Monday, July 17, 2017

$10 at Target: July Taste Test Candy

Hi friends!  Sorry this post is up a little late.  I took a bad fall crossing the street the other day and I've been hobbling around in pain since.  I have a skinned knee!  I feel like a kid except I sure don't heal like a kid.  I'm sure I'll be as good as new in a few days though.

I've been thinking about my $10 at Target challenge and while the concept itself is perfectly in my wheelhouse, I decided I needed a change.  I'm going to start having each month be a taste test of new or interesting things I've found at Target.  Dustin and I did this for a while when we were helping out our friend Tony with his Dynamite Gun podcast.  I've decided to bring back the taste test.  What do you think?  I always see products thinking "I should try that" and then I never do.  This is the perfect chance to go ahead and try.

This month, I was way behind on getting things together so I decided to try candy.  Life has been so busy and I didn't have time to cook or bake anything so I figured candy would be an easy and fun way to go.  Here are the items I found:

1. Sweetarts Whipped and Tangy - $2.69
I love tart candy so I was excited to try these Sweetarts!  They do have an airy texture but much more dense than a marshmallow.  They are definitely tart and finish sweet like most Sweetart candies.  I don't know how to explain the texture to you.  Avery said that they were squishy and she's not wrong.  I think there are other puffy types of candy you can get at special candy stores that have the same texture but I'm not sure what they are called like puffy strawberries.  Anyone?  Overall, we'll likely finish the bag but I wouldn't buy these again.  I like gummy Sweetarts better or even the original circles in the tube thing.  

2. Brookside Vineyard Inspired Chardonnay Grape and Peach - $3.69
I've loved the Brookside candies since my friend introduced me to them.  I usually buy the blueberry acai or the pomegranate flavors.  I was interested in this Chardonnay Grape and Peach flavor.  The chocolate is consistently the same in all the flavors I've tried.  It's polished to a shine on the outside but a nice dark chocolate taste under.  The soft fruit candy in the middle definitely tastes like grape and peach and the flavor is pleasant but I'm not sure I love it with the chocolate.  It's not bad and again I will likely finish the package.  I will go back to the pomegranate or blueberry afterwards though because I enjoy the tartness of those flavors more.

3. M&M's Caramel $2.69 (after Cartwheel discount)
I know these were in HIGH demand over the last few months.  I'm happy to tell you that Target had a GIANT space on the shelf full of these M&M's now.  These are really, really good!  They have a nice amount of chewy, creamy caramel inside.  I would buy these again and I'm sure my husband will love them too!

For the first time EVER, I was under budget at $9.07!  I'm so proud of myself!  Please check out the other hostesses in this challenge!  And link up with us if you love Target like we do!

Stephanie |
Becky |
Stephanie |
Jess |

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Things to Do in Sac: Gather Nights

I've been meaning to write this blog post for so long but I have been so busy!  I wanted to continue my Things to Do in Sac series with one of my FAVORITE  events in Sacramento, Gather Nights.  I wanted to write this because the next one is coming up on July 13 and if you haven't ever been to Gather, you must go!  I've only been to the Gather in Oak Park but I haven't been to the new Gather in Rocklin yet since it was canceled last month.

Gather is an outdoor festival where there is live music and DJs, food vendors (tented and food trucks), beer, wine, and cocktail vendors, a craft area that sometimes has vendors, and a kid area.  It's from 5pm to 9pm and the event itself is free, you can walk around and enjoy the music, the company, and enjoy the ambiance.  Everything else is something you'd have to purchase should you choose to partake.  Parking can be a bit rough so unless you get there early, be prepared to walk a bit.

Some of my very favorite food vendors can be found at Gather.  I usually hit up Masa Guiseria, Wheel Lemonade, and The Rustic Puff.  Afterwards, I check out the food trucks which vary a bit from time to time.  Next, we grab a drink sometimes a lemonade or sometimes an adult beverage.  Then we make our way to the long communal tables.  I love the communal tables!  It adds so much to your experience!  I always end up talking to someone new because that's who I am as a person, let's be honest.

Personally, I don't bring my kids to Gather because I like to enjoy myself...LOL!  But really, I talk to a lot of vendors, chat with local photographers, and I usually see friends there who I chat with.  My kids do not enjoy waiting around while I chit chat.  It's not their thing.  They also don't like artisan type food and drinks.  They prefer kid food.  And while there is an awesome kid area at Gather, I like to wander around and chat and I would not leave my children unsupervised there.  That's just my own personal preference since I don't think they are old enough to be there on their own.  If they came, my hubby or I would have to stay with them in the kids zone which costs money for games.  Doing the art projects are really inexpensive but they cost money too, I think about $5 each.  After all the activities and food TIMES THREE, I think it's cost effective to get a sitter for them so hubby and I can have a date night.  Also, Gather is on a Thursday night and my kids have year round school so it's actually a school night for them most of the Gather Nights.

However, if you wanted to bring your kids, it is a great environment.  I've seen lots of kids there having a great time.  Like I said there are games for them to play, there are crafts for them to do, there's a little dress up area, sometimes there is a balloon animal twister, etc...  I've also seen lots of kids dance it up on the dance floor.  Also, since Gather is outside, it is a dog friendly event.

For me, Gather is all about the vibe.  Everyone is relaxing and having a great time.  There's music playing and the delta breeze starts coming in.  It's just always a nice night.  It's probably my very favorite date night in Sacramento so I'm linking this up to my friend Justine's How to Revive Date Night link up party.

What's your favorite date night?  Or does your town have special outdoor festivals like this?  Let me know!

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Best Bites: June 2017

Happy July!  Can you believe it's July and over half this year is over?  I can't.  I'm actually kinda freaking out over it.  I feel like I should have done so much more by now and changed into a far better person.  What can you do?  I guess we have 5 more months to get it together.

I'm starting something new this month and you'll have to let me know how you like it.  Instead of doing "favorites", I wanted to do Best Bites of each month.  I post so much food on Instagram and I don't post nearly enough here on my blog so I figured this is a great way to bring them together.  In no particular order, here we go!

Cupcakes from Katelynd Knill.  Katelynd is a local baker and I have been dying to try her baked goods.  She makes GORGEOUS cakes!  I got the chance to try a few cupcakes from her and they were AMAZING!  This girl knows flavor!  I got to try the Oreo, Mocha, and Lemon cupcakes and each flavor was so bold and pronounced.  I loved them!  I feel like a lot of cupcakes have the tendency to just taste sweet but these each packed a bunch and there was no questioning what flavor they are.  I can't wait to try more treats from Katelynd!

Green Tomatillo Spaghetti and Meatballs from Todo Un Poco in Elk Grove.  I really try to order different dishes each time I go to a restaurant because I'm trying to get out of my comfort zone and experience new things all the time.  I've gone long enough doing the same thing every single time.  HOWEVER, I was craving this dish.  You KNOW it's good when my hubby tells me he's ordering it too and I don't even care.  I usually try to get something different and we share both dishes.  Not this time.  I was gonna eat this ALL to myself.  It's a Mexican spin on spaghetti where the sauce is made with tomatillos instead of tomatoes.  This time it was dressed with some sriracha sauce and as always served with their fried bread.  I LOVE the green sauce on this dish!  It's so good!

Thai Papaya Salad from Deliciozo in Elk Grove.  My current obsession is papaya salad!  It doesn't matter what style it is (Thai, Vietnamese, Laos, etc...), I just love it!  It doesn't hurt that it's served cold and it was over 100 degrees so many times in June.  I love the pungent dressings!  And I like some spice in my papaya salad.  This version from Deliciozo is so fresh and bright!  I got the medium spicy and it packed a real punch of heat.  It's so good and the flavor always has me coming back for more!

Fried Chicken from Bar Rouse in Sacramento.  Here's where the getting a new dish every time you go somewhere really pays off.  I've eaten my way through quite a bit of the Bar Rouse menu but I hadn't had this fried chicken dish.  Honestly, I don't tend to order a lot of fried chicken.  No reason behind it, I just usually gravitate towards other things.  Well, you should gravitate yourself towards this chicken.  This is one of the best fried chicken dishes I've ever had!  It's served with a corn sauce, bacon braised kale, and smoked chili honey.  I can't even tell you how good this is!  The chicken is flavorful and juicy and crunchy and a little sweet and a little spicy from the honey.  The kale was good too and I loved the corn sauce!

Lobster Miso Ramen medium spicy from Ramen Parlor in San Mateo.  My cousin told me that she found the BEST ramen place near her home.  That is a TALL order so of course when we went to visit her, the first thing we did was go have ramen.  Their broth is AMAZING!  They get so much flavor into the broth but it's not overly salted (which I find happens a lot when places simmer broth all day.)  The medium spice level had a good kick but I honestly could have gone for more spice.  The noodles were a lovely al dente texture and the pork belly was melt in your mouth tender.  It was definitely one of the best bowls of ramen I've had!

Hope you enjoyed this post!  What was your best bite from last month?  Leave a comment and let me know so I can check it out to!

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Seattle Part 5: Dinner and Drinks

At last, here is the last post from my Seattle series.  I didn't finish the series since I didn't notice many clicks or comments on the posts however I had a couple friends ask for the final post so I'm posting it.    I thoroughly enjoyed the food and drink scene in Seattle!  I wish I could go back there right now!  Here is what we had for dinner and drinks while we were there.

U:Don Fresh Japanese Noodle Station
This place is really cool!  They make fresh udon noodles and broths with all natural ingredients.  You go up to a counter then pick a style (soup, sauce, or dipping noodles) and then a flavor.  Both Dustin and I decided to get some soup with the fresh udon noodles.  He got the Niku (sukiyaki beef with onion) and I got the Kakuni (soy braised pork belly) with chili oil.  After you order, the person working starts cooking your noodles right in front of you.  Both soups were delicious and the noodles had amazing texture!  Looking back, I really should have pushed myself more and gotten a different style of udon since I don't think I've ever had udon any other way but what can you do?  We also picked up some appetizers from their ready made trays of tempura and other sides mostly sold by the each.  I thought that was such a fun idea and the prices were AMAZING on the appetizers!  This concept is so fresh and unique, I would LOVE to see one of these in my town!

Island Tasting Room Gallery Cafe
I figured we should try some Washington wine while we were there.  I went with my hubby Dustin and his cousin Kim.  We all had different flights.  I think they are affiliated with Amelia Wynn Winery so a lot of the wines where from that winery.  I was disappointed that our cousin didn't get the Rose' wine in her flight because they said they were running out but there was literally a case of it on the counter.  However, she did like the flight that she received so it was fine.  I think everyone enjoyed their flight though the service was a bit delayed since they were having an event.  I didn't really care for the plum wine in my Fruit Wine Flight but I usually don't so that wasn't a shock but the other ones were good.  I was also disappointed that you had to pay for crackers.  They had NOTHING to cleanse the palette between pours.  It was like $5 for some store bought crackers.  (I live in area with a lot of wine and we always have free crackers at the very least.)  It was nice to sit down and relax but maybe my expectations were too high from living right near Lodi and Clarksburg.  The wines were pretty good but we didn't buy any since we only had carry on baggage and I didn't like anything enough to mail home.

Kim (Dustin's cousin) picked this awesome restaurant for us when Dustin said he wanted to eat pizza and I suggested a place with pasta and other options too.  I will tell you right now that my photos are horrible because this is the darkest restaurant I've ever been in!  I edited the photos to make it appear that the restaurant was a lot brighter than it actually was.  We literally had to pull out our cell phone lights to read the menus.  They say that this place is haunted and ghosts wander around it helping out the guests.  They also have an effect where the lights flicker and the wind blows and things move.  It was a fun atmosphere and I like a place with a story.  

We ordered drinks first.  Dustin got the Fresca Cocktail which was AMAZING!  Apparently it's popular in Seattle, that's what the menu said.  Kim had a Moscow Mule and she loved it.  They make theirs with intense ginger flavor.  I had The Nutty Irishman which I felt lacked sweetness and nuttiness.  We ordered three dishes to share.  First up was the Tapenade and Roasted Garlic bulb which was pretty good.  I liked the bread and the tapenade had good flavor.  The garlic bulb lacked for me.  I wish I had salt and pepper to put on it.  Next was the Spicy Mac and Cheese and this was a HUGE disappointment.  The sauce was flavorless except the occasional spicy pepper and the serving size was tiny itty bitty even though the dish cost $14!  I wish we had sent it back to be honest.  Lastly, we got the Goat Cheese, Prosciutto, and Argula pizza which was super tasty!  It was $20 and not a huge portion but it was definitely delicious!  It was a fun dinner experience and I would go back.  I would just a lot more careful with ordering.  

Goldfinch Tavern 
Jess (Seattle Dessert Geek), Dustin, and I had drinks at Goldfinch Tavern at the Four Seasons.  You know, because we are SO fancy!  Honestly, we sat down in the lobby of The Four Seasons and didn't realize we were in their tavern.  We felt inclined to order some drinks.  Jess had the Purple Rain Mocktail which she said tasted like fancy blackberry juice.  I had the American Goldfinch which was on their Happy Hour.  This wasn't the right drink for me.  It wasn't quite fruity enough but it was smooth.  Dustin got the Market Mule which was a decent drink.  Their mule wasn't served in a mule mug which is disappointing.  The service was very attentive.  I wish I had been in the mood for Happy Hour food because the plates looked beautiful!

Rachel's Ginger Beer
Listen, yes more drinks and more desserts.  It's a vacation.  I found it fascinating that Seattle has entire places dedicated to ginger beer!  I'm sure we have weird places to other people too.  The people in Seattle seem SUPER into RGB too!  I figured we HAD to try it since we have nothing like this in our area.  It was AMAZING!  They have tons of different flavors of ginger beer and you can get samples.  The ginger beer was lovely, not too sweet.  I ended up having the Passion Fruit x Vanilla ginger beer in a float with vanilla soft serve.  (I know, passion fruit, shocking!)  Dustin got the Raspberry Hibiscus (which was the seasonal flavor at the time) spiked with tequila.  We both really enjoyed our drinks!

Hope that these Seattle posts were helpful!  We had such a great time there!  I can't wait to go back to Seattle!  Hopefully someday we will end up back there!

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Photos with Kathryn Taras Photography

Sigh... let's be honest, I do not like having my photo taken.  While I love a good selfie on a good hair and makeup day, getting my pictures taken by other people is a VERY different story especially by myself with no kids to hide behind.  (Cue montage of me hiding behind my kids in family photos.)   However, as a blogger, I often need updated headshots and iPhone selfies aren't gonna cut it.  Thankfully, my friend Kathryn of Kathryn Taras Photography came to my rescue.

The theme for this shoot was "Blogger Headshots."  I know, the creativity is astounding.  However, I felt like it was really important to not have professional looking headshots like you would if you were a real estate agent or even different from acting headshots.  It's just me and that's pretty nerve-wracking.  Also, lately blogger headshots have a certain style to them that I tried to emulate.

I wanted to share a few of my favorites.  Working with Kathryn was so easy!  I told her what I wanted in terms of style, I told her what I was insecure about in terms of my looks, and she worked her magic.  While I was a little awkward and nervous at first, Kathryn really put me at ease.  I felt that she was being so genuine with me and I absolutely had faith that she would make me look my best.

I highly recommend Kathryn if you need photography!  It is ROUGH to be an out of shape mom who works behind the screen to get out there and be photographed.  Kathryn really helped me through this whole process.  She is a mom herself and she has a lot of the same feelings about being photographed.  We worked together before, during, and after the shoot and she made 100% sure I was happy with my photos.  I think the most important thing is that she captured who I am as a person.  Even though I tried really hard to have a "cool trendy blogger vibe" at the end of the day, who I was came out in the photos and that was way better than trying to be like the photos I saw on Pinterest.  

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