Saturday, October 13, 2018

#OpinionatedOctober - Dragons and Beasties

October 13
Dragons and Beasties
Online Shop/Artist
https://dragonsandbeasties.com/

I don't actually remember how I stumbled on Dragons & Beasties years ago, just that the first thing I saw of hers was her dice dragon sculptures and I still want one. But since getting one of those requires a lot of money and basically already owning a Luck Dragon to catch the sale when it goes live, that's not in the cards for me. Instead I've bought some of her other stuff, including a hot cocoa dragon mug that is my favorite mug. She sells the design on a sticker in her shop now.

But lately what I've been getting more of are her coloring books and coloring pages. She has a lot of different packs, and they're downloadbles that you print yourself. I ended up getting them printed on thicker paper at Office Depot so that I could try coloring them with markers, but I think they actually look better when done with colored pencils. One of the things I love about them is that there are so many different types to have fun with. Arts and crafts, dragons with pets, fancier dragons like her elemental pack, or simpler ones like in the Summer Dragons pack. They're really high quality illustrations and I think anybody who likes to color should get some. One day I'll buy some of the notebooks and t-shirts with her art on it too, but for now I'll just keep coloring.

#OpinionatedOctober - Martha Stewart Halloween Collection at Michael's

October 12
Martha Stewart Halloween Collection at Michael's
Party Supplies

So, I don't normally do a lot of themed parties or party planning, mostly because I don't throw a lot of parties (kind of a long story) but this year I was hosting a brunch with a Halloween theme as a not-a-baby-shower for a friend. I'd gone into Michael's for something else and saw the various Martha Stewart collections there and figured that was probably going to be what we went with for decorations and stuff. When we went, we sort of accidentally ended up with a specific theme with red and black spiders, and not everything we picked up was from the Martha Stewart stuff, but enough of it was.

Overall, for the price point with the sense of design it was a really good deal. I like kind of a more subtle Halloween thing than a lot of decor goes for (not the super bright colors, not a ton of cobwebs, etc.) and so this fit the bill for me quite nicely. Most of the stuff was really good quality too, though it's hard to mess up paper plates and napkins. There are only two real points to make about what we got. We picked up these little treat boxes that came with their own matching "forks" and I can't for the life of me figure out what you'd put in a cardboard treat box that would use a fork. We just used them separately. The big thing was a two-tiered tray that we used for the cupcakes, which somehow came with the wrong pieces. It had two interlocking-tower pieces, and then the two flat trays. Or it should have, our two tower pieces were exactly the same, which means they didn't interlock at all. We had to actually cut a notch in one of them and force them to fit because checking online, our local store had sold out of it and it was the night before the party anyway. So really, next time, I'm definitely going to check that it comes with the right parts. I guess you get what you pay for? Anyway, otherwise it was a sturdy serving tray and looked cute as a centerpiece. Just check your box and you should be good to go.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

#OpinionatedOctober - Panera Baked Potato Soup

October 11
Panera Baked Potato Soup
Food

This review is kind of cheating, for two reasons. One, because I had this soup yesterday so it's not a review of something I did today (sorry, but I went to the mall and found absolutely nothing I wanted to buy, which I guess is it's own review of that mall...) but also because if you've known me for longer than like a week you probably already know that I love potatoes and I love potato soup.

The reason I'm calling this one out specifically though is that since I love potato soup so much, I've had a lot of them. Like a lot. And I've had Panera's soup a lot, I used to go there once a week to meet up with friends, for years. And end of the day, Panera still has my favorite potato soup of the ones you can get at restaurants, and it's different than the one I make at home but probably better. For one thing, a lot of "baked potato" soups like to have some kind of earthy flavor in it that I think is from leaving some of the skin on the potatoes. Nobody needs that. Sometimes they include too much bacon, or it's too crispy/crunchy and it ruins the mix of textures. But a lot of times it boils down to the soup itself is too thick or too thin. Or they add too many green things. Or somehow there's not enough potato, I mean, who does that?

Panera's baked potato soup is the Goldilocks potato soup, it's just right. The really weird thing though is that the kind you can buy in the store to heat up at home isn't actually as good, so I really don't know. But one day maybe I'll find a recipe to make at home that's like this one so I don't have to always remember what day of the week it is to make sure I get my soup.