Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chinese Food and a Deal Alert!

When I was growing up there was THE best Chinese restaurant on highway 280 called the Golden City. If you are from Birmingham, I would wager that you have eaten there. You might remember their red carpet, their red velvet upholstered chairs and booths, the extremely ornate Asian decor everywhere, the eager waiters who would continually refill your glass and the twangy Chinese music that played in the background. You would also remember the best Chinese food you have ever tasted- things like delicious, fat egg rolls, sizzling rice soup, Mongolian beef and cashew chicken, just to name a few. This wasn't a "hole in the wall, fast food takeout" Chinese place and it wasn't a "scary, I am not sure how long that has been sitting on the buffet under a heat lamp" kind of Chinese food place either. It was made to order and delicious!

I have so many happy memories of eating there! I ALWAYS chose Golden City on my birthday or any occasion when I had the privilege of choosing the dining establishment. We had many a family gatherings in the large, private backroom. I went there with friends in high school when we were newly licensed and cruising. Then a very sad day came. Golden City changed ownership while I was in college and it went down hill from there. The quality, service and taste declined until it finally closed its big red and gold doors forever. Sad day indeed.

Since then I have been on a quest for comparable Chinese food. There are far too many mediocre or just down right gross Chinese places out there. I still regularly crave sizzling rice soup and their Mongolian beef, so when I saw this recipe I knew I would be making it.

It.Was.Delicious! Ok, so maybe not quite Golden City but a close second. So if like me, you are craving some good Chinese food go check out this one from

Mongolian Beef
serves 2

2/3 lb. flank steak, sliced across the grain
3 Tbsp. corn starch
3 tsp. canola oil, divided
1/2 tsp. grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2-3 large scallions, sliced

1. Pat the steak pieces with a paper towel to get rid of any moisture. In a plastic bag toss the steak and cornstarch together.

2. Mix together the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and red pepper flakes in a small bowl or large measuring cup.

3. Heat half the oil in a wok or large fry-pan at medium-high heat and add the ginger and garlic. Cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant, then add the soy sauce mixture. Cook for about 2 minutes and transfer back to the bowl or measuring cup.

4. Turn the heat up on the wok and add the remaining oil. Add the beef and cook, stirring until just browned.

5. Pour the sauce back in and let it cook with the meat. Simmer for around 5 minutes or until thickened. Place beef mixture on top of a bed of brown rice and garnish with scallions.

And now for a very exciting deal alert (sorry readers who are elsewhere, it's a local one):

After all that Chinese food, if you want to work out, I just found out about a great deal on joining a fitness gym. Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church, just a block from us, has a fitness center called The Lighthouse. After receiving a tip from a neighbor, I went to check it out today and found it to be clean, friendly and well equipped. It is a fairly small fitness center, but they have the important stuff like treadmills, exercise bikes, weight machines and an indoor walking/running track. They also offer some group fitness classes including Zumba (note- there is an additional fee for Zumba). Here is what is sooo unbelievable...a lifetime membership costs $5! Yes, you heard me correctly- a onetime fee of $5. We are joining tomorrow!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mark Your Calendar!

Mark your calendar now because in about a month you can see a great show! Sanspointe Dance Company will be presenting a concert of Dance, Art and Music on August 26-28. More info can be found here. Yours truly will be dancing so I know you won't want to miss it :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Change in our diet?

Looking at what I bought at Publix this week might lead you to believe that we are becoming vegetarians or giving up dairy...

Not so! I just love a good deal and trying new things! I was excited to get all this for $8.39. We have tried some of the Morning Star breakfast foods and really like them. We tried one type of veggie burgers already and they were good, we shall see how the other varieties are. At 60 cents for a box of 4 burgers, I thought why not try several types.

PS Have you tried the tacos at Cantina at Pepper Place (or at their other 2 locations)? They are sooo good. Aaron highly recommends the fish tacos. I like the chicken and steak ones. There is currently a deal to get a $20 voucher for $10 here! Check it out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Perk Up Those Walls

Living in an apartment, we aren't allowed to paint the walls. Fortunately, the walls are not a bad neutral shade at all, in fact, I rather like it. But just because we can't paint doesn't mean the walls have to be boring. Enter wall decals...

We had a big empty wall space by our dining room table and I wanted something large and colorful to fill the space. Back in the fall, I found this fun wall decal online through a deal site and ordered it and paid just a few dollars for shipping. I call it our Banana Bird:

I love how it perks up the wall!

A few months later I stumbled upon a tube of wall decals at Home Goods in the clearance section. I couldn't pass up the cute little birds and at such a good price this chandelier found its home in our bedroom.

Ok, so maybe the chandelier is a little funny, but we like it. If we get tired of it we can just peel it off.
I found this tutorial a long time ago on making your own wall decals. I haven't tried it, but I love the idea. Let me know know if you try it!

Monday, July 18, 2011

St. Louis

We completed our trip to Iowa with a few days spent in St. Louis on the way back. Sadly, I didn't take nearly as many pictures. I guess we were too busy to think about such things!

We arrived in St. Louis in time to meet Aaron's brother, Caleb, with the moving truck. Caleb is headed to seminary there so we were glad to help he and Katie get unloaded and semi unpacked. They have a great apartment (wish I had taken some pics). Sadly, Katie got sick so we cut our time in their apartment short and stayed with some friends of theirs. We also got to hang out with Aaron's parents and their Bethany baby. It was so good to see them! We really enjoyed eating out together, shopping at Trader Joe's and just hanging out.

Friday, our last day in St. Louis, we set off for the Arch since I had never even seen it. We were there fairly early and didn't have to wait too long to go up. It was fun and had quite the view!

We are looking forward to going back to St. Louis to visit Caleb and Katie again...there seems to be a lot of fun stuff there.

I love visiting and exploring new places. Have you gone anywhere new or fun this summer?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Can I have one of these?

One day when I have a yard, I want to build one of these:

I spotted this at Sisters' Garden and Bloom in Kalona, Iowa. Isn't it fun?! Love the old windows. Of course if I had one of these around here, I would have to put a big ole window unit hanging out somewhere...this 100 degree heat is killer.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


We enjoyed our recent trip to Iowa so much! The time spent with Aaron's grandparents was wonderful. They are so much fun!

We enjoyed playing lots of cards with them:

We ate lots of good food, including Grammy's AMAZING rhubarb pie:

We also enjoyed spending time outside in the cooler weather.

My long list accompanied us to the Amish store and we filled our trunk with cheap bulk food.

We explored some of my most favorite antique stores ever, the Pink Begonia and Sisters!

We picked fresh green beans in the garden and then cooked and ate them of course.

We roasted wieners

and then picnicked under the tree.

Can you tell we had a great time?!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Home Again...

In the past week have been to Iowa and St. Louis and back! It was a great trip and we so enjoyed getting to spend time with family. I will post more pictures and a recap soon.

Iowa Corn Fields

In the meantime, we are getting settled in back at home. There is nothing like getting back to your own bed when you have been gone a while. This week I am teaching dance for an arts workshop with teenagers from a local Christian home for girls from crisis backgrounds. I was so excited and also nervous to have this opportunity. Today went great! I am eager to continue. If you think of me, pray for me!

Some of Grammy's beautiful flowers

Also, Erin posted a recap of Saturday's I Heart Thrifting Party. We had a great time and I really enjoyed meeting other thrifters here in town. Go check out the post and see what treasures were found!

Hope your week is off to a great start!

P.S. Deal Alert: If you don't already have an Enjoy the City coupon book, you should go here and buy one. This is an awesome price for it and it includes so many great coupons for grocery stores and restaurants.

Friday, July 8, 2011

I Heart Thrifting Party Tomorrow!

Mr. Goodwill Hunting is organizing a huge "i heart thrifting" party all over the country tomorrow (you can read more about it here). I was so excited to see that there is going to be a Birmingham chapter meeting to shop and have fun. I am planning to be there!! Won't you come too?

For more details go see Erin at Dwell and Tell. Hope to see you in the morning!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Good Reads

I wanted to share with you some good reads in bloggyland that I have been enjoying lately and recommend checking out.

1. This High Calling

This is a family that I know who is answering God's call to care for the fatherless and motherless. They are currently foster parents to several children in addition to parenting their own 3 boys. Catie is an excellent writer and I am always so encouraged, convicted and moved by her posts.

2. Better After

I have loved looking at Before and After pictures on this blog. It is inspiring to see how people can transform a piece of furniture. I don't always love the styles or colors that people choose, but it is fun to see how they bring new life to old and sometimes really ugly pieces. There are some on there that I absolutely love. So inspiring! Gives me new vision as I peruse the thrift store. (Oh, and I have discovered another great thrift store about a half a mile down the road from the one I currently frequent AND I just heard today that there is a furniture store on that same road that is closing up and ANOTHER thrift store is moving in. Wow, I will be able to hit up three in a row! Let me know if you want to join in the fun. I am always up for company!)

3. Content to Rent

Image of the Nester's great decorating in rentals

The Nester has started several new sites and this one in particular caught my attention. Am I necessarily content to rent? No, not exactly. Her's is a message that is great to hear, "Love where you are!" Her other motto is "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful," another great reminder. She offers some practical tips on making a rental a lovely place to live. I am so looking forward to more posts on this site.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Account of my trip to the Cosmetology School

It had been a painfully long time since I got a haircut and I was suddenly desperate for one. I hadn't planned ahead and made an appointment so on a whim I headed to the cosmetology school right by the dance studio. A friend of mine had gotten a super cute cut there and I knew it only cost $7 so I decided to be brave and risk it.

I was a little nervous as I sat in the chair with a very young student chopping at my hair. It didn't help that to my left another patron lost a side burn- yes, a student chopped off a chunk of the poor guy's side burn. There was a flurry of activity over how to remedy the situation and they guy did not seem too happy at all. My stylist was friendly, but was PAINFULLY slow. However, I think his carefulness paid off...overall it was a good haircut and I have no complaints. I would much rather have a slow and careful haircut then lose a chunk of hair any day.

Before I left the stylist looked at me and said, "Oh I thought you should know that you have a little bit of lice." "WHAT?!" I about jumped out of the chair. I looked at him incredulously and protested that I certainly did not have lice! He responded with, "Well it is just a little bit." I continued to protest and question him when suddenly he said, "Oh wait, I don't mean lice. I meant dandruff. Your scalp is a little dry." I heaved a sigh of relief and then promptly admonished him to learn his terminology better since he had just about given me a heart attack.

Happy 4th of July friends!!

(cake photo and directions to make it are from

Friday, July 1, 2011

Weekly deals and some exciting shopping to come!

Here are the Publix deals that I have to show for the week:

I paid $48.33 for those groceries including the $50 gas gift card! I was happy to grab up some cheap cheese and pasta. The Emeril Bam meals (ravioli) was a moneymaker deal...not sure about those, we will see :)

The gas card will come in handy as we have a trip coming up. I am planning to spend a significant chunk of my July grocery budget on this trip. Why, you ask?! Because one of our destinations is in Amish country!

I don't anticipate any snow this trip, but hopefully some cooler weather than here!

We are headed to see Aaron's grandparents. They live in a small town in Iowa and there is a great Amish store there where you can by all kinds of wonderful things from bulk. Last time we went I got a 4.5 lb bag of oatmeal for just over $2. I got a huge container of dried oregano for 42 cents and got some great deals on stuff like orzo and couscous. This year I plan to bring back all kinds of wonderful things!!

This is the only picture I could find of the store from our last trip, of course of the candy aisle :)

I am hoping we can make a stop at the delicious bakery there too. Nothing like Amish and Mennonite baked goods!

We are also going to be spending some time in St. Louis and I plan to hit up Trader Joe's there. Alright all you Trader Joe's fans...what are your favorite items from there? Anything in particular that we should try?

Have a great weekend!!