Review: End of Hello Fresh week two and random junk we tried

My daughter often stops at Grocery Outlet in part because of their “rainbow Coke program” where you can rummage through lose cans of soda and mix and match flavors for 25 cents each. They have weird food, good deals, and allow us to try things on which we wouldn’t usually splurge.

Tonight we made the Cheetos Jalapeño Macaroni and Cheese. Now, hands down, without question, my absolute favorite ultra-processed boxed macaroni and cheese product is Wegmans house brand Spirals and Cheese dinner, which I often used to get on sale for 33 cents a box.

This hard larger than average noodles that once prepared very quickly absorbed all the sauce. It tasted exactly like jalapeño cheetos. Except you didn’t have to chew so much. I ate a bowl, and the spice developed on the roof of my mouth versus my tongue. I added a can of tuna and had another bowl. A two-serving box was 79 cents.

Other Random Products

  • Fried Oreos: finally tried them at Sheetz. Gooey in the middle. Enjoyed them but was disappointed by the end product because I never realized how much of the allure of Oreos was in the crunch factor.
  • Strawberry Ice Cream Cone Hershey Kisses: very smooth strawberry flavor and I didn’t expect the crunchy bits. Honestly, between 20 flavors of Oreos and constantly rotating flavors of Hershey Kisses, my taste buds are getting burnt out. How many different flavors of potato chips and Mountain Dew do Americans really need?
  • Tropical Swedish Fish: like the iconic red flavor of Swedish Fish that vaguely resembles cherry, these tropical Swedish fish vaguely resemble something familiar but the flavors listed on the box aren’t even all flavors (passion fruit, pina colada, beachy punch and tropical island). They are weird and the colors are muted and off-putting.
  • Dunkin’s Peach Lemonade Refresher: possible one of the most over sweetened items I have ever tasted. Even teenager #1 who likes sweet things couldn’t drink it. So I suggested she blend it with some diet ginger ale we had in the house. That she loved.

And as promised— a brief update on Hello Fresh.

Meals, for four servings, cost about $35 each, when including shipping. The meals are amazingly curated and the recipes amazing. This week I tried to pick things my daughter would like but that I wouldn’t normally buy or don’t often take the time to make.

The Turkey meat loaves with mashed potatoes, Brussel sprouts and mushroom sauce were a hit. But the shrimp Thai salad bombed. I don’t care for shrimp, poor teenager #1 struggled to eat it all. And didn’t. And it turned out I didn’t notice when I ordered it that the based of the salad was arugula. And the teen hates arugula. So I ate massive vegetarian salads for dinner for three days. They were scrumptious but I don’t want to eat arugula again for a while.

We downsized our box from three meals to two as it is Sunday, another box ships tomorrow and we still have steak from last week to make.

So while we are eating better, we are spending a whole lot of money, struggling to find time to be in the kitchen and then stressing over getting the meals prepared before they go bad or another box shows up.

Yuletide whirlwind

Yesterday was the winter solstice— Yule— and the great convergence of Saturn and Jupiter that may have been the Christmas Star of Christian Heritage.

Sugar Cookie and Candy Cane Hershey Kisses

My neighbor Jan and I went on a Christmas season road trip to pick up a package. I wasn’t sure I could make the 90-minute drive alone.

I am grateful to live in such an old fashioned neighborhood that I know what neighbors will have adventures, which will grab me groceries, and who won’t mind grabbing me a coffee.

We stopped at Target and I got my annual bag of Candy Cane Hershey Kisses and treated myself to the new Sugar Cookie Kisses. They have real bits of cookie inside and the white chocolate kiss tastes like icing.

When I got home, the teenagers drove me over to Dollar General and Twin Rivers Music. Dollar General to get the pickle Doritos that are apparently a Dollar General exclusive and Twin Rivers Music for valve oil, a mouthpiece brush, ukulele strings and kazoos.

Teenager #2 thought her kazoo was broken, so teenager #1 had to teach her how to play it (which she did while driving the car!).

YouTube: Christmas Kazoos

YouTube: Review of Sour Pickle Doritos

In honor of Yule, and to celebrate the longest night of the year, I let the teenagers unwrap their stockings (which included some traditional stocking stuffers and some non-traditional items). A lot of make-up, gift certificates for Hyperion Salon and Lucha Bella skin care, candy and snacks, and activity books.

Teenager two got her first paint-by-water book which I bought for her because it featured Sponge Bob. I also got them coloring books of cosmic cats and uni-creatures and a robot faces sticker book.

YouTube: Dumping the stockings

Lunchables Dirt Cake

Activity Books

Teaching the Art of Paint by Water

Review of Oreo Candy Canes

We ate too many of my mother-in-law’s cookies and finished the bag of Doritos so I shouldn’t be surprised that I gained more weight.

Today is a new day and it feels like a clean start thanks to the energy of Yule and I feel a little stronger and more like myself, though still very easy to exhaust.

I got up, cleaned up after one set of cats, shoveled the path for a heating oil delivery, saw my friend Gayle, loaded the dishwasher and started a load of laundry. I tried to pick up some garbage from the house strewn with wrappings and about 5 loads of clean laundry.

Then I worked with Nan by phone. The Fluffy Norse kittens decided to join me on the sunporch and, of course, climbed the Christmas tree.

Fern-Edie in the Christmas Tree

I got the laundry out of the washer and hung it, and teenager #1 made me an egg sandwich, even though by then it was noon.

I tried to clean up the bathroom. Started the dishwasher. And came up to check on the birds.

YouTube: Do we have baby budgies?

And we have one tiny bald, baby budgie!

I am so terrified I will do something to hinder Momma Wink from taking good care of her eggs and baby. I’m especially worried everyone isn’t getting enough to eat.

So finally that brings me to Nala— she’s afraid of something and it might be the parakeets. She’s barbering badly.

Random Sunday update

I have so many potential posts running around in my head, I am opting to combine them all in a long post.

Coffee review: Bread and Basket French Roast

So I made a new brand of coffee this morning, Bread and Basket French Roast from ShopRite. It was the same price as the Folger’s Black Silk I bought at Target. Wonderful aroma and while it looked like it brewed extra strong and my cream didn’t really lighten it, it tasted just right.

Weight and stress relief

I have started counting calories again, using Fooducate this time and not My Fitness Pal. My Fitness Pal has more information such nutritional tracking and macros and connects more seamlessly with iHealth. Fooducate focuses on the quality of calories you eat, and since my stress foods are processed and refined carbohydrates I find that the best step in my process right now.

I had lost a solid two pounds this week but last night’s binge of Doritos and horseradish dip, sour patch kids and two alcoholic beverages reacquainted me with half a pound AND gave me nightmares.

Kittens

I haven’t even had a change to truly introduce the Norse Pride Kittens I am pet sitting for Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. They don’t have a permanent foster placement yet so we may keep them as they are friendly, jolly and fluffy two-pound kittens. See them on YouTube here: Norse Pride.

Hermes of the Greek Pride is doing well but scratched his nose. Stopping to see Zeus and Apollo today. They are at Chaar in Forks Township. Chaar’s web site

And finally my look of the day:

**Since I wrote this post, it has been brought to my attention I called the Shoprite brand Bread and Basket instead of Bowl and Basket. Oops! Can’t blame me for that— I managed to get my waist into the leg hole of my panties today.

July 2020: Thailand Universal Yum box and the sushi slim jim

The teenager loves her Universal Yum boxes that I got her for Christmas.

Every month we get a box of snacks from a different county of the world.

This month it was Thailand.

Gotta say, the Thai people make some incredible savory snacks. Their salty and sour snacks are not as puckering as American counterparts.

The lime gummies were delightfully refreshing.

But the dried shrimp snack dressed in seaweed— I hated it. The cockatoo and the teen loved it. The teen called it a sushi slim jim.

Deliciousness in a purple bag

Our live reactions to the Thai box

Treats discovered at The Grocery Outlet

Last week the Grocery Outlet had the single serve packages of Sea Hale nut blends on sale for 69 cents.

I bought some of every flavor.

I love these snacks. This was the first time I tried the berry macaroon— very berry and very full of large pieces of coconut.

But I also love candy. And Haribo candies are some of my absolute favorite.

So these were 50 cents.

The fruity flavors is far superior than other gummy candies. They taste like a burst of sunshine.

And the shapes are very fun.

What a lovely Saturday morning should be

I slept in today— until 8:15 a.m.—which is both good (I needed the rest) and bad (I made plans to meet a work colleague and fellow cat lover at Easton Farmer’s Market at 10 a.m.

The cockatoo completely ate the rest of my cork board (see Cockatoo Mischief) while we visited our favorite familia yesterday (see Visit with La Familia).

And a mysterious feline decided to deposit a hair ball on the couch on the sun porch. So I tried my best to clean everything up and I took down the cork boards only to also remove great portions of the paint. The teenager assured me we have the paint to touch it up.

Somehow we made it downtown on time— and met our friends. The teenager spent her birthday money on a strawberry plant and some pickles and stuffed olives.

I bought her breakfast at Pie + Tart (apple turnover for her and mini strawberry rhubarb pie for me) and beverages from Fieldstone Coffee Roasters (mango black tea for her and bubble tea for me— which the server gave me a yellow straw to match my yellow pants).

After saying goodbye to our friends, we strolled the downtown so the teenager could visit The Loving Peace. They did not have any supplies she needs.

The teenager then directed my attention to The Carmelcorn Shop. She let me have anything I wanted!

In this video we review our haul from The Carmelcorn Shop. The biggest surprise was, as the clerk recommended, the tootsie roll balls were amazing. I don’t even like tootsie rolls! Review of Candy Haul

Life is certainly sweet!

Kicking off the weekend with hoagies and cocktails

I found out today that my blind friend Nan likes horseradish, would like to try Fireball whiskey and has never had a margarita.

Today, as it is the start of weekend and expected to be the hottest day of the week, Nan and I planned to head to Park Avenue Market to use some hoagie coupons from The Teenager’s marching band fundraiser.

But Nan hadn’t listened to the rest of my message— she was already distracted by thoughts of cucumber salad.

So we’re standing at the deli counter and I order a 10” Lebanon bologna hoagie with bacon lover’s cheese and lettuce, tomato and pickles for the teenager and I to share. And I order Nan’s turkey hoagie with bacon lover’s cheese, mayo, lettuce and onion.

We’re scoping out the salads and I ask her if she planned to take me up on my offer of coming over to eat our sandwiches together and mix up the apple pie cocktail from the ingredients I ordered from County Seat Spirits.

The teenager always likes to get one of the massive deli pickles. So as Nan was realizing we were about to have way more of an adventure than a simple trip to the grocery store, the teenager is pointing out to me that one giant pickle is 99 cents whereas two are $1.69.

Now no one needs two giant pickles.

But I say yes, get two.

She turns 16 Tuesday, I can’t deny her pickles.

So Nan excitedly accepts my offer to stay for dinner and promptly tells me that we need to buy apple juice.

While we wait for our deli orders— summer bean salad and cucumber salad for Nan and slab bacon and liverwurst for me—Nan and I explored the $1 bags of chips.

Apparently Nan loves horseradish so we picked up the horseradish cheddar potato chips for us and Jalapeño Popper Herr’s cheese puffs.

The teenager also wanted tuna salad, so I bought some celery and tuna.

And me, being me, I bought a cow tale and a coconut candy watermelon slice. You gotta have dessert.

We unpack the sandwiches and chips on my dining room table, and the chips were just like horseradish, some bites were just right and some the fumes went straight up your nose.

And then, we started mixing.

I get the vanilla vodka, cinnamon vodka, wine glasses, shot glasses, trays of ice and a cocktail shaker.

Nan is impressed that I have a cocktail shaker.

We pass the bottles around so everyone can smell the vodka. I usually hate vodka. This vodka is distilled from cane sugar and impresses me. The cinnamon vodka smells like Christmas.

First go:

  • 2 ounces vanilla vodka
  • 2 ounces cinnamon vodka
  • 4 ounces apple juice

Result: strong

I add two more ounces of apple juice to the cocktail shaker. Nan approves.

I am merely tasting as someone has to drive Nan home.

I slice the candy.

Nan has never had a cow tail before.

The teenager tastes the alcoholic beverages and approves. We have a discussion about her 21st birthday.

Nan and I plot a trip to the liquor store and mixing Fireball with diet ginger ale.

I mix a batch of the cocktail which I put in a quart mason jar with a plastic screw lid so Nan can keep it in her fridge.

I drove Nan home as the rain started to fall. I had slipped a cocktail into the freezer for myself. This is good vodka.

A stop at the beer store

I stopped at the beer store on the way home from work. My days have been increasingly more difficult.

Sigh.

I’m trying really hard to do a great job at my “new” career path. But it’s hard to change fields sometimes. Sometimes people do things to help AND hurt your feelings at the same time.

Since I started writing grants 9 months ago, I have submitted 22 grants (okay, I think it’s 19 grants and 3 contracts) so I must be doing something right, right?

Beer Store Goodies

So to wash down this not-so-good day, I bought Rita’s Fruit Margaritas in the giant can, Yuengling and snacks— some chips and some candy.

The breadth of choices in the beer store made me happy.

I came home, made a quick fairly processed dinner and poured a drink as we unboxed the teen’s Universal Yum box from France. We were partaking in the delights when suddenly one of my candy’s was crunchy.

The teen’s was not.

I broke a crown off a molar.

Yup, today is not a good day.