12-24-13 Tuesday (Edible Trailers)

Work continues to be very slow.  We’re told repeatedly that it will pick up after the new year.  I really hope so.  At times I’m bored and there’s really only so many times I can read notices, email, clean/organize my desk, create cheat sheets or other trivial tasks.   I resorted to non-work related activities such as Facebook, the news, Words with Friends, personal email, and even making this blog entry.  I continue to be concerned for my job but not “worried”.  My “numbers” for productivity, quality and customer satisfaction are high which gives me hope that if layoffs happen, I will be looked upon favorably and spared from that fate.  My experience in this new field is under a year which would make it hard to find employment when compared against others with 2 years or more experience.  Well, I guess I’ll quit worrying here, there isn’t anything I can do about it.

In October I told you of a work contest regarding decorating pumpkins.  This time, we’re having a gingerbread house decorating contest.  I really want to do a trailer park but that could offend.  Hey, you never know where people live.  Instead, I’ve come up with a bank bank.  No, I didn’t stutter.  I want it to be a <insert my bank’s name here> branch office along with it being a savings bank of sorts.  A slot at the top with some chocolate coins… that sort of thing.  I’m waiting for my team to discuss or possibly come up with something different.

Sometimes I think I should have named this blog, “My Daily Blessings Bitchings”…  Sigh.

Friday night, using coupon dejour, we went to Ciro’s, and Italian restaurant.  We both had a tortellini dish.  It was kind of bland and the portion was very small for the price.  They don’t have a website but their menu is published on line.  Unfortunately 1- It’s out of date 2- they had the nerve to raise their price by $2. 

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So for $15.95, we got bread and this dish.  A salad was extra.  Really?  For that price you can’t throw in a salad?  What’s some lettuce, tomatoes, croutons and dressing gonna run ya?  I’m thinking that their location rent is too much.

I looked up a blog entry from when we went elsewhere for a similar dish.

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That dish was huge portions (1 dish fed us for 2 meals), included bread as well but also included the side salad.  The price was $14.95.  I shake my head.  Also, I looked at Prosciuttos website for blogging research and they offered a smaller portion for $10.99 which still included the salad and bread. 

Walmart makes it easy to buy online and pick up at the store.  We ordered a tiny drain plug valve thingy for the Motorhome’s water heater.  By the way, it’s a water heater, not a hot water heater because you wouldn’t heat up water that is already hot.  This message brought to you by <buy ad space here>.   So, I was just amazed at the size box they used for this tiny thing.  What a waste of space for the store and truck that shipped it and material waste.  My guess is that they didn’t want to lose it being so small but I still think that’s the extreme.

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In other packaging, kill a tree issues, I decided to try these new Weight Watchers Brownie things.  <Insert Norma’s eyeroll here (her blog is no longer active)> 

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These were very tasty but small.  I guess that’s the point.  2 bites and that’s it.  I’m thinking the packaging is big to appear that the product is big.  Awfully shady Weight Watchers. 

Since I didn’t get the blog posted prior to the gingerbread contest, here are a few of them:

2013-12-24 008Above: this was the winner.  A trailer park with a tornado in the middle of the mobile home.  Since we work in the Home Equity department, this particular “house” was made with humor to show many of the risky conditions we don’t particularly lend against.  I love it but it’s more of an “inside” joke.

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And here’s my team’s gingerbread house bank.

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For Christmas Eve, I took off work a little early so Jim and I could do our traditional go to the mall to laugh at the people having to last minute shop.  We just like to relax, eat have a cookie and watch people.  And so we did.  We went to the Northlake Mall whereas this past weekend we went to the Concord Mills Mall.  Concord Mills was sooooo busy… the last weekend before Christmas.  We bought two spatulas at the $1.09 store.  Northlake Mall wasn’t bad at all.  We still enjoyed our shopping for nothing type of experience.

And finally, here’s a Christmas card we received from my cousin Carissa:

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Bless her heart.

12-11-13 Wednesday (When A Deal Isn’t A Deal)

There’s a few odds and ends to report.  #1, I have back pain.  Perhaps it’s my huge gut, my poor posture, genetics or whatever else but it’s a mess.  I’ve had non-diagnosed back pain for years.  I go to the chiropractor for a few treatments and viola, I’m good as new.  This time, not so much.  The pain has been different.  My chiro thinks I may have a disc issue and ordered x-rays and an MRI.  Joy.  X-rays are done but not yet reviewed.  MRI is still being coordinated.

Work continues to be slow.  They’ve hired Loan Doc Specialists for my site and after 6 weeks of training, they’ll come to the floor to help work our applications.  They’re the ones who gather docs and talk to the customers.  We have something similar now; this new position is just more evolved I guess.

12/7 Saturday.  We went to JC Penney.  I like this store.  I just can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “No way, we’re not going to Kohl’s, they don’ have one of those convenient hooks.  Let’s go to Penney’s instead.”  I can’t tell you because it’s never occurred although I do want to thank Penney’s for this fun photo.  If you’re wondering where this was, it was in a transitional area between the store and the optical, hair salon, and restrooms.  So no, not in a fitting room or anything.

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Using a Groupon or the like (hard to keep track anymore), we went out to dinner to The Peculiar Rabbit.  The ambiance and building itself was very nice.  The service was good.  The food was unique and good.  We’d go back.

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Jim had the Risotto and I the ribs.  I’m disappointed to say that the online menu doesn’t match the in restaurant menu.  Jim’s didn’t have spice boiled peanuts, it wasn’t cauliflower, it was totally different.  Some of the other items are different as well.  That doesn’t make it a bad restaurant, but I am a stickler for website links to work, and info to be accurate.  As a matter of fact, while typing this, Jim attempted to leave feedback on the movie theaters (review coming up) website and was confronted with an error.  All that he typed in had been lost and this made him angry… as well as it should. 

We skipped dessert, it was all too obscure for me.  We just weren’t feeling food-adventurous tonight I guess.  I was going to insert a snapshot of the dessert menu as well, but it hardly matches up.  I went to leave them feedback on their site and it wouldn’t work.  I had to use Internet Explorer.  Another pet peeve is when websites aren’t compatible with Chrome or FireFox.  I hate Internet Explorer.

Using another <insert discount coupon name here>, we went to Studio Movie Grill and saw Hunger Games, which was good.  OK, more bitching.  This is the second time in a row we didn’t eat here.  We love this place and want them to survive but their food/service is questionable.  Jim’s fries are always cold and have to be sent back.  When we ask for napkins, sweeteners, etc., we have to ask several times.  You can’t customize crap which makes no sense.    Several months ago we tried swapping out brownie sundae ice cream flavors.  They said no.  We decided to skip it if we couldn’t have what we wanted.  Tonight we ordered ice cream sandwiches which are served as 2 per order.  There were a few cookie choices so we asked if we could get one chocolate chip, 1 macadamia nut.  Nope.  The food isn’t that great but we order it there because drinks and food are where they make their money.  Their constant postings of discount coupon deals are an indication they’re not doing as well.  We might become part of their demise.

Oh, here’s my favorite about the menu:

salad

So you want to charge extra to leave out an expensive ingredient?

short-strawAnother bitch about them (now I wonder why we keep going, oh yeah, the seats are really awesome). They made their cups larger and taller.  Good right?  Well, the straws don’t go past the liquid line, they’re too short.  You have to stick your fingers into your drink to get it during the first 1/2 inch of consumption.  This has been going on for a month or 2.  At first we chalked it up to them having an abundance of shorter straws that they didn’t want to waste (which really isn’t a good excuse either) but after a few visits there with the same scenario, I’m not so sure.  It’s annoying.  Luckily Jim and I drink unsweet drinks so we don’t get sticky fingers. 

Earlier in the week Jim spotted a cheap deal at a restaurant, NC Tavern.  $5 burgers which includes the sides and the drink.  Good deal.  Monday, we roped Beth into going with us.  We were seated next to the bar.  I really hate the bar area.  Service tends to be slower since the bartender in mostly concerned about his/her drinkers and he/she must make cocktails for the entire restaurant.  I rarely goes well.  Service was virtually non-existent.   A group of men at the bar started talking VERY loudly.  We could barely hear one another.  The ambiance was a miss at this point.  Getting refills was an annoying process.  The food was OK but that’s all I’ll say.  What do I want for a $5?  Yeah, I know.

Ignoring-PersonOn Wednesday, Jim wanted to redeem himself for Monday’s craptastic experience.  $5 burgers at Bar Louie’s.  We’re convinced it will be better since it’s a large national chain although we’ve never been to one.  The flatbreads are half price, appetizers half price and burgers are $5.  Sounds good.  Beth declines the invite (smart woman) and off we go.  We walk in to find a nice swanky atmosphere with a seat yourself sign.  We settle into a cozy spot and begin looking at the menu.  A server at the next table chit-chats with the patrons, eventually walks past us and to another table.  Maybe we’re not in her section?

We’re now done with the menu.  No server for us.  Jim walks to the bar area to find a manager.  In the meantime, that same server is back at the table next to us.  She still “ignores” me.  At this point I’m hoping she’s not our server because I don’t want her so I’m trying to think of something to say if she walks over to me.  Surprise, she doesn’t even look at me.

cardboardJim returns to the table, a moment or 2 later, a male server, Cameron, comes over, apologizes for the wait and mentions something about the kitchen being crazy.  What’s that got to do with a server?  He’s on top of things.  Service is fine.  The artichoke-spinach dip appetizer has stale chips and flavorless dip.  We didn’t complain.  Our burgers were just OK.  Definitely nothing to say “hey Bar Louie’s has great burgers, wanna go there?”  The manager stops by to check on us.  When we get our check, we’re told the manager took care of the appetizer.  It appeared he took off an extra $2.  I finally ask Cameron, “by the way, who’s section is this?” and he said it was someone’s who has come in yet.

I’ll tell you this, he got a good tip. HIS service was good BUT we’ll never come back.  Substandard food.  The section should have been closed.  This is where having a hostess is good to control the flow.  So when the server isn’t there, and the kitchen is “crazy”, your customers don’t suffer.  Also, she-server could have said something like “Cameron will be with you in a moment.” 

I know.  Bitch, bitch, bitch.  It’s what I do.

11-29-13 Friday (Survey Says…)

We’ve been paying my coworker’s daughter $20 a week to let Dasher out.  She doesn’t have to sit with him, pet him, walk him or feed him.  Just go over, let him outside to pee, and that’s it.  Back in April, we bought an electronic lock.  From time to time we wouldn’t get any alerts that she had come.  I thought there was something wrong with the system.  On a day the system didn’t log anything, Dasher peed in the house.  I texted her “Did you come today” and she replied she had.  Other times, no system alert, I’d ask her and she said she came.  I became increasingly suspicious so I put a pingpong ball in front of the door. 

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When the door opened, the ball would move several inches away from the door without her noticing.  The first time I saw the ball hadn’t moved and there wasn’t an alert, I texted her “Did you come?”  She replied “Yes”.  The following week, the same scenario, the same response.  I told my coworker about it.  I asked for how to handle this with her 17-18 year daughter.  She asked me to call her, confront her and see if she would lie.  I did so.  I told the daughter about the alert system and asked why she told me otherwise.  She said “I don’t know.”  I dismissed her.  Sad.

I’m not going to look for a replacement just yet since Jim goes into work a little later now so Dasher gets a later last time pee. 

Jim and I decorated two Christmas trees.  It’s not uncommon for us to have 2-3 trees.  The dining room is done in gold and purple.  The living room has the black tree (recently used as a Halloween tree) decorated with clear, while and silver.  They both came out pretty awesome.  We did that the weekend prior to Thanksgiving.  Yeah, I know, one holiday at a time but we were going to be out of town Thanksgiving weekend and who knows after that.  Jim still wants to put up a 3rd Christmas tree in the office loft area with our travel ornaments.  I’m sure he still wants to put up lights outside too.  Too much!

2013-11-24 004Above: Living room

2013-11-24 003Above: Living room

2013-11-24 005Above: Dining room

My employer teamed up with HoneyBaked and offered us discounts for several of their products.  I ordered 2 HoneyBaked turkey breasts and a medium size ham.  We again hosted Thanksgiving at our house.  We had 9 total for Thanksgiving lunch, 11 for cocktails.  We had such a great time.  Jim and I supplied the meats and my late Uncle Mike’s delicious and awesome sausage stuffing while guests brought sweet potato casserole, desserts, mashed potatoes, etc.  The food was delish, the company was great!  I didn’t get a photo of anyone.  I was so busy in the kitchen, it slipped my mind.

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After everyone left, we cleanup, and head to Augusta for a long weekend.  Several months ago, Jim and I had took Black Friday off just for this reason.  We arrived in Augusta at our typical time, 9ish.  We had a lot to unpack this time.  We’ve been sorting through our Christmas stuff.  2 piles, Goodwill and consignment.  The pile we brought with us was for consignment. 

The next day we went out for some Black Friday shopping.  It wasn’t bad at all because we went post-door-buster-crazy-time.  We only hit a few stores.  The lines were very short.  At the consignment shop, they took most of our stuff.  We grabbed lunch at Red Robin.  Our server was awesome.  She didn’t write a thing down and got everything 100% right.  I complimented her to her manager and we also filled out an on-line survey with top scores.  See, I don’t always complain…  We’ll maybe:

Rant Animated 1Business surveys have gotten so rough.  For Red Robin, she mentioned only the top scores, completely satisfied, count.  That’s the same way my big bank views it.  Anything under a 5 is a big ole zero.  Just keep that in mind when filling out a survey.  Please don’t be one of those people who think, no one is perfect or “I never give 100% scores”.  It hurts the employee.  So many businesses give employees incentives.  Also, while I’m in bitch mode, don’t fill out a survey and put something like “this is not for my server, it’s about the cook” or crap like that.  Surveys CANNOT be rerouted.  For me, it was a situation of “the underwriter was great, but the branch had no idea what they were doing so this survey is for them.”  No, the survey reflected against me.  This is the same way it works in most business lines, including car dealerships.  Another thing people don’t know is that surveys are typically handled by a 3rd party like JD Powers.

After shopping, we went on a boat tour of the Augusta Canal.  It was just a one hour ride but enjoyable.  The canal was created in 1845 as a hydro power source for various mills.  There was a museum to visit before/after the boat ride.  Our tour guide/narrator provided some great information.  The Enterprise Mill, where the museum and boat ride resides is now mixed use of business and residential lofts.  What a cool building.  It still produces hydro power which is sold to its residents at reduced rates and the remainder sold to Georgia Power.

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11-20-13 Wednesday (Clearance’s Sister)

11-8-13 thru 11-11-13 = 3 day holiday weekend time in Augusta!  We arrived Friday evening.  Our friend, Wesley and Glenn hosted a pulled pork BBQ event.  We brought some delicious homemade Publix macaroni salad.  The pork was excellent, the side dishes yummy too.  We had an awesome time.  It was an early dinner which was smart since when the sun goes down, it’s been getting cold. 

On Saturday, we took a trip to Walmart.  

2013-11-09Above: Here’s a rack with a “clearnace” sign just as you enter the store.

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We walked around the downtown area and looked at some old buildings as well as window shopped.

2013-11-09 008Above: This place had some fugly clothes.

Sunday, Jim and I explored a little.  I’ve mentioned that there’s a lot of old repurposed mills around Augusta and N Augusta.  This one caught our eye:

2013-11-10 003Above: Mixed use Enterprise Mill.

We also stopped at this mill, which I didn’t get the name of.  It had some cool features to look at such as an old scale and doors that might be a little dangerous.

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The next weekend (11-15-13 thru 11-17-13), it was back to Augusta.  On Saturday, Dasher was bit on the nose by another dog in the campground.  He was missing a big chunk of skin but has survived.  I was pretty pissed. It caused a big rift at the campground and I hope it settles down. 

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All in all, it was a fantastic weekend.  We made yet more friends there that I really enjoyed hanging out with.

On Wednesday evening, it looked like Dasher’s nose had a huge blister on it.  I pushed on it to see if it hurt him but it didn’t appear to.  We decided we’d take him to the vet on Thursday night.  When I got home for Dasher’s vet visit, he had popped the blister or something.  It was bloody-ish.  I took him in anyway where he got a booster rabies shot.  Jim met me there.  Dasher is fine.

Sorry for the lame post, I debated on just deleting it.  I got behind on posting and then tried to remember the details of each weekend but that doesn’t seem to be working out very well.  We’ll be back Thanksgiving weekend.

11-5-13 Tuesday (Qality Awart)

It was Halloween this week!  We have a Fun Committee at work that does something every month.  Chip/dip day or potluck or whatever.  This month’s theme was a non-carving pumpkin contest at work.  Here’s a few of the 9 team pumpkins:

2013-10-28 016Above: My team’s but it was all done by one person.

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I’m on week #3 of a persistent dry cough.  It came packaged with a cold but won’t leave.  Yes, I know, I’ll need a doctor’s visit this week I suppose.  Phooey. 

We probably had a couple dozen trick or treaters.  I didn’t answer the door.  It’s Jim’s job to hand out the candy… mostly because he likes doing it.  We were surprised at how many 5-12 year olds were costume-less.  Was it their choice?  Was it a financial issue?  Who knows.

Saturday lunch was at Red Robin.  I went ├╝ber healthy with a cheese-less turkey burger on a multigrain bun with a zesty chipotle aioli.  It was very tasty.  This is the second time I’ve ever had a turkey burger and have been very pleased.  Enough so that I’m not quite sure why I don’t eat them more often.  Oh, and for my side, I had bottomless steamed (no butter) broccoli. 

2477719For dinner we tried a non-chain, local BBQ place called R&R BBQ.  Review: Jim got the sliced pork plate.  It looked like a chunk of meat rather than having that typical deli sliced look.  It tasted OK.  The BBQ sauces offered was BullsEye.  Yes, they use a name brand… odd or a vinegar based homemade that was so watery, it reminded me more of a douche than of BBQ “sauce”.  The hushpuppies were huge but they were a little on the dry side which he thinks is because they’re so big.  ???  I didn’t have any of his.  He also had the homemade mac and cheese.  I didn’t think it was going to be very good.  The cheese had that coagulated cottage cheese look that I don’t particularly care for. Jim simply stated “it’s definitely not as good as Long Horn’s”, which by the way is the best ever and is called “steakhouse mac and cheese”.  (Steakhouse Mac & Cheese = Corkscrew pasta, four cheeses and bacon.)

My food?  I had hot wings.  They were huge drumettes but sadly they were so greasy I couldn’t eat as many as I typically would.  It’s like they used hot sauce and oil rather than butter or they didn’t let the grease drain off from the fryer.  At the bottom of the basket was a noticeable separation of oil and hot sauce.  Ewwwwww.  I ate like 8 of 12.  It was a wonder I didn’t have anal leakage.  Yeah, I said that.

On Sunday, we had Dasher’s stitches and cone removed.  I probably forgot to mention, a couple of weeks ago, he was bleeding from his shoulder area.  He rubbed or scratched or did something to a growth he had.  He’s got skin cancer so we have to deal with these from time to time.  Jim took the day off, took him to the vet where they removed it, stitched him up and coned him.

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Our friends from Florida, came for a visit on their way back to Florida from a roadtrip.  Mike, Dave and David arrived Sunday evening in time for dinner.  They left Monday late morning.  It was a nice visit; we were glad to see them. 

On Tuesday, at work, I received quarterly recognition for quality.  Basically my files that were randomly reviewed passed with no errors.  During our quarterly meeting I was presented with a certificate.  My name was spelled wrong and the qualifying info regarding the award itself was misstated.  Nice QUALITY.  But, I did get a $25 giftcard so that makes up for it.  Go me.