A Trader Joe’s Find

Just real quick: if you can find these Verry (is the misspelling really necessary?) Cherry Plums, GET THEM. Buy them all (unless you live in Delaware, in which case keep your dirty paws off them).  They may be the yummiest fruit I’ve ever eaten, and I normally don’t even like plums that much. They’re firm yet juicy, crazy sweet, and it took some serious self restraint not to eat the entire clamshell in one sitting. I think they’re only supposed to be available for two weeks, so RUN DON’T WALK! I’m heading to Trader Joe’s today to buy them out…FIGHT ME, DELAWARE!

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Plastic Paranoia

Being the neurotic and anxiety laden person I am, I’ve begun to really start thinking about the amount of plastic we’re exposed to on a daily basis, and the negative effects it has on our health. While I’ve come to accept that some plastic exposure is just going to happen (I’m not about to start eliminating every type of food or beverage in a plastic container), I figure I should at least do what I can to limit my family’s exposure to harmful plastics.

Although most decent quality plastic containers are now BPA-free, I’ve read lots of credible articles claiming that BPA-free plastic can still produce negative, potentially cancer-causing effects. With that in mind, I’ve decided to make some changes in my home:mwga-17-a17_2

I already don’t typically drink bottled water – I typically use filtered water from our fridge, or the water machine at work. But I’ve now swapped our plastic Nalgene sports water bottles with aluminum S’well bottles for both myself and Jeffrey (that one was a no-brainer – S’well bottles may be a bit heavier and a tiny bit less convenient than plastic bottles, but they keep water cold FOREVER).

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I’ll be replacing our mismatched plastic Tupperwear with a set of glass containers. This one hurts a bit, because they’ll take up more room…but it’s for the best, and I won’t have to deal with the ugly, stained, half-melted (I put them in the dishwasher knowing full-well I’m really not supposed to) mess of containers I currently have. This set comes with a good variety of sizes and gets high ratings on Amazon.

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No more plastic cups…I can’t get rid of ours (Jeff refuses to drink out of a real glass unless we’re having a dinner party or something), but I’ve stopped drinking out of the plastic cups we stole from the movie theater (yep) in favor of using a real glass (we have this set). I actually originally did this less for the health concerns and more because the plastic cups were starting to pick up a funky dishwasher detergent taste…yum.

So, it’s not much, and I could be doing a lot more, but these few changes make me feel a little better about what I’m putting into my body. If anyone has any other (realistic) ideas of ways to reduce plastic exposure, send ’em my way!

 

Digging

Long time, no dig! Here’s what I’ve been into as of late:

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T3 Micro:

Up until recently, I hadn’t bought a new blow dryer in ages. We’re talking years. And I wondered why my hair would be all frizzed out 5 minutes after I finished drying it. So, earlier this month, I finally upgraded my 10 year old $20 Conair dryer to a T3 Featherweight. I happened to luck out and snag mine from an outlet sale for $85 (marked down from $250!!), but it was definitely an investment well made. I can actually blow my hair out and it’ll stay silky smooth without being touched with a flatiron. Speaking of which, I was gifted a compact flat iron for Christmas, also from T3 – I asked for it so I’d have something small to throw in my bag to use after the gym, but it’s so much nicer than my old flat iron I’ve been using it at home (thereby defeating the purpose of getting it in the first place – oh well).

Revlon One-Step Volumizer Brush:

Speaking of hair care, this brush was another game changer I received for Christmas this year. It’s a volumizing brush and dryer in one, and is great for when you need to get out the door quickly, and don’t have time for a full blowout. It leaves my hair bouncy and silky smooth, and takes a fraction of the time a full blowout and straightening/curling sesh would.

Function of Beauty:

What the hell, let’s keep going with the hair stuff. I switched over to Function of Beauty late last year, and I’ll probably never go back (don’t hold me to that). It’s personalized shampoo and conditioner for your exact hair – you take an extensive quiz and select what you want your products to do (add volume, mend split ends, etc.), and even select your scent (they use amazing smelling essential oils – I chose a eucalyptus mint blend) and color (you can also choose to go dye-free). It’s lasted forever (I’ve had it since September and still have half of each bottle left…although let’s be honest, I don’t wash my hair very often), looks chic, smells great, and my hair has never looked or felt better.

Nutpods:

Moving on to less hair-related things…my dear, precious Nutpods. If you follow The Good Food, you’ve heard me wax poetic on Nutpods countless times. I discovered this almond/coconut blend creamer during a dairy-free month in January, and haven’t looked back – it’s one of the only plant-based creamers I’ve found that’s almost as creamy as half & half (my previous creamer of choice), is totally unsweetened (even the vanilla flavor), and doesn’t leave any chalky residue. I’ve found a refrigerated version of these at Wegman’s, but I prefer the shelf-stable kind I buy on Amazon (it needs to be refrigerated after opening) – I don’t know why, because the ingredients are identical. It just tastes better to me.

Madewell Jeans:

I feel like I’ve finally found my jeans, and it’s glorious. I have a history of trying every bargain brand of jeans available and hating all of them – they’re always crazy uncomfortable, stretch out and end up sagging, and the knees wear out in literally one wear (I also discovered that may be because I should be buying tall, and had been buying standard fit, but that’s a story for another day). I finally bit the bullet and invested in some higher-quality jeans, and I will absolutely never go back. Every pair of Madewell jeans I’ve purchased fits like a glove, feels like butter, and holds up beautifully. I especially love the Roadtripper cut – they’re the softest jeans I’ve ever worn and the cut is perfect (and they’re a steal at only $75) – but it’s hard to go wrong.

Brandless:

Brandless is an online grocery store that sells un-branded items for $3 each. I was a bit skeptical at first, but I received my first box today, and the quality has been great so far. It does help to comparison shop a bit – $3 isn’t actually always cheaper than you’d find at a regular grocery store – but there are some great deals, and I got some of their wooden spoons and spatulas and they look great. I also love that their packaging is minimal and modern looking. Definitely grab some of the Jalapeno Lentil Crisps if you order!

Living With Less:

You may have noticed that most of the products I’ve listed here were either purchased late last year, or were gifted to me – I’ve been trying really hard to avoid buying things I don’t need since the beginning of the year, and I think I’ve been doing pretty well. There have been some setbacks – I’ve noticed that when I actually do need something and allow myself to buy it (like the blowdryer), it tends to open the floodgates and tempt me to start buying things I don’t need as much (I just bought myself a new running outfit I probably could’ve done without, as well as a pair of flip flops I justified by telling myself I needed “dressier flip flops” when we went outlet shopping for work clothes for Jeff), but for the most part I’ve cut way back on online shopping, so I’m trying not to be too hard on myself. I’m spending less, there’s less crap all over the house, and I’m finding other ways to occupy my time. It feels great.

 

 

Puffer Picks

Last December, we were walking around Philly on a cold night during our annual overnight stay for my birthday, and I realized something…it’s time to invest in a good, insulated winter coat. I’d been making do with various pea coats, duffels, and other “dressier” wool coats, but they just weren’t cutting it – while wool coats can be very warm, they just don’t offer the protection an insulated coat would. I put it off until this year, but I finally dove in and made a purchase. Here are the top options I was considering:

The Cool Girl Pick

Uniqlo Seamless Down Long Coat – $149.90

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I came THIS CLOSE to buying this guy, and to be honest I’m not 100% sure why I decided against it…it’s stylish, gets great reviews, and the seamless design prevents cold air from seeping in. I did kind of want fur lining on the hood for no particular reason, so I guess that’s what edged this coat out.

The Sensible Pick

LL Bean Ultrawarm Coat, Long – $269

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I actually don’t remember coming across this coat while I was searching, which is really strange, because I searched LL Bean pretty exhaustively. This may have won out if I had seen it, although I didn’t really want to spend over $200…although I probably should have shelled out the extra cash for a warmer coat that’ll last me years (this is an ongoing struggle with me – I’m a crazy bargain hunter, to a fault.)

The Bargain Pick

Larry Levine Down & Feather Fill Jacket with Faux Fur Trim – $89 (on sale)

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This bargain-loving gal came very, very close to purchasing this coat – it’s super cute, right? What ended up stopping me was the lack of elastic in the wrists (I could see my arms freezing because of this) and the lack of reviews…plus, the price is so low it was almost suspect (to be fair, it was originally $198).

The Too Good To Be True Pick

Columbia Voodoo Puffer Coat – $180

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This seemed like a great price for an outdoor brand like Columbia, but upon reading reviews it sounds like it’s more of a fall coat and isn’t built for freezing weather (despite looking pretty darn warm). Next!

The Luxury Pick

Canada Goose Chelsea Fur-Trimmed Down Jacket – $755

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While this was never actually a consideration, this is most definitely the coat I’d choose if I had an unlimited budget – but alas, this is not currently the case. Maybe someday.

My Pick

Michael Kors Faux Fur Trim Down Puffer – $165 (on sale)8867784_fpx

And the winner is…this Michael Kors coat. Time will tell whether or not I regret buying a winter coat from a fashion brand, rather than an outdoor brand (my bet is YES, yes I will). Okay, you guys – so here is my (probably faulty) reasoning. First of all, it’s cute as hell. It’s nice and fitted so I won’t look like the Michelin Man, it’s just the right balance between matte and shiny, and I had told myself in the first place that I’d prefer gold hardware (which I didn’t end up actually caring about, but still). It got good reviews, the wrists are elasticized, there are plenty of pockets (I like that cute arm pocket, not that I’ll ever use it), and it’s the right length. AND…you guys, it was on crazy sale. Why am I like this? But seriously, it was marked down to $194.99 from what the website claims was originally $330 (although I’m skeptical of this, and I can’t seem to find this exact coat anywhere other than Macy’s…maybe it’s from last season? Which I’m fine with), PLUS I got an extra 25% off for signing up for text alerts so I only ended up paying a little over $150, PLUS I earned extra Macy’s cash that I can use towards my insanely expensive foundation, so that’s a win. But, I mean…it’s Michael Kors. What the hell does Michael Kors know about winter coats?

Welp…my decision has been made, and I’m anxiously awaiting its arrival (it is seriously FREAKING COLD here all of a sudden). Time will tell if I end up giving in and shelling out $250+ for a legit puffer from LL Bean or Patagonia or something next year…I’m hoping not, though! Wish me luck!

Stuff That Makes My Life Easier

Hey friends. Life is hard, yes? Therefore, I enjoy things that make said life easier. Let’s discuss, shall we?

  1. Wine Stoppers – I’ve been a hefty drinker of wine for many years, but for some reason I just started using a wine stopper like a month ago. Previously, I’d try to stuff the cork back in, which was a pain and didn’t work very well, and I’d often forget and then fruit flies would drink all of my precious wine. Well, no more! I can’t find the one I have since I bought it on clearance at Target, but here’s a cute monogram one, or a pretty set of agate ones.
  2. Garbage Can Bungee Thingies – Don’t you hate when your garbage bag slips inside of your garbage can and makes a huge mess? I do. These help.
  3. S’well Water Bottle – I know everyone has these already, but if you don’t, get one. They legit keep your water cold for unfathomable amounts of time. One time I left my water bottle in my car in 90 degree weather, and it was still cold when I came back 8 hours later. No joke.
  4. Duvet Clips – I don’t have these yet, but I’m getting some. My most recent duvet cover doesn’t have ties for reasons unbeknownst to me, and it’s basically a nightmare. These seem better than ties. Win.
  5. Apple TV – Honestly, I don’t remember life before Apple TV. Was it fine? Probably. Was it worse? Almost undoubtedly. If I’m being frank, we probably have too many streaming option type things (we have a smart TV, two TiVos – yes, actual TiVo, Apple TV, we still for some reason possess a DVR from our cable company which we pay for monthly and do not use, an Xbox 360 or whatever the most recent iteration is, plus we subscribe to Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, I think all the premium channels and their streaming counterparts…it’s a lot, guys) um but anyway, it makes life easier.
  6. Hair Pins – Up until my wedding, I only used one type of hair pin (the flat kind), regardless of the type of hairstyle I was using them for. But then! The night of my wedding, I was taking out the 50 thousand hair pins holding my ‘do up, and I noticed that they were different – instead of being flat, they were open, and I realized that these are probably what you’re supposed to use for topknots and buns and such. Lo and behold, they work WAY better. You’re probably not stupid like me and already know this, but if not, you’re welcome.

Okay, this post was supposed to be helpful bordering on genius, but it got dumb really fast…my apologies, guys. Here’s a pic of my dog in a party hat to make up for it.

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Forgive me.

 

Start a Holiday Savings Account.

YOU GUYS. This is my weekly “I work for a bank” lecture (just kidding, it’s the first and hopefully last). OPEN A DANG SAVINGS ACCOUNT FOR HOLIDAY GIFTS (and other assorted gifts throughout the year).

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All this crap was purchased worry-free.

Look. I know not everyone has a ton (or any) extra money to save. I GET IT! I do. But hear me out: if you’re going to buy holiday gifts anyway, that money’s coming from somewhere. Right? Right. So why suffer during the most joyful time of the year when you could have some cash money stocked away with which to purchase all of your tidings? Even if it’s just $5 a month…okay, that’s only $60, but it’s a start! In all seriousness, cut out one coffee each week and you’ve practically quadrupled that monthly $5 right there.

Here’s my own personal example: up until…I don’t know 4? years ago, I didn’t really plan for the holidays, and I’d typically just charge Christmas gifts and spend the first half of the year paying off credit cards. It sucked. It was stressful, and every time I’d purchase a gift it hurt a little…and that blew, because I FREAKING LOVE GIVING GIFTS! I decided enough was enough, and I started saving $100/month towards Christmas gifts. Listen, I know $100/month may seem excessive….that comes out to 1200 whopping dollars come December (or it may seem underwhelming…I don’t know, I don’t have kids yet). And it may BE excessive for you, depending on how many people you buy for and what types of gifts you exchange (and probably is for me, considering I buy for a total of like 5 people). BUT! I also allocate some of these funds to buy holiday related decor, sometimes to supplement my insane yearly cookie baking, and for gifts throughout the year (ahem, baby showers? Wedding gifts? 1 year old birthday parties?!!!) It usually ends up working out just about perfectly for me, and if I have any left over I can just roll it over into my general savings (or save up for a KICK ASS gift for someone the next year). And now come Christmas each year, I’m legitimately STRESS-FREE (well…monetarily, anyway). It’s wonderful. I can enjoy all the eggnog and wassail and merriment and what have you til the cows come home. OH, AND I DO.

So…that’s it. Open a holiday savings account. Do it. DO IT NOW. Actually, you know what? I’m going to plug Capital One’s 360 Savings, because this is my blog and I can (this isn’t sponsored or anything, I just honestly think it’s a great account.) No fees, no minimums, decent interest (it’s at .75% APY at the moment)…click here and get some cash to start you off. Go. Do it (even if you open an account elsewhere – I won’t be mad). Jessi out.

Uniqlo Finds

During my “I-need-a-knee-length-down-filled-puffer-coat-but-I’m-cheap-and-want-to-spend-as-little-as-humanly-possible” search, I was suddenly hit by a stroke of genius (okay, that might be a slight exaggeration): UNIQLO! Uniqlo is one of those stores that I constantly forget exists, but as soon as I remember them, I immediately want to purchase everything they’re offering. They’re SO affordable, and their basics are on POINT. Unfortunately, the puffer coat I wanted is out of stock, but I did find a bunch of other stuff I’d love to snatch up:

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Ultra-Light Down Vest – $39.90 (on sale!)

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Melange Wool Coat – $39.90 (Love me a coatigan!)

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Cotton Cashmere Cable Crewneck Sweater – $19.90

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Extra Fine Merino Turtleneck Sweater – $29.90

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Heattech Stretch Ankle-Length Pants – $19.90

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High-Waist Chiffon Pleated Skirt – $29.90

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Heattech Scarf – $14.90

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Cashmere Crew Neck Sweater – $79.90 (Crazy price for cashmere!)

Outerwear Wishlist

I’ve arrived at the age where I’ve discovered you can’t really get through an East Coast winter with just one or two coats…you really do need a few different staples, depending on occasion. I have a couple of solid options: A lined wool toggle coat for when it’s cold but I need something a little dressier than a huge puffer coat; a quilted navy jacket for more transitional weather, a vegan leather jacket that’s more for style than any practical purpose, and a hooded mustard number for when I feel like sporting something a little brighter.

That said, my collection is missing a few essentials: a truly dressy coat to go over formalwear, a SUPER warm insulated coat to brave freezing, windy days, a raincoat to actually keep me dry in wet weather, and a trench for a more professional vibe on cool fall/spring days. Here are some options I’ve been eyeing up to round out my collection:

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  1. Religion Craft Coat (via Asos) $127 (on sale) – I dig the extra large collar, and I like that this coat can be dressed up or down.
  2. Patagonia Downtown Parka $189 (on MAJOR sale!) – This is just what I need for windy, icy days – nice and long, and insulated with goose down, this bad boy’s bound to keep me toasty.
  3. Stutterheim Stockholm Raincoat $295 – This is my dream raincoat…the price is a bit steep for a coat I probably wouldn’t wear that often, but boy is this guy pretty.
  4. PrettyLittleThing Belted Trench (Via Asos) $95 – Although I’m usually very into menswear-inspired clothing, I like that this soft pink trench is a little different than the typical camel number…still professional, but with a feminine twist.

 

Fresh Fall Fashion (cute, no?)

I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve snagged to spruce up my wardrobe for fall…

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  1. J. Crew Factory V-Neck Pullover – Oversized and comfy as can be, I’ll be lounging with a cup of hot tea or romping around in a pile of leaves in this (probably not that last one).
  2. Merona Kona Backless Loafer Mules – These are my new favorite fall shoes – perfect with jeans, and they don’t make my outfit look too casual…plus, who doesn’t love a good mule? #lazy
  3. J. Crew Factory Perfect Fit Plaid Classic Button-Down – To add to my ever-growing collection of plaid shirts…I plan to buy a white puffer vest to pair with this bad boy.
  4. J. Crew Factory V-Neck Cardigan – I’ve been needing a new boyfriend cardigan, and this olive color is perfect for this time of year. Crazy soft!
  5. J. Crew Factory Short-Sleeve Sweater – This is perfect for this transitional weather, and the yellow color is the perfect pop of sunshine.
  6. Lucille Laser-Cut Booties (Target) – I was in desperate need for new ankle boots, and I’m loving the perforated look.

My Trader Joe’s Snack Picks

It’s my weekend to work (I work from home when I work the weekend, so it’s no biggie), it’s a S-L-O-W day, the weather is gloomy, and I’m sipping a latte and enjoying a Trader Joe’s pumpkin vanilla candle. Speaking of TJ’s, I figured what better time to share some of my favorite products – that’s something that’s never been done by anyone on the Internet before, right? (Ha!) It’s actually become somewhat of a game between me and my co-workers – whenever we’re bored, we just start listing our most recent TJ’s picks. This list could go on for 10 pages, so today I’ll focus on the fun stuff: snacks/junkfood. Here goes:

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Popcorn in a pickle: My one true love. I could eat three bags of this stuff in one sitting.

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Cornbread Crisps: I was skeptical of these until a co-worker all but shoved one in my mouth (I’m not huge on cornbread), and HOLY MOLY are they good. So crispy and the perfect sweet/salty combo…they’re good alone, but PERFECT dipped in chili.

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Chunky Artichoke & Jalapeno Dip: SO good, especially with…

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Pita Bite Crackers: Addictive as all get out, and they go with literally anything.

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Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds: Everyone loves a good salted dark chocolate almond, but that turbinado sugar gives these that perfect addictive crunch.

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Unexpected Cheddar: So yummy and salty, with a little parmesan bite.

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Jalapeno and Honey Chevre: Creamy, with a surprising amount of kick.

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Brownie Crisp Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches: These things are my new obsession – you guys, they are FREAKING DELICIOUS. The brownie is perfectly chewy, the ice cream is rich and creamy with the perfect coffee kick, and they’re the perfect little size…to eat the whole box. These are dangerous little suckers.

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Triple Ginger Snaps: Heavenly dipped in coffee…or milk…or nothing. The crystallized ginger is key in these. Once you try these guys, you’ll never buy regular ginger snaps again.

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Almond Croissants: These require a little forethought as they need to rise overnight, but it’s WELL worth it. You’ll think you fell asleep and woke up in a quaint patisserie in Paris.

Of course, there’s plenty more that could go on this list…but these are more or less the items I’ve grabbed time and time again. I’ll do a more extensive “essentials” list another time!

 

All photos courtesy of  Trader Joe’s