Monday, November 12, 2012

I love Joe!

Nope, I'm not talking about this Joe:

Or this Joe (though I do love him, props to you if you can name him ;-):

The Joe I am referring to is this one:

There is nothing, as far as I am concerned, not to love about Trader Joe. I was first introduced to him by my besties down in Northern Virginia/DC. And while it was love at first shop, our relationship was short-lived because we didn't have one locally. 

Until last month.

If you've never been to a Trader Joe's, allow me to tell you that it is marvelous. Awesome products. Healthy, organic products. Affordable products. As a mom who strives to feed her family nutrious food with a minimum of artificial gunk, I truly appreciate the TJ philosophy, which you can read about here. Here's a handful of the products we love, that make their way into my cart each time I shop there:

This is seriously the yummiest applesauce I've ever had. It tastes really fresh, and the flavor of the wild berries stands out. Sweets loves it and I love feeding it to him because there's no artificial dyes or ingredients. At just $1.99 for a package of four cups, it's also a great value!

Hubs and I really like green beans. Sweets not so much, but we're working on it. These frozen "haricot vert," which is just a fancy-pants French name for green beans, are sweet, tender and incredibly fresh tasting. They are the perfect side to any meal, and a large bag, out of which we can usually get 4 meals, is only $1.99. 

It's winter here in our little corner of the planet, and that means that fresh berries are outrageously expensive :(  But for only $2.69 this one pound blend of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries are a great substitute in smoothies and oatmeal.

 This is TJ's Whole Wheat Tuscan Pane bread. It has a delicious, chewy, sourdough-y flavor and it makes great garlic bread. I slice it up and keep it in the freezer for a pasta or soup side. At $2.49, a loaf lasts us a couple of weeks (obviously we don't eat it every day).

These cereal bars are also only $1.99, and they come in several flavors. Such a quick snack on the go for Sweets (and me, admittedly. A great grab and go breakfast!).

Here it is, our favorite TJ product! The Pound Plus of 72% dark chocolate. Heaven in a wrapper for only $4.99. That's cheap!

Have you ever read the ingredient list on a box of Ritz Bits? They're full of junk. These have a minimal list of organic ingredients and they taste delicious. They're probably Sweets' favorite snack right now, and the price is (again) right, at $2.49 a box.

The whole wheat mini pitas are perfect for mixing it up at lunchtime. They make great little pita pizzas, or stuffed with humus, cream cheese, or peanut butter and bananas, they are wonderfully toddler-friendly. Price? Again, only $1.99!

Behind the chocolate, this is my second-favorite product. They carry several fruit butters, and so far we've only tried the pumpkin variety, but it is "stick your finger in the jar and lick it off" good. We all love it. It is delicious on whole wheat waffles or pancakes, makes a great wrap paired with cream cheese, and the label claims you can use it as an ice cream topping or add sour cream and milk to make pumpkin soup. The deal-sealer is again the cost, coming in at only $2.29.

My mom introduced me to the roasted red pepper and tomato soup, and oh my is it tasty! I've tried these soups in a carton from other stores and I've always been disappointed in the artificial, processed flavor. Not the case here. This soup has a bright, bold flavor that makes a great addition to a lunchtime sandwich. There's probably four servings in this carton, which makes its $2.79 price tag all the more appealing!

So that's what we're eating and loving lately. If you have a Trader Joe's near you, I hope you'll run, don't walk, to grab some good food and great bargains!

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Old Navy Toddler Puffer Jacket: $39.99
Sale Price: $20.00
- 25% off coupon = $15.00
- $15 in Old Navy rewards = $0

Oh goodness, I love a deal :)

*It did not escape Sweets' attention that the colors of this jacket resemble "a John Deere tractor!"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Voted Today

Don't be mad, but I wasn't going to vote today. Honestly, I felt like it was more responsible not to, given that I know I haven't paid enough attention to the opinions, policies, and proposals of the candidates. I felt like I'd be going in with no idea what I was voting for. This is the first year I've really felt that way. I can remember back in college, when voting was a thrilling new privilege, sitting around in the common room debating politics with my floormates. I had all the time in the world to pay attention to the issues and make a conscious choice. Four years ago, pre-Sweetie Pea, I felt like I had paid plenty of attention, but I just could not make a decision. That was the year that I ran in to my polling place 30 minutes before it closed, and still wasn't totally decided until I was in the voting booth. This time around, I will freely admit that I haven't paid enough attention, and it's irresponsible of me. Then my curiosity got the better of me, and on my lunch break, I checked out to see what was up. There was a wonderful article called "On Election Day, Marvel at Democracy" and after reading it, I knew I couldn't not take advantage of my hard-won right to choose the leader of my country. All amped up on American Pride, I spent the next 30 minutes giving myself a quick crash course on the presidential candidates and their main philosophies. Was it the best way to inform myself? Probably not. But when I picked up that pen and bubbled in my choice this afternoon, I knew it was the right thing to do. I voted based on what I felt in my heart, and I left feeling so grateful to be an American, and resolved to pay more attention next time.

But, no, I don't discuss who I voted for :)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Farmer's Market Haul

For a good week now, the weather has been nothing but cold, gray and rainy. Blech. But, it's been great for making scrumptious autumn recipes! And where better to stock up on fall produce than the farmer's market? I love shopping there so much - you get fresh, seasonal produce for a steal. My grocery bill is so much lower when I get a chance to hit up the farmer's market. Yesterday my mom and I braved the freezing morning temps to stock up on fall fruits and veggies. I went with $20 cash and came home with all of this, plus $5 left over!

(L to R) Brussel Sprouts, $3. Red and white baby potatoes, $1 a bag. A cuke for my lunches at work, .50. Sweet potatoes, 3 for $1. 

5 Butternut squashes, $1 each. Huge head of broccoli, $2. Spaghetti squash, $1.

My mom got a big head of this alien-ish looking veggie called Romanesco, and gave us a chunk. I'm excited to roast it up later this week!

I spent a large portion of this afternoon in my kitchen, cooking away. I made broccoli cheddar soup with that fresh broccoli for tomorrow's dinner. YUM. I also roasted the brussel sprouts as tonight's veggie side dish and they were outstanding! I had no idea! They will definitely be making a reapperance on our dinner table. The red baby potatoes became garlic smashed potatoes, and 4 of the butternut squashes got put away for Thanksgiving. I also made an apple crisp - the perfect fall dessert. Sweets was content to play while I worked, frequently calling me into the living room to see his tractor crash ;) Then he suited up in his cold weather gear to get an actual tractor ride with Hubs and came in later with freezing cold hands and a cherry-red nose, but happy as could be!

Here's hoping I get to see an hour that begins with 6 tomorrow...being that Saturday my day began at 4:30 am, and today at 5:45....not acceptable, my darling child. Let's work on that.