Thursday, April 19, 2018

My 15 Favorite Items From Trader Joe's

The Best Items To Buy At Trader Joe's

So full disclosure, I wrote a post almost identical to this a little over a year ago, which some of you may remember. But I thought I'd share an updated version, since although most of my favorite items from my beloved Trader Joe's haven't changed, there are some new staples for me now (along with some items I featured last year that I no longer buy). TJs is my top grocery store because they not only have lots of delicious food (much of which is healthier than what I find at my regular supermarket), they're affordable. Double win. (And nope, this isn't sponsored. I just genuinely love me some TJs.)

1. Toscano Black Pepper Cheese.  Keeping this one at #1 because it is THE BEST. It was recommended to us several years ago by a Trader Joe's employee while we were shopping, and there has not been a visit to TJs since where we didn't buy it.

2. Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. I use this in and for pretty much everything.

3. Raw Almond Butter. When I first saw the price for one of these jars, I put it back. But then I grabbed it again and man, am I glad I did. I eat this almost everyday. Try dipping apples into it or adding it to your morning smoothie. Delightful.

4. Thai Yellow Curry Sauce. I've told this story before, but almost 12 years ago now, I had my husband over for dinner for the first time. I made him yellow curry tofu with this sauce, and he told me he was smitten. (I also drank way too much vodka that night and he ended up holding up my hair over the toilet, but we'll save the details of that story for another time.) We still make this dish on the regular.

5. Thai Vegetable Gyoza. My favorite food in the entire world is Tibetan Momos, and these veggie potstickers, while not as delicious as the real thing, are pretty damn similar. We steam them, then light pan fry, and serve with Bragg Amino Acids. So good.

6. Chile Lime Seasoning Blend. As the cool kids say, this stuff is extra. 

7. Organic Broccoli Slaw. This stuff is killer on top of bowls, steamed and served like pasta, added to tacos, etc. Endless possibilities. 

8. Triple Ginger Snaps.  Made with fresh ginger, candied ginger, and ground ginger, theses are the perfect not-too-sweet sweet treats.

9. Handcrafted Black Bean & Cheese Taquitos. Beans, cheese, and taquitos. Enough said.

10. Speculoos Cookie Butter. I feel like including this is almost cliche because it's everybody's TJ favorite, but it's really really really good, so I couldn't leave it out.

11. Paneer Tikka Masala with Spinach Basmati Rice. I wish the portion was larger, but it genuinely tastes like it's from an Indiana restaurant. So good.

12. Everything But The Bagel Seasoning. There is very little that this seasoning can't make better.

13. Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches. Definitely not good for you, but the best ice cream sandwiches I've ever had. For real.

14. Oven-Baked Cheese Bites. These bites are 100% cheese. All cheese. Mmmm.

15.  Triple Ginger Brew. This is only available around the holidays, which for whatever reason is the only time I seem to drink soda, so it works out pretty well for me. Think ginger ale with bite.

If you have any favorites I missed, please share them! I'm always on the look out for new Trader Joe's goodies I haven't tried.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

5 Ways to Make Potty Training Fun

5 Ways to Make Potty Training Fun
This post is sponsored by Pooparoos Supriseroos, but all opinions are my own.

I remember naively looking forward to potty training with my daughter (who is now four). I happily envisioned an eager toddler excited to be a big kid and go pee pee on the potty, full of congratulatory high fives and elated farewells to diapers. Sure, there would be an occasional accident, but it couldn't be that hard, right? Ha. Hahaha. Potty training reality for us (as with most things for us as new parents) turned out to be much different than imagined, especially in terms of my daughter's enthusiasm about the experience. She had no interest in using the potty, and even as a two year old, clearly viewed it as a chore and waste of her time. We tried all sorts of different methods, but in the end, only one thing resulted in success - making it fun. Perhaps this seems common sense, but it was harder than we thought to find ways to creatively incorporate fun into the process. And while all kids are different, now that we're beginning to toilet train our two year old son, we have a much clearer picture of specific ways to encourage him to use the potty and to see it as an enjoyable experience. Today I'd thought I'd share some of the things that worked for our first born that are now working for our toddler as well.

5 Ways to Make Potty Training Fun

1. Read toilet training books. When we were training our daughter, we read several books everyday that focus - in fun ways - on getting little ones to understand and get excited about moving on from diapers. We're now doing the same for our son, and he absolutely loves it. With him, we've also been reading them to him while he sits on the potty, which provides extra motivation for him to try to go just like the kids in the books.

5 Ways to Make Potty Training Fun

2. Have potty movie time. I remember reading somewhere that providing screen time while your toddler is toilet training can actually create a stumbling block, but for us, it's been a big part of our success. With our daughter, the first time she actually went on the toilet (after trying many other things), was while she was sitting on her toddler toilet watching a movie. We did have her get up and take breaks every few minutes, but ultimately, she was sitting long enough that she finally had to go, and, well, just went. For her, she was able to look at this time as something special (getting to watch a movie) rather than a chore (having to sit on the potty until she had to go), and that made it fun. It also enabled her to experience what it actually felt like to go on a toilet instead of in a diaper, which is the first step of the toilet training process (and something kids are sometimes initially scared about).

5 Ways to Make Potty Training Fun

3. Keep a sticker chart. I wish we'd done this from the beginning with our daughter (we didn't do it until we'd already been trying for a couple of weeks), because it made a massive difference in how she viewed toilet training. As soon as she realized that she got a sticker on her chart every time she went #1 in the potty, and both a sticker and a small treat every time she went #2, she looked at it has a game as which she wanted to excel rather than a chore. We started a chart immediately with our son, and he thinks earning his stickers is the most fun thing in the world.

5 Ways to Make Potty Training Fun
5 Ways to Make Potty Training Fun

4. Play with silly pooping toys. Yep, you read that right! I can't tell you how much I wish we'd had Pooparoos Supriseroos for our daughter, because they've genuinely been one of the best ways to get our son excited about using the toilet. (And even though our daughter has been potty trained for over two years now, she loves them too because they're hilarious and adorable.) These cute little toilet toys each contain a precious surprise Pooparoos figure that comes with different "foods" and a serving tray. The kids feed them, then squeeze them to help them go on the potty. It's kind of genius, really. There are eight of them all together which makes them so fun for the kids to collect, and each one is random, so opening the package is a surprise (which is my daughter's favorite part). My son loves to make his pal go on the potty, and then he pretends (and sometimes even succeeds!) to go on his potty as well. They're such funny, lighthearted toys whether your little one is potty training or not. (You grab some of your very own right here or at your local Walmart.)

5 Ways to Make Potty Training Fun

5. Get siblings involved. My son wants to do everything his big sister does, and she loves helping out with him. It was actually initially her idea to make a game out of going on the potty, and it ended up being kind of brilliant. She'll explain "potty race time!" and they'll both run to the bathroom. It makes our toddler giggle (and motivates him to go because his sister is going), and makes our daughter feel likes she's doing something important (which she is!).

So there you have it - the ways we make potty training fun for our little ones (and more enjoyable for us, as well). If you have any tips or ideas I left out that work for you, I'd love to hear them. Solidarity, friends. We're in this together!


Monday, April 16, 2018

12 Delightfully Easy Avocado-Based Recipes

Summertime Watermelon and Feta Guacamole Dip

You already know all about my long time love affair with all things avocado, so I'll skip the gushing and just leave you with this round up of my favorite recipes from over the years here at Bubby and Bean that incorporate avocado and happen to be incredibly easy to prepare. Click on any of the images or links below them to see the recipes in full. I'm getting hungry just looking at them.

Cheddar + Swiss, Fuji Apple, and Avocado Sandwich

Guacamole and Black Bean Pizza (via Bubby and Bean)

Jasmine Rice, Lentil, and Red Quinoa Tacos

Southwestern Style Mac and Cheese // Bubby and Bean

Individual Mexican Style Layer Dips

Avocado and Pan Toasted Chickpea Pitas

Festive Winter Guacamole

Vegetarian Breakfast Tacos with Red and Yellow Potatoes

If you've made any of these, I'd love to hear which was your favorite. And if there are any recipes staring my beloved avocado that you think I simply must try, please leave links in the comments or shoot me an email!


Friday, April 13, 2018

Links I Love, Right Now

Links of the Week

As this post goes live, I am sitting (in the very, very early morning) in a waiting room of a surgery center about to send my sweet two year old little boy back for minor surgery. As my husband put it, with everything Emmett has been through (meaning the dangerous form of epilepsy he batted as a baby and the weeks he spent in hospitals as a result), this is "a walk in the park," but even as I type this post two days beforehand, I'm freaking out. He's getting tubes placed in his ears in hopes of preventing more frequent ear infections and most likely also getting his adenoids removed in hopes of curing his sleep apnea and snoring (something that I've learned isn't normal or healthy for a toddler).

In an effort to not think about this moment, I spent a lot of late nights this week lying in bed wasting time on the internet. Lucky for me, I did find some cool links. So here I am, sharing with you below, via this month's Links I Love post.

I love love love this piece on NPR called Turning the Tables: The 150 Greatest Albums by Women (As Chosen By You). I also 100% agree with Blue by Joni Mitchell coming in at #1.

In case you missed my post last week about Target's new travel inspired home collection, it's now officially for sale. I want all of this.

I'm one of those terrible parents who gives my kids screen time (especially when I'm really busy with work and don't have childcare), but I am careful about what I let them watch. This piece on 10 toddler TV shoes that won't make your skin crawl is a good one for my fellow bad moms and dads who allow television for their little ones.

I want The Sunny Day Dress (seen in image above) from Free People to be my summer 2018 uniform.

This American Girl Resale Store empowers women with Autism. So cool.

Still laughing over this awesome dog that followed a Google Street View Car in Japan and "ruined" every photo.

I can't get this super chic cactus necklace out of my head.

Farewell beloved veggie puffs. These "healthy" snacks are actually pretty bad for you.

Love this New Yorker piece by Molly Ringwald on revisiting The Breakfast Club in the era of "me too."

I'm normally such a boring neutral no pattern person when it comes to bedsheets but these leaf print sheets are seriously everything.

This photographer wants to put a museum in your pocket. Awesome.

I'm mildly obsessed with these wide legged cropped pants from Madewell, and not just because they're called the Emmett Pants.

If you're reading this in the early morning, please shout out a little prayer to the universe that Emmett gets through this okay. (Which he will, but worrying is what mamas do best.) Then go have yourself a wonderful Friday and even better weekend. See you Monday, friends.