A Few of My Favorite Things

Who doesn't love a good  pain au chocolat, right?

trader joes chocolate croissants

Well, these are simply thee best chocolate croissants around, unless you have the time to hop on a plane to Paris. Even there, you have to search the best Pâtisseries with a licensed maître pâtissier in order to find a croissant as light, fluffy, crispy, buttery and chocolaty as this one.

I buy these in the frozen section at Trader Joe’s — four to a box. You have to let them rise over night, then bake them in the morning. There is nothing like a hot, fresh croissant in the morning where the scent of baking chocolate wraps you in heavenly comfort. That, along with prayer, is one of the best kinds of mornings there is. {Well, I can think of a few other nice ways to start a morning, but, well, you know, I’m separated right now!}

I started a little tradition since Matt and I switched our days around with Oliver. He comes to pick up Oliver between 7:45 and 8:00 am on Mondays. Knowing I have to say good-bye to my son for two full days, I want to be sure to make this a positive memory, not a painful one. {It’s not painful for Oliver most days.} So I send Oliver off with chocolatine, one for him, one for his daddy.

The best thing about these is not only the buttery, flaky goodness, but Trader Joe’s croissants have no chemicals, no unnatural ingredients. Just flour, chocolate and butter. So it’s not the breakfast of champions, but it is a breakfast tradition I’m sure he’ll remember and be forever grateful for. I hope anyway.

The night before, I take them out of the box and they look like this. It’s hard to imagine they’ll grow up to be real croissants.

right out of the box

Within just a few hours, they begin to look like so:

beginning to rise

By morning, they are bursting at the seams, just ready to go into the oven.

ready to bake, 8 hours later

Only 20 minutes later, they are crispy and steaming hot, ready to be devoured.


And my son does just that. I think he lives for Monday mornings.


tearing it up

oliver and his croissant

taking a bite

tearing it up

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Next I wanted to share another an amazing find. A few weeks back I showed you pix of my pantry, and I had mentioned that that I had a dirty little secret. I absolutely adored
Campbell's Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Chicken soups.

organized pantry

There's nothing better than a comforting bowl of either, and in addition, there are many yummy recipes that call for these soups. I have been devouring tuna casserole ala Campbell’s since childhood. {I admit, I even made it with Ramen noodles when I was broke in college.} But if you've seen the ingredient's list on Campbell’s, it's insane!

On that post, I had asked if anyone knew of a healthier version of this soup, that I was in search for a better alternative.

Well, I kid you not, within 2 days of my post I ran an errand to my local natural food coop, and incredibly so, these new soups were being featured and on sale!

cream of mushroom

Pacific Natural Foods Organic Cream of Chicken Condensed SoupPacific Natural Foods Organic Cream of Mushroom Condensed Soup.

I am already an avid fan of Pacific's Organic Tomato and Organic Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper soups, their Organic Chicken Broth not to mention their Carrot and Ginger Soup (to die for, absolutely!), but I had never ever seen these! I was beyond excited, so I bought out the entire shelf display. They were on sale for 1/2 price, $2 a box instead of $4, a price I can live with.

But then came the true test. Taste.

I opened a box and there it was: condensed soup. There was no denying the flavor. Yum, yum, yum. I absolutely loved them. They work well as soups and or in recipes. My tuna casserole has never been better. Happy happy, joy joy.

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Ok another find: Glass jars from Anchor Hocking for about $10 at Target (or Amazon). As part of my organizing kick, I decided to put all of Oliver’s treats on display. This sometimes works in my favor and often times against it. I credit this little kid tho. He certainly does not go into the jars on his own. I think I'm really lucky. He's such a good boy! {Remind me that I said this 12 years from now.}

bell jar

Again, call me anal, but I have pretty much only healthy organic snacks in the house. Everything in this jar below is organic, mostly. I think we have a few Swiss chocolate nibbles in there.

bell jar

In the second jar I have all of Oliver’s bars. He loves these {personally, I have no desire to eat them}. I buy Cascadian Farms Organic Granola bars only when they are on sale, and at one point they were less than half price so I bought a ton of boxes. I love having them on the counter where they are easy to grab on the way out the door.

bell jar

bell jar

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And now for my most favorite thing: time with my life-long girl friends. I have three amazing women friends that I have been tight with for probably about 20 years or more now. Ok, wait, lets count. I met Ann when I went to college and that was back in.... well.... I'm not gonna confess right now. OK, so it's definitely been 20 plus years. :)

My gals are Debra, Pamela and Ann. Ann was my college roommate for one year. Left up to me, we would not be friends today. That is a testament to Ann. When she makes a friend, she stays committed where I on the other hand am at times a social butterfly and I flutter off from group to group. Thanks to Ann's commitment, we've stayed in touch and become great friends over the years. Back in college, Ann and I went to a local pub to hear music. I think she was friends with Deb. I really can't remember. But we'd go listen to jazz music each weekend. Deb was dating the saxaphone player at the time. So the three of us became close. Later, I started attending a church by our college and that's when I met Pamela. Ann went to my church as well. I only started attending this church b/c my boyfriend at the time went.

OK have I bored you and lost you yet?

Suffice to say, I have these three great friends. We are all the same age. It's been one of the biggest gifts to grow older with these women. We have all been in or at each other’s weddings. We've been to each other’s homes, baby showers, parental funerals, and so on and so forth. Pamela now lives in Ohio, and Ann in California. Therefor, when one is in town, the other two (Deb and I) pretty much drop everything and meet up with them.

Well, such was the case Monday evening. It's become a ritual now. When Pamela comes to town, we meet at my home. Deb comes over. We drink wine. Eat food. Drink more wine. Laugh and laugh and laugh. Drink more wine. Try on some old clothes or my shoe collection. Laugh some more. Drink more wine. Eat chocolates. Laugh. Drink. Laugh. Laugh. Laugh. Yawn. Laugh. Laugh. Yawn. Yawn. Laugh. Cry. Laugh. Laugh. Laugh.

You know how that is? Before you know it, it's 1 am or later, and we can barely keep our eyes open but no one wants to say good-bye. We see each other only 2 times a year {if that} and it's like we just hooked up yesterday. We don't skip a beat. We are our selves. We support each other. We cry {well, they have cried with me the past two, three visits} ... and we are just soul sisters I guess you'd call it.

So to send off a goodbye on this post, here's a pic of us.... I'm sad that Ann couldn't be here, but it's nearly impossible to get all 4 of us together in the same state at the same time.

Here are Deb and Pamela:

deb and pamela

And here's one of the three of us:


It was about 1 or so in the morning when we took those. I think we were giddy and tired, but didn't want the night to end. 

I'm so happy I have these strong beautiful women who love me, lift me, care for me and are growing old with me, gracefully.