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Blaugust 15: How I Ate For Cheap


Today I paid a sad amount of money for a yogurt parfait (possibly the most overpriced prepared item at any store…) and a kind bar for breakfast. I had put off getting groceries so I didn’t really have much around to eat. I wanted something simple, but the best quality egg sandwich around here is also a little bit too expensive for my preferences. It’s a bit of a regret but it tasted fine, and it’s done now.

I made up for it afterward by getting lunch and dinner for free. I had a “buy ten sandwiches get one free” punch card that I’d filled up. Ok, actually I think it’s twelve, and since I kept forgetting to get it punched, I probably bought around twice as many to get the free one. However, it was no money paid today. I left a small tip and that’s it.

For dinner, since there is a Panera near the grocery store, I decided to use some of a gift card I have and I got a salad and, probably negating the health of the salad, a chai latte. At least the crazy air conditioning habits of every single business out there allow me to drink a hot beverage in the summer without dying.

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Both lunch and dinner were good, but not great. I didn’t order my very favorite sandwich because I was in the mood for a different kind today. The sandwich I chose was quite satisfying, but not as delicious as either of the two I tend to buy for myself. As for dinner, I liked the chai more than the salad, and to be honest I wasn’t too hungry so I probably could have just stuck with the chai… trying to get some more nutrients for dinner and all that.

Groceries were a whole different story this week. I am currently dog-sitting (for a very cute beagle with some weird habits, as I am certain all pets have), and the house is in the middle of a huge kitchen renovation. This means that there IS no kitchen. Instead, there are pieces of a kitchen here, there, out on the porch. Literally, the toaster oven is out there. I haven’t used it yet… going outside to cook seems strange to me.

So, my grocery goals today were: cheap, healthy, and no cooking necessary. What does a grocery haul look like when you know you won’t be able to cook? Pretty simple. Prepared chicken (the grilled chicken strips from Trader Joe’s. Probably every grocery store you go to, unless it’s a tiny, specialty store of some kind, will have a variety of prepared chicken), baby spinach, avocado to use with some of the things that are already around for salads and wraps, and a few bananas and greek yogurts for breakfast. I can eat the same few things on repeat for the next several days… but then I’m going to need something different. Still trying to keep it healthy, but my taste buds could use a thrill.

I really need to figure out some healthier foods for that need to treat yo self.

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The Best Service


Hello! I haven’t been posting very often for a while, I know. I have been very focused on certain things in life and not feeling that motivated to talk about my food. I also haven’t cooked too many things that merited full posts–not to mention that no one has responded at all when I asked if anyone would be interested in posts about particular dishes, so I figured it wouldn’t matter…

While I have a few food-related posts on deck, I’m taking a minor detour at the moment to say how impressed I am with Drugstore.com, which is owned by Walgreens. I first purchased from them sometime in the past two months. I wanted to check them out because I’d heard that they have much more variety than any of my local drugstores and they have a lot of natural, organic products. They even have a tab just for “green” products.

EDIT: I just read that Walgreens is trying to take advantage of some of those ridiculous benefits corporations get from the government in dodging taxes and stuff, so I might not be able to buy from them anymore. NOT COOL, Walgreens.

The truth is, they have EVERYTHING. They’re like a mega-drugstore, with all sorts of products and so many brands, you’ll be REALLY GLAD you have a database to search instead of trying to pick it off a store shelf. They even have vibrators. Drugstore.com has all the basics for your hygiene and health needs. The other side of the site, Beauty.com, has more specialty and prestige brands, but you can shop on both and check out from both sites at once. It’s so damn useful, I don’t know why more sites don’t do this…

 

Not only do they have a ridiculously wide variety of products, they always have sales and deals going on, and they give 5% credit back on (almost) all purchases. It’s a good place to get a good price on things, and it cuts down on your physical errands–always a plus for me.

Having placed my second order just a little while ago, I am also reminded how quickly they fill orders. So far, my orders from Drugstore.com have been shipped on the same day. It doesn’t take a week for the package to come to me, either. It’s more like 1-2 days. I’m a frequent online shopper and it comes with the territory that your orders might take a while to reach you, depending on the shipping service the company uses. This is logical and I generally accept it, but this super-quick delivery is what we really want when we shop online. In this case, it means that you could buy cold medicine without actually going out to the store and have it the next day, theoretically. Since I don’t have anyone to go buy cold medicine for me, this is a great advantage. I just hope they’re not using delivery drones (as I heard a while ago Amazon was planning to do). Those things freak me out. And wouldn’t they have to launch it at your front door? Weird.

That concludes my somewhat rant-y review. Overall, I think this site is worthwhile and if you’re like me and hate going to the drugstore in person, you should check them out.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon to check for food posts!

Monday Madness: Naked Santas and Overspending


First, I want to say that what happened Saturday night was barely a snowstorm. In Boston, it had completely stopped by Sunday. And yet, this morning there were too many stupidly icy sidewalks (hint: one is too many) and ridiculous traffic because no one can ever remember how to drive once there’s the smallest amount of snow. So I give up. If we have another snowstorm, which seems likely, I’m just not going to leave my house until spring. I’ll do that peapod thing to have my groceries delivered and order lots of pizzas.

Now, a quick thank you to everyone who liked my cupcake post. It’s nice to have that validation, since no one I invited over to have some thought it was worth the trip–either for having the cupcakes or for hanging out with me. I mean, that’s a major fail, right? But I realized I hadn’t done a real food post for a while, so there you go. There are still about four cupcakes left, but by now they’re on the stale side, so probably not worth a trip at this point anyway.

Logically I know people are just busy and sort of far away (unfortunate consequence of living in Boston: only friends who live in your neighborhood are actually easy to get to), but emotionally it just feels like everyone’s rejecting me. I started out December being really excited about Christmas, but now I’m kind of depressed.

I’ve been shopping way too much. And then, you know, the second you say “Ok, that’s it. I’m going to be good and not buy all this stuff I don’t need,” that’s when something comes up and you end up spending anyway. Like Christmas presents (I didn’t spend that much, but combined with everything it adds up), or the $20 off a $50 purchase from Sephora with a time limit (how could I pass that up?), so you can get that $34 container of moisturizer without feeling so bad about it. The good news is, that one container is probably going to last me at least six months. I think it might be time to trade in my coins for Real Money. It won’t be that much. Probably somewhere between $10 and $20. But it’ll do me more good in my pocket than sitting in a jar on a shelf.

Ok, I know I’ve been teasing you. You’re wondering about the naked santas, right? Well… Read the rest of this entry

Monday Madness: A Weekend of Quiet Mayhem


Site redesigns often bother me, because in the attempt to make things look more “cool” or “high-tech,” I think they often end up looking overdeveloped or stupid… I miss gmail’s simple login screen. Now it’s this giant bubble with your google+ profile picture. And youtube has now made it so that you HAVE to update your username to display as either your real name or something else you enter before it will allow you to continue commenting on videos. I wish to ask Google (which owns youtube, in case you were unaware): What is the effing point of all this?

I am not a fan of the changes WordPress has been making to site navigation. I’ve written a little about this elsewhere, in informal, rant-sort of writing. I’m not going to stop using site unless it gets way worse, but I’m wondering: Now that posts open in a pop-up screen instead of taking you to the poster’s blog page, does that mean I don’t get a page view unless the reader actually clicks on the “view original” button in the upper left corner? If so, that really seems unfair. Please redesign again so that people who want to read my posts are actually taken to my blog, because I like that much better. Furthermore, if it’s just going to appear in a pop-up screen, why am I spending so much time worrying about my blog design? Should I just forget about it?

Dear WordPress,

I want answers.

Thank you,

Deva

Read the rest of this entry

Monday Madness: Whose Title Is It Anyway


A late post today. I was going to do a little flash fiction on my writing blog this morning and just post a link to it, instead of the usual sort of madness. It was turning out kind of bad, though, and I need more time to work on it, so I didn’t. I worked on my work and I met up with somebody for dinner and we talked about mythology. Then I went to Trader Joe’s. It was so damn crowded, I hated it.

It was not a good day, during work. My productivity wasn’t terrible, but not great either. I was rather bored and got very tired in the afternoon, after my late-morning apple and totally uncool lunch of gritty salad. Fun fact, lettuce that is not pre-washed might take longer than you think to rinse all the dirt off. (I have a weird definition of “fun,” ok?) I’m stressed about a bunch of things. Several aspects of my life are feeling very uncertain, and uncertainty gives me anxiety. If it’s about something important.

 

Is it just me, or is the opening of The Devil Wears Prada the MOST fun thing to watch? I had a little extra time this morning, somehow, and I decided to put the movie on. I watched the first minute and a half like four times. What do I like about it so much? I can’t be sure. I just write it off as “I really like clothes!”

Here’s to having a week that maybe won’t completely suck?

Monday Madness: All the stuff I didn’t do.


Raise your hand if you like Monday!

Hmm. Didn’t think so.

I’m trying to determine if the complete waste of a weekend makes this Monday better or worse. On the one hand, since this weekend wasn’t particularly good, Monday isn’t horrible by comparison. On the other, not having the buffer of feeling good and productive on the weekend might just result in the very intense need for a weekend by the time this Friday evening rolls around. Plus, I’ll be busy pretty much all of Saturday.

It started with Friday, when my social time heavily featured me in a state of being too tired out from the week to want to really do anything. Then my Five Things Friday writing post for the week was put off until Saturday morning. Then it was put off until Saturday evening, and that continued until it just didn’t happen at all. I have already built in the “rule” that I do not have to do it every single week, but that was my aim, and I had such a good idea for this past Friday that I was a bit disappointed in myself. Maybe I’ll work on my Five Things Friday throughout the week this time, and it will be easily finished at the end of the week.

Following the same theme, the Youtube video I was going to make didn’t happen either. Too tired. Too uninspired by the logistical aspects of filming videos. I know–I should actually stop watching youtube videos at all. I won’t compare myself to other vloggers and I won’t feel embarrassed about my inability to film anything that looks even the slightest bit like I care (not because I don’t care, but because I have a serious lack of equipment).

This week, of course, is not shaping up to be a great one, but not so bad, I guess. I’m just about done with the second manuscript I need to get in by Wednesday, so I’m not really worried about it, and other than that I just have to get down to business on the other tasks and get done as much as I can this week. I won’t feel pressure to finish anything until NEXT week. Which, again, will suck, but… ugh. Around and around we go.

Hey, here’s another super disappointing thing: I got a new comment on a post, and it turned out to be spammy, spammy spam. Ever seen Drawn Together, the episode about Ling-ling being disappointed by things, and how he would kind of wilt? It was like that, except that I didn’t secrete any hallucinogenic substances (that I know of).

Last thursday I made a delicious pizza, and then failed to blog about it. I have a few pictures and it’s on my to-blog list. But, right now it’s just one more thing I did not manage to do this weekend.

Aside from a few, very unusual people, everyone has times like this. No matter how much you would like to be productive and active and checking things off an imaginary (or a real) to-do list, sometimes you just have days when you don’t really get anything done. It could be nothing more than a bout of laziness. You have the right to be lazy sometimes, particularly if you’re generally responsible. But maybe your brain is trying to say, “Hey, I need a break. Just watch movies and read a bit and you know, maybe get out of bed and move around once in a while, but otherwise leave me alone.”

Oh, also, home goods stores don’t seem to sell disposable cups for parties and such. WHAT? What is wrong with you people, not selling party goods! And they only had crappy ones at CVS. So I’m still on the hunt for cups.

Lonely (Relaxing) Dining: Life Alive, Central Sq.


This morning I scheduled a massage to use my living social coupon. It was at 10am, which is usually a time when I’ve just gotten up and am introducing myself to the weekend, on Saturday mornings. I rarely leave the house that early on a weekend day. Only if I have a specific reason.

Since I was so close I decided to go to Life Alive afterward, which is an organic vegetarian eatery with AMAZING smoothies. I had a “Sufi Poet” salad (I have no idea why they call it that), which was light but substantial enough for me, with really good flavors, and reminded me how much I enjoy dried cranberries on salads. I also got a Coconut Alive smoothie, and it was just perfect.

I know this picture is dark. The lighting is very dim in the cozy corner where I was sitting for this meal.

I know this picture is dark. The lighting is very dim in the cozy corner where I was sitting for this meal.

So, I sat on one of their little loveseat benches and read my book while consuming this delicious food. I ordered a demi salad, and it was still a pretty good size. I don’t even think I could finish a full sized one. I’ve been wanting to try their other, cooked dishes. I really want to get The Fool. Anyone ever had it? Did you like it?

It was rainy today, and a little colder than I was prepared for (I didn’t have any socks on–oops), but not too bad, since the rain was that misty drizzle type that gets you a little damp at the most. Not like Friday, when it was pouring down all evening. Glad I wore boots then. So as I was walking between the massage place and central square, I was in a really good mood, despite being kind of cold. After my nice lunch I was still in a pretty good mood, although it was starting to rain a bit more. Shoe shopping was really the only thing to do before heading back home.

I went to DSW with a $10 coupon. I was looking for shoes I can wear to work, something fairly comfortable but nice and pretty, maybe a little different. The ones I found are bright green, so I think I succeeded there. I also got some stuff for play, because it was drastically reduced. There was a red leopard wallet the tag on which said “compare at $40.” I looked at it and thought, I would never pay $40 for this. You know how much I actually paid for it, according to my receipt? $7. So. Yeah.

Look for the red, 70% off tags in clearance, because DAMN.

Look for the red, 70% off tags in clearance, because DAMN.

 

If you think I saved that much and still paid a lot, think again…

As for cooking adventures, I haven’t been having them much lately. Nothing worth posting about anyway. I have a brief post to write about a stir-fry I made the other day, which was pretty good, but otherwise all I’ve been making is things like eggs, bagel sandwiches, salads, etc. No one wants to read about that. If you think you do, you’re wrong.

I’ve actually been feeling quite unenthusiastic about food lately. Not sure why. Every time I think I really want a particular thing, I usually decide not to because the more I consider it, the less sure I am that I want it. Most of my food choices lately have been solely based on money, and occasionally on going out to hang out with someone. The  only thing I’ve really been excited about, in general, is smoothies. I was really happy about going to Life Alive today, though, so that was something.

I got beans the last time I went shopping, intending to make chili before it got too hot to enjoy it, but then I lost interest. I think I’ll get more chicken and make tikka masala instead.

 

Anthropologie Event and Fashion Find


I’ve long been drawn to Anthropologie, and sometime last year I finally signed up for a membership. It’s free, and you get certain benefits, such as an annual birthday discount and early access to sales. Beyond that, it also came with an invitation to the spring fashion show held at their Harvard Square store. …At least, I think that was a membership perk. I can’t think of any other reason I would have received that.

Since I really like Anthropologie, and it was something new and something to do, I decided to go. There was the option to bring someone, so if you would have liked to go, I’m sorry, I was not aware. I’ll keep you in mind for next time, I guess?

The event was last night. It started at 8, so I got there just before. (I stopped at Starbucks first to get a quick coffee. I had to wait several minutes before anyone came to take my order. I didn’t complain, but they gave me a coupon for a complimentary beverage, so, free latte later!) The people checking the “list” at the door were very welcoming, although that was of course what they were there for… I stashed my coat upstairs and then headed back to the mezzanine for the complimentary refreshments. They had a selection of mini Kickass Cupcakes. I had a mojito, always a tasty choice, and some wine. There was also a table featuring pieces of flatbread pizzas, I forget where from, and Pellegrino for a non-alcoholic beverage option. I wasn’t all that thirsty, so I just went for the free wine. I believe it was a Spanish wine. I liked it, and honestly, I’m not even much of a wine-drinker.

Here's a shot of the cupcake and wine table.

Here’s a shot of the cupcake and wine table.

After my little snack, I went and found myself a seat for the fashion show part of the event. There were something like 10 models, perhaps a few more, wearing some great pieces from the store. I had a feeling that some of them may have been actual models, but others were probably Anthropologie employees. They all looked great. It’s interesting to see models in this context in clothes you could actually wear every day (some of the dresses were a little fancier), almost like flipping through a catalogue, but in 3d. (You probably get what I mean.) One of the models had on the Chroma Shadow Sheath, which I’ve been coveting for quite a while now.

When the fashion show was over, I snagged one more piece of flatbread and searched through the sale section while I was there. I picked up a few, very discounted things.

 

Including this squirrel on a bicycle.

Including this squirrel on a bicycle.

I’m really liking this whole animals-on-bicycles thing that seems to be going around.

Overall, it was a cool little event, nothing too exciting, but worth one short evening of my life. I enjoyed myself, and I got some free food out of it. Plus, with a purchase, they entered you in a raffle to win a gift card. I don’t know when they contact the winner of that… I don’t expect to win, as I never ever win raffles, but you never know.

In other news, I have been directed to a certain shopping website, called PLNDR (pronounced “plunder,” I’d guess). Everything is greatly discounted, and they have a pretty wide variety of stock in both women’s and men’s clothing. Even if you don’t find anything at first, it appears that they get new stock fairly frequently. I just ordered a few very cheap items from them (under $10 tops). I would recommend checking them out. You do have to create a login just to browse, which I generally do not like in an online store, but you won’t be charged anything to sign up. http://www.plndr.com/plndr/MembersOnly/login.aspx?r=7149401

Food Acquisition, plus Spinach Tortellini with Tomato Saute


If anyone knows how to type  in the e with the accent on it so that I can spell “saute” correctly in the title, please let me know.

First, a brief review!

This is not the best coffee in the world. This is just a tribute.

This is not the best coffee in the world. This is just a tribute.

The caption there is a play on the Tenacious D song, “Tribute,” in case you aren’t familiar. These were bought online due to a Starbucks membership promotion. Yes, I have a Starbucks membership, and no, I don’t go there every day. I got a gift card for Christmas and registered it mostly because I wanted the free birthday beverage. I think it was a Vanilla Spice latte. If not… doesn’t matter. In any case, I had a discount coupon, so I ordered these items. Haven’t tried the coffee yet, so I guess it could actually be the greatest coffee in the world. Kind of doubt it though.

If you can’t see it well enough, the via product is an instant version of their “very berry hibiscus refresher,” which is made from coffee juice, I guess. I tried one the other day, and it wasn’t bad, but tasted very different from the one you can buy freshly made. I would only recommend buying this if you can get it on sale, like I did.

Last week, I did two grocery shopping trips in one day, spent nearly $70 total–quite a lot for one day for me (on food, that is), but I still have a lot of food left from those trips, so I don’t think it’ll work out to be much more for the month’s groceries than I usually spend. In case you’re now wondering, I do not work off an actual budget. I’m sure I should, but I manage fine without it, and I have a tendency to rebel against the approach of “you CANNOT spend any more than ___.” I’ll spend more just because. So I don’t bother.

Things I should always buy in multiple when I go to Trader Joe’s: Spicy Powdered Chai Mix, Chile Lime Chicken Burgers, Chicken and Cheese Tamales, Pumpkin Ice Cream (when available), individual serving Greek yogurt, frozen naan. Having these things available at any given time makes my life better.

Last, but not least, I have a non-recipe to share (finally)! It is a very uncomplicated thing to make, as its base is quick-cooking spinach tortellini. I used the package bought from Trader Joe’s, but any variety you can find will work.

I just want to take a moment to say that I LOVE spinach tortellini. It’s weird, because I’m not a fan of the flavor of cooked spinach. However, dishes that involve cooked spinach in which other flavors are more prominent than the spinach itself can be as delicious as anything. What I have done in the past with instant tortellini or ravioli is just melt some butter and mix in some herbs, and pour it over the pasta. This is a slightly more involved version of that practice.

The actual cooking part doesn’t take much time at all, but I always forget how long water takes to boil. Start boiling your water first or you’re going to be sitting there trying to keep your sauce warm and tapping your foot yelling, “Goddamn it water, boil!”

I’m not going to explain how to cook the tortellini, because there are instructions on the package. For the tomato saute, I started by melting a whole bunch of butter in a small pan. Read the rest of this entry

The Little Things…


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I’m so happy with how my eggs turned out today that I’m posting a picture of them for you. I’m less happy with how the picture itself turned out, but I do not have a good camera, so at least that’s not a surprise.

These are over-sunny-side-up. I know that’s not a thing. But, instead of flipping them like I usually do, I covered the pan for a minute or two, and the bit of white just formed over the top. The yolks cooked a bit more than I like them (I want ’em runny!), but I don’t care today because it’s so rare that my eggs turn out so pretty.

You might start to see these plates often, because they’re more appropriate for personal servings than the large dinner plates I have. I love these plates. They were on sale at Anthropologie so I got a set of two. Anthropologie is an awesome store, but unfortunately I can’t really afford anything that isn’t on sale. And a lot of things that are on sale.

Happy breakfast!

 

(also toast with some apricot jam and coffee, in case you were wondering)

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