Silly, sweet Saturday

So, I have come to the conclusion that all I have to do is call Nan and ask, “Are you busy?” and she will grab her white cane and meet me by the door.

Unless NASA has something going on— like a hatch opening or a spacewalk or a launch or a capture.

Today the teenager got up early, at 8 a.m., which in teen time is somewhere between “I had no idea the sun came up this early” and “wow, I can eat breakfast at actual breakfast time.”

Speaking of breakfast, the foster kittens have learned the word “breakfast” and their little ears perk up when you say it.

The teen wanted to go to Petco and Dollar Tree, while Nan and I had our eye on a brief trip to Grocery Outlet to look for smoothies and lentil pasta. Their circular advertised Bird’s Eye steam-in-bag lentil pasta, which Nan and I both like, for 99 cents.

It normally runs $3-4 per bag.

As a blind person, Nan likes the fact that she can make lentil pasta without dealing with boiling water as one has to do with traditional pasta and it’s not a mushy mess of preservatives like canned pasta.

We were both disappointed to discover that they only had lentil/zucchini pasta with olive oil, as opposed to the “sauced” varieties.

But I get ahead of myself. As I mentioned yesterday (see Growing Up), the teenager is now driving. This trip with Nan— because of course she said yes she’d come— would be her first trip with the teen behind the wheel.

Yesterday, we not only drove several highways but I took her to Wendy’s to try the drive-through. She aced that.

We set a rendezvous time with Nan for 10 a.m. and head to the car with a sneak peak at the garden. My fancy little imported peppers have started to grow, and the massive pumpkin vine that originated in my compost heap has started to yield pumpkins not on the ground but on my fence.

Petco passed without incident and Grocery Outlet had minimum disruption as well. But the teenager found Maple Doughnuts (as a brand name) in an unlabeled decadent 12 pack that weighed at least four pounds for $1.99.

“Quality you can see since 1946,” I chuckled while reading that to Nan.

The plan quickly morphed into a trip for coffee at Dunkin’ and doughnuts from Grocery Outlet. The teenager helped us load up the car and she headed to the Dollar Tree and we contemplated beverages.

Except McDonald’s was closer and cheaper. By the time the teen returned we were still deciding because I had a coupon for “buy one milkshake and get one for a penny.” But we had doughnuts.

Nan wanted a chocolate shake but protested that she was pretty sure drinking milkshakes before 11 a.m. was frowned upon, in the same manner as day drinking.

I assured her it would be 11 by the time we received the milkshakes.

So I ordered one small chocolate and one medium strawberry milkshake and one large Diet Coke.

One of us had to pretend to be sensible.

10:35 a.m.

The drive thru is ridiculous. But that’s how it is now. The line at the McDonald’s is like a trip to the DMV whereas getting your learner’s permit at the DMV is relatively instantaneous. Another Covid-19 reality.

11 a.m. — to the minute— we receive the shakes. Nan and the teenager split a chocolate doughnut. I eat a cake doughnut with icing and crystallized sugar. And then a glazed donut with chocolate icing and a thick layer of maple icing.

A relaxed and joyful start to a sweet Saturday morning.

More grocery outlet goodies

Goodie Girl Birthday Cake Gluten Free Cookies: These taste like golden Oreos.

Cajun Gator Dill Potato Chips: These were delicious — very dill. Similar to dill pickle potato chips but more interesting.

Naked Pina Colada: I expected this to be very pineapple and very coconut, but the coconut comes from coconut milk. So that was a pleasant surprise. And it had a heavy banana flavor which made it refreshing.

Puffins Protein Berry Burst: This was like plain Kix and Berry Berry Kix but for grown-ups. Very nice indeed.

Discount Cookies

Today’s haul

Sometimes your days don’t go as planned. I thought I’d get up, feed the pets, and head to the Dollar Tree to get our foster kittens some sardines to soften their tender feline hearts.

The thunderstorm scared the cockatoo, and the rain must have slowed me down as I finished feeding the pets and having a coffee on the porch at 10 a.m.

But Sunday is the day of rest, so that’s okay.

I headed to the Dollar Tree and spent $9.

  • Three cans of sardines
  • 1 small box of generic golden crisp cereal or “sugar crisp” as it was called in the 1980s
  • 1 four-pack of individual boxes of cereal
  • 2 packs of Chips Ahoy sandwich cookies
  • 2 bags of Cajun gator dill potato chips
  • 1 jar mayonnaise

Then I went to the Grocery Outlet where for $14.75 I got everything else in the photo. Now, note, this is all processed breakfast foods and various snacks as the teenager starts band camp tomorrow and I know she will need to get something in her system at 7 a.m. and she will come home starved.

So snacks. And cereal. And Pop Tarts.

When I got home the teenager and I decided to try the Doozie cookie bar and the Sour Patch Kid cookies.

The results were exactly as I expected.

The teenager loved the Doozie bar. It was a cookie dough bar— so if you love edible cookie dough this was a nice treat. I thought it was too big for one sitting, that the sweetness got to be too much. I’m sure the teenager disagrees.

Doozie Birthday Cake Edible Cookie Dough Bar

I purchased three of these for 29 cents.

Now the Chips Ahoy cookies, with Sour Patch Kids, were definitely a purchase for me. I bought them at the Dollar Tree.

They tasted like sugar cookies with candy in them.

I liked them. The teenager did not.

Chips Ahoy Special Edition Sour Patch Kids

The next Sea Hale snack

I do so love Grocery Outlet and Sea Hale snacks.

I used to think the $2.99 bags of the larger Sea Hale snacks was a fantastic deal. I believe it’s the Tango Mango I love…

But now…

Grocery Outlet had the individual bags on sale for 69 cents so the teenager and I are slowly sampling all the flavors.

Past reviews:

Sea Hale Macaroon

Sea Hale Maple Pecans

Today we tried

As the teenager says, they are amazing and the best nuts ever. They are sweet enough to be yum and not so sweet that they are gross.

I really enjoyed them and Nala wanted all the macadamia nuts.

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.

CVS magic

I am not an “extreme couponer” and I hate the whole concept of “extreme couponing.” Life experience has taught me to be frugal, but *living* life has taught me that reading 5 newspapers to get a few extra bottles of Tide raises the question of how much is my time and my happiness worth?

When stores first starting using loyalty cards, I hated the concept. I still hate cards. But customer loyalty apps are different. I already have my phone. These apps also allow me to shop and plan my shopping trips. Target Circle, like many others, combines their coupons, payment options (even when in the store), circulars, and stock all in one place. I can scan items to see if there’s a deal while in the store and, of course, they customize offers to cater to my shopping habits.

The Lidl app allows me to make a shopping list (as does Target but I like Lidl’s list organization system better) and rewards me based on how much money I spend. Last month I earned a 30% off sliced cheese coupon! So I bought extra cheese. We might be living on toasted cheese sandwiches with my upcoming job loss.

I sign up for the emails and while a lot of them get annoying, some of them alert me to major deals on my household staples.

And that is what happened with CVS. They sent me a coupon for the gallon bottle of Arizona iced tea for $1.66 cents. The teenager has a weakness for Arizona iced tea so I let her buy some as an occasional treat.

I texted her the offer, and asked her if she wanted to walk to CVS to redeem it. She declined.

CVS sent a 40% off one item coupon. I loaded it to my card because you never know when you’ll end up in CVS for a health emergency.

The teenager also loves Cinnamon Toast Crunch and had a craving for Honey Nut Cheerios. Now I view cereal as an occasional emergency snack, not as breakfast. But the teen is a convert to the cereal-to-start-the-day camp.

Now I know CVS regularly has regular cereal sales.

Yesterday they sent me a coupon. “One day only! General Mills Cereal! $1.99!”

And the photo featured Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Honey Nut Cheerios.

I texted the teenager.

She came downstairs. When I told her that I would buy both cereals, she volunteered to walk to CVS. I handed her my debit card. She refused it. “Mom, it’s $4.”

I asked her if there was anything else she needed. She said no, but she might buy iced tea. I thought, “drats. We missed that iced tea offer.” I told her she could use the 40% off coupon if the iced tea was full price.

She came home with the gallon of iced tea, the two boxes of cereal, and a bag of Doritos. I asked her how much she spent.

“$7,” she said, “but that doesn’t make sense. This is $14 worth of stuff. At least.”

Apparently I also had a snacks/drink coupon I forgot about that also saved us 85 cents.

So we talked about it, and I asked her if she was starting to get my system. She said no. Not at all.

As far as she understood, she merely said she wanted to go to CVS, I looked at the app and put coupons on, she randomly grabbed what she wanted, and told the clerk at the register to use all the coupons.

Magic.

The mundane realities: some fitness babble and praise for the Grocery Outlet

So, after such an action packed four days yesterday seemed no only boring but exhausting. This post will be on the rather ordinary side but I think it may set the tone for adventures to come.

The teenager and I have been pretty consistent with our attempts to join the spiritual walks and reflections championed by our friends celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.

Tonight we took a 5,000 step walk in the gentle but steady summer rain, walking the neighbor’s dog.

I loved the colors on this

The teenager and I discussed fitness goals as she needs to lose weight and I need to reclaim my previous fitness levels so I stop falling down. The two goals compliment each other well as we both need exercise, good food and hopefully some weight training. I love a good weight training session. If I had more discipline I would be a body builder.

I typically handle public relations and social media for the non-profit agency where I work and today one of my favorite grocery stores gave us a donation— Grocery Outlet! I love Grocery Outlet so much they have their own tag here on my blog. Check it out!!!

So I know I’m jumping all over the place but before I tell you about the donation I need to tell you what we had for supper because some of it coincidentally came from the Grocery Outlet.

Tonight’s meal featured:

  • Thin pork chops from the Grocery Outlet topped with my homemade sweet apple glaze
  • Canned peaches (cooked in the sauce with the pork)
  • Riced broccoli, cauliflower and carrots from the freezer section at Grocery Outlet
  • Unsalted cashews
  • Sesame sticks (from the Carmelcorn Shop in downtown Easton)

So delicious.

This morning— I put on my pandemic finest and headed to The Grocery Outlet for the donation.

There I met owner Josh Bartholomew and met up with the rest of our team who were loading the truck.

It has been about 13 hours since I made the Facebook post and it’s been viewed more than 2500 times— it was fun to see that number climb all day.

Finally, in case you don’t care about food like I do; here is a cat photo of our Oz.

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.

Evening snack: yogurt and rambling about granola

I said I’d keep everyone informed of my Grocery Outlet experimental purchases. For a snack before bed last night, as I was hungry and logged my food on Fooducate and saw I was high on carbs and low on protein, I grabbed a Siggi yogurt and a tablespoon of Van’s gluten free banana nut granola.

The only time I ever enjoyed eating plain yogurt was when I traveled in Yemen and they served plain yogurt and the best damn honey I ever tasted for breakfast.

Surprisingly this yogurt was good. I could definitely taste the cinnamon though not the banana, which is a good thing because I don’t like fruit in my yogurt. I think they put just enough banana in to keep the yogurt from having that strong tangy taste. 10 grams of carbs, no added sugar or artificial sweeteners, and 11 grams of protein. Nice.

I will definitely buy this again if I see it.

I bought the granola at Grocery Outlet in late December as a Christmas gift for a friend who was testing his sensitivity to gluten looking for an answer to some ongoing health issues. Then he upset me, so I ate it. I can be bratty sometimes. I let him open it on Christmas Eve, but he had to work that day so he asked me to keep it for him. He never asked what happened to it.

I was pleasantly surprised with this product too. Many commercial granolas don’t taste like anything.

I am famous for my homemade granola, having given it as a gift at the holidays. It’s a knock-off of the Imus Ranch Cookbook recipe, read it here: Variation of Granola Recipe.

My bedtime beverage tonight is Traditional Medicinals Nighty Nite Valerian Tea, which i swear by, but tonight it’s 90% so I iced it.

And for the record, I flossed my teeth tonight. I’ve been lazy about that lately.

Fun food review of items from Grocery Outlet

My neighbor and I went to the Grocery Outlet last night, which is normally one of my favorite grocery stores for three reasons.

  1. You can find the strangest items there and try them because of the reasonable prices.
  2. The good prices on food, some of which is very high quality stuff that would cost a kidney at another store.
  3. The owner of our local store is super involved in the community, promotes the success of local kids and supports the food pantry at the non-profit where I serve as development manager.

Last night I purchased $63 worth of food which ranged from organic strawberries to spaghetti squash, fancy chicken to fish nuggets.

It took all my self-control not to try it all last night as soon as we got home.

Then this morning I ended up on a two hour phone call with my traveling companion M catching up and discussing many of the topics I have touched on recently in this blog.

The teenager woke to the discussion of social unrest and the Coronavirus.

So at 11, I made a scrumptious brunch. And I think I purchased all of it at the Grocery Outlet:

  • Fresh pineapple cored and cut by the teenager
  • Cranberry cheddar
  • Sea Hale Maple Pecan mix
  • Kii crackers
  • Betsy’s Best nut butter

Thoughts from both of us (the teen and I) on each item:

Great Midwest Cranberry Cheddar— the teen said if you had the cheese by itself it had a yummy sweetness. I couldn’t taste the cranberries but it was a really nice, creamy cheddar.

Sea Hale Maple Pecan Mix—I love the Sea Hale mango trail mix. A lot. These were little bags, great price at 50 cents each. I only bought one because they didn’t have much protein so I assumed that meant not many nuts inside. Turns out, it included dried fruit, apples and cherries. It was delightful. The teenager thought it was really good, super sweet and loved the dried fruit. We definitely want more of those.

Kii Naturals Fig, Black Sesame and Golden Flax Crackers— at first I thought man these things are chewy but then I realized I was eating the dried fig in the cracker. I loved the mix of super crispy and chewy. And the blend of sweet and savory. Teen labels them strange. “Not a bad strange, just strange.” I thought they were magnificent with the cashew butter. The teen thinks they are best with mild cheese. A tad expensive even at $2.99 for the small box.

Betsy’s Best Cashew Butter with coconut and chia— incredible. Creamy, coconut flavor a thick mouth feel due to the chia. The teen refused to try it. Delicious and I think the price was very reasonable.