Archive | February, 2011

Giveaway winners!

28 Feb

Regular posting will resume soon, I’ve been in a funk the past few days but just wanted to announce the “I Love My Dog” magnetic bumper sticker winners!

*Amy –The Scene from Me

*Christine-Bite Right In

* According to Gus

*Kristina-Spabettie

*The Fit Academic

*Rachel-This Italian Family

*Susan-OliePants

*Natalie-Will Jog for Food

*Natalie

*Emily-A Nutrionist Eats

*Yelena-One Healthy Apple

*Nicole-Prevention RD

*Natalie-While I Breathe

*Monique-Food Snob

*Kristen-That Hoosier Girl

*Alyssa-Life of Blyss

Wow, lots of Natalie’s in the mix–you don’t hear that name anymore which makes me sad b/c it’s one of my favorite girl names.

Thanks to everyone who participated–please email me your addresses to simplyshaka@gmail.com so I can get those out–thanks!

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Grease is the word

26 Feb

So, the plan last night was to go out for my co-workers birthday and have two beers then peace out.

Of course, that didn’t happen.

We celebrated, bitched about work and naturally bonded.  I love that I have such cool co-workers but am going to be leaving my job in a couple of months.

And the shirt? BCBG found at Goodwill for $4-holla!

Around beer #3 , these made an appearance

Now I’m not a shot kinda girl but when someone brings out a shot called a Purple Skittle, I’m instantly intrigued.

And you know what? It really tasted like a purple skittle, it was fantastic! So beer #4 and #5 happened after that and I was in no shape to drive so I cabbed it home and tried to find some drunk food to feast on. Unfortunately, I don’t keep any drunk food at home so it consisted of hummus and crackers. Not too exciting of drunk food but it did the trick and soon it was sleepy time.

I woke up this morning and felt ill. Not like pukey ill but ill as in my head was pounding, I was operating at a slower pace than normal and my stomach did not feel well. Of course Lincoln was extra hyper this morning because he likes to torture me sometimes. we went for a walk and then I called one of my co-workers to see if they would take me to my car. I got to my car and needed grease ASAP so I went to a local diner, grabbed a paper, sipped on coffee and feasted on a french toast, eggs and sausage special for only $4.95. Why hello cheap, greasy food, please get in my belly!

Ate every last bite of both plates. It was totally worth it.

I also saw some interesting ads in the paper like this

Couples dinner night at a strip club? How romantic!

Soon after I went home, caught up on tv and lounged around and again, was hungry. I remember a git card to Five Guys that I had so I went and picked up a burger and fries in hopes that it would cure the hangover

Yum yum yum! I love Five Guys so much plus the fact that they use fresh jalapenos if you want them on your burger and you can get cajun seasoning on your fries.

I found a nice surprise waiting for me as well courtesy of Kimberly from Sunny State of Mind. I recently won her giveaway for Raw Revolution bars and an Oikos greek yogurt coupon–I can’t wait to try out the bars!

Thanks Kimberly–so many bars to eat, so little time!!

And after that? You guessed it–more lounging and doing absolutely nothing. It felt great to relax but I still felt like hell.

By the time dinner rolled around, I was ready for something not so greasy so I made tofu tacos again and they turned out great. I swear the taco seasoning just makes it even better plus a little cheese and salsa never hurt anyone as well.

And now I sit watching Billy Madison

(source)

I love Adam Sandler movies but never been able to sit through this one because I think it’s just too stupid. I’m really just waiting for Happy Gilmore to begin which could possibly be even stupider than Billy Madison but I just like hearing “The price is wrong….bitch” I think Adam Sandler would be a really good and loyal friend though, look at how he always puts his friends in movies. Even the friends who have nothing going on career wise-that’s a good friend indeed.

 What’s the worst hangover you’ve ever had?

Favorite shot?

Frugal Friday–Deals, deals and more deals

25 Feb

Hey everyone–happy frickin Friday! Why does it seem like when I have a short week, it goes so much slower than a normal week? Maybe I am the only one like this? Who knows, it sucks so I’m stoked Friday is here! Thanks everyone for putting in your two cents on how you keep things organized–I got alot of good tips and ideas out of it!

Some of my deals from this past week….

 *Chick Fil A yogurt parfait +Dasani water for free thanks to my snazzy Chick Fil A calendar

It was a good size but I was expecting more than just one fruit, like some blueberries as well

And I finally got a chance to check out their new ketchup packaging!

I had to snag some for the road

Also, be sure to check out Chick Fil A’s Fry Day next Friday March 4th!

*Free dog treats

Ok, so Lincoln barks his non existent balls off anytime someone is near my front door or knocks on it. And I guess this applies to when my mailman/woman visits each day. He or she puts dog treats on top of my mailbox for Lincoln since I guess they can hear him everyday. At first I had no clue what these were and naturally thought I had a stalker since I am so awesome but I finally took one, sniffed it and realized they were dog treats. How sweet is that?

*Double coupons at Harris Teeter

I found the following:

Silk Pure Almond Milk – $.50

Minute  Brown Rice-$.55

Yo Crunch Fruit Parfait-free!

These are yummy but so tiny they end up being only four spoonfuls

*Sabra Hummus-$2

Athenos Greek Yogurt-$.65 each

Two packs of chicken breasts $7.88

 

Old El Paso tortillas $1

*Free dinner from Earthfare

I signed up for Earthfare’s email club and got this free dinner coupon. You spend $10 and you get a bag of baby carrots, mashed potatoes and either whole chicken or veggie burgers for free!

I spent $12 on the following

Vegan nuggets

Carolina Slaw

Bigelow White Chocolate Kisses hot tea

Yogi Bar

then got all of this for free

The vegan nuggets were absolutely terrific–just like chicken taste and consistency wise-win!

This was a fantastic value and worked out to about four to five meals!

What deals have you found this week?

Interested in guest posting for Frugal Friday on how you save money? Let me know–simplyshaka@gmail.com

Happy Savings!

Organized Chaos

23 Feb

I live in a state of organized chaos. 

Whether it comes to my kitchen with my limited counter and cabinet space

The contents of my fridge

And yes, when I am feeling uninspired and too lazy to look through hundreds of recipes that I have at my fingertips, I simply pull up a stool to the fridge and stare until I come up with meals to make.

How I organize my cookbooks

Hell, even my magnets on my fridge are organized chaos

And especially at work, this is my desktop on a day where I have 95% of my work done and I’m feeling good about it

My thoughts are  in a state of organized chaos. ALL. THE. TIME.

But I’m cool with that since that is how I am used to things being and living. Some may not understand that but that’s how I am and operate. I have so much going through my brain on the daily, it’s difficult to keep things straight but somehow I manage. I thank my Blackberry memo pad that lets me jot down random thoughts and things I need to get done and of course, Post It notes. I can’t live without Post It notes.

(source)

Even living with Lincoln is a state of organized chaos since he is the dog who like to rest with a pillow on top of him, not under him

My workouts are in a state of organized chaos. I go to the gym with no idea what I’m going to do but knowing I want a killer workout. I do this because the gym I go to gets busy which means that finding a machine can be difficult. I try to find any kind of machine I can whether it be elliptical, treadmill or bike and go to town on it. Afterwards, I usually do some kind of strength training but again, unplanned. since that is how I roll.

Meals are sometimes in a state of organized chaos and unplanned….like on Monday.

I had off on Monday but since I have been so overloaded with work, I went in for a few hours to knock some stuff out without distraction. I was there for two hours and really didn’t get that much done nor did it give me the peace of mind I was hoping for.

I made a tuna, green onion and avocado salad with tomato on top of a sandwich thin with a side of Kashi Mediterranean Bruschetta crackers

This was such a fantastic and flavorful combination! I didn’t use any mayo and it was still rich and creamy.

Dinner was a bit unorganized as well and the brainchild of sitting in front of the fridge for a few minutes.

I chopped up some tofu then pressed for few hours

Mixed with taco seasoning

Then fried those little suckers up

I added some black beans and corn that was looking for a home

Then I remembered I had cooked mushrooms that were also in need of a home

While that was cooking, I chopped up a few springs of green onion and two jalapenos (with gloves of course!)

Then added everything together….plus some tomato, cheese, avocado and salsa

I already have enough organized chaos in my life, why not add some more to the mix with food?

This was such a terrific meal but I got too ambitious with my toppings and they were difficult to eat. I love that since most of the ingredients were fresh I didn’t have to add alot of seasonings to the mix except for the taco seasoning.

And it left wonderful leftovers such as a naked burrito bowl.

Dinner on Tuesday night was a completely random one….. brown purple pink green monster!

Instead of using baby spinach like I always do, I used kale instead after reading about a kale smoothie on Thorns Have Roses. I love me some kale but never thought to use it in a smoothie before so I was a tad apprehensive. I mixed with almond milk, strawberries, flax-seed and Spiru-tein Blueberries and Cream protein powder

I would never really crave a green monster for dinner but I had my permanent crown put on Tuesday afternoon and was supposed to stick to soft foods for 24 hours.

Do you live your life in a state of organized chaos?

How do you keep your thoughts and life organized? Paper, phone, calendar, planner?

PS–Win a $25 Restaurant.com gift certificate!

An update

22 Feb

Hey all–glad you all  are entering the I Love My Dog bumper sticker contest—I absolutely love hearing about everyone’s dogs so keep em coming! Lots going on so I am going to attempt to categorize this and make it light and easy

On the food front: A whole lotta randomness has been happening. With the weather getting nice out (you know, since it’s February and all) I’ve been craving less than stellar stuff….like nachos. However, it’s rare that I have tortilla chips at home seeing that I can plow through an entire bag in one sitting. So what to do when a girl wants nachos and doesn’t have tortilla chips? Make her own!

Instead of brushing with extra virgin olive oil like I normally do, I sprayed with vegetable oil non stick spray then sprinkled black pepper on them. I popped them in the oven and cooked for about 12 minutes at 350 degrees.

This was a terrific way to make nachos in a pinch and did the trick for me!

Friday was a stressful day at work. I was running late plus we had a two-hour training to get to from 10A to noon–who does that? What kind of masochist schedules meetings and trainings on a Friday? I just don’t get it plus Friday is my day to catch up on stuff and tie up loose ends. I turned to old faithful to relieve some stress—a gyro and crinkle cut fries from Showmars.

Oh Beatles even though I love you so, I beg to differ, sometimes all you need is grease.

A new sweet treat I’ve been having lately is a chocolate Vita Top topped with Pumpkin Spice topping from Smuckers.

I bought the topping some time ago on clearance and completely forgot it. When scouring my cabinets I found it but had no clue what I was going to do with it since I rarely have ice cream at home (their fate ends the same was as tortilla chips)

Do I need to say how delicious this is or does the picture do it justice?

Another sweet treat that I indulged in this weekend?

SHAMROCK SHAKE!!!!!

Can I get a holla?

Yep, that Shamrock shake didn’t live to see five minutes of life on this earth. I slurped it down in record time….and without brain freeze thank you very much. Last year, I didn’t have success with finding a Shamrock shake so you can imagine how excited I was to find one this year! When going through the drive thru, I told the employee at the window how happy I was about the Shamrock shake and he told me that he was happy for me and I quote “Your hair looks good, boo” Just what I needed to hear after getting my hair done. Love. Now the question is, when am I going to have my next Shamrock shake?

Shortly after, I had plans to go day drinking so my friend picked me up and we had plans to go to Angry Ale’s since I had a Groupon for $20 worth of food

We thought it was a little odd when we drove up no one was out on the patio on such a beautiful day. I guess we didn’t hear about the fire that happened there back in January. Oops, sorry Angry Ale’s! And for those of you who know how frugal I am, don’t worry, I already contact Groupon and got a refund!

We ended up going down the street to Brazwell’s.

There is when we had some real nachos.

Those nachos but my mock nachos to shame.

I went with the buffalo shrimp as my main course. Why am I saying main course? It was 3pm on a Saturday on a patio where I was enjoying $2 Coors Lights. I guess I am too lazy to change it, yes, that’s what it is.

The crowd started to get a little too early 20’s, pastel colored popped collar crowd (i.e. the reason why I cannot date in this godforsaken city)  soon after so we headed to Dilworth Neighborhood Grill to let the day drinking commence.

I guess Coors Light is currently the “it” beer because there too it was only two bones. Or maybe they think Coors Light just sucks and they were trying to get rid of it. Lucky for them, I will drink cheap beer. I actually prefer Natty Light over some others.

I was just really happy to be back in dress-wearing weather. It felt nice not having to bundle up in layers and rocking some sandals.

I love day drinking, I prefer it over night drinking actually. Of course the sad thing is that day drinking must come to an end at some point unless you live in Alaska. I hate the transition from day-to-night drinking like when you’re at a bar day drinking, a couple of hours pass, you walk outside then boom, it’s night-time. It always catches me off guard as if I don’t know the night is coming or something.

I indulged in some shrimp pad thai with shrimp from Noodles & Company. I wasn’t too impressed with their pad thai, it was more meh than anything. But then again, I really wasn’t expecting anything authentic from Noodles & Company when it comes to Asian fare. I got the shrimp pad thai and there was some chicken in it–good for me, bad if I was a vegetarian.

I had some oats with Pumpkin Spice topping + baked apple+cinnamon+flax seed

Holy deliciousness!

Roast beef sub with potato salad

On Sunday night, I made an interesting new dinner!

First I cooked some baby carrots in the crockpot for five hours on low with water and 1/4 cup brown sugar

Then the main event–cooking a whole chicken

I’ve never cooked one before so this was a new experience. I took it out of the packaging and just stared at it—what was I supposed to do with it?

I quickly googled what to do with an entire chicken and realized I had to reach inside and pull out the innards. Gross. Don’t worry, no pictures of that b.c I put on some gloves, grabbed it then tossed it in the trash.

I patted the chicken dry then rubbed with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, parsley and green onions

I cooked at 400 degrees for a little over an hour. Having a meat thermometer would have been extremely helpful

Such a beautiful bird! Luckily, it was cooked all the way through just right.

Dare I say, this was one of the best chicken dishes I’ve ever made. Having the bone in makes such a difference with the flavor and makes it more succulent. The seasonings I added were simple but just enough to make my senses come alive!

Exercise wise: I went to the gym on Friday night and did 45 minutes on the Precor AMT then did some upper body exercises such as lateral pull down, chest press, row and deltoid row

On Sunday, I attended  a free  Combat Cardio class at Dick Harrell’s Martial Arts studio courtesy of Yelp.

I was a little nervous to go to the class after watching the videos–this looked like another CrossFit type of class. But I am always up for a free class and mixing it up from my normal regime.

We started out with a little jog then ran in a circle inside while people with in the middle individually and practiced kicks, jabs and crossover jabs.

Then we partnered up (I had the same partner at my CrossFit class so it was good to work with someone who I’ve worked with before) and there were five station rotations-burpees ,  sit up passes (with a 12 lb medicine ball), wall squats (with a 15 lb medicine ball) sprinting (with a resistance band while your partner pulls against you) and kicking. Not that that is exhausting enough but we did that set four times in a row which totally kicked my ass. I can say with certainty that I hate burpees and surprisingly enough, the sprinting was my favorite. I now have parts of my body hurting that I never thought could hurt but it’s a good hurt if that makes sense? Plus I had a pretty sweet calorie burn–thanks Yelp for sponsoring this–I am looking into going to more classes there!

Job wise: Work still sucks. Even though Monday was a bank holiday I went in for a couple of hours just to get stuff done. I will be putting in my two weeks notice in April so I can get a good reference (hopefully?) then ride out the rest of my lease. I have plans to check out Pittsburgh at the end of March. I have a bunch of friends who live there, hear it’s a fun city, near WVU where I went to college and is cheaper to live than Charlotte. I’ve been looking into what I will do financially and think I am going to take out some of my 401K–just enough that I will be able to live off of and then still have a nice portion left so I can roll over into a rollover IRA. Still working on paying off my one credit card I have and paying extra on my student loans and car loan.

So yep, that’s what’s going on over here–a busy and full weekend!

Have you ever cooked a whole chicken?
Anyone else having gorgeous weather?? I am confused how it’s 70 and sunny in February but I’m actually enjoying it!

Calling all dog lovers!

21 Feb

 Recently Build A Sign approached me asking if I would be interested in making something off of their website. I was intrigued instantly since I’ve never heard of Build A Sign before.  What is Build A Sign you ask? They’re an on-line site that offers an array of products such as duh….signs but also banners, magnetic bumper sticks, license plates, flags and more. What sets them apart is that you can design your product in a matter of minutes with their custom-made backgrounds, pictures and text and have it to you the next day if your heart desires.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to make though. It would be pretty cool to stand on the corner with a custom-made sandwich board with my name and number on but maybe that’s not the smartest or classiest thing to do? I decided to design a magnetic bumper stickers—classic and fun, can’t go wrong there! 

So hooray, I figured out what I would make but what was I going to put on there?  At first I thought I would do something about being a frugalista. But then I played around with their online design system and wasn’t crazy about any of them. Then I saw a paw print and that is where my design came into mind. I think you all have read about my love for my dog Lincoln before, yes?

Since I give him love, attention, hugs, kisses, shelter, why not make a magnetic bumper sticker proclaiming my love for him.  I designed my magnetic bumper sticker, submitted the order and soon they were waiting for me at my doorstep.

Adorable right? I am beyond happy with how they turned out and keep telling everyone about my experience with designing them online. The kind people at Build A Sign sent me extra magnetic bumper stickers and I think you all know what that means–a giveaway!  I have 16 magnetic bumper stickers (3″ x10″) up for grabs with multiple ways to win:

*If you have a dog, tell me something interesting about them!

*Link this contest to your blogroll (leave a comment letting me know you did)

*Tweet about this contest “Win an “I love my dog” magnetic bumper sticker @tiffanynico http://wp.me/pMfHm-WF ”  (leave a comment letting me know you did)

Thank you Build A Sign for giving me this opportunity to make my own magnetic bumper sticker!

Contest ends at 12:01AM  on Monday February 28, 2011. 16 winners will be picked at random (you do not need a blog to enter just an email address where I can reach you)  I will announce the winners on the 28th as well!

Disclaimer: I was not paid for my opinion of Build-A Sign’s product or services. Opinions in this post are of my own.

Frugal Friday-Saving in South Carolina

18 Feb

 On Saturday, I made the huge trek to South Carolina. That 12 mile drive completely did me in but there was a good reason I traveled so far-cheap gas and lower sales tax. South Carolina has a 6% sales tax (counties are allowed to add 1% to that though). Sales tax in North Carolina is 5.75% however there is also a 2% local sales tax rate and my county has a 1/2% transportation tax so add those together and things tend to get expensive at 8.25% in my county. On the weekends if I have time, I like to drive down to South Carolina and load up on groceries and gas, not only is the sales tax cheaper but the gas is  around $.20/gallon cheaper as well.

I had a Groupon for Groucho’s Deli in Rock Hill and invited one of my friends to meet me there for lunch.

 I felt like I was back in college since it seemed to be all Wingate University  kids, except I had no rubber stamp on my hand from the night before and wasn’t hungover.  I thought the situation would be like a typical deli but turns out it’s a sit down kind of place.

And they carry  Dr. Brown’s soda, I love that stuff!

 Service was super quick and friendly, we were greeted right when we sat and had our sandwiches about 5 minutes after we ordered. I got the Brown Moose which was fantastic and you must try the Formula 45 sauce if you go–a nice combo of 1000 Island and French dressing. Funky? Yes. Tasty? Hell yes.

I was reaching for my friends sanitizer after the meal and while doing so, knocked her water over…..all down my leg. I was there, I saw it happen, felt the cold water hit my leg and  drench my jeans but I was so in shock I couldn’t stop it—I hate when that happens! So we had to get towels, ask for a mop and I had to ring out my jeans. Thank god they didn’t get wet around my girly bits, that would’ve been a tad embarrassing.

But the main reason I was in SC was to go to Big Lots. I love Big Lots like I love thrift stores and discovering new Big Lots makes me warm on the inside.

I hit the mother load at this Big Lots!

Almond milk

Kashi products

Ketchup chips?

I love chips and I adore ketchup but the idea of the two together sounds absolutely disgusting to me. I respectively had to pass on these.

Satay sauce

Pretzel crisps

Cacao berry Tea

 

 

I told Amy from The Scene from Me about this tea since we have been tweeting about chocolate tea. Two days later, she tweeted a picture of the same exact tea found at Whole Foods…..

……for $6.99 more!!? WTF?? Thank God I found that tea at Big Lots

Men who ask you what bra size you wear. No picture, sorry. I wish I was making this up but this is my life. I was making my over to the cash register and passing by the Valentine’s Day lingerie section–who knew Big Lots even had this? It was very classy as I’m sure you can imagine–I think the bras were $5 and panties for $2. I don’t think I would like if my man got me lingerie from Big Lots–at least go to Target or Wal-Mart! Anyways, this redneck man asked me what size bra I wear since I look like his wife “up there” Not too many atime am I left speechless but my jaw dropped and I was at a loss for words. I think I muttered “Umm, I don’t feel comfortable telling you that” then made a beeline for the cashier. Who asks random girls what bra size they are? We probably wouldn’t have been the same size anyways since I wear Very Sexy by VS so they perk my girls up a bit while his wife is left wearing Big Lots lingerie. I don’t know why stuff like this always happens to me but this is the norm in my life sad as it is.  These creeper men are out of control!

I went to CVS afterwards and stumbled upon a 75% off basket filled with Burt’s Bee’s goodies!

I was going to stock up on these since they were only $2.50 a piece but ended up getting one of each. I have way too many lip balms at home and tend to have at least three in my purse at any given time. I never know who I’m gonna be smooching so I have to make sure my lips are soft and ready to go!

What’s the farthest you will travel for a deal?

Do you shop at Big Lots?

Happy savings!! Speaking of savings, stay tuned for a giveaway in the next few days!