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April 2019

Building Planter Containers on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Asphalt Garden
The pallet look

So I live in an apartment, I like to garden and I do have a patio where I do some container gardening, but it's ground level and it's asphalt.  That means it gets REALLY hot....  When it's 90 degrees out in the summer, add another 10 degrees to that temp because that dark asphalt absorbs all that sun and radiates.

Hot temps + hot asphalt = unhappy plant roots.  The first year in my apartment, I just did pots directly on the asphalt patio....  Oooopppsss!  No matter how often I watered, conditions just weren't good for most of my plants.  My plants were always too hot and too dry.  In the second season of patio container gardening, I went with pallets, lining my fenceline with them, separating my pots from the asphalt.  While that was a very practical and economical solution to the heat problem that my patio garden plants appreciated, it was a bit unsightly.  The cheap plastic containers I typically buy are easily faded by the sun in one season and pallets just aren't sexy at all, so this year, I gave my patio garden a makeover.

Enter, corrugated metal and cedar planter containers

Asphalt Garden
Under Construction

After looking for planter ideas online, in seed catalogs and gardening magazines, I really got to liking the corrugated metal and cedar look.  What I decided on are raised bed planters designed to put garden soil directly in the planter, but given my patio setting, that's not an option.  What I could do, I thought to myself, was build the raised beds, and prop my containers up on the pallets inside.  A "window dressing" if you will, there would be a lot of downsizing and custom cutting of those pallets involved, but the raised garden planter look would really dress the patio up and I could do such a project far cheaper than buying a bunch of big, ornate, clay pots.

Cedar wood can be expensive, but a top finish board isn't needed for a garden setting, a rustic look and rough cut boards is perfect for this project.  I went with cedar fence pickets, they're cheap - less that $2 a picket - easy to cut, drill and secure in place with wood screws.  The corrugated metal is also cheap, with 2' x 8 ' panels costing about $15 each.  Measuring about 6 feet long by 24 inches deep and about 25 inches tall, these planters cost me about $40 per planter to build.  The pallets, which I already had on hand, cost me nothing.  

This project was fun and fairly easy to do.  The only tools needed really was a saw, tape measure, some tin snips for the corrugated metal and a drill to secure everything in place with screws.

If you're looking to upgrade your container garden, don't think new, expensive pots, think corrugated metal and cedar wood to dress up what you already have.

Container Gardening
A container garden makeover

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Drink Review: Jim Beam Red Stag

By Mike Thayer

Jim Beam Red Stag
Best used in a mixed drink

Blended and flavored whiskeys are red hot right now, consumer demand for brown spirits continues to rise with American Whiskey in particular seeing some phenomenal sales growth.

Regular readers know that I am a fan of flavored whiskey, I've always got a bottle of something in my freezer for a chilled shot or flavored specialty in the liquor cabinet to enjoy on the rocks.  My favorite in all this tasting fun so far, has been Yukon Jack Jacapple.

Getting a recommendation from a friend and STILL not finding any liquor store around with Royal Crown Peach in stock, for this tasting I opted for Jim Beam Red Stag, their traditional 4-year-old oak aged whiskey infused with black cherry.  This is an 80 proof whiskey, giving it a little more kick.  Most flavored whiskeys are 70 proof.

As usual, I served this up in a straight shot and on the rocks.  You definitely get the cherry sweetness in the nose, but in the swirl and swallow this whiskey came off as a little medicinal for me, a.k.a., cough drop flavored.  You do get the warm base bourbon in the finish but I think this whiskey is best used in a cocktail such as a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned.  I'd rather have a different flavored whiskey in a chilled shot or on the rocks.

Costing me about $17 for a 750ml bottle, the price is reasonable and this whiskey is a borderline repeat buy, as a mixer only.  Jim Beam Red Stag gets 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap Stars.

3 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


What to do with leftover ham - make HamDawgs

Mike's HamDawgsHave some leftover ham from Easter?  Here's a fun and VERY TASTY recipe.

Mike's HamDawgs from
Stuffed hot dawgs


  • 1 cup finely chopped cooked ham
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 2 Tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 package of all beef hot dogs
  • 8 to 10 slices of bacon
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce
  • Louisiana Hot Sauce (optional)


Mix the first six or seven ingredients.  Slit the hot dogs, cutting them almost end-to-end and about ¾ the way through.  Stuff with the ham mixture.  Wrap the stuffed hot dogs with bacon and secure with tooth picks on each end.  Grill over hot coals, giving them ¼ turns and brushing them with BBQ sauce (and optional BBQ/Louisiana Hot Sauce blend) until the bacon is crisp.  Serve in toasted garlic buttered hot dog buns.

What to do with leftover ham

By Mike Thayer

Mac and cheese w hamSo you've got a bunch of ham leftover from the holiday dinner you made, or ham you were given to take home....  You can't just keep slicing a big thick slice of it off and eating it as is.....  Well, you can, but there's no variety in that.

What else can you do with it?


There's the obvious, make a sandwich.  Some ham, Swiss cheese, a little mustard between a couple slices of bread or in a bun....  It's another dose of YUM!

You could grab a box of scalloped potatoes from your pantry, make the potatoes per the box instructions, chunk up some of that ham, throw that in before popping those taters in the oven and boom!  Dinner.  To add a little kick, finely dice up some jalapeno pepper to include in the mix.  TASTY!

You could do a similar thing by grabbing that box of mac & cheese from the pantry and in about 10 minutes, you'll have another lunch or dinner.

Dice some ham up and put it in the fridge for later use.  You can quickly grab that diced ham for a number of dishes.....  Diced ham and scrambled eggs for breakfast; Diced ham on a salad;  Ham fried rice; Ham & beans in the crock pot; Grab some tortillas to make ham & cheese quesadillas; open up a tube of crescent rolls and bake them up with ham and green onion.

There's all kinds of things you can do with leftover ham, have fun with it!

Here's a quick recipe for the grill - Ham Kabobs.


  • 1 can of pineapple chunks
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • a splash of orange juice
  • one medium green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • leftover ham, cut into cubes


Fire up the grill.  While the 'outdoor stove' is getting warm and ready to receive, drain the pineapple, saving the juice for a marinade.  Mix that pineapple juice, yellow mustard, clove and orange juice in a small bowl, set aside.  Put the pineapple chunks, green pepper and ham on wooden skewers (you soaked them in water for about 30 minutes, right?).   Grill for about 5-8 minutes over direct heat, basting the kabobs with the marinade and rotating frequently until cooked through.  Makes a great appetizer or side dish!

Food Review: Firehouse Subs New "Firehouse Pairs"

By Mike Thayer

Firehouse PairsFirehouse Subs recently announced a new promo, calling it "Firehouse Pairs" which is pairing any small sub with one of their signature sides for $7.79.

Here's their description from the initial promo:  Introducing Firehouse Pairs now available at U.S. locations. Pair any Small Sub with a Signature Side, like a small Hook & Ladder with our new Five-Cheese Mac & Cheese, elbow macaroni in a rich white five cheese sauce made with White Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Parmesan, Romano and Asiago cheeses with real cream and butter and a toasted bread crumb topping.

Sounds great right?  So that's what I went with, the Hook & Ladder and Five-Cheese Mac & Cheese.

Firehouse mac and cheeseWhat comes on the Hook & Ladder Sub you ask?  Smoked turkey breast, Virginia honey ham, and melted Monterey Jack, served Fully Involved® which in Firehouse speak means – Loaded complete with mayo, deli mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, and a kosher dill pickle on the side.

I ordered the sub on wheat bread and went over to the drink area to pour myself a soda.  I was now in "Hurry up and wait" mode, but it was well worth it.

I dug into the mac & cheese first.  The mac & cheese was outstanding, the pasta was perfectly cooked and surprisingly Al dente, not mushy as I had feared with visions of school cafeteria mac & cheese slop running through my head.  The sauce though is what puts this mac & cheese over the top, you get all those cheeses in every bite and the bread crumb topping was toasty crisp.  This mac & cheese delivers on the description hype with every spoonful.

Firehouse Hook and LadderThe Hook & Ladder Sub was equally good, I found myself alternating between the sandwich and the side.  There's so much flavor packed into the Hook & Ladder and it was prepared perfectly.  My sub had a generous portion of meats, the cheese was melted perfectly, the bread was soft and warm and the "Fully Involved" was spot on.  Firehouse cranks out some great sandwiches, I've had their Hero Sub and their Smokehouse Beef & Cheddar Brisket - I don't think getting a sub that disappoints is possible at Firehouse.

5 starsThis meal was totally satisfying and with a drink cost me $10.41.  It was almost, I say almost, too much food!  Firehouse Subs and their Firehouse Pair of the Hook & Ladder Sub and Five-Cheese Mac & Cheese gets 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.

Along with a great lineup of subs, other sides in the Firehouse Pairs include Firehouse Chili, Loaded Potato Soup and Side Salad.

I'm trying that Loaded Potato Soup next time!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Taco Bell fights calendar inequality so fans can boldly celebrate tacos any day of the week with Party Packs, now available for delivery from participating locations

Taco Bell Taco TuesdayIrvine, Calif. - In an open letter, Taco Bell is challenging the long standing tradition of eating tacos on a predetermined day of the week: Tuesday. Should any one day have all the taco glory just because it makes for a good hashtag? No. Times are changing and so are societal food norms. Which is why Taco Bell wants fans to reBELL against this alliteration and enjoy every taco day like it’s Tuesday. It’s time to elevate tacos, and Taco Bell Party Packs, to their rightful place as the go-to party food on their rightful day: any day.

Taco Bell is bringing this taco liberation to life in its newest campaign, “Taco reBELLion,” that encourages fans to break away from Tuesday customs and enjoy tacos with their crew any night of the week. Launching on 4/21, the :60 second spot shows three taco gangs (the Hard Shells, the Soft Shells and Los Locos) coming together to rebel against the tradition of tacos on Tuesdays and together they fight, in the form of an epic dance-off, for tacos any night.

Chief Global Brand Officer Marisa Thalberg has a rallying message for taco fans everywhere: “Of course we love that there is a day of the week dedicated to tacos, but we believe it’s time to challenge societal norms and for our fans and their friends to feel empowered to enjoy tacos without limits. When you think of tacos, you should think of getting together with friends any day, not just one day of the week.”

To further empower squads to join the taco uprising, Taco Bell is also launching a new line of reBELLious merchandise. Available on the Taco Shop, the new shirts and patches allow taco nonconformists to show off their taco pride and pledge their support for “Taco Any Day.” Because every rally needs fuel, Taco Bell is offering 15% off one Party Pack when you order online or on the app through June 8. Valid for in-store pick up only at participating locations*. It’s time to reBELL and empower groups to party with tacos from Taco Monday to Taco Sunday.

Whether fans like them crunchy, soft, or locos (Doritos® Locos Tacos to be exact), Taco Bell is breaking the monotony of at-home party food with a taco offering too good to get delivered just on Tuesdays. No matter the occasion or who’s in your crew, Taco Bell Party Packs offer the ultimate taco customization, including vegetarian and vegan options, making it the go-to food for gatherings. Feed your pack of reBELLs with any or all five Taco Bell Party Packs (Taco, Supreme® Taco, Variety, Supreme® Variety and Grande Meal) which can include Crunchy Tacos, Soft Tacos, Crunchy and/or Soft Tacos Supreme®, Doritos® Locos Tacos, Doritos® Locos Tacos Supreme® and even Bean Burritos. Be sure to visit or the Grubhub app for Party Packs pricing, which varies (tax extra).

* For more details on the 15% off offer, click here.

About Taco Bell Corp.
For information about Taco Bell, visit or find us on social media. Like: -- Follow: @TacoBell and @TacoBellNews (Twitter), tacobell(Instagram) and tacobell (Snapchat) -- Subscribe: – Explore:

Starbucks by Nespresso Launches Nationwide in May

New Starbucks® by Nespresso allows brewed coffee and espresso lovers to recreate the Starbucks Experience in the comfort of their own home.

Starbucks NespressoStarbucks and Nestlé are thrilled to introduce Starbucks by Nespresso, the first product jointly developed since the companies formed the Global Coffee Alliance in August 2018. Each capsule combines the high-quality, 100% arabica Starbucks® coffee that customers know and love with the premium at-home coffee experience of Nespresso.

“Starbucks® by Nespresso is a product that we have been very excited about since the formation of the Global Coffee Alliance,” said Tony Matta, President of Nestlé Starbucks Coffee. “Within this partnership, we are constantly searching for ways to elevate the at-home experience, and Starbucks® by Nespresso is the perfect way to bring a new, exciting coffee experience into the homes of our customers.”

Starbucks and Nespresso share a commitment to sustainability. These capsules are made of aluminum and are recyclable as a part of the Nespresso recycling program.  In addition, the coffee is made with 100% high-quality arabica coffee, ethically sourced  adhering to Starbucks C.A.F.E. Practices.

Starbucks by Nespresso prices vary by retailer. The capsules can be found on, and starting in early May.

Tastes of Summer Arrive at KRISPY KREME® with Return of Lemon Glaze and New Fruit-Inspired Collection

Lemon Glazed Doughnut available for one week only beginning Monday, April 22

NEW Pineapple, Strawberry and Key Lime Doughnuts available beginning Monday, May 6

Winter? No. Summer is coming. Come in and get an early taste today.

Krispy Kreme Lemon GlazeWINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-- For Krispy Kreme and our fans, summer is so close you can taste it. Literally!

Some of summertime’s most popular fruit flavors will be hitting Krispy Kreme shops over the next few weeks, starting with a fan favorite – Lemon Glaze is back! Available for one week only Monday, April 22 through Sunday, April 28 at participating Krispy Kreme shops across the U.S., Krispy Kreme’s Lemon Glazed Doughnut features the perfect pairing of zesty fresh lemon and Krispy Kreme’s sweet, signature glaze, embodying the essence of summer in one melt-in-your-mouth doughnut.

Then, beginning Monday, May 6, the summertime fruit flavor exploration really takes off when Krispy Kreme introduces a Fruit-Inspired Collection featuring three, all-new fruit-flavored doughnuts:

  • Pineapple Doughnut: This brightly decorated doughnut is bursting with pineapple filling so delicious you’ll think you’re in the tropics.
  • Key Lime Doughnut: A fresh take on summertime, this doughnut is filled with Key Lime Kreme to give you the tartness you crave, balanced with the sweetness of a Krispy Kreme doughnut.
  • Strawberry Doughnut: This doughnut is jam-packed with strawberry filling and decorated to resemble one of summer’s tastiest fruits.

Krispy Kreme’s new fruit-flavored doughnuts, featuring picture-perfect, bright and colorful designs, will be available through Sunday, June 16 at participating Krispy Kreme shops across the U.S.

“Winter? No. Summer is coming. Come in and get an early taste today,” said Dave Skena, Chief Marketing Officer for Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

Don’t forget to share how you celebrate the tastes of summer at Krispy Kreme with the Lemon Glazed Doughnut and Fruit-Inspired Collection using the hashtag #KrispyKreme and tagging @krispykreme. To find a participating shop for Lemon Glaze, visit

About Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation
Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation is a global retailer of premium-quality sweet treats, including its signature Original Glazed® doughnut. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, N.C., the company has offered the highest-quality doughnuts and great-tasting coffee since it was founded in 1937. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is proud of its Fundraising program, which for decades has helped non-profit organizations raise millions of dollars in needed funds. Krispy Kreme doughnuts can be found in approximately 12,000 grocery, convenience and mass merchant stores in the U.S. The Company has nearly 1,400 retail shops in 33 countries. Connect with Krispy Kreme Doughnuts at, or on one of its many social media channels, including, and

Fill Your Fridge with the New Dunkin’ Multi-Serve Iced Coffee

Dunkin' Donuts Iced CoffeeThere’s nothing quite like a refreshing Dunkin’ Iced Coffee on a warm spring day, and now it’s easier than ever to enjoy! Today we introduced an exciting new line of Dunkin’ Multi-Serve Iced Coffees to fuel fans with their daily dose of Dunkin’.

This new addition to Dunkin’s ready-to-drink category features our rich, smooth coffee and some real sugar in a 48-ounce bottle to keep you running on Dunkin’ all week. Available in two great-tasting varieties – Original and Vanilla – Dunkin’ Multi-Serve Iced Coffee is made with minimal ingredients to allow for easy customization. Simply pour over ice, add your favorite mix-ins (or don’t!) and enjoy.

Dunkin’ Multi-Serve Iced Coffee can now be found in the chilled coffee section of mass retailers and grocery stores. To find out where you can pick up the delicious new offering nearest you, check out the product locator on

Are you loving the new Dunkin’ Multi-Serve Iced Coffee? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

A fresh new Quarter Pounder® lineup is here

Quarter Pounder LineupOur customers have said they love our fresh beef*. With our new Quarter Pounder®** Deluxe and Quarter Pounder®** Bacon, we’ve introduced even more ways to enjoy the classic burger toppings they know and love, now on the fresh beef* Quarter Pound patty. Based on their feedback, we’ll move away from the Signature Crafted Recipes line on our national menu. Our fresh new Quarter Pounder®** lineup brings customers more of the craveable, customizable and delicious tastes they love.


*Fresh beef burgers available at most restaurants in contiguous US. Not available in Alaska, Hawaii, and US Territories.

**Weight before cooking 4 oz.