Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Challenge Extended ...

Happy Wednesday, LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers!

I am in a GROUCHY mood today.  I need more sleep and more exercise.  With my new job I usually start work by 5:45 a.m. or 6:45 a.m. if it's a "late" day.  My body clock would rather start work around 10 a.m. and finish up say by 2 p.m.  Unfortunately for me, I also like receiving a steady, fat paycheck ... so I wake up early and I am grouchy.

I can only assume at my core that I am a masochist, because I know that I function better and feel better if I get enough sleep, water, exercise and healthy food ... and yet here I am wishing I was eating THIS for breakfast ...

It is the Coconut Cream Pie from Capital Grille restaurant.  Now normally I am a banana cream pie girl, but this is by far my favorite coconut cream pie.  There is no comparison with how good this darn pie is ... and it comes with a cookie!  Seriously if I were Empress of Lily Land (formerly known as the US of A), I would require that all pie slices come with a cookie and all cake slices come with a donut.  And everyone gets their own pony.  Or unicorn.  Or rainbow.  There's a lot of rules in Lily Land. 

I haven't had this particular Coconut Cream Pie in at least two years because it is pure decadence in a tartlet shell ... but if you're looking for super rich, super good coconut cream pie- get yourself over to a Capital Grille restaurant.

I try a lot of products "for the sake of my blog" (ohhh I am such a martyr!)  But I can't try every product out there, so I am going to extend a Product Review Challenge ... have you tried any of the following products?  If yes, tell me what you thought of them in the comments section ...  It is INTERACTIVE LilyOnTheLam, people!

Product #1:  Milkis - from what I can tell it is some sort of carbonated "milk soda" that I found at my local Asian store.  Since I have a milk soda-phobia, I have not tried this.  Have you?

Product #2:  Cosmic Blue Twinkies - Twinkies with Blue Raspberry Creme.  When I saw these, my first thought was "Oh God NO!"  Seriously I already think "tons of artificialness" when I look at a Twinkie, do we need a bright blue filling too?  Am I wrong?  Is this the next best taste sensation?

Product #3:  Not to be the world's biggest hypocrite, BUT ... after I was slamming the Blue Raspberry Creme Twinkies I next saw THESE and thought "Hmmm, those look tasty."  BAD LILY!  Chocolate covered Twinkies!  Have you tried these?  What did you think?

Product #4:  How many decades before someone said "Hey a square marshmallow would make s'mores making easier?" This is why I am proud to be an American - square-shaped marshmallows ... excuse me "s'moresmallows."  If ever there was a reason to stop what you're doing and make some s'mores - this, my friends, is all the reason in the world.

Product #5:  SRIRACHA POPCORN!  I was traveling and didn't have any room in my suitcase.  Which I feel weak even admitting ... I mean seriously, isn't there always room for sriracha popcorn??  I have never seen this product since my initial spotting in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  I am only left with my longing and regret ... have you tried it?  What did you  think?

Product #6:  I have a love-hate relationship with flavored Oreos.  Ever since I tried the Candy Corn Oreo and cried and cried and cried, I have been gun shy about flavored Oreos.  I think Chips Ahoy also makes a root beer float flavored chocolate chip cookie.  As Miss Toledo says - WHY?  Why keep making things that taste like other things?  Although I watched a BuzzFeed video that said that Oreos originally came in the chocolate with creme version and a LEMON MERINGUE version that was discontinued in the 1920's.  What the what?  Bring that cookie back and let me try it!  But until then ... have you tried the root beer flavored Oreos?  What did you think?

Are there any products you have wanted to try but are too afraid/shy/broke to try?  Let me know in the comments section!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

And Now For The Contestant From Brazil!

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

If you are a regular reader, you may remember my post on the chocolate banana candy bar from Croatia which I found in a Polish deli in Largo, Florida and then my subsequent discovery in Budapest, Hungary of an Austrian chocolate banana candy bar.  Although I usually do my "new product reviews" on Wednesdays, I just had to post this a day early!

On Monday, I opened my front door and there was a box with three weeks of mail waiting for me.  Since I have been traveling the world, the good people at the USPS have been holding my mail for me.  

Note to self: pre-election time is a terrible time to have your mail held.  I swear half of my accumulated three weeks worth of mail was election flyers.  What a waste of paper, ink and money.  I'm glad the USPS has the business but every political campaign propaganda material went straight into the recycling bin without me reading a word.

A much brighter item in my mail hold box was my monthly subscription box from Love with Food - the snack box subscription service that donates meals to children for each snack box purchased.  

Now I must add a P.S. that for the past ten years, I have donated money (and every now and again my volunteer time) to local Florida charity Metropolitan Ministries.  I do believe that giving directly to the charity makes a greater impact than purchasing a snack box who then in turns buys a meal for a hungry child.  BUT if you're going to have a subscription to a snack box service, why not have one that has really amazing snacks AND helps feed hungry children?  

Love with Food and Nature Box are my two favorite snack box subscription services.  (With OishiiBox and Skoshbox being my favorite Asian candy monthly subscription services.)   

Another side note, I blame my new box of the month subscription addiction on my friend The First Lady of Lynchburg.  I went to visit her for Memorial Day weekend and she had all these different fun box of the month subscription boxes waiting for her.  For a new product lover like me, it was like materialistic nirvana!

I eagerly opened my Love with Food subscription box and then I gasped.  What is this?  A BRAZILIAN BANANA BAR!  Had my chocolate banana candy bar competition jumped to a new continent?  I scanned the package and then opened it.  Ahhh no, not a candy bar and not chocolate.  It was a cinnamon and sugar banana bar.  Sort of like a Lara bar but much better.  It's bananas, cinnamon and sugar blended into a soft delicious bar.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the Cinnamon and Sugar Banana Bananinha Bar from Nutryvitta ... 

While the Bananinha bar does not have chocolate in it, I would take it over the Austrian and Croatian banana chocolate bars I reviewed earlier because it tasted so good.  This is a gluten free fruit bar that doesn't taste overly processed or artificial.

If you're looking for a portable, gluten free snack bar with a real taste of banana; I would recommend you check out this fancy little Brazilian import.  You can buy them through the Love with Food website.  (Side note:  I receive no compensation in goods, services or money for writing about Love with Food and their box products.  But I'll gladly take any freebies if they want to send me some!)

Sorry Austria and Croatia, so far in the battle of the banana bars - Brazil/Brasil has beaten you!

P.S. One side effect of the Bananinha bar is that for some reason the name "Bananinha" reminds me of the Muppets doing the Mahna Mahna song ... and so now after eating the banana bar, I keep hearing this in my head ...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hoop It Up! Soup It Up!

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers!

In the past five weeks, I have been in Houston, Texas; New York City, NY; Budapest, Hungary; Paris, France; Tampa, Florida and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.  It has been a lot of fun, but also incredibly tiring.  I have hundreds of pictures and stories, which hopefully will make it to my blog!  Oh procrastination!  

On Friday, I was groggily "awake" at 4:30 a.m. to get ready to be at the airport rental car drop off by 5:30 a.m. to catch a 7 a.m. flight back home to Tampa.  My freezer was filled with a lot of duty free chocolate and some kick ass dried pomelo from the Budapest Great Market Hall ... but my refrigerator was bare.  

I went to the grocery store and bought the ingredients for my lower fat, lower calorie version of a sausage, potato and kale Italian soup (made with a splash of evaporated skim milk instead of 2 cups of heavy cream).  It's a dish I make in the fall and winter.  Also this weekend I made a chicken tortilla soup and my (not to brag, but...) incredibly amazing homemade guacamole.

As I stood over a simmering vat of my sausage, kale and potato soup, I realized that I must be spiritually and physically drained because this is definitely one of my "soothing" comfort food recipes.  I feel like homemade soup in general is a type of medicinal comfort.  I also felt like I was reconnecting myself to my home.  After weeks of waking up in hotel rooms, not remembering what city or even what country I was in - I was looking forward to sleeping in my own bed.

In some perverse, masochistic turn of events, I had scheduled two days of volunteering for my first two full days back home.  WHY?  WHY?  I should have scheduled two days of laying on the couch catching up with my beloved friend, Mr. DVR and all my wonderful television shows.  But nooooo ... for some sick reason I decided to help others!  Ugh.  I seriously have a problem!

So this past Saturday, I spent eleven hours at the Healing in the Harbor event in Safety Harbor.  Lots of holistic wellness, acupuncture, massage, organic products, incense, big drums, crystals and all other sorts of "happy" products for sale.  Evolve at the Ashram of Clearwater ( handed out these free Buddhas.

I know it may sound juvenile, but I had to have one!  One little girl who was maybe four years old, held up her Buddha and said "How do you like my baby?"  I replied: "Your baby is very spiritual" and then I showed her how to sit and hold her fingers like her "baby" Buddha.

I was helping my friend at her booth selling her home and body organic products and at the booth next to us was the mother-daughter and 5 month old son team selling "Healthy Hoops" - hula hoops in chakra colors.

Do you know what happens when you spend eleven hours in the hot Florida sun next to a Hula Hoop booth?  You become the proud owner of your very own Healthy Hoop.  Yes, I am 975 years old, single, have a household full of cats, a stuffed Buddha, vats of homemade soup... and now I am also a novice hula hooper.  

I don't know what else I can do to become more desirable to the public.  I'm pretty much beyond fabulous in every imaginable way.  

My hula hoop is cheetah print and purple - I am not sure which chakra color "cheetah print" is, but the hoop is huge, weighs three pounds and is all MINE.  

Evidently (or so I am told) the heavier the hula hoop, the easier it is for the beginner.  Three pounds is the heaviest hula hoop, Healthy Hoops sells.  Maybe I can find some "hula weights" to help weigh this puppy down because I am as about as novice as a novice can be!

So in the middle of the night when you wake up and think "What is Lily doing?"  (And I know you do that ALL THE TIME!)  Rest assured that I am in my living room, hula hooping while my cats watch and then I am eating soup.  

It is indeed the rockstar life here in Tampa, Florida!

The Healing in the Harbor event in Safety Harbor, Florida definitely had me thinking about the universe.  I had just finished a leadership seminar in Raleigh-Durham.  One of the activities was drawing an empathy map to put yourself in someone else's shoes.  

I thought this exercise had coincidental timing in my life, because I had recently written a blog post called "On Communication and Ego ..."  In it, I wrote about how people can minimize or devalue another person's feelings in a conversation.  

Well after I published the "On Communication and Ego" post about devaluing/minimizing a person's feelings, I received an email from someone who apologized for invalidating my feelings - but then went on to characterize the event that had caused major emotional pain as "a slight" and "a transgression."  

SERIOUSLY?  It's like saying "I'm sorry I invalidated your car accident injuries; oh by the way, how is your little boo boo doing?"

Maybe the person meant for the "apology" email to be sarcastic or passive-aggressive.  If so then BRAVO - mission accomplished, because using the word "invalidate" and then using minimizing words to describe what happened would then make sense if you were trying to be snide and shitty.   

A couple years ago, I had written a blog post about "pseudo apologies" - in this particular post, a guy who had dumped me in a horrifically shameful way and then gave me a crappy non-apology had karmically had explosive diarrhea food poisoning right afterward.  This post was called "Food Poisoning or Karma? The Suckitude of Pseudo Apologies."

A pseudo apology to me is like when someone says "I am sorry that you feel hurt" versus "I am sorry I hurt your feelings."  On the surface it sounds like an apology, but if you look closely there is no ownership or personal responsibility.  I wanted to take the email I received, circle the words "invalidate," "slight" and "transgression" and write: THIS IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF WHAT I HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT! 

But I didn't do that because frankly that horse has been beaten to death.  If you have to explain seventeen times why something hurts you and the person still doesn't get it; there's no reason to talk more about it.  Sometimes you just have to let go.  No need to prolong the drama, emotions or frustration.  I'd rather focus my energies on things and people who build me up.    

Sometimes it's just better to hula hoop and eat soup.  And I didn't intend for that to rhyme, but it's pretty darn cool that it did!

Happy Monday to you all!  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Austria vs. Croatia: The Chocolate Banana Candy Bar Battle Continues

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers!

In true LilyOnTheLam style, I have been on the lam to various parts of the world recently - and have been quite amiss at blogging about it.  Although I have been journaling, so the thought is that eventually (emphasis on eventually) I will be able to share my adventures in various humorous blog posts ... or at least that's the hope!

I was in Houston, visiting the Museum of Funeral History (Yes, that is a real place!) and dining at a restaurant called the BRC Gastropub (BRC stands for "Big Red Cock" naturally!)  

I was in New York City, partaking in my THIRD viewing of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" on Broadway - but this time starring Andrew Rannells instead of Neil Patrick Harris.  

And now I have left America behind and meandered my way over to Budapest.  Because why not? 

Since my body still has not adjusted to the time zone change (it is 4:43 a.m. Budapest time as I write this), I thought I'd give you a sneak peak into some of my Budapest product finds.  So yes, I am declaring "New Product Wednesday" on a Monday (US Time), Tuesday (Budapest Time)!  How's that for screwing up one's calendar?

My last blog post was on a Croatian chocolate banana candy bar I discovered at a relatively new Polish deli in Largo, Florida.  Although I salute having a Polish deli in Largo, Florida; I found the banana chocolate Croatian candy bar to be lacking.  (Extremely lacking!)  Do Croatians make good candy?  If they do, I hope it is better than what I tried.  (Read my Croatian candy bar post here.)

I was in a mini mart near my hotel in Budapest, stocking up on bottled water and random snacks when I spotted this candy bar ...

THE BIG BANANA.  How can anyone say "no" to a candy bar named THE BIG BANANA?  I certainly am not made of steel or diamonds or any other ridiculously hard, impervious material that would make me turn a blind eye to THE BIG BANANA.  

Bam, it went straight into my shopping basket.  I rationalized/justified that since the last LilyOnTheLam post had been about a Croatian chocolate banana candy bar; this was fate telling me I had at least one more chocolate banana candy bar themed blog post in me!  

Side note:  I'd rather fate give me some winning mega millions lottery numbers than throw another chocolate banana European candy bar in my path ... just throwing that message out there, universe.  I hope you're listening, fate!

Just like when I found a candy bar in a Polish deli, I first assumed the candy bar was Polish (wrong: Croatian).  I thought this candy bar from a Hungarian mini mart was Hungarian.  Wrong.  Austrian.  

On a side note, I have been starting to think random thoughts in German.  Which is bizarre because I don't speak German.  This morning I looked at a table filled with pitchers of various juices and thought "I wonder what kind of saft is in this pitcher?"  Saft is the German word for juice.  

Then after I ate, I thought "that was a pretty good fruhstuck (breakfast)" (which by the way, I can't figure out how to add the umlaut, dots over the U's, so just imagine they are there).  I have no clue why I am starting to think in German words in Hungary, other than some sort of misplaced nod to the prior Austro-Hungarian empire?  Perhaps I spoke Deutsch in a past life?  Or perhaps I am having some sort of seizure/stroke?  Anything is possible!

Or maybe eating an Austrian candy bar has somehow imparted the Austrian national language of German into my head?  Hmm ... it's a puzzle, I tell you!

But enough about my linguistical weirdness and on to a review of the aforementioned schokoriegel (candy bar).  The "Big Banana" is everything I had wanted the Croatian Chocolate Banana candy bar to be.  It had a soft, creamy center with a rich, non-artificial tasting banana flavor and a rich, smooth chocolate coating.  It was actually a little too sweet, but it tasted very natural unlike the whipped air chemical taste of the Croatian treat.

Because I am a big nerd, I actually had this epiphany moment as I ate "The Big Banana" and thought "Austrians have perfected what the Croatians were attempting!"  Which is probably a compliment to Austria and an insult to Croatia ... and I am probably being diplomatically insensitive ... sorry Croatia!

So if you have to choose one chocolate banana candy bar and your choices are between a Croatian candy bar and an Austrian candy bar; sorry Croatia I am going to have to advocate that my readers go with THE BIG BANANA - which I can only assume is the National Chocolate Banana Candy Bar of Austria.  And if it's not, it should be.  Nice work, Austria!

Stay tuned to LilyOnTheLam for more adventures, product reviews and language brain seizures ...  Thanks for reading!