trader joes

Diving Back In and A Few Favorites

As I mentioned in my post about our vacation, Jimmy and I wasted no time getting back into the swing of things once we arrived home in Pittsburgh! The first thing we did when we got home on Saturday was mow, weed wack, and mow some more. Mowing past our garden got me all sorts of excited to start planting!

We had a church fellowship dinner for my father-in-law and his wife on Sunday and it was so special! Everyone brought food, the fellowship hall was decorated beautifully, and the time spent with our church family was just the best. My assignment was to film a vlog of everyone giving a message for the bride and groom, and I had a blast with that.

On Monday, Jimmy and I were back to work! We were excited to hear that the zipline he worked on for the Pittsburgh Zoo will be opened this weekend. Go Jimmy!

One of the dogs I have been pet sitting for a few years turned six-years-old, so I took her on a special trail walk for her birthday.

Chocolate lab on bridge by water in Pittsburgh Panhandle Trail by Walkers Mill in Rennerdale PA Pittsburgh

The weather was just beautiful and made me so thankful that this is my job. It’s not always fun to walk dogs in January in Pittsburgh, but it’s 100% worth it come May!

In the evening, I had some real estate work. My brother is listing my father-in-law’s wife’s house for sale (Did you follow that? Lol!), so we all met up so Will could go over the contract with them and I could photograph the house for the listing.

Southbound Enterprises real estate agent Will Smith talking with client in CraftonGirl taking pictures inside a house with DSLR camera

It was a family affair, which I loved! Jimmy even tagged along as my assistant and carried a step stool around the house for me to climb up and down to get some good shots. He snapped this photo of me because he thought it was so funny that I scrunch my face up when I’m focusing. Oh, and if anyone is looking for a house in Pittsburgh, let me know 😉

It’s Tuesday as I type up this post, and I’m sure the rest of the week will include more pet sitting, mowing, and real estate work. It feels good to get back into the swing of things. On Saturday, Hannah and I will be hosting a joint birthday cookout for our husbands since their birthdays are just a day apart. I can’t wait!

Before Jimmy and I left for vacation, I had a few things I wanted to share, and I’m finally getting around to it. First, I have some new favorite markers for journaling.

Pilot Frixion erasable marker pens

Technically they’re erasable marker pens. I have only used the eraser once or twice and it worked fine, but I would definitely say they’re more of a marker than a pen. They sort of write like a pen, but definitely come off as a marker. Okay, I’m done geeking out over writing utensils, haha.

Next up, I went to Trader Joe’s and got some fun food and drinks to try out!

Trader Joe's maple ladders and sunflower seed spread and coffee and other products

I’d literally give all of the above products a 10/10 for price and taste. If I had to pick a favorite, I’d either choose the Colombia coffee beans or the maple ladders cereal. So good!

Okay, one last favorite. Our families and neighbor took such great care of our pets while we were gone, and it made us so happy. Mavis and Lola stayed with my parents for the week, and we had both of our parents and our neighbor check in on Malcolm on different days.


We got some great pictures of the girls from my parents of all the dogs hanging out and were slightly obsessed with talking to Malcolm on our Petzi cam!

What are some things you’ve been loving lately?

Cake Deliberations and Trader Joe’s Finds

Okay, so I’m kind of back to square one with my father-in-law’s wedding cake and I’m pretty happy about it. Let me explain!

The photos below are the inspiration cakes my father-in-law’s fiancé sent me. I noticed that all the cakes have fondant on them, which isn’t a problem because it’s pretty easy to mold and work with. In case anyone is wondering, fondant is an edible icing used to decorate cakes. It kind of has the consistency of play dough, but makes cakes have the extra smooth and polished look to them.

I made a trial layer cake last week just to goof around with the fondant, amount of cake dough needed, etc., and had them try the cake. I wasn’t surprised when they were totally weirded out by fondant because I’ve never met anyone that’s like “I love the taste and texture of fondant!” haha. It’s just weird, but makes cakes look flawless.

Three layer wedding cake with fondant and Harley Davidson colors

The trial run cake.

After talking, they decided they want a frosting that is smooth on the cake but also tastes good and doesn’t feel like eating play dough, so that’s where I’m at! My father-in-law really likes my buttercream recipe, so I’m going to do something along those lines. As for the look of the cake, they want it to say “ride with me forever” and have Harley Davidson colors.

Right now, we are nailing down cake flavors before I start making tiered cakes with decorations again. Since the cake is going to be three layers, they have a lot of options! I think I’m going to make either a few small cakes or cupcakes in a variety of flavors for them to test out one evening and then they can decide what they want for each layer.

Vanilla cupcake with strawberry buttercream

Vanilla cupcakes with strawberry buttercream that I made over the summer!

Here are my flavor combination ideas

  • Strawberry cake + vanilla pastry cream filling + marshmallow buttercream
  • Chocolate cake + caramel mousse filling + chocolate frosting
  • White (vanilla and almond flavored) cake + strawberry preserves filling + marshmallow buttercream
  • Lemon cake + lemon curd filling + lemon buttercream

If you have any flavor combo suggestions, let me know! I wanted to do some “different” cake flavors (think: lemon rosemary, lavender-honey, mocha banana, etc.), but I don’t know if that’s very wedding-y.

Okay, onto the Trader Joe’s finds! I just went today to pick up groceries (yup, still cheating on Aldi over here!) and found some things I’m excited to try.

Trader Joe's maple nut granola, bite sized everything crackers, and pumpkin Puffins

Up first is the cranberry maple nut granola, which I think would be so good with a bowl of yogurt or milk. In the middle are bite sized everything crackers, and on the right is one of my all-time favorite cereals, Puffins!

Trader Joe's peanut butter, sourdough bread, red split lentils, and blueberry acai exfoliant

I also picked up peanut butter (and already dug in the jar the second I got home…), red split lentils, sourdough bread, and blueberry acai facial scrub.

When I saw the lentils, I immediately thought of a soup recipe by Aarti Sequeira that I’ve been wanting to try, and the bread will be great to dip into the soup and use for sandwiches. I’m pumped to try the facial scrub. I just recently bought this (highly rated!) clay mask and this toner, so I think I’m all set to do an at-home facial!

Do you ever buy groceries from Trader Joes? If so, what’s your favorite TJ’s product?

If I had to pick, I’d say mine is their sunflower seed butter!