7 Trader Joe's Foods You Need To Try

I wanted to share some of my recent favorite finds at Trader Joes. First off is frozen cauliflower rice which I'm sure you've heard everyone talking about replacing cauliflower for rice. I've made it from scratch but it was a lot of work and has to be eaten immediately. When TJ's announced they were selling frozen cauliflower rice in their flyer last summer I was ecstatic! But I couldn't find it in any stores until now. I wasn't sure how it would hold up frozen, would it melt too soft, but no it was perfect!
I'm really picky about my veggie burgers and I absolutely love TJ's Quinoa Cowboy burgers! It has a slightly crunchy exterior. I just add some mustard to it and it's perfect!
I was never much of a hummus fan but lately have been getting into it as an afternoon snack at work. I picked up this weird looking product which says the first ingredient is chickpeas. It has a strong flavor of beets but is still pretty good.

Do you ever open a small can of tomato paste for a recipe, then the rest gets moldy in your fridge if you don't use it fast enough? Yep that's me! Tomato paste in a tube is the best invention ever! 
I always keep fresh parm at home to sprinkle over food, but I've never been a gouda fan. But this mix of the two cheeses makes for a really creamy, delicious cheese!

One thing that annoys me about TJ's is that all of their wines are priced with 99cents after it to make it look cheaper. I've dabbled in the world of boxed wine before  and decided to try this new brand at TJs. Postulate Sauvignon Blanc priced at $7.99 in a box that equals two bottles! It's crisp and slightly sweet. This would be good to take on a picnic. 

Cherries are seasonal and pricey so TJ's frozen cherries are the best thing ever! I buy this year round to have cherries in my oatmeal. 

Now I'm always open to trying something new, hence the beet hummus. So I picked up this black bean pasta. Epic fail! The ingredients only say black bean flour which to me isn't clear if it's all black beans or part white flour. I took one bite and threw the rest of the package away. I think I'll stick with TJ's Brown Rice & Quinoa Pasta which is still one of my favorites.

You can read my previous Trader Joe reviews here. What are some of your favorite Trader Joe's items?

What's New on Netflix

When the Oscars nominations came out I felt like I hadn't seen many of the movies and few were out on DVD yet, well now I'm finally catching up. There's a lot of great new movies released on DVD this month that you should see.

Nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay

In late 1951, Eilis Lacey, a young Irish girl, emigrates to Brooklyn. Sponsored by Father Flood, a priest from her native town Enniscorthy, she is assured to find a full-time job there. But the early days are tough, seasickness being soon replaced by loneliness and homesickness, two feelings all the more acutely felt by Eilis for having had to leave behind her widowed mother and her dear sister Rose. She nevertheless little by little manages to find her footing by adapting to her job as a salesgirl, by studying bookkeeping at Brooklyn College.  I read the book  so I couldn't wait to see the movie and it didn't disappoint. I would really encourage you to read the book first because so many things are not touched in the movie, yet just shown for a second and you wouldn't notice its significance had you not read the book. For instance, you see her stocking pantyhose in the store and the box has a face of a black woman on it. Well, the store had just integrated and Eilis was the only one willing to sell the brown pantyhose to black women.

The Danish Girl 
Starring Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard Won Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role and Best Achievement in Costume Design

Copenhagen, 1926 Danish artist, Gerda Wegener, painted her own husband, Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne), as a lady in her painting. When the painting gained popularity, Einar started to change his appearance into a female appearance and named himself Lili Elbe. With his feminism passion and Gerda's support, Einar - or Elbe - attempted one of the first male-to-female sex reassignment surgery, a decision that turned into a massive change for their marriage, that Gerda realized her own husband is no longer a man or the person she married before. I have to say the scenary of Denmark was amazing!

Starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone who was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Adonis Johnson is the son of the famous boxing champion Apollo Creed, who died in a boxing match in Rocky IV (1985). Adonis wasn't born until after his father's death and wants to follow his fathers' footsteps in boxing. He seeks a mentor who is the former heavyweight boxing champion and former friend of Apollo Creed, the retired Rocky Balboa. Rocky eventually agrees to mentor Adonis. With Rocky's help, they hope to get a title job to face even deadlier opponents than his father. But whether he is a true fighter remains to be seen. If you haven't seen the four Rocky movies, here's a recap which is useful since this movie refers to their history.

The Big Short
Starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling Brad Pitt Won - Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay; nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Three separate but parallel stories of the U.S mortgage housing crisis of 2005 are told. Michael Burry, an eccentric ex-physician turned one-eyed Scion Capital hedge fund manager, has traded traditional office attire for shorts, bare feet and a Supercuts haircut. He believes that the US housing market is built on a bubble that will burst within the next few years. Autonomy within the company allows Burry to do largely as he pleases, so Burry proceeds to bet against the housing market with the banks, who are more than happy to accept his proposal for something that has never happened in American history. The banks believe that Burry is a crackpot and therefore are confident in that they will win the deal. Jared Vennett with Deutschebank gets wind of what Burry is doing and, as an investor believes he too can cash in on Burry's beliefs. An errant telephone call to FrontPoint Partners gets this information into the hands of Mark Baum, an idealist who is fed up with the corruption in the

Starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams Won Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Writing, Original Screenplay. Nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

When the Boston Globe's "Spotlight" team of reporters dives into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston's religious, legal, and government establishment. The focus is on unveiling the continual sexual abuse by hundreds of predatory priests and cover-up of scandal by Boston Archdiocese in 2002. The central figure, Cardinal Law, who was actively participating in the covering of was summoned to retirement at the Vatican. The movie is very slow and a lot of it taking place in the cubeland of their office. However, it's an eye opening storyline that of the scandalous behavior of priests in the Catholic Church.  The movie has increased my admiration for journalists who work I didn't know can work up to a year to find the truth behind serious stories.

Bridge of Spies 
Starring Tom Hanks & Mark Rylance; Won Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role and Nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year; Director: Steven Spielberg

Based on the true story of an American lawyer, James B. Donovan, who during the Cold War was recruited by the CIA and involved in an intense negotiation mission to release and exchange a CIA U-2 spy-plane pilot, Francis G. Powers. The pilot was arrested alive after his plane was shot down by the Soviet Union during a mission and stays in the company of a KGB intelligence officer, Rudolf Abel, who was arrested for espionage in the US. This is a slow moving movie where parts are filmed in black and white and most of the movie is dark.

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper; Nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

In 1995 Joy has always been fascinated by creating things, this pursuit always supported emotionally by her maternal grandmother, Mimi. Joy feels that lack of practical support has led to others making fortunes on ideas she had come up with years ago but could not act upon manufacturing. Despite being broke, Joy is the person in her extended family to who everyone has always turned, in the process forgoing her own life, including not having attended college to help see her parents through their divorce. She works in an unsatisfying job as an Eastern Airlines ticket clerk, and lives with her mother Terry who spends all day in bed watching soap operas, her ex-husband Tony, a less than successful aspiring Latino Tom Jones wannabe, and their two children. Added to this mix is her father Rudy, the owner of a failing heavy-duty garage, which is managed by Joy's older half-sister Peggy, with who she has somewhat of a strained relationship, and for which Joy does the books. This movie is coming out next month on DVD.

Okay so these three weren't nominated for anything but worth watching.

Starring Will Smith (with a Nigerian accent) and Alec Baldwin, this is the movie Jada Pinkett Smith said she was boycotting the Oscars because her husband wasn't nominated for one. Based on the true story of a Nigerian doctor in Pittsburgh, Dr. Bennet Omalu, who uncovers the truth about brain damage in football players who suffer repeated concussions in the course of normal play. He's a brilliant forensic neuropathologist who made the first discovery of CTE, a football-related brain trauma, in a pro player and fought for the truth to be known while criticizing the NFL. Omalu's emotional quest puts him at dangerous odds with one of the most powerful institution in the world. I thought it was an interesting movie to bring this topic to light.

Secret in Their Eyes 
Based on a book and later an Argentinian movie that won an Academy Award, this is the remake starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts without makeup. The movie constantly switches between 2002 and the present which makes it a bit hard to follow except for the subtle differences in hair styles. The movie has two investigators in a private police unit led by the DA who receive an anonymous tip about a girl raped and killed. In 2015, the former detective says that after 13 years, he has found a lead and convinces the DA to reopen the case. They find clues and leads unknown to them, and secrets from the past come to light as they start discovering the real, chilling truth. The movie is dark and starts off slow, but wow the ending was such a twist I wasn't expecting!

The story of legendary blues performer, Bessie Smith, who rose to fame during the 1920s and '30s. Queen Latifah auditioned for this role 20 years ago, that's how long it took to make this movie which was fantastic! It's directed by an African-American woman named Dee Rees and also stars Tika Sumpter, Michael Kenneth Williams, Mike Epps, Khandi Alexander, Mo'Nique, and Charles S. Dutton. The costumes and the scenery really take you back in time.

Starring the SNL crew Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, and Rachel Dratch. The storyline is that sisters Kate and Maura Ellis are summoned home to clean out their childhood bedroom before their parents sell the family house. Looking to recapture their glory days, they throw one final high-school-style party for their classmates. Unfortunately this movie ended up being 40-year-old adults in a teen comedy with the party taking up 75% of the movie. From the commercials, I thought this would be a funny movie, but I'm afraid to say it was cheesy and boring. I forgot that I didn't care for the last Fey/Poehler film either, remember "Baby Mama"? yeah probably not. lol

Spring Fling

The weather has changed and it finally feels like spring! I've been enjoying spending a lot of time outside with my new purple raybans! I'm wearing matching purple Zoya Marley on my nails. I have those two midi skirts on my wishlist! If you love the scent of rose perfume, you will love the two linked below. You know those expensive glass water bottles by BKR, well Target makes an identical one for only $10! Also, yesterday Target released their Marimekko collection!

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How to Punch Extra Holes into a Belt

If you're like me you own several belts that are too big and you just need one or two more belt holes to make all the difference. Maybe you bought the wrong size belt, or you lost a little weight, or it’s because different pairs of pants sit on your body at different places. I finally discovered that you can easily solve this problem yourself with a belt hole puncher. It's a super-simple to use tool that comes with a variety of prong sizes for punching holes. With it, you can add new holes to your belts in a snap and end up with a great fit. Definitely worth every penny! I wouldn’t recommend this for belts that are several sizes too big, because there will be too much length left over.

Here are some tips for using the belt puncher so punching those extra belt holes can be a breeze. Know that the hole puncher does not make clean holes as it doesn’t quite cut through. To solve that use it by holding the lower handle (the one with the striker plate) firmly on a flat surface. With the lower punch handle anchored on the table top, simply press only the upper handle to bring down the revolving punch head. This technique will help you punch holes with less effort! To prolong the sharpness of the punch edges, put a small piece of strong cloth (like denim) under the belt to be punched. This way you aren’t hitting the end of the punch on the back metal plate.

DIY tips for clearing a clogged drain

The drain in my bathroom sink seems to get clogged every year and every year I'd shell out money for a plumber to come snake it for $50. The root of the cause is partly the design of my waterfall faucet I installed and then the thick face masks I use and hair which I try really hard not to go into the drain.

Well for the first time my kitchen sink got clogged and when I called around for price quotes everyone started at $200 for the first hour...umm no. So I looked for a solution to do it myself. First I used a mini plumger and worked the sink to no avail. Then I unscrewed and cleaned the P trap underneath the sink, no change. Next I tried to snaked the line into the wall, but have to admit I'm no expert on this and thought I'd better leave this to the experts. I wanted to avoid chemical drain products because they do more harm than good by eroding the pipes so I didn't go for Drano. Instead, I bought Zep Drain Care which is a biodegradable enzyme based formula made up of bacterial strains that break down the minerals in your drain. After 3 days of treatment, my clog was gone!!! Now I make sure not put much food scraps/vegetable peels down the drain and used cooking oil gets poured straight into the trash. I'm no longer using my garbage disposal as much.

For my bathtub I use a drain catch to catch hair, bath salts which don't really dissolve and the occasional handmade soap I might use that become solid and clog. In fact just using that drain catch tells me which products to stop using as I have to replace the drain catch every year due to not being able to fully clean it. That cheap investment prevents me from having to call a plumber again to have it snaked.

Another tip I learned for monthly maintenance is to put a cup of vinegar down the drain and then after a half hour of sitting time without using the sink to then follow up with a cup of boiling water. I feel good using these products so that I'm not hurting the environment or my wallet.

While we're on the topic of green cleaning products, my favorite cleaning company Mrs Meyers just released some limited time spring scents in Lilac and Peony. They already sold out once so be sure you pick yours up soon as they smell heavenly!

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Brooklyn Bridge

I wanted to share a preview of some of the pics during my recent trip to New York! You can see the Freedom Tower in the background.


NYX Store Opening!

Last weekend my mother and I hopped on the Silver Line and headed out to Tysons Mall for a day filled with shopping. We stood in line for an hour at the NYX store where they were nice enough to serve us treats in line and gave us a goody bag. I talked about NYX a couple years ago on my blog, it’s an affordable makeup brand that doesn't test on animals. NYX is named after the Greek Goddess NYX, not to be confused with NYC. My local CVS has really expanded its selection of NYX products, but still I was super excited to visit NYX's first brick and mortar store in VA because every single product will be available in one place. My mother got a huge haul of products for under $100! She had a full makeover at the Beauty Bar where a member of the squad tested out new makeup looks on her. The store had rows of gorgeous lipsticks and lip glosses it was so hard to choose a color for myself! NYX is constantly trying out new formulas and shades to offer the best products to their customers as evident by the frequent emails I receive from them with new products.

Spring Styles at the LOFT

I put together a collage of some of the items on my wishlist from the LOFT. What I've noticed is that they released some of the same pieces from their fall collection in new colors for the spring. Purple used to be my favorite color for clothing, but now I'm really into mint blue and the LOFT has some perfect pieces in that shade. I also tend to get a lot of work casual dresses from the LOFT because they are washable, don't need ironing, and are just basic staples. I also wanted to share my new purple sunglasses I picked up on a recent trip to NYC! And my new favorite lipstick - NARS Barbara.