1-30-11 Sunday (Mystery Fork Meats)

We met with our realtor, Donna, at the Adams Home model center.  The 3 of us sat down with Michelle (sales rep) for 3 hours talking about upgrades, changes, pricing and other such important stuff.  We cannot sign a contract until we get a bank approval letter.  There’s the possibility that we could miss out on the lot that we love so much if the bank takes too long.  If we miss out, we will not build this house.  As I may have mentioned previously, the lot/location are the key here.  Oh, and no, the builder will not take a deposit on the lot.

I’ll admit that I do a lot of hokey stuff in the blog when I’m bored.  Next time I’m bored and we have a definite confirmation that we can build, then I’ll start boring/exciting you with photos, blue prints, changes, etc, etc.  Until then, you can read about dinner.

Dinner.  The Melting Pot.  The last night of Charlotte Restaurant Week!  The menu:

Melting Pot Menu

Because we had 4 of us (Deanna, Ruby, Jim and I), we were able to get 2 pots.  This was fantastic!  The cheese fondue we had a pot of “Spinach Artichoke” and another of “Fondue a la France”.

France    Cheese

Salads.  Who cares.  Main course – Ruby, Jim and I got “The French” and Deanna had “The Coastal”.  In one pot we chose the broth cooking method, and the other, the oil.  Jim and I had never had the broth.  I found it to be full of flavors.  Very good.  Ruby was a first timer for the oil method and she enjoyed it.  Deanna was totally new to the Melting Pot and she loved it all.

2011-01-30 008Above: Broth

2011-01-30 007Above: Lower right is mine and Ruby’s raw meat platter to share.  Near the top of the plate are dipping sauces and fillings.  Fillings for the mushroom caps picture next to the fondue pot along with broccoli and potatoes (all raw).  At the top of the picture – upper left is Jim’s raw meat plate.  Upper right – Deanna’s raw meat plate.  This was so much food!

Dessert.  Yum.  Extra yum.  We chose “White Chocolate Crème Brulee” and a pot of “The Original”.

White Chocolate     Dessert

Both were divine.  The fondues were accompanied by:


Holy goodness.  Delicious.  Here’s some other photos of us:

2011-01-30 001Above: Deanna shows off her fondue forks.

2011-01-30 002Above: Garret shows off his fondue forks.

2011-01-30 003Above: Jim shows off his fondue forks.

2011-01-30 004Above: Ruby shows off her fondue forks.

2011-01-30 005Above: Deanna watches Ruby retrieve some food.

2011-01-30 006Above: Jim.  He’ll hate this photo.

Aside from good food, The Melting Pot is just plain ole fun.  My favorite is the laughing about remembering who’s fork is where (they are color coded for each person) and how everyone forgets what the hell they had in the pot.  I’ll summarize the humor and complexity in what the server tells you about it.  Now, I doubt I have the information precise but that’s the point.  Who the hell can remember:

“This you broth cooking method which is great for blah blah blah and blah blah.  Steak should be cook for this long for medium, that long for well.  Chicken needs at least blah minutes.  Shrimp this many.  This takes this long.  Throw this in the pot, but never put these in the pot without forks.  Here’s 2 batters.  A tempura batter and a sesame batter.  This one is good for this and this.  That one is good for this and this.  Potatoes take this long, mushrooms that long, and broccoli some thing else.  Here’s 6 dipping sauces.  This one is blah blah blah and is good with blah blah…”

etc, etc.  I always laugh.  It amuses me.

We had such a fantastic time.  Out of all the restaurants we ate at during Restaurant Week, The Melting Pot is definitely the most fun.  It is expensive but if you want to try it you can always go just for the chocolate.  OR just a cheese and then a chocolate fondue.  They also run specials.  Sometimes it’s a special for couples.  Check it out.  The larger the group the more fun!

1-29-11 Saturday (We Might Have Crabs)

With Jim’s laptop hard drive failure eminent, I started the laptop pricing game yesterday.  Thanks to a deal reporting website called fatwallet, I spotted an Acer at OfficeMax that was available as a 2 day special for $180 off.  Today we went to our closest location but struck out.  They called another location and held one for us.  When we went to check out, the total came out much higher.  We pointed out the sale price per a 2 day sale flyer they had sitting in the store.  They manually adjusted it which made it feel even more like a deal.


We drove around doing our typically house hunting routine and found some awesome neighborhoods tucked away in places we hadn’t expected.  We’re thinking we’ll seriously consider some homes in this area.

Last weekend we stopped at a new model center in a development, Crab Orchard, that’s up and coming and in a very convenient area for us.  3 different builders utilize this neighborhood (they each bought pieces of a bankrupt builder’s assets).  We didn’t get to look at Adam’s Homes, a very reputable builder, the last time because the sales woman was out of the office.  We stopped here again and got to talk with Michelle.  She was extremely helpful and pleasant to talk with.  Jim and I settled on a floor plan we love.  We picked out the last larger, wooded lot.  No one close behind us (backs to a preserve with a creek), a large drainage ditch on one side and a home on the other side.  Click to enlarge:

2162 Plan

2162 Floor Plan

Bedroom #4 would be deleted and made into a living room/family room.  The existing living room would become the dining room.  If we build this house, I’ll give more specifics.  I’ll also get a clean copy (we wrote all over ours) and scan it to post.  The on-line version I found is too small to read clearly? 

It’s definitely a larger home than we need but we likey likey.  If we go with this, the price is within our budget of what we were going to spend on a pre-existing home, including the lot!  The HOA payment is cheap.  Another plus. 

Design Features

They’ve got a lot of standard design features (above).   We kept Michelle there fifteen minutes past closing time.  While I’m sure she may have a whatever- it-takes-to-make-a-sale-attitude, we departed saying we’d think about it and probably see her tomorrow.

We went out to dinner and made a list of possible changes, including potential upgrades, to the house.  The list is long but we still have a budget to maintain so we’ll have to decide what’s truly important.  The only con we see about building is that it will take approximately 7 months.  We’ve built a house before so we know the ins and outs. 

By the way, in the last house we built, we thought of everything.  We loved it.  Like I said, some things we’re gonna have to make due with out however feel free to make suggestions.  To give you an idea of what we’ve done in the past: added outlets UNDER master bath sinks for rechargeable razors, added extra outlets outside for Christmas lights, extra cable and CAT5 jacks, ceiling speakers in every room, etc.  Most of those things I mentioned are not going into this house.  We haven’t gotten pricing on extra this or that yet so who knows.  Adams Homes is not a custom builder and therefore will shot down a lot of changes.  Our previous builder did anything we wanted.  So far, we can’t even get Adam’s Homes to delete the rounded corners!  We’ll live.

Right now, Jim and I are excited about this.  Tomorrow?  Who knows. 

Jim finished up the taxes for us.  TurboTax.  Nice.  He’s been using it for years.  Now it’s off to bed to think about other useless, expensive or anal-retentive changes.

1-28-11 Friday (Bits & Pieces)

I should just call this entry “bits and pieces of miscellaneous useless shit I forgot to bore you with on prior entries” entry:

Back on the 11th, I told you about Jim’s dress code for work.  Business casual.  Jim decided to go through his non-jean pants to see what he had to work out.  He and I have plumped out quite a bit.  After he put away the pants that had oddly shrunk, he decided he’d need to pay the Salvation Army a visit.  It was 1/2 price Wednesday.  He got many pairs of pants for me and himself.  $2.50 a pair!  I forgot to count but here’s a huge pile of clothes there.  He also picked up a couple of sweaters and polo shirts.

2011-01-27 002

He even scored on some brand new stuff with tags still attached!

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I strategically turned the tag so you couldn’t see the size so don’t bother looking for it.

Back on the 11th, I also mentioned that I wasn’t going to bother ironing the gobs of dress shirts that had piled up.  Why bother?  He’s been wearing them under sweaters.  Well, his classroom has been warm so he’s not been wearing sweaters.  I had to iron them.  After a had ironed a few, I noticed that at times the mesh pattern of the board itself was coming through onto the shirts.  I previously stuck an old t-shirt between the decrepit pad and board.   Now I tried a towel.  The cover elastic has now broken.  it’s very old and dry rotted.  Ya know, I tried replacing the damn thing in February.    Here’s a picture from that blog post:


I went to Walmart.com and looked up the price of an ironing board.  Maybe my board is too strange to find a cover for?  A new ironing board $60?  Holy crap.  I muddled through it with the falling-apart cover.  26 shirts later.  Done.   Once I’m working, shirts will go to the cleaners for wash and press services. 

Today I measured the board and stopped into a Walmart.  They had a wide board cover!

2011-01-28 004

Eureka!  Perfect!  I bought 5 of them.  No, just kidding.  I bought one!  It’s love.

    2011-01-28 0062011-01-28 005 

Funny thing is that the ironing is all done.  Or was it?  Jim “found” 3 shirts that needed touching up.  Bastard.  Oh well, I tried out the new cover.  It was packaged all balled up.  I had to iron the damn thing.  Really.  

Earlier in the week, I picked up a few items at BJ’s.  I’ve mentioned it on a previous post, and I’m gonna mention it again.  I hate BJ’s price signs.  Other than knowing the absolute price, it certainly does nothing to help me compare prices.  Degree deodorant.  Perhaps a price per ounce?  Nah.  At BJ’s it’s by the quart.

2011-01-25 001

1-28-11 Friday (Dear So And So)

imageDear Father Time,

I used to spend 2-3 hours a day looking for and applying for jobs online.  Now I have a job but it doesn’t start until 2-14-11.  The days are taking forever.  Can you speed up the day time a bit?  This would also benefit those who are working.  See, it’s a benefit for many!

Moving Slowly,


imageDear New Employer,

The hours weren’t that great to begin with.  Why’d you have to go and mess with the schedule after I accepted the position?  Now I can’t have Tuesday’s off and have to work much later on Saturday’s than anticipated.  No sweat.  I’ll deal.  I will be assimilated, resistance is futile.

Newly Yours,

Tongue Biter

2011-01-24 002Dear Neighbor to our Right,

Whatever shelving unit you put on your front porch looks horrible.  If it’s not worth being in your house, then why is it even worth having?  The last time I complained about you (Feb 2010) it was about your Christmas lights.  It must have been so handy for them to already have been up.  When you fired those suckers up, you only had to replace some of it.  Certain sections of your icicle lights glowed brighter than others as if to proclaim their independence.  Bravo! 

Thanks for Listening,

Your Neighbor to your Left

BoomDear Neighbor to our Right Plus Another 3 Houses Down From That,

I hear AND feel your bass more often than anyone should have to.  You arrive in the neighborhood blasting your music, THEN you leave your car door open while you check and sort your mail, allowing me to understand the words of the music and just how they associate themselves with the beat.  It’s wonderful when during a week night, I can awake at 2:30am, hear your bass even when my bedroom is in the back of the house.  You are an inconsiderate asshole.

Wish I Was Hard of Hearing,

Your Neighbor

2011-01-23 002Dear Automated Shower Cleaner,

Who needs Scrubbing Bubbles?  With just some food and fresh litter, you’re good to go.  You happily hop up into the tub and lick the water totally ignoring the perfect water bowl downstairs.  Now if I could just get you to stop leaving wet foot prints and hair all over the tub, we’d be happier.   Oh, and you missed a spot.  I guess I really do need Scrubbing Bubbles after all.

With Gratitude,

Hater of the Shower Cleaning Routine

2011-01-24 001Dear Clay,

I hate the way you hide in North Carolina soil.  It’s not like you’re useful to me.  I’m not planning on making pottery any time soon.  I’d like you to stop hitching a ride on the bottom of my Sketchers.  My Sketchers don’t approve of your behavior.


Me & The Sketchers

2011-01-24 004Dear Jim’s Laptop,

You’re an Acer, not a Hewlett Packard model.  Back in August, I received the same message on my laptop.  Now we have to decide if we should replace the hard drive for about $50 or then entire computer for about $350.  Ah, decisions, decisions. 

Hard On Hard Drives,


2011-01-24 003Dear Ruth’s Chris Valets,

When Jim handed you the keys to our fine automobile, he quoted a line from Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop.  He said, “park it somewhere nice, this happened the last time it was here.”  (actual quote was "Can you put this in a good spot? 'Cause all of this **** happened the last time I parked here.”)  You never even flinched.  I’m left wondering if you are too young to have seen the movie OR if you hear that line way too often. 

PS: Don’t judge. 

Thankful for not Walking,

Owner of the Old and Dirty Jeep

imageDear Shell in Concord,

Your car wash sucks.  I know I only got the express wash for $6 but why couldn’t  it get the mud off?  The cargo hatch door was still dirty too when all was said and done.  Would the extra $1 or two for the upgraded wash have helped?  I even chose you, the wash with the brushes as opposed to those with the wimpy touchless wash cycle.  I guess I got what I paid for.

Owner of the Old and Partly Dirty Jeep


1-26-11 Wednesday (Famous Lies)

So, my delightfully fit, trim and brutally honest friend, Jodi, poses an important question to me via Facebook:


First I’d like to go ahead and get this out of my system.  BITCH.

Second of all, ain’t it the truth though.  I’ve not weighed myself, mostly out of fear, so I’m not really sure. 

On Friday’s blog entry, I said, “I just stated, “We love food.”  I do.  When I decided to tackle Weight Watchers again, I thought about Restaurant Week and then even into the future for the Valentine’s Day Chocolate buffet (we went to last year) and decided not to let these things control my life, my goals.  I’ll use my weekly points where I need to and I’ll eat smaller portions and maybe just a bite of this or that and finally, maybe I’ll make smart choices like chicken instead of beef/pork.  There’s a lot I can do.

Lies.  They’re all lies I tell ya.   Some where along the way, Jim reminded me that for the price, eat what I want.  I mean, why go to a famous STEAKHOUSE and have chicken?  Big deal if I have an extra 2 pounds or something to lose.  I’m a loser, or uh, a winner, I can do it.

imageimageI’m famous!  Sort of.  I was mentioned several times in episode 4 of The 2AM Podcast.  The 2AM Podcast is a talk show which is partly hosted by Liz’s (of Eternal Lizdom) husband, Jeff.  The premise per their website: “3 guys talking about whatever…”  During last week’s (episode 3) 2AM Podcast, Liz “guest starred” and they talked about the Winchester House.  They couldn’t recall the name of the house and their details were sketchy.  Since Jim and I visited the Winchester House in April of 2009, I left comments telling them the missing information as well as a backlink to my blog entry.  This week, they brought up their new found information and mentioned me several times.  It was pretty cool, really.  Thanks guys!

1-25-11 Tuesday (Half a Bathroom)

This house is clean!

No ZeldaNo, not that way.

No NiecyNope, not that way either.  Trust me, it wasn’t that bad.

cleanYep, that’s the kind of clean I mean.

I vacuumed, mopped, and cleaned 2.5 bathrooms.  That sounds like I didn’t clean the 3rd bathroom all the way, doesn’t it?

I’m not sure if you realized this or not but yesterday’s blog entry was all about ONE topic.  Yes, ONE topic!  That could possibly be a first for me.  Oh, and probably a last.

Tonight was our 3rd dinner out for Charlotte Restaurant Week.  The good news is that we’ve booked a 4th for Sunday with The Melting Pot.  Mmmmm chocolate fondue.  Well, back to tonight’s restaurant, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House.  What a strange name.  Here’s my breakdown:

Deanna and I had the dinner salad with avocado goddess dressing.  It was very good.  2 strips of lean bacon criss-crossed the top.  The bacon itself was amazingly yummy.  The salad was accompanied by 2 HUGE croutons.  I forgot my camera at home.  They looked unnaturally huge and amused me (as you can tell).  Jim and Beth ate the soup and said it was good.

All 4 of us had the filet.  It was tender, melt in your mouth and had the perfect flavor.  We all enjoyed it.  It was about the same as the filet at Ruth’s Chris except for bigger.  We liked bigger.  The mashed potatoes were overly peppered (a hint of cayenne, my ass).  If I remember, we all thought so.  It’s a shame really, they had such good potential.  

Beth and I ate half our chocolate mousse.  It was a large portion and while it was good, I didn’t think it was rich enough.  Jim and Deanna enjoyed their cheesecake.  I didn’t taste it buy I think it was non-New York style.  Here’s the menu:

Del Frisco's Menu

Remember, we spent $30 for the 3 course meal.  I priced it out against their online menu:

  1. $ 9.00 Dinner salad
  2. $34.00 8 oz filet
  3. $ 9.00 Chateau potatoes
  4. $ 9.00 Mousse (not on the online menu so I’m guessing)
  5. -------
  6. $61.00 total!

$61.00 for $30.00.  Not bad, not bad.

Another successful score tonight!

1-24-11 Monday (Cheap Customer)

imageThere’s a saying in customer service about a happy customer will tell one person but an unhappy customer will tell a dozen.  Don’t let that be you.  I’m guilty.  Not all the time, but this time I am.  Sometimes I’m that guy that complains about bad service but doesn’t say anything about the good service.  Not that often though.  There’s many times I ask for the manager and compliment someone.  It’s important.  You see, in the past I’ve had exceptional (above and beyond) service by Rite-aid and then today, bad.  I scoured the blog looking for the praise they should have gotten in the past so that I could back link to that.  I found nothing.  I searched and searched.  I tried keywords like Rite-aid, riteaid, Simvastatin (the medication name), etc.  I tried.  I failed.  I even looked back at the entry of when I had the prescription first filled which was the good experience.  Nada.  It was the day Carl & Tim’s trailer arrived to Charlotte.  Maybe I was caught up with them settling in?  No excuse.  So with all that said, allow me to tell you what happened.  Not like you have a choice or anything…

imageMy doctor has been awesome at understanding that I didn’t have medical insurance.  With the help of the internet and the Walmart pharmacist I was able to find inexpensive meds or substitutions.  In September, I found that Rite-Aid had an “Rx Savings Program” for a $9.00 drug of what I needed but it only came in 80mg tablets and I needed 40mg.  I reported that to my doctor and he changed my prescription to 80mg, take half.  I went to Rite-Aid as a first time customer, with prescription in hand and then asked where the pill cutters were.  The pharmacist said, “we can cut those for you.”  I was stunned, I was grateful, I thanked her and the staff.  The next 2-3 times I had my prescription filled I asked them to cut them and they did so with no problem.

imageToday I call my prescription and ask that they cut them.  She says she can’t guarantee that because they’re busy.  I said that I didn’t need them for over a week so no problem.  She says she’ll try but she doesn’t do that.  I told her that the last 2-3 times they did.  She adds she doesn’t like to do it because she doesn’t like handling people’s medications – it’s unsanitary. I think all the words I underlined are the words that made me angry.  I asked for the manager.  She says she is.  Now I understand.  I’ve always heard that pharmacists can make a lot of decisions on their own despite corporate guidelines.  They are empowered.  I understand that.  I understand they paid a lot of money in tuition, studied hard, and have an important job.  I’m the customer.  You should know that I have certain rights too.  Such as my reply of “I guess I’ll take my business elsewhere.”  She said, OK, thanks and hung up.  I will say, she was pleasant.  She even offered to show me where the pill cutters are when I come in.

imageWhat was annoying is that they’ve done it before so I have expectations.  It bothered me that the excuse given was that they were busy and when I gave her a week to do it, she had a different excuse.  What’s the truth?  She has no idea who in my family goes there, and didn’t even know my name to identify if I were a customer she’d truly want to lose.  I never got to give her my prescription number or any other info.  I spend a measly $9 a month with them.  Honestly, I’m not a “good” customer.  BUT when I have health insurance once again, I would have more expensive meds to get filled. 

imageI immediately called Rite-Aid’s corporate customer service line.  The rep said if they’d done it previously they should do it.  She didn’t confirm, nor deny, nor did I ask what their company policy is on pill-cutting.  I don’t put much faith in what a customer service rep says knowing that she’s referred it to a district manager of sorts and that we’d probably never speak again.  Perhaps what she said was just to seem like she was on my side.  Perhaps she really felt that way.  I dunno.  What I do know is that it’s 11:22am at this point and I’ll keep ya posted.

image2:46pm, some district or regional type manager guy, Mike, called me from Rite-Aid.  He asked what medication I wanted filled.    He said that some pills lose potency when split or sometimes won’t split very well because of a lack of a divot.  He went on to explain there’s many pills or times when splitting is inappropriate.   He said he called Angie, the pharmacist I spoke with, and asked her what medication and dosage was in question.  She said she didn’t know.  Mike was apologetic and said Angie should have asked and then would have known to have offered the correct dosage.  Yes, the dosage I actually need is on the list now!  Mike asked if he could have them call my doctor for me and have the prescription changed.  Naturally I agreed.  Thanks Rite-Aid.  Thanks Mike.

And so, Rite-Aid will have to deal with me longer…

1-23-11 Sunday (Being Very Quiet)

House hunting update: We should have our preapproval letter in the next 1-2 weeks.  All paperwork is done other than waiting for one more W-2.  It will be nice to have all of our stuff unpacked and put away rather than stacked in a bedroom.

We picked up Beth today and went out for lunch to Kickstand Burgers –N- Bar.  Jim spotted a coupon for buy 2 entrées, get 1 free.  That’s my Jim.  Anyway, it was yummy.  We all enjoyed our burgers especially when it’s for a good deal.


After lunch the 3 of us went hour hunting.  Jim lined up several homes to look at (as typical, the interiors other than through windows).  Later in the afternoon we went to a couple of new home developments and toured some model homes.  Lots of potential. 

With us running short on time, we hurried home to meet Ruby at our house.  Beth, Jim and I changed into our “Eve-ning Vare”.  It’s time for another night of Charlotte’s Restaurant Week!

Evening Wear

Restaurant week isn’t just in Charlotte, it’s in other cities as well.  I’m sure it’s probably just major metropolitan cities but Google your city + “restaurant week” and maybe you’ll see one in your area.  I saw it for DC, NYC, Boston, Philly.  Whether or not it’s the same week as ours, not sure.  I already did half the work for you; what more do you want?

Tonight’s dinner reservation is at dinner time.  Imagine that.  With dinner at 9:15 last night, we were there 2 hours and didn’t get home till close to midnight.  I guess that worked out because we were so sleepy from being friggin’ stuffed.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House.  Yum!  Jim and I have eaten there 2 times prior.  Once in Fort Myers, FL on Jim’s company paid for employee anniversary dinner and another time for Mother’s Day here in Charlotte with my Mom.  Jim and I ordered the Bistro Fillet while Ruby and Beth ordered the Bistro Fillet and Crab Cakes to split.  I thought the fillet was heavenly.  So tender, great flavor, and melt in your mouth perfection.  On the way home Jim says he wasn’t that impressed.  It didn’t have much flavor.  Jim is like that with food flavor.  Likes nothing spicy or hot but seems to forever complain about lack of flavor.  I pointed out that a fillet isn’t a flavorful cut and they told us it is seasoned with salt, pepper, butter and parsley. I thought it was divine.  Here’s the menu:

Charlotte Restaurant Week

Beth, Ruby and I spent an extra $15 to do a wine pairing.  A glass of wine with each course.  I was feelin’ it; I was having fun.  We had a great time but not as much as we did at 131 Main.  I think that’s because we had to whisper.  Ruth’s Chris was more upscale-ish and was very quiet.

2011-01-23 004Above: Ruby (L) and Beth (R) discuss the menu.

2011-01-23 005

2011-01-23 006

It was another successful night of fun and dining.  It had to be a little shorter of an evening this time since some of us have to work tomorrow.