"That's what she said."   Yup, I did and I'm glad you're here to listen.
Check out my latest tangents on random happenings, products, and places.

Once again, “Cookie Season” is here and scouts are out in full force. I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Is this just an innocent fund raiser or one of the best money making schemes to hit this country?” Why such a question? Well, let’s take a deeper look…

I'm in a bit of shock that another year is almost in the books and it’s time to get shopping for holiday gifts.  If you’re anything like me, you try to do your best to get your loved ones presents that bring you as much joy to give them as they get to receive them.  It’s not always an easy task to complete, especially when you’ve got a bunch of people on your list that seem to have everything!  The kids are the easy ones- a few toys, games, and books, and you’re done. But what about the adults?

Recently, I was getting in touch with my country side listening to a local radio station and Tim McGraw's "In my next thirty years" came on and it got me to thinking.  I am about to turn 30 and this is one of those milestone times in life where a self evaluation makes sense. The last 3 decades have been full of personal achievements, ranging from learning to tie my shoes to marrying my best friend. I could probably come up with hundreds of accomplishments, big and small, since my world premier in 1981 and without sounding completely egotistic, I am proud of the person I have become and the path that I have taken to get here. I'd like to continue on this journey, so I decided to compile a "30 for 30" list, which includes a number of things that I would like to achieve between now and my 60th birthday.

I've only been back from Amsterdam less than a week and am already yearning for another visit to this beautiful city. For those of you who have never been there and may have preconceived notions as to what it's all about, I'd like to clear the air for ya.  This was my second time visiting Amsterdam, however the last time I was there was back when I was 18 and while I remember being a fan of the place, that trip is a little foggy.  Fortunately, I have had 10+ years of traveling experience since then to know how to take advantage of a stay in a foreign place, even if it is just for a few days (like this trip of 4 days).

I got the idea to write this "Ramble" the other day when I stopped to get a post gym smoothie and opted to do something nice for a complete stranger. I asked the girl behind me in line if I could buy her smoothie. This decision did not cost me a single penny (I had a "buy one get one free" coupon), but it did require me to make a conscious effort to do something kind. I share this story with you not because I am looking for praise, but rather because of the reaction that her and those in line behind her had. It was the same reaction that a man getting on the elevator in my office building (the one at my day job) had after I held the door a few extra seconds to see if he was going up. Everyone was so taken back that this kind gesture was happening before their eyes. It leads me to believe that we, as a society, are not doing our best in treating each other well.

So this morning I noticed a few of my Facebook friends "liked" a page called "Crock Pot Girls."  Being a slow cooker advocate myself, I thought I'd check it out.  I was quite impressed to see that the page had close to 700,000 fans.  I figured this Crock Pot Girls page has been around a while to attract so many people... WRONG!! They started this page 2 weeks ago and have had a killer response.  The Flavor Appraiser in me was filled with envy and complete shock.  How did three unknown ladies, who now call themselves the "Crock Pot Girls," get to be so popular in such a short amount of time?

While frolicking around Napa Valley for our honeymoon, the husband and I (and the honeymoon crashers, Michelle and Brian) made our way to Rubicon Estate, one of the most beautiful properties that wine country has to offer. After our tasting, we were given a tour which concluded in the Mammarella Wine Bar. Being that this was our 5th (and final) winery of the day, I certainly did not need another sip of wine, but on the counter sat a beautiful plate colored with shiny gold and brown “paint” that caught my (tipsy) eye. This edible, artistic display was made up of the Estate’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Francis Coppola Selects Chocolate Wine Sauce. We were invited to sample the liquid treasures via trinkets of bread and all fell in love, primarily with the chocolate sauce.

We are all aware of the economic downturn and have felt the brinks of it in just about every aspect of our lives.  But fortunately, our taste buds can benefit from this recession thing going on. Restaurants nationwide, are participating in various marketing programs to help boost their business, allowing individuals to afford a once “out of budget” dining experience. While some restaurateurs are still holding onto the old school mind set that “discounting my food compromises the public’s interpretation of the quality,” many have come to the realization that filling up tables and sacrificing a bit of margin is what the ways of today have led to. The reality is that the diners who are taking advantage of the promotions would be a lot less likely to eat at the restaurant had there been no deal. So how can you get in on the deals and start eating like a king? Here are a few different means of  Discounted Dining readily available to you:

What is your favorite supermarket? You may find it strange that I answer this question with a response whose closest location is 440 miles away from my house (thank you Google maps). That is because Trader Joe’s is a chain of stores that focuses on what I believe to be the most important factor of retail success, “Value.” TJ’s has a strong sense of making sure their clientele feel they are not only getting the best pricing, but also that their patronage is important. From the moment you walk into a Trader Joe’s store, you know that time, thought, and effort have been put into making sure your shopping experience is a positive one.

Ever since I was a wee one, I have loved to play games that require thinking.  I remember getting to a restaurant and before I knew what I was going to eat (my priorities were different back then), I would search the kids menu for the maze, word search, or whatever other activity needed me to figure something out.  I then became addicted to Tetris on my Game Boy (the old school green screen one), Word Searches in Jumbo Books, and jigsaw puzzles.  Umpteen years later, I am not much different and fortunately for me, there's a whole world of games to tackle online.  Not only can I play them at my leisure, but I can do so against others.  Ah! I love me some healthy competition.  If I'm not trying to beat my own high score, I yearn to beat someone else's.  Perhaps the reason I welcome this type of competition is because I rarely lose.  This may sound a bit conceited, but I do believe I have a special talent here.  As a matter of fact, I am offering YOU a challenge in one of the most popular head to head games out there, Words with Friends

If we play and you win, I will custom create a recipe of your favorite dish and feature it on this website.  I will also be sure to make it known that this is your prize for beating the "FlavorAppraiser," giving you bragging rights.  If you lose,  no harm- you can just challenge me again!  Leave a comment below with your WWF name and I'll start a game with you.  Good Luck- you'll need it Wink

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