Archive | May, 2011

Back at it

24 May

Ever since I got back from Florida, I’ve been trying to get to back to some kind of normalcy. At first my cooking mojo was not there. Thankfully, I had a freezer stocked full of food waiting to be used

This pizza tasted so good but the weird thing is it tasted like sushi. I’m not joking. I could take a bite, be taken aback by the flavor, take a sip of water, take another bite and yep-sushi tasting. It was very weird but oddly enough, I would buy it again.

Instead of going to Starbucks and ordering a shaken iced green tea/lemonade, I’ve been making my own at home and it’s been surprisingly Buckies-like!

If you have a Publix near you and dig green tea, you must try this tea. I got two gallons before I left Florida and am kinda sad it will be gone soon. A trip to Greenville or Columbua, South Carolina may be in store.

I’ve gotten back into my cooking routine, as much as I didn’t want to. Having someone cook for you almost all the time is pretty nice. A girl could get used to that….note to self, troll culinary school for men who can cook. Thank God I have my standbys such as quesadillas

And pasta salad of course since that seems to be my latest obsession. I put a new spin on it by adding  Great Northern Beans, Parmesan & Peppercorn dressing and using Wacki Mac pasta.

I cooked the pasta then added chopped orange pepper, red onion, black olives and feta cheese then mixing in the dressing and a quick, creamy meal.

The point that it made four servings only helped since I’ve been a little lazy this week.

 

One thing I haven’t been able to get back into? Working out. I went to the gym on Saturday and Sunday and struggled to do just 30 minutes of cardio. When I was on the machine, time just dragged and I wanted to get off and do strength training, which I could do all day long.

I’m going back today and will conquer 30 minutes of some type of cardio! Maybe I just need to concentrate on what I am doing, challenge myself more or new music? And that will be right after I stop by Time Warner and cancel my cable. God help me…..

Are you cable-less?

Have you ever had a food that tasted good but like something else like my sushi tasting pizza?

The long drive home

23 May

Driving 11 hours sucks. Driving 11 hours alone sucks even more. No matter how hard I try, I get anxious the night before leaving for a long trip and end up getting almost no sleep which makes for a cranky beginning to the day. Lincoln and I packed up early on Friday morning and started out with a light breakfast of a banana and Nature’s Path Lotta Apricotta granola bar

Boy, that bar was sweet. Like almost too sweet to eat and I love me some sweets. It took a good 15 minutes for me to down. I think it would be really good cut up and sprinkled in greek yogurt though to even out the taste. While at the gas station (which we won’t even begin my rant on gas prices), I found this Seattle’s Best Iced Latte

I love Seattle’s Best but rarely see it anywhere so I was stoked about this. It was like any other iced latte out there but I didn’t find it to be too strong.

I had to go through Gainesville, home of University of Florida, on my way back and it was around lunch time. I was in need of something hearty and Lincoln was practically dying in the car from the sun beating on him

I did a quick search to find dog friendly restaurants in the area and found The Book Lover’s Café, located in Books Inc, a used bookstore a few blocks away from the campus.

They serve lunch items, coffee and tea but what I really liked about it was that their menu consists of vegan and vegetarian treats. I am neither however when you’re on the road, it’s difficult to eat healthy. I try to back food and snacks and sometimes want to sit down and eat but most of the selection seems to be fast food. I ordered and looked around the store for any books that might have been of interest to me. Can we say score?

Only $3.99! Perfect since I just finished The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I can’t wait to start this one. I got Lincoln and we sat on their patio and waited for the food to come. They brought him a water bowl and we just enjoyed the day and the freaks walking by. It’s a college town so you are going to have some weird people there and I saw a few people walking by singing and one guy (yes, guy) dressed like Rainbow Brite) it was very funkalicious.

I ordered the Hummus wrap and you can either get a side salad or soup with it-I got the salad with was hopping with veggies-just like the wrap

  

The hummus wasn’t flavored, it was just regular hummus and tasted homemade. It was flavorful but gritty in texture.  All of this for only $7! Plus I get a majority of my veggie servings in for the day while supporting a local business-win win!All in all, a great place to stop, relax, peruse the book selection and hang out. Even though we were in the shade, Lincoln was still panting like a whore in church

I think it’s sweating like a whore in church but I like panting like a whore in church much better-hello saucy!

The rest of the drive through Florida was boring. I took a less traveled state road back to Jacksonville so I could hop on I-95. While on the road, I kept seeing these billboards which was a bit disturbing

I guess Florida is trying to get rid of over population? I must have seen this billboard at least seven times.

And can someone tell me what this is? I despise personalized license plates and despise ones that I can’t figure out even more.

Of course, I pronounce OCRACOK as Okra Cock. Maybe he did have one? I don’t feel bad about saying this since he was the slowest driver ever.

And I finally figured out my cruise control after a year and a half of owning this car—clicks to that!

Lincoln was absolutely pooped by the time we got to South Carolina. So much that he felt the need to jump in my lap and rest while I was driving. Thank God I was just going straight.

While fueling up in South Carolina, I found a new goodie that is going to be on my next shopping list

Hooray for Skinny Cow candy! I love Skinny Cow products so much so this had to be tasty. There were only six clusters in the package and they were quite small but it was a nice, little treat to indulge in.

As soon as I knew it, I was back in Charlotte.

Yay. Can you read the sarcasm?

I came home to a couple of surprises though……

a bunch of mail

Then a couple of packages….hmmmm….what could be in them? Happiness! Well happiness to me because there was food and a book.

First was Lance Cracker Creations that I won over at The Food Snob

Oh Monique, your note made me smile, much needed at the end of the day Smile

The second thing was Jen Lancaster’s newest book, If You Were Here. It’s different from her books since it’s a novel as opposed to her memoirs she writes so I’m very interested to read it and see how it compares. One of my sorority sisters went to the book signing in DC and got a copy signed for me since she wasn’t coming to Charlotte this year. Oh well, at least I got to meet her last year.

What’s your favorite part about getting home from a long trip? Mine is my bed and clean clothes!

Pancakes, stank and parfaits

22 May

Some of you commented on my last post that my sister and I look alike which I find hilarious since everyone says that but I just don’t see it! Oh well, she is cute, so I will take that as a compliment Smile My second day on the west coast of Florida was a much needed beach day.  Before that, my sister made breakfast-chocolate chip pancakes! Now that’s what I’m talking about. The fact that they were Mickey Mouse shaped made it even better.

We left the dogs to their sunbathing to do some of our own.

We made our way over to Manasota Key to rest, relax and get some sun. However before any of that, the first mission was to find coffee. My sister and her boyfriend don’t drink coffee, which is a completely foreign concept to me. They had soda at their house but soda just doesn’t give me the same jump as coffee does. Seeing that on a normal day I have two to three cups in the morning, no coffee in my system is not a good thing nor does it make me a happy camper. My sister went to Places on her phone to see where we could get some java goodness and soon found a Dunkin Donuts and all was right in the world.

I almost made her stop at this shopping center when I saw the sign

 

Then we arrived at the beach, it was serene and had a good number of people but it didn’t seem crowded at all. And what the hell is up with the creepers on the west coast of FL?As my sister and I were getting our stuff out of the car, this old man walked past us and said “Hope you girls brought your bikinis’” We just smiled and did a nervous laugh but I really wanted to say “No, creeper, I didn’t bring my bikini. I think I’m being nice by not doing so because the amount of cellulite on my ass would give you a heart attack!” In the first ten minutes we were there, we saw a group of people crowding around watching the water. At first I thought it was a situation like on Seinfeld where the whale washes up on shore with a golf ball stuck in its blow hole but no go. We soon found out that a dolphin was swimming near the shore—it was so cool to see one up close!

The water was more shallow and calmer that on the East Coast of Florida not to mention cooler. It wasn’t blistering hot yet, which made for an enjoyable day at the beach. After that, we went to The White Elephant Pub.

My other sister has been here before and said the food was good but the atmosphere was gritty. I said hakuna matata for I love bar food. But bar food  in a beach atmosphere? It’s go time! We walked through the indoor portion of the restaurant and found a table on the patio. But that I found out what my sister meant by gritty—- it smelled like some concoction of hot trash, bad cheese and homeless. Yes, all three co-mingled together in a funky harmony. No matter what I didn’t I couldn’t escape the smell and it just reeked.
As unpleasant as the odor was, the food was great! They had a sweet selection of seafood baskets and entrees, burgers and appetizers. I got the fried grouper finger basket which came with a generous portion of crinkle cut fries and cold slaw.

White Elephant is not all about saving the earth as they don’t have condiment bottles at the table–just packets.My sister and I went to town on them!

And if you don’t think I swiped any, you would be wrong. The food plus the view we had definitely outweighed the negative of the stink in the air. Peep the gorgeous view we had from our table!

By the time we left, it was really starting to get hot out. I told my sister I wouldn’t be opposed to stopping by a Dairy Queen for a cool refreshment. Sadly, the Dairy Queen went out of business but we found something even better—a locally owned establishment called Swirls-N-Curls Ice Cream!

They had pretty much everything any other chain place can offer such as ice cream, soft serve, their version of the blizzard, shakes, parfaits, etc. I got the strawberry parfait and it hit the spot! Seriously, how delicious does this look?

I kept digging into it and it seemed endless and then bam-it was done. Sadface. Parfaits make everything right in the world and anyone who doesn’t like parfaits is a communist in my book. They have a cute little patio area with chairs, tables, games with oldies music playing in the background. The fact that they are doggie friendly and serve doggie ice cream treats made it all the better.

 

The rest of the day was very relaxing-I took my obligatory nap after being in the sun, had dinner then hung out and watched tv. You would think that after a day of being in the sun, I was tired but nope, Lincoln appeared to be even more tired than I was by practically perching himself on my shoulder.

 

 

Right before I went to bed, I found a plain, gold band sitting on the kitchen counter. I know they are planning a wedding but I thought it was weird to see one sitting out in plain sight. So I did what any 31 year old single girl would do and tried it on.

Felt very constricting, hmmmmm…..

What’s your favorite summer time treat?

Beach: Love it or hate it?

Flop it like it’s hot

21 May

I packed up on Wednesday to go to the west coast of Florida. Even though we moved to Florida when I was seven years old, the west coast is pretty foreign to me. We vacationed there a few times and I remember it being more mellow than the southeast coast of Florida with not as many NY/NJ people and not as much to do. My sister recently moved to the west coast of Florida and I wanted to see her before I trekked back up to Charlotte so on my way I went. While I was making multiple trips back and forth between the house and car (with a lot more stuff than I remembered bringing), I saw this huge turtle sitting up my car.

And when I came back he was gone. At least I have visual evidence he was there and that I’m not losing my mind. I had to make sure I had all of Lincoln’s stuff packed up and treats ready to go.

I had to say my good bye to this guy

Oi vey, that face. Mickey is going to be 13 this summer and I don’t know how many more times I will see him since he his health isn’t what it once was. This is one of the saddest good byes I’ve ever had to say. I know he is a dog but in my family, dogs are family. He has been there with me through college, mini, breakups, happy times, sad times, etc. I held him in my arms, rubbed his belly and said good bye. It was so emotional that I had to put Lincoln in the car beforehand so I could have some time with my Mick.

After that heartbreaking scene, we were on our way ready to go west side. It only seemed appropriate that we jam to Tupac not Biggie

 Like his momma, Lincoln is all about the east coast and not west,. RIP Biggie Smalls. Mental note to self: Must download Get Money by Junior Mafia, that used to be my job!

I got to my sisters place is no time then we took a drive over to Punta Gorda

 

 

Yes, I most definitely think I need to move to a city near the water. I miss it so much! What I don’t miss? The sketchy creepers that come with the beach. As my sis and I were walking onto the pier our dresses were flying everywhere with the wind and this creeper in daisy dukes walked past us andleaned over and whispered “Beautiful dresses” then walked to the end of the pier. We were in the middle of the pier at that time and we stopped there to take pictures because we didn’t want to become a CSI episode.

We stopped by a few stores and shopping centers, tried samples of fudge and perused shops

We stopped for a drink at the Wyvern Hotel roof top bar, which had an amazing view of the water. Give me a nice view, cold drink and cushioned seats and I really don’t need much else in life!

We had a great bartender who was quick with a pour (or twist of a cap) and gave us the 411 on the Punta Gorda area with solid restaurants and spots to check out and others to stay away from.

One of his recommendations was Asuka Japanese Steakhouse in Port Charlotte.

We sat at the sushi bar and when we came in there were two people making sushi then it dropped down to one right as the dinner crowd was coming in. Sushi chef was helpful but seemed a bit in the weeds cranking out the sushi. I don’t like when you go to a sushi place and there is a roll on the menu with no description—especially if it’s an obscure name that doesn’t give you any clue as to what it is such as the Snow White roll. WTF is a Snow White roll? Could it be white and black or full of seven dwarfy things? The sushi chef seemed a little irritated when we would ask him what something was then he finally got one of the waitresses to bring a menu. Annoying people is one of my strong points so push me to and I will. They had your traditional rolls along with special rolls for the evening. Most of their specialty rolls feature avocado which makes me shimmy since I heart omega three’s! I got the Chili Roll and Port Charlotte Roll—I love seeing both made right in front of me and both were on point with freshness and spiciness!

My sister go the Dynamite roll and a salad

I don’t know what’s up with Florida but the main thing that irked me was watching the sushi chef make all the rolls…..without gloves. Do food prep workers not have to wear gloves in Florida? I should know this but I have no clue. I saw him wash his hands a few times but it still skeeved me out.

How many siblings do you have? I have two older sisters but always wished I had an older brother.

Frugal Friday: On the road again

20 May

Happy Friday all! I am rolling back up to Charlotte today and not looking forward to the 11 hour drive. I am driving back from the west coast of Florida (recap coming soon!) and am excited for a new route to take but nervous since I’ve never come from this way. Maybe one of these days I will finally put out the money for a GPS? Until then, it’s Google Map directions all the way.

Am I the only person who still uses paper directions? Maybe I haven’t bought into the whole GPS thing is because I have a problem with authority and don’t like people telling me what to do?

Some tips for saving money while road tripping:

*Bring a lunch box with you. I like to bring one with one or two ice packs so I can bring drinks, yogurt and other perishable items

*Instead of buying snacks at gas stations, stock up before hand. I raided my parents cupboard before I drove to my sisters and snagged some trail mix, soda, fruit and granola bars.

Holy crap, my parents are hipsters and now organic!

*Check your local newspaper for deals. I found a coupon for a $19.99 Mani/Pedi comboo—unhead of!

So there was a catch with this deal.

The place was huge however it reeked of old people, Aqua Net and moth balls.

Seriously, this troll looking senior was off her rocker. She kept talking about how bunions ran in her family but she was blessed because she didn’t have any. From the look on her nail tech’s face, she was lying.

I was the youngest person in there so that boosted my ego for a few minutes until I sat down and figured out what the deal was with the cheap price. You can get a regular pedicure (the one with the $19.99 combo) or a spa pedicure. The spa pedicure is like a normal pedi–chair, hot water, bubbles and all. The regular? Not so much. Instead of going into one of the comfy chairs, they brought me a foot bath to soak my feet in. It’s all gravy b/c you would think that it would be plugged in so the water would be kept warm right? Negative. So my feet sat in the foot bath while the water quickly went cold. Nasty. WTF??
There was one lady who shelled out the extra $5 to get the spa pedicure and the other old ladies scowled at her since apparently, she was a big spender. I wish I would have followed her lead and spent the extra $5. At least I got my nails did and they looked good.

*Go to local thrift stores for new digs, books, knick knacks, etc. I went to a Habitat for Humanity thrift store on Thursday and found this Nine West purse for $1

Do I need another purse? Hell to the no but for as many purses that I have, I don’t have a plain black one. I think it’s $1 spent wisely.

*Itching to work out on vacation? Check out the gyms in the area you are going to visit. I belong to the YMCA and checked out the one in Florida and my membership allowed me to go 14 times at another branch outside of my metro area. I checked into LA Fitness which offers three day passes for free and Life Time Fitness offered a one day pass. I ended up not going to either one but Life Time Fitness was a bit pushy about me coming in. Homegirl slice is still emailing me and even offered to buy me lunch if I went in!

*Rely on the kindness of strangers. Ok, maybe everyone shouldn’t do this. But if you know me, I am a social bird and a talker. I often chat it up with strangers when out and I was at a bar the other night and a guy overhead I was from out of town and bought me a free drink. Score. Bonus points if they buy you a mixed drink on $1 beer night!

*Go to the local supermarket or discount score to get goodies for the ride back. I went to Big Lots on Wednesday night and got the following for under $7:

Hello Bear Granola! I haven’t tried this brand yet but it’s been on my list of must try’s

Happy savings!

What’s the longest road trip you’re made?

Anyone have any fun road trips planned for the summer?

Feels like the first time

19 May

We have a Whole Foods near my house however  I rarely go since when I’m back home I am usually without car. So when I’m without car, my parents drive me around like I’m 14 years old again which is lots of fun seeing that I’m over 30. To add to the fun of that, my dad got into a heated argument at WF last year around Thanksgiving or Christmas time and according to him “is banned” from that WF location so he is never down for going (parents getting me drunk, think I’m dating Samoans and this—do you see where I get my eccentricities from??) But this visit I am with car so I drove around to pick up some goodies. I was greeted by the wonderfulness that is Whole Foods. However after three or four minutes of being there, I went into overload. Did I want a salad bar, hot bar, sub, sushi, noodles? Can we say too many decisions and all look wonderful? As I was perusing the hot bar, I saw a dude walk by with a slice of pizza and problem solved!  However, I wanted a salad and knew a piece of pizza wouldn’t fill me up so I got the smallest size salad. I had nowhere to be so I dined outside with the salad and Honest Tea.

 

I feel like a legit blogger with my WF salad! I always see pictures on everyone else’s blog who lives in a normal city that has WF not in some podunk city like Charlotte. And I get a bit envious. Yeah, I can get salads somewhere else but there is just something special about a WF salad. Maybe it’s just me but this was just as good as the first time I tried their salad bar. I got some type of cole slaw on there so I didn’t need too much dressing but all in all in was delish.

I picked up some coconut water and Pop Chips as well then had my slice of Florentino pizza

 

All of that for $21, not too bad at all.

I had a little help from my guys while finishing the pizza so it went quickly

I don’t know why I’m tying in feeding pizza to the dogs with Jon Hamm but a few of you commented on how you will see Bridesmaids after I said he was naked. He was kinda naked, like shirtless but no full frontals–boo! However, he is furry on top so that was good enough for me! Didn’t want to mislead any of you.

After dinner, I stopped by Cupcake Couture for a sweet treat. I  went to Couture over Christmas and tried their Boston Couture but wanted to try something different this time around (ok and I was feeling lazy and not in the mood to crack open a cupcake)

They were recently voted Best Dessert so that was a reassuring sign to see sitting in their window. I love their cupcakes because they are a) massive and b) all named after designers. Some examples:

Oscar de la Raspberry

Jean Paul Peanutier

I’m not even a fashionista but I want to buy one just after hearing the names!

I ordered a latte and the Dolce & Banana cupcake—banana bread cupcake with banana buttercream frosting.

I was a good girl and saved it until I got home. Still pleasantly full from dinner, I had 1/3 of it just to see how it was and left the rest for the next morning because there is nothing like buttercream in the morning. The buttercream was the winner of the cupcake but I wasn’t too crazy about the banana bread portion, it was dry and lacked flavor.

Oh well, you can’t win them all.

I have to show some  blogger love here after reading the  Lazy Girls Guide to Men by the wonderful MelissaNibbles. She is dead on with all of the examples she uses and could not stop nodding my head while reading! If you haven’t checked out Melissa’s blog, I encourage you to do so. She is one of the bloggers that comes to mind when I think of people who truly speak their mind and doesn’t make everything seem like sunshine and butterfly farts.  Kudos Melissa!!!

Whole Foods-Heaven sent or evil empire? What are your must haves when you go?

Do you like coconut water? If so, what brands do you like?

The only routine with me is no routine at all

18 May

Even though I’m on vacation, I feel like I’ve been getting a routine of my own while down in Florida. I know, I shouldn’t have a routine when I’m supposed to be relaxing and enjoying my time but it’s been working out well and not a stressful one at all. It seems like each day I’ve been meeting up with one of my friends for a meal, coffee or get together. I went to a bbq the other night and made a creamy Greek pasta salad as opposed to a Tysonlicious pasta salad.

The star of the pasta salad was gorgonzola cheese. I rarely buy the gorg because I love it so much and can make a container disappear within 12 hours. Yeah, I don’t even say 24 hours because it really doesn’t last that long in my house. So when I saw it on sale, I bought it as a perfect add in to the pasta salad along with artichokes, black olives, zucchini, parsley, red pepper and Light Greek dressing.

This turned out awesome! I don’t like to make creamy pasta salads too often because hello, creamy isn’t too good for you but it was a perfect dish to bring to a bbq for all to share!

I met up with my friend for breakfast on Monday morning. She is a writer so she tends to be busy at night and on the weekends so when she suggested breakfast, I immediately jumped since you know, the most important meal of the day thing. Plus hello, I love seeing my friends! We went to First Watch, a breakfast and lunch spot in Boca.

I ordered coffee as I waited for her and when they brought out a vat of it, I couldn’t have been happier. Well until I saw these beautiful babies that is

Don’t think I didn’t swipe a few for the road!

I liked how they had traditional breakfast and lunch fare and also a good selection of healthy options.

I should have gotten something off that menu but the meal was going to be both breakfast and lunch for me so I went with something hearty and savory to fill my belly-Key West Crepegg-A thin, sweet crepe combined with fluffy whipped eggs filled with Turkey, avocado, bacon, tomatoes and Monterey Jack cheese with a side of potatoes and an english muffin

A delicious meal (as is anything that involves avocado!) add that to catching up with an old friend and that is priceless.

I’ve been getting some good gym time in also. There are a number of gyms to go to here so I don’t think a lot of people patron the YMCA which is fine with me—more machines for me! On the downside, most of the machines are older versions of ellipticals and treadmills. They don’t even have my beloved Precor there, it’s a brand called Star Trac which I’ve never heard of.

Of course, I’ve been hanging out with a couple of handsome fellas as well.

Mickey and Lincoln are getting along terrifically! Lincoln is still a little protective of me but he has to realize that Mickey is the OB (Original Baby) I have a feeling I’m going to end up with two pups soon.

I’ve been spending my afternoon’s laying by the pool reading and swimming.

Thanks to all who recommended this book—I can’t put it down! It’s such a page turner and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Lincoln has done some swimming too and was all too happy to get out of the pool and sun bathe with me.

The parentals have been providing dinner and entertainment we went to see Bridesmaids on Monday afternoon. This movie? Holy effballs of fire, it was hilarious! However, I really wish I could skip over the sex scene parts when I’m sitting right next to my parents. It’s a bit awkward. But on the other side, I don’t want to live in a world where I don’t get to see Jon Hamm naked. Seriously, how is he so handsome?  We  went to dinner at Kyojin Sushi Buffet in Fort Lauderdale right after. I was starving by the time I got there since I really only had the big breakfast and a few snacks.

The first plate of sushi was fantastic. However right after eating it, I didn’t feel right. I felt like there was a brick in my stomach so I switched over to soup while my dad helped me with the rest of the sushi. I’ve never had a bad sushi experience at a restaurant but I felt like I was going to throw up on the way home. We’ve been going to Kyojin for the past three years and it just seems like the quality of their sushi is going down the drain.

For the first time ever, South Florida is growing on me. I was born in Indiana then we moved here when I was seven. I resented my parents that we would move somewhere that’s a completely 180 from Indiana and just wanted out. And you know what?  The first chance I got to leave here, I did. I picked out WVU on a map and moved 18 hours away. Now that I have lived there, Phoenix and Charlotte, I’m not so much if I like it up north of not. I always thought I was a cold weather girl but I am quite enjoying the warm weather for the past week and a half. I know a lot of people down here and my friends have already told me I could them my resume so a move to Florida may be in the future.     

 Random question–Who the hell names a business Hair on Fire?

As someone who has had their hair caught on fire, this disturbs me. I won’t get into the story but it involves freshman year in college, a cigarette, Bon Jovi and Natty Light.

How many places have you lived?

Anyone else have any fun, hair catching on fire stories?? Crickets, crickets….