Archive | June, 2011

Rolling with my homies

19 Jun

I tried a new to me Japanese place on Friday night thanks to Living Social

I am so team Groupon by the way. Living Social is alright but they never seem to have as good of deals as Groupon plus I feel like it’s more expensive. I may be a little bitter that I recently had a Living Social deal expire and they didn’t even send me an email letting me know. Groupon always has my back and gives me advance notice that I better use my Groupons or they will expire soon.

Shiki isn’t in my neighborhood so I haven’t heard anything about it. When I looked online, I couldn’t even find a website for them  and there were minimal reviews on the Yelp so I was a wee bit skeptical going there.

For being in a Wal-Mart shopping center, this place was hopping for a Friday night! It looked like it hasn’t been there too long, was clean, had high ceilings and lots of comfy booths. The host sat us and got our drink order at the same time. That’s what I like to see, use of time management skills. I hate when they seat you and you have to wait forever just to get a water so getting everything out of the way is welcome. We each got a glass of wine which was $3.95 each. Talk about cheap! Plus they were very generous with their pours.

We started off with edamame, it was piping hot and my friend asked how to do you eat it. I simply replied “Just bite and suck” which then led me to think of one of my favorite movies of all time: Clueless

(source)

RIP Brittany

When I said “Just bite and suck” it reminded me of the scene at the party where they start playing Suck & Blow and Cher goes off on Elton “God Elton, don’t you know how to suck??” which led me to start humming “Rolling With My Homies”

I would keep going on and on about Clueless since it’s one of the best movies ever.

And anyone who wants to argue with me can go suck it. All I needed to know in life I learned from the movie Clueless.

Plus, it introduced me to Jeremy Sisto. 15 years later and I still love this man.

(source)

Oh yeah, so back to the Shiki, right?

At Shiki, I figured with the hooch being cheap they would mark up the price of their sushi but oh no, this was cheap sushi haven! None of the rolls are over $10 and a majority of them are $5 or $6. They also have traditional Japanese hibachi dishes but I really didn’t even look too much into that since when there is sushi, I’m a girl on a mission.

We had $25 to spend on food so we ordered four rolls. And of course, I don’t remember the names because that would be too easy. But I remember the spicy tuna roll (second from left) and crunchy California roll (second from right)

Why can’t I remember the names?? Argh. The one on the far left was bomb, I think it may have been the Volcano roll?

All of the sushi was wonderful and we walked out of there only having to pay $12 due to the two glasses of wine which wasn’t included. Shiki was a great value! I thought it was going to take longer to get there from the Uptown Charlotte area since I’m spoiled and think anything that’s further than six miles is a long trip.  Also, they have awesome mints-just strong enough to wipe out the taste of wasabi. I would much rather go to Shiki and pay for sushi than go somewhere that’s overpriced where you’re paying more for the atmosphere than the sush. It’s nice being able to hear the person you’re with talking when you’re out for sushi rather than having to yell at them in a clubby atmosphere.

On Saturday, I felt like my day was shot since I had the Salvation Army thrift store coming over to do a large pick up of stuff. And they pulled the whole cable company act like we-will-be-there-between eight and four so I was just sitting around waiting for them. I was paranoid about going anywhere for long because with my luck they would decide to drop by when I left. What also sucked was I got an invite early Saturday morning to go to a restaurants soft opening on Saturday afternoon but couldn’t go because of the pick up.

My friend came over and she had a Groupon to use for Pisces Sushi. I love the sushi but my last experience at Pisces was less than desirable. I was with a big party, the service was horrible, food took forever to get out and when it did, the portions were so little. I swore I wouldn’t go back but when someone has a deal, I am game. Apparently, Saturday afternoon is the time to go to Pisces since there were only four other tables seated.

So stoked I got hygienic chopsticks this time! Now what was I using last time?

We started with the Vegetable Spring Rolls, the dipping sauce that came with it reminded me of Chick Fil A’s Polynesian Sauce but with a kick. I’m totally ok with that.

Xoxo roll on top and Bobcats Roll on the bottom. Both of the rolls were fantastic however the Xoxo roll was out of this world! It’s topped with  grilled scallop and a honey eel mayo sauce. The scallop was grilled to perfection and I don’t even want to know with hot much butter because it literally melted in my mouth.

Filet M roll on top crab crunch roll on the bottom. I’ve never had sushi topped with steak before so this was something new to me. the horseradish on the Filet M roll gave it a little extra zing. I liked it but don’t think I would get it again, the concept of filet on top of sushi was just weird to me (this coming from a hardcore carnivore)

Nothing like some sushi on a Saturday afternoon!

Do you like the movie Clueless? Please don’t answer if you haven’t seen it because I really don’t need help feeling older than I already do.

When dining out-what would you rather pay for, ambience or good food?

 

Frugal Friday-Fill ‘Er Up

17 Jun

Happy frugal friday! With it practically being summer, I think all of us have seen the insane gas prices out there. I remember when I was in high school and could score gas for $.96/gallon. Then it slowly crept it’s way above the $1 mark and when I would drive from FL to WV, I would get excited about going to Georgia since their gas seemed to be under $1 still. I would kill for gas to be that cheap. Here are some tips to save money on gas this summer:

*See if your grocery store has a fuel program

Bi-Lo has their FuelPerks program which gives you $.05 off a gallon of gas for every $50 you spend. It doesn’t sound like a lot but this definitely adds up after awhile plus they run special promotions like Buy $10 worth of Pedigree dog products and get $.10 off of gas. The points don’t expire for months and they have select gas stations where you can redeem your FuelPerks. I looked at my Bi-Lo fuelperks savings and saw that I had $.15 off a gallon of gas and some of that was expiring soon, so it was time to fill up!

I looked up what gas stations I could go to redeem and saw there were some in South Carolina. The border is about ten minutes away and their gas tends to be $.20 cheaper by the gallon so I waited until I was below a quarter of a tank to get the most bang for my buck!

I was starting to get a little nervous since I never let my gas get this low but soon enough, I was at the BP in Fort Mill, SC and it was time to break out my Bi-Lo BonusCard!

Regular gas was $3.45 which is about $.24 cheaper than Charlotte.

I swiped my Bi-Lo card and  filled the tank up to the max to cash in on my FuelPerks.

I hate to spend $34 to fill up my car but I live in a city where I have to drive to get around so if I’m going to fill up, I’m going to try to do so for the least amount possible!

*Walk

If you’re able to, walk to businesses in your area like the grocery store, drug store, restaurants, bars, coffee shops. etc. Not only is this good for your gas tank and wallet, it’s terrific for your health!

I saw this coupon for Einsteins Bagels the other day and decided to walk there instead of driving.

And they ended up giving me a regular bagel, boo Einsteins. Oh well, a coffee and bagel for $2.99 was a decent deal.

*Run all your errands in one trip

I do this to save money on  gas instead of making a trip, coming home, then going out again. This saves money on gas and saves you a lot of time!

*Use A/C only on the highways

I never thought about this but it does make sense. I  don’t like A/C in the car but use it in the summer months for vanity reasons alone. I am not one who deals well with greasy skin and frizzy hair. From Wikihow “At lower speeds, open the windows. This increased the drag and reduces fuel efficiency, but not as much as the AC at low speeds (35-40 mph). Even better, at any speed, turn on the vent when it is cool outside or open windows just a few inches. The air con – when used a lot – is known to use up about 8% of the fuel you put into your car.”

*Ride your public transportation!

I never thought I would be a bus gal but I was for three years. I started riding the bus back in 2007 when gas prices were on the up and up. I moved 20 miles from work and drove an SUV and was not patient with traffic or wasting money on gas just to go to work. My employer at the time has a discount plan with Charlotte Area Transportation where you could get weekly and monthly passes on the cheap. I did this and saved a ton of money (not to mention got in some good people watching time)

*Buy a gas efficient car

I drove an SUV for 10 years but it was eating away at my checking account due to upkeep and gas. I got about 20 miles to the gallon and it was a gas guzzler with a capital G. I traded in my car with the Cash For Clunkers program two summers again and got a more fuel efficient car, a Toyota Corolla. Now, I only fill up every few weeks as opposed to every week when I had an SUV. I like my new car but still kinda miss riding high in my SUV.

*Drive at a more consistent speed

*Replace your air filter

*Decrease your speed when driving on the highway

Oi, I have a problem with this. I have a huge leadfoot and tend to go a good 10-15 miles about the speed limit when traveling. This definitely needs to stop, especially since I am without job and really not in a hurry to be anywhere From Drive Smarter Challenge: “Speeding costs! Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly above 60 mph. Each five miles per hour over 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas.”

What are your tips for saving money on gas?

Stimulating the economy

16 Jun

Hi all! It’s 10:30pm and I am finally getting some down time. My time has been filled with packing and some fun. Shall we?

I was craving bar food like whoa last night. I didn’t want to go out and still need to go through stuff in my fridge so why not make something at home, right? I found a lone container of crescent rolls sitting in my fridge and I couldn’t even remember when I bought them or for what purpose. I’m not the kind of girl who will just buy crescent rolls since I could probably down seven or eight in a sitting and we just don’t need that.

I also had some Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheese and Tyson Grilled & Ready Chicken and there you have the ingredients of dinner.

I sprinkled two crescent rolls with Penzey’s Mural of Flavor then threw in the chicken and cheese and wrapped up

Kinda, I really didn’t have a set plan on how I was going to make these and just tried to get them to stay together as a roll.

I also threw some kale, extra virgin olive oil, pepper and garlic together to make kale chips while that was cooking. They had the same cook time of about 15 minutes so it worked out perfectly.

Complete with some Chick Fil A Fat Free Honey Mustard for dipping. Yum.

Today, I helped boost the economy. I had a thrift store + lunch date with one of a new friend. What’s up with me meeting fabulous people right as I’m about to leave Charlotte? Can we say dislike?

We went to Mac’s Speedshop. Mac’s holds a special place in my heart. Mac’s holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the first restaurants I went to when I first moved to Charlotte and when out of towners ask where they should eat when they visit Charlotte, Mac’s is my answer.


And then when we were looking through the menu (which I just pretend to do since I get the same thing 99% of the time), it hit me that it would be my last time at Mac’s.

Farewell, Little Pig sandwich with a side of mac n cheese. We’ve had some good times together and will miss you dearly.

This is exactly how I want to remember you and your meaty goodness.

When I got home, Lincoln could send that I had some delicious for lunch. Sorry, little dog, no meat for you.

But let’s get back to me stimulating the economy today. I can’t say no to a deal and it all started with Big Lots.

I really don’t need these in the house but for $1, I needed to try these since Almond Joy is one of my all time favorite candies

Like little chocolate and coconut M&M’s….only better. This is what heaven tastes like.

I found some other good deals:

Can you tell I’m a wee bit obsessed with this anti aging stuff?

We went to Value Village to find some new threads. I am well aware I’m trying to get rid of stuff but I wanted to get a few skirts since it’s starting to get steamy out and if I’m going to get some skirts, it’s going to be at the VV.

$2.50. I love the pocket in the front and the inside is a sweatshirt like material!

This purse? Ok, well, it’s probably a bag but I deemed it my new summer purse, only $1.61! I didn’t even find this on my own, I walking to the cash register and saw this in a ladies shopping cart. I ooooohhhhed and ahhhhhhed when I saw it and pet it (because that’s the weird thing I do with purses) and she told me I could have it. I asked her four or five times if she was sure and she insisted so I did a happy dance and  walked away as quickly as I could before she changed her mind.

$1.50

$3.50

I’m not a let’s wear a white visor kind of girl but for $1, I definitely get down with it. Plus it will be good to wear on afternoon walks with the Linx so I can get that evil sunlight away from my face.

Now to my two favorite finds of the day:

Do I need brown and orange plaid trimmed shoes? No but they were only $3.50 and went perfectly with a dress I soon found after, also for only $3.50

I can’t wait to rock my $7 outfit!

What kind of moisturizer do you use?
What’s your favorite restaurant of all time—give me details!

Oh, if you are looking for some clothes or other goods, check out my ebay page. I’m selling some of my coworkers clothes and getting rid of other stuff.

Whatcha gonna do with all that junk?

15 Jun

Happy hump day humpers! This week has flown by, with packing, tying up loose ends and getting together with friends. I say this every single time that I move, this will be my last move. And it never is and I have a feeling it’s not going to stop anytime soon so I better get used to the smell of boxes and moving tape.

And can I just say you all rock? Thanks for all the words of encouragement and support on my last post, it is much appreciated and each comment made me smile and reminded me why I love the blogging community. Teardrop.

On Monday, I had a bunch of errands to do before meeting a friend for lunch. But before I left, I set an easy meal in the crock pot. It only had four ingredients:

Along with half a chopped onion. I set at low and let cook for eight hours

However I forgot that I was going for Mexican food for lunch so it was going to be Mexican food twice in one day. Awesome way to start the week if you ask me! I met my friend at this restaurant called Casa Grande in a sketchy strip mall, like the kind that has a laundromat and check cashing. Thank God we went for lunch because god only knows what it would have been like during night time. Casa Grande was authentic, like menus all in spanish with no english whatsoever and no pictures authentic. I took four years of spanish and grew up in South Florida so I like to think I can get by with my espanol skills. I can understand it somewhat and read but speaking spanish doesn’t work with me. For those who know me or have talked with me, you know I talk fast so it seems like it would be a match made in heaven. I think the problem is the language is too fast for me. But not too furious.

They have specials of the day and I saw pollo y arroz so I had a semi understanding of what lunch would consist of. But peep this-all this food for only $6!

The chicken was delicious and anytime I can get a serving of potatoes and rice, I’m a happy gal. I finished half of the plate and took the rest to go so really it’s two meals for $6, my kind of place!

I stopped to get a new leash for Lincoln since he broke it on Sunday. I went to two different Ross’ and nothing. I always go there for dog accessories and toys and was disappointed they didn’t have them in stock. Disappointed not only because it was a waste of time but because when I bought Lincoln’s leash there, it was only $7 or $8. Petco doesn’t roll like that. I stopped there and got a cute, lime green leash for Lincoln for 22 bones. Ugh.

At least he will walk in style.

The chicken turned out wonderful and the chicken melted off the bone. I topped with cheese and served with leftover spaghetti and veggies.

On Tuesday, I went to Dilworth Coffee to get my wi fi on. I was sitting there, working on internship stuff, catching up on blogs when suddenly, I heard The Strokes first  cd “Is This It?”  The Strokes are my favorite band and I get giddy whenever I hear their music in public or hear people talking about them.

(Source)

I told the barista he made my day by playing that. We started talking Strokes but he seemed taken aback that I liked them. Maybe it was the Vera Bradley headband or Life is Good t shirt I had on that had my looking like a yuppie who likes Colbie Caillat?

Gah, I love that headband and so. And love that I got it for free at the thrift store since the cashier was too lazy to look up the price and didn’t know who Vera Bradley is.

Anyways, back to the Strokes. I asked him if he heard the new cd and he said he hadn’t had a chance to listen yet so I went to my car and they played it-score!

Afterwards, I dined al fresco since it was a gorgeous day out and I needed to work on my tan. I made two chicken, hummus and hot sauce wraps with sliced apple

and Lincoln did as well

And catch up with Jen Lancaster

I wasn’t feeling the book at first because it’s her first fiction piece of work and it’s based off of her life as are the two main characters, Mia and Mac. Which is weird that I say that because she is my favorite author but I guess I was expecting something different from her normal work. I just have to embrace the whole notion of write what you know, even if it does apply to fiction.  A few chapters in, I couldn’t put it down and can’t wait to finish it!

The rest of the afternoon was spent packing, cleaning and cleaning out purses.

I don’t know how I have so much random crap in my purses, I’m talking random like soy sauce, chopsticks, pens, splendas, Yelp swag, aspirin, lip gloss, maracas and more.

When I cleaned out a majority of my purses that I’m giving away to the thrift store, it was enough to fill up two purses, wtf?

Do you use one purse or switch it up all the time? If you do switch it up, do you clean them out often?  As you can see, I definitely need to start cleaning them out more. I’m a hoarder when it comes to the contents of my purse.

PS–If you haven’t entered my giveaway, it ends tomorrow night!

What I need to do and stop doing

14 Jun

To do

*Keep tracking my food intake on the daily

I used to use Livestrong to track my food and exercise. It’s free to join and it tells you the amount of calories, carbs, fats, cholesterol. etc that you take in on the daily.  You can enter in your current age, weight and height and then control your settings like if you want to lose a pound or two a weight, gain weight or even maintain your weight. They have just about every food to enter in for the day and you can manually enter in your exercise or search their database. I used it for so long but then stopped because I felt like I was becoming obsessive over it with tracking every single morsel that went in my mouth.

Well apparently, being obsessive is how I roll.

Many of you know about my former job situation and the effect it took on my health-mental and physical. I was in a deep depression and gained 25 (yes, 25) pounds. With a seven month period—it’s never good to gain that much weight, especially in that short of a time frame (and on a short girl) Now that I’ve quit my job, I’m dealing with the repercussions of gaining that weight. And tracking is what works for me. I can’t do the guesstimation at this time of what I eat every day, I need to enter in everything to hold me accountable for what’s going in my body. I lost two pounds last week which is a small win on the road to a larger victory.

*Plan my meals

This is only going to get more difficult in the next few months since I will be living as a gypsy. I have planned out my meals for this week by using what I got along with some produce that’s on sale this week.

*Find gyms while out of town

Finding and going to the YMCA while in Florida and Indiana was such a success, I can’t wait to find other locations wherever my next stops will be.

*Cutting down on the hooch

I’m a drinker, there’s no question about that.  And it’s fine in moderation but my problem is that I heart beer. In the summertime there is nothing as a refreshing as a cold, beer (those who say lemonade is the ultimate summertime refreshment are lame and in denial) But those empty calories are not my friends and I’ve been drinking more and more lately. Two summers ago, I barely drank. I would go out once or twice a month with friends for a night and drink and that was it. Unfortunately, it’s the main thing to do when I get together with friends so I need to find a way to cut down or limit it to just once a week for the time being.

*Mix up my playlist

I’m horrible about changing my playlist. It only happens a few times a year and I don’t know why I don’t change it more often. I think it has something to do with laziness. I can proudly say I have quite a variety on my playlist though:

Stop Doing

*Freaking out over the numbers on my heart rate monitor

I thought I forgot my heart rate monitor band in Indianapolis. I went a week with working out without it and it was nice. I felt naked at first since I couldn’t see how many calories I had burned or what my heart rate was. But instead, I was listening to my body and concentrating more on the movements instead of the numbers in front of me. Sometimes my heart rate monitor will read my heart rate as 0 while working out (I guess I have died a few times?) and other times, I wonder if it is an accurate read of how many calories I’m burning. I tend to focus solely on the number and that’s and will get disappointed if I don’t have a good burn. So I am going to continue to use my heart rate monitor since I think it’s a good gage but at the same time, I’m going to listen more to my body.

*Letting other people distract me

Airports are one of my favorite places to go to for the people watching alone. And the gym is similar to the airport, well except for the planes and travel aspects of it. The people watching at the gym is spectacular especially since the location I go to is on the outskirts of Uptown Charlotte. You got yuppies, gays, urbanites, college kids, elderly folk-the whole shebang. And sometimes I just can’t help staring at people and wondering what their situation is or why they are freak. If I could have one semi-superhero power, it would be the power to know what people are listening to on their ipod. I’m always intrigued by this for some reason like “Oh, she looks like she’s listening to Gloria Gaynor” or “Yep, he’s Def Leppard all the way” But other times, I let the people around me distract me. Such as the guy working out next to me who sang Rod Stewart the entire duration of my workout (um, I don’t like Rod Stewart so kindly shut up) or the mini’s AKA the yuppie moms of four children whose sole purpose in life is to compete in marathons, go to bookclub and Starbucks. I start to get into comparisons and feel like I should be doing more.

*Going in with a plan

You read that right. While most people swear on a workout plan before they go into the gym, I don’t. I don’t like committing to something (#29 why I’m not in a relationship) and if my plan doesn’t follow through, I tend to just leave saying I’ll come back tomorrow to do it. So, I keep it broad just saying “Today I’m going to do x minutes of cardio and strength training concentrating on my lower or upper body” if I keep it vague like this, I am more likely to succeed. I think it’s about knowing what works for you as opposed to what works for the general public.

*Being emo

I get down on myself about my weight and get all emo. It sucks and it needs to stop. I’ve come a long way and while I’ve gained some weight back, I’m not at my original weight. I need to keep thinking positively and move in the right direction.

What do you need to do and stop doing in regards to your health?

Tame and lame

13 Jun

Yep, that would describe my weekend. Friday night was exciting but the rest was pretty tame and lame.

Saturday morning was solely dedicated to packing and getting rid of junk. I had someone from Craigslist come over at 11am to look at my tv stand and they bought it—woo hoo! One item down, a whole lot left to go. I paid $100 for it last year and got $60 in return so I think that’s pretty good plus that can be a credit card payment for next month.

Of course, I put on Twitter about how if no one ever heard from me again, it was because I’d been killed. I never used to be weird about it but then this guy had to go ruin it for everyone.

(source)

The rest of the day was nothing to write about, errands, cleaning, gym. Fun.

I went through my freezer and saw that I had some shrimp that should be used soon so I decided to make shrimp, veggies and pasta. I cut up red peppers, onion, zucchini and shallots and seasoned with

I seasoned the shrimp with pepper and garlic then cooked with extra virgin olive oil on the stovetop until cooked thoroughly. I topped with parsley and grated parm. The best part was that this didn’t even need any kind of sauce since it was so flavorful and absorbed the extra virgin olive oil that I cooked the shrimp in.

I wanted to do something on Saturday night but nothing was going on. No one was around or responded to my texts if they wanted to do anything (nice) and no one asked me to do anything and I didn’t want to spend any money. Around 8pm, I got up and went to Freedom Park with Lincoln since there was still some light out. we walked around the lake, canoodled with other dogs and enjoyed the night. I t started to turn dark and the rain was coming in so we went home and hung out. The rest of the evening was spent with this guy

I’ve been trying to make Lincoln rock a faux-hawk but he isnt having any of that.

I woke up bright and early Sunday morning but not my choice. I didn’t get to bed until midnight and couldn’t take Lincoln out since it was down pouring. What does that mean? I woke up to him on my chest

I made an awesome bowl of oats—chocolate banana chia oats. These were bomb. I was just going to add the banana and chia seeds but had a little left of a bag of morsels to use up and most definitely didn’t want to be wasteful.

I went to Target to grab a battery and left with a battery and three tops. So typical

I also picked up my dad a Father’s Day card. I love my dad but I feel awkward picking out a card since they are too sappy for my taste like “You picked me up when I fell and now I pick up my kids when they fall” and other lame stuff like that. I just want a card that says “Happy Fathers Day, love you” but apparently Hallmark and the other big shots don’t want to produce stuff like that.

 

By the time I got back from Target, it was 9am and I was bored….again. So I got on my sneakers, grabbed Lincoln and we went for a mile and a half way and then to the park

Lincoln was chasing so much squirrel that his chain broke! His retractable chain went out 15 feet and now the string won’t go back in. So now we have to use his old leash which only goes six or seven feet out and when you have an energetic pup, that just doesn’t jive.

And something else broke apart but with the help of a wrench

Sing song the bed is dead!!!!!! That was my independence day and while everything didn’t break completely apart, it’s dismantled. Thanks Nic for the tool tips—I appreciate it!

Lunch was leftover mushroom flautas from Vida and kale chips. I believe in making the most of what you got and definitely when it comes to cooking, why use to sheets when I can use one?

I got creative with dinner on Sunday night. I had leftover spaghetti from Saturday night so I halved the leftover portion, added two tablespoons of cottage cheese, thawed frozen spinach, red pepper flakes, garlic, spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese

Took one portabella mushroom, cleaned it out, sprayed with extra virgin olive oil from my Misto then stuffed with the pasta mixture

Topped with more mozzarella

Bake for 15 minutes at 375 and then top with parsley and done!

This was a fun way to make spaghetti interesting as opposed to just the blah leftovers it sometimes can be! Plus if there’s an opportunity to get some mushrooms into my belly, I won’t pass it up.

Also this weekend I’ve been trying some new smoothie concoctions thanks to my friend, frozen mango

Berry, mango, coconut water, chia seeds and greek yogurt

Mango, coconut water, chia seeds and greek yogurt

I’m out of protein powder and in limbo regarding what flavor or brand I’m going to buy next step. So to get my protein in the meantime I’ve been adding greek yogurt along with coconut water instead of milk and I love the consistency, it’s still thick but not as heavy.

 

Does anyone else feel me on the wanting a non sappy Father’s Day card?

Do you sell stuff on Craigslist/Ebay/Amazon?

Random question-anyone familiar with Google Analyticals? I have the code to add it to my site but I’m not sure where exactly to enter it in since I do everything by posts. It keeps telling me to put it anyone on my site, please help if you know where I should put it!

Taste of Charlotte

12 Jun

 

Friday was a big food day thanks to Taste of Charlotte! I went last year so I was stoked to see what the lineup was this year. I made the big trip Uptown to go since I had some free food coins coming my way courtesy of Yelp. Big trip, it is not, it’s only 10 minutes away however I never go because I’m cheap and don’t want to pay for parking. And in regards to the nightlife, it’s a bit douchey and more of a college crowd which I’m not into. I took the bus in and the first stop of the day was the Starbucks in my old building. I went to this place almost every day for six years so it’s like a second home to me. But then I started to freak out, what if the baristas I know and love weren’t there? What if they didn’t recognize me? Well, neither happened since a few of them were there—it was so good to see them again! I texted a few of my ex co-workers and let them know I was downstairs. Most of them were swamped or in meetings but I got to see one!

Would you believe that’s my first picture in front of a Starbucks? Mental note, I really need to buy stock in the Bucks.

Afterwards, some members of the most recent team I was on told me I should come up to see their new area they moved to. I was up there for maybe 10 minutes when management kicked me out. I told them I wasn’t stealing customer information ( a) that’s wrong and I would never do that b) I wouldn’t last a day in prison) and I was just there to say hi but they weren’t having any of that.I was going to make a remark on how one of the guys who left came up to our old floor when I worked there and how this was sexist but I just left quietly instead.

One of my old co-workers and I grabbed our coins and started to walk around. And just like last year, it was a scorcher out. They set up Taste of Charlotte along Tryon Street, the main road that runs through Uptown, so we walked up and down checking out who was there. Of course we found the cupcake place to stop, I’ve never been to Polka Dot Bake Shop so this was the perfect opportunity to try them.

They had mini red velvet cupcakes for one coin so that was the first thing to try. I was even good and took two little bites instead of popping it in my mouth. The cream cheese frosting? Holy smokes—it was great! However two bites doesn’t have me completely sold on Polka Dots so I will have to stop by there sometime. I love justifications Smile

It was so hot out,  I started to get a bit lightheaded and felt like I was going to faint. Hello horrible timing—it’s a food festival, it’s my happy place! I think it was a combination of the heat, dehydration and number of people crammed into one street. I sat down and got some water and was ok for a few minutes but continued to feel “off” all day. Thumbs down.

Next up was Chicken Satay from Namaste India

I just saw a huge sign reading “THAI FOOD” and I was there. I’m still a bit confused by the Indian place was serving Thai food. Hmmmm. I’m proud of myself for straying from my stand by of pad thai. I like to think I’m an adventurous person and want to try other thai dishes when I go out but I just love the pad thai so much I’m afraid I’m going to try something else out and it will pale in comparison. The satay was delicious….and this is coming from someone who doesn’t like peanut butter.

Last on the BBQ Slider from Outlaw BBQ. The meat was perfectly cooked and seasoned that I didn’t even need bbq sauce—unheard of!

It was fun to try things from restaurants I’ve never been to but Taste of Charlotte was a bit of a letdown this year. It felt like there weren’t as many vendors as there were last year and that there were more chains. Also, if TOC wants to play with the big boys, they really need to expand. You’re crammed in with people near cookers and it feels like hell. I don’t like sweating while eating much less feeling sweat run down my crack.

Later that evening, I went to Vida Cantina for my friends birthday. The reservation wasn’t until 8:30 as always, I was a bit early. I am perpetually early so one can only imagine how much of a pet peeve tardiness is for me. Luckily, there were other perpetually early people I recognized enjoying a cold one. I was trying not to try all week and if I did, I was going to have liquor or wine because I really need to cut down on how much beer I’ve been drinking. But the idea of a cold beer on a Friday night sounded too enticing to pass up so there I was with my Dos Equis Amber.

We had a big table in the upstairs area which is the more private dining area. There was only enough room for our table and the other big party there so it was as crammed nor did we have a lot of food traffic like downstairs. I love Vida but there is a huge wait staff and usually a line of people there so it seems like you’re always on top of someone else.

There were a couple of rounds of tequila shots but this girl sat out thanks to…..I just don’t like tequila. Even the quality stuff. No thank you.

 

Me and the birhday girl

I loved her rings! The one on the left goes on two fingers—I’ve never seen that before.

 

We noshed on lots of baskets of chips, salsa, guacamole and queso dip. Like lots of chips, we would start going through one basket, be done, wait for another, get it, devour it, repeat. I wasn’t feeling a huge meal so I order the appetizer of mushroom flautas

Gorgeous right? They were just the portion size I was hoping for and I could only finish one of them! I took the rest to go and hope they will be semi decent leftover….who am I kidding, Mexican food leftovers are usually better than the original!

Are you a big festival person? I love festivals! It’s more the crowd that hate dealing with so if I do go to one, I want to go in the down time where there isn’t a bunch of people.

Do you have a food festival like Taste of Charlotte in your city? If not, do you have other festivals?

Almost a free day

11 Jun

I’ve been getting into my normal routine of running around with entering crisis mode from moving.

On Thursday I went to Dilworth Coffee since I had a $15 Groupon to blow through. However, there was a catch, the Dilworth Coffee location was in Concord whereas I thought it was the one a few blocks away from me. Since Concord is about a 20 minute drive, I decided to make a day trip out of it (can you tell I don’t like to travel too far when I am in Charlotte?)

I started there and ordered 12 oz of their cinnamon hazelnut coffee. I Usually get their Morehead Estate ground coffee but wanted to try something different since it would be super cheap to. The barista there was awesome and took the time to ask me what I like and what the difference is between the different roasts they have. Since I was mixing it up already, I followed with my drink. I got an iced skim chai latte and it was delish and dare I say, the best I’ve ever had?

I brought my laptop so I could work on some internship stuff and parked it for about two hours. It was just the right level of volume since it was mid morning and no kids or hipsters were there, yay.

What I liked about this location was that it had a true coffeehouse feel to it. What is a true coffeehouse you ask? I’m not sure but if I were to think of one in my mind, it would be spacious with comfy seats, eclectic décor, local artwork, chill music with a variety of brews. And that was indeed Dilworth Coffee in Concord.

I saw some interesting sights on the road shortly after while heading to the next stop of the day:

What the hell is this, the Bob Marley Express?

And I love that the Charlotte Fire Department digs Shrek but what about Donkey?

The next stop was The Last Word, a used book/cd/dvd store that’s opened this past year. I have a bunch of books that I am giving away to the thrift stores but I thought I would check with them first to see if they would buy any back.

If someone could tell me why there is a Christmas tree in the bathroom,I  would love to know the story.

After what seemed like forever, my name finally appeared on the monitor. They put it on the screen when your order is ready instead of the traditional calling your name over the loudspeaker. I was about to reach my boiling point because the guy told me it would be about 30 minutes and when mine was finally ready it was over an hour. I’m very impatient, it’s one of my “flaws” (who are we kidding, it’s the only flaw I have!) however if you give me a realistic time frame, I can schedule accordingly and go somewhere else or go grab lunch. I went back to the counter and they only bought a few dvd’s and books from me which came to $19 in store credit or $9 cash. I found a couple of cd’s and a book so I took the credit and I still had some leftover for my next visit.

When that was settled, I went to Thai House for lunch. They have lunch specials for $7-$10 and I am always down for some chicken pad thai.

It was a huge portion for only $7 and with that you get a spring roll and soup. However it helps when the server greets you on their own free will and remembers the soup. Definitely not the best pad thai I’ve had in Charlotte but it did the job.

Do you go to used bookstores to sell or buy books? Do you have a Kindle/Nook or prefer old school books? 

I like to go to used bookstores to sell my books (and cd’s and dvds if they buy them) because most of the time they are locally owned businesses. I am old school all the way, I don’t think I could do the whole electronic book thing…or could I?

Frugal Friday: It’s June?

10 Jun

Happy Frugal Friday! Um, I don’t even want to start the conversation on how it’s June already so we just won’t. I just need to ask-seriously- where has this year gone??

A couple of months ago, I was perusing Groupon for the deal of the day. I started to look around at other cities to see what they were offering as well. Indianapolis’ sounded interesting—$8 worth of Mexican food for $4 at Bajio Mexican Grill . I am all about the Mexican food but cheap Mexican food, si papi!

 

I had some free time last weekend so drove over and ordered the Pineapple Shrimp Salad.

Bajio was just like Qdoba or anything other Mexican fast food restaurant. I loved the number of add ins and when it came out, it was gorgeous. Looks tasty right? Wrong. There was too much juice from the black beans and the salsa so what should’ve been a salad turned into cold Mexican soup. No bueno. It would have been fine if there wasn’t so much juice, add to the fact that the lettuce was shredded lettuce as opposed to bigger pieces, I wasn’t a huge fan.

Tip: If you know you’re traveling to another city and  know what part of town you will be staying in or have a card with you, check out Groupon or other discount sites in advance. It’s a great, cheap way to check out local cuisine!

My sister told me about a Sparkling Ice Water they sell at Kroger for $.99/bottle. She said it tastes better than Crystal Light all while being calorie free. I went to the local Kroger and stocked up, they had a number of flavors and even though I didn’t have a Kroger savings card because we don’t have Kroger here, found out that I could use my Bi-Lo supermarket card since they are affiliates.

I also bought some snacks for the road since I wanted to get back on track with getting my fruits, veggies and produce in my life.

Tip: If you’re in need of food or drink while on vacation, go to the grocery store instead of the convenience store or eating out every meal. You will save tons of money and possibly discover new products like I did!

 

On Memorial Day, we went to the local Salvation Army thrift store. They were having a huge sale with all of their clothes half off! I found some wonderful tops and skirts for super cheap.

All of this? $7 and some change. Can we say holla?  Where else can you find Nike and Adidas tops for under $.80? On another note, I don’t think I’ve ever had donuts for dinner but wouldn’t be opposed to the idea.

Tip: Retail stores have huge sales on holiday weekends but don’t forget your local thrift stores! They are usually packed to the gills with clothes and other items and have sales as well!

When I got back to Charlotte, I was looking through the circulars to see what was on sale. I saw Voskos Greek Yogurt on sale for $1. I’ve never tried that brand before but if I’m going to try something, it’s going to be when it’s on sale as opposed to regular price.

A possibility of winning a trip to Greece? Don’t mind if I do.

Tip: Some times you may not like the product you get on sale. I tried the honey flavor and wasn’t a fan at all. However, I refuse to let the other three go to waste. I like to throw greek yogurt in smoothies as a replacement for milk and for a little kick of protein.

Also while looking through the mail, I found this advertisement (with coupons!) for Einsteins’ Brothers

I don’t need a fresh baked treat but it’s good to know if I’m jonesing for one, I can get one for free at Einsteins in the afternoon with a drink purchase.

Tip: Don’t just throw out your mail, check out the advertisements. Often they are full of sales, discounts and coupons!

I went to Logan’s Roadhouse with my aunt and uncle last weekend in Indianapolis. When we sat down the server did their normal schpeal asking us if we’ve ever been there. I told them I’ve heard of Logan’s but never been to a Logan’s before. Before we were about to leave the manager came over and gave me this card for a free appetizer since it was my first visit since they hoped I would return. The best part is I can use it at any Logan’s location!

 

Tip: Sorry, I don’t have one this was total luck right here!

Do you shop for groceries while you’re out of town? Do you buy Groupons/ Living Social/ etc deals for cities you will be visiting?

Throwing deuces

9 Jun

This heat sucks.

There I said it, it’s out and that means I will be complaining about it for the rest of the summer….or will I? I am outta here June 30 and some of you have asked where I’m moving to and the answer is still I don’t know. I am throwing a pair of deuces to Charlotte, driving to the NC beaches for July 4th then going up to DC for a week. Afterwards, I may drive up to NYC and Boston but that’s still in the air. And of course at some point I would like to check out Colorado but I’m not sure if I would drive there or fly. If I flew, I would drive back to Florida where all my stuff will be at my parents then fly from there while they dogsit Lincoln. And then there is Italy in August or September for a few weeks and then Phoenix in September. So I am hoping to have an idea of where I will be come October but we’ll see.

You all remember this bitch of a bedframe?

Well it broke….again. So I threw the deuces to it and now have my mattress on the floor. I feel like I should be in a movie about heroin addiction with my mattress on the floor, it’s just weird. Now I just have to figure out how to dissemble it. I heard a rumor that you can go to Ikea and buy the made-for-Ikea-only tools there but I’m not sure if that’s true-anyone know?

I made my way to the gym on Wednesday morning and had a better than expected workout. I’m so unmotivated to even move when it gets hot out much less go work out. I did 30 minutes on the elliptical then did one mile on an Expresso Recumbent Bike, has anyone else ever done this?

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When I hopped on, you had to either log in or you could sign in as a guest. I’ve never seen it before so I just logged on as a guest then from there you pick your route. I just did a mile since that was the first option and kept beeping so loud whenever I tried to go to another option, I just wanted it to stop. It was cool because you can see right in front of you where you are going, the course, your heart rate, calories burned, gears, distance and other competitors (a few guys looked hot from the backside) but I couldn’t figure out how to steer! I tried moving the handles near the monitor and the ones on the side and nothing. I will have to do some research. Besides the little issue of not being able to steer, I enjoyed this. It’s been forever since I biked, I really would like to get back into it. When I was in high school, we would ride our bikes to beach, stay all day, ride back, stop for lunch, come home and pass out. I miss those days.

I made a chicken tacos for lunch with a side of kale chips. I bought a huge bunch the other day so I need to burn through those babies.

I went to Manifest Disc to find a Zero Seven cd. I discovered them thanks to my friend Pandora and have really been diggin their sound. I also had a $7 left to use there so I got three cd’s for $6, not too shabby

Yes, I like disco and am not afraid to admit it. I wish I had a video camera so I could record Lincoln and I doing the Hustle yesterday afternoon. Ok, well I was doing it and I was motioning his arms in the air. This right here is reason #298 why I don’t have a boyfriend: because I dance with my dog to disco music.

Afterwards, I went to Panera to steal some Wi fi. I just wanted something to drink but forgot they have Pepsi products—boo. I got their low fat Black Cherry smoothie

Let’s talk about the straw

Look at how thick it is (twss)! I thought McD’s had the thickest straws out there but this bad boy was huge and I felt naughty. So after I finished my smoothie, I took it home with me. Unfortunately, the smoothie wasn’t anything to write home about. It tasted chalky and too artificial.

I made Stephanie’s Eggplant Manicotti. Well, kinda, my meal was an adapation from it because I strayed in so many ways. I wanted to make this months ago but apparently there was an eggplant shortage. Good for the shortage though because I found eggplants for $1 each this week at Bi-Lo.

I am not a ricotta fan so I subbed cottage cheese for the ricotta. I’ve never done this before but heard it’s a good substitute. I also didn’t have any spinach on hand or enough breadcrumbs so this was going to be an interesting turn out. Oh, I didn’t mention how I forgot to save or print out the recipe so I couldn’t find it did I? Yeah, well that happened as well so I was kinda just going with it.

 

I chopped up some onion and parsley then added to the mixture along with garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme and black pepper.

I breaded the eggplant and baked them instead of frying them as the original recipe goes for. All in my quest to drop some poundage, as I am all about the fried stuff.

Good thing I stole some toothpicks last week because these didn’t want to stay put

But then I couldn’t remember in the recipe how she sliced them so I sliced one of the eggplant long ways and then I had a few eggplant sliced rounds sitting around so I used those. When I put the filling on the rounds they looked like little eggplant tacos!

I don’t have any jarred spaghetti sauce on hand so I made my own using frozen diced tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, red pepper flakes, pepper, salt and merlot with the help of my friend Chuckie Shaw

It didn’t make too much sauce since there weren’t that many diced tomatoes.  I poured a little in the pan, topped with the eggplant manicotti, covered the rest in the remainder of the sauce, sprinkled with mozzarella then let bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees

 

The result:

It didn’t look too much like Stephanie’s but it turned out fantastic. I would bake the eggplant a little more next time (because there will be a next time) since it didn’t seem too done but all in all a great tasting meal. I can’t wait to have the leftover, thanks Stephanie for providing the recipe!

Oh yeah, I have a giveaway going on if you would like to enter! It is a sweet package consisting of the following:

*Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade Desserts

*Three 2.25 oz jars of Cloister Honey

*Trader Joe’s Vanilla Cake & Baking Mix

*Box of Samoas

Some of you may be thinking “Tiffany, this all stuff of yours that you are trying to pawn off on other people” and the answer is yes. This is stuff that I will throw away if I don’t use, none of the food has been opened and instead of throwing it away, I’m throwing deuces to it as I’m sure someone else can get better use out of it.

Ways to enter:

1)  Tell me your favorite smoothie combination

2) Link this comment back to your blog and leave a comment letting me know you did

3) Follow me on Twitter (@TiffanyNico) and leave a comment or a comment letting me know you already do

4) Tweet about this giveaway : “@TiffanyNico is hosting a sweet giveaway  http://wp.me/pMfHm-18N

 & leave a comment letting me know you did

Contest ends Thursday June 16, 2011 at 11:59pm EST, open to US residents only (sorry internationals!) Winner will be picked via random.org

Good luck!

Oh Anthony, you’re so silly

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