Road Trip Day 4: Misleading Marketing & Little Graces

14 08 2012

I know, I know. I never posted a Road Trip Day 1-3…but some days it was hard to get an internet connection. Other days I was just too tired to post. So sue me…you try driving across the country. Anwho, I just wanted to give you all a little glimpse as to what has been going on the past few days…

  • So far the trip has been absolutely amazing! I think everybody should do a cross-country road trip at least once in their lives. Our country is beautiful!
  • Day 1 we stayed in Amarillo, TX. Whoever does Amarillo’s marketing cop should get an award. According to their website, there was so much to see and do there, which is why I thought it would be a great place to stop. Boy, was I wrong. The so-called Historic Route 66 that was supposed to have all these great eateries and antique shops was a #fail. It was only a couple blocks of old, run-down stores and less than a handful of restaurants. The infamous Cadillac Ranch which, according to the website, was this grand display of art along Route 66 when actually it was about 5 or 6 Cadillac halves lined up in the middle of a desolate field. Maybe it’s just me but I wasn’t that impressed. I guess I was just expecting more. The hotel we stayed at in Amarillo was wonderful though! 🙂 I highly recommend the Sleep Inn on Route I-40.
  • Day 2 we stayed in Albuqurque, NM. All I can say is Wow. Driving through New Mexico was gorgeous with all of the mountains and hills. Our hotel was right in the middle of the mountains and our room itself was great. It was also right across the street from a great mall and eatery so we couldn’t have asked for a better stay.
  • Day 3 we headed to Williams, AZ so that we could see the Grand Canyon. The drive through Arizona was less than exciting. It rained most of the time, and there was nothing but flat, dry grass a majority of the way up the road.
  • But things changed once we get around the Williams area. Here is where we really saw the glory of God in so many small and large ways. Our plan was to check in to the hotel and then take the hour drive up to see the canyon just before sunset. But as we drove through AZ it started raining so we decided that if it were raining when we got to the hotel, we would just drive to the canyon in the morning before we head to LA. We arrived in Williams — the cutest little town on Route 66 about 60 miles south of the canyon. Our hotel looked a little sketch from the outside but once we got inside, we fell in love with it’s charm! The people were so nice and as we settled in our room, the sun came out so we decided to stick with our original plan and drive to the canyon that day rather than wait until the morning.
  • When we got to the entrance of the canyon, we found out that lightning had struck their payment machines so they were only accepting cash to get in the park. We didn’t have a whole lot of cash on us, but between the two of us we were able to scrape and find $25 in cash and coins by the time we got up to the booth. We literally used every last dime we had just to get into the park! Haha! As soon as we drove through the entrance, it started raining. Great. But we had already paid our money so we were determined. We made our way to the parking lot and started walking toward the Visitor Center and Mather Point. Words cannot describe the beauty and magnitude of what we saw when we got to Mather Point. I’ll just post the pictures so you can see…The more we stood out there the more the sun began to peek out and before we knew it, we looked up and there was a giant rainbow spanning across the Grand Canyon. Whoa. Talk about seeing the glory of God.
  • It was starting to get dark so we made our way back down the hill toward our hotel. We found out that the little town of Williams, AZ is jumping after dark! Restaurants and bars and shops were open as people walked the streets enjoying the night air. It reminded me what I thought we would experience in Amarillo, TX. If you ever take a trip to the Grand Canyon, I highly recommend that you stay in Williams and stay at the Rodeway Inn & Suites.
  • And so now here we are. It’s Tuesday, the last leg of our trip. In just a few hours I will be at my new home in California. I tried to get a good night’s sleep last night but I kept waking up because my stomach is doing somersaults from all the excitement. From what I can see it looks like it’s a gorgeous day outside so hopefully this will be a nice drive. We’re getting ourselves together to go have breakfast and then head out.
  • I’m really worried that I won’t like my new apartment, so please pray that my new home will match the awesomeness that I have experienced on this road trip. 🙂 But most importantly, please pray for safe travels as we continue on our journey.
  • Homeward bound! Next stop–Pasadena, CA!

Here are some pics from our stay in Williams, AZ and the Grand Canyon:

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Grocery Shopping 101

3 03 2009

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I think my roommate and I have finally cracked the code on how to slice our grocery bill in half. This is quite a feat–because if you know anything about Khalilah and I, you know that we LOVE to eat!!! Just check the Adventures of Sadie and Bertha link to the right and you can see some of our eating escapades. It's been a minute since I've posted to that link, but believe me, Sadie and Bertha have not stopped eating.

Since we've been roomies we've been spending roughly about $200 +/month on groceries. I'm not sure what other people's grocery bills are like, but for two single females, we started to realize that maybe, just maybe, we are spending too much. Especially given the fact that we keep spending money on groceries even when technically we have plenty of food already in the fridge.

Part of our vice is that we love to eat, but we also love to snack. When I was growing up, it was customary for us to have a cabinet full of treats. We called it the "goody drawer" and there would always be all kinds of chips and cookies and sweets available to satisfy our munchies. My mom also kept her pantry full. It was not uncommon for us to complain that we didn't have any food in the house, when in actuality we had a whole cabinet full of canned goods, if nothing else. We did have food, it just wasn't food that we wanted.

And so I realized that I've continued this tradition. And thus spawns our magnanomous grocery bill. So this is what we did:

1)    Weekly Fix. First of all, we switched our shopping frequency from twice a month (to coincide with payday) to once a week. I learned this trick from my financial counselor a couple of years ago. This helps us to only spend money on the things we NEED, not the things we EXPECT TO NEED. The benefit of this for me is that I used to be good for buying things that I'd expect to run out of within the next couple weeks, but in actuality the product actually lasted us another month or two. So I was buying things a bit prematurely. Shopping once a week allows us to just focus on what is needed to get us through this week.

2)    What's For Dinner?  I also started planning our meals for the week. Since I am the cook of the house, I plan for 2 meals because we can usually eat off the leftovers for the rest of the time. On weekends we usually fend for ourselves or we go out to eat, so that takes care of our week. So since our meals are planned and we are only shopping by the week, I only buy the ingredients that I need for that meal (if I don't have them already). So if my two meals for this week are spaghetti and chicken casserole, the only things I need to buy from the grocery store this week is spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, chicken and cream of mushroom soup. Done.

I mentioned eating out…As a sidebar, since Khalilah and I love to eat, we also like to eat out. To save money in that area we have discovered Restaurant.com, a website where you can get gift certificates to some great restaurants. They have sales all the time, and often, you can purchase a $25 (and sometimes $50) gift certificate for only $2. Many of the restaurants have a $35 minimum so if we order $35 worth of food, we only have to pay about $5 a piece. We started using these and it cuts down on our dining out budget. We took advantage of this last night and were able to go to a GREAT French restuarant in Atlanta called Petite Auberge.

3)    Weekly Cap.  Ok, so back to grocery shopping. We have limited our weekly budgt to $25 per week. It works out when we're only buying items that we NEED for that week. Not items that we EXPECT TO NEED. We've worked it where she pays for when week, then I pay for the next week, then she pays the next, then I the next. So we're each paying $50/month for our groceries.

5)    Shop Around.  Smokey had it right when he said "My Momma Told Me…You Betta Shop Around." The other way that we save money is by shopping around for good prices. We no longer do all of our shopping in one place. A lot of our dry goods we started getting from the $1 store. Too many people sleep on the $1 store!! Believe it or not, they have the best household cleansers. We get our garbage bags, sandwich bags, sponges, etc from there (but only when we NEED them). We've also started satisfying our munchies there. We go through snacks pretty quickly. One bag of potato chips would only last us about half a week. For the price of one bag of potato chips at a regular grocery store, we actually can buy three different types of chips. And most $1 stores have some of the same name brand chips as mainline grocery stores.

People also sleep on Whole Foods! A lot of people think that Whole Foods is too expensive to shop, which can be true at times. But if you really do your research, you'll find that some items are actually cheaper there than at other stores. For example, Khalilah and I eat salad like it's candy so we usually go through a couple of bags per week. Well, Whole Foods has the cheapest bags of salad out of all the grocery stores I've been to ($1.99 for Romaine lettuce blend). I also get my soap from WF. $1.99 for all natural, vegetable based oatmeal soap. Incidentally, WF also has cheaper milk, cheaper spaghetti sauce, cheaper olive oil and cheaper garbage bags than most stores.

So once we've gone to WF and to the $1 store, it really only leaves a couple of items on our list that we have to get from a regular grocery store. We usually do our shopping on Sunday or Monday, which is when the new sale week starts so we can catch our remaining items at a discount.

The drawback to shopping this way is that our cabinets look a little bare because we are only shopping for the week. My financial counselor warned me of this. So my kitchen doesn't look like the kitchen we had when we were growing up. But think about it, do you really use that excess food in your cabinet? I've got a couple of cans of soup in my cabinet, and that's the only excess that we have. Already that's two extra meals outside of my budgeted 2 meals for the week. We used to have food that stayed around for years and no one ever ate it because quite frankly we forgot it was even in the cabinet! If you have a limited amount of food in your pantry, you always know what's in there and it's less excessive and wasteful. What's good about this method is that we've always got snacks for the week and we've always got food to eat but we're not breaking our budgets. Isn't that the most important thing? Our grocery list is also much shorter now so we don't have to lug loads of groceries upstairs to our apartment.

Some people have already listed some other techniques like shopping at Trader Joe's and using couponmom.com. They just opened up a Trader Joe's near my house so I'll be visiting there to compare their prices. And I just discovered couponmom so I will be clipping so coupons next week. These are great tools and we'll probably be incorporating some of these budget busters into our weekly routine as well. I'm not sure if this method would work for someone with a family. But it works great for two single, greedy females!! 🙂 All in all, I think it's important to realize what you spend the most money on and go from there.

But $25 a week works for us!!





Chattanoogie!!!

29 10 2008

Khalilah and I went to Chattanooga last weekend. What a great time! Who would've thought that Chattanooga could turn us out, but we had such a good time that we didn't want to come back home. I mean, don't get me wrong, we wouldn't move there or anything, but we definitely had a fantastic time and it's definitely a place we plan on visiting again. I really don't feel like telling the story of our trip twice so you'll just have to click here and here to get pictures and read the details. Enjoy!





Random Thoughts on a (Super Early) Tuesday Morning

30 09 2008

I know what Susie Orman said. But there's a part of me that's glad the House said no to the $700B bailout. That's just a lotta freakin' money. But then when I found out their reasoning for rejecting it, I felt that that was pretty petty. Whether it's true or not, just the idea that the Republican house voted no because they felt like Nancy Pelosi talked bad about them–that just sounds very childish to me. But I guess they'll come to some kind of conclusion soon. And the rich will continue to get richer and the poor will get poorer…and so it goes…

They've been playing the SNL Sarah Palin skit on CNN all day. Funny stuff.

I'm on vacation all this week as soon as I get my grades done. I think I finished everything, I just have to go into the office tomorrow to drop them off, then I'm off for a week–Yippee!! My breaks always kinda seem like a joke because it's not like I can sit back and enjoy them, really. I don't have to go to class this week but I still have to show up to class next Monday ready to teach. That means I only have this week to work on my syllabi and the 10-week lesson plans for all three of my classes. Well, hopefully I'll get some relaxation in.

WE HAVE NO GAS IN ATLANTA! I have 1/4 tank of gas so at some point tomorrow I will have to make the journey like so many of my fellow Atlantans right now to try and find a gas station that has some gas. Then, like many of my fellow Atlantans, I will probably have to sit and wait in a gas line for about 30-40 minutes. I hope not. Hopefully I can make it into the office tomorrow.

I'm starting to think that I need to see someone about my fear of marriage. My fears are a little strange, especially being that I come from such a stable home. I think it's just that I've been single for so long that I am set in my ways of thinking and I'm having a hard time adjusting to idea of compromising down the road. Or worse yet, I have a fear that things will change drastically for the worse between me and Jon once we get married. I talked with my sister last night and she suggested that Jon and I talk more and that we read some kind of book or workbook on relationships to help us ask those tough questions if we're thinking about eventually getting married. Maybe that's not such a bad idea. Anybody out there have any suggestions?

Does anybody out there watch I Wanna Work for Diddy? Looks like Kim may finally be going home? Maybe? Hopefully? Who's a "dumba$$" now, Poprah? Huh? Talkin' 'bout some "I can't invent a list for you." I was so mad at that cliff hanger at the end, though. Those story editors sure know marketing…

Trying to get back on track spiritually. I signed up to take a Bible study class through the Bible Training Center for Leaders. The classes are held up at Northpoint and it's called "Bible Study Methods and the Rules of Interpretation." It should be interesting. I also plan on joining another small group. I'll be attending GroupLink this Saturday night so I'm looking forward to that. My hope is that I can get into a LadiesLink group so that I can be around some married women in addition to singles.

I had another soft serve ice cream crave last night. Since finding REAL soft serve ice cream cones in the city of Atlanta is like finding a needle in a hay stack (the closest Dairy Queen is about 15 miles away in Smyrna), I think I've come to the conclusion that the best way for me to get a quick fix is by going to McDonalds. So that's what Sadie and Bertha did. We were watching the New Kids on the Block Behind the Music special around 11 pm when we decided that we both wanted some ice cream, but the thing about it is we had already changed for bed. We also started craving brownies. So what did Sadie and Bertha do? Well Sadie (me) ran into the kitchen and whipped up some brownies and threw them in the oven, then we made a mad dash out the door (still in our night clothes, mind you) to get to McDonalds before they closed at midnight and to get back in the house before the brownies finished cooking! We made it back with 2 minutes to spare and Voila! Nice warm brownies and soft serve ice cream. It was so worth it…

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Food, Glorious Food!

17 07 2008

Did I mention that I love to cook? I don’t know how this happened but for the past 3 years or so I’ve developed this love for cooking where it brings me great joy to cook and then to see people eat my food and enjoy it. My love for cooking has intensified now that we’ve moved because I’ve got a much more functional kitchen that has lots of great space.

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I was so proud of myself because this morning I actually got up and made fresh, homemade biscuits from scratch. It’s been a long time since I made biscuits and the last time I did it it was with my mom so this was my first time doing it by myself. To go with the biscuits I made a mexican chicken scramble with lemon pepper chicken, eggs, cheese and salsa. It tasted just like IHOP’s chicken fajita omelette. YUM!!

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Yesterday I made Hawaiian chicken and that was YUM too!

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Over the weekend it was homemade pancakes topped with fresh blueberries. I was particularly proud of myself on this meal because my eggs are becoming more and more like my dad’s everyday. (My dad could always throw down on some breakfast!)

This is yet another reason why Sadie and Bertha get along so well. I like to cook and we both like to eat! 🙂





Homemade Goodness–Sadie & Bertha At It Again!

11 06 2008

Since Bertha and I will be moving in 4 days, I'm making it a point not to go grocery shopping until we get to our new place so that we don't have to transport a bunch of food. So today when I came home from work I felt like cooking, but that meant I was confined to only using foods and ingredients that we already had in the house. Good thing I'm a creative cook. I found some chicken legs in the freezer and built a fabulous meal around that.

The result? Tuscan Romano Chicken with Pineapple Rice and Mixed Vegetables. We topped it off with some fake liquor. Now THAT was some good eating. YUM!! Now I've gotta go–the itis is settling in…

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I Love Atlanta But…

3 03 2008

…This great city o’ mine is really lacking in a couple of areas as it relates to food.

1) No Pizza For You. For one thing, there are no pizza joints here in Atlanta. Sure there are pizza restaurants. But there are no pizzerias like in NY where you walk up to the counter and a bald Italian guy grunts "What can I get ya?" (if he even says that much). A pizzeria that sells italian ices, zeppoles, and grape and fruit punch flavored fountain drinks and one that only has a handful of hard-behind, scratched up booths. The pizza is so cheesy that it is likely to slide completely off if you don’t catch it.

2) Weiners. Second, there are no hot dog stands here. Even though the days of a good hot dog stand in NYC that don’t make you hurl your insides are long gone, I regret the fact that Atlanta does not have them. There are no  pretzel and shishkabob vendors on the street either. I went to see the Alvin Ailey dancers at the Fox today. it would have been nice to buy some food on the street afterewards.

3) Southern Cooking. I don’t know about you but when I think about southern cooking I think fried chicken, mac & cheese, ribs, collard greens, cornbread and the like. But since I’ve been here in Atlanta I’ve come across too many fancy restaurants that call their menu Southern Cooking. Here’s a rule of thumb: nytime hummus is included in your menu, it’s probably not real southern cooking. 

4) SOFT SERVE, Please! After Bertha and I went to see Alvin Ailey, Sadie had a craving for some soft serve ice cream. Apparently people here in the ATL do no know what soft serve ice cream is. We went to Bruester’s and when Sadie asked the guy if they sold soft serve his response was "It will be when it first comes out." ????????????? She had no idea what he was talking about. She ordered it  anyway and watched as he went to the back of the store and filled a big white bucket with soft serve vanilla ice cream. Then brought it out to the front and scooped it out of the bucket and into Sadie’s cone.  Um, last time I checked soft serve flows directly from the machine into your cone and it forms a big swirl. Last time I checked you don’t scoop soft serve ice cream…

Am I asking too much? Is that a northern thing? Does anybody know where to get some real soft serve around here?