Time for a Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

Have you heard of this new service called BirchBox? They have men’s and women’s beauty products, but they also have this monthly mail service where for $10, you receive a box of samples, whether it’s mascara, lip gloss, whatever.  First off there is a waiting list, so don’t get too trigger happy and have your credit card ready.  This may happen to me as I tend to have an impulse shopping habit and like to try new things.

Turns out they have a similar snack pack program as well called Blissmo.  This one’s a tad bit more expensive (try $19.95 + shipping) but it is food and we all know how expensive food can be.  But, before you roll your eyes at the price for just a few products, let me sell you on these following details:

  • Premium organic, non-toxic & eco products
  • Full & trial-size, $20-$40+ of value/box
  • Each month select from 2-3 box options

So, just providing the options 🙂 But, I’m going slightly old-school and throwing it back to the program called Foodie Pen Pals, which you might have heard of or recognize from a few months back.

This month I was paired up with Rachael at Rubber Cowgirl.  How neat of a blog name is that?  Her focus is a little bit about vegan food, gardening, traveling, and more, so it’s well worth checking out.   This month I requested some snackier (yes mother, I’m using this as a word) foods rather than something to fulfill my usual sweet tooth.  Rachael did not disappoint.

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(1)    Almonds: I am a HUGE fan of almonds, so receiving this box of slivered almonds made my day.  I actually was getting ready to make some of the IQS (I Quit Sugar) Pumpkin Spice Granola, so throwing in a handful into the mix was a brilliant plan.

(2)    Annie’s Natural always seems to have an excellent selection of dressings and marinades.  I was interested to see this new variety (or at least new in my kitchen) and my roommates and I immediately thought about using it to marinade chicken one night for dinner.  I’ll have to put that on the calendar and let you know how it turns out.

I’ve been adding this red pepper paste into my spaghetti squash & cheese casserole dishes.  I think I might pick up a nice wedge of cheese and have a little cheese, pepper spread, and crackers for dinner sometime this week.   As for the dressing, I’ve considered using it as a chicken marinade.

(3)    Where can you go wrong with herbed crackers?  Spread a little bit of the Trader Joe’s pesto/roasted pepper/cheese dip and I’ll be in seventh heaven.

(4)    Seaweed Snack Pack:  Nice and salty, perfect for the afternoon lull.  I was a little skeptical since it honestly took me years to try sushi, just because of the belief seaweed was slimy and I couldn’t fathom raw fish.  Nope, those days are behind me.

Rachael even included some suggestions of places to eat in the city, which was helpful for a newbie like myself.  I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with so many choices of places to shop and eat.

For more fun shipping programs (think dog treats, gourmet coffee, and even jewelry and art), check out Mashable’s top list of snail mail programs.

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Java Java Java

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In the spirit of it being national coffee day (as if every day isn’t national coffee day), I thought I’d share some of the new and different caffeine joints around town.  It’s not like I’m in a foreign country, but I guess the distance between everything has been so condensed that it’s like stumbling upon a new surprise on every corner.

Walking in New York reminds me of when I was in Barcelona and would walk to school every day.  I think that trek might have been longer and tougher due to the hills, but I would pick out shops and restaurants to add my “to-do” list.  I don’t think I really got around to everything on that list, but I can still close my eyes and imagine I’m walking the various routes around the ancient roman streets, the streets with parks by our home stay  he most touristy and high-end streets – Passeig de Gracia, or even Las Ramblas. 

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Coffee.  An expensive habit indeed, but it’s safe to say I’ve fallen prey to the coffee addiction.  I love starting my day with a cup of joe, not only for the pep it puts in my step, but the taste.  You may be sick of me saying this, but I still have yet to find “my coffee;” the order I can get at every coffee shop or restaurant around the world.  For now I guess my fall back is a medium black coffee – hot or iced, depending on the weather.  When I’m feeling adventurous in the fall, it’s a pumpkin latte or iced pumpkin latte.  During other months it can be a vanilla latte, again either iced or hot.

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Stumptown Coffee, New York
NY (w. 29th & W. 8th)

It originated in Portland, but has spread its reach to include locations in Seattle, Los Angeles, and good ‘ol New York City.  My friend let me in on this little secret after she traveled back in December with her girlfriends.  Because of the hipster/innovative and personal style of coffee making, there tends to be a long line of people waiting to order, but I would deem it worth the experience, even it’s just once.


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That morning I was feeling an iced vanilla latte, which had a rich milky flavor and strong espresso punch.   I happened to notice these gems of postcards while I was waiting in line and so I grabbed a few to send to my friends.

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While I was writing some of the postcards, I noticed one woman had this neat looking bottle of coffee.  I asked her about it and she said it’s the only thing she and her boyfriend order there.  Now they say the people in New York are harsh and unfriendly.  Well, in this account I beg to differ.  She actually poured a little of the coffee in a cup and offered for me to try.  Crisp and strong, perfect for an iced coffee; not to mention the adorable bottle it comes in.  I’ll have to add it to my collection of misfit bottles that I’m hoarding in the kitchen.  But, for the next time I go, the cold brewed batch is definitely in my order. 

Pushcart Coffee
East Broadway & Peter’s Field

This is another “artsy” neighborhood coffee shop.  They like to call their staff, peddlers, and these individuals are often “artists, writers, students, wanderers, doers, and dreamers.”   It appears like a supportive environment where they utilize the barista’s talent to write blog posts, create the store’s website, plan events, and even host yoga in the shops.  I have yet to attend one but am searching the market for cheap or free yoga classes.

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From the inside and out, it felt like Pushcart was directly related to Stumptown.  While there are more seats and tables at Pushcart, I preferred the atmosphere of Stumptown.  The food selection is much more extensive with a fridge filled with yogurt and a case filled with croissants, muffins, and various mini-loafs.  I happened to notice that they sold cold-brewed coffee in similar brown bottles ($3.25/$4), perfect for take-away.  This was of course after I entered unsure of what to order, hurried through the line, (worrying I was taking too much time) and settled for a lukewarm latte.  Was I trying to be a purist?  No, they just didn’t’ happen to sell vanilla.

Overall verdict?  Good environment, decent java, but probably wrong order for me.  I’ll probably give it another shot, this time planning out what I’ll order – the cold brew coffee 🙂

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Friday Favorites

A glimpse at the things I come across during my daily doings and absolutely love.

Random websites that have “to-do”, “must-see” or general knowledge for the every day young adult.  It can be on Buzzfeed or Huffington Post.  I know, I’m sophisticated.  This latest one is called “25 Things I Want Myself to Know Before I’m 25“.   Continue reading

Ruby’s Down By The Sea

Well, this is awkward.  I definitely wrote this post and forgot to update it.  You may have read the previous draft, but this one has some updates and actually is ACCURATE.  I’m sure we all have those days, right?  Here we go with a throwback to lunch in Laguna Beach towards the end of summer. My apologies if you’ve already read this skimmed the last edition.

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Bringing in Fall Pumpkin Style

Although it still may be a bit warm, leaves are falling, football is back, and pumpkin has exploded in practically every coffee shop, donut shop, and grocery store.  I’m one who can eat pumpkin for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I’ve tried my best to hold off the festivities until at least October, but that’s not going to happen.  Thanksgiving decorations have made their way into every market and did you know that Kmart has even aired the first commercial for Christmas.  Now that’s a little much.  But celebrating the arrival of fall with some good ‘ol pumpkin baking is not such a bad idea.  That is exactly how my roommates and I decided to welcome in the new season. Continue reading