Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ad hoc restaurant menu tonight: Maine Lobster Rolls!

Oh, this is exciting: ad hoc restaurant is serving Maine Lobster Rolls tonight!! Check it out!

Tonight's Menu

TFL Garden Mixed Green Salad

california asparagus, fava leaves
roasted golden beets, cauliflower florettes
fried chickpeas, spring garlic dressing

Maine Lobster Rolls

little gem lettuce, pickled red onions
shaved celery, savoy cabbage and carrot slaw
roasted marble potatoes

Redwood Hill Farm’s Crottin

marshall’s farm blackberry honey
toasted nuts

St. Honore Cream Puffs

caramel sauce
pastry cream


location: 6476 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

Trader Joe's Lime Flavored Water

Trader Joe's Lime Flavored Water turned out to be somewhat of a slight disappointment. I tried it this past week and it was just so-so. Would I buy it again? Maybe, maybe not. At $0.99 a bottle, this is still more of a treat to get, rather than a regular weekly purchase. Plus, for less than that, I can just squeeze a lime into my own water bottle and that would taste a lot better. The lime flavoring in Trader Joe's Lime flavored water was more reminiscent of some distant relative of a watered down margarita mix--it's that kind of lime taste, not like a freshly squeezed lime at all.

The good thing about Trader Joe's Lime Flavored Water is that it has zero calories! It has no artificial colors or flavors, no sweeteners and no preservatives. The  ingredients include: filtered water, natural lime flavor with other natural flavors, citric acid. Now, the only question I have is: what "other" natural flavors are they talking about?

Trader Joe's was out of the Mint flavored water the day I purchased the Lime flavored water, but I don't know if I will be trying the Mint any time soon. In the past, I have tried ICIO Peppermint Flavored Water and it was just okay, so I can sort of imagine how the Trader Joe's Mint flavored water might taste.

Maybe if Trader Joe's would offer a four or six pack of these flavored waters, more people would buy them. For me, it seems strange just to buy one bottle at a time for the individual price of $0.99/bottle!
If Trader Joe's is going to sell this flavored water by the bottle, perhaps someone could figure out a way to keep these single bottles refrigerated, so they will be  nice and chilled for the patrons who drop by during their lunch hour to pick out a prepackaged to-go lunch. Since Trader Joe's Flavored water seems to fall into that category of single serving usage, it would be super convenient if these bottles were marketed as pre-chilled and "ready-to-drink," so someone could pick out a flavored water to drink with their prepackaged, "ready-to-eat" Trader Joe's entree. But these are just my random ideas, so far...

I find that a good way to make an easy, mellow flavored water is to just put some cucumber and lime slices in a big pitcher of water. It's very refreshing and not too shabby for homemade flavored water. Using a funnel, you can easily pour the flavored water into a glass bottle for a chic display!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Crochet Short Poncho

Here's my latest crochet project that I just finished last night: a short poncho (pattern courtesy of the inside of the Red Heart Yarn label). I literally decided to make this short poncho based on the picture and free pattern on the yarn itself! (Red Heart calls this a short poncho, but I'm going to call mine a short pink asymmetrical poncho). I used Red Heart yarn, Light and Lofty in Antique Rose 9372 (2 balls) with a "P" crochet hook.

The thing about this poncho is that it is wicked warm and soft! This is the first time I've worked with this type of yarn. The yarn itself looks pilly and scraggly when you buy it and it's a little tricky to work with (it gets tangled and hard to pull through the stitches sometimes), but when you crochet it into a pattern, it comes out just looking thick, textured and soft. Also, I noticed that if you want a snugger fitting poncho, then you only need to crochet until it's about 45" from the beginning, instead of the indicated 48", but use your own judgement when measuring for yourself (it all depends on how tightly you crochet). I made mine according to the 48" suggestion and it came out a little big because the yarn itself has a lot of give and stretches out quite a bit. They don't warn you about the stretch factor when you are making it, though. With this poncho, you can turn it to any side and that will change the whole look of how it fits and where the corner point falls when you wear it. I turned mine to the side so it has more of a diagonal look.  It's a fairly quick project (it took me a few nights) and once you get used to the cross-over stitches (row 2), it's easy. (At first, I had a hard time figuring out what they meant in that section, but I fiddled with it and eventually got it. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them. It's one of those stitches that's easier to understand if someone shows you, but since I didn't have anyone to show me, I had to figure it out myself).

RED HEART® "Light & Lofty®": 12 Ounces No. 9617 Pheasant.
Crochet Hook: 11.5mm [US P-16]. Yarn needle.
GAUGE: 7 sts = 4"; 8 rows = 7" in pattern. CHECK YOUR GAUGE. Use any size hook to obtain the gauge.
Ch 25. Row 1 (Right Side): Sc in 2nd ch from hook and each ch across; turn – 24 sc.
Row 2: Ch 3, skip first sc, * skip next sc, dc in next sc, dc in skipped sc (this dc encloses the last dc made); rep from * to last sc; dc in last sc; turn.
Row 3: Ch 1, sc in each dc across and in top of ch-3; turn. Rep Rows 2 and 3 until 48" from beginning, end by working
Row 3. Fasten off.
FINISHING: Sew the short (beginning) edge to the last 14" of left hand side of the long edge.
Neck/Outside Edging: With right side facing, attach yarn at neck/outside edge; ch 1, work (sc, ch 1) evenly around neck/entire outside edge; join with a sl st to first sc. Fasten off. Weave in loose ends.
Designed by Michele Thompson.
ABBREVIATIONS: ch = chain; dc = double crochet; mm = millimeters; rem = remaining; rep = repeat; sc = single crochet; * = repeat whatever follows the * as indicated.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Qdoba Card: Earn FREE FOOD!

The Qdoba Card is your ticket to earning free Qdoba Mexican food. Qdoba is healthy, fresh, "fast food." My mom and I like their food and now that I know about their Qdoba card, I am even more excited--now we can earn FREE FOOD! Imagine that? You get rewarded for being a loyal customer--now that's awesome business! My friend just told me that she uses her Qdoba card every time she goes there (it's free to sign up) and it keeps track of her points. Today, she got her free meal, so it really does work! If you're going to eat there, you might as well earn free food while you're at it, so don't forget to ask for your free Qdoba Card the next time you go to Qdoba.

OH, and if you go to the Qdoba website, there's an online game you can play, Qdoba's version of MASH, to try to win coupons for free food! 

Here are some more details about the Qdoba Card program:

Ask us for a free Qdoba Card and start earning your way to free Qdoba entrées.
The more you visit, the more you earn.
Next time you visit Qdoba, pick up your Qdoba Card at the register and begin using it immediately. Once you register your card online, you'll get a FREE order of homemade chips and salsa on your next visit.

Keep swiping and there's a FREE ENTRÉE in it for you. It's as easy as that. Pick up a Qdoba Card today. It's more than just a card, it's your ticket to a free meal.

Remember to register your Qdoba Qcard online.

According to the Qdoba website:

"Our food is fresh, wholesome and is easy to customize for specific dietary needs, so let us show you what we have to offer. Whether you want to cut carbs, reduce calories or lower your fat intake we have the perfect option. Are you a vegetarian? We can help there too.

First of all, you could go Naked. Our Naked Burritos® and Naked Taco Salads™ contain all of the delicious ingredients in our burritos and taco salads — just without the tortilla or tortilla bowl. By simply ordering a Naked meal, you've cut 330 calories and 54 grams of carbs.
If you're looking to reduce carbs or calories even more, skip the rice or don't order chips. And if you want to reduce fat, just say no to cheese and opt for pork — the leanest protein on the menu."

At Qdoba, we are passionate about using fresh, healthful
and minimally processed ingredients whenever possible.
Our full menu meets guidelines for zero grams artificial trans-fats per serving.
Per USDA standards, our slow-roasted pulled pork is extra lean and our shredded beef is lean.
One-third of our core menu ingredients and all of our salsas are fat-free.
Our hand-smashed guacamole is made fresh with Hass avocados.
Avocados contain monounsaturated fat, and according to the American Heart Association®,
monosaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood and lower your risk
of heart disease and stroke.
Our slow-simmered black and pinto beans are vegetarian and high in fiber.
Our Pico de Gallo, Salsa Roja and Ranchera Sauce are packed with tomatoes.
Tomatoes are a natural source of the antioxidant lycopene.
Our sour cream is light, low sodium and r-BGH free.

Anthropologie 15% off Birthday Coupon

AH, just want I've been waiting for all year: my Anthropologie 15% off birthday coupon! How cute is this? Not only do I get a 15% off coupon to use at Anthropologie, but they sent a birthday candle necklace as part of the coupon card! I love how creative Anthropologie is!!! 

I had to take a picture of the back of my Anthropologie 15% off birthday coupon, because it is just too adorable! Anthropologie spares no expense in sending this special, once a year coupon; it arrived in a special bubble padded envelope. The coupon itself comes on a beautifully textured, sandstone colored card stock rectangle with a punched out cupcake under a candle necklace tied in a neat bow through the card! (Gosh, it's so cute, I don't know if I want to relinquish the card upon redeeming the 15% off discount! At least I get to keep the necklace!) 

Unfortunately, this special Anthropologie 15% off birthday coupon cannot be used for online website purchases.

This is yet another good reason why it's beneficial to sign up to be an anthro card holder, if only just to receive your once a year birthday coupon! (If you sign up online--don't worry, it's free--your anthro card will arrive in 7-10 days via USPS.)

Vietnamese Fish Sauce (Nuoc Cham)

Today, I made my first batch of  Vietnamese Spicy Fish Sauce, courtesy of a recipe I found on (see below). Boy, what an experiment this was! It was all about trial and error, tasting and re-tasting! I tried to make it according to the recipezaar recipe, but after tasting it, it was really too strong for me. I had to add about one or two more cups of water to the suggested amount and a lot more sugar to sweeten it up more. I just eyeballed it and kept adding more water little by little and a teaspoon of sugar little by little until it reached a nice balance between salty, spicy and sweet. (If I had to guess how much extra sugar I added, I'd have to say I added about 3-5 extra teaspoons. But again, it was all based on taste). I used one freshly squeezed lime and I minced the garlic instead of using a press (but next time, I'll use a press because I didn't mince it fine enough this time). Instead of whole, fresh chilies, I used some crushed red pepper flakes (about 1 heaping teaspoon). I think if I use this recipe again, instead of adding more water, I'll just cut down on the amount of fish sauce and build from there, so I don't have to use a huge jar to store it in. (I was hoping to store it in a small jelly jar).

At least now I have some yummy Vietnamese spicy fish sauce to use on everything from noodles, to spring rolls, to chicken!

If you don't want to make a huge batch of Vietnamese fish sauce, there's a quick Mnemonic device that makes it easier to remember how to make it: the 1-2-2-3 method. You use 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, 2 tablespoons of lime juice (or rice vinegar if you don't have limes around) and 3 tablespoons of water. Stir it up and then you can add a small handful of shredded carrots for garnish or add more flavor by mixing in some chili garlic sauce. Taste it and adjust it to your liking (if you want it sweeter, add more sugar, or add more water to dilute it more). I think I prefer the 1-2-2-3 method for making Vietnamese fish sauce because it's quicker and you can "cheat" by just adding chili garlic sauce, instead of mincing your own chili and garlic when you are short on time.

Here's the recipe from



  1. 1
    Mash peppers, garlic and sugar into a paste, using mortar and pestle.

  2. 2
    Add the fish sauce, lime juice and water.

  3. 3
    Blend well.

  4. 4
    Seal and refrigerate.

iPhone iMorals

I just heard a great story and I wanted to pass it on...

My previous supervisor lost her cell phone on the BART train a couple days ago. Doesn't sound like too unique of a situation, does it?

Well, she had an iPhone. Still, not that unique...

Now, how many people do you think would return a lost iPhone found on a BART train, or anywhere for that matter? What would you do? Most people might see it and either take it or leave it, thinking the owner might come back looking for it. So you're left with the classic psychological situation of everyone thinking someone else will do something about it, and then no one does anything--or someone just picks it up and heads home with it, right? If I lost my iPhone, I would consider it gone forever!

Well, I was shocked to find out that someone actually found her iPhone on the BART train and returned it the nearest AT&T store, because he did not trust the BART station people to return it the proper owner (it might get lost again or misplaced at the station or someone else might take it, who knows). Isn't that amazing? The man who found the iPhone had enough sense to turn it off right away so the battery wouldn't drain, leaving enough juice in the iPhone so the AT&T people could find the rightful owner. How thoughtful is that? I just couldn't believe it! I mean this whole story has just lifted my spirits and reminded me that, even today, in this urban San Francisco bay area environment, there are still decent, honest people out there who just want to do that right thing. I have to say, this man had remarkable iPhone "iMorals"--ahhh, if only everyone embraced this as the standard etiquette for all lost cell phones!
On my iPhone, I found a free application, "If Found, Please Return To." You simply input your name and alternate phone number and e-mail address, and if you lose your phone, hopefully someone will be kind enough to return it to you. You can also make this screen your wallpaper too, so that it's the first thing someone sees when the phone is turned on. 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Free Shipping at Anthropologie for Anthro Card Holders!

Good news for Anthro lovers: Free shipping 
at now through 
March 31, 2010! 

Remember to link your online account to your 
anthro number and you will automatically 
receive free shipping at

Click here to link your anthro card

No coupon code required! 

Happy March shopping!  Enjoy FREE shipping at Anthropologie 
through March!

*This offer is valid for domestic shipments only. To take advantage of Free 
Standard Shipping, you must link your anthro number to a new or existing account. Additional fees apply for overweight, express or overnight shipping. Offer does not apply to previous orders.

Young Coconut

Yesterday, I had my first young coconut and all I can say is, "Where the heck has this been all my life???" My friend, who spoils me rotten, served me up a young coconut (after hacking away at it to open it up with a gigantic cleaver), stuck a straw in it and said, "drink up!" 

OH MY GOSH, I felt so pampered--this was like one of the the best things I've ever had! Now, I'm addicted for life!!! Not only do you get to drink the delicious, not too sweet coconut water inside, but you get to scoop out the edible, tender coconut flesh inside. It's a drink and dessert all in one--how efficient! The fresh coconut meat is like nothing I've ever eaten--it was soft and silky, almost like a firm, tender gelatin or tapioca. The coconut water was not overly sweet or too coconuty, if that's even conceivable--one would imagine coconut water to taste like coconut ice cream or like rich coconut flakes, but it's nothing like that! Young coconut is very mild and very thirst quenching. I felt like I was on a vacation sipping a young coconut on the beach or something, and it was just a regular Wednesday afternoon! How glorious! 

If you see one of these young coconuts in the store (not the ones with all the scratchy "hair" on them!), you should try one! It is SO worth it!!! If you don't know how to open a young coconut--they are extremely hard to open--then check out this video:


Though, my friend did something more similar to this with her ginormous cleaver, sort of like she was chopping wood on the porch: how to kill a young coconut. (It's a great stress reliever to hack away at a young coconut! Just make sure you have good aim and you do it outside, preferably).

I couldn't get this coconut out of my head yesterday, so I just had to look up some information on it and I was very pleased with my discoveries! Turns out, coconuts are very healthy and very good for you!! 

Coconut Water: On the average 1 cup contains about 46 calories and 2 grams of protein. The sodium content is surprisingly high with 252 mg. and so is the fiber at 3 grams. The total fat is exceptionally low at 0.5 grams with 0.4 grams saturated.

Coconut water contains a full range of B vitamins with the exception of vitamin B6 and B12. There are 6.00 mcg of folic acid and 5.8 mg of vitamin C. Rating the minerals that 1 cup contains 57.6 mg of calcium, 0.7 mg. of iron, 60 mg of magnesium, 600 mg of potassium, and 0.2 mg of zinc.

According to, if you eat the whole young coconut and drink the water, this is the breakdown of the nutritional facts:

Selection & Storage: Choose Young coconuts that are heavy for their size and make sure to shake them.They should be so full of liquid that you can not hear it sloshing around inside.Once inside the water should be very clear and the meat very white. Also, look for a coconut that does not have any signs of mold on the outside--that is the first obvious sign that it's going bad!
Avoid: Avoid drinking the water or eating the meat from a young coconut that is even slightly pink on the inside.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sinead O'Connor: "The Last Day of our Acquaintance"

I haven't heard a live version of this song, but I just found this and I love it! She just has 
such a unique and beautiful voice. Her inflections and intonations are so powerful.

This is the album version, which is still awesome.

This is the last day of our acquaintance
I will meet you later in somebody's office
I'll talk but you won't listen to me
I know what your answer will be
I know you don't love me anymore
You used to hold my hand when the plane took off
Two years ago there just seemed so much more
And I don't know what happened to our love
Today's the day
Our friendship has been stale
And we will meet later to finalize the details
Two years ago the seed was planted
And since then you have taken me for granted
But this is the last day of our acquaintance
I will meet you later in somebody's office
I'll talk but you won't listen to me
I know your answer already
But this is the last day of our acquaintance
I will meet you later in somebody's office
I'll talk but you won't listen to me
I know your answer already
I know your answer already
I know your answer already

This final live version is, in my opinion, the most powerful. You can really hear the emotion 
behind her vocals. I must warn you that there is an expletive at 2 minutes, 43 seconds 
(so just push stop at 2:43 if you don't want to hear it), but it's worth it to listen up to that 
point just to hear the beauty and emotion of her voice.


Duffy's "Syrup and Honey" is so soulful. Her voice has such an interesting texture and I like 
this glimpse into her studio.

This is a cool, different acoustic version of "Mercy."

Scanpan CTX Nonstick Cookware

Scanpan CTX nonstick cookware is the next revolution in cooking! I saw this demoed at Sur la Table  (can you tell I love that store?) and it was pretty incredible. This nice lady was making crepes on the smallest nonstick skillet without any butter or oil or cooking spray! Then, she was handing them out as samples--what a cool demo!!! What was even more interesting was that these pans are PFOA free so they are safe for the environment and you. It's really remarkable. I was getting swept away by this cookware's capacity to replace my cheap nonstick pan at home that is probably leaching chemicals out into everything I cook! YUCK!

These are strong pans, made in Denmark. The lady demoing this product said that they are made from ceramic and titanium, one of the strongest metals out there. They are finished with a beautiful brushed 18/10 stainless steel finish on the outside. Heat is evenly distributed throughout the pan because of it's 5-layer clad-aluminum construction. Now comes the best parts: you can use METAL utensils on this without scratching or harming the surface, you can put it in the oven up to 500 degrees, and you can throw it in the dishwasher!! How cool is that!? Bonus: you can also brown, sear and deglaze in this nonstick pan, too--which you can't do with traditional nonstick cookware. 

Sur la Table sells this cookware by the single piece or by the set. The day it was demoed, there was a 10% discount on a single pan or 15% off the entire set, which included two sauce pans, two fry pans, a saute pan and a stock pot. The entire set sells for $875, but if you bought each piece separately, it would be $1195. If you are looking to replace all your icky old school non-stick chemical leaching pans, then this is the set to consider. I really want this set, but I am hoping to just get at least one small 8" or 10" fry pan because I know I'd use it every day. The 8" pan sells for $99.95 (I know--GASP! But it sure makes a nice gift or treat, and it's worth having nice cookware if you're going to use it, especially if it's not going to leach chemicals into your food that you've worked so hard to prepare). sells the same set for $875.95. I know that's expensive, but you get free shipping and no tax (upfront). Plus, it's not that bad in the world of cookware sets if you compare this to All-Clad cookware, Le Creuset, or Viking.

Plus, the lady at Sur la Table said that if this cookware does scratch at all from using a metal utensil on it, they will replace it. It's high quality cookware that is backed with that strong of a warranty. Now, that's worry-free shopping! 


If you are still buying ringtones for your cell phone, then stop! You can make your very own personalized ringtones free at! All you have to do is upload your favorite songs (or URL link to a song) and choose the best snippet to use as your ringtone, and presto, you have a new ringtone to use for your phone! No more paying for a trendy ringtone song! Try Audiko and personalize your ringtones for your phone so you know who's calling you! It's easy and it's FREE--there's no strings attached to this website, whatsoever, so go ahead and try it out! (PS: There are a lot of pre-made ringtones on Audiko's website as well, so you can just browse through them if you don't feel like making your own.)