Monthly Archives: August 2013

The $1 Box


Subscription Box Saturday

Once upon a time, I tried KLUTCHclub. Using a Groupon, I received a KLUTCHclub box for just $4 {plus $8 shipping} instead of the usual $10 {plus $8 shipping} charged for members. In the box, I received what are now my favorite earbuds I’ve ever owned as well some body butter that I smells soooo good. But some of the other “health products” were not up my alley. So I chose not to continue with the club. However, I remained on their email list. Thisย  month, I received this email:


What did I have to lose?! Sure, I still had to pay $8 shipping. But in my last experience, I spent less than the value of what I actually received. Well, not only that, but I spent less on what I received than the value ofย  what I actually used. {In my opinion, there is no value in things that I received but did not use.}

So I ordered the $1 box. You see, most of the time, you don’t know what’s going to be in the box. Or you may get a vague idea. It seems, though, once you become a member, you can log in and see what could be coming in the next Women’s, Mom’s or Men’s boxes. Then, unless you are a continuous subscriber, you can decide whether or not you want to order that box. I like that option.

Here’s what arrived:


KLUTCHClub $1 Best Of Box

The Loot:

  • Crunchmasters Multi-Seed Crackers – I’ve always liked these. Great Snack.
  • Crystal Body Deodorant Towelettes – I haven’t tried these. They might be good for travel. The reviews I’ve read have been very good. The fact that there is no aluminum, parabens or other heebie-jeebie stuff is a plus.
  • Sheaterra Organics African Black Soap Menthe Body Wash – Stuffed it into my travel bag!
  • Dream Water – I got this stuff in a Goodies Box a while back. Doesn’t really do the trick for me.
  • Tea of a Kind Citrus Mint Green Tea Drink – This beverage was refreshing. They preserve the “natural essence” of their teas with their Gizmo technology.
  • Immuno Mixed Berry Flavor Gum – I was really excited for a gum that offered an “immunity boost with zinc, vit c, echinachea, elderberry and more*”; however, I was disappointed with the flavor. The yummy berry-ness of it all lasted approximately a minute and thirty seconds before starting to taste metallic and then just gross. I keep re-trying it and keep finding the same thing. I have no idea why I keep doing that!
  • BluePrintBar – Lemon Almond Cashew Date – I love bars. The flavor sounds good. I remember eating it, but I don’t remember “tasting” it. So I can’t tell you.
  • doc Multi-Use Suction Holder – This ended up in my shower. It’s a new place for my razor and my shower gel puff!
  • Cocoa Via Daily Cocoa Extract Supplement (unsweetened dark chocolate flavor) – I received this stuff before in a New Year’s Resolutions Box, but in multiple flavors. I wasn’t too impressed because they tasted too diet-y. But I’m willing to give them another shot. Maybe I’ll use it to make chocolate milk this time? Maybe I can doctor it up if it’s not suiting me.

Worth $9? Maybe. Worth continuing a subscription for a higher price? No.

So, today I’m thinking about subscriptions boxes and box contents and retail value versus perceived value. Come back next Subscription Box Saturday when I tell you my thoughts on that.

Name something you bought or received where the the retail value was more than {or less than} than your perceived value.


Foodie Penpal from Idaho


Have I mentioned how much I love Foodie Penpals?!

One thing I absolutely love about the program is that I’m matched with different people from different regions of the U.S. every month. And they almost always send something from where they are from. I adore that!

This month, my Foodie PenPal box was sent from Amber, all the way from Idaho! {No, she didn’t send me potatoes.} Though I do love potatoes, she was a little more clever than that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sage Milk Chocolate

Sage Milk Chocolate from Boise

This was the first thing I unwrapped and dug into from the box. Sage and milk chocolate? Who knew?! It’s an excellent combination. I promptly broke the bar up into pieces to put in my lunches for the week. You know, I do eat a little bit of chocolate every day. I did save a piece for Rob. When he got home from work, I made him try a piece and told him to tell me what he tasted in the chocolate. “Is that rosemary?” he asked. SO CLOSE!

Via, Chocolate

Starbucks Via Refreshers – Valencia Orange flavor, Corazona’s White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Oatmeal Squares, Justin’s Chocolate Almond Butter

You know, I had never tried the Starbucks Refreshers before. What a great introduction! The Valencia Orange flavor really took me back. It reminded me of TANG! They were so fun to try and to break up my water routine.

I had never heard of Corazona’s nor their White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Oatmeal Squares. I always love a good protein, nut or oatmeal bar for a quick breakfast or snack and these did not disappoint. I forget about macadamia nuts sometimes, even though I love nuts. It might be partially because I rarely buy them – they are expensive. But dear hubby is also allergic. Okay, better chance to keep them all to myself!

And you can never go wrong with any Justin’s nut butter. As a francophile, I adore Nutella. And somehow, somewhere along the way, Rob learned he is allergic to hazelnuts. That means All The Nutella is for Me… Mwahhhhhahahaha! But the discovery of chocolate almond butter makes it more accessible to Rob now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Huckleberry Jam, also from Idaho

Wild Huckleberry Jam, also from Idaho

I don’t know if I’ve ever had a huckleberry, much less Huckleberry Jam. New to me and from Idaho – win-win! I’ve been stirring it into my overnight oats. Sometimes I add a few chocolate chips, chia seeds {from my last Foodie Penpal} and slivered almonds, too. Perfect!

And last, but most certainly not least:


Angie’s Salted Caramel Kettle Corn


Recently, I learned that Angie’s Kettle Corn is out of Minnesota. My husband and I love the stuff. But how is it that I’ve never had nor have I even known about the Salted Caramel flavor?! Thank you, Amber, for introducing me. Well, maybe it isn’t a good thing. I did open the bag to give it a try and probably ate half of it… Next time, pour a serving into a bowl, Carrie! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thank you so much, Amber, for your thoughtful package and the kind note, too.

I love that you put some of your favorites in the box as well as items from your homeland.

Cheers to you!


Thinking you want to become a Foodie Penpal? You donโ€™t even need to be a blogger to do it! Nor do you have to participate every month. Hereโ€™s how:

1. Sign up by the 4th of the month that you want to participate.
2. On the 5th of the month, you are assigned a Foodie Penpal.
3. You communicate with your penpal about any food allergies or preferences, as well as where to ship the package.
4. By the 15th of the month, send $15 worth of food to your penpal that may include homemade goodies, local treats or just some of your favorite discoveries that you want to share! The box must also contain something handwritten.
5. Youโ€™ll receive a package from another Foodie Penpal, who was assigned to you.
6. If you are like me, you squeal with delight when your package arrives.
7. You enjoy said goodies, which you may have never known about otherwise.
8. If you are a blogger, you post about the package you received on the last day of the month โ€“ Reveal Day! {If you are not a blogger, you do not need to do anything, but thank your Penpal, of course! However, if your Penpal does blog, you can choose to write a guest post, if you so wish.}
9. To sign up for September by September 4th, click here.


What would you have liked to try most out of this box and why?


Cherry Wheat!


Oh how we love sipping on a little Sam Adams Cherry Wheat on tap when we go back to Michigan in the summer! If you are lucky, they’ll put a maraschino cherry or two in the bottom of the glass, too.

018You are probably surprised that I’m drinking a mass-produced beer like Sam Adams. Additionally, it’s not local. And when I’m vacation, I do like to drink local beers. Still, we never find this glorious, glorious beer on tap in Minnesota. So that got us to thinking…


We find Cherry Wheat on tap many places where we dine in Mid-Michigan. Hmm…

Then, we picked up a six-pack of the to sip on while out on the lake later that week. And we read this on the bottle neck:

Cherry Wheat

So THAT’S why. Using Michigan cherries has to be the reason it is distributed widely in Michigan. Oh, if only, they’d send those kegs just a little bit further west to us… I often forget about buying it in the bottle at home. But tap is so much better anyway.

One of the places where I nearly always order a Cherry Wheat is at the Riverwalk in Gladwin. The Riverwalk is a bit of a higher-end restaurant for the town. And it’s also one of the few places in Gladwin that has an online presence and posts their menu.

One menu that surprised me this year was their Under 500 Calorie Menu!

Riverwalk under 500

While I do appreciate menus like this in any restaurant, I didn’t order from it the duration of the trip. I guess I was just in the mood for other items. And it seemed that the Riverwalk Salad that I loved so dearly in the past was no longer on the menu! {Cue sad face.} But I do like that there is a map of Michigan next to the items that are considered “Pure Michigan.”


There were some new apps on the menu that intrigued us this year. As Rob is a fan of onion rings, he ordered the Onion Tower:

ONION RING TOWER $8.99 A tower of Beer Battered, Hand Cut Onion Rings served with Signature Sauce.

A tower of Beer Battered, Hand Cut Onion Rings served with Signature Sauce

No, no no. Nine dollars for seven mediocre onion rings is even an abomination in Mpls-St. Paul, where prices tend to be higher. These should have been a TOWER or an The Best Onion Rings Ever. This wasn’t the case. No way would he ever order these again. But we did find an app that we loved:

PRETZEL POPPERS $6.99 Cheddar Cheese Stuffed Pretzel Bites served with Signature Sauce.

Cheddar Cheese Stuffed Pretzel Bites served with Signature Sauce

These are genius! This is actually what they should be serving at baseball games {if they aren’t already}! That way, people aren’t trying to juggle their containers of pretzels with cheese sauce and their beers beer while making their way across laps to their seats. When we brought Rob’s parents back to the Riverwalk, we had to get them an order. The dipping sauce is really good, too, but unnecessary. These bites are perfection by themselves.

I’ve never ever seen Rob order potato soup in my life; but he did at lunch and loved it:

Whats the soup of the day joke SOUP DU JOUR CUP $2.99

SOUP DU JOUR (cup) – $2.99

“Soup du Jour” always reminds me of this clip from Dumb and Dumber:

Oh how hard it is to watch that after watching marathons of Newsroom starring Jeff Daniels!

Anyway, there was a special one day and it sounded like it’d hit the spot:


Buffalo Chicken Caesar Pizza

This pizza/flatbread {they may have called it a flatbread} was near perfect. The cucumbers, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese with the Caesar dressing and hot sauce just made a great combination. The crust was good, too. The only downfall about this pizza is that reheating is difficult with that romaine lettuce. But is there really a way around that? If you have never had anything like this, I’d highly suggest you attempt to make a version. Biz, do you want to give it a go?! I think it’d be up your alley!

And of course, the Pretzel Burger that won my heart over during last year’s visit is always a satisfying option at the Riverwalk.

Jumping back to the title of this post, I’d say that in some ways Cherry Wheat = Summer for me. Maybe because I’m only drink it on vacation… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Is there a beer or beverage that = summer for you?

What is your favorite one-bite food?


Walleye Two Ways {With Wine Pairings}


This weekend, I tried to replicate last year’s Pantry Challenge. I made it more restrictive this time, though. After making a list of all of the items I had in my fridge, freezer and pantry, I decided that I could only use items in my home. I couldn’t supplement with any other groceries. I didn’t have too many ideas on what I’d make. I just knew that the list of foods I already had was way too long and varied not to figure out something.

When my parents were in town earlier this summer, my dad stashed some walleye in my freezer. He had caught it when he was out fishing a couple of weeks earlier.

Walleye? What’s a walleye?

That was a question I was asked when a work colleague came into town from Boston a few years back. We were out to dinner and I hadn’t even given a thought to the fact that they wouldn’t see this northern, freshwater fish on the East Coast.


Growing up, I really didn’t like fish. Part of it may have been that my mom didn’t like it, which means she never really cooked it. The times I did try fish, I didn’t like it because it tasted, well… fishy.

I can’t pinpoint when I started trying and liking fish and seafood, but I can say that it was probably at the end of my college career or shortly thereafter.

On the other hand, Rob is allergic to seafood. So the opportunity to make it this weekend presented itself when he went out of town.

I have to say that I don’t have a lot of experience cooking fish, but I have done it with success. So I started by looking up a pinning a few recipes to find out what were the best methods to preparing walleye, in particular.

What I found?

People really like to fry walleye! I think that’s the way I’ve mostly eaten it, too. But I didn’t want to fry it. I wanted to find a healthier version. I wanted to try something different.

So on Friday night, I made myself some Tuscan Walleye, something I can’t imagine that many people have done. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I weighed my package of vacuum-sealed walleye and learned that it was twelve ounces. Twelve ounces of fish? How was I going to eat that in one sitting? Fish isn’t exactly something that tastes great reheated.

But after I took it out of the package, I found that there were TWO filets! And since I originally couldn’t decide which recipe I wanted to try, I decided I’d have walleye one way on Friday night and another way on Saturday for lunch.

Tuscan Walleye

For the Tuscan Walleye, I put the filet in a baking dish and brushed it with a Tuscan Herb-flavored olive oil that my parents also gave me as a gift.

630Then I seasoned it with salt and pepper. I repeated this on the other side. This blog is not titled Season It Already! for nothing.

631I popped it into a pre-heated 500 degree oven for about seven minutes. In the meantime, I made myself a Caprese Salad. And I’m not talking my usual Poorman’s Caprese. Oh, no.ย  I went all out with some fresh mozzarella and even added a different brown tomato called the Kumato for some color.

633I drizzled it with the same Tuscan Herb olive oil and seasoned it with some salt and pepper as well.

Dinner was Served!

634Eating this dish out on my back deck as the sun began to set on Friday night. At first, the fish was a little fishy-tasting. But soon, the seasoning took over. It was light and flaky and perfect for a summer day. After finding absolutely no bones, I gave Sham and Sophie each a piece. Bad Idea! They continued to beg from me the duration of my meal.

Wine Pairing

I’d pair the Tuscan Walleye with a nice crisp Italian Pinot Grigio.


As for my second version of walleye, I decided to do something WILD! A week or so ago, when I was at the store, I impulsively bought a grapefruit because it just smelled so good that day. It’s not a fruit I often eat, so it was still in my fridge. Then I found a recipe for Grapefruit Walleye!

Grapefruit Walleye

Since the recipe calls for 4 to 6 walleye filets, I just divided this recipe by four to cook for one. My one grapefruit was the perfect amount to cover the needed grapefruit juice and sections. However, I think I may have started my grapefruit sauce a little to early, because it really reduced down by the time the fish was done and became more of a chutney.

Grapefruit WalleyeBefore I cooked the fish, I did notice some bones, but I was having trouble getting those little suckers out. So I was just careful when I ate and they came out easily as the fish flaked away.

This time, I added some fresh basil to my Caprese Salad, used only a Kumato and drizzled it with a good quality Italian extra virgin olive oil. The walleye turned out beautifully! I loved the combination of grapefruit with the dill and green onions. I’d make this version again in a heartbeat.

Wine Pairing

I’d pair the Grapefruit Walleye with crisp, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc, of course! Sauvignon Blancs are know for their grapefruity and herbal qualities. With the dill, green onions and grapefruit, this is a match made in heaven!

Thank you, Dad for the delicious walleye!


What is your favorite way to prepare fish?


The Hotel Bar


Salesman and racists and football stars. All hanging out at the Hotel Bar…

I can’t resist singing that line from the song “Last Time’ by the Ike Reilly Assassination {a band we love out of Chicago} every time we walk by or even think about this place. Not because it fits, but because it’s called the Hotel Bar.

Hotel Bar 2Despite that OPENย sign in the window, for as many years that we’ve been returning to Gladwin, I didn’t know this place was open. This year, Rob thought we should go inside. I even asked, “Did someone buy this place and open it up?”

But this place has been open since 1881.

Yes, it was once a hotel with a bar below. And while the hotel portion is no longer in operation, the name stuck. You can read about the history here.

While we did go at an off-time {which we tend to do often}, there weren’t too many people seated at the bar. We were able to pull ourselves right up to it. However, much to our dismay, there was only one beer on tap:


This is when we asked what they offered by the bottle. The bartender opened up this fridge below to let us see the selection. {And, no, we did not sign up for the Euchre Tournament.}

Hotel Bar 4We were pleasantly surprised to find this old Seattle favorite and promptly ordered a couple of bottles. {And, no, we did not sign up for the Golf Outing.}

Red Hook IPA

Red Hook Longhammer IPA

It was crisp, hoppy and refreshing on a hot July day. Another employee walked by and said, “Ew!!! I can’t believe you are actually drinking that! It tastes like a skunk ate pine needles and pissed in a bottle!” We just laughed. I guess it’s a Budweiser kind of town. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The IPA also paired nicely with Friday. What do I mean by that? Because there was a Friday Fish Fry and I love my IPAs with something salty!

Hotel Bar 5Not the best fish fry I’d ever had, but I still enjoyed it. Hats off to the soft roll on the left. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had one of those?

But let’s back up and take a look at the menu. Like many other dining establishments in Gladwin, you won’t find theirs online.

Hotel Bar 8Let’s zoom in on something that always makes me laugh:

Hotel Bar 3Everywhere you go, you’ll find something “WORLD FAMOUS!” What makes something World Famous? I highly doubt that the “World Famous Steak Sandwich” at the North Point Lounge in Kawkawlin, Michigan is truly World Famous. I hadn’t known about it until I saw the sign.

Guinness is World Famous.

Michael Jordan is World Famous.

Philly Steak Sandwiches are World Famous.

But I would have to say that most things that are labeled “World Famous,” usually are not. If something is World Famous, then you wouldn’t even have to mention that, right?

But I digress.

I think it’s funny that not only is the Hotel Bar {which, remember, I didn’t even realize was open for business} is the “Home of the World Famous Burgers” and that the “Most Famous Burger around the World”The Hotel Burger – is even famous in Ireland! Is this because someone in Ireland knows about it? Do people in Ireland send others here when they are in the States? I think this is so funny. And I love it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Because of their famousness, Rob had to order one of the burgers:

Hotel Bar 7

Smokehouse Burger – 1/2 lb beef, bacon, onion, American cheese and Smokey Sauce

Rob loved it so much that we had to come back later in the week to bring his parents there. They had never been there before either!

On that second trip, I noticed these on the menu:


Hotzarella Sticks

I love that name! I’m guessing that would be Mozzarella Sticks made with Pepperjack Cheese. I did not order any because I wasn’t particularly hungry on our second visit. In fact, I actually ordered a wrap {listed on the other side of the menu, of which I didn’t seem to take a photo}. I remember it being exceptional. I would definitely order it again. I only ate half and took the other half home.

And I don’t know if I mentioned before that in Michigan, you can play Keno in the bars. It’s something Rob likes to do sometimes to, you know, pass the time and support the Michigan economy and education system. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hotel BarHave you ever discovered that a bar or restaurant where you live was open that you didn’t realize was before?

If so, did you give it a try?

What were your thoughts?


Couch to 5k – Week 6 (And a Charity Race for Shamrock!)


It’s that week of the Couch to 5k that I like to call The Turning Point. On Day 3, you must run 20 minutes with no walking breaks. Why do I say this is The Turning Point? Because if you’ve never been a runner before, NOW YOU ARE. Why?

Because you completed your entire run without stopping.

No Matter How Slow You Go - You Are Still Lapping Everybody On The Couch

What’s interesting to me is how quickly things progress in these last few weeks of the program. During the first four weeks, I was doing the same run-walk intervals all three days of the week. Just take a look at Week 6.

Couch to 5k – Week 6

Day 1

  • 5 min warm-up
  • Run 8 min
  • Walk 3 min
  • Run 8 min
  • 5 min cool down

Day 2

  • 5 min warm-up
  • Run 10 min
  • Walk 3 min
  • Run 10 min
  • 5 min cool down

Day 3

  • 5 min warm-up
  • Run 20 min
  • 5 min cool down

Notice here that before Day 3 , the most I’ve run was ten minutes. Now you want me to double that time?” I thought.

But I didn’t care. Iย  knew I could do it. I did it last time I followed the Couch to 5k program. I also knew it would be difficult. But you know what?

It makes the COOL DOWN walk home soooooo worth it. It was hard and I did feel like I was running out gas at certain parts during Day 2’s second ten-minute run and at the end of Day 3’s 20-minute run.

But, I can honestly say that those five minutes of the cool down are probably the best of my day. With endorphins pumping through me, everything in the world looks a little brighter. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Side note: On Day 2 this week, halfway through the run, I saw a fox. Or at least I thought it was a fox. A couple of years ago, I saw a red fox in our neighborhood about a block form our house. I was in my car and it was carrying a small animal in its mouth. It freaked me out because what if it came into our yard? Would it harm our dogs? Our yard is fenced in, but there are spaces between the gates where bunnies can creep in and out.

I did a google image search and found that it wasn’t a red fox I saw. I don’t know what it was. It didn’t see me and I didn’t see its face. It was running into the woods. It actually looked like Shamrock from behind with the long tail and the floppy ears! Maybe it was just a dog? But the way it pranced off into the distance, it looked more confident and wild. In any case, I turned around and went the other way!

You can read about my first weeks in this Couch to 5k experience here:

Now on to to the first “race” I’ve chosen.

It’s in quotes for a few reasons.

The Scott Carver County Humane Society is holding it’s Annual Walk Fur Love Fundraiser. I’ve never participated before because I didn’t know about the Scott Carver County HS until we adopted Shamrock. We learned about the event at the Dog Day 5k this year.

This will be the first year a 5k Run will be offered along with the walk! It’s a “non-credited” 5k {actually measures to be 3.21 miles} and I have no idea {guessing not} if it will be timed. I’m also guessing that since it’s the first 5k they are offering that there won’t be many runners. This means, with as slow as I am, it is quite likely that I’ll be last. And while this is always one of my biggest fears, I’m reminding myself that it’s for a good cause. And I’ll do it for Shamrock and any other pets out there in need of adoption!

Please join me by donating, running or walking with me or by adopting a rescue animal yourself. You can donate on my donation page here.

I’m looking forward to seeing all of the pets! If you are in the Twin Cities metro, why don’t you join me?!

What charities do you support and why?


Doggie Box Going Out of Business


Yesterday, I learned that Pawalla, a doggie boxย  that we once tried, went out of the subscription box service business.

Pawalla Msg

After our trial period, we didn’t continue with their service. But it’s still sad because the truth is that my dogs get excited about any doggie box that arrives at our doorstep.

Shamrock & Sophie tearing into their Spoiled Rotten Box

Shamrock & Sophie tearing into their Spoiled Rotten Box

But go back up to the top and read Pawalla’s notice a little more closely. They are pointing their subscribers in another direction to continue their services at a discount with BarkBox, which is still our favorite! Well, again, I’m not sure the pooches care. It’s just my personal preference based on all the boxes we’ve tried in terms of price, content and quality. It doesn’t hurt that they donate 10% to a local shelter or rescue.


When I opened the August BarkBox, Shamrock did not miss a beat. He stole the toy right out of the box, something he’s been known to do lately. It took all I could muster to get it away from him to remove the packaging.

BB-WhaleYou can’t tell it in the photo here, but it’s a cute little blue whale. Rob likes ot call it the Whale of Fortune. Then he spins it. It has quickly become Shamrock’s (new) favorite toy. Well, at least since his favorite toy from the last box. It’s called Hear Doggy! because it’s a squeaky toy that we can’t hear, but do to it’s higher frequency squeak, supposedly dogs can.

BB-Hear Doggy

Here are the rest of the contents of the box. Notice that I couldn’t get the whale back long enough to photograph. ๐Ÿ˜‰


Barkworthies Beef Treats, Primal Freeze Dried Liver Munchies, Barkworthies Bully Flakes (food topper), Ice Pups

When I first posted this photo, I had no idea what movie was on in the background. But I found out. Can you guess? Seriously it’s not as bad as you’d think. ๐Ÿ˜‰


The Ice Pupsย can be made into doggie ice cube popsicles, a cold liquid for a hot day or hot broth for a cold one.

As usual, the pooches are content. And we never run out of treats. Click here and scroll down to the bottom to find out how you can get a discount on BarkBox!

Do you give your pets cool treats for hot weather?

If so, what do you give them?