Thursday, July 31, 2014

TBT - On the Jacket Potato

I've been to England three times, and I'm going back this summer. I enjoyed the food I ate there. But for some reason, everyone else I talk to acts like all the English serve you at mealtime is rocks.

And here's what I say to those people: DID YOU TRY THE JACKET POTATO???

Okay, I don't have a picture of a jacket potato. The last time I was in England was 10 years ago, and that was WAY before anyone was taking pictures of EVERYTHING they ate. I did manage to capture a few shots of traditional English food during my study abroad time in England, which you can see on the scrapbook page above: English breakfast, cheese toastie (grilled cheese - c'mon, who doesn't like grilled cheese?), Yorkshire pudding, Indian food (that was the first time I'd ever eaten Indian food!).

And there were the delicious chocolate Yorkie bars! (And the time I tried to open a door and ripped off the handle TOTALLY BY ACCIDENT as seen in the pictures above!) And the Aero bar! So good!

But the jacket potato - oh my. It's basically a baked potato. Both halves of the potato. But instead of topping it with butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon, and chives, you get chicken tikka or coronation chicken as the filling. The potato halves basically "jacket" the filling. And it is delicious!

You couldn't get jacket potatoes in the regular campus cafeteria where I studied abroad, so you had to make a special trip to this other campus restaurant during lunch hours to see if they had chicken tikka or coronation chicken jacket potatoes. Sometimes they didn't! Sometimes they only had chicken and mayonnaise jacket potatoes, which was fine, too, but NOT as good.

Seriously, if you haven't had a jacket potato, YOU MUST HAVE ONE. Go to England RIGHT NOW. Find a place that serves jacket potatoes and eat. You won't be disappointed.

Other foods I enjoyed while abroad: pasties, fish and chips wrapped in paper, kebabs, lamb, bangers and mash. Really, people. It's not hard to find good food in England.

The above scrapbook page doesn't have any food in it, but I saw it while flipping through my study abroad scrapbook and just had to share it, mainly because of the picture of Jenni and me in the bottom right-hand corner. Ah, the time we got "lost" on a bus in Ireland. That's a whole other blog post.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Gluten-Free & Allergen Free Expo in New Jersey

The Gluten Free & Allergen Free Expo takes place at New Jersey's Meadowlands Exhibition Center in Secaucus on September 6 and 7, 2014, and I will be attending as an official Expo blogger!

I've been to different expos before but never one that was specifically gluten-free. And I wanted to go to this last year, but it didn't work out with my schedule, so I'm really excited to attend the Expo and meet the rest of the official blogger team.

This expo is the premier gluten and allergen free event in the U.S. It's the place to find and taste specialty products, learn new cooking and baking techniques, and meet others with similar dietary needs, including Celiac disease and gluten sensitivities.

The Expo actually takes place in several cities throughout the year, so if you're not near New Jersey, visit for the complete list of Expo locations and dates. You can also purchase Expo tickets from the website. With the Expo ticket, you get entry into the more-than-150-booth vendor fair, coupons at vendor booths, samples from the vendors, discounted products available for purchase, classes related to living gluten- and allergen-free, a reusable bag to carry your goodies, and the chance to meet your favorite vendors, authors, and bloggers (like me!).

If you buy online in advance, the ticket price for the Secaucus Expo is discounted at $16.82 for an adult one-day pass and $4.16 for a kid (ages 3-10) one-day pass. Full-price tickets ($20/adult, $5/children) will be available at the door, but only if tickets don't sell out in advance. So buy your ticket now! You can buy your tickets and get all the details about the NJ Expo at the Gluten Free & Allergen Free Expo website.

OR you can enter my giveaway to try and win one of FOUR Expo tickets! That's right! As an official blogger, I'm able to give away four tickets to the September 6 and 7 Expo at the Secaucus, NJ Meadowlands Exhibition Center. Just enter via the Rafflecopter below! Hopefully, I'll see you at the Expo!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Authors I Own the Most Books From

I own a lot of books, but I never really thought about how many books I owned from specific authors. This week's Top Ten Tuesday challenged me to take a good hard look at my book collection, and here is what I got:

1. Shakespeare (38) - I still have my Complete Works of Shakespeare textbook from freshman year of college.

2. Bret Easton Ellis (6) - I went through a HUGE Bret Easton Ellis phase in college.

3. J.R.R. Tolkien (4) - All three Lord of the Rings books plus The Hobbit.

4. Jennifer Weiner (4) - And one of the books is an autographed copy!!

5. Rick Riordan (3) - I was really getting into the Percy Jackson & the Olympians books, but I guess I didn't buy the last two. I can't find them on our bookshelves.

6. Helen Hollick (3) - I really loved her King Arthur trilogy.

7. Nick Hornby (3) - I just want everyone to know that I read High Fidelity BEFORE it became a movie.

8. Chuck Palahniuk (2) - I thought I owned Survivor, but I could only find Fight Club and Lullaby. Why the heck did I buy Lullaby?

9. Douglas Coupland (2) - Both books were purchased in England. I read a lot of books in England.

10. James Joyce (2) - And these (Dubliners and The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) are the only two books worth reading and that anybody CAN read. Darn, Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Meal Plan Monday - July 28

It's the last week in July! The summer is almost over, you guys! And then I'll be breaking out the fall pumpkin recipes and getting ready to make holiday treats as gifts! So crazy!

In the meantime, this is what we're eating RIGHT NOW this week.

Sunday: cheesy ground beef and rice casserole

Monday: hot dogs and fries

Tuesday: sloppy joes and chips

Wednesday: tacos

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: on our own

Saturday: on our own

Friday, July 25, 2014

How to Save Time and Money

Have you heard of Dollar Shave Club? It's a monthly subscription service that sends you razors and other shaving products. It looks like it's geared toward men, but women can also use Dollar Shave Club products. (The 4X razor is recommended for women.) I've never used Dollar Shave Club (I'm still very loyal to my Venus razor), but it's been getting a lot of buzz.

Dollar Shave Club isn't just about shaving, though. It's also about "shaving" you time and money, two things I happen to know a little something about. So how do I "shave" time and money?

Get Organized
My weekends are usually very busy with running errands and attempting to have a social life, so when I'm out at Target or the grocery store, I don't have time to wander the aisles looking for what I need. Not only do I make store-specific lists, but I also use the free Grocery IQ app to organize those lists. Grocery IQ, which I've written about in the past, organizes the items on your list by grocery store aisle or area, so there's no backtracking from dairy all the way to produce on the other side of the store where you started.

Grocery IQ app
Grocery IQ also gives you access to coupons, if available, for the things on your list via

Get Coupons
Which leads me into how I "shave" money. Yes, I use It's easy, I find a lot of coupons for things I need now or will need in a few weeks. I also clip coupons from the weekend paper.

Get Rewarded
I'm not an extreme couponer, though, and I've never gotten an item for free using a coupon. If I don't want to pay for something (like our entryway table from Walmart), then I'll redeem credit card reward points for store gift cards. If you have a program like this with your credit card, don't ignore it! We've actually gotten discounted hotel rooms by redeeming our points, and we've been using our points to help get discounted tickets for attractions on our upcoming London/Paris trip.

52-week challenge jar
Another way I get gift cards is through survey programs, such as eRewards and MyPoints. MyPoints has a better gift card selection, but it's easier to quickly redeem eRewards "currency", I think. Both services are free to use, and you just take surveys online. You get full points for completing the full survey, but if you don't qualify for the full survey, you still get partial credit for your time.

Get Deals
I also like to shop daily deals sites, such as Zulily, which I've written in depth about here. Where else can you find a KitchenAid stand mixer for under $200?

Get Saving
Another great way to "shave" money is by doing the 52-week challenge, which you can read more about here. Save a little each week, and you'll have $1,378 by the end of the 52 weeks.

These are just a few ways to "shave" time and money. I'd love to hear how you guys do both, so leave your tips in the comments!

I was not compensated by Dollar Shave Club in any way for this post. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

TBT - Lord of the Rings Fandom

Just hanging out with a LOTR poster in Florida
Does anyone else remember Sean Bean's bum?

If that phrase means anything to you, then you were probably one of the hundreds of fangirls that I used to chat with in an online Lord of the Rings fan community. Hello again! I was (still am?) mrsfrodob.

When Lord of the Rings first came out, I had no idea what it was. I'd never read the books or heard of the books. I just remember seeing a Burger King commercial for collectible cups, and there was a movie clip in the commercial of guys walking atop a mountain.

Looked boring to me.

But then I found out that Elijah Wood was in the movie, and, well, I had sort of a crush on Elijah Wood. One New Year's Eve when all our other friends were partying with boys, my friend Teresa and I stayed up watching The Faculty. And then we watched it again the next morning. ("Showdown!")

So, of course, I was going to see a movie that starred my current celeb crush. So that's what Teresa and I did. Nine times. And then four more times when the movie left regular theaters and came to our local $1 theater.

This was my door freshman year. Lots of LOTR stuff.
That's right. We were a little obsessed, and it was more than just Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom (who I never liked, fyi), Dominic Monaghan, and Billy Boyd. Okay, yes, they were all hot, but the story!! It was just so magical and adventurous and funny and sad. We just became consumed with all things Lord of the Rings, including buying and reading (and re-reading) the books.

My freshman year of college, I had a roommate who was never in our room and a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule that saw me done with classes by 11:30 a.m., while my friends continued on to their next class. So I had a lot of free time to myself. I joined an online Lord of the Rings fan community to chat with other people about the books, the movies, and yes, the hot actors. Which is where Sean Bean's bum came from.

I wish I could remember the name of the website, so I could look it up and see if it's still there, if all of our silly community threads are still somewhere out there in cyberspace. I never met any of those people in person, but we always talked about how cool it would be to converge on a hotel and have a big fangirl conference. The international fans shared information about the actors that us American fans didn't know about. One girl even made DVDs with some of Billy Boyd's international appearances and movies on it and sent them to some of us.

Sophomore year desk area - complete w/ free LOTR poster!
I loved being a part of that community, but by sophomore year, I had full-time roommates/friends and a larger class load. I still hung my Lord of the Rings movie poster (received for free from a Toys "R" Us store that no longer needed it) on the wall. Teresa and I still got excited about the final movie being released, and I still thought Elijah Wood was hot. But my participation in the online community wane
d, and I suspect everyone else's did, too.

Maybe we were all just getting a little too old and consumed with life to be as giddy as we once were.

But I recently saw an ad for a new TNT show starring Sean Bean, and the first thing that popped into my head was "Sean Bean's bum!"

It made me smile, and I wished I still knew someone who would also smile at that.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

NewerTech NuGuard KX Phone Case - Review

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the NuGuard KXs screen protector. I also got to test out the NuGuard KX Phone Case!

The picture below shows my old iPhone case (in pink) next to the KX case (red and black). Can you see a difference? Uh, YEAH.

The KX case offers extreme protection for your phone. It's sort of padded on the inside, but it's hard and sort of textured on the outside. It uses X-Orbing gel technology to absorb and evenly distribute kinetic energy. I can attest to this because I did accidentally drop my phone on our hardwood floors, and everything was a-okay!

The case may look bigger than my old one, but it's actually not very bulky and it's super lightweight. I also like that it doesn't just cover the sides, but it also comes up over the top edges of the phone for a snug and secure fit.

The case also covers the power and volume buttons, but it doesn't prohibit you from using them. I actually think it's easier to press the buttons through this case!

It's also easy to remove your phone from the case, if you need to, which is something I can NOT say about my old phone case. That thing was such a pain. I'm so glad to have my phone protected in the KX case. Every time I look at my phone now, I think it looks brand new!

This is available for the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5/5S. It's also available in a variety of colors, so you still get some customization! You can find out more information on the phone case at the NewerTech website.