Tag Archives: coffee

His & Hers Gift Guide – What They’ll Actually Use

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This time of year, I’ve been getting a lot of searches that link to this post from last year: Top 5 Gifts for the Hard to Buy For Person Who Has Everything. I want to offer up some more gift ideas this year. But I don’t want to give away my surprises of what I’ll be gifting.

Instead, I thought I’d create a different kind of list.

Part One – His

If you read last year’s post, you’ll know that my shopping for my husband is very difficult. He usually just buys what he wants when he wants it. And no matter how much thought I put into them, the gifts I get him end up in a drawer or on the shelf in the closet. So, instead, the HIS GIFT LIST will include items that Rob has either bought himself or has been given, but that he uses all the time.

Part Two – Hers

Here you will get a my Christmas Wish List. No, this is not a post to get what I want for Christmas. Besides, probably only one person I’m exchanging with actually reads this blog. And I’m pretty certain my mom is done with her Christmas shopping already. 😉 Instead, it’s just a list of things, that if offered to me this holiday season {or any old time}, that I would not turn down! It’s meant to give you ideas for women you may know like me.

Let’s start with the guys, since they seem to be the hardest to shop for, right? For additional ideas, please read Running with Racheal’s post from last year.

Great Gifts for Guys

{aka items Rob uses ALL THE TIME}

  • Smartphone – His iPhone is the one gift that Rob thanks me for throughout the year. He doesn’t know now, how in the world he ever lived without it. The thing is, it was a surprise a couple of years ago. He didn’t even know he’d want one. Because of the never-ending thank yous, it’s the gift that keeps on giving!
  • iPhone Wallet – Rob bought this for himself within the last year and it’s made his life so much simpler. When getting ready for work in the morning, he no longer has to go in search of his wallet and his phone. It’s all together now. He found his on eBay and there are several styles. His is pictured below. He gets compliments all of the time. They are cheap, too!
  • Extra iPhone Chargers – Rob found these cheap online, too. I never strayed away from my one charger that came with my iPhone. But once we got extra, it made life so much easier! I can’t tell you how nice it is to have one in my car, one to keep in my suitcase or carry-on, purse, one for the office and the living room. Rob keeps one at work, too. It was handy when we left one behind on vacation to have extras on hand. Only downfall: When we finally upgrade to iPhone 5 or later, we’ll have to buy all new ones. But no matter, these were seriously cheap.
  • Flashlight(s) – Laugh all you want, but whenever we need a flashlight we can’t find one. This year, a friend of ours put flashlights in our golf tournament goodie bags. Of course, they were meant to keep in our golf bags to look for lost balls. But since we are too lazy to look for them are such good golfers, we use them around the house. Now, if we had about 5 more of those…
  • Lounge Pants – I don’t know about you, but we live in comfy pants over the weekend. That is, until we leave the house, of course. We’ve received lounge/sleepwear pants for Christmas a couple of times and now I don’t know what we’d do without them. They come in many styles. Rob’s collection includes Guinness and ESPN lounge pants, among others.
  • Packer/Wolverine Gear – You can never have enough gear to cheer on your team. Just make sure it is the size, style and fit that your recipient likes. I’m just sayin’, when I get him this kind of stuff, it always gets used!
  • Hammock – Once upon a time, Rob bought a hammock from Hammocks.com. And on any beautiful day in the spring, summer and fall, I come home to him reading, relaxing or napping in that thing. The dogs join sometimes, too! We bought our friends, who invite us up to their cabin every year, one as a thank you gift. It’s a priceless gift, really. It may be hard to think about when it’s so cold, but that’s why they are on sale today! We recommend the Quilted Island Bay with metal stand. Rob’s tip: Get coupons and promo codes when shopping online by typing in “Hammocks.com Coupon” instead of just “Hammocks.com” to save extra dough!
  • Dinner out – Rob nearly always takes me out to dinner, so it’s a special treat when I buy. Sometimes, I’ll make my own little certificate stating such {as I explained in this post} or what restaurant I’m planning on taking him, like I did for his birthday one year.

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Great Gifts for Gals

{aka gifts I would Graciously and Gratefully accept}

  • Socks – Not kidding here. As it grew colder this fall and I had to put the sandals away, I found that many of my socks were either missing a sibling or developed a hole. I’ve thrown away quite a few. I like fun, funky socks, but they can be hard to rotate within the wardrobe and Rob isn’t a fan. So even just comfortable black socks will do!
  • Turtleneck Sweaters – Are these out of style? I’m having such a hard time finding nice ones! I’m a freeze baby. So in the winter, I like warm sweaters. When I’m trying to overcome Pirate Eyes in the early, black a.m. of winter, I don’t want to have to think about my outfit before work. I want to put on a warm turtleneck sweater and dress it up with a scarf. DONE. Solid colors are best… and timeless.
  • Alligator Clips – This is the name Rob gave to a hair clip I used to rely on all of the time. I’ve lost it since our trip to California this fall and just feel LOST. I am all about low maintenance when it comes to my hair and rarely use a hair dryer. I used to twist it and put it up with my alligator clip when wet. Later in the evening or the next morning, I can wear it down without having to do very much with it! We’ve search stores everywhere for more, but just found them online under other names – beak clip, Japanese clip, concorde clip. There are lots of colors and styles to choose from!

Beak Clip

  • Opolo Mountain Zinfandel – This is one of our favorite wines, but it’s not really priced for everyday. So it’s a treat when we get it!
  • Davis Family Vineyards Pinot NoirGuy Davis knows his Pinot. I never actually liked Pinot Noir until I tasted his at his tasting room on a trip to the Russian River Valley. You can’t find it in stores, so you’ll have to order some. Might as well get a case while you’re add it. Your life will be transformed.
  • Davis Family Vineyards Wine Club Membership – Hell, why not just join the club? I did join the Davis Family Vineyards Friends and Family Club after that trip, but canceled when we needed to buckle down to buy our house. I should just get back in this club and swear never to buy a cheap bottle again and savor every drop of this wine. Quality over quantity, right?
  • Other Wine Goodies – I love this post by grapefriend, with some unique wine-related finds. In particular, I’m intrigued by the wine2go flask and the rewined carmenere candle.
  • Champagne – I love me some bubbly. But it’s extra special to receive a bottle of real champagne!
  • St. Germain – This elderflower liqueur is one of my all-time favorites. I haven’t met a cocktail I didn’t like when it’s made with it.
  • High Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil – At one point, we bought a Groupon to join an olive oil club. Each month for three months, we got high quality, expeller pressed Italian olive oils! We didn’t continue because it took us all year to use them. The third bottle is almost empty, so we’re in the market for more. I also love this idea of adopting an olive tree and receiving the olive oil produced from it.
  • Cheese of the Month Club – Um. I’m from Wisconsin. I’m a Francophile. No brainer.
  • Fruit of the Month Club – I’ve always wanted this! Fresh fruit delivered to my door every month, yes please! I’ve been eyeing the Arizona Orange Company for two years now…
  • CSA Share – I absolutely adored my CSA box in the summer! But it just proved to be too much food, even split with a friend. They had solo shares this year, but were more basic and sold out right away. If you want to give someone a CSA share, make sure the pick-up location and window is doable for them.
  • Donation to a Cause I Support/Admire – Like a Pet Rescue or Shelter, such as Homeward Bound, where I found Sophie almost 9 years ago and the Carver-Scott County Humane Society, where we found Shamrock this year. When friends of ours refused to let us pitch in for the timeshare and rental car when they invited us to join them in Hawaii, we donated to the Marine Mammal Center in support of the endangered Monk Seals on the island of Kaua’i. We were lucky enough to see them there.
  • Packer Gear – Can never have enough!
  • Packer Tickets – Hey, I am getting higher up on the waiting list; but if anyone can spare a pair, we’ll take ’em! {We support our team during winning AND losing seasons!}
  • Gourmet Coffee – I’m always willing to try a new brew.
  • Tickets to Evita – I love musicals and Evita will be in Minneapolis this year. I loved the music in the movie and have never seen it performed live.
  • Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake – Laugh if you must. I had a roommate with whom we bought these for each other’s birthdays! The Bonus is that the two of us shared it, so we both got to pick away at it All. Week. Long. It’s been years since I’ve had one, though, so maybe my tastes have changed. Wouldn’t hurt to find out!
  • Gift Certificates – I know some people think that these are impersonal, but I love them. They say to me, “I know you like to shop here, so pick out what you want!” or “We really loved this place and thought you might like it, too.” I also like to save them to use as fitness or weight loss rewards. Here are some great places for which to receive gift cards:
    • Sul Lago – Our favorite restaurant “South of the River.” The very first time we visited, we saw about a dozen or so people come in to order gift certificates at the bar!
    • Restaurants – We like to dine out, so any place we haven’t tried, under our Restaurant Impressions Wishlist will do. Otherwise, we always like to try other people’s favorites, so recommendations are welcome.
    • Kohl’s – I don’t buy clothes very often, but when I do it’s because I need something. Kohl’s is close and familiar. I like to save gift cards here as rewards to myself. I’ve found a lot of good deals on workout gear here, too!
    • Barnes & Noble – I don’t have a Kindle or Nook. I still read real books. But I really think B&N gift certificates are good for travel guidebooks. We love to travel. If you know someone is traveling somewhere, buy them the most current guidebook. Or, they can walk right into a store and flip through guidebooks to see which ones suit them best.
    • Spa – I don’t know any girl who wouldn’t appreciate a spa day or to choose their own spa treatment. Just a pedicure can do wonders.
    • Movies – We don’t go to the movies often, but when we do, we ask ourselves why we don’t do it more!
    • Car Washes & Oil Changes – Okay, this one sounds really impersonal. But truthfully, I hate spending money on this kind of stuff myself. So having a card to just use whenever it is needed would be so wonderful.
    • Amazon Gift Card – Well, because you can use it for ANYTHING!

All I truly need for Christmas is health, love, spending time with family and reconnecting with old friends.

However, sometimes we just fret over that perfect gift for a loved one. So I hope these his and hers lists inspire you with ideas for the rest of your shopping this year. Or sit down and make out your own list. You might just come up with something for someone else!

What is a gift you wouldn’t turn down?

Did this post give you any ideas for someone else?

Cheers~
Carrie

…to Blackbird Cafe

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So last week, I told you about the Girls’ Night that Rob crashed.  But after dinner at Pat’s Tap, the girls and I wanted to practice our usual tradition of finding somewhere else for dessert.

Only we were no longer hungry.

So instead, we decided to find a place for a nightcap or coffee. And… if we had an inkling for dessert a little later, that’s when we’d take a look at the menu. 😉

Our Smartphones were not yielding any intriguing results. So we finally just decided to drive around the neighborhood until we saw something.

That’s when we happened upon Blackbird Cafe.

It was quite busy when we walked in! But we found the last three seats at the bar and made them work. A guy at the end moved down just one more for us and we were Golden.

After about three hours of sitting there…

We knew that we needed to come back for dinner sometime.

The variety of beverages including the beer, wine and cocktails is unique and inviting. Evidently, there is much thought in putting together this menu. The six-tap beer selection is constantly rotating and could make any beer-lover drool. It’s no joke. The lists may not be extensive, but they focused and varied to just the right degree.

The girls each ordered a Maiden Rock Honey Crisp Cider that was good and slightly dry. I started with a Kir Royale, {bubbly + crème de cassis} one of my fave afternoon cocktails to order when I’m in Paris. Hophead Rob chose the Epic Hopulent IPA on tap. See?

You can please everyone!

We watched all the food orders come up. Rob eyed the ramen dishes. Jen was curious about the seafood tacos.

There were a few Asian touches to the menu, including sake. There were also sake buddies, which is something I’d never heard of before. They’re shots or sidepours of sake that are meant to pair with the beers on tap. Rob had one. I thought it worked well. But what do I really know about sake buddies?

Then Rob switched to the Southern Tier Barrel Aged Back Burner. This is described on the Southern Tier website as an “Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale Aged with Oak.” It was my first time tasting this beer and I loved it as well. Like, really loved it. What’s unique about enjoying this beer on tap at Blackbird? They received it about a year ago and then aged it themselves in their cellar!

Sitting along the bar, it was quite hard to hear each other. At one point, Jen and Kim were in a deep conversation; so we turned and stared at Kim creepily until we got her attention. The funny thing is, that when she finally noticed, she thought we were asking her to take a picture of us. So she did.

Creepy Photo {source: Our friend Kim!}

Creepy Photo {source: Our friend Kim!}

Check out that deer head between us. And notice the antlers on the walls. They are all over the restaurant. It makes me wonder why this place is called Blackbird!

But one of my favorite things in all of the restaurant could be found in the restroom. There is a doorbell next to the mirror with a sign that reads, “Press for Champagne.” Okay, so YOU just press it and let me know what you get.

The service we had at the bar was exceptional. Kim and Jen ended up splitting an ice cream parfait with bacon. They were quite happy. Rob got some late night fries for a snack.

But as driver that night, I found that one of the best things about this place was the espresso machine. I will be sober cab anytime as long as wherever we go has either superb coffee or an espresso machine.

Do you have a tradition when you go out with friends?

Cheers~
Carrie

King’s Wine Bar – Minneapolis

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When driving through the Kingfield neighborhood of Minneapolis, I came across Kings Wine Bar. Since we don’t really have a good wine bar in our neighborhood south of the river, I just had to take Rob here for a nightcap after dinner one night.

We loved it. It kind of reminds me of a neighborhood café you’d find in Paris. You know, the kind where they have full-service: beer, wine, food and coffee. I imagined sitting here for hours sipping a coffee while meeting a friend, blogging or just reading a good book. In the evening, the place is dimly lit, creating great ambiance.

photo 1

I guess that the trouble with going there for a nightcap is that food must be ordered in order to serve alcohol. It’s a requirement as part of their liquor license for locating in a residential neighborhood. While it would be nice to just stop in for a glass of wine from time to time, I totally get it. If people didn’t eat and just drank all night, they could be loud, obnoxious and disturb the other neighbors.

Since then, we’ve gone back a few times. In fact, I’ve taken girlfriends here for dessert after our dinner nights out, too! On one occasion, Rob and I put in an order for mac & cheese with our wine and the tried the dessert special.

MAC & CHEESE  full $10 || half $8 add bacon $2 || add broccoli $2 || mushrooms $3

MAC & CHEESE

Dessert Special: Butterscotch Budino

Dessert Special – Butterscotch Budino

Since Rob absolutely adores butterscotch, we were excited about this dessert. Unfortunately, we were disappointed. No biggie though, everyone else who has been there with me has enjoyed the desserts there.

It’s a Wine Bar! What about the wine?

There are four beers on tap at any given time which are often local or craft brews. But many other beers are offered in the bottle or the can.

The wine list is pretty extensive for a little neighborhood wine bar. I mean, how many of you can walk to one in your neighborhood and order a bottle of Sancerre or Amarone? There are over 20 wines offered by the glass and over 100 by the bottle. They offer a hefty pour of Port, too!

But despite all of these offerings, this place is in no way stuffy. In fact, the people who work there are kind of quirky. I like that. A lot.

Still, the food shouldn’t be overlooked! {You have to try it if you want some wine or beer, anyway.} We wound up here when my mom was in town. She wanted to try a Café Cubano and my google search yielded Victors 1959 Café. We decided on it for breakfast/brunch. However, it was Memorial Day and the wait seemed like it would be hours for such a small place. After driving around, we happened upon Kings and having been there before, we knew it would be a good choice.

GRILLED CHEESE mozzarella, cheddar and gruyere with tomato soup

GRILLED CHEESE – mozzarella, cheddar and gruyere with tomato soup

And while I thought it was tasty {exceptional bread, possibly from Patisserie 46 next door?!}, I was quite envious of my mom’s and Rob’s orders. How could I know they’d make an exceptional burger?

KINGS BURGER caramelized onions, gruyere cheese, bacon, pickles and shallot aioli $11

KINGS BURGER – caramelized onions, gruyere cheese, bacon, pickles and shallot aioli

Burger of the week? Blue cheese or mushroom sauce?

Burger with Blue Cheese Mushroom Sauce

I can’t find this burger on their online menu now!!! How annoying is that? I considered this a top burger in the Twin Cities and I *think* Rob agreed. That day, there was a burger and beer special. A burger plus a beer for just $10. That’s a pretty good deal in our area. I wonder if I it was a specialty burger or if I could order it again.

And you know how I mentioned that we enjoy the Port here? I don’t think we’ve ever patronized this place without one of us ordering a glass of Port. I can’t think of many other places where that is the case. But that day that we were there with my mom, our server, Lori, told us that when she was in a band that performed in Portugal and loved her experience stopping at all the vineyards where you could enjoy Port and tapas with the beautiful view. We loved her passion and you must know that is now on our travel bucket list!

We love that in the Twin Cities, Kings Wine Bar is not well-known, or at least we hadn’t learned of it until I drove by the place. But there’s so much going on there! One time there was a doggie parade in the neighborhood. And they offer brunch and date night. It’s just one of those places where I find myself drawn to dine. I feel content here.

Now you know why I chose Café Ena for dinner one night. I knew Rob enjoyed Kings as much as I did, so trying another place across the street was difficult.

What is your favorite Wine Bar {or place to drink wine if you aren’t near one!} where you live?

Cheers~
Carrie

Which Food Box to Keep?

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Subscription Box Saturday – Food Box Edition

I know I subscribe to a lot of monthly boxes. But I really try to follow this rule: Only subscribe to one box of any kind. However, I’ve broken this rule with food/snack boxes. I belong to two. It’s tough deciding which one to keep! Generally speaking, I think I like my Love with Food box a little bit better. Why? They introduce me to new products that not only taste good, but are often healthy or just better in terms of the quality of ingredients and processes used. I also love the themes. However, I do get some tasty items in my Goodies box as well. And that one’s only $7! It’s hard to quit that! Here’s a comparison of the May contents.

Subscription Box: Love with Food

Premise: Sample the best gourmet food products delivered to your door!”

Cost: $10/month + $2 shipping. (Special deals if you purchase more than one month at a time)

Extra Benefits: Review products, share recipes and refer friends for points toward free products.

What’s Special: For each box shipped and each order placed, a meal is donated to a hungry child.

To Join: Click here.

May’s Theme: Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed

From Left, Clockwise:

Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves: I’ve received Bonne Maman in a few different boxes now. I’ve always loved this product since I first had it in France nearly 20 years ago. So it’s a welcome treat! I also love the mini sample jars they come in, which I reuse like in this post.

Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning Blend: We haven’t used this yet, but I’ve read that a little can go a long way! I intend to add it to pasta sauce or to season veggies this summer! Maybe I’ll even switch up my usual popcorn routine with a sprinkle, too. Did you know that of everywhere I’ve been, I think New Orleans has some of the best food in the world?!

Mrs. May’s Naturals Strawberry Pineapple Crunch: While these little nuggets tasted good because the ingredients went well together, I thought that the clusters were a little big. It seemed like a lot of calories for just a few little bites! This was the box’s “mystery item” which must be something they recently started. Instead of the insert stating what the product is, you have to go online to find our more info.

LWF insert

Caffe Borsa Hand Drip Single Origin Coffee: I’m stashing this away for a trip when coffee might not be available.

Snapz Crisps – Tomato Crunch: I love tomatoes. They are one of my favorite things on this planet. I was so excited to try these at only 40 calories a bag. The flavor, though, was very concentrated and a lot sweeter than I expected. I could only eat half the bag until it got to be a little too much. I was surprised how satisfied I was on just 20 calories. I think these would be great in a salad to have that added crunch without the carbs or fat of croutons or nuts. Have you tried these before?

Bali’s Best Latte Candy: These were the first to come out of the box! I enjoyed one while Rob had the other. Love these! There is not much  more to say. Coffee-flavored candies? I’m in!

Biscotti Bari Authentic Almond Biscotti: I love biscotti and the almond, almost amaretto flavor of this hit the spot. Yesiree – tastes authentic to me!

“Great Full” Vegan Sweet Potato Cookie by the Cookie Department: The phrase “Vegan Sweet Potato Wellness Cookie” just made the cookie sound disgusting to me. I am not a sweet potato fan. In addition, it sounded like a lame attempt to come up with a cookie for a vegan.

NOT SO! This cookie was delightful! I was completely surprised. I loved, particularly, the molasses flavor. This was the big surprise of the box for me. My only gripe: It uses the words Vegan and Wellness to make it sound like a healthy cookie. But when I look at the fiber and protein content, it’s not all that impressive, especially since one cookie is 2 servings!

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Subscription Box: Goodies

Premise: “Receive a monthly Taster’s Box filled with exciting snacks for you to enjoy. The monthly Taster’s Box includes 5-8 trial-sized snacks and treats enabling you to discover your favorite new goodies.”

Cost: $7/month, includes shipping

Extra Benefits: Review and rate products, upload photos and complete a profile to earn points and unlock rewards.

What’s Special: I guess I’d have to say the price. Although Goodies is a company owned by Wal-mart.

To Join: Click here.

May’s Theme: I think Goodies stopped doing themes about two months ago. You now receive a note in the box instructing to go online to learn more about the products, rather than receiving an insert describing them. When I logged in online, this month’s header read:

May 2013 – Taster’s Box

Sweet and sour. Smoky and spicy. Fresh and refreshing. We’ve got all the bases covered when it comes to flavor this month.

Goodies May Contents

Blurry May Goodies Box Contents

From Left, Clockwise:

Bronco Bob’s Mango Chipotle Sauce: I haven’t tried this yet, but I intend to make the recipe on the back on a night when Rob is out golfing. {You know, that whole fins and feathers thing… oh and mango.}

Zico Coconut Water: I have just started to learn about coconut water by following Paleo bloggers. I’ve found some that I like and some that I don’t. My list of Goodies online wants me to rate a chocolate-flavored coconut water. WHAT?! I certainly did not receive a chocolate one! This big bottle was 4 servings. I poured two into a water bottle to sip on two separate days. It was good, but not the best I’ve had. Still loving the ones with pulp thanks to Kristen at Change of Pace!

Super Seedz Sea Salt Pumpkin Seeds: Tasty change from the normal popcorn or almonds I eat as a savory snack!

Seedz

Wholly Guacomole: I love when subscription boxes know that they can’t send you something, but really want you to try it. So they send you a coupon for a free package! While it’s just as easy to buy an avocado and mash to make your own guacamole, sometimes it’s just nice to have a quick little package to take to work. I like the 100 calorie packs that are just the right serving size without worrying about when you are going to use up the rest of the avocado before it browns too much.That is what I’m going to buy with this coupon!

Chipotle BBQ Beanitos: You know how I feel about BBQ flavors. So I saved these for Rob. I did steal a chip or two and we were both really surprised how the bean element gave these chips so much flavor! Oh boy, I’d love to try another variety.

Beanitos

Blue Raspberry and Pink Lemonade Gummy Straws: These do not interest me. They are going straight home with grandma to my nephew. He’ll love ’em! It’s my job as the aunt to sugar him up, right?!

California Olive Ranch Olive Oil: I so want to do a post about olive oil… the labeling, the flavors etc. I used one of the two sample packages when sauteing some veggies this past week. However, I tasted a little on its own and realized that this was too good for sauteing; it should have been a finishing oil! Also, it’s cold pressed – a bonus. More to come on that in a future post.

EVOO

Numi Moroccan Mint Tea: I am on a tea kick and this one was refreshing and did not disappoint! Plus a coupon to order more.

Numi Mint Tea

These two boxes were excellent this month, so I’m still having a hard time choosing just one. Enjoy the rest of your memorial day weekend!

When it comes to flavor, which spices or sauces knock your socks off?

Cheers~
Carrie

Just Ask

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Progress from back surgery has been slow going. As soon as I think things are improving, I feel like I take a step back. But truly, I’m not sure if that’s the case or if it’s just that sometimes I’m not ahead of the pain.

Eats this weekend have been less than stellar, mostly due to family in town and visitors, but I wouldn’t change it for the world! Having people come by has kept my mind off things a bit. I’m told that walking is the best thing I can do to increase my strength and heal. So I’ve been icing and then walking around the house, moving a little more every day. I’d love to go for a walk outside, but our driveway is just too icy to risk it. I’m anxious to be “normal” again.

One thing I’ve realized is how hard it is for me to ask for help. {Although Rob thinks I like ordering him around and that I’m just trying to milk him for all that he is worth.} I’ve taken for granted all of the the little things I can do. And the dishes kept piling up this weekend. Finally, as the end of the weekend neared and family was about to leave, I asked one of the boys to help me load the dishwasher.

That’s it. All I had to do was ask.

And my kitchen is much cleaner for it! I still can’t bend nor pick things off the ground, so I am grateful for the help.

I have my laptop set up on the counter in the kitchen on top of a 5-inch tall box:

Computer

I can stand and check my email, then do a walk around the house. It’s kept me moving without getting bored of walking around. I’ve also started doing one of the things I put on my list of things to do this year – organizing all of Rob’s favorite recipes in one place. And of course, I’m doing this on Pinterest. You can find me here. It’s a work in progress.

And I’m sure you would love to hear about things other than surgery, pain and all the details of recovery. So, I am going to try to get back to my regular schedule and style of posting, which may or may not include Restaurant Impressions or Wine Topics that have been in the works for a while!

And with that, here’s my food journal from Sunday:

Banana – Eaten in the middle of the night in two parts each time I got up to take meds. Best to take pain meds with food, no? Otherwise, I’ve never been a midnight snacker.

Breakfast

Americano from Caribou Coffee – I texted my brother Saturday night that when they stopped by on Sunday morning, I’d love them to bring me one! I hadn’t had coffee in a while and we can’t quite find the right ratio with our new coffee maker. I take my coffee black and I like it strong. But sometimes there’s nothing like some true espresso. He happily obliged. Hint: All I had to do was ask!

I enjoyed my Americano with a Weight Watchers Coffee Cake (not pictured, individually wrapped) and a piece of Dove Dark Chocolate with Almonds.

Snack

Grapes – approximately one cup

Lunch

Cottage Cheese topped with grape tomatoes and a drizzle of Italian extra virgin olive oil & reduced balsamic vinegar and a little salt and pepper. A version of my Poor Man’s Caprese, if you will:

Caprese

Snacks

Neapolitan Ice Cream – approximately 2/3 cup (Thanks, Rob!)

Remaining Mediterranean Cruise Cafe hummus with 2 pita triangles and half of a cucumber.

Dinner

Can of Ginger Ale

Leftover Brianno’s pizza delivered to me on Saturday by Christina and her son Sam. Thank you!

Snacks

another 2/3 cup of Neapolitan Ice Cream

apple slices

How do you take your coffee?

Has it always been that way?

Cheers~
Carrie

SBS: Cravebox – Why It’s Different

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This Subscription Box Saturday, I wanted to spill the beans about another subscription-style box that I’ve tried. You know that I love Love with Food, Birchbox, Goodies and Barkbox.

But Cravebox is different.

Benny, as usual, popping up in a photo!

Benny, as usual, popping up in a photo!

You see, you don’t sign up to have a box shipped to you each month, like the other boxes to which I subscribe. Instead, you choose which boxes you receive. Here are the basics on how it works:

  1. Sign up and create a new account. (Free)
  2. If I remember correctly, you also need to include on file your shipping address and credit card info. {I’m not sure if you do this initially or after you purchase your first box.} This is the card that will be charged if you decide to purchase a box.
  3. Check out the Cravebox website or elect to receive emails about upcoming boxes and what their themes are.
  4. A Cravebox is available when you see, “Drawing Open! Enter Now!”
  5. Take a survey on the Cravebox you are interested in and enter the drawing.
  6. Wait for an email that states that you have been “selected” and to confirm that your credit card, billing address and shipping address info on file is correct. Your card will be charged and box shipped out within a few days.
  7. You’ll receive a follow up email with a survey about the products you received.

It’s that easy!

Here are some other important details to note:

  • You will always know the theme of the box, but never the contents.
  • Boxes range $12 to $18 (including shipping). I *think* you know the cost before you enter the “drawing”.
  • I’m not sure if it is a true “drawing” because I have received every box for every drawing I entered!
  • Tip: If you think that you want to enter a drawing and take the survey, you may find that some of the questions sound like products that don’t apply to you. I’m thinking this may be an indication of what could be in the box. At this point, you can just decide not to enter the drawing.
  • I’ve found that the value of items in the box far exceed the contents!

Now for the boxes I’ve chosen!

Coffee Lovers – $12

Coffee Lovers Box Contents

Contents: Torani Sugar Free French Vanilla Syrup, Barbara’s High Fiber Cranberry Medley Cereal, Biscotti Brothers Biscotti (2), Tully’s French Roast Coffee

For a first box, this was quite impressive! If you can’t tell in the photo above, the coffee and syrup were full-sized. The coffee alone is worth about $8. What’s more is that my husband loves Tully’s coffee. He preferred it over Starbucks when he lived in Seattle. This went to good use! However, I personally rarely add flavored syrups to my coffee and even then only in a coffee shop. In addition, I don’t like the sugar free flavors. So it made a great gift for a friend!

Dog Lovers II – $13

Dog Lovers Box

Yes, I know, I know. My dogs are already spoiled with a Barkbox every month. But I wanted to see how it compared. I’ve already tried Pawbox and didn’t like it. And because this one was a Cravebox, it’s not like I’d be getting one every month. And this ended up being my favorite box!

Dog Lovers Box Contents

Contents: In a Dog’s Heart book by Jennifer Arnold, True Chews Turkey Dog Treats, Sentry Calming Collar, Honest Kitchen Dog Food Pouches, Bissel Stomp ‘N Go Stain Lifting Pads

What made this box the favorite for me? The BOOK!

Forget that this box was only $13 and In a Dog’s Heart retails for $15 by itself because Jennifer Arnold’s wonderful book made me fall in love with my pooches all over again. They helped me understand them a little better, too. She illustrates in such a loving way how dogs are so dependent on us and are in no way trying to run our households. How can they when they rely on us for food, water, shelter and love? I seriously want to re-read this book. I’ve dog-eared {<– please note pun!} so many pages. And I’m recommending it to everyone I know. It’s even prompted me to purchase her previous book, Through a Dog’s Eyes. It’s next on my reading list.

However, Benny had a different favorite in the box.

I gave the dogs each one of the True Chews jerky treats. But that wasn’t enough for Benny. When I got up and left the room, I must have forgotten to close the Cravebox. Because I came back into the room and found this:

Sneaky little Bear! Even though he knew he got caught, he kept going with those little Dr. Seuss/mitten paws of his. I gave in and let him.  😉

~

I was a little reluctant to order the next Cravebox I’d been considering. From the title, I had no idea what would really be in the box. I thought maybe there’d be some diet or health foods because it was a box appearing right after the New Year, so I threw a shot in the dark.

Resolutions Box – $15

Resolutions Box Contents

Resolutions Box Contents

Contents: Mary Kay 7-Up Ten, A&W Ten, Timewise Repair Eye Cream, Metrobalance Tea Sample, Coupon for free package of Wholly Guacomole, Cocovia Cocoa Supplement, Coupon for free Smart Ones product, an assortment of five SunRype fruit bars, Zone Perfect Nutrition Bar, Pantene Moisture Whip Hair Product

We were impressed to receive full cans of soda as well as two coupons for free refrigerated and frozen products since they couldn’t be shipped through the mail. I loved trying all of these!

~

And something happened with the last box I ordered. After I received the email that the drawing had closed and I would be shipped a box, they announced that they were doubling the contents!

Zatarain’s Big Game Box – $15

Zatarain's Box

Contents: Zatarain’s brand jambalaya mix, creole mustard, creole seasoning, red beans and rice. Also included was True Lemon Iced Tea Mix made with Stevia as well as some Mardi Gras Beads!

I wanted this box because I love cajun and creole food {and New Orleans in general}. I’ve had Zatarain’s products before and knew that I’d use whatever they had to offer for the “big game”.

So far, I’ve been very pleased with the Craveboxes I’ve received. They are now introducing Instant Boxes as well. Furthermore, I’ve received invites to Twitter parties which are open to discuss products and win prizes, too. I haven’t participated, so I can’t give you any feedback on that.

I have recently entered a drawing for Cooking Light Box and am anxiously waiting for the Book Lovers Box! Other upcoming boxes include.

AXE Hair Styling Kit

Beautiful by You

Little Ones

New Moms

I encourage you to give Cravebox a try. You don’t have to purchase anything if you don’t want to! Just check out what it’s all about. If you want to add me as your referral, feel free! My username is UncommonWine.

Have you ever given a book to read that you’d probably never pick on your own only to find yourself pleasantly surprised? If so, I want to know what it is! Please share.

Cheers~
Carrie