Archive for February 2012
It is time for the February Reveal! My foodie pen pal package this month came from Darlynn over at the The Little Blog Dress. (If you are interested in seeing what I sent someone, go check out Nicole at Nicole on a Mission.)
As soon as I opened the package, I knew I was in for a fun surprise.
In this wonderful Mardi Gras themed box (I so need to do a theme box next time…), I got some New Orleans Coffee…
A note to spoil myself…
…with some French beignets!
Some Louisiana hot sauce (which is awesome in chili!)…
…freaking tabasco pralines! Awesome!
And Jambalaya! (Which I will make as soon as I find some worthy sausage.) Is there a dirty joke in there somewhere?
And last, but not least…
Three fun facts..
And the most fun part… my own instant Mardi Gras kit! (My lovely wife Tina was my gracious model.) [She wasn’t that gracious. She was trying to get her hands on the praline. We ended up sharing it.]
To get in on this fun for March (and you totally should), keep reading!
Direct from Lindsey at The Lean Green Bean herself, the rules of the program:
-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!
If you’re interested in participating for March, please send an email to Lindsay at email@example.com and include the following information:
-Your full name
-Your email address
-Your blog name/address
-Your twitter handle (if applicable)
-WHETHER YOU ARE A US RESIDENT OR CANADIAN RESIDENT. – this is SUPER important so you get on the right list!
You must submit your information by March 4th as pairings will be emailed on March 5th!
For the last two months, I have been a member of Lindsey’s (at the Lean Green Bean) Foodie PenPal Exchange. I’ve been blogging about it on my food blog, Stellar Eats, but as I am reducing my blogs to one and consolidating everything, I didn’t want to lose those two posts drift away into nothingness. I wanted to be sure I got these two days posted BEFORE my February Reveal tomorrow.
I’ll be posting December and January exactly as I had them written. I hope you enjoy! And come back tomorrow for February’s box.
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Lindsey at the Lean Green Bean has created an amazing thing for foodies called Foodie PenPals. Whether you have a blog or not, if you like food, you can participate. Click on the link above for more information.
This past month was my first month participating. The box I sent out went to a reader (Hi Rachel!) so I can’t link to a blog showing the goodies someone got from me, but I can share the food goodies I received.
My package apparently went the long away around the planet, but finally, the packed-with-care package from Elizabeth from On Tap For Today finally made it to my house.
One of the requirements for being a Foodie PenPal is a hand-written note, recipe, or something.
My letter from Elizabeth described everything that she carefully selected for me.
There was some good stuff in here. My wife snagged the gnome mug as soon as she saw it. (Tina loves gnomes. I don’t get it.) The sushi erasers are AWESOME! Also included were three different bars, one of which was just plain old delicious chocolate, and a tin of tea!
But my favorite…
Okay, in a way, I’m cursing Elizabeth a little bit, because she sent me something that I am now, after tasting, going to have to keep on hand for the rest of my life.
The blueberry is my favorite berry. Heck, it’s my favorite fruit. Almost my favorite food.
And this jam is… amazing…
Best yet – it’s clean. Tina and I are cleaning up our diet and eating no unnatural chemicals, and this jar of preserves has NONE! And fortunately, Stonewall Kitchen has a website where I can buy this blueberry jam regularly. Whew!
I learned a few things for next month.
One, eat a meal before you open the box. That way, you won’t scarf things down before you’ve had time to adequately photograph everything.
Two, that’s pretty much it. My first time out was a blast (once my package finally arrived – curse you USPS!), and I can’t wait to do it again!
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This month, my box of food was courtesy of Karla from Floozy Homemaker sent me an awesome box of homemade, jarred treats. Yay!
Upon opening the box, Tina and I were treated with four jars.
The first, which I originally thought was a watery cherry preserves, turned out to NOT be cherry preserves. It was cranberry and cinnamon infused whiskey. I took a sip. Sprouted extra chest hair. This stuff is hardcore. (But yummy.) As Karla said, “Strain it and add simple syrup. Unless you’re hardcore.” I can’t wait to try it with simple syrup. 🙂
The next three jars were also a big hit. (Can you tell which one is my favorite?)
The jar that I someone has eaten at least a third of is pear sauce. It’s basically apple sauce, but with pears. Oh, so good!
The apple butter is someone smokey and sweet and savory all at once. The taste is hard to describe, but I can’t wait to try some on biscuits!
And the marmalade has quite the kick! I think it would pair very nicely with a pork dish. I may smear some on a pork roast next time I make it.
Karla, thank you so much for this assortment! And I need more pear sauce. 🙂
It is not too late to sign up for March! To sign up, just email Lindsey at firstname.lastname@example.org by March 4th and include the following information:
-Your full name
-Your email address
-Your blog name/address
-Your twitter handle (if applicable)
-If you are a US or Canadian resident (so you’ll be put on the right list)
Come back tomorrow for my Mardis Gras themed food box!
I have decided to consolidate all of my blogs, mostly because I can’t keep up with them. On one of my rarely updated Travel Blogs “The Window Seat,” I had some really nice posts about our honeymoon over a year and a half ago. I don’t want to lose those, so I am slowly migrating those posts here. This is the post for Day Four. And be warned – this is VERY, very, ridiculously picture heavy.
This is copied and pasted exactly as it was written in Antigua, back in October of 2010.
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We went to Bayside after a later sleep-in than usual of 7:30. We both woke up tired but agreed to go out and about and perhaps nap by the pool. Bayside is definitely our favorite of the two restaurants that serve breakfast; I’d much prefer to eat breakfast with the ocean beside me than in a building.
The beautiful morning we woke up to…
Sights on the way to Bayside…
And I love passion fruit; that is one thing I will definitely miss when we get back home. I’ll have to see if Whole Foods carries it.
I also got an omelet made at the omelet bar this morning. Very good. Probably one of the best omelets I’ve ever had.
Yummy, yummy food… and fish in a vase…
Me, sweaty at the table…
Boots came back to visit!
The view from our table…
A few sights after breakfast…
We spent the entire morning at the pool, both lounging in a mostly shaded area and occasionally venturing out into the pool to cool off. When the swim-up bar opened at 10:30, we each got a drink called a Miami Vice, which was a nice patriotic conconction consisting of frozen strawberry margarita, pinna colada, and topped off with vodka and blue curacao. Pretty yummy, although once again, it hit me hard, combined with not enough water and too much sun. Not painfully hard this time, but definitely a little wobbly.
Putting suntan lotion on my face, NOT doing a Macaulay Culkin impression…
A melting Miami Vice…
Tina enjoying said drink…
The swimmers are thirsty!
As soon as the pizzeria opened, we ordered a vegetarian pizza and a pepperoni pizza. It was really nice to eat pizza by the pool, even if I did drain my ice cold Diet Coke almost as soon as I opened it.
We have the sunset cruise this afternoon, so there will probably be a nap going on very shortly.
The sunset cruise was amazing. Tina called the tourism desk to ask how we should dress for it. We were told to wear something we could wade out into the water in. Once we got there, the catamaran (called Wadadli Cats) came right up to the beach and a staircase extended down from the deck. It was a little steep but not difficult to climb. (Getting off was a bit trickier because it was dark, but I made it okay.)
I realize I’m saying amazing a lot, but so many things here are amazing, and it would just feel like I was trying to use a GRE vocabulary if I just started busting out bigger words, because… well, everything is amazing!
The obligatory couple shot…
My beautiful bride…
There were about eight couples on the boat or so. The crew was a lot of fun and very friendly. I also learned a cool bit of history, too. Yesterday, Anne told me that the name of the island that we can see so easily from here is called Sister Island. While driving past it, there were some rocks nearby. I asked Karen, one of our tour guides, about them, and she said that the rocks used to be another island, and the two were called Sisters Islands. In the 1920s or so, an earthquake hit, one sank (the one that was just rocks), and now, the remaining island is called Sister Island.
The lone Sister Island…
We also drove past a gorgeous mansion on a cliff that is owned by Giorgio Armani. Karen said it was worth over 5 million US dollars. It was truly exquisite; I’d love to live there.
There were some rain clouds in front of the sun at points, but after sunset, they had just created some gorgeous pink, purple, and orange clouds. It would have been nice to have no clouds before sunset, but it was still such a wonderful, romantic, beautiful afternoon.
Various pictures from the Amazing Sunset Cruise…
And for those of you who would rather watch the video, you can see that below.
We have reservations at the OK Corral for 8:15; I am now starving! It’s a Tex Mex restaurant. Also, at 11:00, there is a Chocolate Buffet. I don’t even know what that is, exactly, but I can’t wait to find out!
OK Corral was a wonderful restaurant. It was located on the second floor above Bayside restaurant, next to the piano bar. We were given chips and guacamole, and we also ordered an appetizer each, popcorn prawn for Tina and chicken wings with ranch dressing for me. Both were absolutely amazing. Once again, I could have made an entire meal out of the chicken wings alone.
The piano bar…
My beautiful bride, while we are looking at our menus…
The front of the menu…
And the start of the food…
And our cool, cool water in sweaty blue goblets (because it is SO freaking hot!)…
Tina ordered BBQ ribs, and I got tequila citrus chicken. I’m not a huge fan of tequila, but I decided to try it. I’m glad I did; the chicken breast was cooked wonderfully. It was served with mashed potatoes, a roasted red pepper, some pineapple jalapeno salsa, and an ear of corn that was slathered in some type of herbed butter. I was trying to figure out what the herb was so I can replicate it at home, but I’m not entirely sure.
For dessert, I got tres leeches cake and Tina ordered chocolate mocha caramel cake. Both were good, but we each agreed that we liked our own better.
We also met the restaurant manager, a pleasant man named Garth. He also took a photo of us before our dinner arrived. He saw me playing with my camera and said, “Are you looking at her naked pictures? Because she’s right here with you!” I replied, “Yes, but she isn’t naked NOW.” The people here all have a great sense of humor.
A photo of us taken by Garth…
And some shots taken from the table…
A cool drinking glass display that I thought was fascinating…
The staircase leading out of the piano bar…
On our way back to the room, I stopped at a bar and ordered another Miami Vice. It has become my new favorite drink here.
Oh, and also, Tina liked this painting and thought about stealing it, but it was too firmly attached to the wall. Probably couldn’t have made it through customs, anyway.
The chocolate buffet was nice, but I’m not sure if it was worth staying up ’till 11:00 for. It was basics; small pastries, fruit skewered for a milk chocolate fountain, some rice krispie treats, but it was still nice. And very, very rich. We both wanted milk when we were done, even though there was none to be found that late.
Late Night Fountain Couples Shot…
I was still hungry, though, so we decided to take advantage of the fact that Cricketer’s Pub is open until 2 a.m. for late night snacks.
Yeah, Cricketer’s Pub is definitely our least favorite place here. Service has, both times, been ridiculously slow. Last night, Tina even had to track down a menu for us, because the waitress completely ignored us, even walking right past us at one point with a menu in her hand that she had just taken from another couple after their order. But we eventually ordered, and I got some nachos and a turkey club to take back to the room.
Forty minutes later, after several people who were even there AFTER us got their food, our order finally arrived. The food was quite tasty, but I just can’t understand why it would take longer for our food when the only thing they do to it is wrap it in saran wrap.
Oh well. Cricketer’s Pub is on our list of places to “not waste our time” here, and the next time someone from management asks about our experience, I may let them know. Food = good. Crappy service = bad.
I have decided to consolidate all of my blogs, mostly because I can’t keep up with them. On one of my rarely updated Travel Blogs “The Window Seat,” I had some really nice posts about our honeymoon over a year and a half ago. I don’t want to lose those, so I am slowly migrating those posts here. This is the post for Day Three.
This is copied and pasted exactly as it was written in Antigua, back in October of 2010.
This morning was the prettiest morning we’ve had yet while we’ve been here. The sky was a perfect blue and there wasn’t a cloud in it.
View from the 5th floor…
Sister Island, off in the distance…
More views of the resort…
The elevator ride down…
The various sights on the way to breakfast…
The sign for the outdoor pizzeria…
An Antiguan snail…
This was above the swim-up bar by the pool…
Where many activities, including bracelet making, are held…
We went to Mario’s for breakfast this morning. It was largely the same buffet as they had at Bayside, although there were grilled tomatoes with mozzarella, eggs benedict, quiche, and pancakes available in addition to the rest.
I ended up getting four plates this morning, although in my defense, they weren’t all crammed full and I didn’t completely polish off ANY plate. And yes, I most definitely LOVE passion fruit! I’m not sure I entirely care for the pancake syrup they have here; there is some spice in it, perhaps nutmeg or allspice or something similar, that I’m just not that fond of. It was better on the french toast than the pancakes, so I’ll probably stick to french toast while I’m here.
The tables in Mario’s…
The ceiling in Mario’s…
More inside Mario’s…
And the food at Mario’s…
We have definitely decided we’re going to go to Bayside for breakfast from here on out, just because it’s basically the same food and we’d rather eat by the ocean than in a restaurant.
As part of being on a honeymoon, we also get a “breakfast in bed,” which I thinks amounts to room service. We stopped by this morning and signed up for it; it’s a continental breakfast, so we may end up going out for a hot breakfast that morning, too. We’re doing it on Wednesday.
Views from around the resort…
Flowers from around the resort…
The restaurant Barefoot by the Sea…
The pool, from a distance…
The back of the swim-up bar…
More pool pictures…
We went down to the beach this morning and tried one of the water bikes. It wasn’t nearly as scary as I expected it to be (and they actually had a life jacket that fit me – shocker!), but it was definitely a workout. My legs and lungs were burning by the time we were done. I was amazed at how difficult it was! That was definitely some cardio for the day. Best yet, we also found three sea shells! There were so many people out, I didn’t really expect to find any, but we did. Tina is planning some type of Christmas ornament with them.
More beach pictures…
After hosing off in the outdoor shower, we reapplied sunscreen (we should have brought more – we’ll definitely run out before we’re done here, and it’s crazy expensive in the resort shops) and hit the pool to cool off. We also killed time lounging in the water until the swim-up bar opened. Several people were doing the same thing. We were like vultures for alcohol. My drinking plans for today were to stay more hydrated with water (which I did) and limit myself to one drink at a time (which I also did). Tina got something called a Banana Sip Sop, which was pink and fruity, while I got another Chocolate Monkey. After that, I was done drinking until after lunch. No “I hate alcohol – I want to barf and why won’t my eyes focus!” sensations this time, so this is the way to go.
Then we relaxed in the shade on some lounge chairs for an hour or so and read our books. We’re about to go hit Bayside again for the Mexican Buffet they have on Mondays, and then we’ll swing by Bella Napoli, get some pizzas, head back to the room, and crash for the hottest part of the day before we head out for the evening! No concrete plans tonight; it’s nice not having to keep checking the time!
We made it to Bayside a few minutes before they opened for the buffet, so we stopped at the nearby bar and ordered some drinks. I got a Blue Lagoon and Tina got something called Gentle Kisses. Both were delicious, although with so much sun and not enough water, I did get a little wobbly headed.
While we were drinking, some dude on the beach was trying to get me to buy an excursion package from him. That’s my biggest complaint about this place; there are too many outside vendors on the beach to bug us. I had to tell him twice I wasn’t interested. I’m interested in excursions, but I’m only going to do them through Sandals. For all I know, he operates a White Slave Trading Ring, and Tina and I would find ourselves sold into captivity.
The buffet was quite nice, although I apparently do not know what Authentic Mexican is. I wasn’t expecting Taco Bell cuisine or even El Mazatlan food, but it definitely wasn’t what we got. Delicious and no complaints, but not what we were expecting.
First plate was a few different types of meat, along with a delicious fish fillet, and some mashed potatoes. There was also a pasta bar, where you pick your pasta and what you want in it and what sauce, and they whip it up right then. Very tasty. I got bow tie pasta, chicken, tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, onions, and some type of tomato sauce, sprinkled with fresh parmesan. Delicioso!
Third plate was a panini, because they had a make-your-own panini bar! I had to do it, just for the spectacle of it alone. Fourth was shared dessert with Tina, and fifth was a bite of pound cake, marshmallows, and blueberries dipped in a white chocolate fountain. (Milk or dark would have been even better.)
Views from our table…
We ended up stuffed. No extra pizza today. We’re heading back to the room for a power nap in the hottest part of the day. We were both drenched with sweat by the time we got back. (Granted, I was drenched with sweat by the time we got to the lobby on the elevator ride down, but still…) It’s fricking hot today! I just cranked the AC down to 68, and we’re about to relax indoors for a bit. We still have tons of time left here, and we see no need to rush ourselves.
We also ended up playing a game of pool at Cricketer’s while we were waiting for our room to be cleaned. We both pretty well sucked, but technically, I won. Yay me!
At five o’clock, there was a manager’s cocktail hour. Not entirely sure what that was, but we decided to go down.
The Entertainment Board, which lists all Sandals activities, such as the cocktail hour…
Basically, several guests gathered, all of the managers were there to mingle, and we were served various cocktails and hors dorves. We spent the hour with a very nice woman named Anne, who was the Manager of Public Relations. She was a fascinating person; she was originally from Canada, although I believe she said her mother was originally from Antigua, and she just saw the advertisement for the manager’s position, applied, got the job, and moved. She’s only been here for four months. She was a lot of fun to spend time with and told us a great deal about life here in Antigua. (She also finally confirmed how to pronounce it – the locals call it Anti-Ga, with a hard G, rather than Anti-gwa, so we’re going with the local pronunciation.)
Near the end, they asked for all of the newlywed husbands to come up front. I assumed they were going to do some sort of newlywed game, and Tina insisted I go. What the hey, right? Why not? Well, they were doing a game, but it wasn’t an “answer questions about your spouse” game.
It was a dance contest.
Yikes. If you know me, you know I have NO rhythm.
But you know what, I decided, when my turn came, I am on vacation with people I will never see again, so I got out there and gave it my best. I’ll point out that my best was AWFUL, but it was fun, people cheered (although people did cheer for everyone), and it was fun. And not nearly as embarrassing as I would have guessed, because really – when will I ever see ANY of these people again?
The lady laughing is Esther, who helped us set up our excursions. Very nice lady. Every time she saw us on the resort, she cried out, “My favorite couple, the Longmans!” Granted, our last name is Logsdon, but it was still extremely nice. I know she isn’t laughing at me dancing in this picture…
…but she might be laughing at me out of sight in this picture… and for once, I am not sorry a picture turned out extremely dark… (see full if you want to get a faint glimpse of me making a fool of myself)
After the contest was over, we found out that the winner won a cabana rental for the day, which costs $99. I really wish I had tried harder when I found that out. The winner (and those who got the loudest applause) were those who were the most risque. Maybe if I had stripped off my shirt and slung it around my head I would have won? But that might have made me a whore, so perhaps it’s best that I didn’t do that. (Note to those who don’t know me: I would NEVER have done that. I’m almost too modest to even take my shirt off at the pool. Although I am doing that here, because I’ve seen guys who were crazy fit with eight-pack abs and guys with bigger guts than me and way paler.)
We also got a 10% off coupon for the resort shop, so we chose tonight to buy our souvenirs. I got a little frog for my office, a Christmas ornament for our tree, a cap and t-shirt for me, a shirt and bracelet for Tina, and a big metal lizard for the house. Every time we see a lizard here, one of us cries out, “Lee-zard!” It just seemed like it would be a good addition to our house.
Postcards were also bought for our parents, along with stamps. It costs thirty-five cents to mail a letter to America from here. How ridiculous is that? I have to pay forty-four cents at home to mail my water bill three miles down the road! We’re also sending ourselves a postcard, because we’re huge dorks like that.
We are, once again, doing two dinners. We went to Barefoot as they are seafood themed, and where could we get better seafood than on an island? Every single time we have gotten shrimp, it has been amazing! We got a grilled shrimp appetizer, and once again, it was amazing. They also served us bread with some type of herbed butter – also quite yummy.
The main course was, for Tina, a Seafood Sampler, which consisted of mussels, scallops, calamari, and shrimp, all grilled. I tried a bite of the calamari and mussels, and they were pretty good. I can only imagine the scallops and shrimp were equally amazing.
Alas, I wish I had gotten the spiny lobster. I ordered the Blue Marlin, because I’ve never had it. It was okay (and the rice bed it was served on was the best rice I have ever had). The tempura veggies that came with it were also quite good. The fish itself was a pretty healthy serving, but it was too fishy tasting, if that makes sense. Honestly, it was the fishiest fish I’ve ever fished. Er, eaten. Definitely gonna stick with shellfish from here on out, because I think I’m just more of a shellfish fan than fish fan.
There is a fire show at the Beachside BBQ at Bayside, and we are going to that at nine. And yes, we’re probably going to eat again. Don’t judge me!
Yeah, the fire show didn’t happen. We were there. We were there from 8:50 to 9:40, but there was no fire show. Not sure why, either. That kinda sucks, because we were really looking forward to it.
Buffet was good food, as always. I got jerk chicken, pork, some mac and cheese (that was crazy spicy), and half of a baked potato with some butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon, and chives. Very good. I went small servings and didn’t clean off my plate, because we weren’t really that hungry. I definitely got dessert, too. There was a chocolate mousse, shaped like a pyramid with a cherry on top, that was delicious.
And a few more pictures taken at night on the way back to our room…
And lastly, a short video recorded on the way back to the room to preserve the very unusual nature sounds you’d hear as you walk about at night…
It’s funny how a long day of doing nothing can tire you out. We are retired for the night. Our wake up call is placed and the Do Not Disturb light is lit.
Great end to a great day.