Service please! Pretty please?

Here’s an unfiltered picture of where we’ve been for a couple of days. Peaceful. Beautiful. Wide open beaches with no fighting for the best view…everyone gets a good view. We try and come to this little piece of heaven every year. It’s a fancy place but we come all unfancy. We stay with family. We avoid all the crazy crowded restaurants. We try to vacation like a local.

Except we’re not local. We know it. They know it.

A couple of years ago, my husband’s godmother took us to the most delicious little pizzeria in town. It was so unassuming and relaxed – but the food was no joke. The lines out the door proved it.

We began going every time we visited. It was always a sure thing.

You sit. You order a $20 dollar bottle of wine. If you’re my husband you order the seafood fra diavolo, and If you’re me, you get linguini with garlic and oil… because cheese is no longer my friend. And without fail… the food is good. Really good.

Is it slow? Sure. Is it the best service? No. It’s a pizzeria, we get it. I’m not looking for a concierge level experience. I’m looking for bare bones. I’m looking for some water. I’m looking to get the stuff we ordered getting to us. Maybe a quick, brief check-in to see if we need anything. Basic.

Tonight we got none of it. Nothing.

Let me back up.

Admittedly I’m a tough critic of restaurants – food and service. It’s my job. It’s what I worry about all the time. Service. Food. Experience. My husband is the opposite. By the burly looks of him you’d think he’d be the harder judge. But he’s a softie. His mom waitressed to make ends meet when he and his sister were little. He heard all the stories of crabby customers. It’s a hard job. Thankless. Under appreciated. He’s very very sensitive to that.

His idea of a tip for bad service is 18%. It’s his ultimate “gotcha”. If that man leaves you less than 20% you basically didn’t serve him at all. I’ve seen him overtip at every level. I’ve seen him go back to a restaurant where someone else has paid for our meal just to confirm the tip was good. He’s nuts! In a good way. I am mostly in agreement with this. Except when it’s bad service.

We’ve lived with this dichotomy for our entire relationship. I know he can’t take it if I ask the person waiting on us for more than 2 things,” excuse me, can I get some salt?”, “can we get some water?”. That’s it. That’s all I get. And I’m fine with that. Do I mentally make note of all the things that could have gone better? Ofcourse! Do I say anything? Almost never. Like practically never. Between my husband and my kids, the goal is always the same. Don’t make trouble. Just let it go. And I usually do. But not tonight.

Tonight was the worst service we’ve ever had. Worse than the time our waiter left his shift and never told anyone he still had a table. Worse than the time the woman waiting on us was having a full blown fight with the kitchen staff. This was… epic bad. I’m not going to go into detail. You can guess. I’m sure it’s happened to you too.

To clarify how bad it was, when I said to my husband at the end of our dinner,” wow, she’s getting zero tip. None.” I waited to hear what I thought he’d say, which is,”no freaking way”, instead he said,”yep”. I couldn’t believe it. No talk about how harsh I am. No talk about her having a bad day. Nothing. Just full agreement. She was worse than I thought.

So. For the very first time since I’ve known him – about 25 years – we left no tip. By the way, even though this was a very casual pizzeria type place, our bill was over a $100. That’s how this town rolls. And guess what? The food was worth every penny.

Even now, hours later, we are both guilt ridden. Justifying to ourselves why we left her no tip. Trying to validate our actions so we can sleep tonight. It’s no bueno.
We weren’t rude. We weren’t mean. But it still feels rotten. Have you ever done this? Please lie and tell me you have. Going to bed now. Full of regret, guilt and antacids.

I was promised a snow storm

I’m here on the couch moping with the cat. Where is my storm?? I really wanted it. I am so ready for it. I mean I didn’t buy bread or milk or anything, but mentally I’m ready for it. I’m ready to cancel plans. Ready to not leave the house for the next 48 hours. Ready to not shower, stay in my pjs, and take intermittent naps all day long. I had planned on making my husband feel guilty for not getting firewood. I was looking forward to that all week. Now I got nothing.

And it’s almost 40 degrees outside. WTF. I think I just saw a peek of sun. So frustrating.

Now I’ll be expected to do things. Empty the dishwasher. Put my contacts in. Get off the couch. This isn’t what America is about! I can’t even depend on weather I was promised.

My daughter drove back to school yesterday so she’d beat the storm up in New York. I bet they’ll get a foot. Or two. Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, you make me sad. I’m not mad at you. Just really disappointed.

Chicken Marsala and other things

Happy January! Is the new year treating you well so far? Are you deflating slowly from the merriment like I am? Well, I’m trying to atleast. Work goes into hyper speed until…oh about June. Gulp. Here’s what we’ve been up to – a visual tour:

I call this, I spend a lot of time with chicken for a vegetarian.

 

We’ve been trying to cook more often and I went all old school this past weekend with a Chicken Marsala. The way to my husband’s heart is pretty simple – a meat, a gravy, and a noodle. This was an old Martha recipe. Remember when it was just Martha and all her superiority? Miss that.

I took some time off during the holidays from work and I think my husband and I may have seen a movie a day. One of the benefits of our kids getting bigger is that we are no longer tied to a sitter. If we want to go to a movie, we go. The kids manage to survive for a couple of hours. Here’s three of our favorites. Two of these movies aren’t for the faint of heart – and the other is not the love story you would expect.

My daughter, Kera, spent this long weekend at her high school’s senior retreat. Even though my husband and I both went to Catholic schools, neither one of us ever went to a retreat.  We blame Obama. Just kidding. Last night we went to pick her up in the “homecoming” ceremony. It was so raw and emotional. I fully expected the girls to be crying and happy when they walked in, because that’s how I would be. And isn’t it all about me? No? Ok. You’re right. What I didn’t understand was how many young men would walk in that room with tears in their eyes and talk about their emotions. And the mix of kids was also amazing. The sports guy, the cheerleader, the computer geek, the comedian – all together. The entire weekend is called Kairos, which is a Greek word that means “the right” or “the moment”. That’s about all I can tell  you because the cell phone/tv/computer free retreat, is also about how to protect the things that your peers have shared with you. Each group did get to share one thing with the parents – surprisingly it was all boys talking about their experience, except for one, brave, strong, beautiful girl. Guess which one? Yep. Here she is walking in from her “Kai High” as it’s called.


One last thing. For many years I’ve heard funny, crazy, happy, sad, and completely engrosing stories about my mother-in-law’s childhood on the Upper East Side of Manhattan called Old Yorkville. When we lost her too early, I started asking even more questions. Her two sisters and extended family have been filling me in. Initially I was just interested in my mother-in-law’s story, but now I’m obsessed with her mother, Irene. She was a stone cold beauty in every sense of that phrase. I met her just twice. By the time I came into the picture, she had lived a hard life. She didn’t play a huge part in my husband’s childhood, which was dominated by the other grandmother in his life – on his father’s side – Nana. That’s a cool story too. When I first met Joe I didn’t even know he had two grandmothers. I only heard about Nana. I didn’t meet Irene until amost 3 years into our relationship. She was so different than all the other women in his family that I’d met. A little withdrawen and quiet. I was so absorbed with my own little life back then that I really didn’t open up to her at all. Now I’m completely obsessed. Her marriages, her daughthers, her life – I want to know it all. I’ve been bugging everyone to share their stories, and they have. Generously. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it yet. I do hope to share some of what I learn here (if it’s ok with the family). Here’s a picture of Irene on her wedding day. Makes you want to know more about her doesn’t it?


Writing this blog makes me so happy, but it also requires that the people in my life are ok with what I choose to share. I usually don’t ask permission, but I am careful. It’s a tough line and that I’m constantly pushing. Why do I think you want to know about what I made for dinner or what movies I saw? Because if we were to ever meet, or had a cup of coffee together – that’s what I would ask you. Not because I think what I’m doing is so important – but because it’s a detail of life. And I love all the details that go into a person’s life. Do you agree?

 

 

A girl named Sue

A few years ago I was invited to join a group of gals on a girls weekend. They all grew up together or met in college and have stayed in touch since. I met one of those gals when she moved a few blocks down from me almost 7 years ago – and now I cannot live without her (or her family).

This past weekend was their annual trip and I joined in the fun.

We stayed in a cute little (actually it was pretty big) apartment right in the heart of St.Mark’s Place in NYC. Very hip. Very cool. Just like us 🙂

I can’t go into too many of the stories because we are moms, teachers, responsible employees that love our jobs and, well, we did some non-mom, non-teacher, non-responsible things.

Here’s what I can tell you about… we ate some really good food. Drank some really good wine. Those were the two themes of the weekend in general. Where should we eat? Where should we drink? We went dancing! We hit a cool, hipster flea market in Brooklyn and saw a celebrity (Jesse Tyler Ferguson from Modern Family). We ubered all over the place. And we laughed. Boy did we laugh. Sometimes at other people, but mostly at each other.

One of the best laughs we got this weekend was at my expense (what’s new). I had never met one of the gals that joined us, she grew up with most of the other crew but this was her first time with me. Somehow during introductions on the first day, I missed that her name was Chris. I am almost positive someone said her name was Sue. Or I heard the word Sue and associated it with her, or she looked like a Sue or something. Doesn’t matter. Her name was Chris!

Now, you would think that during the next 12 hours someone would correct me right? Wrong. I must have had multiple conversations where I directed a question at Sue/Chris. “Isn’t this breakfast great Sue?”. “Sue, do you like the flea market?” “Sue, how many kids do you have?”. MORTIFYING.

Finally, after a couple of glasses of wine on Saturday night someone pulled me over and said,”who are you talking about? Chris?”. Shoot me now. Dead. Oh the horror! The horror! Then I started blaming.

“Why didn’t you tell me?!!” I shouted! “You should have told me”, I cried! But I know why no one told me. It was funnier this way. They are all evil. Including Chris/Sue.

Anyway – here’s some pics to take your mind off my stupidity. The first pic includes Chris (she’s the one smiling sheepishly on the right). There’s some prerequisite post-wine selfies. A shot of all of us at Supper. Which was this fantastic Italian restaurant where we had dinner. So we had Supper for dinner. Get it? Hilarious. To us.

There’s also a picture of the flea market  and some info about it if you want to check it out yourself, a shot of our friend Jesse Tyler, and a shot of one of the gals dancing with the Phantom of the Opera – who also happened to be letting off some steam at the gay 80s club we danced at all night (until 11:30pm).

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Chicken Wings vs. Vick’s

Oh what a week! Our whole family has been fighting a cold/allergy/tuberculosis type of cough. This post could have easily been called Phlegm Tales but that’s just gross.
IF I were to write about phlegm I’d tell you that after hacking up a lunge for a couple of days your entire face gets congested. The whole thing.
My baby girl was totally covered in it all weekend. Usually I sequester my kids in their rooms like prisoners when they’re sick, but I felt so bad for her. Nothing can really help you, you have to let it run its course. But I did what my mom would have done for me. I ignored all the warnings on the jar of Vick’s and put some in boiling water and let her steam it in. Does it help? Yes. Is it toxic? Maybe. But you get a good nights sleep – so there’s that.

My baby boy has a bit of a cough thing too, but his cure is much different. See photos below of both for proof. His healing comes from a pile of chicken wings. People are different. What can you say.

And I know that talking about how busy you are is the new black, but I’ve been really busy!!

I did however take time to marvel at this woman who I’ve never seen before on my commute. She got on. Found a seat. Put away her 4 bags/coats etc. and then took out a full-on make-up bag. Not a travel bag, no no, a folding tri-fold bag with all her essentials in it. She then spent the next 65 minutes applying make-up. I had kind of noticed it the other day, but I was dozing in and out of reality trying to stay awake. Today I noticed. Today I was alert. Today I set a timer on my phone. 3 different concealers before the base coat even went on. 3! Then there was a highlighter type thing around her eyes and corners of her mouth. Followed by powder (loose applied with a big brush). The actual color portion of the application was really cool too. I couldn’t see all the little details, but I did see the dark liner, bronzer used as blush and hot pink lipstick. Hot pink lipstick! It totally inspired me to put on more lip gloss. I’m not embarrassed to say that I took a small pic of her. Pretend it’s not creepy that I did that and take a look below.

To round off the strange pictures I thought you’d like to see what I had for dinner on Tuesday night. Deconstructed taco. Which is basically like all the stuff that falls out of your taco at the end and, if you are like me, you think it tastes so much better than the actual taco. If you don’t agree, no worries, go on with your whole, intact taco you communist.

Just kidding. Communists don’t eat tacos. Happy almost Friday to you all.

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2015 day 2

So far so good. Aside from my incredibly powerful desire to put away all the Christmas decorations and take down the tree, I’m feeling pretty chill and relaxed.

I haven’t had this much time off in almost a year. It was so needed and appreciated. I’m back at work today – although the rest of the world isn’t quite there yet, which is fine by me. I’ll take it nice and slow.

The kids are back to school on Monday, and although both would deny it, I think they are excited to get back. Enough with the family already. Just kiddin’.

One of my favorite moments from the past few days was Christmas morning. The kids have always bought each other little gifts, but they’ve been tokens. This year they both took time and money and bought each other the perfect gifts. And when they woke up they weren’t tearing open the things with their name on it. They wanted us to open our presents from them and they wanted to give each other gifts first. It was as gooey and corny as it sounds. It was awesome. These are good kids. You’re welcome world.

My husband and I don’t exchange, that’s our special gift to each other. Aren’t we romantic?

Here’s what else went down in the past few days:

  • My little baby girl went to a winter camp for 4 days and has decided to go to a 5 week session in the summer. Let me repeat what I’ve said before. I do not like this growing up thing.
  • I became addicted to the app Trivia Crack – which is aptly named. But Trivia Crack is so not whack, so I’ll keep playing.
  • My son got a FitBit for Christmas and now tracks over 20,000 steps daily. Without even trying. Instead of motivating me, this makes me want to take a nap. This makes him want to do one handstands.
  • I’ve cooked and cleaned almost nothing and we’ve done laundry only in case of emergency. It’s been amazing.
  • I didn’t bake cookies this year and no holiday police came to arrest me. I’m going to try not decorating next year and see what else I can get away with.

2014 has been quite a ride. Can’t wait to see what 2015 brings. Happy New Year everyone!

Here’s some random shots from the past few days…

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Ottomans and Piñatas

It’s December 15th! Our holiday revelry is in full swing. That mixed in with work and school has sent me into overdrive. Just the way I like it. Someone reminded me the other day that I live for this kind of chaos. And in all honesty it’s not all chaos, it’s fun. We get to see some family and friends and I get to torture my kids by dragging them to every Christmas light display within a 30 mile radius while listening to only Christmas tunes (that’s all I play for the month of December. The CIA has nothin’ on me).

Here’s what’s been happening:

  • Thanksgiving led right into our holiday party – where we discovered just how many people the house could fit. The answer….about 10 less than we had. Oh well, it was cozy. We met some new friends and were reminded again of why we love our old friends. Because they’re cray cray. Like us. I submit as evidence a picture of a cream cheese dip snowman below. I rest my crazy case.
  • My husband’s new company is taking off – it’s thrilling to see him not only succeed, but be happy at work. What a concept!
  • Speaking of work. Tomorrow is a milestone for me – 1 year in my new gig. Time goes by fast when you’re having fun and working your ass off. Sorry I said ass.
  • We went away for our annual trip to the Poconos with family. I think we started laughing the moment we got there and did not stop all weekend. We also ate like it was our last meal at every meal. In between the laughing and eating there were activities – oh were there activities! Family Feud (we lost). You Be The Judge (we lost). Wooden Horse Racing (can you guess?). The only winner among us was my son who won a gold medal in a basketball competition (he battled both kids and adults!). The title to this post comes from two fun moments. First. They served FRITTATA’S for breakfast, not Piñatas as some at the table called them.Second. What’s the heaviest object in your home? Survey says….it’s not an ottoman honey. Don’t worry. You have other talents. Ahem.
  • The resort put on a Back to the 80’s show. Can you guess who was singing and dancing to every impersonation? MJ, The B-52’s, Duran Duran. The 80’s were my jam yo.
  • I’m almost done Christmas shopping. I should be completely done by February, the latest.
  • We are in the home stretch of holiday fun, then comes the great hibernation. This is where my family shuts the doors, the windows, the lights and locks down until Easter. Weekends are full of staying at home and not attending parties. Movies at home and boring evenings in front of a fire are the only things on the schedule.
  • Although I totally disagree with their philosophies and ideals – the Chick-fil-A chicken platter will save your life when hosting/attending/being near a party. Go get one now! Then write a stern letter denouncing their politics so you can sleep at night.

Hope you all are enjoying the festive season. Let’s do this again on the flip side ok?

(here’s some pics from the holiday haze)

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