Friday, March 29, 2013

Ride A Bike to Breakfast

by Sheila

You are probably already tired of hearing how great the weather is in Arizona right now, but we have to get out and take advantage of it before it gets too hot.  One of the great outdoor activities that David and I enjoy is bike riding.  He is a pretty serious rider, averaging 350 miles per month on his road bike.  We joke that we have more invested in bicycles than cars, and this is not far from the truth.  Let's see, 3 road bikes, 2 mountain bikes, 2 cruisers, a road tandem, and a mountain tandem that our friends graciously let us keep at their place in Lake Tahoe.  Thanks, guys! Oh, and the two fold-up bikes we just took over to keep on the sailboat in San Diego.  We love tandems - David is a stronger rider, but we stay together and talk along the way and we both get a good workout.  Just don't say to tandem riders "Hey, she's not pedaling in the back!".  We've heard it so many times it has become seriously annoying - and the pedals are geared together.  Not an option to coast on the back... 

David, minus his stoker (that's bike talk for the rider on the back)

The water tower - we can see it a few miles out and Camryn calls it the Eiffel Tower (sorry Paris)!

Our favorite weekend morning activity is riding our tandem to breakfast.  We live in Tempe, and ride to The Farmhouse Restaurant in Gilbert.  This is a 20 mile round trip.  We ride on the multi-use trail along the canal most of that distance.  On a really great day, our Granddaughter rides in the trailer behind us.  She loves it, and so do we!
Camryn on one of her first rides - just one year old!

Of course, the promise of breakfast is what keeps us going.  The portions at The Farmhouse are huge, so we usually share a breakfast.  We have been going there for over 20 years, so they know what our order is when we walk in the door.  (A #10 omelet, in case you're wondering.)  On special occasions, we also get a cinnamon roll - they are to die for!  And Camryn's favorite is none other than  Minnie Mouse pancakes - the best ever!  The exercise makes this a guilt-free indulgence.

This is our "to go" breakfast cuz it was just too beautiful outside, and this is half - YUM!

One of our favorite girls at The Farmhouse!

David tracks all of his data like distance, speed, calories burned, and altitude gains on an app called endomondo.  This is a free app that works on all smart phones.  It has application to many sports, including running and hiking.  If this interests you, check it out!

We like to explore areas on bikes when we travel, also.  We will frequently rent bikes when we are on vacation to cruise around.  You see and experience more than you would from a car, but you can cover more distance than walking.  And the exercise lets you enjoy the extra treats that are always part of a fun vacation!
And you get to see flora and fauna along the way

Thursday, March 28, 2013

"FINDS" - A new category of posts!

by Ann
This post introduces another category of discussion in our Friendship, Life and Style blog that we are calling "Finds" in keeping with the alliteration of categories beginning with the same letter.  When we went to the blogging conference in January an important point that was made in several sessions was that posts need to be of value to the readers, and should either provide useful information, entertain, or solve a problem that followers of our blog might have.  We think there is great value to sharing products, websites, or other things we love with our readers.  Eventually, once we learn more of the details related to growing our blog we hope to have the opportunity to review new products for companies as part of the information shared with our readers.

A Great Find for Wimpy Hair

We all know that the grass is greener on the other side.  Women who are tall wish they were short and the other way around; the same with curly hair vs. straight hair.  And let's not even go there on bust size!  But back to hair -- I have a lot of straight hair, and fortunately it is healthy -- not too dry nor oily.  What it is, however, is very fine and lacks body.  If I try to curl or style it with no products the "do" doesn't last very long.  That's where products save the day.  I use a root pump and a bit of mousse when I blow it dry, but the "secret ingredient" is a product that my hair stylist introduced me to:  "Powder Play" made BigSexyHair.  
It comes in a very small container (.53 of an ounce!) with a shaker top.  When you first pick up the new container you'll think you've been had -- it feels empty, but then consider how heavy half of an ounce would be.  The container of it I bought truly does have to be close to empty by now because I have had it for several months.  
This shot is to show how small the container is.
Here's how it works:  I dry my hair as always with a round brush and then lift three or four sections of it up and give a small shake of the powder to that part on my scalp.  My stylist says that some of her clients do not like it, claiming that it makes their hair seem dirty, but with fine hair that's the key to giving it any body.  After the powder application I usually do a couple of quick back-combs, and suddenly I have much fuller hair that will last the day.  In spite of the dirty-hair complaint that others have voiced, I still find that I can get away with washing my hair every other day, and typically do not need to add any more Powder Play on day two.
Don't think it's a coincidence that this pic is small.  Yikes!!
Be watching for more from this fun category!  If you have any great finds that you'd like us to research and share, we'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Electronic Couponing

by Ann

Couponing can make a person crazy – but not using them and knowing how much I could be saving would even make me crazier!  The process has become much more sophisticated in the last several months with the additional option of loading electronic coupons onto store loyalty cards.  Safeway started this trend, which is being picked up by other chains.
If you haven’t gotten involved with using electronic coupons, getting started is simple.  You go online, enter your loyalty card number and create an account.  Then each week an email will arrive reminding you to load your coupons onto your card, thus eliminating the need to clip store-specific coupons from the weekly food ads.  Safeway gives shoppers the option of doing it electronically, or the old fashioned method with scissors.  Another great feature is that once you've loaded the coupons you can print your list; what you've loaded or with the addition of everything else you need to buy.

Customized coupons are an added bonus to the electronic system.  Based upon your buying habits you receive coupons specifically for those things that you would most likely have on your list anyway.  I love this because since I buy a lot of fresh produce I usually receive coupons for the fruits and vegetables I would buy anyway, or more often an offer like $3 off of a $10 produce purchase.  That’s wonderful because typically there would be no produce coupons (other than the clementine “Cuties” that often crop up).

It is a hassle to carry around all of the loyalty cards, but it’s part of the deal.  I have created a “branch office” in my purse which is a small make-up bag that holds loyalty cards, gift cards, and essential things like my fingerprint clearance card (hey, I never know when I may have to prove that I’m not a convicted criminal!).  See pic below – and that’s not all of them!

Each store has its own policy relating to whether or not a paper manufacturer’s coupon can be used in conjunction with the electronic discount.  Safeway is generous with its policy and allows double discounts.  My “coupon bragging” for this post is a result of that generous policy.  Not only did I use product-specific coupons for several items that I’d loaded onto my card, I used a coupon that came in the mail for $10 off of $50 AND had loaded $6 off of $60 on my card, and was able to use them all!  I’m hoping that you can see the totals on the photos of the receipt (as proof of my bragging), but if not, the total I spent was $59.78, and what I saved was $64.03.  You’ll have to take my word for it that I did not buy a bunch of weird stuff I didn't need just to get the maximum discount – it was truly our groceries for the week.
I spent $59.78
(Sorry for the crumpled nature of the receipt -- I had to pick it out of the trash when I got the inspiration to do this post -- fortunately it was in the recycle bin!)
And "proof" that I saved $64.03!
The downside of this system is that sometimes I end up in the store and haven’t gotten around to loading the coupons onto my card, so don’t get the lesser price.  I feel sorry for the cashiers who have to listen to people complain, of which I am NOT one!  It will be interesting to see how long the electronic coupon-loading system continue because my guess is that there are as many angry customers who are mad about missing the deals as there are customers like me that feel we have made out like bandits!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Freezer Meal Recipe: Beef Stroganoff

by Sheila

Last week I described the process of my Mom and I making our freezer meals.  We are just about out of all the goodies we prepared and are scheduling another workday.  After that post, I did get a number of requests for the actual recipes, which I am happy to share.  This Beef Stroganoff was a real hit with my husband - good flavor and quick and easy to heat and serve. 

The finished product from our freezer meal production workday (see post on 3/20/13 for full description)

Classic Beef Stroganoff
Adapted from a Betty Crocker recipe (Serves 12)

3 pounds beef sirloin steak, sliced ½ inch thick
16 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms (4 cups)
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup butter
3 cups beef broth
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ cup flour
3 cups light sour cream
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped fine
Egg noodles (we like whole grain from Safeway)

1.       Cut beef across grain into about 1 ½ x ½ inch strips.

2.       Cook mushrooms, onions and garlic in butter in large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender; remove from skillet.

3.       Cook beef in same skillet until brown.  Stir in half the broth, the salt and Worcestershire sauce.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer 15 minutes.

4.       Stir remaining broth into flour; stir into beef mixture.  Add onion mixture and heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Stir in sour cream and parsley – do not boil. (Parsley may be added fresh when serving, but then you have to be sure to have it on hand).

For freezer storage:  Let cool slightly.  Label quart sized freezer bags with recipe name and date.  Using ladle, spoon into freezer storage bags.  When cooled, lay flat in freezer. 

When ready to eat, thaw ahead and heat in skillet (do not boil), or thaw slightly in microwave first.  Cook egg noodles according to package directions.  Serve over hot noodles.

Beef, onion and mushroom mixture before the addition of the sour cream.



Sunday, March 24, 2013

It's Not Always Black and White

by Heather

I love black and white; always have. 
Even my motorcycle is black and white. 
Black and white is "in" again this season according to the fashion magazines; did it ever go out? 
And black and white stripes are really hot (or so they say). 
Does that mean if I wear them, I'll be hot, too? Never mind.

Sometimes I like to be just black and white -- 
with the only pops of color coming from my lipstick and nail polish.
Nordstrom black and white striped jacket; Chico's black denim jeans; Chanel white and black sunglasses

Ann Taylor white sheer polka dot short-sleeved blouse (lined in the appropriate places so no cami is needed) with black trim 

Ann Taylor black and silver bangle; black leather with silver chain wrap bracelet from a little shop in Wayzata, MN, nestled on the shoreline of Lake Minnetonka; Nordstrom white leather and silver wrap bracelet; black Michael Kors watch 
Kate Spade wedges; Michael Kors Hamilton white and black purse

And sometimes I like to add a little color.
 I love yellow with black and white (which you'll see in an upcoming post or two),
but decided to do turquoise today
mostly because I bought the turquoise purse yesterday.
Changed out the jeans to a pair of crop jeans (okay, not a big switch but they are shorter)
and swapped the white polka dot top for a simple white WHBM tank.
Added turquoise jewelry
along with turquoise wedges and purse to give a little Spring to the look.
BCBG turquoise shoulder bag which can be converted into a clutch purse (currently on sale for 50% off at BCBG); Nine West wedges; Michael Kors white ceramic watch; turquoise bracelets from various places
I've been watching the weather forecast for the eastern part of the United States so I threw in the scarf as an acknowledgement that perhaps it's cold and snowy where you live.
Yes, I know it's going to take more than a scarf to stay warm, but it's sunny and 75 degrees here as I'm typing this and all of the really warm clothes are put away.
It's easy to brag about our weather right now; you can get back at me when we're roasting in 110+ degrees this summer and you're basking in balmy temps .

We take a motorcycle trip up to the Grand Canyon almost every summer and these earrings are from the El Tovar Lodge which overlooks the south rim of the canyon.
It's a beautiful place and there's nothing more pleasant than to sit on their veranda with a glass of wine and admire the amazing view.
A close up of my new purse.
And to think I didn't even know I needed it until I saw it on sale. 
The three-ring set of turquoise and "diamond" rings is a fun costume jewelry purchase from last year.

Let me know what colors you're adding to your black and white!

Have a wonderful, colorful week!
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