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Friday Favorites: Trader Joe’s

13 Oct

Happy Friday! Fall is in the air this morning around here (the temperature when I went to the gym this morning was 36 degrees!) although it’s supposed to be warm again tomorrow. I’m really excited for fall this year and we will be attending Glastonbury’s Apple Harvest Festival tonight and possibly for a little while tomorrow which will be so much fun!

Today I’m sharing some new-to-me favorites from Trader Joe’s. I have definitely written about Trader Joe’s in the past but it has been quite a while since we have made the trek there to pick up some goodies. Trader Joe’s is great because their prices are phenomenal and they have such unique items, especially of the seasonal variety.

  • Everything but the Bagel Seasoning Blend 

Trader joes bagel seasoning

I have only used this stuff once so far but it is incredible. It is honestly all of the seasonings I use regularly mixed together. I would recommend putting it on everything, from chicken to fish to a bagel (obvious choice).

  • Frozen organic riced cauliflower 

Organic riced cauliflower

I haven’t tried this yet but I have made riced cauliflower in the past and I’m excited about how much easier this will be. I’m planning on making Skinnytaste’s skillet cauliflower arroz con pollo this coming week and I will be using this for that meal.

  • Fire roasted peppers and onions

Trader joes roasted peppers and onions

Another item that I haven’t tried just yet but I’m looking forward to the convenience factor of these as well. Chopping up veggies for fajitas takes an unnecessary amount of time and this will eliminate that.

  • Cookie Butter ice cream

trader joes cookie butter ice cream

So I probably just should have let Dan write about this one because it is probably one of his favorite foods in the entire world. I have been trying to limit my sugar intake so I have only stolen a few bites from him but this stuff is incredible and you need to go buy it ASAP.

  • Horseradish hummus

trader joes horseradish hummus

I have been on the search for years for a hummus that I actually enjoy. I think it must be the texture of the chickpeas all mashed up that I just can’t get on board with. I am a HUGE horseradish fan and this stuff is pretty darn good. In all honesty, I’m still not the biggest hummus fan even after trying this flavor but it definitely is improved with the addition of the horseradish.

  • New Zealand sharp cheddar cheese

trader joes cheese

Trader Joe’s has the most incredible cheese selection with prices that are really not too bad. I tend to pick up a different type of cheese each time we go just to try something new and this sharp cheddar is amazing. I’m not a huge dessert person so I will usually have a slice or two of a good cheese after dinner instead of sweets and this has hit the spot this week.

  • Cold Brew Coffee Chocolate Bar

trader joes cold brew chocolate bar

After I just finished preaching about my anti-dessert beliefs, I’m ending with sweets 🙂 I am a huge cold brew coffee fan so I had to try this. The coffee flavor isn’t super overpowering but it goes so well with the dark chocolate and the caramel filling. I will definitely be stocking up on these!

I hope you guys have a Trader Joe’s nearby so you can try some of these treats too! Have a fun, Fall-filled weekend!

Monday Coffee Date # 2

24 Apr

Happy Monday! I haven’t done one of these in quite a while and my thoughts are pretty random today so I figured it was the perfect day for a coffee date! I also have coffee on the brain since I decided to buy a big bag of the Pecan Turtle coffee from my favorite spot, Daybreak, and last night we brewed a big batch of iced coffee for the week. I hope you all had a great weekend and that you had some sunshine for at least part of it like we did.

daybreak iced coffee homemade

If we were having a coffee date, I would tell you… grilling season has officially begun and I’m loving it! We had cheeseburgers last weekend and steak on another night last week. I feel like I’ve been in somewhat of a meal planning rut and being able to grill again will definitely help get me out of that.

first burger 2017

steak dinner 2

If we were having a coffee date, I would tell you… sunshine is everything to me right now. As corny as it sounds, I am just loving the beautiful days when we have them. Saturday was kind of gloomy but we still spent it outside at Olde Burnside Brewery with a group of friends followed by dinner and a movie at our house. It was a perfect day!

burnside brewery

This is most definitely true.

If we were having a coffee date, I would tell you… active rest days are my jam. I made it to boot camp four times last week and I was feeling a bit tired and in need of rest. I took Saturday completely off and yesterday I thought about going to boot camp but I decided to go for a long walk around the center of town. It was just what I needed and I feel very well rested today but not like I spent all weekend lounging around. I also enjoyed my first homemade smoothie of the season which was refreshing and fueled my long walk well.


sunny day walk

sunday walk

Slow and steady wins the race 😉

If we were having a coffee date, I would tell you… I do not have a green thumb but I’m thankful that my husband does 🙂 A month or so ago, I planted a bunch of seeds indoors and yesterday, Dan transplanted them outside. I helped with the cleanup of some of the bushes and did some raking but he knew the best way to plant the plants themselves. Thanks hubby!

beer and gardening

You can’t garden without enjoying a beer, am I right? 😉

If we were having a coffee date, I would tell you… I killed it on the grocery shopping front this week. I had a bunch of coupons and there were some great deals. I usually don’t buy much meat as it can get expensive but with such good deals, I was able to stock up on a bunch of different things. I rewarded myself with a sub from Subway for which I also had a coupon! #winning

all the meat

subway lunch

That’s all for today! I hope you all have a wonderful start to your week 🙂

Did you do anything fun this weekend?

Do you enjoy gardening?

Why I Decided to Roast a Chicken & Other Weekend Stuff

20 Mar

Happy Monday! This weekend went by way too fast. Does anyone else agree? Even though it flew by, I feel like we got so much done which is great and it is always good to start off the week feeling like I’m ahead.

Friday… started with a tough bootcamp at Mission followed by an incredible avocado, egg white & spinach breakfast sandwich from Panera. I was really craving avocado and this was exactly what I was looking for!

Panera power sandwich

Friday night… we had a delicious dinner at Bears with Robbie and Jenna followed by drinks to celebrate St. Patty’s Day. It was a fun night out and I’m glad we were able to spend some quality time with them 🙂

Diamond st pattys day

Saturday… we ran some errands during the morning and early afternoon including a vet visit for Charlie which was not a good experience at all and we will be changing vets ASAP.

Saturday night… my beloved East Hartford Hornets were playing in the state championship for basketball at Mohegan Sun so we decided to make a night of it. We had dinner at Chick-fil-a (don’t judge, it was SO delicious) and drinks along with a bit of gambling before the game. We ended up losing the game but it was so exciting to see my favorite team play in the championship and I’m so proud of them and the huge outpouring of support from our town.

Hornets basketball 1

Hornets basketball 2

Sunday… I planned on getting up for bootcamp but we didn’t get to bed until almost 1:00am the night before so an early morning was not in the cards for me. I slept in a little bit and ended up going to Cardio Express to run on the treadmill. I completed four miles of jogging/walking which I don’t think I’ve ever done before and I’m feeling it this morning!

Sunday afternoon… I had the urge to make a big Sunday dinner that would provide leftovers for lunch for the week. I scoured the ads and found that whole chickens were on sale and decided to roast one using Ina Garten’s famous recipe. I had never actually roasted a whole chicken before so I was a bit intimidated but the recipe was SO easy and it was nice to spend a few hours cooking in the kitchen while Dan napped (he was up at 5:00am for drill after our late night). I also made this triple chocolate banana bread which was SO good and I honestly can’t stand regular banana bread so I was happy with this chocolately version.

Roasted chicken 1

Roasted chicken 2

Roasted chicken 3

Roasted chicken 4

Triple chocolate banana bread

Sunday night… we devoured the chicken with a side of mashed cauliflower and the veggies that I cooked with the chicken along with a bottle of Chardonnay which paired so well with the chicken. We stayed up a little too late watching March Madness so I’m quite tired today but nothing that a cup (or two) of coffee can’t fix.

Roasted chicken 5

I hope you all have a fun and productive Monday!


Monday Coffee Date #1

17 Oct

Happy Monday! Since it’s been a while since my last post, I figured I would mix things up a little bit and try something new. Every few weeks I would like to share some random thoughts in the form of a “coffee date” and say what I would say to you guys if we were having coffee in person.


If we were having a coffee date I would tell you… our kitchen is (95%) done! We finished a couple of weeks ago, literally minutes before we had our family housewarming party. It feels so great to have a warm, cozy kitchen to cook in and I have definitely been spending a lot of time in there. I will share a full update soon with lots of pictures (once I have the time to take them!).


If we were having a coffee date I would tell you… we have been cooking up a storm and I’m loving all of the fall recipes. I made chicken noodle soup last night which was perfect as I am coming down with the beginnings of a cold. Some other meals have included: spaghetti squash and turkey meatballs, tacos, and Caitlin’s Bacon, Eggs and Brussels bowl which is one of our absolute favorites.





If we were having a coffee date I would tell you… farmers markets, bonfires, and all of the fall things have my heart right now. I’m squeezing the life out of fall right now and trying to fit in as much as I can. We went to a beautiful wedding this past Friday at our friend’s family’s amazing barn (congrats Kevin and Caitlin!) and a charity event there the next night as well. Both evenings concluded with a bonfire which was so much fun! Yesterday we were able to make it out to the Coventry Farmers Market which is my absolute favorite Sunday activity.



Mercado, I love you.

If we were having a coffee date I would tell you… we have been so busy and sometimes it has been hard to keep up with life. I’m so thankful for the times that we get to spend with friends and family although sometimes it is easy to get run down and fall behind on things like cleaning and meal prepping. I’m trying to turn that around this week and be as productive as possible so I can relax this weekend when we have our friends housewarming party.


Thanks for sharing this coffee date with me and fingers crossed, I hope to be back at least once more this week!

Things I’m Loving Lately #5

15 Jul

What. A. Week. I’m not going to say much more than that this week has been pretty awful. God has thrown quite a few curve balls our way but luckily things are looking more positive as the week is finally ending. I’m looking forward to a fun weekend with some relaxation.


So much truth in this statement.

I haven’t done one of these in quite a while so I figured I would share some things that are making me happy lately.


I’ve been trying my best to be as healthy as possible and I’ve found that a smoothie is the easiest way to start off my day on a healthy note.

My smoothies usually consist of:

  • 1 cup of Silk Almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1/2 scoop of chocolate protein powder (usually whatever kind Dan has in the house)
  • 3-4 ice cubes (because I only like smoothies if they are ice cold!)


Sweet potatoes:

I will basically put anything in a sweet potato and I’m pretty sure we have them two or three times a week for dinner. We usually top them with plain greek yogurt, diced avocado, Rotel, and chicken. It makes for a super easy and delicious dinner!

sweet potato 1

Excuse the ugly plates, kitchen renovations are still ongoing 🙂

sweet potato 2

Daybreak Coffee Roasters:

I know I have raved about my love for Daybreak many times on here but there is something about that place which just feels like home to me. It might be the smell of the roasting coffee beans or the friendly greeting I get when I walk in, but I really enjoy going there. (PS. Their blueberry scones are out of this world. Go get one!)


Real Housewives of New York:

I will admit that this is a total guilty pleasure of mine but I am seriously loving this season. I stopped watching a few seasons ago when Bethenny Frankel left but started again when she came back. She is my favorite “real housewife” of all time and I find her honesty about her health issues and divorce to be so refreshing. I know that they are put in situations which will create drama but these are real life things that she is actually going through and I love that she doesn’t sugar coat anything.

Real Housewives

Billi enjoys Real Housewives as well 😉

Girl’s Nights:

After an awful day on Tuesday, it was so nice to get out with some of the ladies to celebrate Daniela’s birthday at Sayulita. Sometimes all you need is a margarita, amazing food, and lots of laughter to turn things around. I had my first ever tamale and it was incredible.

sayulita margarita2

sayulita food

Ahi tuna taco, beef & chorizo tamale, and black bean salad.. So good!

girls danielas bday

Love these ladies! Photo credit: Daniela

I hope you all have a fast-moving and happy Friday and an even better weekend. I promise that I will have a house update for you next week as I just want to take a few more pictures this weekend.



What a Week… (Photo dump)

16 Jun

Happy Thursday all! Hope you’re all enjoying your day so far. Today is my Friday as I took tomorrow off because we are off to DC for the weekend for Dan’s cousin Lauren’s wedding. I have never been to DC before, besides driving through and I’m super excited for the festivities and to explore the city a bit.

This week has been full of ups and downs, between being sick with a nasty summer cold since last Friday and not getting a single workout in, to attending a great event at Mohegan Sun for New Belgium Brewing Company and eating some delicious meals (when I’ve had an appetite), it has been quite the week. Work has also been pretty busy so I’ve ended most days pretty exhausted.

Today I figured I would share a bit of a photo dump of the past couple of weeks since I haven’t had much time to write. As you will see from the pictures, we have been crazy busy but I really have been loving every minute of it (#tooblessedtobestressed). I’m looking forward to some fun and relaxation this weekend and I’m sure I will be back next week to tell you guys all about it!

My cousin Maggie’s graduation party from Villanova:

Maggies grad party 1

Maggies grad party 2

A beer tasting at Still Hill Brewery with our friends Erica and Jon:

Beer tasting with Erica and Jon

Ice cream from Robb’s Farm:

Robbs Ice cream

Dan with Mike and Daniela’s dog Xena after softball:

Dan and Xena

Last Friday morning’s walk with coffee before my cold set in:

Friday morning coffee walk

Friday night with the ladies at the Diamond:

Ladies at the D June 2016

A few pictures from Brian and Kelly’s party this past weekend, the food was incredible!

Lobs party shrimp cocktail

Lobs party devilled eggs

Lobs party pool

Sam’s bridal shower on Sunday was so beautiful. I love spending time with her and her family.

Sams shower

sams shower 2

New Belgium Brewing‘s CT Launch Party at Mohegan Sun. Their beer was so good. The Heavy Melon is a perfect summer beer!

New Belgium Brewing 1

New Belgium Brewing 2

As you can tell, life has been very busy and with summer coming up, I know that it will just continue but I’m very lucky to have a wonderful husband and great friends and family to share it with. I hope you guys have the best weekend and let me know if there are any must see spots in DC!


GIV Coffee – Canton, CT

13 Apr

Happy Wednesday all! I have had quite the hiatus from blogging as of late, mainly due to the move and the wonderful vacation we took this past week. I will have more to come on both of those things later on this week (I hope). Today I’m here to tell you guys all about Giv Coffee, which is located in Canton, CT. I had the pleasure of attending a blogger event hosted by Giv at the amazing Hartford Baking Company last month (I know, I know, but better late than never).

Giv Coffee is a coffee roaster (& cafe) with a huge focus on producing both a perfect cup of coffee along with giving back to the community. It’s because of this that I believe Giv is truly the best type of local business to support. We were able to meet with Jeff & Emily, the founders and owners of Giv, to learn all about the coffee roasting process and the differences between the French Press and Cemex brewing methods. Hartford Baking Company also provided some excellent baked goods to stave off that mid afternoon hunger we were all experiencing.

giv HBC treats

We were able to try two different flavors of beans, Celso Garcia Organic from Oaxaca, Mexico and Dos Montoyas from Columbia, Urrau. Both coffees were brewed using the French Press method, which allows more of the fats of the bean into the coffee as well as the Cemex method which did not provide as much of a full body due to having more of a filter.

Giv 2 kinds of coffee

giv coffee grounds

They also taught us that there is no need to have any type of special equipment at home to brew great coffee and it is possible to do it using just a Ball jar, a coffee filter, hot water and the coffee, of course. This method was probably my favorite as it was the most simplistic but had excellent flavor! I definitely learned that the different methods of brewing coffee can produce drastically different results.

giv coffee pour

giv coffee mason jar

I enjoyed each of the coffees that was served to us but if I had to pick a favorite, I would go with the French Press method of the Celso Garcia Organic because I love dark, rich coffee and this one had an delicious hint of chocolate too. I think that the Cemex method would work for anyone who likes their coffee less strong tasting but still with good flavor.

giv coffee types

giv coffee types 2

Giv Coffee also places a huge emphasis on giving back to the community as they use fairly traded beans, and they donate $2 from each bag of coffee sold to charity. I can’t wait for the next time I am in Canton as I definitely plan to visit and enjoy an excellent cup of coffee that I know comes from an excellent source.

Giv is located at 194 Albany Turnpike in Canton, CT and their hours are Monday-Friday 6am-6pm and Saturday 8am-6pm and they are closed on Sundays.

I received the tasting and baked goods mentioned above complimentary. They were given to me in exchange for an honest review.  I was not compensated for this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Foodie Friday: Cookshop Plus

26 Feb

Happy Friday! I have had so much going on within the last week that I honestly haven’t even had a second to sit down and write. Very big and exciting things happening around here! Although I have been super busy, I had to make time to tell you guys about an awesome event I attended last Saturday at Cookshop Plus in West Hartford.

Cookshop Plus is a new cooking store owned by Terry & Joanne Ryan and James & Samantha Hines. They are Australian natives and the original Cookshop Plus location is located in Bowral, Australia which is just outside of Sydney. The store carries a wide range of different products, from small kitchen appliances to several products which are unique to Australia. One thing which sets them aside from other cooking stores is that they have an in-store coffee bar, which uses coffee beans from Neat Coffee and baked goods from Hartford Baking Company.

Cookshop 1

The coffee bar was where we started the event and each of us ordered a coffee or hot chocolate off of their menu. I chose a flat white which was absolutely incredible and may be my new favorite coffee style. Hartford Baking Company provided an array of pastries and I devoured a fantastic Cranberry scone and Dan enjoyed a cheese danish.

cookshop 2

cookshop 3

After we enjoyed our coffee and pasties, we poked around the store for a little while. I wanted one of everything in the store and it definitely made me aspire to do more cooking. I ended up leaving with a garlic press and a cheese/vegetable grater, which were two things we desperately needed (or wanted, really).

James then provided us with a great knife demonstration and I definitely learned a few things. For example, I had no idea that you shouldn’t put knives in the dishwasher because the detergent can dull the blade. The store offers several different brands of knives, including Global, Savannah, Messermeister, and Wusthof. We also learned that the bread knife is one of the most under-appreciated knives as it can also be used for several other purposes such as carving.

cookshop 4

Once James was done with his presentation, the owner of Hartford Baking Company, Scott Kluger, provided us with a pretzel making demonstration. Since there weren’t any ovens at the store, he showed us how they form their pretzels and then told us a lot about the process of making them. I have yet to visit Hartford Baking Company but I will be there in a couple of weeks for an event and I can’t wait to sample more goodies!

cookshop 5

Check out Anne rolling her pretzel!

It was such a fun, relaxing event which was perfect for a Sunday morning. We will definitely be back to Cookshop Plus since I have a feeling we will be in the market for some more kitchen stuff in the near future 😉

Have a great weekend!

Review: Bruleries Faro Roasting Houses Coffee

8 Feb

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend and that you have an even better week ahead! Today I’m sharing a new-to-me brand of coffee that I’m really enjoying. Back in December, I was approached by Javafly and asked if I would like to try some coffee from Bruleries Faro. They sent me two different flavors, Breakfast Blend and Moka Java, in K-cup form. Since I’m a huge coffee lover, I was more than happy to participate in this project.

faro coffee box

Both coffees are made from 100% Arabica beans and without any preservatives or artificial flavoring, which is something that I appreciate.

Breakfast Blend:

I found that this flavor was definitely the lighter of the two and would be great for an early morning when I didn’t want anything dark or heavy. It is very easy to drink and I think it would pair well with any light breakfast foods, such as eggs and toast.

faro breakfast blend

Moka Java:

This flavor was my favorite out of the two as it was still very mellow but it was darker and had a little bit more of a unique flavor. I drink my coffee black because i really enjoy the flavor so the fact that this one had a little bit more of a punch to it was appealing to me. I think that the Moka Java would also pair well with all kinds of breakfast foods and would stand up well against any foods with a lot of flavor.

faro moka java

Overall, I really enjoyed both flavors and can see myself drinking them on different occasions. I’m not picky with my coffee at all but it’s nice to have found a brand which consistently provides great flavors.

faro coffee in cup

The coffee in this post was provided by Javafly. All opinions of the tasting are my own.