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Trader Joe's Bakery

I love Trader Joe's.  I know that sounds trite and simple, but it's true.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Trader Joe's, it's a small, specialty grocery chain that packages most of the foods sold in their own brands.   They have really great prepared foods, cheeses, and a bakery.  And this post is simply an ode to the bakery.  It is very rare that I bring home something from the bakery that is not immediately consumed by everyone.

Crumb cake

Gingerbread (from a mix)

Chocolate loaf and Cookie Butter

What is this Cookie Butter you ask?  Oh's only the most delicious thing to spread on cookies or toast or to end by the spoonful alone.  It has the consistency of peanut butter but is actually butter made from cookies.  So delicious and now they make it swirled with cocoa.  And I wonder why I have an extra 20 pounds.



While so many people are putting together gift guides and wrapping ideas, I'm sort of on fast forward this year.  After resolving to just relax and think of my food choices as a lifestyle instead of a diet, I started thinking of other things I could relax in my life.  Prior to moving three years ago, I had held on to a lot of things for no good reasons.  It was probably a way of attempting to gain some control in my very out of control life, but it really didn't solve any problems.  Spurred on by my husband and my sister while we were packing, I let go of so many things and never regretted it.  Now I'm looking around and wondering what else I could let go of.  I'm starting to feel like less could indeed be so much more.  Maybe it's having my office exist in what was formerly a small closet.  Every day I'm pulling things off of the shelves above me so that gaps are finally emerging, and I have the luxury of thinking about arranging and grouping things to make them more pleasing.  Starting with one small space, I want to move on to others.  Hmmmm...I wonder how far I'll get before the mood changes?

All photos via Martha Stewart Living


Last Thanksgiving

Over the last three years, I've been attempting to drop 20 pounds.  Before that, I had been a devotee of Atkins for at least 7 years.  I was really happy with my weight, and I always felt that I was living a lifestyle not following a diet.  Soon after I started dating my husband, I started to transition to a more "balanced" diet, eating more complex carbs including whole grain bread and brown rice.  I almost instantly began gaining weight.  Since I hadn't really been concerned with portion control while on Atkins, I quickly realized that I had no idea of proper proportions, and I focused on portion control and limiting between meal eating.  And I gained even more weight.  Starting to feel frustrated, I started exploring diets and eating plans and fit more routine exercise into my schedule.

I have been able to maintain my weight over the last few years, but I've never been able to lose that 20 pounds,  so prior to leaving for France, I had decided to go back to Atkins when we returned.  Saying goodbye to bread would be tough, but with low carb options out on the market, I was hoping to get back into the swing of things soon with plates that look more like this than I'm used to anymore.   Ironically, this was my thanksgiving dinner in 2012.  No potatoes, yams, or gravy.

Armed with my resolve, we set off for France where I was determined to eat every piece of cheese and macaroon in sight.  And I did with no regrets.  For the first week back, I had unbelievable jet lag and just could not adjust, so I didn't spend a lot of my time when I was awake thinking about my diet.  This year for Thanksgiving I didn't really worry about what went onto my plate.  And on Friday, finally feeling back to myself and having time to think after unpacking, I thought about the women I had seen in France.

Everyone eats much smaller meals than we are used to in America, and they eat everything.  People are not ashamed to eat the way we seem to be here.  Eating is a very social and entertaining thing for them. So Friday I made an early resolution.  For a time I'm going to just try everything in moderation, and we'll see how that goes.