Sunday: Sunday morning and early afternoon were spent getting the house cleaned and making preparations for the Super Bowl celebration that we were hosting (My parents were our guests). Daisy took a brief break to finish off a jar of peanut butter. This is worth its own Kodak moment.
Muffin really did not like cleaning up (It took him three hours to clean up his toys in the living room–something that really should not have taken more than ten minutes). I had leftover Izzo’s for breakfast, and Josh had a bacon, egg, and cheese toaster sandwich (with ketchup, of course). I helped fry the bacon (Brookshire’s thick sliced picked up at the $3.99 sale, of course) that he had cut in half slices.
After I cooked the bacon, I poured the lovely liquid love leftovers into a bowl to save for a future use (like when the red beans and rice appear on the menu plan later this month).
Muffin, meanwhile, had fruit for breakfast: clementines and apples.
While Muffin was napping, Josh and I took the opportunity to eat lunch: he had salami sandwiches, and I had mini pizzas on white bread (and celery sticks with homemade blue cheese dip using Pioneer Woman’s recipe).
For the menu for Sunday evening, we had nuggets, dips for the nuggets, celery and carrot sticks, the blue cheese dip, chips (barbecue, salt and vinegar, and original), pretzels, tortilla chips, salsa, pico de gallo (using Pioneer Woman’s recipe), sausages in BBQ sauce and Rotel, and the ice cream sundae bar.
My personal favorite was the blue cheese dip (see the blue cheese chunks in it in the white bowl above?), and my dad agreed. I let him take home the leftovers and made more of it on Monday. Overall, I think everyone’s favorite feature was the ice cream bar.
We had chocolate and vanilla ice cream. We had spray can whipped cream. We had slightly crushed Reese’s pieces and M&Ms. We had caramel bits. We had crushed pretzels. We had crushed Oreos. We had crushed Heath bars. We had crushed candy canes. We had nut topping and chopped mixed nuts (including pistachios). We had coconut flakes. We had marshmallow bits. We had chocolate and strawberry syrup and caramel liquid topping. We had mini chocolate chips. We had sprinkles and colored sugars of different varieties (purchased after Christmas and Halloween and saved for occasions just like this). Here are a few of the creations:
Did I mention we had waffle cone bowls? Muffin really likes whipped cream topping.
Here is my creation “The Chocolate Pretzel Caramel”: chocolate ice cream, crushed pretzel bits, caramel liquid topping, coconut, mini chocolate chips, canned whipped cream, and garnished with a pretzel twist. Yes, it was as yummy as it sounds. (I’ve been known to take the liquid caramel and dunk pretzels in it, eat, repeat)
We watched one of the most lopsided games that I remember watching in Super Bowl history as well as a few amusing ads–My favorite was the Budweiser one with the dog. I cried.
Muffin kept us entertained with his choice of outfits (Yes, we did put clothes on him, but he took off said clothes).
Yes, it’s blurry. Muffin wouldn’t stay still!
Monday: Monday afternoon Josh and I both visited (separately) Chik-Fil-A on the way home. New month, new Calendar card incentive. This time we scored a large waffle fry that we used to supplement our supper of leftover nuggets and veggie sticks and dip. Muffin had already fallen asleep on the way home, and Josh transferred him to his bed. I worked some on the blog (especially the future planned posts and the nugget post) and graded and posted papers for school.
Tuesday: Josh was off on Tuesday (well, off but on call). He had cleaned the garage and made spaghetti (with plenty of sauce left over for supper on Thursday). We talked with Josh’s mom on Skype and found out that one of Josh’s cousins is pregnant! Congrats C and M! (That shows how often I get caught up on Facebook posts.) I found out that while Josh had been cleaning the garage, Muffin had been “uncleaning” the living room. He dragged his tent into the living room and camped out for a bit. Also, according to Josh, he watched Wall-E five or six times that day. The weather Tuesday was borderline ice storm (a few degrees shy of freezing, though). When cleaning out the garage, Josh found a new outfit for Daisy.
Wednesday: I stopped by Brookshire’s on the way home today and picked up some fries (per Josh request). He was making wings on the grill (something we learned from my brother-in-law–shout out to B, my sister’s husband) and what goes best with wings (at least according to Wingstop)? Fries. While there, I picked up a reduced salad (that we will have with the spaghetti leftovers tomorrow) and the hot dogs from the deal I will post on Saturday. Josh grilled the wings whole, and divided into the wingflap (with tip) and drummie after grilling (which he said was a lot easier than dividing them raw). He tossed half with buffalo sauce and the other half with honey barbecue sauce. Muffin LOVED them. This was definitely Muffin Approved. And Muffin, who had tuna fish sandwiches for lunch (and has been known to eat them by request for breakfast, lunch, and dinner) insisted that his dad remove the celery from the sandwich…at lunchtime. At supper, when we had leftover celery and carrot sticks from Sunday (with more of the blue cheese dip–at least for me!), he ate three celery sticks…from the same stalk of celery that he turned up his nose at dinner. And really wanted more of them. After supper, I pulled some wings, dip, fries, and veg sticks (the last of them) onto a paper plate for lunch tomorrow. Then, Muffin and I snuggled on our bed and read two stories (both that he had received roughly at the time of his birth). After that, he wanted to watch Wall-E…again.
Thursday: Josh returned to work on-call. Muffin had a great day with Granny and Granddaddy. But we had issues on the way home (especially getting in the car). I had sinus trouble (It’s that time of year again), so when Muffin did the shrill scream it seemed even more piercing than ever. I signed up for the Rotolo’s Ultimate Fan club and printed out a $5 off coupon to use Friday. We ate spaghetti leftovers for supper (ah, the joy of leftovers), and while Muffin was taking a bath, Josh got called back in to work. I was asleep before he got back home.
Friday: This day was COLD. Friday is my duty day, and I’ve done duty on colder days temperature-wise (in the teens), but today’s just hovering near freezing with overcast wet windy chill was horrible. The upswing was that we were able to have bus ramp duty in the afternoon to big fat beautiful snowflakes! I’m loving this vortex-thingy. This is the second snowfall in two weeks. Keep in mind, prior to this, we hadn’t had snow since I was prego with Muffin. So, Muffin is loving learning about real snow! For the second time in a row, I was returning DVDs to the library in the snow.
We also ate at Rotolo’s on Friday. My review of Rotolo’s: (This is something I don’t think I’ve ever said, even at Olive Garden): I love the bread sticks! When Josh wanted to order some as an appy, I kinda rolled my eyes. And then, once they arrived and I took a bite, my eyes rolled back in my head…in ecstasy! Seriously. They. Were. That. Good. Josh liked his calzone; I liked my spaghetti and meatballs; Muffin liked his pizza. But. I. Loved. The. Bread. Sticks. And I’m really not a bread stick afficionado. As it was the first Friday it was open, it was busy when we got there at 5 and standing room only when we left there before six.
Saturday: Saturday day dawned gray and cold, again. Josh had to go to work, and I had planned on taking Muffin to Fresh by Brookshire’s in Tyler, TX. We had to do the Kroger and Albertson’s shopping (I think I’ll skip the Super 1 shopping this week). We thought we were already to go get breakfast when I pulled into a drive through at McDonald’s at 9 a.m. And I ordered Muffin a sausage McMuffin (LOL!) without the egg and asked Muffin what he wanted to drink, when he said, “I want a burger.” Me: “Sweetheart, they don’t have burgers right now.” Muffin: “But I want a burrrrger.” I did something that always embarrasses me. I canceled the order and drove across the street to Whataburger, hoping against hope that they served their full menu all day. (The only other option I could think of was Sonic, and I couldn’t bring myself to going to Sonic today) They only serve breakfast during breakfast hours, but they do serve burgers all day. So, Muffin got his burger and apple slices…which he ate all of!
So, we were off with my trusty Google Maps directions with the trusty Texas road signs to follow (Do you notice the sarcasm yet?) Now, the entire purpose of trying out Fresh by Brookshire’s (which, reading between the lines on their website, was created to be in direct competition with HEB’s Central Market and to keep people from leaving the Tyler area in droves to head to CM) was to see if it was a suitable substitute for CM. The Fort Worth CM (the only one worth going to, in my opinion) is four hours away from where we live. Tyler is an hour and a half away. Google Maps projected Fresh as being two hours away. We got off of I-20 right outside of Longview, which should have been my first clue to go with my gut and figure out the directions using an old-fashioned MAP. But I blissfully continued to (what I thought was to) follow the Google directions.
We. Got. Lost. To say I was nervous at that point was an understatement. So I used my data on my phone to recalibrate the directions (Did I mention that Muffin was asleep at this point, and the idea of a restroom was starting to look REALLY good?) and realized it was going to be another hour (It had been over two at this point). So, we are at over three hours getting there. Hmmm. I was thinking Fresh better be a clone of the Fort Worth CM at this point.
We (finally) got there. It looked from the outside as the website pictured it. And then I remembered something the website mentioned proudly. Stairs. (They think it promotes a healthy lifestyle) Gulp. And I had to get Muffin (who was awake by this point) up the stairs and inside and to a restroom HOPEFULLY in enough time. So, I slide in (Me: “HiWhereIsYourRestroomPlease?” Very helpful checker: “Go to the back where it says Catering and turn right down the ummm…” Me: “Hallway?”–doing a special dance at this point with Muffin asking me if I have to go to the bathroom. “Yes. Hallway.” Me: “Thanks” as I zoom, past the point of embarrassment at this point while I try to get Muffin and me to the ladies’ room)
The walk from front to back passed in a blur, but what I did notice in the back of my mind was that it resembled CM–sorta. Once we got out of the restroom after talking Muffin out of his favorite Brookshire’s Customer In Training carts (that he tried, within five minutes of selecting one, to destroy the produce department with–I figured I would not react well if they kicked us out of Fresh after an over three hour drive to get there) into a full sized cart with a sports car overlay.
We picked up 5 pounds of organic carrots and a pint of blueberries in produce. I did notice that their prices actually seemed to be a bit more expensive than CM’s, at least in terms of produce.
They had samples and very helpful “Freshies” (experts in a certain part of the store–I guess to be the equivalent of Foodies from CM) who seemed enthusiastic about their job. Except when it came to the one area that I needed the most help (and my main reason for going): the cheeses. I almost ALMOST caved and just bought an already-made cheese plate (with almonds, a mini pot of honey, and apricots added–Bonus), but I wanted to make it myself, special, from bits of cheese special to Josh and me (or ones that we had been wanting to try for a while). The Freshie for that section was busy not helping the desperate-woman-with-lost-on-the-Texas-backroads-hair-and-toddler-who-was-growing-in-volume-by-the-second (happy volume but still I detected a wince). So, I muddled through as best I could. I managed to find Josh’s new favorite beer that we had last purchased at CM. I picked up a few more goodies and surprises. I do want to make macarons, but $11/lb. for almond meal flour just isn’t happening. Does anyone know a cheaper source????
Now, once Muffin had talked me into leaving, I pulled up to the register by where we first entered to be told very politely but firmly that if you had alky you couldn’t check out there. You had to check out at the main checkouts way on the other side of the store. So, Muffin and I trek back through the store to check out, at which point I asked meekly (and dreading the response I knew I was going to receive), “Is it possible for me to carry everything back through the store once I’ve checked out, since I parked on the other side at the other entrance?” Uh, no. However, the very nice young man did offer to pull the groceries down to that entrance so that I could go through the store (again) to retrieve my car and drive over to where he waited with my purchases.
Well, the good news is that I didn’t get lost going back home because I completely disregarded the Google Maps directions and used my common sense and knowledge of Texas major highways to get back home (via Lindale, so the return trip home took almost three hours).
The verdict. On the way home, we did pass by the turnoff for the Caldwell Zoo. We like the zoo, and that route would be a more direct way of getting there. We also like going to the Shell station at the Gladewater exit on I-20. So, if we were only going to go specialty grocery shopping with no other stops? I will take the bit extra time to drive to Fort Worth, stay overnight in Dallas, and relax. If we are going other places in the Tyler area, it is a viable substitute (especially when you put it up against the other CMs).
Now, if they put one in our area? No contest. We would shop there. Exclusively? No. Even Brookshire’s brand chips that we bought a while back for $1.50 a bag were nearly $3 there. But for the specialty items that are difficult-if-not-impossible-to-find-anywhere-closer-to-home? Yes.
We took a huge deviation from the meal plan (originally to be ravioli but Muffin wanted hot dogs and I didn’t want to make ravioli from scratch from wonton wrappers–maybe tomorrow night). Sometimes the meal plan goes out the window, but it’s always important to remember that you always want to have a plan B…in this case hot dogs.
Shortly after dinner, we got Muffin ready for bed (with a bath) while Josh and I started date night (Bourne Identity, popcorn, Godiva chocolate bars, and lemon lime pop on the couch with blankets). I will be posting more details about it in the date night log entry for the week.
How did your week go? Let me know in the comments below.