Tag Archives: X is for eXact Change

Candy Canes!!


For those of you who don’t know me, one of the things I love most about Christmas time is candy canes.  Oh candy canes!  I can’t get enough of their wonderful minty goodness!  I wish sugar free candy canes tasted better, because I would be sucking those down like I hadn’t eaten in months.

candy-cane-hunt-mable-houseI love all the new things manufacturers come out with every Yuletide season that are “candy cane” flavored.  Pop Tarts.  Oreos.  McFlurries.  Coffee.  Cupcakes (who am I kidding with this one, though, I can have candy cane cupcakes anytime I want!).  Pretty much, I think the rule of thumb is, if you should not be eating it, they’re going to be tempting me to do just that by adding some mint flavoring and red food coloring!

A few weeks ago when I headed down to the Strip District for X is for eXact Change, my brother and I stumbled into the Pittsburgh Popcorn Company and saw on their “Coming Soon” billboard a listing for candy cane kettle corn for one week in December.  Be still, my heart.  Kettle corn AND candy cane.  Holy mother!

Here’s the problem with the PPC, though…I don’t work anywhere NEAR them.  And they all close at normal human hours of 6 or 7pm.  Oh snap.  Yesterday was an easier day at work, so I thought, hey, let’s leave a little early and head on downtown to get some Candy Cane popcorn.  Sounds like the perfect winter gift.

Except, everything that could have gone wrong went wrong.  Traffic was moving slow as dirt, Lord knows why because there’s no hockey game to head downtown for.  Then I get downtown and stupid bus lanes clog me up even more.  Thanks to some good friends I managed to snag some free parking downtown.  But by then it was 6:35 and the place, still several blocks away, closed at 7.  There I ran, in the dark, in the cold, by myself, in high heels, trying to make it to the PPC.  Out of breath, 6 blocks later, I pulled up at the door at 6:45.  I pulled on the door.  Locked.  All the lights were on, but it looks like they decided to close early.  I called the store, heard the phone ringing inside.  Nothing.  No one answered.  No one showed their face.  No candy cane popcorn.

Thankfully, my awesome brother lives downtown, and managed to get the popcorn for me today, without sprinting through the downtown, without banging on the door for several minutes.  God bless brothers.

This is my life, though.  Chasing time for candy canes.  Maybe it’s why I love life so much 🙂

Time to bake.  See you soon!!



X is for eXact Change


Ah, Thanksgiving weekend is almost over, can this really be happening?  Do I have to return to Initech tomorrow?  Any Powerball winners willing to give me some quick cash??  Anyone…anyone…??

Well, while you all decide if you want to give me money for nothing in return (the answer to that is always YES!), let me tell you about my fun weekend supporting small businesses and shopping with the holiday rushes.

For those of you who didn’t see last week’s blog post, I decided to go out on the town this weekend and spend some money in the local community.  My goal was to take $20 down to the Strip and see just how close to the $20 I could spend before leaving.  And, if I played my cards just right, I wouldn’t go over my $20 limit either.

So Saturday morning was a cold morning here in the Burgh.  The temperature sat around 22 degrees, and the wind was gusting at over 20 MPH.  Not really a day for outdoor shopping.  But, let’s be honest, I’m up for anything these days, so I bundled up, grabbed a warm hat, and headed down to Duquesne to pick up my brother Matt.  He’s on Thanksgiving break, but had to stay to work at Apple, so he had some time to kill with his sister.  Tagging along to the strip apparently sounded like the perfect way for him to spend his Saturday morning too.

Before we arrived at the strip, though, we ended up smack dab in the middle of a parade.  Nope, not making that up.  We were driving downtown, made a left at a light, and boom, we found ourselves in the middle of what looked to be a Christmas parade.  Complete with floats, marching bands, and even a surprise visit from Santa.  It was pretty amusing to watch as we drove the opposite way down the same street, except for the moment when the Fred Flintstone balloon started to blow away from his handlers and head straight for my car.  Crisis was adverted, though, and Fred resumed his normal route on the parade street.

We did manage to snag some free parking, which is a blessing in disguise down in the Strip District…why pay $10 to park when I can walk 3 blocks and park for free?  That’s just what we did, which meant my 20 wasn’t broken until I headed into the chocolate store to Christmas shop.  No, this isn’t a candy store: it’s a chocolate store.  They have chocolate from all over the world, and it smells so incredibly heavenly in there.  I’ll be honest, some of it is a bit over priced, but I guess that’s the sacrifice you make for Japanese candy bars not sold in the United States.  I bought a few Christmas presents for people, spending $12.45.

Next it was on to the Yinzer store, for 1,000 rounds of Gangnam Style and more Hines Ward jerseys than you could possibly hope to ever wear in a life time.  Sorry Steeler fans, I still don’t own ANY Steeler apparel, and I didn’t buy any yesterday either.  Contact me if you’d like to donate something to my hopeless cause.

I did go to the Asian supermarket, though, and buy some yummy food, because Matt wouldn’t go into the fish market with me.  They had salmon and mango sushi, and still that wasn’t enough to convince the boy!  So we headed into the Asian market instead.  We were the only people in there who spoke English as our first language, but I’m kind of OK with that.  I love Asian markets, and bought some cookies before I left.  3 boxes, $1.97, bringing my total for the day up to $14.92.

So now what to do?  I have $5 left to spend, and want to spend it all.  I could buy a $5 purse the man swears to me is real Coach, but I have a sneaking suspicion he’s just trying to make the sale.  I could buy some fresh pineapple, $1 each, that look and smell so delicious.  Or, I could fight traffic, and humans, and head to the Pittsburgh Popcorn Company.  Guess which option I chose 🙂

Now, let me be honest with you, I did go over my $20 limit there.  However, I bought two bags of popcorn, one of which I’m giving away to a friend as a gift.  The one bag was $3.85, the other bag was $3.75, so if you only count the one bag I bought for myself, my total for the day comes to $19.27.  Not too shabby when you look at my $20 limit!!  Only 73 cents off!  Now, again, I know I went slightly over with my second bag purchase, but it’s the holiday season, the time of giving more than you should, and helping others to be happy.  Apparently I really like to give by buying extra bags of chocolate peanut butter kettle corn!

Over all, the challenge I set for myself this week was wildly successful.  I managed to snag a few small gifts for friends and family, treat myself to some delicious Asian cookies, and stuff myself full of Spicy Cheddar and Bacon popcorn (It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever eaten!)  Plus I got to hang out with my brother, something I don’t do nearly enough.  I’d say this was a weekend, and a $20 bill well spent.

Off to relax for these final few hours before I return to work tomorrow.  Christmas break cannot get here soon enough.  What am I talking about, though, I have so much vacation time over this coming month it’s not even funny.  I am busy in the coming weeks setting off to see friends and family all over.  Not to mention I have several dozen cupcakes to bake for customers.  So much to do!!

Have a wonderful week!  I’ll be back next week with my next Alphabet Adventure!!


Next Week: X is for eXact Change


Word to the wise: remember to take your eye makeup off before crawling into bed.  No matter how tired you are, you will regret it in the morning when your pillowcase looks like a shoe shiner’s rag, and your eyes are red and watery.

I’m back!!  A fantastic weekend is in the books (almost), and Turkey Day is quickly approaching.  I feel the retail Christmas pull a little more this year…there’s this huge urge to get my Christmas decorations out RIGHT NOW and set everything up.  Patience, young grasshopper, the holiday season will soon be upon us.  For now, I will merely enjoy the sparse Thanksgiving decorations I have up, until it’s time to bust out my themed Christmas decorations.

I’m excited about next week’s adventure, because it involves careful planning, traveling, and a general exploring, three things I love.  Since my launch of this website, a lot of people have asked me about X is for eXact Change, mainly because they have no idea what it meant.  I haven’t told too many people, because I wanted to keep it a surprise, so now that the moment’s finally here, I want to shout it from the rooftop: NEXT WEEK I’M GOING ON AN ADVENTURE!!

So I got the idea for X is for eXact Change from all of those Food Network shows, $40 a Day, and stuff like that.  If you’re not a Food Network fan, the premise of these shows is simple: a host is dropped into a city, given a set amount of money ($25, $40, etc.) and must eat 3 meals in one day for that amount of money.  Sounds pretty easy until you remember how expensive eating out is…plus you have to factor in tipping, and all that fun stuff.  It’s actually a bit more challenging than one might think.

I decided I wanted to try it, though, but I wanted to put a twist on it: I want to see just how much I can do in downtown Pittsburgh for $20.  And I want to see how close I can get to spending all of it in one setting.  Am I helping the economy or what?!?!

Next week, then I’ll be heading down to the Strip District for a fun afternoon.  For those of you out-of-towners, the Pittsburgh Strip District is NOT the Red Light District, a common mistake. 😛  It’s more like a cultural district, not in the sense that the theater and opera are there (there’s an ACTUAL Cultural District where those are located), but because there are a million different mom and pop stores that you can shop in for real, homemade, fresh foods.  Homemade pierogies in the Polish deli; hand rolled pasta in the Italian market; rice in bags as big as me in the Asian market; homemade tamales at the Mexican store and restaurant.

On top of that, there are all kinds of great places to eat, such as a Vietnamese restaurant, a chocolate store (yes, those things do exist!), an Italian bar that loves dem Stillers, and a fanciful 1950s diner.  There’s also a Pittsburgh Sports appearal store, a used bookstore, some art shops, one of those “fell off the back of the China truck” stores where you can get Nike and Apple knockoffs for $20, and more.  It’s such a cultural melting pot, and such a fun place to visit.

So visit I will.  With $20.  The first test will be to try to snag some of the available but limited free parking…fingers crossed!!  And then we’ll take my money, and see just how much I can buy with it.  Should be a fabulous time.

If you’d like to join me on an adventure down to the Strip District, let me know.  If not, stop back next week to see exactly how well I did with my spending!

See you soon!!



The Rules of the Game


Why were our ABC boards never this trendy in elementary school?

By now the anticipation must be coursing through your veins: Lis is starting an AWESOME BLOG!  You could barely sleep last night after reading my post-Olympic post.  You’re dying to know how I’m going to pull this off in a year.  Some of you are thinking to yourself, “I wonder if I can join in on these adventures?”

The answers to those questions are, of course I’m going to pull this off, and YES PLEASE JOIN ME!

Before we start, though, here are the rules I’ve established for the next year:

1. I will complete one adventure every other week for the next year, starting August 3, 2012. This can be slightly flexible to allow for other weekend interruptions, such as holidays, weddings, and dreaded work at Initech.

2. As much as possible, I will try to go in alphabetical order.  That is not always possible, though, given the Pennsylvania weather.  So some weekends will be out of order.  All letters will be covered by the end of the year, though.

3. The alphabet list I have is a working list.  It can, at any time, be altered depending on my mood and ideas.  Part of this year-long journey is about growth.  Maybe even physically.  Would it be such a crime for me to be able to reach the top shelf at the grocery store without climbing on the lower shelves?

4. These activities are designed for anyone at any time.  I can (and plan to) complete many of these activities a la solo.  It’s a way for me to relax, unwind, and regroup.  However, many of these activities are that much more amazing with friends and family, and trust me, over the next year you’ll meet them all.  That being said, let me know if you want to join me on any adventures.  Most of them will be announced a week in advance, so if you’re free, and looking for a fun activity, feel free to let me know.

5. We are working on a next-to-nothing budget right now.  The cheaper the better.  There are a few exceptions to this, which you’ll read about, but even those are being researched, coupon-ed, and discounted as much as possible.

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for: The list of events

A is for Antique Hunting

B is for Bike Riding

C is for Corn Maze

D is for Dance and Dine

E is for Elegance 

F is for Fried Food

G is for Gardens

H is for Hiking Adventures

I is for International Escape

J is for Junk Food Junkie

K is for Kite Flying

L is for Life on the Line

M is for Mason-Dixon Line

N is for Niceties

O is for Organization Patrol

P is for Pamper Party

Q is for Quidditch

R is for Roller Coaster Tycoon

S is for Simon Says

T is for Tourist Trap

U is for Under the Stars

V is for Volunteering

W is for Waves and Water

X is for eXact change

Y is for Yard Sale-ing

Z is for Zoology 

So now I have to ask…what do you think of the list?  Anything you’d add or remove?

I’ll see you in a few days to announce my first destination. Then you can decide if you want to come with me on my initial quest.