Testing…

I’ve been gone forever and so much has happened.  In short, we bought a house, had a kid and my parents moved to Fort Wayne to help take care of said grandchild.  We’ve both started new jobs this year and they are perfectly suited for each of us.

There have been a number of sad moments in the past few years but I think it’s safe to say that the happy moments balanced everything out.  At this particular point in my life, I feel like my family and friends are in a pretty good place.  Perfect?  No, but good none the less.

In the true spirit of Thanksgiving, I have a lot to be thankful for as you can see.  Sending many positive vibes and love your way <3

The Naked Tchopstix Experience

Now you know how much I love Naked Tchopstix but after my family’s dining experience tonight, I will seriously reconsider returning. My husband & I took my mom and dad out for a farewell dinner around 6pm tonight. The restaurant had some people dining but it was not crowded by any means. We were seated rather quickly but waited a good 10 minutes before our server came to even take our drink order.  We watched the 3 servers in the dining room bring food out to various tables, but not once did we have anyone come over to our table and say they’d be right with us.  So when our server finally did show up, we gave her our drink and food order since we had so much time to read over the menu.  My husband and father ordered soft drinks while my mother and I ordered something from the bar.  Our food orders were not complicated either.  Three of us ordered bento boxes (my mom and I opted not to have miso soup, but my dad wanted it).  My husband ordered a beef and rice dish.

The soft drinks came out right away for the boys while we still waited for our bar drinks.  Shortly after that our food came right out of the kitchen (Only 3 dishes though.  Mom was still waiting for her dish).  I say to the waitress “This is ridiculous that our food came out before our drinks did.”  The waitress looked perplexed and said she’d go check on it.  The waitress never came back to our table. 

While my mom is waiting for her food, she decides to go check out the bar situation and see why it is taking so long to get plum wine and a cosmopolitan.  According to mom, there were 4 people sitting in the bar.  She called the bartender over and asked why the drink order was taking so long to be filled.  The bartender got snippy with her and said she only just received the order.  Mom was not happy. 

Magically, my plum wine made it to the table but not mom’s cosmopolitan.  Dad never received his miso soup either.  The waitress comes over with mom’s bento box finally.  Then the cosmo comes out from the bar.  Mom starts eating and notices that she did not receive the chicken teriyaki as she requested but chicken tempura.  So we call the waitress over and tell her that mom’s dinner was incorrect, dad didn’t receive his miso soup and we’d like to speak to a manager.  The waitress kind of apologized and said she’d get mom the correct dish. 

After several minutes, a man appears with mom’s chicken teriyaki bento box.  I ask the gentleman if he is the manager because he did not introduce himself.  When he said that he was the manager, I explained to him that it has not been a pleasant dining experience.  My mom and dad enjoy coming to Naked Tchopstix because they do not have a restaurant like that back home.  The manager listened to me which I appreciated.  He also said that he would speak to the bartender about her behavior.  While this conversation was happening, dad’s miso soup appeared.  The manager said that he would not charge us for the incorrect dinner for my mother.  I told him he should comp the drinks as well since we had to wait so long and since the bartender was nasty to my mother.  The manager didn’t seem to like that idea but said he would discount the drinks. 

While the manager sort of rectified the situation, there is much that needs to be remedied before I will dine at Naked Tchopstix again.  #1: Train your staff members to hustle.  That dining room was half empty and the servers were sauntering around like there was no one eating there.  Light a fire under your behind and get the job done.  Do not leave guests sitting at a table without addressing them and letting them know that you will be right with them.  #2: Educate your staff in customer service.  Blaming the server for not telling the bartender the drink order is not the right thing to say to a customer.  Say you’re sorry for the inconvenience and fix the problem by giving the customer the drinks they ordered.  #3: Management needs to be omnipresent.  If you are short staffed, pick up the slack.  Don’t just see everything, do something.  You can tell by the pace of the servers that the manager was not doing enough to push the staff.  It seemed like they were just doing enough to get by.  I am spending my hard earned money in your restaurant.  I want to enjoy my experience and enjoy my food and my dining companions.      

Shape up your staff, Naked Tchopstix.  There are many dining choices in Fort Wayne.  Your name and reputation can only take you so far.

A New Find…For My Caffeine Addiction

Today I had the privilege of visiting the Peace Frog Coffeehouse for the first time.  Reasons this is exciting: 1. I heart coffee, 2. Peace Frog is my favorite Doors song.  If you are looking for a place to grab a fresh brewed cup of coffee, go to Peace Frog.  Blake fresh grids the beans for each cup.  I had a caramel macchiato today and it was utterly amazing.  The chairs are soft & squishy and the music memorabilia on the wall matches the cool tunes coming from the overhead speakers.

They also have excellent hours, M-Th 12N-12M, F-Sa 12n-2A Su 12N-10P.  Perfect place to go after a movie or a concert.  Speaking of concerts, they have live music as well!  I think Peace Frog will be my new hang out.  My equivalent of The Max (for all you Saved By The Bell fans).

OH!  Peace Frog also has vinyl night on Wednesdays.  They have a turntable and their own records to play but encourage the patrons to bring their records too.  Since Steve and I have a growing LP collection, we’ll have to visit one night for some delicious coffee and cool tunes.

The Wonder That Is: Dairy Queen

I am borrowing that phrase from my most favoritest blogger, Complicated Mama.  She would use that phrase to describe her musical love, Tony Lucca…yes the former Mickey Mouse Club star.  I went with Complicated Mama a few times to see the wonder that is Tony and I must say that I did enjoy his music.  So I dedicate this post to you CM for showing me the wonder that is Tony Lucca.

The wonder that is Dairy Queen.  I seriously heart their ice cream.  Some of you may think I’m crazy but if you are from NY, you know that there is a severer lack of DQ-ness in the Empire State.  As I kid, I vaguely remember there being a DQ on Long Island somewhere.  I know it closed down at some point but can’t remember what year. 

I wasn’t reintroduced to the wonder that is Dairy Queen until I started dating Steve in 2001.  He is originally from New Jersey and the Garden State is just crawling with DQs.  We made it a tradition to get a blizzard every time we went up to visit his parents.  Only in the summer since the free-standing stores out there are seasonal.  But then we found out that the DQ by his sister’s house was open year round since it was in a strip mall.  It was a joyous day!

Then, when we moved to Fort Wayne, we found even more Dairy Queens.  There is a store less than 2 miles from our apartment, plus there is one in the mall attached to an Orange Julius stand (another obsession of mine from my childhood).  My office even surprises us with DQ treats sporadically.  Yesterday, our GM bought us Buster Bars which I’ve  never tried.  I always go for the blizzard when I go to DQ.  All I can say is WOW!  Vanilla ice cream, chocolate fudge, and peanuts dipped in a hard chocolate shell.  It was delicious but I think I will still default to blizzards when I visit the wonder that is Dairy Queen. 

Memorial Day

Remembering our fallen heroes today.  Sometimes I do forget what the summer holidays are for aside from the extra day off from work and the BBQs.  But today I am remembering those who have fallen and the families who have lost their loved ones.

Speaking of BBQs, I am missing the annual summer kick off that is/was the Bunatta Memorial Day BBQ.  Every year for as long as I can remember, my family threw a legendary party full of food, fun and alcohol.  Everyone who knew us was invited and there where some years we had tons of people.  Always in rotating shifts depending on work schedules and who wanted to be fashionably late.

We basically had the same menu every year: burgers, hot dogs, and chicken kebabs.  The kebabs were the holy grail of the BBQ.  Even though we spent the entire night before preparing what seemed like hundreds of kebabs, there were never enough!  The second they came off the grill, they all disappeared.

The other hot item at the BBQ were my brother’s famous jello shots.  Every Memorial Day we would go to the local Wendy’s and steal as many condiment cups as we could.  They were the perfect size!  Lime and cherry were the best flavors although berry blue and watermelon were quite delicious as well.

When Steve came along, he introduced his homemade deli salads to the BBQ: potato and macaroni salad.  He also instituted his fresh made hamburgers.  These became a BBQ staple and made Steve the super famous grillmeister that he is.

Just reminiscing about all the food and all the fun is making me miss NY this Memorial Day weekend.  I can’t wait until we have our own backyard and our own grill so that we can rekindle the legend that is the Memorial Day BBQ.

Killer Geese from Canada

So we have an absolutely gorgeous lake at our apartment complex.  This lake is home to various wild creatures: fish, ducks, and geese.  Or shall I say “killer geese from Canada”.  This is not a joke.  Generally, the geese don’t do much aside from lounge in and around the lake, fly in V formation and poop all over the goddamn place.  They like to set up little green crap mine fields for the residents to dance around.  If you live here, you know to look down when you’re walking around the lake.  Still, not everyone does and there are green sprays everywhere.  EVERYWHERE!

So anyway, the aforementioned mine fields are innocuous compared to their protective instincts.  Last summer, Steve and I learned first hand what happens when you walk a little too close to a gaggle of goslings (read: baby geese).  Momma G got all pissy and started flapping her wings and hissing at us. I think she may have even chased us for a hot second but then saw that we were walking away from her sacred land.

Tonight on an after dinner walk, Steve and I encountered a similar situation. We were strolling around the lake, skipping over the green apple splatters and came upon a gaggle and some goslings (I love saying that).  This time, Momma G got all “oh no you didn’t just walk past my babies and expect me not to say anything”.  We didn’t get the wing flapping or rapid hissing this time.  Oh no.  We got the Shaniqua neck roll and the shortened Morse code hissing.  So what did I do?  I stopped and took a picture:

So maybe they’re not killer geese from Canada but they certainly have an attitude.

Like Every Boy Band…I’m Back!

So I’ve neglected this page for almost a year.  Time to get back on track.  I have a fancy new phone that should make updating super easy.

A lot has happened over the last year but much has also stayed the same.  Steve and I have celebrated our 1 year anniversary of living in Fort Wayne.  We are still enjoying every minute of it.  It seems like we discover something new every couple of weeks.  Recently our obsession has been with vinyl.  It all started with Record Store Day back in April.  If you don’t know what it is, check out this article.  There were some goodies that Steve and I wanted to procure like the Tron picture disk and the Foo Fighters covers album…oh and the Duran Duran Girl Panic 45 (I got the only one in the store by the way…woo!).  The problem is that we didn’t have a turntable.  Steve had been eyeing one at work but it kept going in and out of stock and was a pricey investment.  But a he did finally get his hands on fancy Numark and we’ve been enjoying it every since.

Steve and I have developed a bit of a weekend ritual.  Saturday: go record shopping.  Sunday: listen to all new purchases.  We found a great new record shop in town called Neat Neat Neat.  They have an awesome selection of used vinyl spanning decades and genres as well as new vinyl by artists you may or may not know.  The owner, Morrison, is a super cool music lover and all around nice guy.  We stopped by today and he gave us some great new artist suggestions that we are loving.  Tomorrow will be chocked full of cleaning records followed by listening to our new treasures.

More vinyl and other adventures to come.  Stay tuned…

Adjusting To Life In Indiana

As I type this, I am sitting at the edge of the lake in our apartment complex. Steve is fishing & I am laying on a blanket taking in all the tranquil sounds of our surroundings. Coming to the lake has been a weekly Sunday night ritual for us. The sun doesn’t truly set until well after 9pm so there is always plenty of daylight to play outside. I have to say that I am still adjusting to that. I keep thinking its earlier than it really is. I haven’t had any trouble sleeping though. By the time I get to bed it is nice and dark outside.

So the daylight is just one of many things Steve & I have had to adjust to here in Fort Wayne. Before moving, we were cautioned about “culture shock”. I gotta tell you its not that bad. I liken Fort Wayne to Long Island: lots of families, more space & strip malls. The real culture shock has been all positives. People are so much nicer here. They say hello when you pass them, hold doors open for you & even offer to help you carry heavy items to your office. I’m not saying this never happened in NY…it just more frequent here.The one sort of negative thing: incredibly timid drivers. I knew things were going to move at a slower pace but I did not expect glacial driving. It has made me a less aggressive driver unless I am trying to go somewhere and border on being late because of the other driver’s tardiness. Steve and I didn’t really have much of an issue driving here until last weekend. We were out shopping and on our way to grab something for lunch. While stopped at a red light, we were rear-ended. We of course were driving the Jeep we just bought 2 months ago. Coincidentally we were hit by another Jeep…Liberty hits Patriot. On 4th of July weekend. How poetic. No one was hurt thankfully but what a way be to welcomed into your new city.

One thing I can’t adjust to is calling soda: POP. I guess its an east coast thing. Another one is calling sneakers: tennis shoes. I’ve been saying soda and sneakers for 28 years. I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon. I know I get snickered at but I don’t care. You can take the girl from her home but not the home from the girl.

No Time For A Summer Friend…

Wow!  I can’t believe Steve and I have been living in Indiana for a month already.  I also can’t believe how little I have posted.  I do apologize.  We’ve pretty much hit the ground running since moving in.  Today is the first weekend day that I can say I had nothing planned.  Steve is studying diligently for his Sweetwater training classes.  Lots of reading, homework, and tests.  He seems to be enjoying it all so far.  The free swag has also helped him adjust. 

 

Let me back track to our pre-moving day: Wednesday 4/28/10.  The final pack up of the U-haul was a total nightmare.  We had waaaaay too much stuff and only a 17-foot truck to pack it in.  U-haul lied when they said that would be appropriate for a 1-2 bedroom house.  The 24-foot truck would have given us plenty of room but you live and you learn.   Steve’s BFF Jay came over to help us pack up the truck since he is a moving expert.  We seriously would have been up the creek without his help.  He crammed stuff into spaces I would never have imagined.  If you’re reading this Jay, we are forever indebted to you kind sir.  We love you!!!!

 

The truck loading wouldn’t have been so bad if we had had all of the boxes packed.  We really underestimated the amount of crap we had amassed in 2.5 years.  I was frantically packing boxes (with help from mom and dad) while Steve, Jay and cousin Ryan humped them out to the truck.  I have to say that the down to the wire packing was really good for purging inconsequential items.  I had no time to waste in figuring out if I was going to need said item in Indiana.  If I couldn’t find a reason to keep it, I chucked it.

 

  Our moving day plan was to be on the road between 5 and 6am to beat the crazy NY traffic.  Again, we underestimated.  We were up ‘til 2am packing the U-haul.  Space became and issue and we had to start shifting and re-shifting items.   The kitchen chairs from IKEA had to be disassembled, the patio set we got from Steve’s mother had to be left in NY, and so did 2 boxes of food.  The box spring and mattress were the last things to be packed in Jay’s plan.  In the 1am hour, Steve asks me “Would it be ok if we left the box spring here and Jay can drive it out to us at another time?”  Knowing that all of Steve’s audio equipment and instruments were already packed in the truck I reacted as such: death stare as if to say “you’re out of your mind if you think I am leaving NY without that box spring”.  Needless to say both Steve and Jay found a way to make the box spring fit.  We eventually got to bed around 2:30pm after an emotional goodbye to Jay.  We knew the 5am departure was impossible.

 

We left New York the next morning at 10:30am, which was the worst thing, we could have possibly done outside of leaving during rush hour.  It took us 2 (yes 2) hours to get out of New York City!!!!!  On a Thursday afternoon, not on a holiday weekend, and the president wasn’t even in town.  That instantly put a huge damper on the trip.  Steve and I were driving in the U-haul with Ryan and Chris driving our Lancer.  After getting out of the city, it was relatively smooth sailing until we hit Pennsylvania.  I think I will forever hate that state (sorry).  Not because of the people or the scenery (they were both very nice) but because of I-80 and the ridiculous traffic we had to sit in.  2 hours to go 5 miles because of one lane being closed due to construction.  The kicker was that there wasn’t even an orange-jacketed man to be found on site!         

 

We were determined to do the trip in one day.  There were clear roads ahead once we got out of the I-80 construction zone.  We stopped for dinner at an Applebee’s in the western end of Pennsylvania and drinks were a definite requirement.  The remainder of the trip was rather uneventful.  It consisted of gas and restroom stops as well as trying to keep each other awake.  I failed horribly at that job.  I kept dozing from the lack of sleep from the night before.  I could not wait to reach the hotel in Fort Wayne.

 

Our spirits were lifted once we crossed the border from Ohio into Indiana.  Ohio was a mercifully brief state and I love them for that.  I cannot, however, forgive them for the terrible coffee at the gas station we stopped at.  I really needed a caffeine jolt and could not even handle 3 sips of what they called coffee.  Blech!  Our 2 cars had a cell phone party when we finally reached Indiana.  We screamed our heads off for a good 5 minutes.  Mostly out of relief that we arrived in the final state of our journey.  The hotel kindly agreed to wait for us to check in late.  2am is probably a new record for them to have arriving guests.  We got a lot of strange looks from the desk clerk. 

 

After a round of much needed showers, we all passed out happily knowing that the long drive was behind us.  The next day would be our official apartment move in date.

Pack It Up, Pack It In

On Sunday April 25, Steve and I invited a few people over to help us pack. Mom was also making us a big Sunday dinner of baked ziti and chicken cutlets. My BFF’s, Amanda & Denise came over early to get things rolling. I never knew how much crap I had until I had to pack it all up. Steve and I didn’t have much storage space so we ended up hanging things on the walls. We had a hanging solution for everything: wine glasses, CD/DVDs, kitchen gadgets, and various knick knacks. Amanda pretty much assumed the role of project manager while Steve and I organized. She was the fire under the ass that we all needed. Amanda also lent her artistic talents to decorating our boxes with pretty pictures and not so nice sayings.  The defiling of the boxes had to be the highlight of the day.  I can’t remember the last time we all laughed that hard. 

<br>Cousin Ryan joined our party later in the day and added more ridiculousness to the day.  Ryan, Amanda & Denise formed Team Assmasters (long story) and got to work boxing up all of my food and dishes and linens.  They really were a huuuuuuuge help to Steve and I.  I have to admit amongst all the fun we were having it was a bittersweet day.  I knew it was the last time I would see Denise.  Amanda said she’d come over during the week with Nick so we could say goodbye but it was still sad.  We had the whole day to pack and tape but it went so fast.  I wish it could have gone on forever.

<br>After the bulk of the packing was done we took a break for dinner.  It was really nice to have one more big meal with all of our favorite people.  Dad dragged out some family videos trying to embarrass Cousin Ryan.  He’s a good sport and didn’t mind everyone giggling at his 8 year old self doing stupid things. 

<br>When the night ended, I promised myself I wouldn’t cry.  After my last day at work I knew I couldn’t handle another emotional episode.  I was sad to see my friends go but I knew they’d be visiting soon.  That’s what I told myself anyway to get through the goodbyes.

 

Pictures!!!