Sunday, July 31, 2011

Brand Loyalty

I started thinking about brand loyalty the other day as I was getting dressed to go for a walk.    I pulled out addidas shorts - which are gray with black strips down the sides.   So then I pulled out my black "dri-fit" shirt which was Under Armour brand.   I started analyzing my current exercise wardrobe some more and here is what I was wearing:
- Nike Hat
- Champion Sports Bra
- Under Armour Shirt
- Jockey Underwear
- Adidas Shorts
- Wigwam Socks
- Brooks Sneakers

7 Different Items and 7 Different Brands.   Mind you I do have a handful of items of each of the brands within my closet and drawers - but I fully admit that when it comes to 85% of things I buy, I have no brand loyalty.   My loyalty is to the best deal around - and a little bit to certain stores.  

I personally have no issues with store brands - and for those who don't know - with food, many times the store brand is the SAME EXACT thing, just in different packaging.  The few things that I stick to a brand are typically when it comes to hygiene - and that's just really because of my sensitive skin.   I have had great success with:
- Dove - so i use their soap and deoderant
- Aveeno - so I use their facewash, face lotion and body lotion
- Oddly enough, I have actually had a reaction to toothpaste - so I use Toms of Maine because its all natural.
- When I was younger my mom had to use certain laundry detergent and dryer sheets because of my skin - so I stick with those too - All Free and Clear Laundry Detergent and Bounce Free  

Other than those, I can't think of a situation where Im picky about brands as much as price.  And in all honesty - Im considering testing whether I can use different (cheaper and easier to find) detergents.   Im just nervous because I've tested moving off the face lotion and the toothpaste, with bad luck...

Im pretty sure studies would say that overall, brand loyalty is out the door - but what about those I know.   Do any of you have brand loyalty?   If so - just to a few things like me - or to a larger amount of things?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Meatloaf

The other day, I was talking about my cooking and how I made sloppy joes.   Well, when I cook with ground meat, I always have double the meat needed since I mix ground turkey and ground beef.   I usually go with my staple for ground meat - barbecue meatloaf, and I also usually make 2 - 1 for now and 1 for the freezer for later.   Well I made the sloppy joes on Wednesday, and I needed something to use the other half of the meat with (because I didn't have enough of the other ingredients to double that) so I decided to make my staple - and share that with you.

Here is the recipe for barbecue meatloaf:
http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/barbecue-meat-loaf-10000001160599/

Its really good.   And if you follow the directions to put it on a broiler pan (with a drip pan underneath), it will be nice and solid - and healthy.   You don't lose any flavor or moisture, and you can always use some extra barbecue sauce when you eat it.

Hope you enjoy my ground meat goto meal.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cable Service

When Adam first moved into our house, we didn't order cable until we got a can't miss deal.   After a few months, that deal came from Comcast.   For under a $100 (including taxes) we got every channel we could imagine, including HBO, DVR, internet and phone.    In all honesty we had almost no problems with cable.   Occasionally we would have issues with our DVR, but never enough to actually call and complain - but our internet was fine, our cable was fine and we never used our phone to have any issues with that.   The only issue was that we were only guaranteed that deal for a year, and then our bill was going to skyrocket.   We could always get another deal, but nothing nearly as good as what we had, so I kept my eyes and ears peeled for a comparable deal.

Back in November, 3 months before my comcast deal was going to expire, we had someone from Verizon knock on our door - and I decided to listen.   Well she made the deal seem can't miss - and even after a few days of considering it, I still thought it was can't miss (stupid me!).   For $99 (plus dvr fees and taxes) we could have a similar triple play package - or thats how she sold it. 

But in reality, our channel choices decreased by half - although we did have more options on demand.   On comcast, I had Food Network, Cooking Channel, HGTV, DIY, MLB Network, etc.   On Verizon, I have Food Network but not Cooking Channel, HGTV but not DIY - and no MLB Network.    When I realized that (right as I was signing the paperwork), I didn't think it was a big deal, because I don't watch those channels.   I don't too often, but on a Saturday when you just want to veg out, you want to have those extra choices.  

Additionally, I only wanted cable because that was the only way I could get Phillies games.   Well I have had massive problems getting my Phillies games through Verizon.   Comcast Sportsnet constantly isn't coming in on Verizon - never had this (or any major) issue with Comcast.   I finally called and complained with Verizon, and pretty much the response I got was keep calling and eventually we will care enough to send someone out - of course said a bit nicer - but none the less.

Long story short - Verizon Wireless is great service - Verizon Fios I could care less for.   As soon as the contract is up (or maybe I can get out of it earlier without penalty), Im dropping Verizon.   Im hoping to drop cable in general, and just set a computer up to the tv, and watch shows online, watch my dvd collection - and read more.   My issue with this is that I still want to watch my Phillies games, and since I live within 100 mile radius of Philly - I can't watch them through the MLBTV online package.   Whatever the case, Im definitely dropping Verizon Fios as soon as I have the opportunity.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Healthy Recipes

When I cook, I tend to cook healthy.   (My bad eating habits come from eating out and snacking).   Anyways, there are two places that I have consistently found GREAT recipes from.   The first is Eat Better America (www.eatbetteramerica.com) and the second is cooking light (the hard copy and cookinglight.com).   

Back in 2004 (or there-abouts) I started to subscribe to cooking light, and I got into the habit of saving my magazines because they had such great recipes, health tips, exercises and stories.   Eventually, I didn't keep up with my reading, so I let my subscription lapse, until about 1 year or so ago.   Adam and I moved into our house and went 3 months or so without cable (greatest thing ever - and I wish I would have stuck with that decision).   During that time, I caught up on so much reading, that I was running our of things to read, so I started my subscription back up to cooking light.   Then we got cable, and I again let my reading lapse (15 months or so left on my cable contract...and then Im going cable free!).

Now that Adam is back to work and works noon - 9pm, I have tried to be more productive with my evenings, and have gotten back into reading (and hopefully back into exercising, cooking and healthy eating).

Anyways, I was catching up on my cooking light the other day, when I found a new recipe to try.   It just so happened I took ground beef and ground turkey out to defrost so I could make my meatloaf (another cooking light recipe).    The recipe is for beef and mushroom sloppy joes - and you can find it here: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/beef-mushroom-sloppy-joes-50400000112412/

I did of course make some substitutions based on what I had at home:
- I never cook with just ground beef - I always mix ground white turkey and lean ground beef to be healthier, but not be dry, so I used a 50/50 combo
- I used canned button mushrooms instead fresh cremini mushrooms
- I used dried oregano (and crushed it to bring out the flavors/fragrance before adding)
- I used honey in place of molasses

Other than that, I followed the instructions using my eye as a measuring cup.   It was really yummy - I think next time Id be a little more lenient with the hot sauce as I didn't taste any kick - but I like my heat.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Habits

Random fact (or maybe not so random) - It takes 21 days for people to form habits.   I know this because I subscribe to cooking light - and they have this whole thing this year - 12 Healthy Habits - a new one each month so that you have the month to form the habit before adding the next one.

Well I have been trying to lose weight and consistently exercise and I had great luck in the beginning of the year, but then I went on a 1 week business trip to San Diego in late February - which I thought I was healthy - but when I stepped on the scale back home found out I wasn't.   Ever since then, I haven't been able to form a habit.

That is until the last few weeks.   A couple weeks ago, I picked up my walking and was consistently exercising.   When I exercise I naturally eat healthier (for me they just kinda go together).   I was two weeks in and doing really well - lost about 5 lbs and I was having fun walking with Charger.

Then came the damned heat wave!!  Last week it was way too hot for me to get outside, and therefore my exercising lapsed.   And when my exercise lapsed, so did my diet.   I put all the weight I lost over the last 2 months back on.   I really need to get my butt in gear with both exercise and eating right.   Maybe Ill follow weight watchers - I lost 50lbs on it back in 2002-2003, so I know it works well for me (and I haven't put a single lb of that back on)

Anyways, here is to starting back up with my habit forming and living a healthier life.   let me know if you want to be my buddy - and maybe we can help each other out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

2 Plus Weeks Later

I wonder if my lack of posting is the first sign of how "good" Ill be at this.   I guess it doesn't really make a difference if I only have like 2 people who look at this right now.   But alas - Im gonna try to be better.    Seriously!   If only I could post verbally to my blog, because on my drive to and from work - I think of lots of topics (and have lots of time) - but by the time I get home I a) forget the topics and b) get busy with too many other things.

Well Ive got lots more to do during my lunch break - but look for a bunch of posts in the next day or so about  the last few weeks of my life and my rant about driving and drivers who shouldn't be on the road...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Yard Work

Last fall, Adam and I bought landscaping cloth, soil, and some edgers for a few of our garden/mulch area's out front.   And before I knew our weekends got away from us and it was winter, so all winter long we had 20 bags of soil and a pile of edgers sitting next to our house.   So this spring/summer I finally got working.   The problem is between my travel for work, trying to get my walks in and the weather, it got harder and harder to work on the yard.    Memorial Day Weekend I had few plans and was having a bunch of people over, so I decided I was gonna put a lot of time in outside - and I did!   I spent most of 2 days working on those areas. 

As much as I love Adam, he really isn't a yard work guy - which was hard for me because I got frustrated that he would just sit inside while I was working my ass off outside.  Or he would mow the lawn, but rarely use the edger to clean up the edges along the sidewalk and fenceline and never use the blower to clean up all the lawn clippings from the side walk and street.

He did come and help me a few times that weekend and before, and I have officially decided that I think Id just prefer to do it myself.    If you know me well - you know Im very particular about how things are done and how they look, and Adam - well he just isn't.    Ive finally given in a bit with some things because you can't teach someone to be OCD like I am - and I finally learned I just can't do everything myself.    Its a (long) learning process for me, but hopefully Ill eventually get less OCD.   

Anyways, before that weekend, we cleaned up one area (the smallest of the areas), dug a trench around the area so the mulch/soil wasn't floating right onto our grass and so there was a clear divider between tree area and grass area, put down the landscape cloth and then covered that with top soil.  That small area took about 14 hours worth of work.    And its the smallest by a lot - so I wasn't looking forward to working on the other areas.

Well, Memorial Day weekend, I finally started to get my butt moving again.   Adam was working that Saturday, so I was able to put all day into the yard.   I cleaned up our largest of the areas - but all I got to do was clean up all the weeds and spray because the sun was now beaming down on this area.   I moved onto another area (where the sun wasn't beaming down on me).  

The next area was our front area that had really ugly plants that I had no clue how to properly care for, so I removed all the plants - cleaned up all the mulch (half was gone when I started last fall) and this time, completed it by laying down landscape cloth and using those edgers I bought to define the area.    We needed to go back to Home Depot a couple times to buy more edgers because I under-estimated how many were needed.    Anyways, it looks blah - and will stay that way until at least next spring when I can figure out what I want to put in that area - and when we have the money to buy it.

But that was a month + ago, and another holiday weekend came up this weekend, and this was the first time since then that I was able to get back outside.    I still have 4 area's that need weeding. 

The first is that big ass area I already cleaned up.   anyone have any recommendations on a good weed control spray?   We have tried two different ones, and none of them have done ANYTHING.    The landscaping cloth has worked in the area's I have put it down, but there are 2 area's it can't go and I can't continuously pull all the weeds in those area's, I need something else to help me keep it under control.   Of course this area isn't one of them - but we had someone mow our lawn on Friday - and he helped me greatly this weekend by mowing down all the weeds.   Mind you they are still there and I need to work on them - but it didn't look really awful to make it a top priority.

The second area is the other half of the area in front of my house that I didn't get to work on last time.   We have pavers in the middle of this area and solid concrete on either side of it, so I had to work around all of that.   Good news is it wasn't as bad as I thought and only took a couple hours on Saturday of cleaning up the weeds and mulch - unfortunately I didn't have the staples to hold down the landcape cloth - so that got saved for 30-45 minutes worth of work on Sunday.   (Pictures to eventually be uploaded).   I still have to put top soil or something on top of the landscape cloth - but here is my conundrum and question.  

I really dislike mulch.   Primarily because the home inspector scared me that mulch CAN carry termites or be more invited to termites.  But also because it looks ugly after its dried out a bit - which really takes much less than a year and you do have to replace it every year.   Ive used top soil, but that doesn't always look great, and it can get messy - and for this specific area I don't think it would work well because the soil will constantly overflow onto the concrete areas.   So I started thinking about using rubber mulch.   Anyone ever use this?   Does the color really last long enough to make the cost worth it?   Cost-wise that would be about 3 years - but Id love for it to really last the 5-7 years they say.    How does it look?   Thoughts?   Id still put landscape cloth down, so I would think the combination of that and rubber mulch would be a good fight against the weeds.

So low and behold I didn't spend as much time doing yard work this weekend as I thought - which made for a better weekend (future posts) but I only have two and a half areas down and three and a half more to go - and those are the biggest and the ones that Id really like to win the lottery so I could just hire someone to completely redo these areas as two aren't garden area's - its just a stone pathway and a paver patio full of weeds coming through every which way.

Sorry for the really long post - Ill try to keep them shorter in the future as I know you all have a short attention span (if you even got this far - LOL)

Friday, July 1, 2011

MIL

I know, i know - watch what you post online - because it is there forever and anyone can see it.   Now that that is out of the way....this will be the first of many posts about my MIL.

Yesterday I came home to a strange envelope in the mail.   It was addressed to Mr. and Mrs. A. Needleman and had no return address (but I should have recognized the writing).   I could see inside and see there was a bday invite for a kids party - but all the kids bdays are far enough away that we shouldn't be getting an invite at this point.    So I open it up - and there was a card in the shape of a pizza slice with the design of a pizza slice on one side.   I turn it over to the other side - and we are invited to celebrate "DADs Birthday" on "July 9" at "5pm" at "Mom and Dads House".   No joke - it took me a minute to really comprehend that we were just invited to a 60+ year olds birthday party in a manner that I would have expected to be invited to a bday party for a classmate in the second grade.    The invite was even so cheap looking that it looked like it had been sitting in storage since I was in the second grade.

So yeah - not really sure what else to say - except "yeah....."

My First Post

So I have been going back and forth about starting a blog.   Back in August of 2010 I considered it as a way to try and earn money - but then I doubted my ability to build up a large fanbase or talk about anything that would get to that point.   I still doubt that, but Im thinking of this more as a combination of a journal and Im not sure what.   Pretty much, Ill be putting posts in here that might be more journal-like, but Ill also be posting things and opinions that I want to share with everyone - such as the Phillies and cooking.   enjoy....