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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Why I Think You May Be A Serial Killer

So I just discovered the show Criminal Minds tonight. Last week when I was choosing what to record on the good old DVR, I thought I would give them a shot. I recorded five shows and forgot about it.

Until tonight that is. Why I would start watching the show when it was just the four year old and myself at home is beyond me. I am alternating between loving this show and obsessively checking the windows for the multitude of serial killers lurking outside my house.

I have gone through the list of people I know and I am pretty sure all of you are Serial Killers. I can read the signs. You guys are good but you can't fool me. Heck, there is a good chance I am one too. There was that one time when I took extra pleasure in killing that ant. I took great relish is really smooshing him good.

For now I am going to turn on all the lights in my house and pull down all the blinds. If you don't hear from me tomorrow you know the Serial Killers got me.

Oh yeah...and I plan on recording a bunch more Criminal Minds because this show is Awesome!!

Olive Cafe Restaurant Review - Portland, Maine


Our friends Myranda and Owen joined Gabrian and I for dinner tonight at Olive Café. I have had this Groupon for quite some time and I was anxious to use it. Because it is downtown I am often reluctant to make my way down there. Today was the day and I was ready to use my $15 voucher to get $30 worth of food.


We walked into a surprisingly empty restaurant. I guess that shows how lame I am that I thought the it would be full at 5:30 at night. Clearly the cool people eat much later at night.


We were placed at the perfect booth for us. It was the end one, which made it almost impossible for the toddlers to bother the other patrons.


The server greeted us promptly and brought out our drinks quickly. I liked that she clearly was a huge fan of the restaurant herself. She let us know that she had been here for 3 years and thought everything on the menu was great. She really gave off the vibe that she meant it (spoiler alert: she was right!).

Mediterranean Plate ($9.99) with Chicken Kebob ($4.00)
 
Myranda and I went with the same dish. Even down to the same Chicken Kebob. I wasn't going to get the chicken, but when Myranda ordered it I knew that I would have pangs of jealousy watching her eat it. Everything was great but my absolute favorite was the roasted cauliflower. It was tender with a wonderful salty flavor. The hummus had that great coating of olive oil and the falafel had flavor bursting in every bite. I would highly recommend this dish.
 
 
Chicken Shwarma ($8.95)
 
The boys shared this plate. This picture is only showing half of the plate after we divided it up for the boys. I am not going to lie. I ate all of Gabrian's pita chips. They were wonderfully seasoned and clearly fried very recently. If I could have gotten away with it, I would have swiped Owen's chips as well. The chicken was the same as my kebob and Gabrian loved it. While he ate it separately, he also loved the pita wrap it was served on.
 
 

Overall, I think this is a great choice for a restaurant downtown. Not only was it super delicious but it was very affordable. We will definitely be back there even without a groupon deal. The best part are there are tons of fantastic ice cream options within walking distance to the restaurant.

If you would like to try Olive Café for yourself, they are located at 127 Commercial Street, Portland, Maine.
 

Friday, August 30, 2013

El Rodeo Restuarant Review - South Portland, Maine

 
Stepping into El Rodeo Restaurant instantly brought me back to stepping onto the Micro in Chile. The Reggae ton was playing loudly and the staff was wondering why the Gringa had wandered onto their street. They were friendly but curious. I had inadvertently come to their restaurant on the second day they were opened.


I honestly thought they had opened a month ago and was surprised when I googled them for this review to find out that they just opened yesterday. I had been eyeing them for months and couldn't wait to try them out. I love an Americanized Version of Mexican Food and was hoping they would give me another option nearby besides On the Border.


It was very festive when we pulled into the parking lot. I especially loved the large blow-up bottle of Corona. Try having a discussion with your four year old after witnessing that. We had just left the Children's Museum and he got to go inside a huge blow-up whale. He wanted to know when we could get inside that beer bottle.


I don't know about you but love a lunch time special. I am cheap and require to be fed often. Specials make it much easier on my budget.

 
We made our way inside and were greeted with a hearty "Hola". Let me end your suspense now. I never worked up the coverage to use one bit of my Spanish. I agonized during the whole meal how I was going to bring up some of my rusty Spanish and really wow the server.


I had it all worked out. They were going to come up to the table and ask how everything was and I was going to respond with "Que rica" (how delicious) and "Me gusta mucho" (I like it very much). The server would be super impressed and I would launch into how I lived in Chile for six months and my son was half Chilean. Let me end your wondering now...they got a half smile and a vigorous head nod when asked how I liked the meal.
 
 

Anyway I digress. We had a very friendly greeting and were brought to a booth right away. I was impressed with the size of the restaurant. It was much larger than it looks from the outside. The bar was very inviting and if I didn't have a four year old with me, I would have definitely had lunch there.

 
The booth they brought us too was way to small for me. If you are of size like me, you know the constant worry of trying to fit into one of these. As a Rhode Islander I actually prefer them but are still terrified of them at the same time. I am so afraid that I will not be able to wedge my self into them and it will be witnessed by other people. I made a half-hearted attempt and quickly determined I didn't want to proceed any further. The server looked at me like I was crazy when I requested to sit a table but he obliged me.


The complimentary chips and salsa were brought out promptly. The chips were not as fresh as I would have preferred BUT the salsa was amazing. It was incredibly fresh with a strong taste of cilantro. It was everything I hoped it could be.


We ordered our meals and settled into wait for our food. Approximately five minutes later our food came out. The kitchen was on their game. Every table nearby to us experience the same great fast service.

 
Kid's Burrito Meal ($5.99)
 
Gabrian went with the Kid's Burrito Meal. It really was as huge as it looks in the picture. I didn't try any of it but it looked really great and Gabrian ate a pretty large portion of it.
 
 

Speedy Gonzalez (Lunch Special of $5.99)
 
I went with the Speedy Gonzalez Lunch Special. It normally goes for $6.99 but they had it on special for $5.99. It included a taco, enchilada, and your choice of rice or beans. It was delicious with lots of cheesy goodness. No I did not repeat the picture of Gabrian's food. They just looked very similar and I am suspecting tasting exactly the same. It doesn't matter, it was still delicious for me. The only thing I was missing was a salty, icy margarita.
 

Overall, I loved this meal. It was everything I hoped it would be for an Americanized Version of Mexican Food. I will definitely be a repeat conversation.

If you would like to try El Rodeo Restaurant for yourself, they are located at 147 Western Avenue, South Portland, Maine.

Arabica Coffee House Review - Portland, Maine


I wanted to love Arabica Coffe Company so badly. I wanted to be one of the cool kids that hung out at the coffee shop downtown. I think they smelled the Dunkin Donuts on me from a mile away. You could tell by the combination of their look of disdain and the customers expertly slid their newspapers over to the table next to them to let us know to keep on walking.


Despite our sore thumb status, we proceeded to order anyway. I had a Groupon to use and come hell or high water I was going to use it. I purchased it for $5 and it gave me $10 worth of food and drinks.

Blueberry Muffin ($2 (?)) and Small Milk ($2.10)
 
Gabrian went with the Blueberry Muffin. He has always been a breakfast person and the fact that he only made it through about half the teeny tiny muffin should tell you something. I tried a crumb of the dried out hockey puck and that was enough for me. The milk was milk, just really expensive for the 6 ounces of liquid we received.
 
Tall Iced Maple Latte ($4.20)
 
The Tall Iced Maple Latte was quite delicious. I just couldn't get past the cost of the drink. For the same amount of money I could get two of those drinks at Dunkin Donuts and each would be twice the size. As for taste it was spot on. The espresso was a good strong flavor and the maple syrup added a nice twist to it. I liked how the syrup sweetened the drink for me without any extra sugar.
 
 
Apricot Scone ($2.75)
 
 
I went with the Apricot Scone and it was one of the better options offered. It was full of buttery goodness. I really enjoyed the large chunks of dried apricot throughout the scone.  Don't tell the Weight Watcher God's that I only counted this as 4 point and not the restaurant option of 

12 points. Also, please don't remind me of this post on Monday when I whine about my weight gain.

Overall, I thought my breakfast was good but not worth the price if I had to pay full price. Gabrian's wasn't even worth what I paid with the discount included. The good news is that they finally clued me into my uncoolness. I will never try that again.

If you would like to try Arabica Coffee Company for yourself, they are located at 16 Commercial Street, Portland, Maine.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Linda Bean's Maine Kitchen & Topside Tavern Review - Freeport, Maine


Yesterday, we had an unexpected free afternoon and decided to head up to Freeport, Maine. I dug out my Portland Dine Around Book and decided we were going to head to the Nordic Theatre to use a BOGO coupon from the book to see the movie "Planes".



Going through the book I also found a coupon for Linda Bean's Maine Kitchen & Topside Tavern that was a buy one meal get $5.00 off the second (this was for lunch, it would have been $10.00 at dinner time). We headed out early for the movie so we could have lunch before our show.



I like Freeport because they have plenty of free parking. In fact next to the movie theatre they have a new parking garage with plenty of spots available. We found a spot and headed to our lunch destination. It was the perfect weather outside yesterday. It was sunny but not too hot with great breezes.


When we arrived we were promptly greeted and taken to a table. The hostess was very accommodating when I asked if we could eat outside instead. She said it was no problem and brought us out to a great spot. We had a great location where we could people watch while waiting for our food.


I loved how every table had a little bottle of hand sanitizer to use. Gabrian thought it was great and promptly took a bath in it. He smelled really good and germs were afraid to come within 10 feet of him.


Our waitress came out very quickly and started us off with drinks. My only complaint is that I ordered a lemonade for Gabrian and it cost $2. It seemed so expensive for a kid's drink. Although, honestly I was more annoyed with Gabrian since he drank less than half of it. It wouldn't have seemed so bad it he had at least got my money's worth.


Once our drinks arrived we placed our food order and settled into wait. It was really fun watching all the action going on in the street. We saw lots of trucks, dogs, and police cars going by. It kept Gabrian entertained the whole time.

Kid's Hotdog Meal ($5)
 
 
The food came out in no time. I didn't taste any of the hot dog but Gabrian ate it in no time so I am going to assume that it was delicious. I tried one French fry and it was hot and crispy and nicely coated in sea salt. If I didn't have darn Weight Watchers holding me back I probably would have helped myself to several of them.
 
Broiled Haddock Melt Served with Chips and Coleslaw ($12)
 
 
I ordered the Broiled Haddock Melt. I also had the option to have it fried but I was trying to be semi-good and it seemed like broiled was the way to go. They had several cheese options and I went with the cheddar. Cheddar always seems to be the safe bet when in doubt.
 

The first thing I dug into was the potato chips. I tried two of them and decided to not waste any more points on them. They were hard and almost burnt tasting. I think they may have been over fried or it could just be the way they serve them. Either way they are not for me.

I then moved onto the sandwich. The bun was a pillowy pocket of heaven. It was so fresh and soft and one of the best pieces of bread I have had in a long time. You could definitely tell they were made that morning. The fish was seasoned nicely and had a wonderful delicate flavor. I even liked their tartar sauce. I saw capers in the sauce which was a nice touch.


Lastly, I moved onto the coleslaw. It was perfect made for me. It was a great balance of sweet and sour sitting in a pool of mayo sauce. I loved every tangy bite.

Free Piece of Chocolate from the Nearby Lindt Store ($0.00)
 
Overall I think this is a great restaurant and a perfect stop while you are getting your Shopping on. If you want to try them for yourself 88 Main Street, Freeport, Maine.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back Cove Trail - Portland, Maine


Before I had ever even considered moving to Portland I have admired the Back Cove Trail and wanted to try it for myself. It was part of the lifestyle I envisioned I would have if I lived in Portland. You can see the trail from the Highway (Route 295) and I would wistfully wish I lived in Portland. Well I have lived in the Portland area now since December of last year and still had not made time for the trail.


Yesterday, trying to come up with something do during my vacation week so we didn't spend the whole week in our house. I decided we were going to tackle the trail. I googled the trail and found the best place for parking.


The website stated that there was parking on Preble Street Extension. I plugged in 1 Preble Street Extension into my GPS and the parking lot wasn't too far off. We found plenty of spots available and staked one out for our own. Be warned, the spots are really small. I have a small sedan and it was a tight squeeze. Be prepared if you are driving something larger.


We were pathetically excited about seeing a food truck in the parking lot. We are way too concerned about food. We never actually visited them but they seemed pretty popular and the girl running it was super friendly. And if you bring a dog with you, they have out several bowls filled with ice water for your Pooch Pals.


We are such novice hikers. We were so unprepared for this hike. Now for most people 3.5 miles would be nothing for them. When you are almost 200 lbs. overweight it is not quite as easy. However, I want to start incorporating more activity into my life and this seemed like a great place to start. We made tons of mistakes. Hopefully, someone reading this will learn from our lack of planning.


Mistake #1: Riley and I wore jeans during the hike and tops that were so hot and heavy. Riley found his black shirt to be attracting every bit of heat from the sun and then trapping in onto his body. I actually wore a 3/4 length sleeve top. I had a cami underneath it. I thought I was going to die by the end of the walk!


Mistake #2: We started our walk at 11:00 AM. Because we are such slow walkers (ok it was me...the boys probably could have finished the walk in half the time). So it took us about 2 1/2 hours to complete the walk. If you know anything about time, you quickly realize we were walking during high noon. That's right we walked when the sun was the hottest and during that time there was little shade to be found. I felt like I was melting. And because the trail is a loop by the time I was too exhausted to go on, it was too late and we had to carry on.


Mistake # 3: We went the wrong direction on the trail. We did the easy part first. For the first 1 3/4 miles it was great. There were benches about every 1/8 mile, there were bubblers a plenty (that is water fountains for you non-RI people), and glorious shady options everywhere. The second half the trail was the complete opposite. There was no shade, benches, or bubblers. By the time we realized it we just had to keep going. When we finally found a bubbler at the end of the trail I think we hogged it for about 10 minutes. We just couldn't get enough water. Because of my weight I think I started to over heat. I started to get cold shivers going through my body and was getting shaky.


Mistake #4: We should have brought water bottles. That was just foolish on my part. I should have thought that we would need water. See mistake #3 as too why I should have brought water with us.


Mistake #5: I should have brought a stroller for Gabrian. While he wouldn't have needed it for most of the time, it would have been nice for him to have the option at the end of the hike when it was getting too difficult for him. It also would have been a great place to store our water.


The trail was really fun. Especially the first half of it. There were so many interesting things to see. It was neat that we were on this nature trail but in the middle of downtown at the same time. To the right of us we could see the water and wildlife and to the left of us we had construction going on. If Gabrian had to choose, it would be the construction. He is infatuated with construction vehicles and he got to see a bunch of them up close and personal.


It was really interesting during our portion that was on the highway. We had a barrier separating us but you could definitely feel the cars whizzing by us. I am sure we were safe enough but I did try to hustle us out of there. I could just envision a car fly over the barrier and striking us.


I enjoyed seeing the many people on the trail. We saw serious runners, friends doing a leisurely stroll, bikers, mothers out with strollers and their babies, people using the trail to pick up their lunch on their way back home. Everyone we came into contact was super friendly. It just seemed to make people happy to be out walking on a beautiful summer day. It made us happy to just be part of the group.


The end result: I am glad that we did this and feel proud that I made it all the way around. I wish I was better prepared but know that this activity thing is a learning process for me. I am on my way to making a healthier family.

In fact, I happen to have today to myself because the boys have plans with other people today. I plan on tackling this hike again on my own. I think I know what I can do to make it better and think I will have another day of great exercise.

If you would like to try this trail out for yourself, the trail head is located on Preble Street Extension in Portland, Maine.