Sunday, June 30, 2013

it's f'n easy, yo!

so i've professed my love for Fresh & Easy here before, i'm pretty sure.  it's a cute little market that's right around the corner from our house, and they carry all sorts of awesome stuff.  while we were on our european extravaganza, i found some fun snacks and remember thinking "i can totally try this and get addicted to it because i saw it at f'n easy, so i can still buy it at home!"

i'm serious about my snacking, yo.  but you knew that already.

before taking off on two weeks of vacation, i'd gone through and cleaned out the fridge.  like, it was the emptiest i've seen it since we bought the damn thing.  and so i turned to my favorite grocery store to stock up on some essentials and quick meal ideas.  after having every meal in a restaurant for the last fifteen days, it was kind of nice to get into the kitchen and stand at the stove to make something to eat.

you know i'm usually all about making stuff from scratch.  i think it's fun, and most of the time it just tastes better.  but although i was happy to be home and try to get back into our normal routine, i was feeling really lazy about jumping right back into the groove.  f'n easy came to my rescue when i found these yummy-sounding things within its walls:



sometimes it's just a relief to pull something out of the freezer, stir it around a pan for a bit, and have a hot meal ready to grub down on after just a few minutes.  that cavatappi gorgonzola was really good.


we'd enjoyed some blood orange juice on the plane home that was super delicious, so when i spied this in the soda aisle i had to have it.


i also picked up a few essentials - especially since the bean had a hankering for tater tot casserole and i wanted something for breakfast.  fresh&easy branded items always come through for me, and the price is always right for my cheap ass.


i usually have a coupon on hand when i shop here, but this time i wasn't so lucky.  the employee at the checkout stands was more than happy to help me out, though, and produced one for me to use when i was done scanning all of my stuff.  he shared a great tip - if you happen to have a coupon - say, a $5 off of $20 - you can scan it multiple times depending on how much your total is.  i'd spent $45, so he told me to scan it twice and i saved $10 instead of the $5 i'd have settled for before.

it was such a lightbulb moment.  awesome.

are you heading to Fresh & Easy for fourth of july BBQing supplies?  because if you are, here's a coupon for you.  don't forget to scan it more than once if you spend enough cashola!  it's good till july 7th, so don't toss it right away.

don't ever say i never gave you nothin'.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Friday, June 28, 2013

paris love is a lock

for our last full day in paris, i talked the teen into joining me for a run at our beloved eiffel tower.  given that we were all prone to sleeping in while on this particular vacay, it was quite a sacrifice on her part to indulge me in my own bucket list checkmarking.

i'd packed my team superhero shirt, hoping for some cool photo ops.  while i only got to bust it out one time, it made for a kick ass picture.


we decided to head out towards the seine to add a little extra mileage to our run.  have i mentioned how runner-friendly both london and paris were?  i noticed folks out for a jog pretty much every time we headed out for more sightseeing.  it was really cool, and i wished i'd had more time to take advantage of the fabulous scenery while out for a training run.

along the way, we came across the bridge where scenes from "inception" were filmed.


there was a carousel on either side of the river.  the bean was dying to take a spin on one.


also, these?  while they're lovely and charming and picturesque and all that foofy shit, they're hell to run on.


she'll probably kill me for this one.


back at the hotel, we headed right to breakfast to grab some food before they stopped serving.  i figured i'd earned these carbs.  and hey, there's a little protein kickin' it to the side.


we decided to try out the hop on/hop off boats this time.  looked like a cool way to get around.


our destination was the cathedral at notre dame.  the stop took us right by the pont de l'archeveche, also known as the "love lock" bridge.  the story goes that couples come to this bridge, write their names on a lock that they place on the bridge. then the key is tossed into the river to symbolize their undying love.  some find this super romantic, others view it as vandalizing a lovely bridge that was used in an old grace kelly movie.  whatever.  while we didn't end up coughing up 5 euros for a lock at a nearby kiosk,  we still thought it was kinda neat.


notre dame is incredible.  i find it just amazing that this building has remained intact for 850 years.  not only intact, but beautiful.



despite these signs, there was lots of chatter inside.


whether you're religious or not, you've gotta admit that this is pretty awesome.



joan of arc!


holy water (try explaining THIS to a 5-year-old non-catholic)!


we wandered off into random streets across from the cathedral.  it was so cool to come across this market area.  it looked just like in books and pictures and things i've read over the years, with a separate little shop for everything - meat, fish, bread, cheese, wine.  all the things one needs in life.


plopping down in yet another cafe, i opted for a super delicious, extra cheesy croque monsieur.  once i explained what it was to the bean, i found myself getting to devour just half of it.  the things i do for my kids, man.


after lunch, we hopped aboard another bus that took us to the fabulous champs-elysees.  directly across the street from the bus stop was this:


oh, yes.  a third laduree sighting within a week!  alas, this one was not meant for us.  the line for the retail shop was ri-gosh-darned-diculous.


so we made a beeline for the next best thing.  okay, this is a hell of a lot more than the next best thing to macarons.  it was like the mother ship calling us home.



the bean had fallen asleep in her daddy's arms yet again, and there was a fairly sizable line waiting to enter.  yes.  a line to get into the louis vuitton store.  but not just any LV store - oh, no.  this, my friends, was the flagship store.  the LV of all LVs.  oh, yeah.


the teen and i were...shall we say, the least appropriately dressed customers in the entire shop.  she was rocking a faded MTV sweatshirt and jeans, while i had on a disneyland paris tee and was sweating my ass off with excitement.  this was likely why we almost had to beg for one of the sales staff to assist us. but we emerged victorious.  and only *mumble* over the budget the hub had given us.  oops.


because it had taken us so long to get help while he sat outside on a bench with 50 pounds of deadweight sleeping child on his lap, he wasn't in the mood to wait for another bus.  so we hopped into a cab and ended up...here.


directly across the street was one of these (not this exact one, but you see one, you've seen 'em all, amirite):


by the way, "grande caramel macchiato" seems to be a universally-recognized phrase.


it was exactly what i needed to perk up a little.  clearly, it worked.


the hub had originally been all about letting me and the teen go and see the show (yeah, me and my kid at a strip club. awesome, right?), but the ol' moulin rouge is in a rather...sketchy area.  oh, and there was also this:


oh yeah, you read that right.  180 freaking euros for dinner and a show.  per person!  210, if you wanted lobster.  good god a'mighty.  we settled for taking pictures and moved on.


told you it was a sketchy ass neighborhood.


we passed by a movie theater, and i thought this was funny.


on the way back to the hotel, the bean made us all stop so she could take another picture with the tour eiffel in the background.  i still don't think she knows that she got fully and completely photobombed in these.



that night, we decided to break away from our cafe addiction and try a regular restaurant.  even though we were headed off to rome soon, i went with a fettuccine carbonara that was so delicious, the bean ate almost of it as much as i did.


but she returned the favor by sharing her chocolate mousse with all of us.


and the teen - well, she didn't even care what she ate that night.  she was too dazzled by the new love of her life by her side.


it was as if the tower knew it was our final night in paris.  in addition to the beautiful sparkly, twinkly lights that are turned on every hour after sunset for five minutes, it was lit up with colors too.


i stayed up until the last light show at 1am, and then watched all the lights go out.


i miss that thing, man.  i don't know what kind of crazy spell it cast on me (and the teen), but it's right up there with disneyland and hawaii on my list of "most favoritest places in the whole wide world."  i hope we meet again someday soon.
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