trader joes

What I'm Into Wednesday - The Most Wonderful Time...

Well, it's officially December - which means we are officially into holiday season. Thank you to the lovely humans who officially waited until December hit in order to decorate, blast Christmas music, and get extra festive. I appreciate it, November is far too early. 

So, in honor of embracing the holidays, here we go - let the holiday themed blogs begin!

SEE

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This Sunday I had the honor of being the speaker during an event to celebrate the grand opening of Saje Wellness in the La Jolla UTC mall. The theme was talking about community wellness, and how the path to bringing wellness to your community has to start with bringing wellness to your own life. It was an amazing experience (and kind of emotional) to recount my path, my journey, through adolescence, high school, college, and my twenties to where I am today. 

I was so happy with the turnout (such an amazing group of women who came out) and with the space! If you haven't actually been into a Saje store - find one near you. They nail the in store experience and you will immediately feel your wellness improve just by stepping in. 

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We are in the first week of the #Top20of2017 giveaway - and it is a blast! We know that it's always fun to give gifts and presents away to people and this is no different! It's been so enjoyable to play Santa Claus and shower giveaway prizes and gifts - on people I both know and don't know. 

People would be lying if they said they don't love free stuff, especially free stuff that they win. Are you playing along? Follow me on IG @thelpinsd and follow each day's instructions!

SMELL

Winter means Crockpot season. And Crockpot season means SOUP! This week I made a chicken sausage/lentil/couscous concoction - spicy andouille chicken sausage, lentils, couscous, tomatoes, spinach, bell peppers and chicken bone broth. So tasty, very healthy, and surprisingly filling. 

Any suggestions for other soup recipes to try out?

HEAR

Last week I started a new end of yoga class tradition - seated meditation. You're probably saying, "what"? That's definitely not new. True, but a consistent seated meditation isn't something I've been doing at the end of every one of my yoga classes and it's something I've been wanting to incorporate.

So last week we started with 60 seconds. This week we're up to two minutes. As I said last week, 60 seconds simultaneously isn't a long time and is also a really long time. In this busy season it can be challenging to find 60 minutes to spend on your mat or 20 minutes to meditate - but you can always find 60 seconds to sit somewhere quiet and listen to your breath. Try it out. It's powerful.

TASTE

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Okay, it's time to confess: cookies are my absolute weakness this time of year. I love love love holiday cookies - gingerbread, shortbread, pepperminty chocolate things. Basically everything in the Trader Joe's cookie aisle. And I'm also okay with indulging. So I bought my first box of holiday cookies from TJs last week - glazed Lebkuchen. These soft, chewy, spiced molasses cookies disappeared real fast. And they were delish!

Best part of holiday cookies? Doing a cookie exchange with friends. What should I make??

What I'm Into Wednesday - The Turkey(free) Edition

Contrary to popular belief, turkey is totally optional on Thanksgiving. In fact, it's like the one thing usually on the table that I never eat. It just doesn't do it for me. 

So I wasn't upset at all when we planned to go to Angelo's sister Domenica's house for Thanksgiving dinner. She was vegan for many years, so turkey is low on her priority list as well. So low for both of us, that we didn't have it at all. But don't worry, we still managed to eat plenty (as seen in our food and real baby belly photo below). 

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So here's What I'm Into from this Thanksgiving week:

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There are two websites that I love that feature unusual and weird things to do in San Diego/Southern California: Atlas Obscura (which I've talked about before) and Hidden San Diego. Both of them have entries on the Desert View Tower. This tower is about an hour east of San Diego, in Jacumba, just north of the 8 freeway. Angelo and I took Arlo adventuring on Saturday out east and decided we were so close, we just couldn't miss seeing the tower in person. It was well worth the decor. The goofy guy who owns it has his 6 dogs running around, your dogs are allowed in and off leash too. The first floor of the tower is exactly the weird gift shop you'd imagine in the middle of nowhere desert and for $6.50 you can head up the stairs to the top of the tower, which yes has an amazing desert view. Don't forget to stop at each landing along the way to check out the creepy museum-ish exhibits that are there.

Bonus: your ticket gets you entry to the boulder/cave park just on the other side of the parking lot. We had a blast climbing with the dog up, over, and around big rocks, into caves, and enjoying the strangeness of it all.

I highly recommend making a trip out. Also, he's selling the property for $1.2 million (93 acres!) if you happen to have that laying around.

DO

Pre tower stop we headed up to Mt. Laguna for a morning of hiking. We had the funny thought on the drive up that getting to the PCT on Mt. Laguna (some of the best hiking and trail running anywhere) only takes about 45 minutes - and yet it seems so far away, we almost never go. It can take me 45 to get home from La Jolla. Silly (and a totally random aside). 

Anyway we headed out and just stopped at a random trailhead to start hiking. The Big Laguna Trail is a huge series of trails but the part we ended up on connected us after about half a mile to the PCT. It was perfect weather, looked like fall, and was so much less trafficked than closer hikes. We had a blast!

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SMELL

The main dish for Thanksgiving this year was a butternut squash that was unbelievable. Mind you, we totally forgot about it on Thanksgiving itself (we did each try a bite, but by the time we remembered we were stuffed - pun intended) but it made for amazing leftovers. 

Thanksgiving or not, you should make this. The house will smell am.az.ing.

TASTE

The taste test winner on Thursday was a bit of a surprise. We had all of these amazing, home cooked, delicious foods - and we lost our shit over baked brie. How can you not?

We did a brie, sliced in half and filled with Trader Joe's Hot and Sweet Pepper Jam, and wrapped in puff pastry. Served with crackers and bread - yum! That could've been the whole meal. We would've been just fine.

HEAR

Here's a poll for all you readers. I'm curious if this is a "thing" or just a Neroni family "thing." Or maybe a midwest/Ohio "thing". Do you listen to Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant on Thanksgiving? Angelo's family has for as long as he can remember (it's on the radio every year on Thanksgiving, apparently) so we adopted that tradition as well. Seeing as though Arlo is named for him, it's even more fitting. For the past few years we've listened on our record player and, I have to say, that 18 or so minutes that is Alice's Restaurant is some of my favorite time of that day. The song/story is just unbeatable.

If not, do you have a weird family tradition that you just can't give up for Thanksgiving? I'm curious!

What I'm Into Wednesday - The "Fall" Edition

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EDIT: This post was written prior to the events that happened in Las Vegas on Sunday evening, October 1st. It feels weird to post just another normal Wednesday blog but being able to live our normal lives without fear is one of the things that makes being an American special. So before we get to that normal Wednesday post, let me just say this: do something. Stop reading this blog, open another tab in your computer or on your phone. Schedule an appointment to donate blood, search for a non-profit that you'd like to donate to, send a quick email or phone call to your local representative and lobby for mental health or gun control or DACA or women's rights, go to the store and buy supplies for a hard hit area like Puerto Rico. Just take a moment, quit with all the thoughts and prayers baloney, and go do something. This blog (and everything that you do on the computer or your phone) will be right there waiting for you when you return. Because you're lucky. I'm lucky. We're all so very privileged. We can read and write these silly little blogs and go about our normal days. Not everyone can right now. So let's do something, collectively. 

End plea.

Onward

"Fall"

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One of my all time favorite meals is soup and grilled cheese. It's warm, comforting, and delicious. But nobody wants to eat soup in the summer heat. So we finally have had a chilly (I use that term lightly) evening or two and I took full advantage. My choice? Baron's Market. Not only do they have absurd brownies (with samples out, always) but they have a whole soup bar! I went with vegetarian chili - corn, beans, slightly spicy. Just perfect! These days I'm off the dairy so I replaced the grilled cheese with avocado toast. I don't care how "basic" that is. It will always be yummy. Do you have a favorite soup and sandwich combo?

HEAR

Time to spread the podcast love around. I just finished up How I Built This with Starbucks founder, Howard Schultz. We're all familiar with the current iteration of Starbucks but it was fascinating to learn the beginnings. I had no idea that it originated as just a store to buy coffee beans or how innovative they were with things like employee healthcare. While many of us (myself included) tend to poo poo Starbucks these days in favor of local, small roaster coffee joints - it was a fantastic reminder that none of the coffee scene as we know it today would exist without Starbucks. 

SMELL

While we may have a few hours during a few days that feel reminiscent of fall, it certainly doesn't smell like fall in San Diego. Saje to the rescue! Their diffuser blend called Mountain High fixes all of that! Mountain High has pine, balsam, and spearmint to make your home feel woodsy, fresh, and invigorating. 

SEE

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Another weekend, another long run. In the prep for the North Face Endurance Challenge San Francisco 50k in November we've been putting in some serious weekend miles. This weekend we took to Mission Trails for another shot at the 5 peaks and we were met with an unexpected friend: clouds and fog! It was perfect running weather for about half of the run and made for some incredibly stunning views. Yay for cooler temps!

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Trader Joes has done it again. They absolutely nail the fall and winter themed specialty food products. I'm not a pumpkin spice fan, so I usually fare well and come out unscathed during October. They tend to get me with the gingerbread and peppermint flavored items in November and December. But I did discover a new favorite item out now: Apple Cider Jam. Chunks of apples in a cinnamon-y jam. Reminds me of apple pie filling (not quite as sweet) and is absolutely delish with peanut butter on some toast! Get yourself some. 

What I'm Into Wednesday - Trail Adventures

Have you ever made plans with friends and been equally excited and scared at the same time? This was my set of emotions going into my long run on Saturday. A few friends and I decided to try out the 5 Peaks Challenge in Mission Trails. This is something I've wanted to do for a while but haven't felt confident enough in my running abilities/injury status to attempt. So Saturday was a big day. And it was awesome.

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Let's just start with the challenge itself: run/hike up all 5 peaks in Mission Trails in one day. Cowles Mountain, Pyles Peak, Kwaay Paay, North Fortuna, and South Fortuna. All on foot. No driving. There are a few routes of differing lengths that will take you up all 5. We chose the longest route we could find. We started at 5:30am with headlamps in the rain, vests packed full of hydration and snacks, and ended a bunch of hours later with hungry stomachs, thirst, and sunburns. In total we hit 18.7 miles, almost 4800 feet of climbing, in right about 4 hours of moving time. It was an epic adventure that I'd gladly do again (and again and again). If you're a Strava junkie, you can check our course out here!

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Post run all I wanted to do was nap and watch something. I logged onto Netflix and came across GLOW. The premise: it's 1985 and Ruth is a broke actress trying to make it in LA. She finds herself auditioning for a women's wrestling show called GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) alongside an amazing cast of characters (including her former BFF - there's serious drama there). It's smart, hilarious, visually stunning in all it's 80s glory, has a fantastic soundtrack, and will hook you. Bonus: Marc Maron plays the director, and he's funny AF.

 

HEAR

In preparation for Saturday's adventure, I took a Friday night yoga class. I (try to) take Nikki Krause's 5PM class at Core Power in North Park (this is an open invite) every Friday. She's a gem. Smart sequencing, great music, and perfect theming. This week she talked about how we are our own best teacher. We have an inner wisdom that exists inside us all and sometimes our work is in quieting the outside world and listening more closely to ourselves. I loved that thought.

 

SMELL

Have you ever smelled a freshly prepared burrito after a 18 mile run? No? Well it's the most delicious smell ever. I hit up Panchita's in North Park for a vegan burrito post peaks. What's in it, you ask? Potatoes, soy chorizo, avocado, tomato, cabbage, peppers, and beans. And it was bomb diggity.

 

TASTE

This is a weird one. Have you ever tried Nutritional Yeast? It's like the best kept secret of the vegan world. My pre-race or pre-long run meal is always pizza, but I've been off of the dairy for a while now. So I went with an Amy's Vegan Margherita pizza with non-dairy Daiya cheese on Friday night. Sprinkle a little nutritional yeast on that bad boy and it gave it the salty/savory quality of parmesan. I mean, nothing replaces the real deal, but it was close! My current brand? Trader Joes. 

What I'm Into Wednesday - Trader Joe's FTW

As of late, Angelo and I have primarily been Sprouts grocery shoppers. I find that I'm more likely to stock up on good, fresh produce and less likely to peruse the boxed/canned/packaged food aisles at Sprouts than at other grocery stores.

But I have a serious soft spot for Trader Joe's. It's my go to when I want some variety in snacks or to buy more reasonably priced versions of things like blue cheese (why the hell is it so expensive most places??). So this past week I did most of our shopping at Trader Joe's and found a few gems below.

Taste

I go back and forth on whether it's worth it or not to keep cold brew in the house. On one hand, it's the summer and often times the last thing I want is hot coffee but on the other I tend to be disappointed with a lot of store bought cold brew. While we all know nothing compares to Dark Horse, that habit can be expensive (and many times yields me eating a donut as well) so I was stoked to see Coconut Cold Brew Concentrate at Trader Joe's! And even more stoked that it was delicious. Problem, solved.

Smell

So, when is Smell-o-vision going to become a thing? Because my friend Amanda sent me a video text of her pulling the lid off a Crockpot and while I couldn't tell what was cooking inside, I knew it smelled awesome. Turns out it was homemade applesauce. Super simple: apples, water, cinnamon. That's it. Considering how yummy it is from a jar a few days later and the aroma still coming out of it, I can only imagine how the Crockpot itself smelled as it was cooking. It's on my list to try next week!

Hear

As a yoga teacher, there are a few artists that stay in relatively regular rotation on my playlists. One of which is Moby. But Moby has this song that has a totally different association for me. His song Flower is better known to November Projecters as Sally. And Sally is a bitch. Want a good workout? Turn on the song and do squats. Every time he says "Bring Sally up" you stand up and every time he says "Bring Sally down" you squat. Until the song is over.

See

I know I'm behind the curve on this one, but I just started reading The Power Of Habit and I am already hooked. From a sociological standpoint, the case studies, stories, and research in the book are engrossing. From a personal standpoint, I'm all about automation. And if you can learn about your habits and learn how to reprogram them than you can change you life. 

Do

If you live in San Diego, you must go check out Wonderspaces. This pop up abstract/modern/interactive art exhibit is SO FUN. Angelo and I went on Friday as part of our "date night" (does 4pm count as night?) and we spent about two hours observing, playing, and soaking in the fun. And yes, while this space inherently screams Instagram, try to at least actually enjoy the exhibit before just snapping a photo or video. I can't tell you how many people walked into an exhibit, snapped, and then left. I don't even think they saw it. Enjoy it.