Got a question?

Got a question? If you're wondering if I've ever "been to X", "bought Y", "used Z".....leave a comment and if I've done it I'll give you my opinion. Feel free to ask!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Leeann Chin - House Chicken Entree, Blaine, MN

I stopped at Leeann Chin for lunch yesterday and got the Imperial Plate - that consists of 1/2 appetizer (I picked my favorite - Oyster Wings), 1/2 entree (House Chicken), and a half order of a rice or noodles (fried rice was my choice).  I like that Leeann Chin is always consistent - the Oyster Wings always and fried rice taste great and the same as every other location.  But I was disappointed in the House Chicken.  This is chicken with a breading, in a glaze of soy sauce, garlic and green onions.  It was way too salty, and the smaller pieces of chicken were simply too hard and consisted mostly of breading - hardly worth eating those.  The larger pieces of chicken were tasty when I could stop shuddering from the amount of sodium I was taking in.  I know that soy sauce is the base of the glaze - but maybe they can cut the soy sauce.

I'd always recommend Leeann Chin - but order something other than this House Chicken dish. 

And a positive shout out for the Blaine store (on 109th) - the guy who waited on me was very pleasant and efficient.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Waldoch Farm - Lino Lakes, MN

Waldoch Farms had its open house this weekend and I stopped by to get some ideas for the spring planting season.  I purchase my annuals here every year - and while it's too early (for me anyway) to buy plants, I thought I'd stop in since I'd gotten their direct mail.

I remember when I first started patronizing this nursery.  It was small, and the selection was pretty minimal.  That was back in around 1993 or 1994.  But today - it's a large business - and the reason I keep going there is for the selection.  They have many plants - perennials and annuals.  Beautiful hanging baskets.  They are not the cheapest place to buy plants - but in the northern suburbs it can't be beat for the selection.  They also always have quite a bit of staff walking around so you can get help when you need it.  Thumbs up for Waldoch Farm!

iPad For 60-year-old

I bought my 60-year old husband an iPad 2 for Christmas.  He scoffed, and still pretends that he doesn't like it.  However, he uses it daily for email and it only took him about a week to get comfortable with that ap.  No wonder - all he has to do is tap one icon - so how hard can it be?

I've set up bookmarks on his home page to some of his favorite sites, and he can easily print to our new HP Officejet Pro 8600 from the kitchen table.  He can surf the internet - and is constantly looking at classic car sites, Menards, Home Depot and other hardware-related sites. 

He is pretty skilled at looking at Craig's List, and K-bid too - which is all a little scary for me.  But I figure as long as he's not putting us in debt and he's learning how to be internet-savvy - I'm all for it.  At least for now!

Lastly - he's learned how to use the instant messaging feature - although he doesn't use it a lot.  But he sends messages to our son and grandsons - I think this is something I should encourage him to do more of.

If you have any techno-phobes in your life and you're wondering how best to get them to use email and the internet - I'd really recommend an iPad.  They are so simple to use, and if someone who knows what their doing sets up the apps - the user can start using it immediately.

Chianti Grill - Roseville, MN

Last night my girlfriend and I went to the Chianti Grill in Roseville around 7pm.  The wait for the dining room was estimated at 1 hour.  Luckily, my friend was waiting in the bar area at a table - and we found that we could order a meal from the regular menu at this table.  So no hour-long wait for us!

Our waitress was very attentive, and while she had to ask us several times if we were ready to order, she was patient and pleasant when we told her we needed more time.

I ordered the Cappellini ai Gamberetti - angel hair pasta with shrimp, basil, marinated tomatoes, garlic and olive oil.  My first reaction to the price was that it was on the expensive side.  Seems like most of their meals are around $15 or so, which is not what I expected.  But when the food came - it was an enormous amount.  You get a salad and bread as with most dinner meals at any restaurant.  But then the main dish - the cappellini - ends up being enough for two meals.   It had a light, fresh taste - I liked it quite a bit.  If you don't like a lot of garlic though - don't order this dish.  I took half of it home and just had it for supper.  And it tasted just as good as it did last night when it was first served!

I also imbibed a bit - I had a glass of white wine (Evolution,Sokol Blosser), followed by a Chocolate Covered Banana Martini (yum) and a nightcap of an iced Midnight Espresso coffee drink.  We were there for literally 3 hours - so I didn't really "over-do". 

Final assessment - food, drink and service were all great.  Price was a little high - but at least the quality was high.  And I did get two meals out of main dish.  So thumbs up on this visit.

Now for a bit of a different perspective.  Each year in June, on the last day of Back to The 50s (held at the state fairgrounds), we stop and have a drink on the patio at this restaurant.  It's a very nice patio area, and with great weather - it's a nice place to sit and watch the rest of the classic cars driving down Snelling as they leave the fairgrounds.  But for each of the 3 years we've stopped at Chiati Grill - we've been really disappointed in the service on the patio.  We usually have to hunt someone down, it takes forever to get what we ordered, and there have been times when we've felt like we were an imposition.  I don't know why the service out there is so bad - but it is.  Will we stop there again this year?  It's the only place where you can comfortably sit outside and watch the cars go by on Snelling - so either we suck it up and take a chance (again) on bad service, or we just head home.  We'll see!

reVamp! Salon - Uptown Minneapolis

As I was writing reviews for a couple of items that I purchased at Kitchen Window, I mentioned an annual tradition that the wormen in my family and one of my girlfriends and her teenaged daughters do once a year, every year.  We start our ritual with a morning at reVamp! salon in uptown Minneapolis.

We've tried a number of other spas in the Twin Cities area - but we were spoiled by the great service at reVamp! and array of services offered.  No others can compare.  And their ability to take all of us at the same time is important.  The manager (Robert) is always so helpful and pleasant - trying to acommodate all the different services that up to 8 of us try to squeeze in between 9am and 12pm.  And of course we change our minds along the way too.  Between us - we order various types of massage, pedicures, facials, manicures, and special body treatments.  The salon gets us scheduled in, the staff is exceptionally friendly and competent and we are usually all done by 12:30pm.  And we've gotten smart - since we always go on the same Saturday every year - we book a year out.

The salon is very inviting - the downstairs areas where massage, pedicure and other services are performed is cozy and clean, and the upstairs hair/make-up/nail salon is bright and unpretentious.

I can speak on behalf of all of us - we love this place.  And it's a fun thing for girls to get together and do - from teens through grandmas - I totally recommend it.  Thumbs up!

J C Penney 8 Pack Washcloth set

It might seem odd to blog about a $5.00 item - but I was pleasantly surprised about this 8-piece set of washcloths.  I don't lik bulky or over-sized washcloths - I like something that has a little bit of roughness so you feel like you're actually scrubbing if you apply some pressure.  And I like them to be on the thinner side - so that it's easier to rinse out the soap and ring the water easily.

These inexpensive washcloths are exactly what I like.  My receipt only identifieds them as "8PK WASHCLOTH SET" - there isn't a model or brand name on them.  And I couldn't find them on their website - so they must only be available in retail stores.  I bought mine at the Maple Grove store in Minnesota.

Thumbs up!

J C Penney Towels - Harmony, Shadow Vine, Pure Perfection

My husband just re-painted our master bathroom a lovely deep grayish-purple.  I looked around for new towels to match - and found some with accents in the same color as the wall.  I also bought plain white ones.

The two with the designs - Harmony and Shadow Vine are both nice towels, but they are not very large - 25" X  50".  They are attractive, but not very funtional.

Now the Pure Perfection - these are some nice towels and they are amply sized at 32 X 62.  They are advertised as J C Penney's "softest towels ever" and I think they are right!  They are super soft - fluffy and large.  I bought these in white (they didn't come in the shade of purple I needed) - and I really like them.  Thumbs up for these!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

DIY Manicure - Sally Hansen Salon Effects

Yes, the time has come to start being manicure savvy - with Sally Hansen Salon Effects real nail polish strips!  There is zero dry time, you just peel & apply, and it lasts 14 days, for the low price of $8.54 at Target (they're $10 at Ulta, so don't purchase there).  The package says that it lasts up to 10 days, but I've had luck with it even through 14.  I'm currently wearing a flower pattern that I've had on for 15 days and the most noticeable "wear" is just the growth of my nails.  I wore my first ones on our honeymoon in the Caribbean - they went through all of the travel, saltwater, sun, sand, etc. and I had them on for more than 10 days before they even chipped noticeably. 

I've gotten countless compliments on the couple of styles I've tried and tonight I will put on the "Not a Peep" pattern of little birds all over.  It's a fun, temporary way to express yourself on your nails at the fraction of the cost of a salon manicure!

Things to keep in mind:
  • Make sure your nails are clean and dry
  • Be sure to push your cuticles back to get the longest wear time and show less growth
  • Apply when your hands are warm (something about this helps adhere them to your nails better)
And that's about it!  It takes no more time to apply than it does to coat your nails with nailpolish and dry time.  You want glitter?  They've got it.  You want plaid, polka dot, flowers, butterflies, solids?  They've got it. 

What are you waiting for?!?!

Say goodbye to chip clips - Say HELLO to Gripstic!!!

My mother has posted about one of our kitchen store favorites, The Kitchen Window... here's another something we've found there that I absolutely LOVE... they're Gripstics.  Thanks to these multi-sized geniuses, I will no longer use chip clips!  Now, don't be confused by those mediocre imposters... the clips that look much like a Gripstic but merely latch over a bag - you haven't tried the real deal until you've slid a Gripstic across an open bag to seal with absolutely no air entry or escape.  You can't even pull a bag through the Gripstic - it works that well!  These little treasures also take up less space in your drawers - unlike an awkward chip clip that jams your drawer when you attempt to open it, these long and slender beauties will fit well. 

They're reasonably priced for the food you will save from spoil and stale - a package of three for $5.99, if I remember right.  I've found packages of three sizes or packages with three of the same size.  I'm a fan of the long green ones - seems they cover any size bag is normally used.  I have only had one bag that was too long - and that was a very large bag of tortilla chips that we probably shouldn't have purchased in bulk! 

If you want to support a local business, check them out at The Kitchen Window!

Kitchen Window - Minneapolis, Uptown

I just posted a couple of reviews for two products I recently purchased at Kitchen Window - The Black Cheese Knife and Magnetic Stacking Measuring Spoons.  And it reminded me that I should post a review of the store itself!

This is a favorite of mine and all the women in my family.  We have a tradition once a year every year - we enjoy a morning at reVamp! spa/salon in uptown Minneapolis, have lunch and then shop a bit.  We ALWAYS hit Kitchen Window.  This store has a vast array of kitchen products and lots of stock.  They are staffed adequately - there's always someone floating around who can help, and with the watchful eye of the cashiers - if they see someone who is in need they flag someone down to help.

If you are anywhere near the area, and enjoy cooking or just like gadgets - from those with great utlity to those that are just fun (for example - wooden spoons with carved faces) - stop in and check it out.  And if you have a serious need - give them a call - they probably have what you're looking for.

Magnetic Stackng Measuring Spoons - Kitchen Window Minneapolis - April 27, 2012

I have been on a hunt for replacement measuring spoons for months, ever since one of my ancient Tupperware spoons cracked.  (By the way - I've had my Tupperware spoons for about 30 years - they've lasted that long!).  One day, I was at my daughter's house, and she showed me some measuring spoons she'd bought for her mother-in-law - they were stainless steel, stacked, and were magnetic to keep them together.  I really liked the magnetic, stacking feature - I was tired of always having to mess around with taking my spoons off the clip that kept them together, so that I could just use and clean 1 or 2 per time.   Since I saw those I've kept my eye out for some.  I came across a really nice, functional, plastic set at the Kitchen Window in uptown Minneapolis.  They have two different shape spoon-bowls for each measurement - so that you can get into different types of jar or box openings.  I'm surprised they are shown on their website ( - perhaps because they were really inexpensive at $8.99.  They aren't stainless, but they are very functional and with exactly the magnetic, stacking feature I was looking for.  Thumbs up!

By the way, while I was there looking for these measuring spoons - the store clerk showed me "The Black Cheese Knife".  This is a great product - see my review on it.  And if you are near Minneapolis and want to shop at a great kitchen store - check out The Kitchen Window - it's a fun place to browse and they carry a huge stock of kitchen merchandise.  Lots of store clerks floating around to help - all with really friendly, professional attitudes.

The Black Cheese Knife - Kitchen Window Minneapolis - April 28, 2012

I was just looking through my receipt drawer and came across one for this knife called "The Black Cheese Knife" that I purchased at the Kitchen Window - in uptown Minneapolis.  I went there to purchase some Magnetic Measuring Spoons (more on these later - search for separate review), and while the store clerk was helping me locate them, I saw some ceramic knives and asked him how they worked.  He told me that he had a favorite cheese knife - that he said glides through cheese and hard-boiled eggs like a dream.  Since my pet peeve is that cutting cheese is never easy - I decided to give it a try. And he was right - I've never used a knife like this before.  I recently sliced up some Havarti cheese - worked beautifully.  The description at this link says it was originally designed to slice Velveeta.  Check it out - I wholeheartedly recommend this.  Thumbs up!,2489.html

HP Office Jet Pro 8600 All-In-One Wireless Printer - April 28, 2012

We purchased this printer about 1 month ago at Best Buy for about $146 (you can probably get it cheaper on-line).  I am very impressed with the operation of this printer.  When I initiallyl set it up, I was able to immediate print to it - wirelessly - from my local computer.  But when I went to set up the "cloud" printing - I needed to get techinical help from HP.  That took awhile - I first chatted on-line with a tech, who referred me to the "cloud" group.  The "cloud" guy told me their servers were down and that's why I couldn't connect.  He suggested that I call back tomorrow. He was exceptionally professional, and believable.  So I called back the next day.  This person said that there never was a problem with the servers - and then he proceeded to help me.  So while I was not impressed with this whole experience - to tell the truth - it was worth it in the end.  I can now print to their "e-service" print service (in the cloud), I can fax, scan and copy.  As far as the e-print service goes - I could be at work - and print to my e-print email address - and voila it will be waiting for me on my printer at home.  I had bought my husband an iPad for Christmas, and he now sits at the kitchen table surfing his woodworking, classic car and hardware sites - and merrily prints away upstairs.  Not really a good thing.  But it helps to make him comfortable with technology - and even though he grumbles that his "iPad is not worth it" - I know he really likes it and feels good about being able to operate the latest technology as a young senior citizen.  Back to the printer....I haven't printed any photos on it yet - when I do I'll let you know.  But I have used all the other features and it works great - I love it.  Thumbs up!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cub Food Pharmacy - Blaine East on Lexington Avenue & 35W - April 27, 2012

This pharmacy gets a big thumbs up from me for its pharmacists.  Both of the guys who work there are very friendly and willing to answer any questions about prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs, supplements, etc.  I used to use my medical insurance company's mail-in prescription service, but after checking with Cub, I found they were cheaper.  Most prescriptions I get are $5.00 each month.  Mail-in is $20 for 3 months.  So Cub is cheaper, and since I grocery shop there anyway - it's convenient.  But even if I didn't, I would send my prescriptions here just because the pharmacists are wonderful.  The women who work the counter are also very nice to deal with. 

Whirlpool Microwave Convection Oven Combination - Model GMH6184 - April 26, 2012

This combination microwave/oven works great.  We had our last microwave for 19 years, and I wanted the versatility of a combination micro/oven to simplify cooking for holidays.  It has preset settings for microwave, baking, roasting, steaming, defrosting, softening.  For many of the settings, the appliance senses how much power and heat is required to do the job.  For example, to reheat a casserole - there's an auto-setting for that - you plug in how many cups of food needs to be reheated - the appliance figures out how to do it.  There's even a setting for softening frozen juice!

I think this appliance has some cool features, is very functional and is meeting my expectations.  We purchased this at Steve's Appliance in Moundsview, MN. Thumbs up!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cub Fresh Cuts - Guacamole Ole - April 25, 2012

This stuff is really good.  After my disappointing meal of breaded tilapia (see earlier post), I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things.  I must have been so disatisfied and still hungry that my eye kept wandering to things other than what were on my list.  I spyed Cub Fresh Cuts Guacamole Ole - and thought it would be a good snack when I got home.  I'm digging into it now - and it's really so good that I wanted to tell people about it right away.  It comes in a sealed plastic bag inside a plastic container.  You open the bag and empty into the container for storing in the refrigerator.  It has chunks of avocado (which I love the fact that it's not pureed), purple onions, tomatoes and is a little peppery along with lime and cilantro. Cilantro is not my favorite flavor - but this is subtle enough that it doesn't detract.  The only downside is that the packaging doesn't have any list of ingredients nor nutrition and calorie count.  I know that avocado is fairly high in calories, but it IS good for you.  I highly recommend can find it in the fresh produce area - in the refrigerated area where the mushrooms and baby carrots are.  Thumbs up!

Ocean Market Breaded Tilapia Filets - April 25, 2012

YUK!  Ok - I am trying to watch my diet....I  was starving....and decided I'd try some Ocean Market Breaded Tilapia filets that my husband bought.

The package said you can microwave, pan fry or bake it.  Did I say I was starving?  I opted for the microwave.  Well - I have never tasted fish that is like a rubber dishrag.  No flavor, chewy, overly breaded - barely any fish in there.

I may try baking it next time- but honestly I'm not sure it's worth the 240 calories.  Thumbs down - I do not recommend this!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Vivelle - DOT patches - remove glue - April 23, 2012

Just want to share this helpful hint for removing the left-over adhesive/glue from these Vivelle patches.  After you've applied the new patch, moisten a cotton ball with baby oil.  Being careful not to go too near the place where the new patch is - rub the old glue off with the baby oil.  It works great and is non-irritating.  I haven't found a better way to do get it off, short of using lighter fluid or something harsh like that.

L'Oreal Age Perfect Hydra-Nutrition Golden Balm Face, Neck & Chest Redensifying Comfort Moisturizer - April 23, 2012

L'Oreal Age Perfect Hydra-Nutrition Golden Balm Face, Neck & Chest Redensifying Comfort Moisturizer.  Like any average middle-aged woman, I am trying to keep my skin as young as it can possibly be.  I use this moisterizer - I'm on my first jar.  This moisterizer definitely keeps my face hydrated all day long.  It's supposed to strengthen skin and repair damage.  I don't know that it's doing that - because I can't compare it to what it would be without it.  I have not noticed any reversed aging, but again it does make my skin feel supple and hydrated.  On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being high, I'd give this an 8.  Thumbs up!

Wright's Bacon - Sam's Club - April 23, 2012

This is the best bacon ever.  It's from Sam's Club, and comes in two 3.5 pound packages. It's thick cut, applewood smoked - absolutely great tasting!

It's less than $10 for 7 pounds.  Once you've had this bacon, nothing else will compare.  Thumbs up!

Hyundai Sonata Hybird - April 23, 2012

I bought my 2011 Sonata Hybird in May of 2011.  The MPG was rated for 35-40 miles per gallon.  I am only averaging 35.  I joined a blog on this subject - and a couple of responders told me it was because it was winter (in this, the warmest winter on record) or because I simply could not drive economically.  I feel strongly that these responders are Hyundai employees.

I have also had problems with my bluetooth for severals months now.  My phone worked fine with the Bluetooth for a a couple months - then stopped working all of a sudden.  The dealership told me it was my phone - so I got a replacement of the same model.  But that did not work either.  I tried to get the dealership to deal with it - and they are willing - but I will need to spend more time than I have to bring my phone over there and have them try to get it working.

I love the way this car looks, and it's a very comfortable car to ride in.  I bought this car for two reasons - the fact that it has a panoramic sunroof and it's a hybrid.  The 2011 hybrid model was the only way to get the sunroof.  I was trading in a convertible - so the large sunroof was important.  And the fact that it was a hybrid was appealing.  But I'm dissappointed in the gas mileage and the bluetooth.

Madame Butterfly - Ordway - April 22, 2012

Went to the matinee showing of the Madame Butterfly opera.  First of all, there wasn't a bad seat in the house at the Ordway.  The opera itself was performed beautifully - but had it not been for the sub-titles/captions I would have been lost.  This was my first opera - and I came totally ignorant except for the basic story line.

There was a very long silent, no-movement scene that dragged on forever.  But aside from that  it was very beautiful and the last scene where Butterfly says good-bye to her young son and commits suicide brought on the tears.

The Ordway is a wonderful venue, with easy access and fairly convenient parking.  I always park at the St. Hotel/Landmark Tower parking ramp.  Costs $15 for special events - spendy - but it's just across the park from the theater.

There was construction in downtown St. Paul - if you're heading down there soon - check on the construction and plan your travel time accordingly.  It took me about 15 minutes more than it normally would.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mancini's Restaurant St. Paul - April 21 2012

I attended a funeral reception held at Mancini's on this day.  It was a light luncheon - meatballs, chicken wings, cheese cubes, garlic toast (they are known for this), relish tray.  These appetizers were good - nothing spectacular.  But what continues to be spectacular is the restaurant itself - the rooms and the ambiance.  This place still has the dark woodwork along with the red carpet and upholstery on the furniture.  It feels so classy - there are few places like this any more.  Thumbs up!

Nye's Restaurant Minneapolis; Groupon - April 21 2012

I purchased a Groupon for Nye's on April 20, 2012.  It just so happened that we were going to celebrate my son's and son-in-law's birthdays at Nye's, and the same day we decided where to go, a Groupon for this place came up.  I bought two - 1 for myself, 1 for my husband.  To my disappointment - I didn't notice until I printed them out that you can only use 1 per table.  When I called Nye's to make reservations (table for 9) I asked if I could use both.  She advised that they are very strict on that and would only allow me to use one at the table.  She said I could use it at the table, and then afterwards go to the piano bar or the bar and use it there.

My husband and I arrived first - about 20 minutes early, followed by a few others in the party.  We were able to use the first Groupon in the bar before dinner.  The drinks were spendy - but not unexpected.  And drinker beware - the martinis are very boozy.  Even the fruity, sweet ones - very strong.  My daughter who likes Appletinis could barely drink hers here.

Dinner was great.  As they always do, they brought the relish dish to start (celery, pickles, carrots, pasta shells (this was different), green onion.  My son was celebrating a big milestone birthday and ordered the 16 oz. lobster.  He said it was great.  (My husband, I and friends used to come to Nye's many years ago for their full-pound lobster tail that never disappointed.  It didn't this time either.)  Grandsons had sandwiches that were very large - walleye and Rueben - they thought were good.  Two had the special - 8 oz. filet (beef) with pierogi (neither were that impressed with the pierogi).  One had a Polish plate - sausage on a bed of sauerkraut with a variety of pierogi.  One flavor of pierogi was prune - and he really liked it with the sour cream.  Between the rest of us we had prime rib, broiled shrimp and liver.  All were very good.  If you like liver - this is a great place to have it.  All in all - our meal met expectations, and while expensive - we knew that coming in.  And I used the Groupon without incidence.  Thumbs up!