Friday, October 17, 2008

Survey Says: I'm Rude.

Well, according to Oprah I am pretty rude. I think I already knew this but thanks to Oprah and her little test, it's now official.

- I am chronically late
- I have gone thru the express lane at the grocery store with more than 10 items
- YES, I've texted during a movie!
- Yes, I've cut in front of people in line
- I don't remember ever stealing a parking spot but I wouldn't put it past myself even tho I absolutely hate these people.
- Gossiped? Of course.
- I have EVEN taken a coworkers refrigerator inventory! This is really I feel compelled to explain that it was drink from a 2 liter bottle of Coke. I have no idea who it belonged to.

Then the conversation turned interesting. How people are so insanely rude while dining at restaurants. Apparently it is still news to people that (1) servers make less than $4/hr [I only made $2.13] (2) 20% is a customary tip (3) servers will spit in your food if you piss them off.

I worked in the restaurant business for 12 years. It sucks. The pay is terrible. People are stupid. It's physically grueling. And the hours are miserable. But I'm not going to lie and tell you I hated it. I actually loved it - most of the time.

I like to laugh. And I happen to know that the funniest people in the world are in the restaurant business. You have to be funny...or the job will destroy. I have never laughed (or partied) harder than the years I waited tables.

But it's an abusive job. A job for masochists. And, if you do it long enough you just might snap and do pretty nasty things too! Of course, I never did any of these things. So, take note and remember that you never want to piss off your waiter. Or maybe you just might wanna stop going to restaurants at all anymore?

* I saw Dave drop a loogie in someone's drink and I know that he served it.
* I witnessed Ben expedite hours worth of food completely nude except for his apron. I'm positive this was against health code.
* I saw many people climb in and out of the ice making machine (shoes and all) which was then put into the drink station for distribution to guests.
* I've seen many a food hit the ground and be re-plated according to the 5 second rule.
* I've seen food sent back to the kitchen only to be put back on the grill/re-battered and re-fried/re heated and re-served to the guest. Oh yes.
* I've seen food eaten off of guests plates before it was served to the guest and afterward
* I've seen cooks/servers handle your food with their bare hands
* I've seen servers scratch themselves in gross places and then touch your plate, your drinks and your food
* And just don't use condiment bottles that have a broken seal. The contents are probably questionable.


~I'm not suggesting that you put up with nasty attitudes from waiters. Just that you might save your comments till after you're done eating.

~You should never eat meat that doesn't look or taste right. Just order a different dish or better yet - ask that your food be cooked longer. This is off-putting and will probably persuade the store to prepare a new dish.

~If you feel like you and your server are 'off' I suggest you get your drink refills from the bar IF the bar is not busy.

~Don't ask for a table change on a busy night. Just deal with the tiny table right next to the service door for one night. If it's a ghost town - ask to sit anywhere you like. Just understand that server sections are determined earlier in the evening and that there is a system in place. You might be unintentionally "slamming" a server and thereby really asking for poor service.

~Don't be afraid to remind a server that you'd like a glass of water (or whatever you asked for 10 minutes ago). Understand that they are dealing with 4-5 other tables at the same time and they forget things just as easily as you do.

~"Please" and "Thank you" go a long way. And eye contact, people. Make eye contact.

~It is perfectly acceptable to ask for your check. Personally, I think a server should be able to anticipate when the guest is done but if it seems like you've been waiting a long time - ask for it. In fact, we've started asking 10 minutes early to allow for the usual delays. Just keeps everyone on the same page.

~By the way, don't calculate your tip by doubling the tax. In some places, alcohol isn't taxed and is often the most expensive items on the ticket. Just go ahead and give 20% (for decent+ service, 15% for sub par service) of the total ticket amount.

I could go on and on but even I know when I've gone on too long. Man, I loved waiting tables. I have such great memories. Oh, the stories I could tell.

Final point. I think everyone should be required to work in a restaurant at some point in their life. They are the best training for understanding how to relate to truly horrible people. And also how to teach multitasking, crisis management, quick math practice, balance and coordination, people skills, interpersonal relations such as reading people, discernment, anticipating desires, etc. Honestly, once you've survived waiting tables, every other job will be a cake-walk. [Note: If you never waited tables, I've found motherhood to be a very similar work experience.]

I hope I haven't ruined your appetites for eating out. The truth is, a little spit can't really hurt you. But to be on the safe side, play nice in restaurants. The kids running the place might be funny but they're really just in it for the money. ;)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chicken Fried Goodness

So, I'm not the worlds best cook but, as Kevin says, I've gotten a lot better! :) This would hurt my feelings except that it's totally true.

I remember when my mom tried to teach me to cook. She actually instated a you-cook-one-meal-a-week rule which I think only lasted 2-3 times. Not because I wasn't good at it but b/c I think it ended up being more work for her than for me. Or I just stopped doing it? You'd really have to ask her.

When I lived on my own I didn't practice much cooking either. Mostly microwave meals or noodles (with butter and garlic salt..yum yum!) or frozen pizzas (hello Totino's!). I can't imagine a scenario where I'd serve Totino's to my family now. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

I've just realized how very much I enjoy the process of creating a meal. From creating the grocery list to putting the last dirty dish on the rack. I do hate putting away clean dishes but that's another subject.

I am still no Master Chef. You wont find tearing the pages from Gourmet magazine - unless it's a simple one. And I won't spend $30 on mushrooms only to be used for a sauce. But I do enjoy a complicated recipe. I get a great sense of accomplishment when I can put something on the table that even remotely resembles the picture. And even greater when people say, "Wow. This is good."

How can you make meals every night? Well, as I've bragged before, I have the luxury of being married to the greatest man on earth. One who is usually done with work and ready to take on Bubba duties by 5pm every day. This hour of kitchen time is like therapy for me. And then he does the bath and usually the bed time routine so I have another 1/2 hour of alone time for clean up. This is when I might listen to a podcast or some fun music. I honestly look forward to this time.

This week, I made chicken fried steak (a la Rachael Ray) with gravy. I've never made either in my life. The gravy was soooo good. Does anyone remember that Momma Hulsey used to serve gravy with every single meal? How awesome is that?! The asparagus is a regular side dish 'round here. Made to taste like french fried yumminess thanks to lots of EVOO and salt. Brody loves them! I wont say that my CFS came anywhere close to that of Cracker Barrel but it was decent. I'll try again in three months when we've worked off the gravy. I also made pot roast for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I didn't care for it as a kid and found that I'm still not a big fan. But I made it and it actually tasted exactly as I expected it to so I consider it a success. Plus, Kevin liked it!

I get a fun FREE magazine by Kraft called Food & Family. It's full of easy simple recipes! And they send weekly emails. When you're in a pinch, Rachael Ray magazine online is a wonderful tool. Check out the No Joke Artichoke burgers (thanks, Lita for introducing us to these!). And don't forget that shelf of recipe books you have laying around. Just last week I made a recipe out of my Fruit of the Spirit cookbook (thank you, LABC Tuesday Night Bible Study Group 2001!) which was a heart attack in a casserole dish but quite tasty indeed.

I'm always interested in new family favs or good resources. Anyone have an easy recipe to share?!

P.S. I don't know Beverly Hepler is but I have to thank her from the bottom of my sweet tooth for sharing her Pineapple Cheese Bake recipe in aforementioned FOS Cookbook.

P.S.S The other night I became completely obsessed with these two blogs: Lunch in a Box and Wendolonia. They have both devoted the majority of their blog to detailing the lunches they pack for their preschoolers using Bento boxes. I probably spent an hour looking at their creations wishing that they were my kid's mom instead of me. My poor baby took hotdog lunchables to school every day this week! Anyway, it got me thinking...

How fun would it be to do a weeks worth of posts on what we make our families for dinner? Including photo, recipe (or link) and reviews? If you're in, respond in the comments. You'll have to have a Flckr acct or a blog to be able to share. It'll be like we're all gathering for dinner at each others house!

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Mia Letter: Six Months

Oh, Sister. What a great month! You are getting so big so fast. I feel like we just brought you home from the hospital last week and here you are SIX MONTHS OLD! How can that be?

I have to admit that you, My Sweet, have made me a fan of babies. I love your Bubba sooooo much. I loved him at six months every bit as much as I love you. The difference is that I was so overwhelmed and exhausted with him that I didn't have the presence of mind (body and soul) to realize what fun it was to have a baby around! I was eager for every developmental milestone for the simple fact that it would relieve me of a duty. I couldn't wait for him to sit up on his own. To say words. To crawl. To walk! I have beautiful memories of holding, play, rocking him but I also remember the dark moodiness that surrounded me in that first year. I regret that I was altered and wish I had known somehow that it didn't have to be so hard!

All that to say that I just simply adore your babiness. Your little rolly polliness! I love cuddling you in the early morning. I love carrying you around (for short're heavy, girl!). I love playing peek-a-boo with you. I love watching you watch your brother and Daddy wrestle with bated excitement. I love your new 'pat pat' game where you smack your hand down on anything in front of you. I love your throat-ripping skreetches and wide mouthed smiles. I love your drooly face and the fact that you can almost fit your whole fist in your mouth. I even love changing your diapers and cleaning your room! You are just a total joy and I want to really, really, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here and for letting me love you.

Now, the big question we get all the time: WHERE DID SHE GET THOSE BLUE EYES? At 6 months you still have bright blue eyes and they are constantly the subject of conversation. Here is the easy answer:

B will stand for Brown eyes which are a Dominant gene. Then b will stand for non-brown eyes which is a recessive gene.

Daddy's Mom [Mor Mor] has the bluest of blue eyes. Her genotype is bb.

Mommy's Dad [Papa Joe] has gorgeous green/hazel eyes. His genotype is also bb.

Since Daddy and Mommy both have brown eyes our genotypes have to be Bb. This is because we both have brown eyes which means we have the dominant brown gene (B). But since we both have one non-brown eyed parent, we also are both carries of the recessive gene (b). Our Punnett squares would look like this:

This means that we had a 25% chance of having a child with double recessive alleles which could only ever be a non-brown eyed gene. It also means that your eyes will probably never be brown. They may not stay as blue as they are (I meet people every week who tell me that their child had blue eyes till they were X many months old). But they will probably never be brown. Maybe you'll keep your sparkly blue eyes? Maybe they'll turn a beautiful hazel color? Whatever color they are - they will be beautiful.

High School Biology lesson for the day - complete.

Milestones. Gosh. You started eating cereal this month. That's been fun. I tried a bottle just a couple of weeks ago (of water) and you suck some but you mostly chew the nipple. After you ate peas a couple of times, you got a bit stopped up. My friend suggested I add EVOO to the mix and that actually worked! Poor baby. Yes, I do make your baby food thanks to my wonderful Magic Bullet blender. Love it. You've done really well with your G Diapers. No major accidents although I will admit that sometimes a poop diaper is a thrity minute ordeal. That's kind of a pain but I sleep better at night knowing that your poop diaper has been flushed down the toilet where it belongs rather than sitting in a landfill waiting to never decompose.

One of my most favorite things is watching you interact with your Bubba. You watch him like he's magical. You burst out into spontaneous laughter when he just enters the room. I've always loved that he's so gentle with you and that he's never once appeared jealous or bitter about a new little person in our home. He smiles with us when you do new tricks. And you should see him at pre-school. When one of us has to bring you to the school for Brody's drop-off or pick-up, he literally stands guard. He will stand between you and anyone that tries come within a foot of you. Then he'll say, "I'll be your hero, Sissy." I love your relationship already! I am so excited to watch it develop. And it's developing so quickly already. And not always for the better. Just today you tried to launch out of my arms to grab a toy he was playing with. He shouted, "NO SISSY! Not in your mouth!". You are so fortunate to have a big brother, Sis. I hope you're each others best friends.

Oh! We put your feet in the water (at the beach) for the first time this month. Just like your brother - you hated it. It was really sweet.

Love you,
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