Hello Fresh Unboxing

I tried something a little different the other day since I have a gorgeous new kitchen in which to shoot.  I don’t know if it’s going to be something that happens a lot, but I thought I’d give it a try.  Be warned…it’s my first video and very amateur!  Go easy on me!  😛

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What’s New

Confession:  I have probably 15 blog post topics just sitting in my WordPress desktop waiting for me to type them out.  I have an additional 4 or 5 sets of pictures on my iPhone waiting to be loaded into WordPress.  Most of them are recipes, which makes them easy to postpone, as I’m going to do today.

See, I was going to share with you my chili recipe as it’s Super Bowl time.  In fact, as I type this I can taste remnants of the chili on my tongue as I sit watching the Super Bowl commercials and waiting for Lada Gaga.  I would LOVE to be one of those people who live for the game but I’m not.  Never have been.  Turn on some Kentucky Wildcats basketball and we’ve got another story.  But football?  Yeah, no.img_8398

Speaking of basketball, did I mention my little guy is playing?  He had his last game two weekends ago.  He and his buddy, Anderson, had so much fun!img_8816

But this post is not about sports.  It’s about what’s new at the grocery store!  At least what’s new that I saw today.  There are tons of things I missed I’m sure.  In fact, I wasn’t even looking for these items!  But man I’m glad I found them.

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Chobani Meze Dip

I have been looking for this dip for a while now.  I really didn’t know anything about it other than it’s Chobani, one of my favorite companies.  I have tried all sorts of Greek yogurt brands in the past and I always come back to Chobani.  For a while I was a Fage fan, but recently I’ve decided the filling is too sweet.  I love Chobani black cherry in particular.  So when I saw these dips on Ibotta (a money saving app), I wanted to try them.  I picked up the Smoked Onion Parmesan flavor today. They also have Roasted Red Pepper, Three Pepper Salsa, and Chili Lime.

I saw all the delicious flavors and then I saw something that REALLY caught my eye.  TWENTY FIVE CALORIES IN TWO TABLESPOONS.  Seriously?  No.  No, seriously?  I am in my best friend’s wedding in two months and my bridesmaid’s dress is just a smidge too tight, so I’m trying to loose a few pounds.  When I saw a creamy, flavorful dip for only 25 calories per serving, I had to try it.  And you know what?  It’s amazing!  So delicious!  I can’t wait to try the other flavors!  I can definitely see myself having this product on hand at all times.  I had it on crackers but mini bell peppers and carrots would be great too.

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Stonefire Naan Crisps
I have been increasingly interested in trying Indian food lately.  I’ve had a little here and there, but I’ve never been to an Indian restaurant.  I keep trying to convince my Indian pharmacy manager to take me to a local restaurant so I can get an education with my meal, but our schedules never really mesh up.  One of these days…

So, instead, I keep finding Indian-inspired items to tide me over.  Take these crisps for example.  I love naan…I still haven’t tried making my own, though I have a recipe in my Pinterest file that I’m excited to try.  Maybe after the kitchen renovation is over.  These naan crisps are light, flavorful, and the perfect vehicle for the Chobani dip!  The Tandoori spice ones are particularly delicious.  They are dangerous though.  I could kill a bag in about 10 minutes (or less).  The food scale and portion control are my friends lately.

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Snack Factory Dessert Thins

I can’t say enough good things about Snack Factory.  They started it all with the Original Pretzel Crisps, which are delicious by themselves.  Then they started adding flavors.  Everything, Honey Mustard and Onion, Garlic Parmesan.  All the flavors are good.  Not to mention that time they dipped the pretzels in peanut butter and chocolate.  Talk about killing a bag in one sitting!

Now, they have introduced Dessert Thins.  These cookie-like crackers are sweet and delicious.  You get four 2×2 squares for 130 calories and they come in the yummy flavors of brownie, chocolate chip, or, my personal favorite, lemon tart.  The lemon ones would be awesome topped with raspberry jam and some candied lemon rind!

Damn.  Now I can’t stop thinking about those peanut butter coated pretzels.  😐

halo-top16365-2500pxHalo Top Ice Cream
OK, so Halo Top isn’t new per se, but I know there are still some of you who haven’t heard of it.  Basically it’s high protein, low calorie ice cream.  I know what you’re thinking…uh…gross!  But it’s a good alternative to the high calorie stuff when you’re trying to eat better and lose weight.  You can have an entire pint of ice cream for less than 300ish calories!  Though, take my advice and split the pint in half.  Due to the high protein content, this ice cream can be extremely filling!  They have some really yummy flavors, but my favorite is the…wait for it…peanut butter cup.  I know.  Shocker.

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What have you discovered at the grocery lately that you’re in love with?  Not like I need any more deliciousness in my house…

Top Ten Drugstore Beauty Items

You may or may not know I manage a drug store.

You also may or may not know I have a slight makeup addiction.
screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-9-04-56-pmFinally you may or may not know that January at the drug store means one thing:  NEW MAKEUP!!!!  We just got our planograms last week for the resets…my favorite time of the year!

In the spirit of getting new items in for our cosmetic wall, I thought I’d review my top 10 must haves from the beauty department at Walgreens.

21559671.  CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Mascara  This is my go to mascara!  I have tried so many mascaras in the past and this is hands down my favorite.  I just can’t make myself spend the money on high end mascaras when there are so many great ones at the drug store.  This mascara volumizes and lengthens at the same time.  It’s really quite awesome.

d15d2f-760901570_1_6402.  Coty Airspun Powder Yes, I know my mom and my grandma and maybe even my great grandma used this powder, but you know what?  It WORKS!  It’s got a very distinctive smell to it and it reminds me a little of old lady, but it’s finely milled and doesn’t sink into cracks and crevices like some of the other powders I’ve tried do.

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3.  CoverGirl Brow & Eye Makers Pencil
 Most people will tell you to avoid using brow pencils on your brows, but I’ve been using them for at least a decade and I think my brows look pretty good if I do say so myself.  I’ve tried to use the Anastasia Brow Wiz, but honestly I feel like I can do just as good a job with my pencil as I can with theirs.  And it’s about a tenth the price!  Sold.

1834310-bmp4.  Maybelline Fit Me Concealer  I love watching YouTube videos, especially when it comes to makeup tutorials.  I have several subscriptions to makeup gurus who review products and let me know what’s amazing and what’s a dud.  Nearly everyone I’ve watched has RAVED about this concealer.  Naturally I had to try some.  I believe I’m on my second or third tube of the stuff now.  It’s awesome!  It’s got amazing coverage and blends beautifully.

22656075.  Real Techniques Makeup Sponge  Speaking of blending, these makeup sponges are seriously magically.  In my opinion they are just as good if not better than the beauty blender and…here’s the best part.  A beauty blender costs you $20.  These sponges?  Five bucks.  5!  Yeah…sorry beauty blender.  You are the weakest link.

img_47856.  Loreal La Palette Nude 1 & 2  When the Naked Palettes by Urban Decay came out, of course I had to get them.  I wear browns on my eyes about 98.5% of the time.  I LOVED the naked palettes.  Then Loreal decided to up the stakes.  They came out with dupes (duplicates for those of you who aren’t on the up and up) for the Naked Palettes at ⅓ the price!  I picked a couple up one day and started playing.  I never looked back.  That’s one thing I love about drugstore brands.  Sometimes it takes them a year or so, but they almost always come out with a dupe for the fan favorites.

shc1683_ct_410indiglow_btl-wcaplogo7.  Sally Hansen Color Therapy Nail Polish  New this year, but very similar to the Complete Salon Manicure, which I love as well.  This polish is infused with Argan Oil (the buzz word of the 21st century), but it keeps the polish on at least twice as long as other polishes.  I still haven’t ventured into the gel nail world (mostly because I’m lazy), but this is a cheap alternative to it in my opinion.  This color, Indiglow, has been my winter go to color since early January.

dp1023201417014837m-tifWant to know my non-drug store go to summer color?  It’s Oh Cabana Boy by Orly.  I’m a sucker for hot pink!

22063428.  Maybelline Line Stiletto Liquid Liner  When I first started putting on liquid liner, I picked this one up.  I’ve tried several, but I find the felt tip applicator very easy to control and the color pay off is tremendous.  I have since found a high end liner I prefer more, but for years and years this was the only liner I would use.  If you’re just starting out with liner or have a hard time controlling those liners where the brush goes all over the place, I recommend trying this one.

22033029.  Neutrogena Night Calming Cleansing Towlettes  So this isn’t really “makeup” per se, but it’s definitely a necessity when you need to take off your makeup.  I keep a pack in my nightstand and on the nights when I’m just too tired to go wash my face, I at least take off what I can with these wipes.  They’re quick, easy and convenient!

227562910.  CoverGirl Professional Natural Lash Mascara in Clear…but not for your eyes!  One of the things they don’t tell you when you become pregnant is that you’re going to lose your hair after you give birth.  OK, they might tell you that part, but they don’t tell you that growing that hair back is a pain.  And it leaves you with a lot of flyaways!  Sometimes, hairspray just doesn’t cut it.  On those days, I break out the clear mascara and paint my flyaways down!  Just a quick coat on the hairs will help keep those pesky things in place.  A word of caution though…don’t use too much or it will make your hair look greasy!

You may have noticed that I don’t have any lip items on this list.  Well…I’m really not a lip girl!  I would rather go without lip products than with them most days.  Sometimes I get a wild hair and decide to try something.  Remember that note about hot pink?  I do, in fact, have hot pink lipstick!  My husband tells me I look ridiculous though…

What are your go to drugstore products?  Would you guys like to hear about my go to high end products?

 

 

BBQ For A Good Cause

It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE supporter of our local bbq joint, City BBQ.  I got promoted to a different store earlier this year and it just so happens to be right across the street from a City BBQ.  Like literally right across the street.  I could walk there.

I don’t.  But I could.

I do tend to end up at City BBQ probably once a week though.  It’s an addiction really…

I’ve written about how awesome their food is a couple times on the blog.  You know what else is awesome?  When they throw a benefit to support cute, furry animals.  Well, that’s what’s going on this Friday at the Beavercreek location!

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City BBQ has teamed up with Dayton local brewery, Warped Wing, to support the Dayton Humane Society and their sweet, adorable little puppies and kitties with the BBQ, Brews, and Tunes charity event!  For just $20, you can enjoy a buffet dinner, six beer tickets from Warped Wing, live music, and the ability to feel good about supporting a great organization.

And, in case you haven’t tried it yet, make sure you nab some of the full cut brisket!  It’s my new favorite item on the menu. Moist, juicy, and so flavorful.  Mmmmm.  There are no words.

So stop by City BBQ for dinner on Friday night and have a delicious dinner while supporting a great cause.  For more information, visit the BBQ, Brews, and Tunes Facebook page!

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It’s About Thyme

entrance2Fresh Thyme is a combined spirit of a weekend farmer’s market and the convenience of a neighborhood store to create a new and health shopping experience.”

I’ve always been a grocery store junkie.  In college, my best friend and I would actually take “field trips” to the grocery store just to see what was new.  A little pathetic, maybe, but I don’t care.  #sorrynotsorry

After we moved away from each other, we would still take our little field trips.  One time when I was in Louisville visiting her, we went to Fresh Market.  I liked it so much I wrote a blog post about it!  Other times, before we had Trader Joe’s close to us, we met in Cincinnati to see what all the fuss was about.

When I was contacted to provide an honest review of a new grocery store in the Dayton area, I immediately signed up for it.  How exciting!  What’s funny is when I was contacted, the girl didn’t tell me what grocery store it was.  Just that it was a “new store in the Dayton area”.  I’d made plans to visit the store with a girlfriend even before the name was revealed.

My friend, Kristy, and I planned to go to Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market last Sunday afternoon.  Looking back, it was probably the single most awful time to go to the grocery store we could have picked.  The fact that I (the person who would rather chew her own arm off than be in a big crowd of people) still enjoyed myself speaks volumes. First and foremost, it was a gorgeous day.  Chilly, but bright blue skies.

Outside I’m always in such a great mood when the sky is filled with light, wispy clouds, aren’t you? In we went, with no intention of buying anything.  Kristy suggested we get a cart, which we did.  She wanted to get a big cart but I assured her we wouldn’t even need the little mini cart.  Haha.  Yeah, I was wrong.

EntranceThe first area we came to was produce.  It was a farmer’s market, after all.  Now I know every store has their own lost leaders (products with super low prices that drive customers in the store), but $.89 for a pint of strawberries is crazy!  And what’s more?  They were delicious.  Seriously.

I kept looking for prices to be unreasonable as they are in most “trendy” grocery stores, but in all honesty Fresh Thyme had very comparable (if not cheaper) prices to big box retailers like Kroger.  In addition to their great prices, they have this cool thing where you can “double dip” on Wednesdays.  They call it Double Ad Wednesdays. See, every Wednesday their new ad breaks BUT their old ad still rings at the sale prices.  What does this mean?  On Wednesdays you get both the past week’s and the current week’s sale prices at the same time! Kristy and I meandered around, trying to take in everything the store had to offer.

BreadOne of my favorite little corners was the artisan bread display.  I was tempted to pick up a loaf of the sourdough, but I am trying to be good and avoid loaves of bread.  They can be a trouble food for me.

BakeryI was happy to learn that these artisan breads are made locally, be it in the store or utilizing local area bakeries.

SandwichesMoving right along, they have an assortment of sandwiches and other goodies you can purchase for lunch or a light dinner.  I used to work right down the road and it would have been awesome to be able to run in for a quick bite knowing I was getting quality, local ingredients in a delicious meal.

SushiTheir sushi selections were amazing too.  Wanna know something cool?  They fly in their seafood fresh daily.  Wanna know something else cool?  They do their research and make sure their fish is sustainable, proving they are not only looking for the best quality product but are also considerate of the environment.  I like that.

You know how that “other” grocery store has their infamous salad and prepared foods bar?

OlivesSalad2Sala1Check.

Meat1Next up was the meat counter.  Some of you know how much I love the meat counter at Dorothy Lane Market.  Fresh Thyme gave DLM a run for their money.  Such succulent cuts of beef!

Meat2Check out their carne asada.  Doesn’t that look yum?  I thought so.  A pound of it made it into my cart. Another thing I liked about Fresh Thyme was just how many things they made fresh in house.  One thing in particular was their sausages.  They have over a dozen different varieties of sausage they make daily.  I’m definitely picking up a couple of those next time!  I smell sizzling sausage with peppers and onions in my future…

OnionsTheir produce section seemed to be never ending.  I loved the gorgeous displays all over the place.  As opposed to the picked over selections at Kroger, this produce was piled in luscious, bountiful mounds. I found out they source their produce locally and buy direct from vendors in order to keep costs down.  I’ll bring up those strawberries again.  We were able to sample them in the store and they were so yummy I bought two pints.  I’m very seriously considering stopping by again to pick up more even though it’s out of my way.

OK, wait.  Let’s talk bulk bins for a minute.

CoffeeBulkJust look at these beauties!  Coffee, grains, flours, seeds, nuts, fruit.  You name it.  They had it.  It’s the perfect way to try something you’re curious about (read: coconut flour) without having to invest in a $10 bag of the stuff you may never use again.

That’s all.  Carry on.

To be perfectly honest, Kristy and I didn’t spend a whole ton of time in the dry grocery section of the store.  We were too fascinated with the fresh areas.  We were able to find several varieties of Vita Tops (one of Kristy’s favorites) and a great deal on Alexia frozen potatoes though.

Finally we wandered around the “fun” aisles.  That’s beer and wine to you.  They have a huge selection of both!

BeerThey had at least 8 cooler doors full of craft beer as well as domestic favorites.

Wine2Wine1In addition, they had an enormous amount of wine, especially for a relatively small grocery store.  Love it!

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty.  Did I like this store?  No. I loved it.  I was so impressed by the quality of ingredients, the layout and merchandising of the store (which is a lot coming from a retail manager), and most of all the affordable pricing.  I talked to several of the employees while I was there and you can really tell they love what they do.  They want to bring happiness and quality to their customers, a trait I find extremely rare in the retail environment. At Walgreens, we hold the customer experience in the highest regard, so when I find other retailers who do the same thing (read: Chick Fil A), I make it my mission to point it out.

Basically, everything you need to know is in their mission statement:  to improve the way our communities eat by offering fresh and healthy food at amazing values, in a fun and vibrant store with friendly faces. I felt every bit of their mission statement in the too-crowded-for-my-comfort-level visit on Sunday afternoon.   (Disclaimer: it was only too crowded for me.  Normal people would be perfectly fine in there.)

If you’re looking for a new grocery store to try where the quality is king and the prices are reasonable, check out Fresh Thyme.  I promise it’s worth a trip.

In all honesty, I was compensated by Fresh Thyme to review their grocery story, but all views and opinions of the store are 100% my own.

Same City, New Tastes

I can be a creature of habit.  At certain restaurants, I find something I like and have a hard time branching out.  At Smashburger, it’s the BBQ Bacon Burger and Smash fries.  At Sammy’s El Pueblo, it’s the Bourbon Burger.  (Sensing a burger theme here aren’t you?)  At Piada, it’s the Balsamic Chicken Salad.

You see, if I find something I love, and especially if I don’t get to that restaurant very often, I want those meals over and over again.  I’ve been to Sammy’s about 20 times and I think I’ve only ordered something aside from the Bourbon burger maybe three times.

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The same goes for City BBQ.  Every time I go, I get the beef brisket with mac and cheese and fries.  Every. Single. Time.  Though one time I did order hush puppies instead of the fries.  Wasn’t the same.

But when Samantha (a marketing manager for City BBQ) contacted me about meeting up and trying a few new items to their menu, I was all over it.  A free lunch to expose me to items I’ve never tried at one of my favorite restaurants in Dayton?  Uh, yeah.  That was a no brainer.

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First, she brought out some sides and set them on the table while she gathered the rest of the meal.  It was all I could do to not shove the entire bowl of mac and cheese in my mouth while I waited for her to return.

I snapped a few pictures instead.

In addition to the mac and cheese, she ordered up some corn casserole.  I had had this before (Jeff ordered it) and it’s pretty tasty!

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Also on the menu was their green beans.  I’m not a huge fan of green beans that aren’t oven roasted and slightly crispy, but these veggies were delicious.

City BBQ 6Finally, she pointed out one dish I’d never tried before.  The gumbo.  I confessed to her I didn’t even know it was on the menu.  She said she hears that a lot, but sure enough when I looked up at the sides board, it was listed plain as day.  I loved it!  Spicy with a little creole flair.

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Next, she offered up their award winning roast turkey.  I was very familiar with this turkey breast.  I picked one up for my store’s Thanksgiving Day dinner last year AND convinced my friends and family to have one at each of our Thanksgiving Dinners as well!  They are so quick and easy, it really is a great solution if you’re looking for a time saver on Thanksgiving.

Finally, she brought out the big guns.City BBQ 2This, my friends, is the More Cowbell.  Oh. My. God.  I need to take a minute and remember this glorious, delectable morsel of food.  My entire mouth just filled with saliva.

This sandwich quickly replaced the brisket sandwich as my favorite item at City BBQ.  It’s like the beef brisket’s hot, sexy, leather wearing, motorcycle riding older brother.  It’s a brisket sandwich topped with sauteed peppers and onions, provolone cheese, crispy onion straws and horseradish sauce on Texas toast.  It is perfection.  Definitely check this sandwich out the next time you’re near a City BBQ.  You won’t be disappointed.

To entice you even further, Samantha generously donated some gift cards to me to giveaway to a few lucky readers!  To enter, all you have to do is comment on this post and let me know what your favorite thing is to eat at City BBQ.  Only one entry per person please.  Visit my Facebook page for an additional chance to win a gift card!

Entry to this drawing will close at midnight on Wednesday, February 4th.  Winners will be announced in my blog post on Friday, February 6th.  Good luck!

You’ve Been Minted. (A Giveaway)

I love getting mail.  My favorite thing to get in the mail?  Presents!  My second favorite thing?  Photo cards from my friends!  I’ve been getting a lot of save the date and birth announcements lately since so many of my friends are pregnant or new mamas.

It has me reminiscing back to when I was designing my birth announcements for Jake.  I think I just stumbled onto a website, plugged in his stats, and had the cards printed at a local store.  I didn’t do a whole lot of thinking about them when I was designing them (I was too tired!), but now I’m kind of wishing I did.

I was on the minted.com website the other day looking at business cards when my eye caught the “Babies and Kids” tab.  Being a mom, naturally I clicked onto the page to see what they had to offer.

Let me just tell you, I was blown away by some of the designs this website had to offer!  The birth announcements were simply gorgeous.  It made me want to design a whole new birth announcement for Jake (17 months later…)!  Here are a few of my favorite ones:

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I just love little babies!

If you find yourself in need of birth announcements, wedding invitations, business cards, or anything else of that nature, spend a minute on minted.com.  They have some really unique designs and their product is top quality.  My friend, Katie, showed me one of her business cards the other day and it was gorgeous!  Head over there between now and Memorial day to save 15% off your entire baby + kid order.  Just use the coupon code MEMORIAL15.

Want to know what’s even better than a coupon code?
$50 towards a Minted.com order!
Just leave a comment below telling me what you would order with your $50 and why!
Entries must be received by Friday, May 31st at Midnight.

Disclaimer:  I received a discount for writing this blog post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.  I believe in the product and would not write a post otherwise.

Windows Down, Music Up

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably see the title of this blog post a lot recently.  We’ve had some pretty decent weather lately.  What’s my favorite thing to do when the weather gets warmer?  Roll those windows down, crank the music up, and drive.  I seriously could drive around listening to music for my job and not get bored.

Recently a very good friend of mine introduced me to an app that has changed my life.  Not even kidding.  Has anyone heard of Spotify?  No?  OK, well buckle up.

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Spotify is kinda like Pandora, iTunes, and your entire music library rolled into one.  They have three different plans to choose from:  free, unlimited, and premium.

Free:  works pretty much just like Pandora.  You can create radio stations based on songs or artists you like, but you have to listen to ads in between some songs.

Unlimited ($4.99):  They do you one better by removing the ads, but you still just have access to the radio.

Premium ($9.99):  They pull out all the stops.  You have all the benefits of the other plans BUT you can also search for and play any song in their entire library whenever you want.  You can listen to whole albums, make playlists, and turn on “offline” listening, meaning you have access to those playlists even when you don’t want to use wifi or data.  It’s kind of like having the entire iTunes catalog at your fingertips for $10/month.

AHHH

I know what you’re thinking…why would I pay for music when I could listen to it for free?  I thought the same thing.  But once I tried it, I never looked back.  Being able to pick and choose what music you want to listen to whenever you want, download those songs to your phone or computer, and be able to play them back wherever you are is priceless to me.

I figure I spend at least $10/month in the iTunes store.  So now, instead of spending that money in iTunes, I just spend it on my Spotify account.  If you’re a music lover like me, you definitely have to check it out.

One of my favorite things about Spotify is finding new artists.  I create radio stations based on artists I like and then when a song comes on I enjoy, I switch over to that artist’s album.  By doing this I have come to realize one of my favorite bands on the planet is Seether.  I especially like their “Holding on to Strings Better Left to Fray” album.

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I also remembered how much I like Fall Out Boy!  I don’t know why I always forget this…

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Sharing music is fun too.  You can find friends on Facebook and follow them.  One of my friends created a 90s r&b/rap playlist, which I started listening to and all these memories from high school came flooding back!  It was awesome!  (Don’t you just love how music evokes memories?  LOVE!!)

One thing I wish Spotify would change is the ability to search for other users.  Maybe I’m just missing it, but there are people I’m not friends with on Facebook that I’d like to be able to follow.  Maybe in the future…

This is seriously the best money I’ve spent in a loooooooong time.  If you’re a big fan of music like me, you should definitely check it out.  You won’t regret it.  Bonus?  They have a free 30 day trial.  Love that.

What’s your favorite genre of music?  Have you ever been surprised to find you like something you otherwise didn’t think you would?

*Disclaimer:  all thoughts and opinions are my own.  Spotify DID NOT pay me to write this.  I just really love music.

Smashing the Burger!

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One of the perks of being a blogger is the fabulous events you get invited to.  Recently, Heather (from What Does She Do All Day), her husband John, and I were able to attend an event I was uber excited about.  Anyone who knows me knows my favorite meal in the entire world is a cheeseburger.  (Yes, I know people think I’m crazy but I’m OK with that.)  Well, when I had the opportunity to attend an event at Smashburger, I squealed.  Literally.

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SmashBurger, “a fast-casual restaurant designed to be every city’s favorite place for burgers”, was started by Tom Ryan in Denver Colorado.

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Tom had the vision to provide a delicious burger experience that the general public could afford.  They pride themselves on using fresh, never frozen beef as well as a myriad of toppings.  They also try to add a little local flare to some of their burgers when possible.  For example, the BBQ sauce on the BBQ Bacon and Cheddar burger (my personal favorite) varies region to region.  In Tennessee, they use a Memphis style BBQ sauce.  In Texas and Oklahoma, they pull from the local resources there.  In North Carolina?  You guessed it.  Local, local, local.  Jake did lots of research into their claims.

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For this event, it was the same deal.  Instead of BBQ sauce, though, they were discussing something a little more…adult.  Beer, people.  It was a burger and BEER event!  Sweet!  OK, so I’m not a huge beer drinker, but who would pass up the opportunity to sample free burgers and free booze?  Not this girl!

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Smashburger has always served alcohol at their restaurants, but they’ve decided to up their game a little.  They are pairing up with local microbreweries and really delving into the flavors that compliment each other.  For Ohio, the team chose…who else…Great Lakes Brewing Company (GLBC)!  As a Cleveland-born lady, I was all about this.  I love supporting local companies in any way I can.

To start the event, we were brought nearly every side dish Smashburger has to offer.  My favorite (aside from the Smash Sweet Potato Fries) were the Fried Banana Peppers!  Who knew?

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Tom spent a little time talking about starting the company.  Then he introduced Brew Master Luke Purcell from GLBC.  They talked about how they spent a great deal of time really trying to pick the flavors that worked the best together.  It was interesting to me to hear how they did it, especially since most beer tastes the same to me.  😛

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We began the evening with the classic Smash paired with the most versatile beer, Dortmunder Gold.  Next up, the Mushroom Swiss burger along with Eliot Ness.

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Then, my favorite burger, the BBQ Bacon and Cheddar with Edmund Fitzgerald.

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After that, we had the Buckeye Burger and Burning River (named for when the Cuyahoga River caught on fire in the 1960s…a bit of trivia for ya).  They kind of threw us a curve ball after that with the Spicy (for real, yo) Black Bean Burger and Commodore Perry.  Adding to the non-beef options, we had the Classic Chicken sammie with the Dortmunder again.  Rounding things out, we sampled the Avocado Club chicken sammie with the Eliot Ness.

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I was an equal opportunity sampler, but my heart sang when I tried the BBQ Bacon burger.  I knew it would though.  I’ve eaten at Smashburger several times, and I almost always go with this burger.  It is made up of several of my favorite items:  BBQ sauce, bacon, beef, cheddar, bacon, onion straws, and…oh…did I mention bacon?  Next time I go, I’m adding avocado to it.  PERFECTION on a bun!  Geez, my mouth is watering at 8:30am…

Perhaps the most fun of the evening, however, was when we got to go back into the kitchen and smash burgers with Tom.  Here’s a little back story about Bethany.  When I was in college, I worked at a restaurant at UK called K-Lair Grill.  We had all kinds of “diner” type food, but we sold burgers far more than anything else.  I was one of the grill cooks that worked there.  And let me tell you…I could cook and assemble burgers better than anyone.  In fact, I didn’t even have to ask where my managers wanted me when I got to work.  I was immediately put on the grill.  Yep, I was that good.  (So I’m being a little cocky.  And I’m OK with that!  lol)

Well, when Tom said we could go smash burgers, visions of college flashed through my head.  I was all over it.  My friend Katie did me the favor of filming me “in my college element”.  So much fun!

After smashing burgers, we were able to sample a couple milkshakes for dessert.  We tasted the Cookies and Cream as well as the Strawberry.  I am a huge fan of the Cookies and Cream now and it will be hard for me to resist ordering one when I’m in there!

This event was really fun and I simply can’t wait for the next one.  Thanks to Katie at Domestic Debacle for setting it up for all of us!

Disclaimer:  Though I was provided the food and beverages for free, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Lobstah Anyone?

**Sorry for the lack of posts for a while.  I am trying to move my blog to a self-hosted site and am having severe difficulty.  I have had this blog post drafted for a while waiting for my other blog site to be up and running.  As it seems I’m never going to figure the other site out, I wanted to post this here before it was just irrelevant.  Enjoy!**

I have always been a fan of seafood.  My personal favorite is crab, but I’m really not picky.  When Red Lobster contacted me and asked if I would be interested in joining them for a blogger event, I jumped at the chance!  A date night with the husband sans le bebe?  Yes, please!

On April 2, Jeff and I ventured north of town to one of the Red Lobster restaurants in our area.  We didn’t know what to expect, but we were not disappointed!  When we walked in, we were greeted by the hosts of the event, who immediately offered us cocktails.  Not a bad way to start the evening.

Now, most of you wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but I’m relatively shy and have some social anxiety.  It’s gotten much better since college, but I still get nervous if I have to do something out of my comfort zone.  Well, I’m not sure who exactly went to this event, but it wasn’t Bethany!  I walked right up to a group of girls sitting at the table and said, “Hi!  I’m Bethany from One Girl’s Taste on Life.  Nice to meet you!”  So not like me.  Usually I stand there and wait for someone to come up to me.  Ha.  Guess I’m comfortable around other bloggers?

Buffalo Chicken Bites

Two of the three girls sitting there were bloggers: Katie from Domestic Debacle and Bridgett, who writes for Savings Lifestyle.  We quickly got to talking about all kinds of fun things.  Turns out these two started a Facebook group for local bloggers and Katie was trying to find me to add!  Fun!

The other two bloggers at the event were Lisa from Dayton MostMetro and Steve from Food Adventures with Superfry and the Big Ragu.  I was sitting at opposite ends of the table from them, so I wasn’t able to chat with them as much as I would have liked, though I did spend a little time with Steve at the end of the dinner.  Great guy!

Southwest Chicken Pizza

Anyhow, back to the event.  First off, Heidi started talking to us about the different changes Red Lobster has been making lately.  To start, they’ve realized Red Lobster needs to be less niche-y and offer more “land” options, so that’s what they did.  Instead of having a couple choices for those land lubbers, they’ve upped their game and offer more than twelve options that aren’t seafood based!

They’ve also introduced their Maine Stays, which are 15 entrees under $15 so you can afford to take the whole family out for a night on the town.  And if Mom is like me and trying to shed some pounds, she doesn’t have to skip out on dinner.  She can peruse the Lighthouse menu, which lists the calorie content of each individual item and helps you put together a yummy but still healthy meal!

Sweet Chili Shrimp

After Heidi finished talking, the great wait staff brought around some apps for us to try.  I sampled the southwest chicken pizza, the spicy buffalo chicken bites, the sweet chili shrimp, the coconut shrimp, and a lobster and crab stuffed mushroom.  Everything was delicious, but I think my favorite was the sweet chili shrimp.  Scrumptious!

Stuffed MushroomsWe were told to order whatever we wanted, so I started with a cup of clam chowder (theirs is probably my favorite of any restaurant I’ve ever tried).

Clam Chowder

For dinner I had the Bay Harbor Bake (I think that’s what it was called).  It was a mix of lobster, shrimp, scallops, and mussles over a lightly sauced linguine.  I wasn’t sure if I liked scallops or mussles, so I thought this was a great way to try them out…you know…on someone else’s dime.  Turns out I like both!

Bay Harbor Bake

Jeff opted for the parmesan crusted chicken alfredo, which was delicious!

Parmesan Crusted Chicken

After we were finished eating, the sneaky staff started bringing out desserts.  Like…a lot of them.  I was stuffed, but there was no way I wasn’t going to try the warm chocolate chip lava cookie.  (Apparently I was too excited about this one to keep the camera steady.)

Chocolate Chip Lava Cake

Or the chocolate wave.

Chocolate Wave

Or the warm apple crostada.

Apple Crostada

Oh, yeah.  Or the caramel cheesecake.  #fatty

Caramel Cheesecake

They were so generous.  Heidi told us to order desserts to take home!  We got some cheesecake for Jeff’s mom, who was watching the baby, and some chocolate cake for her husband.  We were very popular that night!

I had a really fun time at this event and look forward to having more meetups with local bloggers.  I can’t wait to make more “blends”!  (For those of you not familiar with that term, it means blog friends.)

I want to say a special thank you to Red Lobster for putting on the event that night.  It was very generous and I really appreciate it!

*Disclaimer:  I was provided with a free meal as well as some gift cards by Red Lobster, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.