did not do. I did a few for sure between Hawaii and meeting up with friends, but I think I still did fewer than usual. I definitely overestimated my desire to hike and needed to do more planning if this were something I really wanted to do. I can see this being better at communing with friends than lunch/coffee dates if I were to plan it, though.
  11. Switch from a particular bank. I still have an account at this particular bank, but the majority of my checking and savings are held elsewhere now. Once I am sure I’ve moved everything over, I’ll close the account, but it takes a while to slog through all the payments to ensure you’re not dropping the ball on any bills.
  12. Become a Poshmark suggested user. Totally crushed this early in the year. You can check out my closet at https://poshmark.com/closet/tyoungsteratx.
  13. Enter Queen of Hearts cake in a cake show. Won third place in beginners at the Austin show. Definitely need to keep practicing and learning!
  14. Electronic door lock. This was done mostly thanks to my boyfriend, who helped pick it out and install it. He also recently installed a Nest thermostat, so I really cannot thank him enough for all the help he’s been in getting these weird things done at my condo that makes it that much nicer.
  15. Clean out car. I had done this before I got a new car, but much easier to keep clean in the Prius since it’s four doors.
  16. Watch Game of Thrones. Ha … well, that was pretty much how we spent February and May, but totally watched all of Game of Thrones this year (had never seen any of it before). I like to watch everything back-to-back, so this was definitely the way to go for me.
  17. Use pasta maker. So much easier than I expected and a delicious way to spend an evening.
  18. Use ice cream maker. Made this into a date night, where we made strawberry ice cream. So yummy and creamy.
  19. Learn a song on the ukulele. I’ve been working on Jingle Bells and think I should be able to cross this off by January.

Overall, I think I did pretty well. I’d say I count this as 15 and a half complete. A lot of stuff on there I probably wouldn’t have done without my list and deadlines, so I’m definitely going to make a 2020 list. I’ve made a tentative one, but it has about 30 things on the list, so I need to whittle it down a bit before finalizing it.

If you’ve got any fun goals for the new year, let me know! I’d love to hear them.