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Belated Easter Saturday

April 11th, 2021 Comments off

Yesterday (4/10) morning we grabbed two gift bags from Party City to put the kids’ Easter gifts in. I had them in two very old plastic baskets from when they were kids but had a feeling they wouldn’t want to deal with those. I plan on donating them, in fact.

We headed to K’s apartment, arriving at noon when we ran into her grandparents who were getting ready to go get their covid vaccinations. Her grandma asked me how I was doing since K must have mentioned some of the health issues I was going through. I was touched that she cared enough to ask. Kinda sad, though, that my husband’s ex-wife’s mother cares more than my own parents or siblings (and even some friends) when they know in even greater detail the hell I went through in 2019 and early 2020. But I digress…

E was at K’s place helping her put together some new IKEA furniture. She’s loving living alone (she broke up with her longtime boyfriend ES back in November and to make a long story short he wasn’t nearly as nice of a person he made himself out to look).

We visited inside for about an hour and a half (everyone wearing masks and the windows open for fresh air) and caught up with the kids (E ended up leaving a bit before we did since he had to work).

Luckily the kids liked all their gifts.

Easter Gifts - E

Easter Gifts - K

K remarked I must know her well in response to me warning her she was going to have a duplicate since I spotted one of the same items on her shelf when I came in (the reversible cat plush). E really liked the t-shirt we got him.

After leaving we headed over to the Chinese restaurant Brother #2 introduced us to (which incidentally is the last restaurant we ate inside before COVID). It was closed, but there was a sign on the door stating they moved to their sister restaurant which just so happened to be on the way home anyway, so I ordered a few dishes that we took home for lunch. They were just as good as I remember too!

I also updated the old location on Yelp. Someone marked it as permanently closed, but I changed it to moved so people can still find it.

Categories: Family, Food Tags:

Easter Weekend

April 6th, 2021 Comments off

Spring Flower Show @ Wilder Park Conservatory

Saturday (4/3) we decided to pay a short visit to Wilder Park Conservatory for their one-week spring flower show which consisted mostly of white lilies and daffodils.

White Lily

It smelled really nice inside and we had the entire place (ahem, room) to ourselves. The building is actually quite large but the front room is for guests and the rest of the building is a greenhouse for staff only. I also learned that the Lizzardo Museum we visited many years ago moved to Oak Brook.

In any case, just being out and about made me wistful for the good old days. At least with the weather getting warmer we will have more things to do.

Since we rarely even leave the house on weekends, we maximized our trip by stopping at a few places:

» Mariano’s in Lombard to check for cherry lime IZZE – fail

» Dollar Tree in Villa Park to check for more metal carrots for the front – fail

» Sonic for an early morning soft pretzel (it tasted like half pretzel, half deep fried donut!) – success

» Speedway for a $15 Taco Bell gift card purchased with speedy points – success, and card depleted within a few days (damn you spicy potato soft taco!)

» Library to pick up holds – success – and we ended up with a huge pile now that they’ve lifted the 5 item hold limit

I also made my once a year carrot cake which came out a bit dry. I swear no matter how closely I babysit it that always happens. It always seems to take forever to make too since I make the frosting from scratch and powdered sugar got flung everywhere by the mixer despite me draping a towel over it. I may just buy a boxed mix and premade frosting next year. I like carrot cake, but not enough to go through the effort.

We had Culver’s for dinner since we were feeling lazy and didn’t want to make anything that would leave us with leftovers (as most dinners do when there’s only two people).

Sunday (4/4) morning we took Wookie to Northside Park in Wheaton for a lovely walk. Then I put her in the pet stroller and we sat in the driveway while Joe cleaned the inside of our vehicles and straightened up the garage a bit. We grabbed lunch from Taco Bell and opened all the windows to enjoy the fresh air. I noticed a lot of people in the neighborhood have company for the holiday. We opted not to do that since no one is vaccinated yet. We also opted out of a traditional Easter dinner (ham and sides) and decided to have steak instead. I grabbed some mushroom risotto from Target as well. It wasn’t great, and the steak took longer to cook than we anticipated, but overall it was still a very nice holiday.

Categories: Food, Holidays, Pets Tags:

Cherry Lime & Dunkin Hashbrowns

March 1st, 2021 Comments off

Since Joe and I are both currently unemployed, we take advantage of being able to shop early mornings during the week when many people are busy working. We don’t leave the house at all on the weekends anymore, in fact. Why go out in the hustle and bustle? We never liked that anyway, but even less so during a pandemic. The only downside is, we don’t shop as often as we used to, so by the time we get around to doing so, things are picked over, particularly holiday related items.

We went to Dollar Tree this morning for the first time in two months and many of the Easter stuff is already gone even though it’s still a month away. I really wanted fake carrots so I could string together my own banner for the fireplace mantel. I grabbed some Easter treats for the kids and did find this kneeling pad, though, so it wasn’t a total bust.

Kneeling Pad

I’ve been wanting one since last summer so I can trim our flowers in comfort but they were sold out by the time I started looking.

An employee was in the middle of stocking all the spring stuff so they had a bunch of colors besides the purple – brown, grey, and green come to mind. He had his nose hanging out of his mask, though, so I didn’t look at anything else in that section. Why do I see this more from employees than customers? A lot of employees at Mendards are guilty of this too. I ended up reporting the employee on the Dollar Tree website. Hopefully he isn’t fired, just required to follow safety guidelines.

Speaking of feedback – I just submitted some through IZZE’s website. Ever since my friend introduced me to the cherry lime, I’ve been hooked.

Cherry Lime IZZE

Unfortunately, it can only be acquired by buying a multi-flavor pack of cans. Problem is I’m not too thrilled with any of the other flavors. Mariano’s sells a 4-pack of bottles but every time I look for them they’re sold out. Interestingly enough, a 24 case of cans is listed on their feedback form, but not their product page.

So here’s what I wrote:

Does a 24 pack of just Cherry Lime IZZE really exist? I see it listed in your feedback form, but not your product page. It’s by far my favorite flavor, but I cannot find it by itself anywhere. Mariano’s is always out of stock of the 4-pack of bottles and it makes me very sad. Please tell me there’s a way to get a case of just that flavor and you’ll make my day. :) I need my Cherry Lime fix!

I’m crossing my fingers they’ll tell me it’s a new offering and I can order it off Amazon or something. Finding food and drinks I enjoy is one of the small joys left in this crazy world. Just ask my waistline haha.

Speaking of, I am addicted to Dunkin’ Donuts’ hash browns. The seasoning on them is delicious, and the past two weeks I’ve gotten an order with a free iced coffee thanks to their Monday promotion (fee medium drink with any purchase). I think it might be rosemary in the hash browns that make them stand out. Once, a few months back, I ordered a serving (which is 6 hash browns) and the woman gave me the entire batch from the oven. There had to be at least 40 in there. I was in my glory and feasted on delicious hash browns for days.

DD Hashbrowns

Unfortunately, there’s no consistency across the Dunkin locations. Some make a better tasting drink, some are consistently more expensive, some are quick, and some are clueless. I had one tell me that the standard iced coffee includes both cream and sugar on top of the flavor swirl they knew I was already getting. It was disgustingly sweet, so I think they were mistaken. In fact, I learned that the flavor swirls are already sweetened and creamy, so no milk/cream is needed either.

And since this has turned into a food review entry, I wanted to showcase these blueberry scones my friend KD loves.

Blueberry Scones

I’ve never tried them before, but I was at Mariano’s this morning in search of the cherry lime IZZE when I came across them in the bakery. Wow, are they good! Much softer than I was expecting, and full of strong blueberry flavor. I ate three and then had to stop myself. Rest in peace, thin body.


Update: Here’s the response back from IZZE.

Dear Nicole,

I’m so sorry you haven’t been able to find your favorite IZZE Sparkling Cherry Lime in your local area. The good news is that we are still making it.

With more people staying at home, we’ve seen an increased demand for many of our products. We are diligently working with our suppliers to ensure our production and inventory keeps pace with the heightened demand. And, our employees are doing all they can to keep store shelves stocked.

We’ll let the right teams know you’re looking for it, and in the meantime, you can always check our product locator to see if you can find it near you or on one of our online options. Here’s a link to get started: IZZE

We appreciate your choosing our product and I hope this information is helpful.

Didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know, and didn’t answer my question about a 24 pack of cans. Getting really tired of the non-answer answers these companies provide.

Update #2: I received an email asking me to rate how customer service helped, so I filled out the survey as such. Stay tuned for update #3!

Categories: Food, Retail Experiences, Shopping Tags:

Fat Tuesday

February 16th, 2021 Comments off

Well, it took another three years, but we finally got some paczki from our local bakery (Sauer’s) for Fat Tuesday!

Paczki

Paczki from Sauer’s Bakery

Yesterday Joe also picked up some paczki from Caputo’s for only 59¢s; each. They were ok, but compared to Sauer’s they were garbage. I’ll gladly pay twice as much at Sauer’s for this once a year treat. We pre-orderd (and pre-paid) for them on Thursday so pickup today was painless, especially at 10:30 am when the morning rush had passed.

We got: 2 strawberry, 2 cheese, 1 cherry, and 1 raspberry. The strawberry ones are made with fresh strawberries so they cost almost $2 each and frankly they weren’t that great. As Joe put it, he’d prefer one with just the goo. We haven’t tried the raspberry one yet, but the cherry was pretty good, especially compared to Caputo’s. We had an apricot one from Caputo’s as well, but didn’t order that flavor from Sauer’s this year. Next year we plan to try the apricot and lemon flavors. There were just too many to choose from and they’re really only good on day one.

The star of the show, however, were the cheese paczki. The cheese filling is creamy like a custard. The flavor reminds me of what cheesecake tastes like before it’s baked. In other words, delicious, and our absolute favorite flavor. We’ll definitely be getting more of those next year.

Categories: Food Tags:

Food Adventures

October 1st, 2020 Comments off

Did I happen to mention I bought a KitchenAid mixer this year? After all these years of making due with a hand mixer my mom gave me (before I even met Joe), I thought it was about time.

I originally ordered the KitchenAid Professional 5qt Stand Mixer from Target for $250. I then realized it was too tall to fit under the cabinets so I returned it (but not until after I got a replacement). KitchenAid was having a Christmas in July sale so I ordered a KitchenAid Classic Series 4.5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer in Onyx Black.

Mixer

After taxes it was $191.24 and it arrived quickly (a week and a half later) despite getting an automated phone call, of all things, stating it was out of stock and they didn’t know when it would be available. It literally shipped the next day! Good thing I didn’t cancel my order like the call suggested.

I had a hell of a time ordering on their website, though, and had to call customer service to place the order. The guy I spoke to was a bit too relaxed on the phone with me (I swear he was high because he wasn’t necessarily unprofessional but he also didn’t come across the way most customer service people do). On top of that, the email confirmation didn’t include a price or a picture of the item I ordered which I thought was odd. KitchenAid is a large nationally known brand. You’d think they’d be a little better with their communication.

But it all worked out and I got my mixer a week and a half after ordering it and I love it. As of this writing I’ve used it several times to shred chicken and that alone was worth the price. I’ve also used it to make cookies and homemade whipped cream.

This got me thinking about food in general, and the fact that I went from having zero appetite for many months to wanting to eat everything in sight. I thought I’d share some of the highlights.

Back in June I got hooked on croissants. I’ve always loved them, but never really purchased them for some reason. The thing is, there is a such thing as bad croissants. I’ve tried them from Aldi and Mariano’s and neither impressed me. I’ve since come to learn and appreciate that Costco has the best ones. They charge $5 for 12 very large buttery mouth-watering croissants. You just can’t beat the price or flavor and I was a fool for even trying. I can’t possibly eat 12 croissants before they get stale so I end up freezing most of them but they defrost easily and don’t last long enough to get freezer burn.

Also in June we paid a visit to Atlas Chicken Shack in Geneva to pick up some lunch to go (who is eating in restaurants? not us!). Their sandwiches are nothing special but I have been craving their rice balls since trying them last year and they were just as good as I remember. I’m so glad we got two orders so we wouldn’t have to share.

Do you like peanut butter cups? Of course you do! If you also like dark chocolate you need to get Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

They rival any other brand. Sure, I will still grab a Reese’s from time to time, but my go-to is now TJ’s cups. They’re mini too so less of a calorie hit. I actually need to start watching my weight again. I dropped a ton while sick but now that my appetite is back in full force it’s becoming an issue. I’ve hit my ideal weight – 120 lbs – and I would like to stay there.

When we used to visit Indiana Beach theme park in Monticello Indiana one of the highlights was their Taco Shoppe. The beef tacos were beef and not very fancy, but oh were they good! I finally figured out what made them so good – cojita cheese!

Cojita

I originally purchased it to make my own elotes, but we used it on tacos and it was so much better than the Mexican cheese shreds we typically use.

Trader Joe’s frozen roasted potatoes with peppers and onions – get them now. They are good with breakfast, or as a side with dinner. Love them!

In fast food news – you must try Culver’s pretzel bites. I believe they’re for a limited time only. The cheese dipping sauce is the real MVP. Their special pretzel bun pub burger is also great. I haven’t seen it announced yet but am expecting it any day now.

Just the other day I tried an Impossible Whopper at Burger King. Their customer service sucking, per usual, aside, it was really good! I actually thought it tasted better than the regular Whopper Joe got. Best of all it was free thanks to a T-Mobile Tuesday deal.

Categories: Food Tags: