New in Review: Chai & Chocolate

I have a problem. A problem with starting too many post series that I never stick to. I did keep my College Vegan on a Budget series going for several months and obviously I can’t go back to it now as a post-grad. But several other series I had big plans for died an early death.

I’m hoping I can keep this one going for awhile. See, I like product review posts a lot. I read them when I spot a new product on the shelves and I’m wondering if it’s worth a purchase, or if I just bought something and want to see what other people think. Either way, I think they’re informative and fun, so I wanted to bring something like that to AlmostVegGirlie.

I’m calling this new series New in Review, and it will be my honest thoughts about products (not just food!) that I’ve recently tried. Everything I post will be products I bought myself, so no sponsored posts here. And I hope you find them to be interesting!

  • Quinn Kale & Sea Salt popcorn

2014-04-15 16.32.32

I spotted this at Whole Foods, and even though I eat grain free a lot of the time by default, I’ve been craving popcorn lately. Plus it’s gluten free and sounded interesting, so I bought it. When I opened the bag, I was surprised to see that the popcorn was green. Like spinach green. I love all things green, though, so it didn’t scare me away, though some picky people might be thrown off by it. But then, it is made with dried organic kale (and carrot), so it’s basically like salad 😉 

The ingredients list is stellar–non-gmo popcorn kernels (corn is a heavily GM product so non-gmo is important), sunflower oil (healthier than most veggie oils, though coconut oil is best), dried organic kale and carrot (seriously, veggies in popcorn is incredible), sea salt, onion powder and garlic powder. That’s it…just popcorn and spices and a little oil. The best part is how tasty this popcorn is. It’s got a slight veggie flavor but not overpowering, with the perfect amount of saltiness and tang from the spices. And it’s a little addicting, but in a good way, because one serving of popcorn (4 cups) is 150 calories.

Pros: organic/non-gmo, clean ingredients, good flavor

Cons: I wish there was more popcorn!

  • Maybelline Volum’ Express Mega Plush mascara

2014-04-15 16.33.47

I’ve been partial to Maybelline mascaras since I discovered their Illegal Length mascara. My lashes are fairly voluminous, so I’m mostly looking to add length and darkness. I like Maybelline’s mascaras because they last a long time (I use it daily) and are fairly inexpensive and available at regular stores like Target.

This mascara is gel mousse, so the texture is a bit different, but it doesn’t clump at all. It also has a flexible brush, which makes it easier to apply. I prefer washable mascaras so I haven’t tried the waterproof kind, but the washable one is easily removable with soap+water or makeup wipes but it doesn’t smudge either.

Pros: inexpensive ($7 ish for a tube), goes on smoothly, feels light

Cons: I wish it added length as well as volume

  • Fearless Chocolate

2014-04-15 16.33.18

This is officially my go-to chocolate brand now! So far, I’ve tried 4 flavors: Superfruit, Green Tea Mint, Exploding Coconuts, and Super Seeds Crunch. All of them are good, but the Exploding Coconuts is my favorite so far. It’s got great little chunks of coconut in it! Though I can’t wait to find their new coffee flavor–I love coffee+chocolate!

Fearless Chocolate has one of the simplest ingredients list of any chocolate brand. They’re soy free (no soy lecithin, which is hard to find in chocolate), gluten free, vegan and certified organic & fair trade. Best of all, they’re made with raw cacao instead of cocoa butter, making them purely chocolate, and organic cane sugar is the last ingredient, so the bars aren’t too sweet.

Pros: Basically everything I’m looking for in dark chocolate

Cons: I didn’t love the mint flavor as much as I thought I would, a little pricey

  •  Trader Joes Spiced Chai Tea

2014-04-15 16.33.07

 

I went to Trader Joes for the first time about a month ago, and while I’ve already finished off most of the things I’ve bought, I’ve still got plenty of pink sea salt and this chai tea left.

With the warm days we’ve been having lately, I decided to use these tea bags to make iced tea over the weekend. I cold-brewed them in a pitcher for 10 minutes or so, and then taste-tested. This tea has a great, complex spiced flavor but it isn’t too bold. It also pairs well mixed with a bit of stevia and some coconut-almond milk over ice.

Pros: budget friendly, good flavor

Cons: No TJs near me anymore so I can’t buy more 😦

  • Kevita Probiotic Drinks

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I still haven’t gotten on the kombucha train, but I loooooove Kevita! It’s a little fizzy, sweetened with stevia and comes in a bunch of tasty flavors (I’ve tried the lemon cayenne, strawberry acai coconut, mango coconut & mojita lime mint).

This stuff is about the same price as GT Kombucha (though generally cheaper at Sprouts and Whole Foods when on sale) and it boasts the same probiotic qualities. But there’s no weird aftertaste or floaties that come with some kombuchas. Plus it’s organic and made with reverse osmosis water. It’s almost like a light, refreshing soda but so much better for you and won’t make you all bloated like diet soda does.

My new favorite flavor is the lemon cayenne cleanse–it tastes like lemonade!

Pros: tasty, health benefits, lots of flavors

Cons: a bit expensive when not on sale

What new products have you tried lately? 

My (Now) Crazy Life

Sorry I’ve been missing lately! I wish I could promise a more regular posting and commenting schedule but my life is about to get even crazier and busier in the next couple of weeks so I may not be around much. But I want to fill you in on what’s been happening in my (now) crazy life lately!

I don't always get manis...but when I do, I take shameless selfies to show them off!

I don’t always get manis…but when I do, I take shameless selfies to show them off!

It all started on Wednesday. I drove up 2 1/2 hours to my college town to reunite with one of my best friends. We hadn’t seen each other since before I graduated in December and a fun girls’ day was in order. We got sushi for lunch with her boyfriend (I got an avocado maki roll and it was the cheapest lunch ever–like $4!) and then drove over to our favorite nail salon to get manis and then drove down to the outlet mall for a little shopping. We didn’t buy much (I only ended up getting a coral dress from American Eagle for under $20) but we had fun trying on different outfits and just reconnecting. She’s graduating in May so we talked a lot about our future plans. And I filled her in about my new job! I haven’t talked about it a lot here yet, but let’s just say I’m moving out of state in a couple weeks…

Of course, this chipped a couple of days later.

Of course, this chipped a couple of days later.

My first time at a Trader Joes! I fell in love :)

My first time at a Trader Joes! I fell in love 🙂

On Friday my mom and I headed up to Denver for a busy day of shopping and food. We got lunch at Native Foods first (my last time getting to eat there for awhile 😦 ) and then the moment I’ve been waiting for for at least a year…we stopped at the new Trader Joes! Colorado finally got with the program and opened up a few TJs last month, but since none are where we live, we had to drive about an hour up to Denver to check out the store.

Their produce is so cheap but incredibly good!

Their produce is so cheap but incredibly good!

The store was a little smaller than I was expecting it to be, but then again I’m used to Whole Foods and Sprouts which are a little bigger. But the selection is incredible! They had so many products I’ve never seen anywhere else, and a lot of stuff (like their raw almond butter) is just much cheaper than at any other store. It made me a little sad that I’m moving to a state that doesn’t have any TJs. Of course, I ended up with a bunch of stuff, including dried persimmon (!), almond butter, tofu burgers and a pink sea salt grinder. My mom was mostly impressed with their beer and wine selection!

Where else can you find exotic dried fruits for less?

Where else can you find exotic dried fruits for less?

IKEA has my heart.

IKEA has my heart.

After a quick trip to our favorite ice cream place (they always offer 4 rotating vegan flavors and I got the spiced cider sorbet–just like apple cider!), it was off to IKEA! If you’ve never been to an IKEA, you won’t realize how awesome it is. It’s also a decent workout, as you have to walk through the entire store to get to the checkout. My mom and I went to check out some inexpensive furniture for my new apartment but we didn’t get anything other than a tabletop ironing board because we realized we won’t have enough room in the car to move it. And there’s no IKEA where I’m moving to, so any IKEA furniture will have to wait until I come back home to visit and I can take some back with me.

An amazing locally-made GF vegan cookie. So buttery and maple-y.

An amazing locally-made GF vegan cookie. So buttery and maple-y.

On Saturday my dad and I hit up a vegan pop-up market downtown. The weather was seriously crappy (windy, cloudy and cool) but luckily the market was held inside. It was a lot smaller than I was expecting it to be, but we got free samples of kale chips and green juice and I also got a couple locally-made gluten free vegan cookies. I wish I had bought more, because they were incredible.

I love sangria.

I love sangria.

After church, it was time for my celebratory dinner out. My family doesn’t go out to eat often (once a month, if that) but we always do for special occasions, like birthdays and apparently job offers! I chose Tapateria, where I had my birthday dinner in July and even though we couldn’t sit outside because of the weather, it was still just as nice of an experience as it was the first time. We ordered a lot of the same things as last time, like the incredible fresh garlic bread (everything is gluten free, which I love!), the warm olives and of course, the sangria. I don’t drink that often (again, probably about once or twice a month) but I love sangria and I plan on making my own this summer.

So fresh, so garlicky, so good.

So fresh, so garlicky, so good.

It’s crazy that Saturday’s dinner was one of the last times I’ll be eating out with my family. I know it’s kinda hard on my parents too–my sister’s going off to college in the fall so they’ll officially be empty-nesters. I’m lucky to be so close with my family, so I know the transition period will be tough on all of us, but it’s nice to know that I’m always a phone call, text or 9 hour drive away from seeing them.

I'm finally an iPhone owner!

I’m finally an iPhone owner!

On Sunday, I officially became an iPhone owner! I’ve had an iPod touch since 2010 but all my smartphones have been Androids. I’ve been wanting an iPhone for awhile, and since T-Mobile finally offers them, I upgraded to the iPhone 5C. In pink, naturally. That phone is seriously my baby. I’m in love with iOS 7 and the feel of the phone. And I still have the best of both worlds, because my tablet still has all my Android stuff on it. Win win! The best part is, I can finally use emojis so…don’t be surprised if my Instagram is bombarded with them 😉

So there’s just a little glimpse into the craziness of my life lately. I’ve got one more post lined up for this week, and then I’m off to TX at the end of this week for spring break! Fair warning, my life will be even crazier post-spring break so I’ll try to keep up with commenting but I probably won’t post much for the next few weeks. See y’all in mid-April!

What were you up to this weekend? 

 

All I Want for Christmas…

‘Tis the season for wishlist posts, amiright? I don’t care if it’s uncool or what, because finals week/graduation is this week so I’m slacking on blogging motivation! So here’s what I’m wishing for this Christmas…

  • Some really cute booties, like these from ALDO (and for only $50!)
My weakness is booties.

My weakness is booties.

  • My first ‘big girl’ job–hopefully as a reporter/anchor/weather at a TV station somewhere in the West, and preferably somewhere warm (like California…)
  • A winter-ready dress I can wear with tights
I love this color and style. From American Eagle.

I love this color and style. From American Eagle.

  • Some pink sparkly Sperrys
Yeah, I'm super girly but I don't care.

Yeah, I’m super girly but I don’t care.

  • For my sister to get into the college she wants to attend for musical theatre–she puts so much work into her auditions and she really deserves a shot to prove herself
  • A capelet coat of some kind…this one from Forever 21 is inexpensive and really versatile
This would go with anything!

This would go with anything!

  • For my grandpa to get well. He’s been in assisted living since this summer and unfortunately, his health is failing.
  • This cookbook. I have her original Practically Raw one, but I have a crazy sweet tooth and I’m obsessed with raw desserts!
I want to make ALL the desserts!

I want to make ALL the desserts!

  • For a Trader Joes to finally open in Colorado. I’m seriously deprived out here, and I want to experience the amazingness that is TJs.

What’s on your wishlist?

Why I’m Not the Typical HLB

As a self-proclaimed healthy living blogger, I like reading other HLBs and seeing what food and fitness trends everyone’s getting into. I have to admit, I sometimes act like a sheep and follow these trends but that’s really only because I end up loving the food/workout so much. But there are many, many ways that I’m not at all like the stereotypical HLB…

I hate eggs. 

Yep, always have, (probably) always will. It’s a combination of the texture, taste and smell for me. Ick. I could never do any form of eggs for breakfast–I blame my dad, because he’s never been a big fan of eggs. So that aspect of going vegan was super easy for me! While I think things like veggie-filled omelettes and 2 ingredient pancakes are cool ideas, I’d never be able to stomach them. Just no.

This is as close as I get to an omelette--a chickpea socca-style 'omelette'.

This is as close as I get to an omelette–a chickpea socca-style ‘omelette’.

I’m not a Chobani/Love Grown/ Luna Bar/ PB&Co. whore.

There’s quite a few brands that seem to be really popular in the HLB world…and I’ve never understood them. To each their own, of course, but I’ve tended to go my own way with brands and I love what I love. I do like a few of the popular brands, like Larabar and Almond Breeze, but some of them just don’t do it for me. For instance, I prefer unflavored almond butters to flavored PBs (other than Justin’s vanilla AB) and I really love Purely Elizabeth granolas because they’re made from ancient grains and is the only granola brand I know of that’s made with coconut sugar.

I don't feel bad for being a Zevia whore because it's so good!

I don’t feel bad for being a Zevia whore because it’s so good!

I’ve never stepped foot in a Lululemon or a Trader Joes. 

It’s not that I don’t want to shop in these places, it’s just that I’m semi-deprived out here in CO and neither of those stores are near me (okay, that’s a lie, there’s a few Lulus in Denver, but I’ve never been). I’m actually waiting on a couple of TJs locations that are set to open soonish, but since I’ve never been, I feel a little left out. Maybe it’s for the best–I can’t afford anything from Lulu and I’d probably blow my budget if I had a TJs in my city!

A drawing of the TJs that will be closest to me...still about an hour's drive away.

A drawing of the TJs that will be closest to me…still about an hour’s drive away.

I’m not a runner, or a Crossfitter, or a heavy lifter.

I have started lifting recently, and I really love it, but I’m nowhere near lifting heavy yet. As for running and Crossfit, I just don’t feel like they fit my lifestyle. I like doing cardio like tennis or circuits (or window shopping 😉 ) and I also love yoga. There’s definitely a workout style out there for everyone, you’ve just gotta find what works for you.

Lifting green weights makes it even more fun.

Lifting green weights makes it even more fun.

I don’t eat the typical HLB breakfast.

I’m a huge breakfast lover, but (obviously) I don’t do eggs, I don’t really like oats anymore and yogurt messes are out because vegan yogurts are beyond nasty. I tend to mix things up a little bit, but right now I’m loving homemade buckwheat waffles with protein frosting, and chia seed protein puddings. I really try to get a great balance of carbs, fat and protein in at breakfast while still satisfying my sweet tooth.

Another one of my fave breakfasts: almond flour pancakes.

Another one of my fave breakfasts: almond flour pancakes.

I’m vegan.

Vegans seem to be a rare breed these days in the HLB world. And honestly, I kinda like it this way but also not. I like it because then I feel more unique, like that’s the niche my blog fits into. But I also don’t like it because there’s not as much food inspiration…so I just end up borrowing from the boys omnis!

A (non-vegan) dessert I still need to veganize.

A (non-vegan) dessert I still need to veganize.

How are you not like the ‘typical’ HLB? 

This or That

By now you probably all know that I’m a sucker for surveys. Anytime I see one on someone’s blog, I just have to do it. It makes for an easy post idea (lazy alert!) and it’s just plain fun. This latest survey is health and fitness related, which is perfect!

Run/work out in the heat and humidity or freezing temps and snow?

Well, considering I’ve only ever lived in Arizona and Colorado, I basically have no experience with extreme humidity. The rare few days that it gets up to 50% humidity after a thunderstorm are pure torture for me 😛 However, I hate the cold and specifically snow even more, so I have to go with heat. When I play tennis, I’d much rather be sweating like crazy because it’s 90+ degrees instead of bundled up trying to ignore the crazy winds and blowing snow. I once played tennis outside in November and it wasn’t the best idea…

Have washboard abs or flat abs?

I kind of already have flat-ish abs, depending on if I’ve eaten recently or not, but I would kinda like them to be flat all the time no matter what. Washboard abs take a lot of work and discipline and while I’d be willing to work for them, there’s just some things I don’t want to give up to get them, like dark chocolate and coconut milk ice cream!

Dr. Oz or The Doctors?

I actually kinda hate Dr. Oz because he tries to make people scared of certain things, like one episode he said taking a shower is unsanitary, and stuff like that. I just started watching The Doctors last year from time to time and I actually like the show. It’s cool how they all have different areas of expertise and they cover so many topics in one episode.

Cardio or Strength?

This is so bad, but I basically do no strength training, aside from things like planks and ab workouts. I’m a cardio girl all the way!

Do water balloon fights count as cardio?!

Cravings: protein or carbs?

Let’s be real…I almost never crave protein. Don’t get me wrong, I do have some protein sources I love, like Plant Fusion protein powder, tempeh and edamame, but I don’t exactly crave them. I do, however, crave carbs often–what can I say, I’m a carbavore! But I do stick with the healthier carbs, like whole grains and fruits/veggies and it seems to work for me.

Jillian Michaels or Bob Harper?

Jillian! She’s so bad ass and I love her no-nonsense approach to fitness. I wish I could be as tough as she is!

Frozen yogurt or ice cream?

I used to be such a huge fan of froyo, but since I’ve been more devoted to veganism, I rarely get it because the places I go to only ever have one or two nondairy flavors. When I get froyo, I only ever top it with fresh fruit but I’m not as obsessed with it as I used to be. Now I’m in love with high quality, coconut or almond milk based vegan ice creams. They cost about $5 for a pint but they’re worth the splurge a couple times per month, plus they last me so long because they’re so much more filling than froyo.

I really love the Nadamoo! brand of vegan ice cream!

To train: upper body or lower body?

Since I don’t do much strength training, I can’t really answer this. But I do know that I feel awesome after a yoga or plank session when my arms feel all weak!

Protein powder or food with protein?

Let me preface this by saying I only use protein powders that are totally plant-based, with as few ingredients as possible and no soy. With that said, I prefer protein powder. I love that I can be eating a sweet treat while still getting in quality protein. I use it in so many things, from smoothies to protein frosting to baked goods. I like some sources of whole foods protein, but protein powder is a lifesaver for me!

I’m in love with protein waffles (and protein powder frosting-topped waffles!)

Lunges or squats?

Lunges! I don’t know why, they’re just fun.

Sweet or salty?

I really love the two together. Lately I’ve been loving the combo of almond peanut cashew butter, real maple syrup and chocolate chips! I usually go for just sweet though.

Workout attire: cute or comfy?

Cute for sure. Of course I want to be comfortable, but I don’t feel comfortable if I’m wearing something I don’t love. So cuteness always has to come first for me.

My typical cute-ish and comfy workout outfit.

Body Pump or Heavy Lifting?

I haven’t done either, but I’ll go with heavy lifting because I know so many people have good results with it.

Yoga or Pilates?

Are you kidding me? Yoga! I still really need to go to a hot yoga class though…

Nike or Adidas?

Nike!

Running on the treadmill or outdoors?

I’m not big into running, but I have to say treadmill. That way, I can read a magazine or whatever and I probably won’t end up tripping!

Whole Foods or Trader Joes?

I wish I could actually choose between them, but TJs is nowhere near me, like literally none within 200 miles of where I live! However, Whole Foods is really awesome and I don’t even mind the high prices most of the time. They have so many of my fave products!

Who can pass up the delicious salads at the Whole Foods hot and cold bars? Not this girl!

Summer or winter Olympics?

Summer, definitely. A lot of years they happen during my birthday (this year they started on my birthday), which is awesome and I love so many of the summer Olympics sports.

Exercise classes or exercise videos?

Classes. I love working out alone sometimes but with other people it’s ten times more fun.

Steamed veggies or roasted veggies?

Roasted, but I actually prefer grilled over either of those!

 

 

Answer any of the questions above!

Saturday Seven: Counting Down Already?

Hi guys! It’s my first weekend back at school and I can already say that I think I may be overwhelmed this semester! Not that I haven’t thought that pretty much every semester of my school career, but this one looks like it might kick my butt if I don’t stay on top of things.

The classes, while probably difficult, are at least hopefully interesting. I’ve got a broadcast news class–what I’m majoring in and want to do with my life (and apparently it’s a very popular class…there’s a gigantic waiting list)–a business reporting class, a studio production workshop class, an American environmental history class, a class on the history of U.S. national parks and a weather & climate class. So, all things I’m interested in (journalism, U.S. history and weather) but this is my first semester taking all 300 and 400 level classes, aka I’m one of the only sophomores in most of them! Which is fine, but I can definitely predict them being a challenge.

1. Colorado’s getting a Trader Joe’s!

These look like tasty veggie burgers!

I actually mentioned this in one of my most recent Saturday Seven posts and just the other day on my Twitter. I was sooooo upset that TJs had no future plans for a store in Colorado, but then a few nights ago on the news and two days ago on the Coloradoans for Trader Joe’s Facebook page, it’s apparently official that they’re coming to good old CO sometime soon. Of course, the first location will be in Boulder, but I don’t care that it’s 2 hours from home (or an hour from my college campus)–I am dragging my parents there as soon as it opens! I can’t wait to try all the amazing products that everyone in the blog world raves about!

2. I’m already counting down to spring break

This is where I spent my spring break 2 years ago--any guesses where I was?

Yes, I’m fully aware that school just started, but can you blame me for wanting a break already? The weather here, despite being fairly warm for winter, still isn’t as great as spring (or summer) weather and I’m longing for the days when I can wear skirts with bare legs again, and reunite with my flip-flop collection. Until then, I’ll just be inside, bundled up, counting down the days til spring break (only 35 school days left!)

3. I need this puppy in my life…stat!

Who could resist this little face?

I got a daily calendar of cute animals for Christmas, and this is by far the cutest thing I’ve seen in it! I just want to keep this little guy forever and ever. I used to think I hated little dogs, but this is one of the most adorable dogs ever! If I can’t have a greyhound (dream dog), I’ll settle for a cute Chihuahua!

4. I have a new drink obsession

Mmmmm, Country Peach Passion tea!

I used to be a hardcore hot tea hater. I could only stand iced tea, which is ironically my drink of choice during the summer (preferably flavored and sweetened only with Truvia). Once I tried the Celestial Seasonings candy cane lane and sugar cookie sleigh ride teas, however, I was hooked! Before heading back up to school, I grabbed the fruit variety pack sampler and hoped these teas would be just as amazing. And…they are! I especially love the peach one, since it reminds me of summer, but the true blueberry and wild berry zinger ones are also winners. The acai mango zinger flavor is on my list of flavors to try!

5. I’m really loving this song right now

I don’t know why, but this song just makes me super happy! It doesn’t hurt that Enrique is a super-sexy beast 😉 I just bought it the other day, and every time I listen to it, I pretend that I’m the star of a movie and this song is the soundtrack. Anyone else ever do that with songs? It’s just me then?

6. Trying out new products is the highlight of my life

Just a few of the new products in my life!

Ever since NaNeFoMo, I’ve been more motivated than ever to try out new foods! On my back-to-school shopping trips, I bought a bunch of new-to-me things, including blood oranges, Amy’s bistro burgers and vegan soups, organic refried pinto beans with chile and lime, Lightlife vegan smart bacon, Ezekiel sprouted corn tortillas and Archer Farms frozen grilled peppers. What I’ve tried so far has been amazing, and I can’t wait to sample the rest. The only way you can find out if you like something is to try it!

7. The only two things on my wishlist: an apartment and a car

The Mini Cooper: (one of my) dream cars.

Even though I signed the lease for my apartment next year a month or so ago, I’m still nervous that something will fall through and I’ll have to do the dorm thing again, which is NOT okay with me. I did it for a year and a half, and I’m already so done with it. I need a kitchen and more independence, ya know? And a car…well, that’s also a big one. I could live without it if I had an apartment, but I’d prefer to have one so I could actually go places on my own without relying on other people. Of course, I have a few cars on my dream list, but I’d be perfectly okay with any safe, working car!

What is the best new product you’ve tried lately? What is your ‘dream’ car?

Saturday Seven: Sick of School

Aren’t you all pumped that it’s the weekend? To be honest, I’m actually not…because I have a lot to do this weekend, like a mini take home exam, making flash cards, a stats lab, working on a portfolio for my newswriting class and a meeting for a project that we’re presenting on Monday. So yeah, not the most fun weekend of my life, plus I am just itching to finish up this semester. Only 9 more full days on campus before I can leave for winter break–wahoo!

I think the worst time of any school year is coming back from Thanksgiving break. I got a week off from school, got to chill at home and enjoy a few shopping trips and Starbucks runs, as well as a fully stocked kitchen. Break went by wayyyyyy too fast, and then I find myself back at school, with three weeks left in the semester before an even longer break. By the time I got back, I was so used to being on break that it felt so weird to have to come back to school, but not in a good way like after summer break. More like a “I just can’t wait to be done” kind of way. Now that a week’s gone by, it’s back to normal for the most part, but I still can’t wait to be done with this semester. I remember back in elementary school when we used to have class parties and cookie exchanges right before Christmas break. Now it’s finals time, along with tons of projects and what-not. So stressful.

I have a week left of classes, which includes one random final thrown in there and a project presentation, then I’m supposed to be headed home for an extended weekend so my wonderful daddy can help me with my stats take-home final and then it’s back to campus for 3 days to finish up finals. Whew, I’m getting exhausted just thinking about it! Anyways, this edition of Saturday Seven is all about random things that are (somewhat) related to the end of the semester, so enjoy!

1. Why doesn’t Colorado have a Trader Joes?

I need these in my life ASAP!

I mean, really?! This is what I’m missing out on? Come on Colorado, you’re a beautiful state and all but you’re killing me with the lack of Trader Joes. And by that I mean, there are literally none in the entire state. I keep reading about all these wonderful-sounding seasonal TJs products on practically every blog, and I’m drooling in jealousy over here. Sometimes people say they rarely go to TJs because it’s like 90 minutes away from home or something–I am so deprived that I would gladly travel that distance to get my hands on these Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s, as well as the entire contents of the store. However, I did join the Facebook group Coloradoans for Trader Joe’s, so we’ll see where that goes…

2. Just call me a master decorator…

Isn't it purty, especially with all the snow outside? The stupid light reflection ruins it though.

…Or just tell me to keep my day job, since I obviously am no Martha Stewart. I just wanted to bring a little Christmas cheer to my room, so stringing Christmas lights and sticking window clings was the best I could do. Oh, and I also have a mini Christmas tree, decked out in the colors of my room (purple, pink and orange). Maybe I am an expert after all!

3. Pandora is my new best friend

I'm loving the Christmas music playlists!

Who needs someone to talk to when you have an amazing app that plays the music you want to hear? When thinking about finals is putting me in a craptastic mood, I just turn on a little Christmas music and I’m instantly 10 times better. And it’s putting me in the Christmas spirit (the big day, btw, is in 3 weeks!)

4. Starbucks VIA Christmas Blend and I have a little fling going on

Once I dump a bazillion packets of Truvia in you, you actually taste delicious.

I bought some Starbucks VIA Christmas Blend 2011 on a whim, having no idea what it’d taste like. I live on instant coffee when I’m at school, with no easy access to a real ‘bucks, and come finals time, it’s even worse. I first tried it at home, and couldn’t stomach it. I’m used to their instant coffee packets that have a little sugar and flavoring already blended in. This is just straight-up ground coffee, which I’ve basically never had before. I thought these would go to waste, until I put 3 packets of Truvia in a cup and it turned out pretty good. I could still taste the coffee, and this particular blend has actually grown on me, but it wasn’t so bitter. I’m planning on trying it with a little mint chocolate soy milk, which will hopefully be even better. Here’s to our newfound relationship, Christmas Blend!

5. My planner is becoming one big countdown book 

This is just one of many!

You do not want to know how many pages are devoted to counting down to break. I have a count down for every day on the daily part of the planner, plus several in the extra pages, including how many weekends left on campus and how many class hours are left. I am a desperate woman with too much time on my hands, that’s for sure! Except scratch that last part, I don’t have that much time to waste but I do it anyway. Sorryimnotsorry.

6. Why does every little thing become so stressful around finals time?

Just don't be this girl!

The stupidest things ever are stressing me out right now. Like I opened my fridge door and as usual, all the stuff in the door flew out, including my mint chocolate soymilk, which ended up spilling all over the floor. Awesome. I practically had a meltdown about it, and there’s still a stain on the carpet because I was too stressed out to properly clean it up. Or when my purple pen stopped working the other day, I almost teared up. It’s just a stupid pen. But really, the littlest stuff sets me off right now. You’ve been warned.

7. I miss my sweet potatoes

'Nuff said.

I’ve mentioned the apparent sweet potato shortage in my area before, but coming back from Thanksgiving break with only one sweet potato with me is a crime. Considering I enjoyed one probably 4 times over break just makes me miss them even more. I’ve only got one, so I’ve gotta make it count. Wow, how pathetic am I?

What little things have been stressing you out? What is your favorite TJs product (if you have one near you) or what would be your favorite product (if you had one near you)?