Private Selection

I recently had the opportunity to try Private Selection brand from Kroger’s brand stores (mine came from Fry’s). I wasn’t really sure what to expect as store brand items can be hit or miss.

We, BF and I, decided to make a meal of the appetizer and pizza one night. It was a good idea, as the pizza was not that big and alone would not have been enough for both of us.

The pizza was excellent. It had pepperoni, garlic and little balls of mozzarella that melted down in the oven. It was a thin crust and it crisped right up. It was also quite flavorful. BF even commented on how good the crust was and he typically does not like thin crust on frozen pizzas.

 Here is a picture of the box. I apologize for the flash but I could not get a good picture without it.

The appetizers were good but not as good as the pizza. They were little cone shaped dough, like a mini tortilla stuffed with chicken and a southwestern style stuffing (onions, pepper, cheese). I know, southwestern with a pizza but whatever. To me the chicken tasted the tiniest dry but overall it was a decent dish.

A few nights later we had the dessert. O.M.G. It was so freaking tasty! I want more just thinking about it! It was two individual sized apple crisps. I would have liked a little scoop of vanilla ice cream to put on top, next time. My only complaint was it was still a bit cold in the middle. I will definitely cook it longer than the instructions.

I will more than likely buy the pizza again. It was pretty tasty but a tad expensive for a pizza of the frozen variety. It would be ok for just me; I could get two meals out of it but with BF we’d need to buy two or have something in addition.

The appetizers were not my favorite. They weren’t bad. I may buy them if they are on sale or I get a coupon. I definitely wouldn’t go out of my way to pick them up though.

The dessert I would most definitely do again. It was so delicious and simple. It was a nice ending to a long day of work. It was like having a homemade dessert during the week. I do like to bake but it gets difficult during the week. BF and I were actually perusing the other frozen desserts to see what else was available. They all looked so good! I can’t wait to try the other ones.

*Please note, I am a bzzagent and was given coupons to obtain these items for free and tell everyone about them.*

Continue Reading

Moving In… The Final Entry

J. has been living here for awhile now and I couldn’t be happier. So far I haven’t discovered any weird quirks or habits that I can’t stand. I hope he feels the same way. We get along quite well and haven’t had a major argument yet. Granted we’ve had small disagreements and my crabby moments, but overall life is good.I cannot think of a time where I have been happier. I get to see J. every day and so far I haven’t gotten sick of him. 😉 Having the dogs around is fantastic. I don’t feel so alone on my days off. Of course, it’s been an adjustment getting used to having them around. The doggy door is a huge adjustment. We’ve never used a doggy door before. It takes a little getting used to. And I have noted the back yard needs to be landscaped ASAP!

The first week or so, I got very little sleep. The dogs were adjusting and it was keeping me awake or waking me up once I finally got to sleep. There is this tiny little dog next door that has to bark constantly. This made our dogs want to bark constantly, like at 4 am. Luckily our dogs have pretty much decided the little shit next door is not worth it.

We have been grocery shopping together, taken our first road trip and planned our meals. It is pretty much an ordinary life but I love it. I would not trade this (or him) for anything. I look forward to the ordinary adventures we will come across as time goes on. This concludes the moving in portion. I am sure I will write more about J and I as time goes on but no more on moving in. I hope you enjoyed!

Ok, readers… is there anything you want know about my adventures with J.? Or do you have any stories about when you moved in with a significant other, good or bad… I love them all.

Continue Reading

Moving In… Almost There

Move in date is fast approaching. It’s late Wednesday night and the move will be completed Monday. Monday? Yes, Monday. I can’t believe how soon it will be here. I will be living in sin in four days.The garage is filling up fast. My closet now has male clothing in it. Albeit, one rack. I still have two and the majority of the shelving and floor space. Girls have a lot of clothes and shoes, ok? The kitchen is overflowing with dishes. We need to sit down and decide what we need/want to keep and what we can sell.

Did I mention Hawaiian shirts? No? Well, how could I forget to mention those?!? Boy owns Hawaiian shirts. Yes, you read that correctly… shirts, as in plural, as in more than one. I mean, what am I supposed to do with those? I have already made much fun at his expense (as soon as I discovered them at his old place). I told him he shouldn’t live up to the stereotypes of his chosen profession…

Readers… when you moved in with your partner (past or present), was there something in their closet that you couldn’t help but laugh at? How did you decide what to keep and what to toss/sell?

Continue Reading

Lasagna Stoup

Rachael Ray’s Lasagna Stoup

I had made this recipe once before and loved it so I decided to make it for J and I since I had the day off and time to cook. I hope he enjoys it as much as I do. I also think this is one of those dishes that tastes better the second time around. The leftovers are fantastic!

001

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 pound ground beef sirloin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated (I just used a few baby carrots. Last time I didn’t use any)
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I used about 8 cloves and used the grater)
  • One 32-ounce container (4 cups) chicken broth (I used three 14-oz cans)
  • One 28-ounce can Italian crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pound lasagna noodles, broken into jagged pieces (I put them in a zip lock & smashed, much quicker than breaking)
  • 1 cup basil leaves, torn (didn’t use fresh, used about a palmful of basil seasoning)
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta
  • Grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, to pass around the table (I prefer mine with just the ricotta)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a soup pot, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper and cook until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the onion, carrots and garlic and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in 2 cups water, the chicken broth and tomatoes; cover and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 15 minutes. Stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper.

  2. Serve the stoup in bowls and dollop with the ricotta. Pass the parmigiano-reggiano at the table.

007

Simple and easy. This is how I like my cooking to be! Actually having the extra chicken broth worked out well. Previously, there was very little liquid; it all cooked off. Next time, I will make this with the little bit extra broth. It seemed more like a stoup then lasagna that way. I also upped the garlic because I LOVE garlic. I think it could have used a bit more. I also just stuck with the ricotta. I like the creamy, coldness of it against the hot stoup.

010

 

The consensus on the soup? J loved it. He had like three bowls the first night. Then we had it for leftovers the next night and he finished it off. I guess this is one we can make over and over. It didn’t last quite as long as when I was the only one to eat it.

I think cooking is a great way to build confidence. You get to eat what you made. It can take practice to really make edible food but that just adds to the feelings of accomplishment when you actually succeed.

Continue Reading

Moving In… Part II

J. has started to move his stuff in. It’s hit me… this is actually happening. There is no more turning back. This isn’t just discussion time. This.Is.Real. I’ve made the space for him and have been working on using ‘our’ or ‘the’ instead of ‘mine’ or ‘my’ but until boxes started showing up, it hadn’t truly sunk in.

The house is already in a whirl wind from me not completing the laundry or shredding this weekend but now there are boxes all over my kitchen. Boxes that I need to unpack and decide where to put things. Boxes with some items that need to be rinsed off or washed because it looks like he has used them only to collect dust. (I will admit, I had an item or two like this when I cleaned out my cabinets but he has more!)

The garage is becoming a catch-all until there is either a garage sale or curbside pickup scheduled. I told him, as long as my car fits, it can be a holding area. He brought over his DVDs but said not to worry about them. He will go through and figure out where we overlap. Is it bad that my third or fourth thought was but what if something happens? We talked about how we see our future together but you just never know. But does it make sense to keep two Spiderman dvds *in case* something happens? Does that doom the move from the start to keep two of everything?

Is this just cold feet on my part? I think it’s the nerves as the move-in date gets closer. I am still excited about starting this chapter of our lives together. There are so many things that we can do and places we can explore once we are living together. Relationships need to move forward. We need to grow together as a couple in order to grow as individuals. Actually typing these thoughts out, have made me even more confident in our decision. Sometimes you just need to “talk” it out.

For now, I am enjoying the peace and quiet of being alone for the next week and a half because soon, there will be J. and his (our) three dogs taking over.

Is it normal to feel this way? How should we handle the melding of our stuff? There is so much to think about! How do you get through it dearest readers??

Continue Reading

Old Town Tortilla Factory: A Review

Awhile back, I bought a Deal Chicken for a local place called Old Town Tortilla Factory. Old Town is part of Scottsdale, Arizona chock full of restaurants, bars and little shops. Deal Chicken offered an appetizer, two entrees, one dessert and four margaritas for $44. The retail value was given as $110. J and I thought we would give it a try after reading reviews on line. There was a mix of reviews but mostly positive plus a few people one twitter said it was a good place to go.

Last night J and I had a date night at the Old Town Tortilla Factory. The actual building was very pretty. There was an outdoor patio area that was huge. There were a few people eating outside but we sat inside because it was just a little too hot to sit outside. It was still probably a 100 degrees at seven p.m. The joys of summer in the valley. There was also a separate building that appeared to be just a bar area. The main part of the restaurant was actually an old house. It was charming but a little crowded. It was difficult to maneuver through and was a bit loud. It might have been the type of crowd that gathers in Old Town at seven p.m. on a Saturday night. Everyone looked like the were ready to go out to the bars.

The service was pretty average, maybe a little above average. We got water almost right away. Our waitress knew exactly what the Deal Chicken was and asked if we wanted out first margaritas and appetizer right away. Of course we said yes; we were both starving.

The appetizer from the deal chicken was the chorizo fundido. The chorizo fundido is “pepperjack cheese dip filled with Chorizo and Rajas; served with flavored tortilla chips” (from their website: http://www.oldtowntortillafactory.com/index.htm). Not only did she bring us the appetizer, she also brought salsa and homemade tortillas and butter. The dip was fantastic! You needed to kind of break apart the chorizo and use the spoon to get it on your chip but it was well worth the effort. We chose not to use the butter. Last nights flavor was sun dried tomato. Instead we took the homemade tortillas (last nights flavor was cilantro and something, I can’t remember what she said) and put our chorizo fundido on the tortillas. Wow. That was tasty.

She also brought our first two margaritas with the appetizer. The Deal Chicken margaritas were the Mrs. Sames. From their menu: This is the original margarita created by Margarita Sames; Sauza Silver, triple sec & fresh citrus juice served in an original shaker. The shaker alone held about three margarita glasses full of drink. The margaritas had quite the lime flavor but were tasty. I really enjoyed them. The first sip surprises you with how much lime flavor there was.

The Deal Chicken allowed us to get any two entrees excluding shawnee seabass, southwestern filet mignon and carne y camarones. There were several other entrees to choose from; we were definitely not lacking in choices. J got the red chile pork chop and I got the pollo margarita. We also got our second margaritas with dinner. Again, another full shaker for about three glasses full.

J’s pork chop menu description: 10 oz. Grilled pork chop topped with our Ancho raspberry sauce. Served with garlic mashed potatoes & seasonal vegetables. I was skeptical about the ancho raspberry sauce but one taste and I was hooked. The flavors actually worked really well together. J really enjoyed his entree. He cleared his plate like a champion.

My pollo margarita description: Chicken breast stuffed with cheese, roasted peppers and onions, topped with citrus tequila sauce and served with a Chipotle mashed potato cake & seasonal vegetables. The chicken was different then I thought it would be. I thought it would be one breast, stuffed. Instead it was thin slices of breast rolled and stuffed. The chicken was quite tender and everything worked well together. The citrus tequila sauce was fabulous and worked well with the zucchini and yellow squash. It took a bit for me to get used to the mashed potato cake. It wasn’t exactly what I had thought it would be but mixed with the sauce and veggies? YUM! I only ate half of mine. Let me tell you, the leftovers may have been better than the fist time!

The entrees were excellent. If I were to go again, there are a few more I’d like to try. I thought about trying something different but we wanted to maximize out coupon by trying the most expensive entrees. 😉

We split the chocolate cake. It was also very tasty. The chocolate cake was super moist. I don’t think I have ever had such a moist chocolate cake at a restaurant. And there was a layer of pure chocolate on top. And by layer, I am talking at least an inch, if not more. It was some of the richest chocolate I have tasted. There was some delicious whipped cream and fresh strawberries on the plate. There was a banana dessert on the menu I may have to go back and try out. It sounded amazing!

Overall, it was a good dinner and the server was friendly and efficient. I am not sure I would go out of my way to just eat there but if I was nearby, I would stop in. I probably wouldn’t get nearly as much food as we did with the Deal Chicken. It was a lot, especially with the two (or six, depending how you count them) margaritas. From the fresh, homemade tortillas to the chocolate cake, everything was delicious.

Continue Reading

Moving in.. a several part series

There are major milestones in every one’s life. As we age, we have to make certain decisions and I have made one of those recently. About nine months ago (no, I am not pregnant, hah), I started dating the most wonderful man I have ever had the pleasure to know. We have made the decision to move in together. It wasn’t a snap decision but it ended up being a much easier decision to make then I had thought it would be.
A little background: Granted we both live in Phoenix area but we live about 45 minutes apart. It makes it difficult to see each other but we made it work for eight months. We talked every day. We saw each other a couple of days per week. At times it would be difficult but I wasn’t ready to give up on this relationship. Other people were more concerned about the distance than we were.
And really, we are the ones that matter in the relationship.I was studying for a finance final when I received a text from J. asking what I thought about adding a roommate and three dogs. I responded that if he was somewhat serious, he might want to bring the topic up when I wasn’t cramming for a final that was taking place in a few hours (that I hadn’t studied for. I am a horrible student). When I was done with my final, he told me that he was serious. This was a Wednesday night. We discussed it a lot that night. Thankfully I was off the next day, because I went to bed with my head spinning. I wanted to make sure we made the best decision based on the logical progression of our relationship, not because it made sense financially and/or we were tired of the distance.
When I woke up Thursday morning, my head was clear and it was saying yes. I told J. this but also said I still wanted to talk out a few things. I never really said yes but our discussions turned into planning. J. made a comment that it seemed I was taking ownership of him moving in and I thought about it, yes I was. I had made up my mind without even realizing it. The decision felt right.
J. moves in the 29th. I have been cleaning out my house. It appears when you live by yourself for two and a half years, there’s no reason to ever get rid of anything because you always have room to stash something. You also tend to spread yourself out. I cleaned out my kitchen and moved things around. Turns out I have like two empty cupboards. Who knew?

I am excited about this step but I know it will also be an adventure. As I just said, I’ve been living alone for almost three years. I am set in my ways, like a grumpy old man. Not only am I adding J. but he has three dogs. I love his dogs and they love me but it will still be an adjustment.

I was dancing around my house yesterday and I realized, soon I will have another person here. Will I still be able to sing and dance and act a fool with him here? Will I still want to clean my house in a tshirt and underwear? But there are advantages too. I can cook. He can cook. It’s difficult for me to want to cook for just me. I end up eating the same thing for a week and sick of it. At least now there will be two eating the food. And with someone helping with the bills, I can afford to buy food now and make all the recipes I want. I can bake more. I feel there is so much more to look forward to then there is to worry about.

J. is an amazing man and I never thought I would meet someone like him.

Stay tuned for the next post in the series… what happens on the 29th when J. actually moves in completely (he’s started moving some items already).

How have you come to the decision to live together in your relationship(s) (past or present)? What habits/quirks did you think you needed to hide from your partner? What other major milestones have you reached in your relationships and how have you handled them? Fear? Excitement?

Continue Reading

Inspiration Needed

I need to do something different. I have been trying to style the clothes I have in different ways but I am not liking the pairings. I am tired of wearing the same tops with the same bottoms over and over again.

I don’t have money to really buy any new clothes so I feel I am at a loss. I have hit the proverbial wall. Monday I tried wearing a different shirt and shoes with one of my favorite skirts. The shirt was too flowy to be with the skirt, which was also kind of flowy. I did like the heels with it though. Usually I wear flats with it but these heels worked nicely.

Dear readers… what do you do when you are in a rut? How do you shake out of it when you don’t have money to spend? In what ways can you inspire me? I want to know!

I did buy some new heels this past weekend but they are closed toe and I am not ready to give up my summer shoes yet! It’s August, in Arizona. I am not so sure I am ready for that!

But… here are the shoes I picked up:mms_picture (1)

 

I stopped at DSW and picked these beauties up! They are G by Guess, $44.95 although I had my $5 Birthday reward so I paid $43. Go me! I have been wanting a nude colored pair all summer! I have some cute dresses these would go perfect with. I might actually wear one of the dresses and the shoes Saturday night. Date night with my man!

Continue Reading

Graduation Day

Last post I mentioned the shoes. Oh and that robe and hat thing. So here you go!


Here I am in the robe, hat and awesome wedges. This is inside in front of a giant door; I am not that short/skinny. Oh yes… I also have been “hooded” in this picture (thing around my neck).


And here I am all dolled up outside. The resort was absolutely gorgeous!

Thank you Wigwam for the beautiful backdrop! 

Shoes are from Old Navy last season.

Continue Reading

How Fabulous is Ann Taylor?

Hi! We read your post about your recent experience in an Ann Taylor store and wanted to reach out. We would love to get more details on the store you were at so we can provide your feedback to our stores team. 

So glad you like our Silk Ethereal Dress and we hope we haven’t soured you on Ann because of your store visit!

Wow, that is some customer service. They came across my lil old post about dresses I loved, saw I had bad service and sent me a message! Must places do not look on the internet for “bad” experiences and contact people, at least not in my experience. Typically I have only gotten a response when I have emailed and/or called a company. I have already emailed Ann Taylor back (email removed from post as I didn’t feel it was my place to publish such a thing) but just wanted to share how much they care about their customers and/or potential customers. Thank you Ann Taylor… you are a class act!

Ann Taylor gets a cookie:

I appreciate good customer service but it seems many companies just don’t care anymore. I cannot tell you how amazed I am by this. Thank you Ann Taylor for actually caring about customers. It seems to be such a rarity now days, even when the customer has a legit complaint. I will always give my business to places that ensure customers are satisfied.

Continue Reading