Funny stories... tales from the road... life with us.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Let's Dish!

We went to Let's Dish earlier this week and whipped up a freezer full of meals to enjoy for the next few weeks. This is the fourth or fifth time I've been there, I think, and I'm rarely disappointed in the meals.

Plus, the full meal serves six (ex., six chicken breasts), so we either split it or divide it into thirds to get more bang for our buck. Besides, when on earth would I cook six pieces of chicken for the two of us? Thirds doesn't always work, especially for the more casserole-type dishes or pork loins. In that case, we'll just have leftovers!

Here's what we prepared:

  • Sizzling chicken and veggie fajitas, with tortillas and cheese = 2 meals
  • Bourbon glazed steaks = 3 meals
  • Peanut cilantro chicken with snap peas = 3 meals
  • BBQ pork tenderloin = 2 meals
  • Black angus burgers with oat buns, blue cheese and blackened veggies = 3 meals
  • Bourbon glazed chicken breasts = 3 meals
  • Shrimp scampi with linguine= 2 meals
  • Honey glazed pork chops = 3 meals

So in total, we came home with 21 meals. The cost is around $180 (but they ALWAYS have a coupon). I think we paid $160 this time, and that equals out to $7.62 per meal.

My secret to Let's Dish is that I rarely do one of the pasta-based or veggie meals, since I don't know that they are worth the $. Steaks or chicken breasts, on the other hand, are worth it. And some of the meals are complete (like the shrimp scampi with linguine), and others need side dishes added at home.

Overall, I recommend it. It's fun to put the meals together, and it really helps knowing that the meal thawing in my refrigerator can be cooked and on the table fairly easily!

Has anyone out there tried Let's Dish or one of the similar food prep places?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tuesday Top 10

Blogger was being difficult last night, so I didn't complete my Tuesday Top 10 until this morning. Here goes - this week, I am thankful for...

1. A very fun trip to New York with Rob's parents. I'm lucky to have such great in-laws!
2. No cavities for me, per the dentist yesterday.
3. Good news for Rob on the job front. Long story, but it looks like most of the stress is coming to an end soon. Hallelujah!
4. Seeing a bunch of Rob's family at his cousin's high school graduation last week. It's always fun to be around them all.
5. Fresh summertime fruits and veggies that make for delicious meals and snacks.
6. Accomplishing the task of cleaning out three drawers of mine in our dresser, weeding out the stuff for Goodwill and organizing the rest. The bad news is that I have five more drawers to go, and then I tackle the other half of the closet. :(
7. Clothes that fit just a little too loose. That means I'm moving in the right direction. :)
8. Good friends who e-mail, blog and call. Thank you!
9. Safety and flood-freeness for friends who live in the midwest. I'm thinking of you!
10. Delicious nectarines!

Hope you have a great week!

Monday, June 23, 2008

I (Heart) NYC

We are back from spending a long weekend in Manhattan with Rob's parents and had a great time! We left early Friday morning and took the new Bolt Bus, which was awesome. Terrific seats, easy ride and way cheaper than the train (and much, much easier than driving and paying to park!).

We spent the afternoon walking around Times Square, Rockefeller Center, etc. Friday night, Rob's parents went to see 39 Steps, and Rob and I went to see Young Frankenstein. The show was absolutely fantastic! It stars Roger Bart (he played the creepy pharmacist on Desperate Housewives) and Megan Mullally (from Will & Grace). I recommend it!

Saturday, we headed down to Battery Park and spent a very, very long time waiting in line to get to Ellis Island, which is always interesting. Then we walked up into Chinatown and Rob's mom and I did some purse shopping. I got great knock off D&G and Gucci bags. Rob's mom got a Coach. I love good bags! That evening, we headed down to Little Italy's Mulberry Street and had dinner at a delicious Italian eatery.

Sunday morning, we picked up some bagels, coffee and fruit at Cafe Europa and walked into Central Park for breakfast and about a two-hour exploration. After checking out of the hotel, we spent about two hours at the MoMA - what a terrific collection! I think Rob and I could have spent half the day there!

Thanks to Rob's parents for a terrific trip!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Dilemma

So... I have a problem. This is kind of an ethical dilemma, and although I think I know what I should do, I'm interested in your opinion!

A few weeks ago, I ordered a cardigan sweater from a clothes store. This is a big-name, national clothing store with a pretty good reputation (I'd rather not say who they are in case they are scanning blogs - ha!).

Anyway, the store didn't have the item I wanted, so the sales gal searched other stores and informed me that they had one at a store in D.C., and they could ship it to me. Perfect, right? Keep reading.

The next day, I get an e-mail confirmation that the store did indeed have the item and was shipping. One week later, no sweater. Two weeks later, no sweater.

On Sunday, I decided to check the confirmation e-mail again, and noticed that my address was wrong. Our street name is two words, and the sales gal only put in our house number and one of the words. In a big area like this, the mailman isn't going to realize that the package was for me and seek me out.

So, I sent an e-mail to their customer service group, explained the error and asked what could be done. No reply.

Oh - and I realize that my credit card has already been charged for the item and shipping cost.

Yesterday, I called customer service. The first operator was clueless, so I asked to be connected to her manager. The manager had no idea what had happened, so she got the store on the line, and here's what they said: "We never had the item. We haven't shipped the item. We don't know why you were charged $48, since we never had the item." Over and over. And by the way, the item is no longer available anywhere.

I was steamed. What if I'd never called? Would I have been out $48 with no sweater? I informed them that my card better be credited that very day. I was a little on the rude side, but that was ridiculous.

Yesterday when I got home, Rob informed me I had a package. Guess what?? It was the sweater! The sweater they "never had and never shipped." The address had been corrected by someone, somewhere, with a big pink sticker.

I also had a phone message that they'd located the item at another store and would ship it to me overnight. If I wanted it, I should call them.

So now I have a sweater and a supposed credit on my card (although it's not showing up on my online statement yet). And today I get another e-mail from the store that they've shipped yet another sweater. Same item, same size, same color.

Here's the quandary: I was all prepared to call them today and let them know that I actually did receive the item that they "never had and never shipped," and that they should re-charge my card. But the second supposed sweater ticked me off. I never said I wanted it (in fact, on the call yesterday, I told the girl to just forget about it), and I'll be hot if they've charged my card without authorization (can they do that?!).

So do I keep sweater #1 and call them? Do I keep sweater #1 and never call? If sweater #2 shows up, what on earth do I do with that, especially if they don't charge me? If they have charged me without permission, what then?

I'm stumped. And amazed that a store this well-known is so disorganized.

Whew! If you've read this far, I'm impressed. I'd also love your opinion on what I should do.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday Top 10

It's been another week, so here goes my top 10. Is it just me or do the weeks simply fly by??

1. Since this weekend was Father's Day, I am very thankful this week for my great Dad! He's always been there for me, and I appreciate him. A special shout-out to Rob's Dad, too.
2. A clean house, thanks to my hubby who pitched in dusting, vacuuming and picking up, in preparation for a visit by his family this weekend.
3. Cooler temperatures that allowed for a nice walk outside tonight.
4. Dinner last night with a girlfriend who I haven't seen since right before Xmas. We sat and gabbed in the restaurant for 3 hours! I'm sure the waiter wanted us to move on out, but he was great about refilling our water glasses and not rushing us. If you have a Coastal Flats near you, I recommend it!
5. The outpouring of good thoughts and memories of Tim Russert. I've loved watching the clips on NBC and the packages about his life, work and family. He was an amazing person.
6. A great day at work where I checked off many "to do" items. I love getting a job complete... or at least one step closer to completion.
7. Improved stick shift driving! Rob is a good teacher - very patient. I drove this weekend on actual roads... although we were up at the lake and there wasn't another car in sight for miles. :) On the way home, I drove a little while on the interstate. Scary, but successful!
8. Fresh laundry tumbling in the dryer as I type.
9. Time with Rob. I can never have enough! Tonight we were able to walk together, clean up together and eat dinner together. Now we are sitting together, watching "The Mole."
10. Jell-O Dark Chocolate Sugar Free Pudding!

Hope everyone has a great week!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Remembering Tim Russert

I am so saddened by the death of Tim Russert. As a journalist, he was top-notch, always fair and extremely thorough. As a father, husband and son, he was passionate and proud. As a friend - as told by his colleagues at NBC and competitors across the networks - he was gregarious and thoughtful.

I met Tim in 2000 when he spoke at an event at the Chamber of Commerce where I worked. It was in the weeks after the Bush/Gore election, when Florida was still under re-count and no president had yet been named. He brought along his famous white board and gave an excellent speech on American politics, what was predicted to happen as the election was decided, why we should care and how we should behave after a winner was announced. I remember his remarks and his kindness as he spoke to people after the breakfast and posed for a photo with the chamber staff. I'm glad to say I still have my copy.

Tim was admirable for a variety of reasons... a political giant, a loving father and a caring son. I will miss his insight and personality.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A few things I'm tired of...

Is this the antithesis to the Tuesday Top 10 list? (Just kidding!) There are just a few things that I'm tired of hearing about/dealing with/seeing everywhere, so bear with me.

What am I tired of?
1. Humidity (not good, since it's only the beginning of summer)
2. $4/gallon gas
3. Our ice maker leaking and making one giant piece of ice
4. Katherine Heigel
5. Dusting rooms we never go in
6. Groceries going up, up, up
7. Cell phones ringing - loudly - all over our office
8. Pollen
9. Bad TV shows about rich teenagers
10. Blisters on my feet

Whew! It feels good to get that out. :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Stick Shifts and Safety Belts

Rob is teaching me to drive stick shift. My first lesson was tonight, and all in all, I didn't do too bad! Only stalled twice and didn't hit a thing. :)

We went to our church parking lot, which is about a mile from our house. Our church is letting a nearby hospital's employees park in the lot during the day (and we overflow to their lots on Sunday). We waited until about 7 p.m., when we figured most of the cars would be gone.

After Rob thoroughly explained every in, out and about of the clutch and gear shifter, he finally let me take the wheel. We'd spotted a lot security guard on the other side of the lot, and as we rounded the corner, she waved us over and asked what we were doing. Rob explained it and noted that we attended church there, and she asked if I had a driver's permit. Did she think I was 16?!?

Anywho, she let us keep driving and I looped and shifted for about 20 minutes. Our preacher even came out of the building and spotted us, then laughed that an old girlfriend taught him to drive stick and they ended up breaking up. He gave kudos to Rob for his bravery and patience!

Why am I learning to drive stick? I drive a CRV SUV, and Rob has a Civic. With gas $4+ a gallon, we need to use his car more for weekend road trips, and goodness knows he's not doing all of the driving!

Why have I never learned before? To be honest, I don't want to think about clutch-shift-neutral-clutch-shift-blah-blah-blah when I'm driving. I'd rather pay attention to the song on the radio or gab on the (wireless headset!) phone. Isn't that crazy?

So, I'll practice some more and maybe venture out on to a real road this weekend. All of the traffic around here makes me so nervous. Pray I don't crash!

Tuesday Top 10

I have to be honest - I'm in a moment of a pretty bad attitude. So, I thought it would be a good time to do this list and hopefully get over it. Wish me luck!

My Tuesday Top 10:

1. I have to be most thankful for air-conditioning this week. Did Virgina accidentally slide into Texas? It's so hot and humid that I think it might have! The 99-degree temps are supposed to cool down to the 80s for the rest of the week. Hallelujah!
2. A good book I'm reading - My Sister's Keeper by Jodie Picoult. A friend recommended it and I can't put it down.
3. A clean, organized family room downstairs. I got into some weird cleaning spurt on Sunday night and whipped that sad room into shape. It had become a giant pile of miscellaneous stuff, covered in an embarrassingly-thick layer of dust. No more! Now it looks good, and I'm headed to tackle our office next.
4. My mom. Of course I'm always thankful for her, but she and I had a good conversation last night on the phone about an emotional decision she is making (nothing bad - just a leap of faith). I'm glad she's my mom. :)
5. Catching up with old friends and meeting new ones at Rob's reunion. What fun we had! I'm hoping to attend my 10-year college reunion (YIKES!) this fall at Harding. Let me know if you'll be there!
6. Good things happening for Rob at work. Long story that's been a little stressful for us both, but I have confidence in the future, and more importantly, in him.
7. New sandals that I love. Sounds trivial, but I needed some nice sandals that I could wear to work on super hot days, and I found some good ones by Clarks on clearance. They were such a good deal that I bought both black and brown.
8. Yummy shrimp for dinner tonight. Easy and delicious!
9. Good friends who will read my Top 10, even if it's written with an ulterior motive -- to help me get over myself and cross attitude.
10. Cinnamon dried apple rings from Trader Joe's!

Hopefully that has helped turn my attitude around and will send me off for the rest of the day with a more pleasant demeanor. Trust me, I need it!

Have a good one!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Rob's Reunion

Rob and the delicious cotton candy
We are back from Rob's reunion, and we had a great time! The turnout was lower than expected, but the guy who planned it did a knock-out job and everyone who was there had such fun. I'm glad we went!

We headed west Friday afternoon and arrived at Rob's parents' in the early evening. I decided to get in a walk, even though it was 95 degrees. I nearly passed out! But I'm glad I did because I ate a lot of junk this weekend. :)

Anyway, there was an ice breaker that night at a local bar, where we'd never been. It was an interesting place.... flippin' hot inside and way too loud. We pulled up outside at the same time as two of Rob's friends and their wives (they don't live too far from us and we see them often), so that was good. We got inside, we signed in, got nametags and started talking to people. There was pretty good attendance there -- and some crazy dancing we did not participate in! -- and Rob and I stayed until a little after midnight.
A few of Rob's classmates from the class of '93
The picnic Saturday was at 11 a.m., so we got up that morning, walked and then I made a pasta salad to take. The temperatures were to be in the mid-90s again, but it didn't seem that bad out! There was a good number of people at the picnic, and the guy who planned it did games for kids, rented a cotton candy machine (yum!) and had it all set up nicely. We hung out for about five hours, played baggo/corn hole, talked to friends and had fun.
Rob and Kathryn at the reunion picnic
Saturday night, we did dinner with the aforementioned friends and wives at Giuseppe's, a favorite of ours. Then we spent some time at a new local restaurant/bar in Frostburg, owned by my parents' neighbors.

This morning, we got up, walked, ate breakfast and headed back home. Overall, it was a great weekend and a fun reunion.

Friday, June 06, 2008

A Reunion

We are going this weekend to Rob's 15th high school reunion. I'd laugh and say he's old, but the truth is that I'm not far behind. :)

Anyway, I guess I'm kind of nervous about it for some reason. Maybe it's because I don't think I'll know many people (there will be four people I know for sure)... maybe it's because I wonder what people will think of the girl Rob married... maybe it's because I know Rob won't remember anyone's names!

So, wish me luck. I'll post about it after the weekend -

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


A tornado supposedly just went through the town where my office is located. Some co-workers saw it out the window (I was in a meeting in our windowless library - a blessing?). Trees are down everywhere, including one blocking one of the roads to my building.

I popped out of the meeting for a quick second to shut down my computer, and it was pitch black outside with rain pouring down. Now, almost 45 minutes later, it's still really dark, although the winds have died down and I can see some brighter light on the horizon.

Rob was driving home during all of the madness, but he made it home safely. Hope my drive home isn't bad either!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Tuesday Top 10

It's Tuesday, which means it's time for my top 10. Here goes:

1. My corny husband, who is forcing me to watch "Micro Cosmos" - the dumbest insect show ever - as I'm writing this blog. Seriously.
2. Warm weather that has made me want to escape my office at lunch for some time outside. I'm glad the rainy days are passing.
3. Lunch yesterday with a co-worker and good friend who helps me talk through situations and provides good thoughts. Invaluable!
4. Freshly folded piles of clean clothes, a la Rob.
5. Early Fridays! The head of my office announced today that our summer hours begin this Friday, which means we get to leave work two hours early. I love it!
6. No bills in today's mail! Just catalogs and junk mail. I'll take that any day. :)
7. Catching up with an old college roommate I haven't talked to in 10 years. I ran across her blog and am so happy to be in touch again!
8. Sweet A.J., who is curled up next to me on the couch. She always makes me smile.
9. My mom and dad, who I grow to appreciate more every day. My mom e-mailed me this morning that they have less than one week left of school - I'm jealous!
10. Fresh pineapple!

Hope you have a great week!