Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Halliday!

After pitching only twice in like 20+ days due to rainouts and scheduled days off, I wasn't sure what to expect from Roy Halliday - and I'm not sure even he was. 

Although rusty at first - he had another great game.   But this game was a little different.   Nothing you would hear about on the local news outside of Philly - it wasn't another perfect game, or even a no-hitter.   This time he threw a decent game - pitching 7 innings and just giving up 2 hits, no runs, but he did walk a couple guys and even hit a guy - but his bat came alive!   

Roy doesn't know how to do things like a normal person - even a normal MLB player.   He happened to hit just his second extra base hit ever (which is also the second this season) and get the first RBIs of the season off the hit.   Oh - did I mention the bases were loaded, so he had a 3-RBI double.    He definitely was the player of the game!

In other Philly sports related news
In case you live in a hole, Michael Vick just signed a 6-year, $100 million dollar deal with the Eagles.    I know many people are not a fan of him because of what he did, and by no means do I condone it, but he served his time in jail, and has worked to prove himself good by others not just as a professional football player, but as a human being.    I will save this topic for another blog post - cause otherwise, this could go forever...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Random Thoughts

Just some random thoughts that are going through my mind that I want to share with everyone:

Local (and not so local) Politics
I just read an article about Adam Taliaferro being selected to run for a Gloucester County Freeholder.   For those who don't know the story of Adam, just google his name and you will find it, but the short of it is he played football for Penn State, and as a freshman he suffered a life threatening injury that was supposed to leave him paralyzed.   He fought the battle and the long odds, and eventually walked again, graduated from Penn State, and went on to go to law school and become a lawyer.   He was an inspiration around PA and NJ, and although I never had any interest in Penn State, or paid attention to their football team, I always loved to read updates about him.   

Anyways, I obviously can't vote for him, since I don't live in that county, better yet that state, but for those few people I know who do - I think you should vote for him, not just because he is a democrat and therefore stands for most of the ideals I believe in, but also because he truly has the strength and willpower to push for what he believes.   Additionally, in the story, the leader of the local republican committee said "that while he respected 'the challenges [Taliaferro] has overcome,' he thinks he is on the ticket to wow the public with his personal story and relative youth, rather than experience in government".   Im sorry - but what was Jon Runyan on the Republican ticket for and why did he win a seat as a US Congressman?!?!?   It was for a whole lot less than what you just said.   He was on the ticket AND won because of his time and success with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Hurricane Irene
Im glad that everyone survived it well, and I hope you all have your power back.   Those of us in the Needleman Levittown house survived quite well.   We watched some movies that I bought for $1.99 from Blockbuster (more in the post about that), baked cookies and brownies (maybe a future post), cooked a Sunday night dinner in the crock pot, and I got my eye scratched up by Charger.   And never lost power (knock on wood for future storms), but were quite prepared with a flashlight with extra batteries, a lantern, glow sticks, a battery operated radio with extra batteries and plenty of reading material and shelf-stable snacks.

Movies
Along with many of my other bad, but harmless, addictions - I have an addiction to buying movies.   If you live nearby and ever need free rentals, I am OCD and actually have an excel listing of my DVDs (which I now need to update), which probably is over 200 by now.   Anyways, I continued that addiction at Blockbuster on Saturday in preparing for Hurricane Irene.  I was hoping they would have a 5 for $20 deal on their previously viewed movies, of which they did - but I couldn't find 5 movies I had interest in spending $4 each on.   On the other hand, they also had a $1.99 table, and there were a bunch that looked interesting enough to spend two bucks on.   We ended up watching two of them.  

The first, An Education, I had NEVER heard of - but would definitely recommend.  It was set in the 60's in England, and was about a schoolgirl who was going to ruin her chances at Cambridge if she continued on with her "love affair".   Im not good at giving film reviews, so Ill just leave it at that so I don't give too much away, but it was surprisingly good and kept both Adam and my interest throughout.

The second, Brooklyn's Finest, I had heard of, and would not recommend.   After 2 minutes I was already having trouble following, and by ten minutes Adam had already fell asleep (and it was a hard movie to actually sleep through).   It was all over the place, and the ending was pretty pathetic.   They tried to do the Crash thing where all the story lines that were separated throughout the movie came together in the end.   It worked great for Crash, its worked okay in a couple other movies, but overall - it doesn't work well anymore, and I'm sick of seeing screenwriters trying to sell it again.   But that wasn't the only reason it was bad - it was just bad - and I have an eclectic sense of what I like, which does include action movies, but this will not fall into the like pile.

Weight Loss
I think my sister and I are gonna join Weight Watchers again.   I had GREAT success with it back in 2003 when I lost 50 lbs - and Ive kept it all off.   I lost a bit more after I stopped WW, but unfortunately, have put most of that on since my wedding, and I want to take that back off, plus some more to get down to 150.    Let me know if you are interested in going to meetings with us, or if you just want to follow along together via email, text message, phone, etc if you don't live in the area.

Im sure there are other random thoughts, but I can't remember them, so Im just gonna go to bed now.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lucky Bones Restaurant in Cape May, NJ

On Adam and my recent day trip to Cape May, NJ we were looking for a place for lunch in between our winery visits, so we searched for a place through the Google Places app on my phone, and decided upon the one that didn't take us into "downtown" (as the wineries weren't in that location).   The closest place I saw that sounded good was Lucky Bones Backwater Grille - so we went.

When we got there, I noticed that they had a sign for a grill night at Cape May Winery & Vineyards - our next stop - and on the way out I noticed a wine barrel with Cape May Winery & Vineyards logo on the barrel end, and finally on the way to the car, there was a Cape May Winery & Vineyards truck.   I figured they had some partnership going - I later learned at the winery that they are actually owned by the same person, along with a well known, fancy restaurant in town - the Washington Inn and a cute store in town that Adam had shopped at last time we were in - Love the Cook.

Anyways, back to lunch.  We got there around 1:15/1:30 and the parking lot was packed, and when we got in, there was a little bit of a line.   Nothing major, but in the end it just ended up being a back-up in getting people seated, not a wait.

When I looked them up on google, it said that they were known for the sandwiches and brick-fired oven pizzas - so at that point I was originally thinking a sandwich, but if Adam and I could agree on a pizza, I could easily go for that.  Once I looked at the list, there were like 4 or 5 that I could easily choose from, and same for Adam.   Our thoughts crossed on 2 of them and finally settled on the Shrooms and Cheese Pizza.

After we ordered and were chatting, I noticed on the wall their soup of the day, and it sounded really delicious, so Adam and I decided to ask the waitress if we could order 2 cups of that in addition to the pizza.   It was a Jersey BLT Soup.   I really wanted the soup without the B, but I knew that wasn't possible, so I just hoped that it wasn't too crazy with the bacon.   I love tomato soup, so I hoped the tomato might be able to overpower the bacon.    Im glad I took that chance, because it was perfect for me.   There were small pieces of bacon bits (real ones) throughout the soup - and provided good texture, but the flavor wasn't overpowering.   The tomato soup portion was DELISH - we both scarfed it down.   The lettuce part was cute - provided as garnish on top.   If that were on the menu when we go down there again, I would definitely order it!

Just as we finished our soup, our pizza came out.   The size was perfect for Adam and I to share and I loved the thin crust that they had.   It turned out to be really good, but not something that I would order over and over again.   As I said, the crust was perfect for me, there were a lot of mushrooms of a few different types - unfortunately I couldn't identify which types.   It wasn't cheesy at all - just the right amount - it was just missing an extra flavor of something.   Not sure what additional flavor would have done the trick for me, but maybe a little bit of truffle oil (but that would have caused the price to jump).   Although I said I wouldn't order it over and over again, I would order it again - but there were lots of other things on the menu that Id like to try.

Oh - and the prices were very affordable - if you go to Cape May and are looking to drive around and not stay in the historic area - I would definitely recommend this for a lunch spot.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Phillies Games

I have a full season ticket plan to the Philadelphia Phillies - as I am that much of a die-hard - but I sell about 2/3 - 3/4 of the games depending on the year.  

Two years ago, I went to like 35 games - and I learned that was just too much even for me.   It was a lot of time that I wasn't at home - a lot of money to be spent on parking and dinner - and hard to find someone to go with me to all those games.

Last year, I didn't get to go to as many games as I wanted to because there were home series scheduled the same weekend as my wedding and while Adam and I were on our honeymoon - so that was a couple weeks of games taken out of the mix.  

Every year work also gets in the way of a few games that I planned to go to, and then had to switch around because of trips that came up along the way (I plan what games Im gonna go to in February, and don't know my travel schedule until a few months beforehand - if I'm lucky).

Well this year, I had planned to go to about 20 games.   I was going to go to about a dozen games with my mom and another half dozen plus with Adam.   Adam and my second game of the season was supposed to be on April 16th - which ended up being a day of DOWNPOURS and the first (of many) postponement(s).   Of course they then rescheduled a weekend evening game to a weekday day game - which we both couldn't go to - so I had to sell those tickets.

Then Adam (thankfully) got a new job - one whose hours were noon-9pm Tue-Fri and 7a-5p on Sat.   This knocked out 95% of the games we were gonna go to together (plus our 3rd shot at a U2 concert...), so I found family and friends to go to those games with me, and Adam took on a couple of my mom's Sunday games, and kept the Saturday evening game we had.

Then came two weeks ago.    I had tickets to 3 games in 6 days.   The first was a Sunday that Adam was supposed to go with me to.    It was raining bad, and therefore the game was postponed (of course to a day game in the middle of the week - so again, tickets now need to be sold...).  The second game ended up being a beautiful night, and we got the whole game in - unfortunately we lost in the 9th inning.  The 3rd game got to the end of the 3rd before a 2 hour plus rain delay started.    About 10 minutes before they announced that they were gonna prepare the field and get back to the game, I left with my friend - because it was getting late, and I needed to work the next day.    So three games - and I saw a whole 12 innings...

It of course doesn't stop there.   I had a ticket to a game the next Saturday (13 days from the first "game").   Well that was last night - the night that Hurricane Irene hit - which meant yet another PPD game.  This one at least is a night game - and the only reason for that is because Sunday's PPD Game is gonna be the day game of a D/N doubleheader.

So far this year, I have had 3 games PPD and sat through another 3 rain delays - and only got to attend about a dozen games so far...this better not be the beginning of the bad signs for the Phillies this season...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Back Issues

I am not one to really complain about pain.   I have a crazy high pain tolerance.   So high, I had a cavity filled without any numbing agents or drugs.     My tolerance for pain has a few negatives:
  • I get annoyed when people are constantly bitching about being in pain or something hurting - because I just wish they would deal with it like I do (I do know that everyone has different thresholds)
  • I feel like a baby when I do finally bitch about something because I have it so well ingrained in me to just deal with pain.
  • Because my tolerance is so high, I sometimes ignore things that are really an issue because they don't bother me all that much.   Probably ignoring them until its too late.
A good example of the last item is my back.    Back in November 2005, when I was still living in DC, I had a lot of pain and numbness going on between my back and legs - and I just ignored it, until one day I realized my leg was really numb and I had to drive home to Philly that night for Thanksgiving.   I called the doctor and he got me in, and the way I described it, he thought it was just a pinched nerve, but since I had a long drive ahead of me, he wanted to send me to a neurologist, and was able to get me an appt for that day (it was the day before Thanksgiving).   So I went to the neuro and he was agreeing that it was just a pinched nerve and gave me some muscle relaxers and set up an appt for me to come back in a few weeks.   I came back, and thought it was getting better, but then it got worse a couple days before going to the doctor, so he figured I reaggravated it and told me to take it easy and come back in a few weeks.   I came back and it wasn't getting any better - just a hell of a lot worse.  

By this point I would be in crazy amounts of pain at night and in the morning.   At night I would toss and turn until I found a position that was the least uncomfortable and didn't send sharp pains down my legs.   In the morning, I would have to lie down on my back every few minutes for the back pain to subside - to the point that I would get out of the shower and lie down on the bathroom floor before I could take the 5 steps to my bedroom, and then I would get into my bedroom and lie down on the floor before starting the long process of getting dressed with constant interruptions of lying down.    I had a HELL of a time getting socks and stockings on because it was way to painful to put my arms past my knees at that hour.   I felt like I was an old lady or something.    Then Id get on the shuttle to the metro and on the metro and Id flip back and forth between sitting or standing being better - and I had horrible pains written across my face it was so bad.

So at my next appt the doc finally said I should get an MRI, but then I couldn't get back in to see him for another month to see the MRI, so I found a new doc that I could get an appt with right away.    As soon as he put the screens up - he scared me shitless.   He had no clue how I was even standing/sitting in front of him.   I had 2 fully herniated discs and 1 partially herniated disc as well as a few other issues going on in my back including spinal stenosis.   He said I needed to have surgery right away.   I said thanks, I just want to get a second opinion - which offended him greatly. 

He did give me a 1-week steroid pack to help reduce the inflammation and relieve the pain - which I have to say was the best thing any of the doctors ever did.   It worked!  But I still took the diagnosis seriously and went to get a second opinion from my mom's doctor in Philly.   I knew that she usually had to wait a month or so to get an appt with him, so I was prepared.    The Philly doc wanted to get the doctors notes and scans from the DC doc before seeing me to make sure that I really need to see a Neuro and not an Ortho doc or soemthing.   Long story short, during this time I found out that the doc who was offended that I would get a second opinion was a complete ASS, but I finally got the information needed to the Philly doc - and the nurse called me that day (a Friday) and asked if I could come in on Monday.   Uh-oh!   A typical one month wait and they want to see me the next business day!   Even my mom was shocked and concerned.

So I went to see the doc, and he said that its great that the steroid pack was working and that I was feeling better, but that yes, I really do need to have surgery.   He also said that based on the fact that I had no trauma to cause this and my mom's back history, although "they" say this is not genetic, he does feel that this is genetic (more issues Adam and I can worry about passing on to our kids).

With that I was back to square one, but I at least knew what my issues were.   I was living in DC, but no longer had a doctor in the area to do the surgery, so now I needed to find a new doc.    I was able to get recommendations from a co-worker at the time, and found a new doc with good bedside manner.    Not only did he have good bedside manner - he wasn't in a rush to get me on to the operating table.    He agreed with the Philly doc that based on my scans I absolutely needed to have surgery.  BUT, the 1-wk steroid pack worked and Im not in pain, and therefore he was in no rush to get someone feeling good into surgery.   He had another MRI done, but there wasn't any change in the scans, and he felt strongly about not operating on me if I was feeling good.   Therefore he weened me back into an exercise routine, and I continued to go pain free, so after about 6 months, I stopped going to the doctor.   Since then, I have stayed consistent with my exercise and kept the pain away.   I usually find that when I get lazy, thats when my back starts to flare up.

Well at least that was the case until 6 months ago or so.   Around that time, I started to realized I would have flare ups with my back more often - and they were BAD.   They also happened to correlate with something else that would occur at that time of the month.   And then after some heat, drugs and keeping exercise to a minimum, the flare up would die down at the same time that my "something else" died down as well.   Each month I think about going back to a neuro - and now I'm back in Philly, so I could go to my moms doc.   But the flare up eventually dies down - and the last thing I want is to have back surgery.   But now I also think about the fact that Adam and I want to start to grow our family in a non-fur-creature way, and how will that affect these back flare-ups?   Will it be a 9-month long back flare up?   I have a high tolerance, but I have trouble handling 2-3 days of it some months, I don't think I could possibly survive 9 months of it....

But surgery usually isn't the answer.   A lot of people who have back surgery end up continuing to have back pain - and in all honesty the pain Ive been getting now is back pain, not sciatica or the other pains that came along with the herniated discs.   Its pain that (I feel) is due to weak back muscles.

P.S. Although my back is usually better, I still did wait too long with my back issues.   I have a permanent "scar" from my sciatica - a numbness in parts of my both legs - so although my back is much better I really did ignore the issue until it was too late

Friday, August 26, 2011

Everyones favorite topic to read about - my in-laws

Based on the stats that I can track through blogger - the topic people most enjoy reading about is my in-laws - and how couldn't you - they are just that crazy and ridiculous its so funny and enjoyable to read about. 

So I'm gonna try to write a weekly post about their craziness.   Since I'm currently in the middle of a really good streak of not seeing or talking to them, Ill be going back into the 3 year vault of stories for some of these weekly posts :) 

Thinking about it, I think the last time we saw them was for the "pizza party" that MIL threw for FIL in the beginning of July.    That's right - Ive gone almost 2 months without seeing or talking them - and its been wonderful!  Of course, during that time, Adam has gotten calls from them bitching about me on numerous occasions - but alas, its impossible to be completely free of their craziness.   Unfortunately, that streak will be broken on Saturday for the sake of attending the joint birthday party of my nephews - but I'm sure the few hours spent with them will provide for some entertaining stories later...

Since I mentioned the pizza party - I guess Ill start with that topic for this post.   Back in the end of June, we received a card in the mail.   When I looked at it, it had no return address (which was a sure sign it came from the in-laws, cause my MIL refuses to put a return of address on things she sends - or at least to us, which is one of my many small pet peeves with them).   But I wasn't sure cause I could tell that there was a kids party invitation inside.   We were 2 months away from any of the nieces or nephews birthdays, so I was really confused.   I finally opened it up - and it WAS from my ILs.   It was an invitation in the shape of a pizza slice - and for a pizza party for my FILs bday.   SERIOUSLY?!?!?   First off - the invitations was circa 1990 - and if it really wasn't that old - then that's just more pathetic.   Second off - the invitation went out to a whole TWO freaking people - Adam and I and my SIL and BIL.   Just f*ing call us and invite us over for dinner for his bday, don't make some stupid big deal with a childish invitation.   

Unfortunately, we had no plans, and I knew we had to go, so I had Adam call to RSVP, but let them know we would be late, as they are calling the party for 5pm - and Adam doesn't get off work until 5pm.  He still has to come home, change/clean up and we have another 45 minute drive to get to their house - so we wouldn't be there until 6:30ish.   Im pretty sure they weren't thrilled we were coming late - but work has priority in this instance over some childish attempt to invite us over.

Party day eventually arrives - and Adam calls to let them know we will be leaving shortly, and guess what - they went out to dinner with my SIL, BIL and nephews and were gonna bring home a pizza for us.    I knew they were gonna eat before we got there, because they eat dinner crazy early and it annoys me that they don't have the decency to wait for us when they invite us over - but I'm somewhat used to it now.   But seriously - you take everyone else out to dinner to order whatever they want and then bring home a pizza and keep it in a warm oven for us?

We of course still went, and I didn't eat anything or really talk to them much because a) I was trying to be healthy and didn't want pizza and b) I was annoyed at them.   

My MIL must have asked me if I wanted pizza about 6 times - 5 of those times I politely said, no thank you, Im fine for now, and continued to play with the boys.    On the 6th and final time, I finally had enough of the same question and gave some attitude with my answer - which clearly annoyed FIL and MIL - but MIL FINALLY stopped asking.     Although that wouldn't be the end of it...

The next morning Adam got a call from MIL pretty much asking what my issue was.   If you have an issue with me, "man up" and bring it up to me - not to Adam. 

Why can't I just have normal in-laws?   I know they provide good entertainment and stories - but they get to me.  I hate how the thought of them or sound of their name is like fingernails on a chalkboard....

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cape May, NJ and Turdo Vineyards

While on our mini-vaca with my family in OCNJ, Adam and I took a day and went down to Cape May for a date day in our new favorite beach town (we fell in love with it on our first anniversary trip earlier this summer).

Originally we were going to go to the beach with my family in the late morning, and then go to Cape May Winery for a 3pm tour that I had bought a deal for on Philly Dealyo, but Adam's legs really bothered him the evening prior after going to the beach, so we decided to bypass the beach altogether - which I was completely okay with since I'm not a huge beach person.

After deciding not to go to the beach, we hung around the house for a little while after everyone else left for the beach and then decided to head to Cape May earlier and grab lunch there, and maybe stop at another winery for a wine tasting.   We ended up stopping at Turdo Vineyards for our first tasting, Lucky Bones Restaurant for lunch and then Cape May Winery & Vineyard for our tour.    This post will review our first stop, and then Ill go into more detail on another posting (or two) for lunch and the Cape May Winery Tour and Tasting.

Our first stop when getting into Cape May was Turdo Vineyards.  This is a small vineyard which makes about 200 cases of each type of wine and when they sell out for the year, they close shop.    When we visited, they had sold out of at least 1/3 of their wines, and she told us that they typically sell out of everything by labor day weekend. 

When arriving at the winery - you will think you are in the wrong spot, because it looks like you are at someone's personal house and they don't have a parking lot.    They recommend parking at the lot down the street, but since Adam is limited in how much he can walk, and I knew we would be walking on the wine tour and that night on the boardwalk, I didn't want to park down at the ball fields down the street.   Instead, I parked on the lawn after the house because I someone else did the same thing.  (Initially I thought that's where I was supposed to park until I walked up to the sign and saw that it said the ball field parking lot).   Anyways, once you park and walk up to the house, you see a small building to the side/back of the house and that is the tasting room - the house really is their personal house, and their backyard is the vineyard - wouldn't that be awesome.

We went in for the tasting, which was $5 for 5 wines.  I didn't save the tasting sheet - but I think they have about 10 wines available for tasting - 3 dry whites, 6 dry reds and 1 sweet red and 1 sweet white (I think that was the breakdown).   Additionally, they have some reserve collection wines which aren't available for tasting, and finally the owners son is starting his own label (Rossi) and currently has two wines with that.

Unfortunately for us, all the dry whites were out and a couple of the reds were out - so we tasted 4 dry reds and got to pick one of the two sweet wines.   I liked all the dry wines, Adam typically doesn't - and didn't - but we did agree on 2 of the dry reds - their Barbera and their Merlot.   To be honest, for the first time in a while I didn't take any notes on this day, and therefore (as I already mentioned) didn't save my tasting sheet - so I don't remember what the wines each tasted like - but I do know my taste buds lean more towards the dry, smooth wines and within that, Adam likes the smooth wines - and likes the ones that are more semi-dry.

Adam and I each tried one of the sweets, that way we were able to taste both.   The sweet red - which I believe was the Dolcetto was actually pretty dry with a dash of sweetness.    I typically don't like sweet wines, and in typical fashion - I didn't like this wine - but for a different reason.   I actually found it to be more dry than sweet - but it was really an odd combination of sugary sweet and dry.   The sweet white we tasted was the Moscato.   It wasn't a bad sweet wine, I just know that I won't sit there and drink a sweet wine, so its always a waste for me to buy, because I would have a few uses for it in cooking/baking and maybe have half a glass - and the rest would end up going to waste as I wouldn't be able to use it enough before it went bad.

Before we were done, I did ask if there were any wines that weren't on the tasting sheet that they had - because I noticed on the site that they had a Pinot Noir, and that wasn't on the sheet (even crossed out).   That's where I found out about the reserves not being available for taste - but they actually were sold out of even those reserve wines. At this same time, the woman who was doing our tasting did mention that Luca - the son - was just working on his own label and that those are available for sale - but not for tasting - and then she realized she did have a bottle of the red available for tasting because there was just an event or something.   Now this red was really good - the best one I had tasted there.   It was really smooth, semi-dry and flavorful, so I said I definitely wanted a bottle - and then she had to double check that there were ones available for sale and the price.   Good news is it was available.  Unfortunately, no white available.  We ended up walking out with a bottle of the Rossi label Red, the Turdo label Barbeca and Merlot.  

Additionally they had Gelato and Sorbetto that was made with their wine, and a few other Gelato flavors.   Adam wanted the Gelato with Moscato and Almonds, but they didn't have any, so he got the Sorbetto with Moscato and Peaches.   I ended up getting the Gelato with Rossi.  Both were yummy and delicious - mine a little more.   They are made by a gelato company in Cape May - so they can be found at that store front as well - unfortunately, don't know the name of the company.   I know - Im full of a lack of details!

If you are in Cape May and enjoy wine - this is a cute place to stop at - if its a nice day (like we had), take some time to relax on their patio with your own picnic or with wine and/or Gelato.

And if you do go to Cape May - let me know - lots more recommendations from our short trips there - and plenty more places and things we want to check out.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ocean City, NJ Restaurant Review

My mom rented a house down in OCNJ this week, and Adam and I were down there for a few days, and everyone who was there on Monday night went out to dinner just off the boardwalk at a place called Bloom N' Tulip.   My mom selected the restaurant based on the fact that she was able to get a good deal for the restaurant on restaurant.com.  I don't think we could have all had a WORSE restaurant experience.

There were 16 of us - 13 adults and 3 kids (2, 3 and 3 1/2).  I had called that morning to make a reservation for all of us, so they were well prepared for the large group.   By the time everyone showed up, we were about 15 minutes late to the reservation, which I initially felt kinda bad about - but no longer do after our experience.  

The atmosphere wasn't anything spectacular to write home about, but nothing awful either.  Once everyone finally arrived, it took about 20 minutes to get our drink orders, another 20 minutes to get the drinks, another 5 minutes to get bread (of which my mom had to specifically request and the waitress had a lot of attitude), another 20 minutes to get our food orders taken - so we were there for well over an hour before our orders got taken.    Once they finally took our orders, things finally got moving - but by this time, the kids just wanted to run around the restaurant, and the only reason we hadn't just left was because of the certificate we had.  

When the food FINALLY came around, it took forever for everyone to get their meals, and my cousin who got a salad was one of the last ones to get her meal, even though that was the simplest of the meals - and my brother-in-law almost didn't get served because she forgot to bring his out.

Unfortunately for my family, the bad review doesn't stop with the poor service.   I had ordered stuffed shrimp with sides of mashed potatoes and apple sauce.  

I knew the apple sauce wasn't chunky because my uncle asked before orderering, so I was a little disappointed to begin with, but Im pretty sure the extent of the kitchen prep for the applesauce involved opening up a jar of motts applesauce and pouring it into the bowl.   It tasted fine, it just wasn't anything special, and nothing stood out about it that made it seem "homemade". 

The mashed potatoes aren't a very different story.   When I got my meal, I saw someone else ordered theirs without the gravy, and I originally wished I would have thought to do the same.  Im glad I hadn't done that because the potatoes were so dry and bland the gravy added some flavor and moistness.   This time I think that the kitchen preparation involved in making the mashed potatoes was mixing a box of potato flakes and water (with too much flakes) and then taking an ice cream scoop and scooping it into a bowl.

The stuffed shrimp weren't too bad in flavor, but the filling felt like it was a whole lot more filler than crab.   After eating one and a half of the three stuffed shrimp, I was done.

That was just what I ate, but Adam and my uncle both ordered rice pilaf, mu uncle specifically didn't see any other sides he wanted so he got a double order (cause we got 2 sides with out meals).   The rice "pilaf" consisted of white rice and lots of butter, so my uncle finally said something (rightfully so) after staying good for not compaining about anything else earlier.   Here is the basic jist of the conversation:

Uncle: I ordered rice pilaf, this is just white rice with butter
Waitress: Thats what our rice pilaf is - white rice
U: Rice Pilaf is not white rice
W: Well thats what our rice pilaf is
U: Rice pilaf isn't white rice, it has the other stuff in it
W: You got what you ordered, white rice
U: I ordered rice pilaf
W: This is our rice pilaf - its white rice.

This conversation pretty much sums up all the talking we had with the waitress - she was COMPLETELY unorganized - the type of person who you would think wouldn't remember her head if it wasn't attached.

By the time our restaurant experience was done - we had been there for TWO HOURS!!   My mom complained to someone, and they pretty much just brushed us off.

To top off the bad service and "meh" food - the food didn't sit well with me at all.   I had to literally run to the bathroom two times in the next hour because it didn't agree with me.

But we got back at them!  Well not really - but there is a funny story to share.   My 3 and a half year old cousin, who is potty trained and hadn't had an accident in a while told her mom she had to go to the bathroom and then got off her chair and pee'd right on the floor.   Of course my little cousin felt really bad and my "big" cousin (her mom) felt even worse for her daughter.   But we never bothered to tell them they had a pee spot in the middle of their carpeted dining area.    And we ended up letting the kids run around the table.

Eventually, we finally got some boardwalk time with the kids.

So all in all - don't ever eat at Bloom N' Tulip in Ocean City, NJ - its at 10th and Ocean (but really on 10th), right off the boardwalk where Kohrs Bros and Steele Fudge.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Catching up from vacation...

Sorry for the lack of posts, I was busy last week with plans every night after work and then on vacation down the shore Saturday-Tuesday.   I have tomorrow off for a staycation day and am hoping to do a whole bunch of stuff - including writing up all the posts that have been going through my head (if they haven't already left it) the past week and a half.

In the meantime, don't forget to check out the other blogs I follow:
www.sharynfrenkelphotoblog.com - my amazing wedding photographer
www.twofrugalmommas.com - a savings blog co-written by my husbands best friends wife
eatingwitha.blogspot.com - a food blog from a college friend who live in Long Island

Two frugal momma's has giveaways often, and currently has one going for chobani greek yogurt - one of my two favorite greek yogurts (between that and Oikos/Dannon) - go check it out!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Store Brand Food

After my last post about brand loyalty, I had a couple responses about buying store brand food and how there are certain things that just don't make the cut, and I agree with that sentiment occassionally, but overall, Ive had some great success with a couple stores and their store brands, so as I sit here eating my lunch with a delicious "store-brand" salad dressing, I thought Id write a review on a couple of the store brand items I buy.

When I go grocery shopping, I have no loyalty to any specific store (again with the loyalty).   I go anywhere from Shop-Rite to Acme to Giant to Wegmans to Trader Joes to Aldi to Bottom Dollar Food.    Depending on where you live, you might not have ever heard of most of these, especially the last two which have only recently started to pop up around my area.

The first time I went to Aldi, I was super disappointed.   First off, you have to have a quarter with you to use a cart.   You get it back when you lock it back in with the other carts, but I didn't have much change on me and out of the change I had, I didn't have quarters.     So with that, I knew I was only gonna pick up a couple items.   Then I walked in with coupons in hand and found the following:
  1. The store was tiny.   I really enjoy my huge grocery stores where I have TONS of options.    When I was still in college and had a car in DC, I used to drive to big Giant in Bethesda 20 minutes away so I could have my big suburban supermarket.   
  2. Then I started walking down the 4 aisles they have, and I noticed everything was off-brand - there wasn't a single brand name item to choose from.   (Reminder, I came prepared with all my coupons)
  3. They are supposed to be known for their produce, so I went over to their produce section, which is about 8' by 4' large - and I wasn't too impressed.   
So I promptly left without a single purchase and shared my unhappy thoughts with family and friend.
A few months later, not sure why, but I decided to give it another shot - this time more prepared with what I was getting myself into.   For not having a large selection, they have a pretty good selection of healthier options.  So although I don't go there often, I do go there fairly frequently - and here are some of the items that I wanted to point out as good items:

  • Baked barbecue potato chips - $1.99 - These are more in line with Baked Lays chips then Baked Herrs - but I actually think they are better than the other store brand options out there.   The BBQ flavor is a little more intense - but not hot or anything.   Before you know it - the bag is gone (I bought it on Saturday afternoon and finished it Monday night)
  • Store Brand Corn Chex - $1.99 - Although I do agree that many cereals do not transfer well to store brand (specifically Cheerios and their store-brand counterparts) - these are just like Corn Chex - and cheaper
  • Fruit Snacks - they always have different fruit snacks in different sizes, but many times you can find a 28 or 32 pack for $3+.   This last time, I got a 32 pack for $3.49.   Different brands of fruit snacks have different flavors and chewy-ness, so Im not sure what one the one I bought compares directly to - but if I had to guess, Id probably say Welches - but I could be totally wrong - all I know is they are yummy - Adam and I tear through them.
  • Frozen Veggie Sandwiches (comparable to lean pockets) - I can't remember the ones I buy, but I think they are like a Santa Fe Veggie or something like that - all I know is that they are totally yummy - just as comparable to Lean Pockets.   Only negative is Hot Pockets has a thousand different varieties - Ive only seen this one
Anyways, those are the items that are standing out in my mind right now, but maybe Ill review more later.   In the beginning, I mentioned that I was typing this as I was eating my lunch with a delicious salad dressing.   The salad dressing came from Trader Joe's and is their Champagne Pear Vinaigrette with Gorgonzola.    It really is great!   And you don't need to overload the salad, just the recommended 2 TBSP is enough.   And this is coming from someone who just isn't a salad eater unless its loaded with lots of things that defeat the purpose of a salad - but this is my third day in a row with a salad (of which the spinach, salad greens, strawberries and fake crab meat all came from Aldi) - and I wish I had more at home to continue the streak because the dressing is just fantastic - so if you shop at Trader Joe's and see the dressing - Id buy it!

Hope you all give store brands another shot if they are still cheaper than name brands on sale with coupons - and if you have an Aldi in your area - go check it out!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Peaches and Dinner

I had put a post up on facebook the other day for peach recipes because my mom and dad went peach picking the other week.   When (and why) they went, there was a deal that they got a container and could overfill it and paid a set price no matter the weight of the peaches.   You could overfill it as high as you wanted, it just had to all be in there.   Anyways, I took a couple dozen off their hands, and was gonna make a peach pie last week, but hadn't had the time to pull a recipe and buy the other ingredients.   Although I put the post up, I also looked up recipes on cooking light and found a couple - one for an entree and one for a side salad - that we had all the ingredients (at least the ones I wanted) for and were good options if I didn't get any other ideas.  

I did get one more idea from my friend Abbye for a Nectarine Galette (substituting peaches in of course).   I had all the ingredients for this, so I was gonna make this and the entree and skip the peach side.

For the galette - unfortunately the pie crust I had was all dried out, and even with the attempts I made at salvaging it, I wasn't gonna have any luck, so I skipped that idea and went back to the side salad.

On to our dinner, I made Peach-Glazed Barbecue Chicken Breasts (recipe calls for pork chops, but i don't eat pork).   I didn't grill the peaches because most of the peaches were too ripe for grilling, I just followed the rest of the recipe.   We only marinated it for 30 minutes, and it ended up being really good.   If we had time to marinate it longer, I can only imagine how much more flavor it would have had.

The side salad was for a Summer Peach and Tomato Salad.   We had a couple tomatoes in the house because we had just seen Adam's aunts and one of them has a vegetable garden and gave us a couple tomatoes.   They were so yummy and juicy!   I did a bunch of modifications for this:  
  • I like cooked onions, but not really raw onions, because they just leave that flavor in your mouth for like 24 hours, so I skipped that (and we didn't have onions, so that was another reason to skip it).   
  • I only used the 2 homegrown tomatoes we had, didn't go and buy and cherry or pear tomatoes (although that would have made it look prettier).
  • I didn't have sherry vinegar, just sherry cooking wine and red wine vinegar, so I figured red wine vinegar would be the better substitute
  • I added in fig balsamic vinegar because I thought that would be a nice addition (it was - but I think any balsamic vinegar would do the trick)
  • I skipped the feta cheese because we were having this with chicken and I keep a (semi) kosher kitchen
  • I didn't have fresh basil, so I used some of the dried basil, making sure I rubbed it to bring out the flavors.
With all those modifications, it was still a great side salad, and I can't wait to go home and eat some of the leftovers!

With that we had a successful dinner portion of our date night on Monday night.   The rest of the night wasn't so great - but that's for another time...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Phillies Wall of Fame

The Phillies have what they call a Wall of Fame.   Its pretty much exactly what it sounds like.   Its their own little hall of fame, but its just on a wall.   Each year, there is a group of like 15 former players and managers that fans vote on, and that narrows it down to 5, and then there is a committee or something that selects the final choice.

This year John Kruk was voted in.   He definitely isn't a Hall of Famer, but he definitely deserves his place on the Phillies Wall of Fame.   He was a big part of our run to the World Series in 1993, and he was loved in Philly, and still is.   Whenever there is a Sunday night ESPN game in Philly, the crowd around the ESPN set is there mostly to cheer on Kruk - he is just a total Philly guy (although he is really from West Virginia).  

Anyways, I loved his induction speech.  He kept everything short and sweet, no awkwardness like Dutch (Darren Daulten) provided, and then he ended it perfectly for us Philly fans - and its just so true. 

"You hear players, media people, say that it's tough to play in Philly in front of these fans. To those people, I say: 'You didn't have the guts to succeed here,' "
It really is so true, and its so nice to hear a ballplayer put it in those terms!   I wonder what the current Phillies were thinking, and I wonder what those players who have refused to play for the Phillies were thinking when he said that.  

Anyways, google the speech if you want to hear/see the whole thing.   If you watch it, you can watch some more awkwardness from Dutch where he went in to give Kruk a big ole man kiss, maybe he thought that would protect him from the aliens who were gonna take him away after the induction (if you aren't a Phillies fan, you probably won't get the joke.   And if you are and still don't get the joke, then I hate to break it to you, but you would be what real Phillies fans call bandwagoners.

Any thoughts on who will be inducted over the next 5 years?   A co-worker and I were talking about this - and you know there is still Schilling, probably Mitchy Poo, but then you got a bunch of 93 players who were fan favorites, but aren't necessarily wall-worthy (Eisenrich, Inky), and you also have Mike Lieberthal who will probably get in, Scott Rolen who will have trouble getting through the fan vote (which is really stupid).   And past those guys, we don't really have anyone left to last until we get through our current crop - of which many will be shoe-ins once eligible.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease

For those that don't know, my husband is affected with a debilitating disorder called Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT).    It is an inherited disease that came from Hubby's mom (although she denies she has the disease) and her side of the family.   In addition to Hubby having the disease, so does his brother, and I believe 3 of his cousins.    Hubby started to show the symptoms at an early age while he was in high school and eventually had to have a bunch of surgeries on his legs and feet because of the damage the disease caused. 

When we first met, I knew he had these surgeries, but he clearly did not try to let it limit him.   Our first date was bowling, our next date rock climbing (in a gym), we went on lots of walks - although they were short and slow by my standards, but overall he tried to stay active.   We joined a gym together, but he only went when we went together and he couldn't do much - so he was done in like 20-30 minutes (whereas I was looking to be there for like 90 minutes).   

Eventually we stopped doing dates that were as active, partly because I was trying to save our money and not spend it, and partly because I was around him more often, so i could tell his legs bothered him more than he let on.


As I mentioned, Hubby's brother also has the disease, and he's been a bit better about going to the CMT specialist, so last year I finally got the information from my sister-in-law and Hubby went to the doctor.   He went for 2 reasons, one was because I really wanted him to start going to the doctor and do whatever he could to keep his body in its best shape possible, the second because there was a new study that was awarded to a few doctors, including the local one, and Hubby and his family could participate in it.

Anyways, there is the background on this disease and my new "relationship" with it - now to the reason of my post.    I'm of course worried about the fact that we could pass this on to our kids when we have them, but in reality, there are lots of things we can pass on that we do know about (diabetes, heart disease) and that we don't, so I don't let this bother me that much - although I'm hopeful that since Hubby, his brother and his cousins are participating in the trial, they might find something that might get them to a point where they can actually treat the disease.   (now a side tangent on the annoyances of my MIL - she refuses to participate in the study because it doesn't change anything for her, even though we continue to tell her this isn't for her, or even her boys, but her grandsons and other future family members).

Over the past month, Hubby's legs have been bothering him A LOT more.   When we are going somewhere that requires some walking, his pace has definitely slowed down a lot - I struggle to stay even a couple steps ahead of his pace (most people struggle to keep up with fast walkers - I struggle to slow down to the pace of slow walkers :)).    His legs have gotten bad enough that we've talked a bit about him getting a wheelchair (now that he has health insurance) for when we go somewhere that will require a lot of walking - not something for him to depend on - but something to keep us active when his legs limit him from doing that. 

Recently Ive started to think about this a lot more, and I realized over the past 3 years I see a large progression - some of this might be because he was hiding some of it from me in the beginning, some of it might just be me - but it makes me really worried for Hubby.  CMT is an incurable disease, and in many ways an untreatable one. 

I say untreatable because the whole purpose of the doctors visits is just to see how you are doing and if you are getting worse, and if so, how much.   But the only treatment they have is to tell you to wear braces to help you a bit with balance, or to tell you to stay off your feet as much as you can so you don't tire them out unnecessarily.   Hubby's doctor even said physical therapy won't provide much benefit it will just tire his legs out even more.

The disease primarily starts with your lower limbs, but can eventually affect your hand function, and Hubby had started to see those symptoms last year, and while at the doctor, he did do some tests and it did show some decline in his hand/arm mobility.   Nothing that will affect us even to the smallest bit right now, but just another sign of progression with the disease.

With the progression that Ive seen of the disease over even just the last 2 years, I'm just so worried that Hubby will end up in a wheelchair on a more permanent basis before I ever even expected...

Dear FIL and MIL...

Dear FIL and MIL,

Have you ever noticed that you have better relationships with your friends than you do with any of your family members?!?   Im not sure how your friends are actually friends with you, except that you treat them completely differently.  

If this is the case than I highly recommend you consider treating your family members like you do your friends.

The reason we never call you or visit you is because we only get in trouble for doing SOMETHING whenever we see you (and for that matter when we don't).    Its not enjoyable for us to make arrangements on one of the 2 nights we have together just to be miserable and get in trouble for whatever the issue of the day is.

You want us to have a great relationship with you, but we refuse to put up with your BS, so either you can straighten up and treat us nicely, or you can risk losing another familial relationship, which would leave you with what - 2 familial relationships?

Sincerely,
Lynda

P.S. Sending nasty emails to "reintroduce" yourself to your son is immature, rude and completely unnecessary (kinda like this post - except this at least will provide stress-relief for me, entertainment for others and theoretically, you'll never see it).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Culinary Circle Tikka Masala Review

I went food shopping at Acme last month, and they had some great deals going on some of their frozen meals.   One that jumped out at me was a skillet meal for Chicken Tikka Masala from Culinary Circle (which is their store brand).

As it was cooking - it smelled delish, so I was pretty excited.    Man was I disappointed.   It was disgusting!   The chicken was super fatty and gross, so I started to just pick around the chicken.   The rest was edible, but not good.

I had a curry rice in the freezer from Trader Joe's so I decided to try that.   I originally wasn't planning to make it because the frozen meal has rice, but since I barely touched the meal, I made this.   Well this was almost equally disappointing.   It wasn't inedible, or in all reality even disgusting, I think it just wasn't what I was expecting.    It was very heavy flavored with onions and had TONS of pearl onions in there and not very heavy flavored in curry.

Overall I highly DON'T recommend the Culinary Circle Tikka Masala - Ill let you make your own decision on Trader Joe's Curry rice.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Monday Night Date Nights

Adam's job has him working Tuesday - Friday from noon to 9pm and then Saturday from 7am-5pm, so we have minimal time that we get to spend with each other.   This isn't a complaint though, because his schedule actually has a lot of benefits.   With his schedule being the way it is, we decided to bring back date night.   When we were dating, we had a set weeknight that was date night that we would always go out and do something together, just the two of us - not with our friends or our family.   That stopped once we moved in together, because we had plenty of time for us, and we were focusing on paying bills and saving whatever money we could.

We of course are still making sure our bills are paid, and are trying to save money :) But we are trying to do all that while re-instituting our date night.   So far we haven't put much money out.   Our first night we used a gift certificate we received for our anniversary for dinner (which we used for take out) and got a movie from Red Box and had date night at home.   

Anyways, on to last nights date night.   Originally, we planned to use one of our restaurant.com certificates, but then when I went to make a reservation, I noticed they weren't open on Mondays.   So then, we decided to go somewhere else that I knew didn't take reservations.   I got home from work, and before we headed out, we checked out their website for the address, I looked at the menu and found what I wanted, and then I was just glancing around their website - and guess what?   They are closed on Mondays!!    

We ended up thinking of a place that we hadn't been to that was open and went there, and then went to Rita's for Misto Monday (50% off of Misto's), but now Im bummed about our Monday night date night.   There are plenty of restaurants and businesses that are open on Monday - but it really does suck that a lot of restaurants are closed on Monday.   I understand the thought process - Monday is probably the slowest night because everyone eats out during the weekend, that they don't do so on Monday - but it just sucks.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Paybacks a B****

I preface this whole post with the disclaimer that I don't follow golf (I follow sports overall) and I could almost care less about golf.

For those who don't follow anything with sports whatsoever - Tiger Woods fired his caddy, Steve Williams, last month.   From reports over the last few years, Steve Williams and Tiger Woods were not just employee/employer but friends.  When Tiger got caught cheating on his wife with a thousand different women and everyone wanted their time in front of the camera, Steve Williams stayed away from it.   And when the reporters found him, he made a brief comment saying pretty much that its Tigers business.

With Tiger out of the game for the last while because of his sex rehab and then his injuries, Williams asked Tiger for permission to caddy for Adam Scott during one of the tournaments.   Tiger gave him permission, and then promptly fired him within a week after the tournament.   Again, I don't follow golf much at all, so Im sure there could be more to the story that may or may not be in the media, but from the sounds of it to me - Williams was fired for no reason even though he was very loyal to Tiger.

Anyways, another tournament happened this weekend, and Adam Scott was in it, and he hired Steve Williams (I think full time now), and after the first day Scott was in the lead - that made me happy and I was hoping to see him win - just to throw it in Tigers face (who was back in the field this week).    When I last heard and update Saturday, he was no longer in the lead, but I think that changes throughout the weekend anyways. 

Lo and behold, I woke up this morning and listened to the news and heard that Adam Scott won the tournament - so booya Tiger Woods - in your face.   As the title of my post says - paybacks a b****.   I do even believe that Steve Williams said something to the effect of this being the sweetest win of his time.

Monday, August 8, 2011

uh-oh, Im gonna go there...

"There" is that topic that can be a huge issue.   Its politics.   Well really, Im gonna talk about the economy but my politics clearly play a role in it.   So for those who don't know me that well - Im a democrat (although I do have a small number of views that lean a BIT to the center/right)

Unfortunately, with Adams job situation, the economy has hit us close to home.   I wish the solution was simple and something that everyone agreed on - but Im realistic and know thats not the case.  It is going to take a while to get out of the recession that our previous president Bozo Bush got us into.   I don't care what everyone says about us being out of the recession - we aren't.    We are spending money more and jobs are SLOWLY picking up, but we are just slowly climbing out, but we aren't there yet.

What really got me going on this topic is the recent agreement that was signed last week so we would avoid a debt crisis.   The thing is that the democrats were pretty much backed into a corner and had no choice but to agree to it - otherwise it would be their fault.  And I agree that both sides do need to make concessions - and even though I don't feel that both sides made concessions, I do think that it was the right call to vote on what was decided, because we needed something.

I do agree that the gov't needs to cut its spending, and both sides need to make concessions on those cuts.   But keep in mind that those cuts WILL result in additional job cuts.   What I feel REALLY strongly about is the tax situation.   I'm sorry - but removing a tax cut does not make it a tax hike,   It means that the temporary cut that was instituted (by previously mentioned Bozo Bush) is no longer available.   And lets be honest - the really rich getting taxed appropriately isn't going to cause any job losses - it will do quite the opposite, because it will bring much needed money into our government and will go right back into the economy.   And really - why do the really rich deserve tax cuts that you and I don't deserve - even though we struggle to survive?

Well - I just needed to rant about that, so there is my current political rant - more to come in the future - including the rants that some might think i lean the other way on.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pence-lvania

Now that the Hunter Pence deal has died down a bit, I just wanted to share my thoughts on the deal.   I'm pretty much in the same boat as the "experts".  This was another GREAT deal by Amaro - I think I might even use some combination of 7/29 as my new lucky numbers - or at least Amaro should.

With that being said, it is a great deal because we acquired a good righthanded bat, its not a rental, we are staying under the luxury tax and we didn't give up any of our top talent that we know has ML abilities up.   That's not to say the prospects we traded won't turn out to be great players in the future, but the core of our current team is built to win the WS this year, maybe the next year.

Now, I just want to remind my phellow phans - Hunter Pence isn't Albert Pujols.   Just like Howard, he does have a tendency to strike out a lot and unlike the man he is protecting, he doesn't have a lot of power.    I even believe he is actually rated below average for fielding.  

Again, this is not to say I don't think Hunter Pence is a good player - he is, and he is a great addition to the Phillies - this is more to the guywho was behind me last Sunday at the game (and those like him), who every time Pence came up kept on talking about him hitting a homerun.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dog Names

Adam and I are looking to adopt a second dog when we get back from vacation near the end of the month.   We have our eyes on a certain dog, and so far it looks like things might work out.   If not, I'm sure we will find the perfect dog for us and for Charger.


Just like with Charger, I don't want to pick out a name until we get the dog and get a feel for his/her personality and make sure the name works with their personality.

With that being said, i'm really hoping that a Phillies themed name will fit the personality - anyone have any recommendations?   I have a couple that Ive had in my mind for a while: Schmidty and Tug.   I was also recently thinking Whitey (for Richie Ashburn), but I have all plans to get a dark haired dog - so that would just be weird.   Im totally amenable to a name that references older players or recent players - BUT I'm not gonna name my dog a name that would be a human name and Im not naming my dog Utley - because Ive met tons of dogs named Utley.

My biggest issue is that there is a chance we will bring a female dog into the house, and Im not sure any of these names really fit a female.   I have one thought, but I'm not really loving it - Ace.  Another thought is Polly (for Placido Polanco) but that falls into the real name category.  Anyone have any thoughts on these names or other recommendations??

Friday, August 5, 2011

What is this world coming to?

So after a long day of working, I was finally ready to stop and go to bed at 10:45pm tonight when i decided to jump onto facebook - and Im glad I did. 

My immediate family and I recently reconnected with a cousin and met his wife and son.   We all had a great time together and already made future plans.   The night that we all met, my cousins wife friended me on facebook - and its been great, because she's gotten to know me through my blog posts and me her a bit through her facebook posts. 

Well anyways, back to tonight - my cousins wife had a post that I thought was interesting, but didn't think anything of it.   She mentioned that if you googled stabbing in mansfield, nj on aug 5 that there was tons of stuff populating - all the way to texas.   I don't know Jersey geography, so I just assumed that might have been near her.   Then I continued to read posts, and saw the one she posted before that.   The stabbing in Mansfield, NJ was my cousin, her husband.    He was just delivering gas (he's a tanker driver) when this guy just started stabbing him.    Sharon says he should be okay, but he is in the hospital overnight.    Keeping my cousin Jake and his wife and son in my thoughts and prayers.

Seriously what is this world coming to?!?!? 

With that, Im gonna try to be more appreciative of what I have in my life and of my family.   It really all could be gone in an instant.

Healthy Habits

I'm trying to get back into the healthy habits.   I'm having mixed success.    Charger and I got a nice 4.5 mile walk around Snowball and Forsynthia Gates last Friday.   I enjoy walking the gates, they mix in a nice amount of hills, I get to look around at the area houses and landscaping to get ideas for things we can do to and around our house when we have money (hahaha).  With that being said, its starting to get boring since I do it often enough.

On Saturday, I woke up early before it started to get hot and Charger and I got a NICE and HILLY 5+mile walk at Tyler State Park.   I do miss living right by Tyler, because the trails provide for a nice workout.   I do have some trouble with my asthma on some of the hills, but I just push through it - and, oddly, I actually enjoy the feeling in my lungs once Ive caught my breath - it feels like a good workout for my lungs.   Just like I love the way my legs hurt after climbing all those hills.  

Sunday though I decided that I needed to sleep in, so I only took Charger for a mile, and my walks became just as lazy until last night when I walked Snowball Gate - about 2.25 miles.   Hoping to walk Snowball and Forsynthia today (in between the work day and the work evening or something) and then maybe Tyler some more this weekend.

Anyways - Im hoping to get back in the groove of healthy habits!   Why is it so easy for unhealthy habits to stick then healthy habits

Thursday, August 4, 2011

More randomness

Got another follower - thanks kris!  

For the rest of you, come join the few and follow me so you're always the first to now when I post a new story of my life

crazy week!

The week isn't over yet and its already been a crazy week!   Last week the girl who works for me was out, and I was easily able to handle my work and her work, 2 weeks before that, my boss was out - and same thing.    All the sudden we went from "quiet" (which isn't quiet at all - just not slammed) to all the sudden this week being slammed - and Im not sure what has changed.

Well a few things changed.   The boss's son who works from the IT side on some of my programs decided this week to finally work - so the work we've been sending to him since end of May (2 and a half months of work)  is finally getting worked on.   And when he decides to work on that stuff, he can knock a lot of stuff out - so 2 and a half months of work is getting thrown back to me for review, plus all the stuff that was going on this week - plus a ton of meetings.   I think Im gonna be working 50 of the next 72 hours - and mind you most of that is the weekend - its just that crazy right now.   Once I get over this hump, it shouldn't be too bad for most of the month - but then its crazy, crazy, crazy as we get into our busy fall and then right into hawaii craziness.

Im hoping to try and post a bunch of stuff tonight (as I had a big glass of wine and probably shouldn't do much work) and spread it out for postings over the next week so I can still keep things going :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Randomness

I just saw I have my first follower - thanks Jules!! 

Also - don't forget to check out the other blogs I follow:
 Eating With A - eatingwitha.blogspot.com
 Sharyn Frenkel Photography (the awesome friend, sister-in-law of good friend Sam and photographer who did Adam and my engagement shoot and our wedding - and is doing my sisters wedding): http://www.sharynfrenkelphotoblog.com/  (oh and friend Sharyn Frenkel Photography on facebook - she is trying to get to 2,000 followers.
Two Frugal Mommas - www.twofrugalmommas.com
Mommy Needs Therapy... - http://mommyneedstherapy.blogspot.com/

Saturday Evening - Part 2 - Melting Pot and the aftermath

So in trying to figure out where to go after Taste, we had talked about going to the Melting Pot for their patio special, but we weren't sure if it was going to be too hot to do that.   In the end, it ended up being fine, and we went to the Melting Pot.   By the time we got there it was 7:30ish, so the heat had died down and they had umbrella's to try and minimize the heat from the sun that was still up.  

I'm not sure about the Melting Pot's near everyone else, but the one near us in Warrington has this great deal going right now, and I highly recommend it.    Its called Pinot on the Patio. For $20 per person you get a glass of Pinot Grigio or Pinot Noir, Cheese Fondue and Dessert Fondue.   For Melting Pot - that is a great deal.  


I was pleasantly impressed with the Pinot Noir - I kinda just expected it to be a crappy house Pinot.   Not sure what type it was, but it was good. 

For the cheese fondue, we ordered the spinach and artichoke.   It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great.   Of course you never would have guessed that the way we cleaned the fondue bowl - but then again, that was our dinner.

For the dessert fondue we had the Disarrono Meltdown.   This was yummy!   It was white chocolate and Disarrono Amaretto."flambeed" tableside.   There was no flambeeing tableside - the dude didn't even let it warm up before he left.  With all that being said, by the time we let it warm up - it was good.

So all in all a good evening out with some good company.   And then came the aftermath. 

The FIL ran into the Uncle and he innocently mentioned that we were out together the night before. So my husband got a call from the FIL about how Im tearing him apart from the family (not even gonna get started on this part) and how upset he is that we don't choose to spend our social time with them.  

Does anyone else make plans to go out for drinks and dinner with their parents or in-laws?   I go to Phillies games with my mom, and my parents make a family dinner every Sunday night, but I don't make plans to go out with my folks - and I surely don't have any intention to do it with my in-laws.    With other family members that are closer in age to us and that we consider friends - yes!   With family members that are banned by the ILs - yes, cause thats the only way we see them.   With friends - OF COURSE!  

Monday, August 1, 2011

Saturday Evening - Part 1 - Taste Wine Shop

On Saturday night Adam and I had a great time with Adam's Uncle and his wife.   We started off at Taste, which is a retail outlet in Warrington, PA for Sand Castle Winery, which is located further north in Bucks County. 

Adam and I have been to Taste a couple times before where we had done a flight of wines or just bought a glass.   Additionally, we had bought a living social or groupon deal a while ago for a VIP Tasting at Sand Castle Winery.  The VIP tour was a really cool experience, and I learned some new things about wine and wine tasting.   Sand Castle makes a lot of different wines, and has a couple really good ones - but I wouldn't rate them as the top winery even in Bucks County. 

Taste has been making deals left and right on the deal sites, so we bought our deals a while ago and went on Saturday to get our two flights and a cheese plate per couple.    I had the red flight, even though I knew I wasn't in love with their red wines.   I was impressed though because they have a new red wine - Santo Rouge - and it was really good, so I ended up buying a bottle.    Adam got the semi-sweet flight - which i found interesting that they called it that because I knew I liked most of the wines in that flight and I don't like sweet wines.   Overall the wines were good/fair, and we devoured our cheese plates - but more importantly just had a good time hanging out and chatting (and making fun of the crazy lady who came and sat next to us).

Taste isn't all about wine tasting though, that they have a row each of olive oils and balsamic vinegars for you to go around and taste.   Adam and I had previously bought both from here, and somehow I walked out without buying any this time!   I did find 3 new ones that I did like though:
- Chipotle Olive Oil: had a nice little kick to it, but not hot or spicy at all.   Would be great as a marinade for chicken or as a dipping oil.
- Wild Mushroom and Sage Olive Oil:  I love mushrooms, and I just thought this tasted great - not sure what I would really use it in though - probably in a mushroom risotto or something.
- Espresso Balsamic Vinegar: For those that don't really know me that well - I don't drink coffee, and Im not really a fan of coffee flavor (but I do like coffee flavored jelly bellys and chocolate covered coffee beans...)   Anyways, Adam really liked this, so I decided to try it - and I was pleasantly surprise that I also really liked it.

I might have to go back and buy a couple more once I finally finish the flavored ones in the house, which are:
- Lemon Olive Oil: a great light olive oil - perfect for marinating chicken in and then grilling the chicken.   Its not an overload of lemon - but its the perfect complement - especially for a nice summer day.   Its also so light that I just use this when sauteeing vegetables, and it just adds a light lemony flavor.
- Cilantro and Roasted Onion Olive Oil (or something like that): I LOVE LOVE LOVE Cilantro, so when i saw this I had to taste it, and when I tasted it I had to buy it - but in all honesty, I haven't quite figured out the best use(s) for it, so I haven't used it much.
- Fig Balsamic Vinegar: Im almost done this bottle.  Its great as a dressing on salads, great as a dipping sauce for chicken or something if you need to add extra flavor.   As I was typing this, I was actually just thinking this might even be good with a dessert - like a shot of this over a bowl of vanilla bean ice cream.  YUMMY!

Anyways - if you live in the Philly region - I recommend a stop off at Taste Wine Shop in Warrington.   The wine tasting is a fun experience, even if you don't fall in love with their wines; their cheese plates use DiBruno Brothers cheeses - so you gotta get one; and the olive oil/balsamic vinegar tasting experience is really fun and yummy.   And who knows you might end up walking out with a nice mixture of wine, olive oils and balsamic vinegars to last you a little while.

Oh - and if its the summer, taste their "sangria" - which is Claret wine with a sliced orange (Delish!), and if its the winter, taste their Spice Wine - just make sure they serve it to you warm.

Stay tuned for Part 2 - the Melting Pot and some more fun with Adam's Uncle and his wife (technically his Aunt - but we are close enough in age that its just wierd to put it in those terms :-))