Monday, March 26, 2012

Thankful for... living in town

Hubby and I both grew up in fairly rural areas.  Well, let me clarify, we both grew up in rural counties in our respective states of residence, and within those counties, we both grew up on rural county roads, as compared to "in town".  So, when we decided to buy a house smack in the middle of the town that is our county seat, we both knew it would be a bit of an adjustment.

I had less of an adjustment, since I had moved out at 24 for graduate school.  I lived "in town" the entire time I was in graduate school, then when I moved to Pittsburgh, I lived in (several of) the South Hills suburbs, which were in and of themselves little towns.  So, for me, it was more an adjustment to living in a house, as opposed to an apartment.  I had been used to hearing other residents moving around my building, so the first few times I was in our house alone, it was a little scary!

For Hubby, the adjustment was much bigger.  He, too, had moved out for college and grad school, but when he was finished, he moved back in with his parents.  When he moved into our house, it was his first real, permanent, move.  Dealing with street parking, lots of sirens from the 3 local fire houses, and neighbors 2 feet away from our house, not to mention all the changes our particular street has undergone in the nearly 3 years we have lived here (nearly 3 years?  already?!).  Luckily, we happened to buy a house on a fabulous street.  We live on a one way street that is a mix of long term residents and young families.  Once we got over a few bumps adjusting to neighbors, I can say that this is probably one of the nicest, quietest streets in town.  Last fall, a large housing development was added for seniors at the end of our block.  We all had concerns, but honestly, we rarely ever see any of the neighbors from that development, and the pretty houses and landscaping have really perked up the street.

All in all, people keep to themselves on our street, but everyone is really kind.  We are all so busy that we just do not see each other much.  But today, I was reminded why living in town has become a blessing to us.

Our neighbors to each side had fencing along the side boundaries of our yard, so our first full summer here, Hubby and my dad fenced in the back and put fencing up to the house, so our back yard is completely fenced in.  This is great for the doggies.  However, it is a pain for cutting grass, because we have to drag the mower out through the gate to cut the side and front yards.  On top of that, last summer, I talked Hubby into buying a manual mower to help be a little greener (and to help us get some extra exercise).  It is quite cumbersome to drag it through that gate.

With the early warm spring weather, our yard had become a jungle, and today, I decided to give Hubby a surprise but tackling the first mow of the year.  His current work shift gets him home after dark, and I knew if we waited until next weekend to mow, it would be a complete mess.  As I was dragging the manual mower up from the basement, and trying to get into the groove, our next door neighbor was mowing along his side of the fence line.  He stopped his mower, and remarked that he saw I was manually mowing, and since he knew it would take me a long time, he was going to mow my front and side yards for me.  I was beyond grateful!  He cut my mow time in half, simply because I would not have to maneuver the gate and fence.

In this small act of kindness, which took him a fraction of the time it would have taken me, my neighbor reminded me how truly thankful I am to live in this town, on this street, with these neighbors.

Birchbox Favorite Review: Tea forte

My March Birchbox was awesome beyond compare, and it was so hard to pick just one favorite product, but the minute I saw that one of the samples was tea, I suspected I had found my pick.  My suspicions proved completely, deliciously correct.

Tea forte is a company that makes delicious gourmet teas that just so happen to have amazing healthy and beauty benefits.  Just a peak at their website has me considering giving up coffee altogether, well almost anyway.  I have a feeling Tea forte will turn me into a tea junkie, all of their blends sound absolutely amazing.  The samples in my Birchbox were from the Skin Smart collection, which providing skin care from the inside out.  With three different options, I chose to first try the Cherry Marzipan green tea.

I have to admit, it was love at first smell.  I am a huge fan of marzipan, so this tea was a heavenly experience for me.  It smelled so incredible.  Sweet, yet clean.  And the taste, well, the taste was out of this world.  It was not a heavy, overpowering taste, as some teas can be.  It was the perfect delicate blend of the cherry and marzipan flavors; I found it to be so relaxing, and yet rejuvenating at the same time.  I knew I had to have more of this tea.

So, I ordered this tea, as well as another blend, through Birchbox.  That is the best part of the Birchbox; if there is a sample from this month's box that you simply must have, you can purchase the full size through the Birchbox website with free shipping!  I could not wait to have more of this tea, so I ordered it and within 2 days, it was at my front door.  I have a feeling this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Note:  For local Pittsburgh folks, there are about 16 local retailers that sell Tea forte, including many of the local Coldwater Creek locations (Ross Park, Monroeville, Cranberry, and Mt. Lebabon), and it can even be found at the store at Phipps Conservatory.  Of course, you can always peruse the website to see the different products and order online!  Happy Tea Time!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Who Doesn't Love a Deal

If you know me, you know that I really do not enjoy shopping.  I find it so much hassle to get in my car, drive around to shops, deal with looking for something that I usually cannot find, and interacting with cranky customers and employees.  It is rare that I think shopping is a good idea, which is why I do a lot of shopping online.  Recently, I found a new website called that seems pretty cool.

NoMoreRack is a daily deal website that offers 8 different deals each day.  Some of these prices are so amazing, particularly for electronics and various gizmos.  You know I am a tech girl at heart, so I am totally loving looking at all the awesome tech deals.  Even now looking at some of the gadgets, I am totally drooling over things I would love to get!

There is also a community built into the website, where you can interact with other deal hunters.  You can even refer friends to build up points toward free products.  Who does not love free products?

In today's economy, we are always looking for ways to make our money go further.  Check out NoMoreRack and see all the money you could be spending on these great deals!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: Gold Kili All Natural Instant Ginger and Lemon Drink

Since I decided to drastically reduce my caffeine intake as well as my sodium intake, I have gotten a little bored with what I can drink.  There is too much sodium, not to mention other nasty stuff, in diet soda to keep drinking it as much as I was, and coffee has too much caffeine, so it has been a lot of water and decaffeinated teas.  Coffee and diet soda have been occasional at best.  So, when I got the chance to try Gold Kili All Natural Instant Ginger and Lemon Drink, I was intrigued.

The drink comes in premeasured packets, but you can add as little or as much as you like.  The drink mix is made up of little granules.  The first thing I noticed was a very overpowering smell of lemon.  While the drink says it is all natural, the lemon smell was very fake smelling (think furniture polish) and it was hard for me to get past.

I added the mix to hot water.  I added about half, and it seemed weak, so I added the rest.  Again, the lemon smell was overpowering.  I had a hard time getting past it enough to taste the drink.  I expected the lemon taste would be as powerful, but I was wrong.  It was the ginger taste that was very strong.  VERY strong.  Not awful, but definitely powerful, and it made the drink taste very spicy.  My tongue tingled after the first taste.

All in all, this drink was not bad.  The ginger taste was strong and spicy, so you will need to like ginger (a lot) to really enjoy this drink.  This is way different from the ginger ale taste that most people think of when they think ginger drink.  It is similar to a ginger beer we recently tried.  I think if I was sick, this would be a great drink.

The thing that most bothered me was, as a reviewer, I only received a single packet of the mix.  I was given absolutely no information regarding nutrition values (calories) and ingredients.  Without this information, I am very hesitant to recommend the product.

 I received this product for review as part of the Amazon Vine program.


Do you remember...Hills?

Photo Source
When I was a kid, back before the new strip mall or Walmart was built in our area, the best discount department store to be found was Hills.  I love love loved Hills.  I still remember going school shopping there, and I can even recall the layout of the store.  Hills was probably most well known for their toy section for Christmas and their layaway program.  I will never forget their creepy commercial with the Santa mini me elf proclaiming "Hills is where the toys are!"

One of the best things about Hills, beside their lobby full of arcade games, popcorn, and hot dogs, was the fact that they hosted special events.  They had fireworks on the 4th of July, which we could often see from our house.  They had Easter Egg Hunts.  And they had another event which sparked a very vivid memory for me this morning.

Each October, Hills sponsored a Pumpkin Hunt.  Bales of fresh, sweet hay were brought in, stacked up, and strewn about.  Little plastic pumpkins were hidden, each containing a little prize.  Some contained candy, some contained dollar bills, and some contained coupons for free icees, popcorn, or hot dogs from the lobby concession stand.  It was the most fun event ever.  And the reason this memory jolted me this morning was the smell of the hay.  This morning, I used a hair gel that had the same clean, sweet, fresh smell of that hay, and the memory came flooding back to me as sure as if I was 6 years old again, looking for plastic pumpkins.

When I was a teenager, Hills was bought out by Ames, but it was never the same.  Eventually Ames closed their doors.  As far as I know, the building is still there, but I am unsure if anything is being doing with it.  I will forever miss Hills.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cartoons by Hubby: Parsley

"Elvis Parsley"

Backstory:  We have a whiteboard in our kitchen, which we rarely use for its intended purposes.  We originally put it up to jot notes to each other when we would not be home at the same time, or to write things we needed to pick up at the store.  The other day, I wrote the word "parsley" on the board, so I would remember to pick some up on my next grocery run.  We picked some up on Saturday while out and about, but I never erased it.  Hubby decided to embellish it for me, and suddenly we have "Elvis Parsley".  The funniest thing is he never told me he did it, he just allowed me to find it on my own, as I stood in the kitchen laughing like an idiot.  This is exactly why I love him.