Monthly Archives: April 2014

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My Mini Weekend Vacation

Happy Wednesday everyone! I have some exciting things to share in my next few posts, so get ready 🙂 In the meantime, today I am writing up a quick recap from this past weekend.

For those of you who are purse lovers, you may be familiar with the brand name Vera Bradley. Actually, even if you aren’t purse lovers (me included), you’ll have probably heard of the company before. They are one of the most popular purse, luggage and accessory companies in the U.S. right now, especially for college girls like myself. You really can’t go more than a few minutes without seeing someone toting around a Vera Bradley quilted purse, book bag, messenger bag, umbrella, etc. They are known for their bold patterns and somewhat expensive, yet high quality lines.

Once a year Vera Bradley holds an Outlet Sale in Fort Wayne, Indiana where they hold a huge discount sale in a large building. Last year over 60,000 people attended the multi-day event. My mom unfortunately didn’t find out about the sale until after it took place last year, but this year we made sure to make plans to attend.

vera-sale-table

So, this Friday my mom drove up to my school, dropped off some food for me to store in my fridge for the coming week, and then together we headed over to Indiana on a long drive. We spent the night at a fancy Hilton Hotel (which we got a huge discount on with AAA and a Vera Bradley coupon) where the room was complete with microwave and fridge.

vera-hotel-beds

 

vera-hotel-window

 

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Also it had a ridiculously large bathroom which I wish I could have stuffed in my overnight bag and transported back to my college dorm room.

vera-hotel-mirrow

 

vera-hotel-sink

 

vera-hotel-shower

 

vera-hotel-bathroom

That night I had one of the best sleeps in a long time. I watched questionable television shows (Dallas anyone?) as I drifted off. Saturday morning we slept in until about 7:00am and after getting ready and eating breakfast, headed out to the sale.

Plantain chips

Plaintains and Chicken for breakfast. Sorry for the reused photos this week!

When we got there the line reached almost to the back portion of the parking lot. It was huge.

I brought a magazine with me to read, but I ended up not needing it. Within minutes my stomach began hurting and I had to borrow my mom’s keys to drive to the nearest gas station. Yes, my medication decided to pick that moment to act up again. Life sucks, but what can you do?

vera-me

When I got back less than 20 minutes later, the line had already progressed a lot and my mom was inside.

This of course made it awkward for me seeing as how there was still a line and all of the women in it were eyeing me suspiciously as a “line cutter” as I walked to the front to find my mom. I decided to hold her on the phone, asking loudly where EXACTLY she was, saying “Are you by the large tv?”… “Where? I don’t see you!” until I finally scooted my way inside. Crisis averted.

Once inside we headed straight into the sale. They handed us each big pink garbage bags and set us free to roam. HOLY COW.

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There were rows upon rows of tables piled sky high with every patterned bag and accessory imaginable. Here is a map for reference purposes, although it got pretty crumbled from so much use:

vera-map1

Starting at the beginning, we went over every spot several times probably. I read a tip online beforehand about carrying items with you in garbage bags and putting them back later if you decided not to keep them. Apparently patterns run out fast and it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. It turned out to be a good tip because as we returned some items to the random bins on every aisle there were woman there scooping them right back up again.

vera-sale-table3

Everyone was incredibly friendly though, despite how packed the place got. My mom and I traversed around for a few hours before making our final picks and going to checkout. On the way to the checkout we passed a large Vera Bradley quilt on the wall where some others were getting pictures. I offered to take a photo of a girl and her mom in exchange for one of our own.

vera-sale-mom-me

The final checkouts reminded me of the inside lines for rides at Disney World. Organized but crazy. There were so many people and they were buying SO many things! Seriously, one woman had an entire garbage bag to herself and must have pulled out close to a thousand dollars worth of stuff. Most of the things were on sale for over 50% off that day so she was really buying almost two thousand dollars worth, but still, that’s a bunch. The max was $3,500 per person though and I don’t think I saw anyone who managed to buy quite that much.

Once we made it out of the sale and hit the road again, it was time for lunch. We decided to stop by Texas Roadhouse as they have baked sweet potatoes on the menu that I have been getting whenever we go out to eat. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures as my phone was dead from snapping shots at the sale. Just imagine an 8oz steak and the largest sweet potato you have ever seen.

hoarder-sweet-potato

Pretend that I didn’t use this photo for my last WIAW… and that it’s plated all fancy at a restaurant alongside a steak.

Then after filling our tummies began our drive back. We hit a snag when my mom dropped me off at my car so I could move it to a closer parking spot at school. She was supposed to follow me back but got stuck behind a few other cars and so began our scavenger hunt to find each other for a good half an hour. I eventually did find her and drove behind her car, waving my hands to no avail in an attempt to grab her attention. We lost each other again and I finally decided to just park my car and walk back to my dorm. Of course my cellphone was still in her car so communication was futile.

Needless to say we eventually found each other, and after a little grocery shopping to set me up for the week, we said our goodbyes.

Funny enough, I don’t actually have any pictures of any of the things we purchased. It ended up being a total of $100 or so for both of us combine though (which compared to the thousands mentioned above, that’s pretty reasonable I’d say 😉 ). I will tell you that I bought a water bottle holder, a wallet, some keychains, and a present for a friend. My mom bought a bag or two, some lunchboxes, and a water bottle holder I think. Even with the huge sales, I still couldn’t justify spending $25 on a tote.

Instead I went on ebay that following Sunday and bought a used Vera Bradley bag for less than $20. Hah. I’m currently shopping for a new book bag for next year too as mine is getting a little worse for wear. It’s a Vera Bradley messenger bag in… Ellie Blue.

vera-bag

I’ll update this post when I get a snapshot of all of our Vera Bradley purchases, and I’ll also post the photo in my next blog post so you won’t miss it. And I’ll probably have to correct myself for whatever I’ve forgotten. And my mom saved the day by e-mailing me a picture of our loot. I guess she had been texting her friends pictures of everything we bought already 🙂

vera-lot

 

Me: Blue/Flower water bottle holder (Actually a baby bottle holder, but it was too cute to pass up), the purple wallet thing, four key chains, and the red wallet for my friend (I wish I had a small iPhone like her. It seems the best stuff only fits iPhones 🙁 ).

Mom: Yellow/Black/White lunchbox and matching water bottle holder, purple flowery lunchbox for her friend and a matching purple wallet for herself to take while walking, and a large tote/purse in the same pattern as my messenger bag above.

While not everything went perfectly, it was such a nice break from my usual hectic weekend and it was nice to be away from school and the busyness that comes with only a few weeks left to go!

Thanks Jenn for hosting WIAW again this week. Sorry for having to skimp on pictures… Oh, but to complete the day, I probably ended it with chicken for supper. So predictable, am I right?!

Questions for you:

  • Have you ever heard/bought Vera Bradley before?
  • What is your favorite brand?
  • Do you ever go to outlet/discount sales?
  • Do you like staying in hotels? Any rituals? I personally cannot sleep under the sheets and always have to bring my own blanket and pillow. Haha.

Food Photo Hoarder

Is it possible to hoard pictures of food? I pondered that question as I was scrolling through Amazon Prime’s TV show selections tonight and stumbled upon “Hoarders.” While I will never watch that show, it did get me thinking about this upcoming WIAW post. I panicked upon opening a draft when I realized that I hadn’t done a lot of picture taking this past weekend and (goodness forbid) there was the possibility that I would have to “cheat” again with just a recipe post.

Then I laughed. Who was I kidding? Just two seconds on my phone and I could find tons of food pictures to share. I must confess- it is entirely possible that I could be a “food photo hoarder.” Sounds safe, doesn’t it? But deep down in the depths of my Samsung Galaxy S2 memory card, I know I have a problem. A problem that can only be solved by sharing a few of those billions of pictures. “Getting rid of the junk” if you will. Except I would not call these photos junk. That’s just an allusion to what I can only assume is said about 100 times per episode on the real episodes of Hoarders.

hoarders-cat-2

Actually I have seen a few episodes. Unfortunately my grandma loves the show and when I was living at home and visited, Hoarders would frequently be blasting on her television screen. Most of the time the professional organizers didn’t call the homeowner’s belongings “junk” though.  If I were (hypothetically) an actual “food photo hoarder” I would slap you silly for suggesting that I delete all of my pictures. That would just be plain rude.

The next step in overcoming hoarding after admitting you have a problem, I can only presume is to actually get rid of some of the offending/overabundant items. Here we go….

Starting off we have the steakhouse leftovers from a family birthday outing two weekends ago.

Bread and butter. Basically the epitome of eat-out treats. How can you resist warm roll pictures? Well, really they are cold in this one, but just imagine them all warmed up in the oven and topped with the creamy, melted butter. Perfection.

hoarder-bread-butter

Then we have the sweet potatoes. I had to order two because there weren’t any sides that my stomach could handle. My question for you is: Is there such thing as a too sweet sweet potato? My thoughts are yes. These were sweet to the point of ridiculousness. Sure, they tasted fine, but their overabundance of sugar made me start thinking about GMOs and how farmers modify crops to be their “sweetest.” Yep, that is what I pondered about during my dinner while the rest of my family debated about politics and sports. Frankenfood.

hoarder-sweet-potato

My next group of pictures are from my coconut flour brownie photoshoot on Saturday. I showed similar pictures a few weeks ago and promised to share the recipe soon. Then I lost the recipe and had to make them again. I think all of the measurements are exactly the same as they turned out basically identical. Half of the batch was gone by morning and my mom admitted to possibly eating one too many. There is no greater compliment. This time I promise… Recipe will be really coming soon! 🙂

hoarder-brownie

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I also have to throw in a picture of my dog. Just like I hoard pictures of food, my phone is chocked full of images of my pets.

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On my drive home Friday I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some produce as I had heard word from my parents that we were seriously lacking in any Madison-friendly food. While shopping I stumbled into the foreign foods aisle while looking for dried seaweed and found some coconut milk! Now, many of you are probably thinking to yourselves that coconut milk is in all stores these days. True. But 99% of storebought coconut milk seems to come with added gums, preservatives, etc. I found cans with only two ingredients: coconut and water. BAM. I  let it sit in the fridge overnight and the next day put the hardened cream part in our food processor with some peppermint stevia drops and in seconds had a delicious coconut whipped cream. My next mission is to find canned coconut milk at the store that is BPA-free, although it appears that the only option right now is online.

hoarder-coconut-cream

On another grocery shopping trip with my parents on Sunday before I left, I spotted this post-it on a display of cookies. At first I laughed because honestly, it’s funny. Then the more I thought about it, I kind of became peeved. If someone wants to eat a cookie, you shouldn’t ridicule them. Maybe the mysterious post-it person was actually trying to be considerate, but it just seemed a little harsh. I would have preferred something like: “Instead of buying these cookies full of chemicals, try making some homemade cookies with REAL ingredients.” Just a thought.

hoarder-cookie-walmart

And my last picture is a little group of presents from my mom for my birthday. Have I mentioned before that I like pink? And anything cupcake-themed?

hoarder-bday-presents

I suppose I should feel some relief after getting rid of these pictures from my phone. Too bad they only make up about one-billionth of my stockpile. I should probably dig in some more, deleting the blurry ones. No need to rush though. One step at a time. Progress is the name of the game.

Sincerely,

Your Friendly Food Photo Hoarder

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Questions for you:

Do you hoard things? Photos? What?!

What is your favorite thing about eating out?

What are your thoughts on “Frankenfoods”?

If you were to put a post-it note on an item at the store, what would it be and why?