Living well on a budget, without being truly cheap.

Wine Review: Credia 2018 Riesling

By Mike Thayer

Wine Shop at Home AwardsI recently joined a wine club and I'm digging it!   Thank you Lori!  Shopping online at my leisure in the comfort of my own home, discovering new and exclusive wines and having them shipped directly to my door = Happiness in Every Sip.  I borrowed that line from WineShop at Home, the club I joined, it's a true statement.  

WineShop At Home, founded in 2005, is headquartered in the legendary Napa Valley. The winery, owned by the Fredrick family of Dallas, Texas, produces award-winning, exclusive, artisan wines across 50 brands.  Their wines have won over 200 awards in national and international wine competions!  And they've got everything to please any wine preference, choose from sweet and bubbly to dry and crisp whites, smooth and supple to bold and intense reds.   WineShop at Home features artisan wines for every occasion, palate and personality.

Included in my first order was an excellent Riesling, here's the description from the WineShop at Home website:

Credia RieslingOur Credia 2018 Riesling (cred-ee-aah reez-ling) has rich aromas of passion fruit, papaya, mango and ripe pineapple.  This white wine is light, sweet and very round.

If you like white wines that are a bit on the sweeter side, you'll really enjoy this one.  The fruit aromas teasingly slap you in the face and the taste pleasantly lingers on the tongue.  What I like about this wine is that it's so well-balanced.  It's not overly sweet making it a truly versatile Riesling, pairing well with savory dishes, a Charcuterie board and desserts! Meal suggestions include dishes such as coconut shrimp, scallops or pork tenderloin. 

The Credia 2018 Riesling is a great add to your wine selection and I'm giving it 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  This is a repeat order for me and another nice little bonus you get with every shipment from WineShop at Home includes food pairing suggestions and recipes for each wine ordered, like Springtime Salmon and Pasta Primavera.  Does that sound fantastic or what?!

5 stars

Currently offering some great discounts, I highly recommend WineShop at Home, they've got award winning wines at every price, exclusive wines delivered right to your door! 

Contact Lori and set up your wine tasting today!

 

 


Drink Review: Moderna Artist's Palette Red Wine

By Mike Thayer

Wine Shop at Home AwardsI recently joined a wine club and I'm digging it!   Thank you Lori!  Shopping online at my leisure in the comfort of my own home, discovering new and exclusive wines and having them shipped directly to my door = Happiness in Every Sip.  I borrowed that line from WineShop at Home, the club I joined, it's a true statement.  

WineShop At Home, founded in 2005, is headquartered in the legendary Napa Valley. The winery, owned by the Fredrick family of Dallas, Texas, produces award-winning, exclusive, artisan wines across 50 brands.  Their wines have won over 200 awards in national and international wine competions!  And they've got everything to please any wine preference, choose from sweet and bubbly to dry and crisp whites, smooth and supple to bold and intense reds.   WineShop at Home features artisan wines for every occasion, palate and personality.

Included in my first order was an excellent red blend, Moderna Artist’s Palette Red Wine, here's the description from the WineShop at Home website:

Our Moderna Artist’s Palette Red Wine was grown in the Lodi area and is a blend of 45% Zinfandel, 25% Petit Verdot, 25% Tannat and 5% Muscat of Alexandria. 

Moderna Artist's Palette Red WineI really took a liking to this wine with the first swirl, sniff and sip.  It's got great color and some fantastic fruit notes in the nose, delivering raspberry, wild strawberry, black currant and blueberry - it's profound. The sip starts with the sweetness of the fruit, followed by the boldness of white pepper and toasted oak.  To sum, this wine is just flat out delicious, balanced and has an elegant finish.

Pairing well with dishes like lasagna, beef stew or meatloaf (Bachelor food!), the Moderna Artist's Palette Red Wine is a great add to your wine selection and I'm giving it 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  This is a repeat order for me and another nice little bonus you get with every shipment from WineShop at Home includes food pairing suggestions and recipes - like that aforementioned lasagna - for each wine ordered. 

5 stars

Currently offering some great discounts, I highly recommend WineShop at Home, they've got award winning wines at every price, exclusive wines delivered right to your door! 

Contact Lori and set up your wine tasting today!

 

 


Repurposing an old coffee table into a shade garden for the patio

By Mike Thayer

Coffee Table Repurpose ProjectWhat do you do with an old coffee table that had a tile or slate top and a bunch of those pieces got broken rendering it unusable?  OH NO, a topless table!  And don't ask what happened to make the table topless, I'm not telling.

And sure, you could TRY to save the table by going to the Big Box store and hope to find tiles or slate that matches what you had - good luck with that.....   Or you could buy all new tiles or slate and hope the store has all the right sizes for your coffee table to make it like new again - good luck with that too......

So screw that headache, I say repurpose that topless coffee table and make it a planter!

That's what I did with a metal frame coffee table, turning it into a weekend project in creating a shade garden for my apartment patio.

And what's not to like with this project, working with a black, aluminum frame, I don't have to worry about weather proofing it.  I don't have to worry about leveling, measuring, cutting or fastening anything together.  Easy peasy!  Next step, find some plastic pots that I can simply insert into the slate/tile spots.

I found the pots I needed at Lowe's, 8" pots and I stuck with the color of black, so the pots would blend in, allowing the plants to pop in showing off their colors.

Coffee Table Planter Project
A coffee table planter for the patio

In selecting the pots, I also picked out the plants that will be featured in this planter creation, all shade varieties, as this 'living' table will get some early morning sun, but after about 11am, it will be in shade for the rest of the day.  I bought a mix of Coleus, Begonia, Caladium and Fuchsia, a nice assortment of colorful foliage, flowers and textures.

Ringing up the sale, pots, plants, along with some good quality potting soil, I spent about $65 on what could be considered a nice planter display piece for any patio.  And the time to put it together was minimal.  I think I spent more time at the store, picking out the pots and plants than I did actually potting the plants and inserting them into the table, I literally just dropped them in, maybe 45 minutes, tops.  I popped in a few of the remaining tiles where pots couldn't go and voila!.....  Project complete.

I'm looking forward to how great this table will really look once those plants fill in a bit!  And one last feature to point out about this planter table, it's light enough that you can move it around, with pots still in place.  And OK, another nice feature, it will be SO easy to swap out plants or turn it into a sun loving planter if desired - just insert different pots!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Drink Review: Crown Royal Salted Caramel Whiskey

By Mike Thayer

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 a flavored specialty in the liquor cabinet to enjoy on the rocks.  My favorite in all this tasting fun so far, WAS Yukon Jack Jacapple.  Key word 'was', as the Jacapple was recently bested by Skrewball Peanut Butter flavored whiskey, it ROCKS!

Crown Royal Salted CaramelToday, the flavored whiskey is a sampling of Crown Royal Salted Caramel.

Here's the description from the Crown Royal website:  Crown Royal Salted Caramel Flavored Whisky is a blend of the finest Canadian whiskies, carefully selected by our Master Blenders and infused with the subtly salty-sweet taste of indulgent salted caramels – imparting lush, creamy notes that perfectly compliment the richness of Crown Royal Whisky.

Crown Royal is a fine whiskey and this is an excellent pairing.  You get the notes of caramel and thankfully it's not too sweet.  Sometimes a flavored whiskey gets too-whatever-flavor-forward, taking away from the goodness of the whiskey.  Not so with this one.  Crown Royal has produced a very nicely balanced, smooth flavored whiskey, with that classic Crown Royal whiskey shining through in a very pleasant, warm finish. 

I sampled this whiskey neat, on the rocks and as a chilled shot.  It's enjoyable in every way.  It's also quite excellent in chilled, neat drinks as well.  Try a shot of the salted caramel with a shot of Forbidden Secret Dark Chocolate Mocha Cream.  Can you say, "Tasty!"  Yes, yes you can.  I'm looking forward to trying a shot of the Crown Royal Salted Caramel paired with some Yukon Jack Jacapple as well, for that caramel apple experience.

Costing me about $30, I'm giving Crown Royal Salted Caramel 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's a bit on the high end of being a wallet friendly price, but it's well worth it, most definitely a repeat buy!

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 


Chick-fil-A temporarily closing dining room seating

Chick-fil-ATemporary Closure of Dining Room Seating

Our highest priority continues to be the health and well-being of everyone who comes into our restaurants. As we navigate the evolving impact of coronavirus on our communities, we are temporarily closing our dining room seating to help limit person-to-person contact. Some of our restaurants may only offer service through our drive-thrus, while others may be able to offer takeout, delivery or mobile order options. Thanks for your patience. We know these are challenging times, but we’ll continue to do our best to serve you.

via www.chick-fil-a.com


Starbucks will temporarily change to a “to go” model in U.S. and Canada stores

StarbucksIn a letter to all U.S. partners today, Starbucks shared changes the company is implementing to encourage social distancing, in an effort to help contain the COVID-19 virus.  

“As we all know, the situation with COVID-19 is extremely dynamic and we will continue to review the facts and science and make the proactive decisions necessary to protect our partners, customers and communities,” wrote Rossann Williams, executive vice president and president, U.S. company-operated business and Canada.

Starting today, Starbucks will be moving to a “to go” model in all company-owned stores in the U.S. and Canada for at least two weeks.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • We are pausing the use of all seating, including both the café and patio areas
  • Customers can still walk up and order at the counter, through the “order ahead” feature in the Starbucks app, via the drive thru and use delivery
  • We will have a modified condiment bar in all stores
  • You may see modified “order ahead” handoff areas on a store-by-store basis
  • Temporary closures for company-owned stores in high-social gathering locations, such as malls and university campuses
  • Temporary store closures or reduced operating hours in communities with high clusters of COVID – 19 cases 

Williams continues, “Every community’s needs are incredibly different. We want to make sure we play a constructive role by taking responsible actions, in partnership with the CDC and local public health authorities, so we can continue to do what’s right for our partners and customers.”

Today’s announcement builds on a foundation set by Starbucks chief executive officer Kevin Johnson last week in a letter sharing how the company has been preparing to respond quickly to COVID-19 emerging situations.  


Restaurant Review: PF Chang's

By Mike Thayer

It was a birthday celebration for one of my friends and for dinner on this occasion, we headed to her restaurant of choice, P.F. Chang's.

If you've never been to a P.F. Chang's, it's an Asian restaurant founded in California and they take great pride in making food from scratch every day in every restaurant.  Featuring wok cooking, they slice and hand chop the veggies and meats and all sauces are scratch made.  Their approach in the kitchen has lead to some pretty impressive growth and today, P.F. Chang's has over 200 restaurants in the U.S. plus over 95 restaurants abroad.

P.F. Chang's AppetizersThe restaurant was quite busy on a Saturday night, but our 'party organizer' had a table reserved so our party of seven was seated upon arrival.  Greeted warmly by our waitress, we ordered some drinks and waters to go around, along with some appetizers. For my drink, I ordered an Old Fashioned made with Japanese Whiskey but I can't recall the brand.  It was a very good Old Fashioned, the bartender did it right, but a bit on the pricey side at $12.   After that I opted for the house whiskey and Sprite at $7.  On the downside, one of my friends in the party ordered a Long Island Iced Tea and the bartender didn't do that one so well.  It was terrible, VERY lemon forward, it was more of a Arnold Palmer drink than it was a genuine Long Island.  It was so bad in fact, it got taken off the tab.

One appetizer item you HAVE to try if you don't already love them, are Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps, they are STELLAR!   There isn't a description of this item on the restaurant website, only to say, A secret family recipe and our signature dish. Enough said.  What you get is perfectly cooked and seasoned chicken, crispy noodles which you wrap in fresh baby Romaine leaves.  It's another dose of YUM!  Other appetizers we ordered and shared were Crispy Green Beans which are Tempura battered and accompanied by a signature spicy dipping sauce, as well as some Sushi, California rolls.  These other appetizers were excellent as well, but those Lettuce Wraps were hands down the favorite for everyone.

P.F. Chang's Cripsy Honey ChickenThe danger to ordering a number of fantastic appetizers, is getting full before the dinner orders arrive, but that didn't stop us.  I went with the Crispy Honey Chicken, which is lightly battered, tossed in a tangy honey sauce, topped with some green onion and served over those tasty crispy noodles. 

Other orders around the table included the Honey Chicken - a VERY popular dish - but a variety of other items to include Mongolian Beef, Pepper Steak and Egg Drop Soup.  It was ALL good, everybody thoroughly enjoyed the appetizers and their entrées, nobody had a bad meal and the kitchen served up some really great food, no flaws, no disappointments, no complaints!

Then came dessert.

I did NOT realize P.F. Chang's cranked out such great desserts!  The table treated the desserts like we did the appetizers, sampling and sharing Banana Spring Rolls, Tiramisu and New York Style Cheesecake.  Now Tiramisu and Cheesecake aren't exactly authentic Asian cuisine desserts, but WHO CARES!  All the desserts ROCKED!  It was fun tasting them all, they were all excellent but the consensus favorite was the New York Style Cheesecake.  What a great way to cap off a fantastic meal and yes, they taste as great as they look!

P.F. Chang's DessertsThe P.F. Chang's visited on this occasion is located at: 

1401 Waterfront Pkwy.
Wichita, KS 67206
 
The service was courteous, friendly, conversational, but a bit slow at times when it came to things like drink refills be it the adult beverages or water, and removing appetizer dishes and plates when done.   P.F. Chang's is also a bit pricey, not exactly Bachelor on the Cheap wallet friendly and I say that considering what you pay and the portion size you receive.  It's a nice place and the food is excellent don't get me wrong, but when I go to an Asian restaurant, I'm usually taking something home in a to-go box, not so on this occasion.  I paid about $73 - not including the tip - for an appetizer, meal, dessert and a couple drinks.  I'm giving P.F. Chang's 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  Even if paying a bit more, the place is definitely worthy of a repeat visit.   It's excellent food, fun food and that Cheesecake ROCKS!
 
4 stars
 
$pend Wisely My Friends.....

Drink Review: Clos du Bois Chardonnay

By Mike Thayer

National Drink Wine DayIn honor of National Drink Wine Day - who thinks up these days of celebration things anyway? - Well, I'm rolling with it!

A drink review on a Chardonnay, produced by Clos du Bois

Clos du Bois is one of California's longest standing names in the marketplace, walk into almost any liquor store and you'll see their wines on the shelf.  Their Chardonnay is a popular choice because it's a reasonably priced, no-nonsense wine.  It's not top shelf stuff, but it's not bottom shelf stuff either.  This wine is popular because it delivers top shelf taste without the cost, a great bang for the Chardonnay buck.

Here are the tasting notes from the winemaker's website:  Brilliant silver straw yellow in color. Intense aromas of apple blossom, ripe pear, and sweet lemon drop are complemented by toasty oak, spice, and cream. In the mouth, the silky texture of the wine is overlaid with bright, juicy flavors of ripe apple and pear for a long and fresh finish.

Those tasting notes are spot on!  In layman's terms, it's good!

Chardonnay is also arguably the world’s most popular variety of white wine and in large part we have California to thank for that.  Winemakers there have successfully marketed the straightforward but very pleasant aromas of apple and pear and Clos de Bois is a pick of choice with many who keep a Chardonnay or two at the ready at home.  It's also a pick of choice in the bars as well.  That's saying something.

Costing me about $10, this is another wine that's easy to like, it's reasonably priced, drinks easy after a long day at work and compliments a variety of fish and chicken dishes, especially those prepared with butter, cream or herbal sauces.  It's a repeat buy and gets 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars!

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

Related:  Drink Review: The Ned Sauvignon Blanc


My first meal at Logan's Roadhouse may have been my last

By Mike Thayer

Logan's Roadhouse presentation
Sloppy presentation, skimpy portions, well, EXCEPT the broccoli....

A friend of mine was celebrating a birthday the other day and so a group of us met her and her significant other at Logan's Roadhouse to celebrate.  It was a Saturday night, a busy night for the restaurant, but there was no waiting as the birthday table had already been seated when I arrived.  In fact I was the last of our little party to do so.  Fashionably late, right?   That's my story and I'm sticking to it....

I had never eaten at Logan's before this night and I was looking forward to eating a juicy steak.  It was a bit of a challenge deciding on what to eat, it all looked pretty darn good on the menu with a nice variety of options to choose from.  Our waitress took our drink and appetizer orders as we continued to peruse those dinner menus.  After a few more minutes and with everyone set on what to order, we sat and waited, and waited some more.  That's OK, there was some great table conversation going on, but it did take a long while for our waitress to deliver that first round of drinks, let alone take our dinner order.  Granted, it was a Saturday night, the place was busy, but not that hopping busy....  The waitress was nice, polite, but easily distracted and slow.

The drinks finally arrived and so did our appetizers which were pretty tasty.  I sampled the potato skins which were above average.  Sometimes a restaurant will over bake them, turning that potato skin into a piece of shoe leather, not so with these. 

For my entree' I went with the Surf & Turf, a sirloin steak and grilled shrimp.  Here's the description from the Logan's website:  Get the best of both worlds with our 6 oz. USDA Choice, grain-fed Sirloin and a skewer of wood-grilled shrimp on a bed of rice pilaf. Served with your choice of one side. Upgrade to an 8 oz. Sirloin for a little extra.

Logan's Roadhouse rareWhen our dinners arrived, I was visually disappointed.  I highlighted the word 'bed' in the description above, check out the pic up top, does that look like a BED of rice to you?  No, it's more like three little spoonfuls.  This dinner looked mouthwatering on the menu, but what gets delivered to your table doesn't measure up.   And that's NOT an eight ounce steak.  I inquired about the steak with my waitress, but she insisted that was the upgraded steak.  It was NOT grilled to a medium rare as I ordered either, it was delivered rare.  But hey, those bread rolls they serve with the meal were good!  Yes, stated with a side of snarky.

My meal wasn't the only one not quite right either.  A couple in the group ordered the Prime Rib.  When delivered tableside it didn't measure up to the picture on the menu either, not even close.  It was a VERY thin cut of Prime Rib and the Au jus was COLD!  My friend sent the Au jus back to be heated up, it came back only marginally warmer, but still pretty much cold.  Who wants cold Au jus with their Prime Rib?   With temp in mind, the meals weren't delivered to the table hot, they were warm at best, food got cold quick!  Another downer.

Overall, while my dinner was seasoned well enough, I found the portions to be on the skimpy side, to include the five little shrimp on the skewer.  Coupled with the slow service - no water refills kind of tells you how slow - Logan's fumbled the ball on this dinner.  I felt kind of bad for my birthday friend, but we all made up for it in some great table conversation and laughs!

I paid $15.99 for my meal, that's a reasonable price for a steak dinner, but the slow service, warm but not hot food, skimpy portions and food not measuring up to the menu picture hype made for a disappointing dining experience.  I'm giving Logan's Roadhouse 2 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  If it's up to me, I won't be going to a Logan's Roadhouse again.  There's far better steak to be had out there.

2 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

The Logan's Roadhouse visited on this occasion is located at:

353 S Rock Rd, Wichita, KS 67207