The Oink Cafe – Breakfast. Lunch. Bacon.

Hey friends,

I haven’t done a restaurant review in a while and I’m hesitant to do this one because The Oink Cafe is close to where we live and a review will just mean that more people will go there.  I’m kinda liking the place and not sure I want to share it with everyone in Phoenix.  But…I think you’ll like it and my mom taught me not to be selfish, so…here we go.

The Oink Cafe in PV

When driving down Cactus Road a few months ago, I noticed that one of the retail spaces near Paradise Valley Mall had a new sign outside.  This spot seems like a wonderful location, but has been somewhat of a revolving door in the past years, not retaining businesses for any length of time.  Hopefully, this will be the exception to that rule.

Anyway, you may remember that a few months ago I won a year’s supply of bacon so that treat has been forefront in my mind lately.  While driving by this new restaurant, the tag line made me do a double take. It reads “Breakfast. Lunch. Bacon.”   What!  A restaurant that features BACON!!! Wow! I’ve got to take my husband there!

This weekend we had the perfect opportunity to try it out.  We had family visiting from out-of-town and when we described it to them they were excited about the adventure.  So, our party of 5 headed there around 9:30 on a Saturday morning.  Phoenix restaurants can get pretty busy on weekends for breakfast, so we weren’t sure what we’d find.  We checked in at the hostess station, then moments later 2 more family members arrived, which increased our request to a party of 7.

Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes

Maple Bacon Donuts

While we were waiting we noticed all these amazing looking baked goods.  We didn’t get a chance to try any, but will definitely need to do that next time.  Take a look at all the bacon options.

The staff handled our larger party graciously.  And fortunately while it was already pretty busy, there were a few tables that cleared just minutes after we arrived and we were seated promptly.

We perused the menu and ordered a nice variety from our friendly food server.  Here are a few photos to enjoy.

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One item of note:  At the time of this writing, they have 5 different flavors of bacon (applewood smoked, honey cured, sugar cured, peppered, &  jalapeno).  I enjoyed the applewood smoked bacon with breakfast and someone else at the table got an order of the jalepeno and gave me a taste.  It was delicious, especially for those who like that extra little kick of heat in their meal.

We mentioned to the server that they should have a flight of bacon that people could order to try a piece of each different kind.  She said that they have it, but upon checking the menu we couldn’t find it.  Hopefully they’ll add it to the menu or maybe to the list of “specials” so folks can check out all the different flavors.  Plus even though their logo is a pig, maybe they should consider adding turkey bacon for those who want to try to be a tad bit healthier.

Overall, everything was very tasty!  From the time we ordered till the time we got our food was a bit long, but since we were busy visiting it wasn’t too bad.  We’ll chalk that up to being relatively new to the breakfast scene and hope the timing improves.  It’s definitely a place that we’ll visit again…maybe for lunch next time.

Hey maybe they should offer an ultimate BLT with all the flavors of bacon!  I’d order it.  How about you?

What do you think ?  Does it sound promising?  Do you think you’ll try “The Oink Cafe” if you have the chance?

Autumn Plant Stand

This Saturday I had the chance to do some exploring and shopping with some dear friends at the 7th Avenue Melrose District in Phoenix.  If you haven’t been there before, it’s a mile stretch between Camelback and Indian School Roads on what else, 7th Avenue.   I’ll do another post about our shopping day, but today I wanted to share about one of my fun finds!  This is the gang as we met to get our energy boost at Copper Star Coffee, right in the middle of shopping heaven!  More on that later too.

Our first stop was the Salvation Army at the corner of Indian School and 7th Avenue.  The sign outside said that they were having a 50% off everything sale.  Score!  Well, when we got inside we found out that until 10 am (just 10 minutes away) everything was 55% OFF!  Awesome!  So, while we didn’t have much time for browsing, we set out for some treasures.  One of the first things I saw was this metal plant stand.  Originally priced $29.95.  Discounted price $13.48!  How could I say no?  I was thinking that our front entry patio needed some Fall decor, so I picked it up and loaded in the car with the help of my friend Cathy.

And here’s what I was able to put together after I got home.  For now I just repurposed some of my other Autumn decor.   Some of the flowers are newly purchased, but otherwise it was things I had around the house.

Funny thing,  I’m trying to decide if I should keep the whole thing inside my entry because I like looking at it so much…plus with our Phoenix sun, things can get quite faded even in the Fall months.  Tell me what you think.  Does it belong outside or inside?  The outdoor entry patio is pretty bare too.  Or maybe I should take pics of it in both locations.  Let me know your thoughts on indoor vs. outdoors.

And here’s a bit of personal trivia.  Do you see the sign above the plant stand that says “Grandma Perkins Pumpkin Patch”?  Well, I bought that at a craft store in Ohio, near where I grew up and where much of my extended family lives.  Guess what?  My grandmother’s last name was PERKINS!  Is that cool or what?  AND she made her living running a roadside fruit and vegetable stand along one of the highways on the coast of Lake Erie.  In the Fall they sold pumpkins from their PUMPKIN PATCH!!!  Do you think whoever made the sign knew of that fruit stand?  Seems awfully coincidental.  In any case, I was so thrilled when I found it!  It reminds me of her every time I bring it out in the Fall.

So let me know your thoughts about the location and come back to hear more about our awesome shopping trip in the Melrose District.  Thanks for stopping by!

I’m linking back to Metamorphosis Monday!

Arizona Restaurant Week Sep 18-26

For those who live in Phoenix or Tucson and haven’t heard about Arizona Restaurant Week, check out this information.  It sounds like a great way to try out some new restaurants that might normally be out of your price range.   Each restaurant offers a 3-course menu and some even offer a glass of wine to go with dinner for a flat rate of either $29 or 39 per/person.  I even saw one restaurant that offered 2 meals for $29!  Now that’s a great deal!

We saw this last year, but weren’t able to take advantage of it because we were out of town.  We’re really hoping to be able to do it this year.  Check  out the extensive list of restaurants for Phoenix and Tucson!  There are quite a few that we’ve been thinking about trying and several that we’ve already tried and enjoyed, like Wildfish Seafood Grille, Bamboo Club and others.

Which of the restaurants do you recommend?

Happy 4th Blogging Anniversary!

Tuesday I celebrate my 4th year of blogging.  I’ll admit that these last months have been very sporadic and that I still have a lot of work to do to get this new blog up to my expectations.  Nevertheless, an anniversary is worth celebrating and I’m doin’ it.

Here’s a link to my very first blog post on August 10, 2006 which seems like ages ago.

Clouds over Phoenix 08.22.06

A few things have changed in our lives since then.  I’m working at a different job (4 days a week instead of 5 – yea!), which you would think would give me more time for blogging, but for some reason that doesn’t seem to be the case.  Our daughter and her husband are living in Southern California and our son is on his way to working overseas.  Terry is still our constant stable guy, working at the same place for the last 5+ years.  He is playing music in a new setting, with our friend, Bob Ryan, so that’s a very fun change for him.

Many things are still constant in our lives.  God continues to love us and bless us beyond what we deserve.  Our family and friends are a source of love, support and joy and our church, Open Door Fellowship encourages, grows and refreshes us.  We still live in the same house and have the same cars as in 2006.  Amazingly, our cat, Shredder is still hanging in there.  She’s about 18 years old now, so we know that her days are

numbered, but we enjoy her entertaining temperament while she’s around.

In the past year or so we’ve been so excited to reconnect with many old friends (often through Facebook) and are blessed to be able to catch up with folks that we’ve known for over 30 years.  On the flip side, it’s been wonderful to get new know new friends as well.  I thank God for continuing to broaden our horizons and teach us new things through new people.  I hope we never stop learning, growing and loving.

Here are a few pics that I took in August 2006.  We were having a great monsoon season that year, so the clouds and sky were so picturesque.  Since we only have these awesome clouds a few months of the year, I took the opportunity to take quite a few photos that month.

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you keep coming back to visit.  I promise that the content will be worth it.  Happy Anniversary to me!

Suns/Lakers series starts on Monday…

Check out this Video of Suns vs. Lakers Rivalry

Learning to Garden from the Herb Lady

Herb Gardening 101

For the last 3 Sunday afternoons I had the chance to attend a class at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.  The class was called “Herbs from Garden to Kitchen”.  Our teacher was Catherine Crowley, also known as “The Herb Lady” (this is a link to her blog) and wow does she know her stuff!   I got a notebook full of tips and useful information.
We also toured the Herb Garden on site at DBG and had a chance to touch, taste and smell some unique herbs that Catherine brought in from her own garden.  Have you ever seen Chocolate Basil?  How about Cinnamon Basil?  My favorite was Lemon Basil.  Actually pretty much anything with lemon smelled delicious.  There’s also Lemon Thyme, Lemon Grass, Lemon Verbena and even more.

We learned about shopping for plants & seeds, as well as planting, location, watering, sunlight, fertilizing, insects, etc.  I always thought it was nearly impossible to grow anything but cactus here in the desert, but I’m learning that there are actually quite a few plants that will thrive here.  The most important thing is WHEN you plant and how much sunlight the plants will get.  Even though our days a quite warm, Catherine says that EVERY edible plant needs at least 4 to 6 hours of sun each day.

For the grand finale of the last class Catherine brought in several samples of recipes that she had made with herbs, plus we watched some video of other recipes that she had created.  You can see 4 different kinds of tabouli in the photo above. We got copies of the recipes to take home too.  Oh, by the way, in case you don’t know…everything tastes better with fresh herbs!

We’re pretty much at the end of our range for springtime planting now, so I wanted to pick up a few things before it was too late.

On Saturday Terry and I did some shopping.  Here’s what I planted today.

Yellow Pear Tomatoes, Strawberries, Alyssum, Lavender, Basil, Lemon Basil, Parsley, Rosemary, and Chives.  We also picked up these yellow flowers that I thought were Euryop daisies, but the tag on them says some kind of Butterfly something or other…oh well, they look similar, so we’ll see how they do.

We picked up a nice Star Jasmine vine for the atrium in the back yard too.  I hope it does o.k.   The area doesn’t get a lot of sun, so it’s iffy.   But, I love the scent of star jasmine, so I’m hoping we can make it work.

This last photo is what the front entry area looks like now with our humble little garden…or maybe I should call it my humbling little garden (depending on how it does).

I tried a few things that weren’t recommended, but we can’t really afford to buy a bunch of big flower pots right now, so I had to use what we had.  The Herb Lady recommends that you use pots at LEAST 2 FEET across if you do container gardening in Phoenix, in order to insulate the plants from the heat.  Most of the pots we have are smaller than that, so I tried to keep them away from the edge.  We’ll see how they do….

Eventually we need to extend the water drip lines so we can run one into each pot, but for now we’ll hand water them.  And the long term plan is to fill the plant shelves in the front of the house with pots as well.  I think it will add some nice color, scents and even some goodies for eating too.

I really love having God’s amazing creation around.  My grandmother made her living as a farmer, but the knowledge wasn’t passed down to my generation.  I always thought it would be great to have my grandmother come and live with us for a year or so and teach us how to garden, but unfortunately, that never happened.  Terry did pretty well with a garden when we were in California, but so far he hasn’t had the time or inclination for it.  Hopefully this will get us started and eventually our yard will be overflowing with little bits of God’s glorious beauty.

Herb Lady Class at the Desert Botanical Garden

I just signed up for this class at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and I’m so excited!  I’ve heard that it’s relatively easy to grow herbs here in the desert climate, but they surely don’t last on my window sill in the kitchen.  I’m looking forward to finding out the secrets of planting them (and keeping them alive) outside.  I will mostly plant in pots to start with, if that’s workable.  When I’m finished with the class and my herbs are thriving it will be exciting to use them for cooking.  Fresh herbs are SO much better than dried ones!

Herbs from Garden to Kitchen

Take your herbal knowledge to new heights–from growing herbs in your garden to dazzling your senses in the kitchen. In three sessions you will learn herb gardening for success in the desert, herb varieties and their uses, and delicious herb-inspired recipes and menus for healthy cooking. Open your senses to the bounty of herbs that grow in the desert. Also included is a wonderful informational and instructional manual prepared especially for this series by your instructor Catherine The Herb Lady. Limit 20.

Session 1: Edibles in the Desert – Learn to garden for success in this introductory session designed to get you growing.  From planning to planting, ‘The Herb Lady’ will teach you about our ‘flip- flop’ planting times, give you the scoop on soil, and why “location, location, location” is as important in growing herbs as in buying real estate. You will also learn about one of  most important tools for desert gardening, bugs both good and bad, and more.

Session 2: Herbs – Anise to Zahtar – Discover the incredible variety of herbs that can be grown right here in our desert. While some are used to beautify, others are aromatic and flavorful, and many are “multitaskers”, fulfilling many roles. Learn about gardening with themes, plants that play well with others and some that do not. This session includes an interpretive guided tour of the Herb Garden.

Session 3: Beauty on the Table, Delicious on the Dish – Treat your taste buds in this savory session by sampling some herb inspired recipes prepared by ‘The Herb Lady.’ This interactive session will lead you, step-by-step, through a wide range of healthy, mouth-watering menu ideas. All are tasty, some unique, and all guaranteed to put more real food with real flavor on your plate, while minimizing fat and salt.