Trader Junkie

Our Trader Joe's opened a little over a month ago and I am officially a junkie. Remember how long it's been since I lived in a city with a Trader Joe's? FOUR YEARS!! I used to hit them up weekly then I was shut off cold turkey. Junkie talk. Okay maybe not completely cold turkey since I did hit up ones in Charlotte and Atlanta a few times while living in Gainesville but in the last two years that I've been here? ZERO TJ TRIPS!! ZERO!!  The junkiest of junkie talk.

Well I'm making up for it! I've hit up that store no less than 4 times in the last month. I could go more often but I refrain. Junkie talk. I'm such a good girl! There are two Harris Teeters and a Whole Foods within a mile of TJ's. Crazy, right? My preferred HT is the farther location. I've switched allegiances to Rashan's preferred HT because it's across the parking lot from TJ's. Junkie talk. One of my old favorites apparently doesn't exist anymore - soy orange creamsicles. I loved these popsicles! R.I.P.

Some old favorites still exist and have continued to bring me joy including principally: CHIPOTLE SALSA!!! I've not surprisingly loved every cheese I've brought home. There's a lovely selection at great prices and I can't wait to try many many more! Junkie talk. The fruit floes (popsicles) are still delicious.

I've tried out some things I probably never would've tried without bloggers."This pumpkin walks into a bar..." pumpkin bars? Sooo good! They're kind of like a grain version of fig newtons but with pumpkin. I can't say the taste is super pumpkin-y but they're delicious and they have multiple other versions including fig and strawberry. If pumpkin's seasonal as it likely is, I'll have no problem switching to another. Oh junkie.

The most surprising find? Pre-cooked lentils. Thank you healthy bloggers! Easy and tasty with just a little salt and pepper. For the picture at right, I just sauteed spinach in garlic & olive oil, added the lentils for a couple of minutes, added one diced tomato for one minute just to warm it up, plated and topped it with gorgonzola. This was one of our meatless meals and we both really enjoyed it! 10 minutes. BAM! We had this with homemade garlic bread from a TJ's baguette.

I've even squeezed in some blind tastings i.e. I buy it before trying it or even hearing about it. The spinach tortellini was great! I used it in the picture to the left for another meatless meal of roasted kobocha squash stuffed with spinach and cheese tortellini. Tyler Florence recipe. So goooood! You could also use acorn squash.

I can't remember if white cheddar popcorn puffs were a suggestion or blind tasting but they were MAGNIFICENT! The multi-grain waffles were good. Rashan and I both approve. The mushrooms and herbs are cheaper than other stores which I definitely love. The herbs are a good 60 cents cheaper. I need an herb garden but until I can stop killing the plants I buy, I must buy my herbs. And as many as I buy? Yeah... that 60 cents starts adding up. The bagged salad greens are also cheaper depending on which ones you get.

Those blind tastings also included some duds: frozen samosas? TERRIBLE. Flavorless, not delicious. Same problem with the fresh pesto ravioli. Really disappointing. It makes me hesitate more on the lobster ravioli. The mushroom risotto was just okay. It needed a lot of attention to bump up the flavor. The vanilla creme protein shake in a can probably tried its best but twas not good. The pumpkin spice latte isn't very good. Weak tea with barely a hint of spice. The fruit leather is good enough to continue eating as a snack/carb source.

In-store samples have also brought out some surprising yumminess. The frozen mac and cheese? WHOA! The frozen mandarin chicken was also really good. The biggest shocker? COFFEE!! Y'all! I don't even like coffee that much but this coffee is MAGNIFICENT! I get a sample every time I'm in the store. I can hardly focus on my list without getting that coffee first! Junkie junkie JUNKIE!! Shocking and shameful! LOL

Do you have any Trader Joe's faves?


Monday Mindspacing Vol. 156

1) I got unnecessarily stressed out by Thanksgiving... in part because my mom bought a 24-POUND TURKEY!!!! WHY??? We had less than 10 people there... The turkey was also very dry and part of the reason I hate turkey. (Yes, I know it wasn't the turkey's fault.)
2) Yesterday was Rashan's birthday!! Everybody say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! :) No one say Hbd. That is the worst, driest greeting ever. Still.
3) More Christmas decorations are up in mi casa! YAY!!!
4) My New York trip to see my BFF Stace? HAPPENING! Sooo excited! (I started planning my runs before I thought about food. What???)
5) My first half marathon is SATURDAY!! AHHHHHH!
6) My first film was named Best Documentary at a film festival! So much awesome in my life right now!
7) I've done more yoga in the last month than ever before in probably an entire year. Three times in the last 3 weeks! Do I like yoga now? NO! But I've found some poses that I can get with for post-run stretching.
8) I made a roasted cauliflower and broccoli soup for Thanksgiving that tasted over-roasted even though I cut the cooking time in half... until I added gorgonzola. SOOOO pleasantly transformed!
9) Y'all... I can't stop eating sugar!! It's been so accessible for the last few days! And I might have brought a whole sweet potato pie back and the rest of the tart I made. I MUST get it together! I had an absolutely WRETCHED run on Saturday. Every step was a challenge. I wanted to get in at least 6 but had to cut it short at 3. I need a redemption run! It will have to be short but I need it.
10) Did you guys see "Next Iron Chef" last night? I thought every single chef and judge overreacted in the secret ingredient showdown. Every single one. Quit being such cry babies!! Over foolishness!!
11) Our DVR got IN.SANE while we were gone. I like it below 10%. It got up to 45%. I tried not to go into a tv frenzy. It didn't totally work.


Movies 2012: Weeks 37-40

A rather disappointing set of films these few weeks. Thankfully it gets better! And this was when new tv was in full swing and my DVR was bursting with new adventures!

Week 37: September 9-15, 2012
120) The Siege. Denzel Washington and Annette Benning star in this film about martial law imposed on New York (with Bruce Willis as a general at the helm) after a series of terror attacks. High drama... but rather preachy and pedantic. 2.9 stars
121) What to Expect When You're Expecting. Romantic comedy about couples dealing with various issues around starting a family. I didn't expect to like it but I did! It was cute. 3.5 stars

Week 38: September 16-22, 2012
122) Hysteria. A period piece set in England starring Maggie Gyllenhall about the treatment for hysteria in the 1800s. Very amusing. A fun and easy watch. I realized I really like Maggie Gyllenhall. 3.8 stars
123) Detachment. Adrien Brody plays an inner city substitute teacher who becomes involved in the lives of his students and colleagues as he houses a young prostitute. What? Throughout the movie I wondered when it would end and why I was watching it. But Rashan absolutely hated it. 2 stars

Week 39: September 23-29, 2012

123) Damsels in Distress. College girls undertake a moralistic role of solving the ills of their school via dance. Amusing-ish. Of course their lives begin to unravel in assorted ways but the "unraveling" is so tame it's rather boring. I wasn't ever invested in the characters enough to care about their issues. 3 stars
124) Objectified. A documentary about objects in our lives, their manufacture and the thought processes behind them via their designers. Thought-provoking but with a lot of lulls. Rather boring at times. If you're at all leaning toward the idea that we have too much stuff and waste, this film will probably push you over the edge. 2.9 stars
125) My Afternoons with Margueritte. French film starring Gerard Depardieu as a man who gets caught up in the books of a lonely elderly woman. As the film unfolds, we learn more about life experiences that led both of them to connect with a stranger. Quiet and sweet but quite funny at times, too. 3.9 stars

Week 40: September 30- October 6, 2012
126) Prodigal Sons. This documentary follows two estranged brothers, one with a severe brain disorder and the other who is now a woman, who come back to their Montana town for a high school reunion and find their lives more intertwined than they expected. Mildly interesting at times with some unnecessary detours into the adopted brother's lineage. 3 stars
127) Peace, Love & Misunderstanding. A conservative lawyer (Catherine Keener) in the midst of a divorce visits her estranged mother (Jane Fonda). They navigate their relationships with each other and the two teenaged children who are just getting to know their free-spirited grandmother. Fonda was radiant and awesome. Keener's character was just a little too stuck up for any rapid loosening to seem real. Enjoyable film. 3.5 stars
128) The Five-Year Engagement. Jason Segel and Emily Blunt star in a rom com about a young couple who finds their relationship changing in challenging ways the longer they're engaged. Some absolutely baffling turns of plot (in that they made no sense) coupled with an unnecessarily long 2-hour run time and a few unnecessary scenes (of course sense it was too long) dragged this movie down. 3.4 stars


Monday Mindspacing Vol. 155

1) My front door says fall (colorful, leaf-covered wreath) but inside my house says CHRISTMAS IS COMING!!! Lights are strung around the window and shining brightly at night! :) I want to take my wreath to my mom's house for Thanksgiving Eve & Thanksgiving Day, then switch to Christmas at both houses. WOOHOO!!!
2) Rashan's birthday is SUNDAY!!! My old man will be 38! Wow! I love him so! I just hope he doesn't start sprouting ear hair... That will test the vows. The sickness part.
3) Terrible sleep has returned and the bags under my eyes are my souvenirs. Booooo. I promise I never had bags like this on no sleep before I turned 30.
4) I got lost during my 13.1-mile (half marathon) run Saturday and ended up doing 14.1. Sooo displeased. It was more difficult this week. BUT I'm officially tapering now!! Shorter runs here I come!
5) I'M OFFICIALLY GOING TO NY AND CONNECTICUT NEXT MONTH!!!! EEEEEE!!! SOOOO EXCITED! (I'm also planning to connect with BGR! groups in both states. If I connect with BGR! Charlotte next week and with my own group (obvi), I'll have run w/4 groups in 3 weeks. Awesome!)
6) My Thanksgiving menu is coming up on Wednesday. I'm sooo excited about it! One of the things contains 4 main ingredients: 2 items I don't like, 1 I'm mildly allergic to and another I'm QUITE allergic to. Hooch is crazy. (I quote tv a lot...)
7) Still beatin the brakes off of people in Words with Friends. I now consider that 200+ points instead of 100+ points.
8) Have you guys ever watched "Thanksgiving Live"? That is HANDS DOWN the drunkest show on Food Network. And that's a channel with Sandra Lee. For real.
9) "Happy Endings" = STILL HILARIOUS! WATCH IT!!
10) Have I told you lately how much I hate all apple drinks? Apple juice and cider are devil's brew to me. YUCK. OH! I tried a hard apple cider. VOMIT ALL DAY. I like apples by themselves (ONLY if I'm about to eat b/c they make me ravenously hungry within an hour), in all desserts and applesauce but please, please never ask me to drink apple anything. Love, me.


Movies 2012: Weeks 32-36

I've been watching movies and recording the watching of movies but doing a very poor job of tracking them on here. Oops! Let's play catch-up for the next few weeks, shall we? We shall! (I now have "The One that I Want" in my head. Nooooooo.

Week 32: August 5-11, 2012
110) Grease. Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta star in this musical about teenagers who fall in love over the summer and the circumstances that bring them together and push them apart. Cute. A lot more vulgar than I expected. I was a little surprised how many of the songs I recognized. I can't get "Summer Lovin" out of my head now! 3.8 stars

Week 33: August 12-18, 2012
111) Off and Running. A documentary about a black adopted teenager with white parents whose life changes radically when she contacts her birth mother. It explores the intersection of race, identity and family. Very intriguing watch. You really felt for Avery throughout the film as you watched her grapple with these huge issues, some of which you would never want to see a teenager experience. A slice of life film. So yes, there was some emptiness and some questions left unanswered, but I'm okay with that. I expect it when you drop into someone's life in a pivotal moment of self-discovery. 3.7 stars

Week 34: August 19-25, 2012
112) Bernie. Jack Black stars in this film based on the true story of one of a town's most beloved residents who killed an old lady... the town's most hated resident. Pretty amusing though the documentary-style conceit wore thin from overuse pretty quickly. 3.4 stars

Week 35: August 26- September 1, 2012
113) A Separation. Iranian film about a married couple separating and the way their lives unravel as a result of the changes. A huge soap opera in the quiet drama way. Nicely done. Deserving of the 2012 Academy Award it won. 4.4 stars
114) The Other F Word. This documentary explores punk rockers who are also fathers and trying to balance their disparate lifestyles. In the interest of coverage (I suppose), there were too many snippets from people who showed up once or twice or had two or three quotes. That gave some interesting people short shrift. I would have enjoyed it more to see a few extended profiles versus a few extended profiles and lots of little add-ins. As you can imagine, there was a LOT of profanity. Like it will be years before most of the children in this doc can actually watch it. 3.6 stars
115) Trouble in Paradise. 1932 film about a thieving couple who decide to swindle a rich woman. Trouble ensues when the male half of the pair falls in love with his victim. I spent the first 5 minutes of this film distracted by the fact that it was not only made 80 years ago (and therefore had absolutely wretched and nearly untranslatable picture quality), it was made 50 years before I was born. Many of the actors could conceivably have been dead longer than I've been alive. Things like this blow my mind in the best possible way. It makes me contemplate life. That's the deepest thing I got from this film. It was a bit of fluff. Not really worth watching but vaguely amusing. Just there kind of like rom coms of today. 2.9 stars

Week 36: September 2- 8, 2012
116) Kiss Them For Me. Cary Grant stars in this film about WWII naval officers on leave who deal with love issues. Really bad and really long. Way too long. I love Cary but this wasn't his best film. Not even close. 2 stars
117) Sybil. Sally field earns her Emmy as a teacher with multiple personalities developed as a result of child abuse. It was a bit too long. Parts of it really started to drag. Still interesting to watch. 3.6 stars
118) The Hunger Games. The film adaptation of the smash hit book. I loved watching this unfold! Such a great watch. I can't wait for the rest of the films! I felt exactly the same way about the books. I wish they had shown more of the Capital fashion! That's what I was most looking forward to. 4.4 stars
119) Coma. This Oscar-nominated HBO documentary follows four people in various stages of coma recovery. We followed the ups and downs of their treatment over the course of a year. Really interesting watch as you root for these people to thrive. Dated music. 3.6 stars


Classic Book Club Vol. 1: One Hundred Years of Solitude

My 35 Before 35 list includes 26 classic books from various genres I'd like to read before I turn 35. Throwback blogger Desy suggested a classic book club and I'd love to have you guys read along with me!

The first book is my BFF Stace's favorite book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: One Hundred Years of Solitude. She's been raving about this book oh I don't know... all of our lives? So it's high time I read it! You have a little under one month. Let's meet back here on December 12th to discuss!


Monday Mindspacing Vol. 154

1) I ran 18 miles this weekend between my 14 miler Saturday and my 4-mile run on Sunday. So amazing!! At the beginning of this year I'd never even run 14 miles in one week! I hit 30 last week! My highest total ever! My quads are a little tight but not unduly so.
2) Was the weather magnificent in your hood? It was 70 yesterday. 70!! So delightful! 60s are norm this time of year here but we skipped straight to winter the last few weeks. So mean. Do not want. It was 35 on my run Tuesday morning. WHAT!?! Rude.
3) My BFF Stace & I are planning to reunite before the end of the year. It.shall.be. EPIC!!
4) I absolutely cannot with "The Walking Dead." It's way too gross and gruesome for me. My favorite horror genre is psychological. I don't get with the yucky. That's the technical term.
5) The Thanksgiving meal plans are finally coming together! Yay!! I want 1-2 appetizers, 1 soup, turkey, ham, 2+ vegetables, my mom's required canned cranberry sauce, 2-3 dressings (LOL), sweet potato pie and 1-2 more desserts. You?
6) Rashan is the best person in the world. My name is Rashan Jamal and I approve this message!
7) I let number 6 stand as he wrote it so you can get an idea of how nutty that man is! It's been a long time since you had evidence, huh??
8) I saw the ipad mini in person and was not impressed. It looks like a Kindle. Or an oversized phone.
9) A book has finally returned my reading mojo: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Thanks to blogger Nancy for suggesting it to me!
10) Quick backtrack to number 6: The hardest category for me to narrow down? Dressings! I've found at least 5 recipes I would love to make! I'm going to have to start making dressing on random days of the week! Which I know we'd love!
11) I'm shocked that after that blog post about Christmas music a few weeks ago, I've mixed in a little of it with my running music but have mostly left it untouched. This is unheard of for me this time of year! I think I'm trying to supersize the Christmas spirit post-Thanksgiving! I did consider buying a candy cane headband from Target. Still might... LOL


Year-End Goals

I've hit some of my yearly goals but I have more I need to attack. Better to start now than waiting until next month!

1) Read at least two books off of my 35 Before 35 list.
2) Run at least 20 miles per week for the rest of the year. (This will take me over my goal of 750 miles for the year!)
3) Cook 4 more recipes from my Tyler Florence book.
4) Make a decision and a move on my food blogging vision.
5) Try 3 new churches locally.
6) Finish my professional website.
7) Maximize my time.
8) Continue saving money on our grocery bill to reach our final goal of saving $1500 this year.
9) Complete the video of our wedding. This is just shameful!
10) Apply for 10 jobs.


Monday Mindspacing Vol. 153

1) I finished officially changing my name a few months ago but haven't had to write it much so I had to think about it every single time. Well after signing hundreds of ballots in the last week, I can finally sign my name without thinking about it! Yay!!!
2) I ran more miles yesterday (9.8) than all of last week. And I'm running 13.1 on Saturday. I may be slightly crazy...
3) My mom is trying to ruin my Thanksgiving joy. HMPH! I shant allow it!!
4) I'm annoyed for all of the NY marathoners who had their race canceled with less than 48 hours notice. They canceled every other race surrounding the marathon on Wednesday but waited until Friday to cancel the marathon. And told people ON FRIDAY the race would go on. Seriously? Thousands of people were already in town. Fail. CANCEL EARLIER!!!
5) I've broken my NYT habit since it's no longer free for me. I'm kind of sad I'm no longer addicted to that.
6) We've saved over $950 in groceries so far this year by using coupons and store sales! Woohoo!
7) I hate Netflix right now. My movies are taking longer and longer to arrive and when I called to complain about it? THEY TOOK EVEN LONGER!!! If I wasn't a filmmaker, I would cancel that service so quickly EVERYBODY's head would spin!!!
8) Ever since I hit my book goal for the year (52), I've lost my reading mojo. I think it's mostly that nothing's caught my eye. When all else fails, blame the books.
9) Watching a film about elementary school just reminded me of the sour milk smell in cafeterias. Ewwwww
10) I had some chocolate-covered ginger from Trader Joe's and it.was.AWESOME!!! It's hard to stop myself from devouring way too much in one sitting! I love new discoveries! Do you have a favorite TJ's product?
11) I think I want to pick up a new sport in addition to running. But I'm not sure what...



Hello Bloggies!

I'm sorry I've neglected you! I've been working as a poll worker for early voting here. I LOVE IT! I like helping people vote and just generally being awesome! And really, the people with the worst attitudes? Fellow poll workers of course!

You have some people who just love to be in charge and other people who INSIST upon talking to every single person. So sometimes you have 3 different people saying something to people as they walk in the door. This is a fail. Efficient? Ehhhh. When somebody leaves or goes too lunch. Too many chiefs and not enough Indians. Guess who's enjoying being an Indian? MEEEEEE! I don't need to be in charge if all of your mouths are going to be unnecessarily running.

And don't get me going on the laziness. Two chicks do next to no work. Go home. It annoys me to see you sitting in the corner when people need assistance and everyone else is tied up. Losers. One went home early yesterday (6 hours!!) and another went home 2 hours early today. Bye to both of you. Feel free to stay at home tomorrow! XOXO! There are 3 computers to check people in and register them to vote. These are the chairs in the room. One chick sits down ALL DAY. No one calls her on it. Why? Because she is over 400 pounds and gets winded walking across the room. Literally. How do you address this? There's a team leader... she doesn't say anything either.

So while I'm standing hours every day, my ankles and shins are trying to completely break down. They are so rude. I went for a run anyway today. I did not enjoy very much of it. :( Unfortunately, I'll probably need to just sit my hips down/do yoga tomorrow and Saturday. It's just not prudent to further tax my body as much as I want to run. BOOOOO!! This will be only the second time I've run less than 3xs/week in the last year. But I shall survive.

And I want to encourage all of you to take advantage of early voting or to vote on election day. Exercise your right! People died for it. Don't throw it away.

On the extra up side, I'm sleeping MARVELOUSLY for the first time in weeks! Yay!!!