Things I like Thursday: Savory Spice shop

I know everyone is a big fan of Penzey’s Spices.

Move over Penzey’s!

Not only is Savory Spice hands down the best spices and spice blends i’ve ever tasted, but their customer service is outstanding.

First off, I don’t have to worry about gluten.  With the exception of maybe a handful of items, everything is gluten free.

I love that you can buy amounts of anything as small as 1/2 ounces up to bulk amounts.  Every time I go, I buy at least 5-6 new things to try.  You may have seen my spice storage squares with all of my 1/2 ounce sample size bags.   If you are wondering why they are pinned on corkboard, it’s so the spice bags don’t seep onto each other and compromise any of the flavors of the other blends.spice square

One of my latest loves is Long’s Peak Pork Chop seasoning.  All of their spices, no matter the quantity, list the ingredients, directions, serving suggestions and name.  pork spice

What I did with it:porkchop 2

Marinated pork chops in the Long’s Peak Pork Chop seasoning for an hour, then sprinkled a little more, and broiled them 6 minutes on each side.  Sliced and served over salad and roasted mixed veggies.  SUPER easy!

I LOVED the flavor.  We have a winner.  I will be buying a larger quantity of this seasoning blend the next time I go back.

Other blends i’ve tried and loved:  Chorizo seasoning, Hot Jamaican Jerk, pasta sprinkle (herbs).   I now own full size jars of these.   As you can see, I still have quite a few to try!

Product review and giveaway: Tropical Traditions coconut oil

I recently received a sample of Tropical Traditions Gold Label Standard Virgin Coconut oil to try out.  I immediately got to work on putting it to good use 😉

I love making bowls and stir fries.  I decided this was the perfect use for my coconut oil goodness.  I stir fried multicolored peppers, spinach, kabocha squash, Italian seasoning, quinoa, and tuna with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.  I topped my masterpiece with feta.  Viola!  Italian bowl.

kabocha stir fry

This stuff was awesome.  I tasted it straight too.  Very different from the kind i’d been purchasing at the local store.  I guess the only way I could explain the taste was more pure than what I was used to.  I will be getting more of this, tasting was believing!

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.


Win 1 quart of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!


Tropical Traditions is America’s source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer. You can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut oils on their website: What is Virgin Coconut Oil?

You can also watch the video they produced about Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil:

Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the advantages of buying coconut oil online. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil.

How to Use Coconut oil: There are hundreds of uses for coconut oil!

Some things I use it for:  homemade body scrub, body moisturizer, and hand/foot treatment .  My favorite use is cooking!  Stir fries, baking, roasting veggies, adding moisture to dishes, adding to coffee, adding to oatmeal, adding to smoothies, lubricating crockpot or pans,  etc.  If you are a PB2 fan, it’s great mixed with coconut oil for healthier peanut butter.  It’s my go-to healthy fat.

You can also watch the video they produced about Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil:

If you order by clicking on any of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you.” Failure to display a proper disclosure statement could result in discontinuation of the referral program.

HOW TO WIN (1 entry per step completed):

  1. Sign up for the Tropical Traditions newsletter here (mandatory for entry)
  2. Like MelissaDishes on Facebook here (mandatory for entry)
  3. Follow this blog
  4. Like Tropical Traditions on Facebook here
  5. Tell me why you want to try Tropical Traditions coconut oil.

Please leave 1 comment below per action taken.  This giveaway will end in 2 weeks  on Wednesday March 12.  Winner will be announced via blog post and contacted through email. US residents only.

Lazy Luckenbach Sunday

I slept awful Saturday night, but that didn’t stop me from waking up at 6 am on Sunday.  Got dressed in my running clothes and went the the Hill Country Running Company post-Austin marathon breakfast.  Yes, I am a poser and wore running clothes, because all of my other friends, even if they didn’t run the half or full, were going to be running before breakfast and dressed like runners.

I’d planned afterwards to go to the gym, but I ran out of time.  Headed home and got ready to head of out town for the day.  Our friend Adam Hood was playing in Luckenbach in a song swap with Courtney Patton and Brian Keane.  swap

It’s completely worth the 1.5 hour drive to get away, even if just for the afternoon.  

They played from 1-5, the weather was nice, and the company was excellent.

Here’s a tour, just in case you’ve never been.  If you haven’t, you need to.  It’s famous world-wide and not just because of the country song of the same name 🙂

Is this not the cutest bathroom you’ve ever seen?  It’s covered in license plates from all over the country, as it the outdoor stage.


There is the very tiny Hondo’s bar,


Which is connected to the post office/gift shopluckenbach

The dancehall was closed, since the weather was so nice out, so they used the outdoor stage.  The dancehall is a whole other experience, also enjoyable but I like outdoors better!


The worst part was having to drive home, but I was in such a good mood, I barely minded the time it took to get back to the city.  It was so nice to go see a concert, sit at a picnic table, and just chill.  It wasn’t late, it wasn’t smokey, and it wasn’t flooded with annoying people.

That’s my kind of Sunday!

Recipe review: Crockpot triple hamburger meatloaf

Easy, delicious, and gluten free.  Paleo if you want it to be.

I saw PaleoPot post this on Facebook a few weeks ago, and I immediately “pinned” it.  We love burgers and I am always game for new crockpot recipes!   Thanks PaleoPot for a new and versatile favorite for us!


The Meatloaf:

2.5 pounds ground beef, about 90% lean (I used 93%, next time I will use 90% it needs extra moisture)
2 whole eggs
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp granulated onion
The Toppings / Fillings:

4 ounces  cheese, sliced thin (optional)
Large handful of chard or kale leaves (I used spinach)
1 medium white onion, sliced thin
2 jalapenos, sliced medium
1 large dill pickle, sliced into hamburger sized pickles.
Other options: Bacon of course, fresh tomato slices, mustard, chili, etc.

How you make it:

  • In a large bowl, combine your ground beef, 2 eggs, and spices. Mix by hand until an even consistency is reached.
  • Divide your meat into 3 equal portions.
  • Lightly grease the bottom of your slow cooker with a small amount of oil. A tsp will do.
  • Press one of your portions of beef down into your slow cooker. You want to form an even base for your meatloaf leaving just enough room for your fingers to rest between the cooker and your loaf. Keep in mind I cook in a 6 quart cooker.
  • Add your toppings to the first layer, leaving the outside 1/2″ of the layer untouched for crimping with the next layer. I added chard/spinach leaves first, then my cheese slices, onions, and jalapenos.
  • Take another portion of your meat and flatten it out on your counter top so that it is large enough to cover the first layer. Place it on top of the first layer and use your fingers to crimp down the edges of the meat so that they join with the first layer. Tuck any toppings that are sticking out back into the loaf.
  • Add your second layer of toppings. For this layer I used dill pickle slices instead of jalapenos.
  • Use your 3rd portion of meat to form one last layer, and apply it to the top just as in step 5.
  • Make sure no toppings are sticking out of your loaf, push them back in if they are! Use your hands to seal the layers of the loaf shut.
  • Top your loaf with your tomato sauce / ketchup and sprinkle on some sesame seeds for garnish.
  • Cook on high for 2.5 hours or on low for 5.
  • When cooking is finished, allow loaf to cool before attempting to remove or slice it. Use some potholders to remove your slow cooker’s lining and transport it to your stovetop where it can sit and cool. You may also want to use a turkey baster to remove some of the fat that has rendered down into the bottom of your slow cooker.

**Next time I am using a different cheese and adding mushrooms.  I don’t care if Dan doesn’t like them.  Mushrooms are one of my favorite beef toppings.

For ours we used jalapenos, spinach, dill pickles, american cheese (didn’t like it with american, it melted and mostly escaped from my loaf), and sliced onions.  Topped the final product with crumbled bacon and guacamole when served.  Next time using 90% beef, 93% was too dry I think.  It was still AWESOME though.  We ate it for dinner 2 nights in a row.  Served Dan’s with homemade round fries, mine was homemade sweet potato fries. Dan doesn’t do sweet potatoes.

The layers end up looking super cool, even if they didn’t photograph well.  I love the sesame seed idea on top!

plated loaf

Giving back

I can’t believe it’s taken me  a week to post about the 2013 Austin Marathon.  Like always, I volunteered, no running.  I’ve never run Austin, don’t know I ever plan to.  Every year when it’s all said and done, I FEEL like i’ve run one, no joke.  Long hours, no real breaks, and standing all weekend long.  But every bit of it is fun and rewarding.

This is when the expo first opened as people started flooding in.  20,000 runners over 2 days.

photo 5

I love the energy of the expo and talking to all of the runners.  This year I was t-shirt exchange lead in packet pickup.  I had AWESOME volunteers.  Mostly college kids (had the UT Lasso’s, premed fraternity, and a few other groups).  And I made a new friend from San Diego (him and his buddies came from California with a friend who was running).  Hi Larry!photo 4

The most interesting and humbling experience?  Majority of the race packets were put together by visually impaired men and women.  I wasn’t sure how that was going to work out, but it did.

I overheard 2 of the girls from UT’s LASSO group saying how awesome I was (I was behind the curtain).  Woohoo, the kiddos liked me 🙂photo 3

My buddy Megan is the packet pick-up captain and she does a damn good job at it.  I recruited AK this year to join the leaders team.2013 marathon expo, ak mk mb

I will certainly be back next year!  I can’t wait!

Fun Facts Friday

I am so excited about new things right now, i’m such a dork.

  • my stand up desk.  I have stood except in meetings and while eating breakfast and lunch everyday this week.  My feet hurt at the end of the day, but I am not used to standing AT ALL during the day.
  • I am more productive standing up, but I don’t type as fast.  Weird.
  • My kombucha brew.   I am getting impatient waiting for it to be ready for bottling and flavoring.  I tasted it a few days ago and it wasn’t ready, too sweet 😦
  • Speaking of kombucha, I am totally addicted.  Even drinking half a bottle a day is expensive, now I know what Starbucks addicts deal with
  • I canned some spicy carrots on Monday, I hope they are ready today.
  • Tried a couple of new recipes that rock, will be posting reviews soon.
  • I really want to take Dan to Enchanted Rock this weekend, he’s never been and I haven’t been since I was a freshman in college for a geology class
  • We are trying to decide on bids for our deck.  I am getting REALLY impatient, this was supposed to happen last spring.  We have a giant backyard and never go out there because are patio is tiny, like 10×10 tiny.  And it has a smoker, grill, table, plants, and a cooler on it too.  I want to enjoy the weather and finally landscape that sucker too.  Dan didn’t want any landscaping in the backyard until the deck is built.
  • I am getting inducted into the sorority’s topaz society next Saturday.  Unfortunately I probably won’t be able to travel to College Station for the ceremony.  I can’t believe it’s been over 10 years since I was an OPA pledge.
  • They aren’t new, but i’ve been rocking my Ahnu shoes extra lately.  They are the most comfortable to wear for standing at work and they are adorable too.  I can’t wait to get another pair.

Weight Watchers: Beginner’s Tools

Measuring Cups

Measuring Spoons

Food scale

Food storage containers, lots of them

Good non-stick cookware.  Doesn’t have to be a set.  1 good skillet, 1 good pot, and 1 good pan.  I like hard-anodized non-stick.

Good knives and several cutting boards (I have a ton of cutting boards)

Variety of dishes.

Ditch the bathroom scale if you attend meetings.  Weigh-in weekly at meetings only.  If you are online only, only weigh in on your weigh-in day.  Believe me, your body’s natural fluctuations will drive you crazy and you may mistake those for ups and downs that are not actual gains or losses.

Things I like Thursday: Get-up, stand-up

Couldn’t resist a little Bob Marley tune 🙂

Introducing my new stand-up desk at work.  I am not the first one in the agency, but the first one in my office.  I have a lot of jealous people lurking around.  I’ve only been asking for this for 2 years!new desk

So far, so good.  Day #1 I only sat to eat breakfast and lunch.   I probably should have eased into it a little more because my feet hurt now.  Baby steps.    I am thinking about getting an anti-fatigue mat to stand on and taking my shoes off.  I saw somewhere, maybe Rob Wolff, that they make grass mats to stand on with your bare-feet.  Sounds fun!

I did, however, have to rearrange my whole dang office, because this adjustable desk is smaller than the piece of modular that came out.  Which led to me doing a mass cleaning of EVERYTHING!  At least I purged a bunch of useless stuff and got rid of clutter 🙂

So here’s to less sitting on my rear, acclimating to standing, and hopefully putting less stress on my hips and back from the crummy chair!

DIY Yoga Mat Cleaner

I’ve had several requests to post my DIY yoga mat cleaner.  I got the recipe from .

Mine was water, witch hazel, and a lavender-tea tree essential oil blend.  LOVELY!  3 parts water, 1 part witch hazel, essential oils to desired strength. cleaner

I had to label the bottle, so the cleaning lady didn’t use it for anything and Dan didn’t think it was a “bad kitty” bottle.  I didn’t want Missy to be sprayed in the face with cleaner! (she’s rarely that bad, but sometimes just seeing a bottle works)

I will be getting little travel size hairspray bottles to re-bottle into smaller bottles for travel and gym bag.

God Bless Chris Kyle

Yesterday afternoon I left the office to run errands.  I rarely leave during lunch, but needed to do a few things.  As I pulled out of the office, about 100 of my coworkers were lined up on the sidewalk that borders the IH-35 southbound access road.  It was at that moment that I remembered that Chris Kyle’s funeral was Tuesday.

As I proceeded to the light, to make the turnaround to head back north, I saw the whole overpass was filled with Austinites, Austin Fire and Police Departments, etc.

I kept driving.

And then I whipped into the parking lot on the northbound access road, parked my car, and joined the other people on the overpass.  I just couldn’t keep driving, I had to stop.ChrisKyle

I am glad I did.  I can’t even express how it felt to stand there with all of those people.  It made me feel better about people in general and people’s support of our country and our military.  I cried for someone I never met.

The procession was incredibly moving.  Motorcycle cops, honor guard bikers, charter buses of mourners, other law enforcement, and individuals.  Many of the cars passing through in the procession were waving and gesturing thanks to the American flag waving people on the overpass.  It wasn’t just our overpass.  It was overpasses the whole way from North Texas down to East Austin where the Texas state cemetery is.  ChrisKyle3


I’m sad I didn’t get better photos.

The last two photos are courtesy of my office’s webpage.  Our agency photographer took these.large_honorguard medium_procession2

I felt sad that Dan wasn’t able to participate.  He’d wanted to ride for honor guard, but he wasn’t able to take off the whole entire day.  He’d also missed the procession as it went through Georgetown.  I tried to share with him what it was like, but words just couldn’t explain.  God Bless Chris Kyle.