Thursday, October 30, 2008

Food, glorious food!

Since Brent and I eat out here and there (and often at new restaurants), we thought it would be fun to review restaurants the same way we review movies.

This week we went out twice. I know that may seem like a lot, but we had things to celebrate.

The first was a trip to TGIFriday's in Provo. While I have really enjoyed my two trips to that restaurant in Sandy, this was a different story.

TGIFriday's in Provo was disappointing.

1. It's a bit difficult to find: behind Denny's, off a poorly-lit, poorly-labeled, long driveway that leads to the Marriot.

2. They were unnecessarily slow. We walked in about 8:15 and it was dead. It took about 10 minutes for someone to notice we were standing at the front. The waitress wasn't doing much but she came back infrequently. She was cordial but incompetent, messing up a request and neglecting to fill drinks, and EXTREMELY slow.

3. Not good with special requests. There was one food I wanted to get so I could share it with Felix, but it was only available as a full entree (southwest mac 'n cheese), no exceptions. I ended up ordering it to take home because I really did want some. The food was pretty good. Not spectacular, but not bad at all.

4. When I got the take-home stuff, I opened it to put the rest of the potatoes in with it and found that the food had been upside down.

I don't know if that meant they had just put the food into the wrong side of the container or if they had dropped it. Either way, it wasn't cool. They (all of the staff, including the manager and 3 or 4 lackeys outside washing the windows/watching) just didn't seem to care about our business.

Compare in stark contrast our experience last night at Ruby River Steakhouse, also in Provo.

1. Seated immediately, and when we made a special request for a table instead of a booth (baby belly gets cut off if the booth tables don't move), they took us back to the front so they could clear a special table for us (they have mostly booths but have a room of tables for big parties - in this case the party had gone but the tables hadn't been cleared yet) and then the hostesses entertained Felix the entire time we waited - about 10 minutes.

2. Our own room. It was off on the side, but there was absolutely no loss in service. Our waiter was attentive and competent. He made some perfect suggestions and the food was to die for. Because we were in the party room by ourselves, Felix was able to roam, completely content for the entire meal, which took us less time than it had at TGIFriday's.

3. The staff. One of those hostesses from the front happened to walk by and she stopped to see how we were doing, flirted with Felix for a moment, and went back to her duties.

4. The wait. At TGIFriday's, they take you to your table, and between taking the order and getting your food, the most you can get is a drink refill - if you're lucky. At Ruby River, they bring fresh sourdough bread to your table (hot out of the oven - you can tell it's super fresh). TGIFriday's was nearly empty. Ruby River was nearly full.

5. The cost. While Brent and I ordered more expensive foods at Ruby River, and I did order a third entree at TGIFriday's, the amount of food we got was nearly the same, as was the total cost. We ended up with a take-home container at both places, filled with an almost identical amount of food, and the total cost at Ruby River was actually less. As you might have guessed, we left a very generous tip at Ruby River (and about half that at TGIF), evening out the bills to the point of a $.16 difference.

For intensely better service, and for intensely better food (easily the best steak in Utah County), the clear winner is Ruby River. While we will continue to try new restaurants here and there, we'll pick Ruby River for the really special occasions. Yeah, it really is that good.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Last weekend

I feel like singing that cheesy Christmas song "Last Christmas, I gave you my heart and the very next day you gave it away...."

On Friday I left early from work and went to Salt Lake to help set up for a reception. By the time I got there they had finished setting up. On the way home I picked up a nephew and together with Felix we played for a couple of hours and then went back up for the reception. It was fine, but there were some really cute moments with Felix stalking a little girl and hugging her. I tried to get pictures, but they were too fast. I have never seen Felix do anything of the sort and we certainly have never encouraged that, so it was pretty surprising. Totally cute though.

On Saturday we went to the zoo for its annual Boo at the Zoo event. They had trick-or-treating throughout the zoo at booths. We've wanted to take Felix to the zoo for a while now, so this seemed like a good time. We met up with Dave and Cassie and Rylan and then with Jason and Char and Porter and Morgan and then we wandered around through hoards of costumed children, trying to see some animals.

We did get to see the elephant demonstration and had seats on the front row. Felix was impressed (as were the other children) for the whole 5 minutes the elephant was right in front of him - about 10 feet away.

We also got to see some really cute little orange monkeys that held Felix's attention pretty well. He didn't seem to notice the cougars or the rest of the monkeys, but he did notice the zebras - one came close to our end of the enclosure and he could see it moving right in front of him. Again, I tried to get pictures, but the darn zebra turned his butt in our direction and then wandered away. (proof of the zoo trip)

Truth be told, we should have picked a different day. It was nice seeing friends and a few animals, but it was absolutely packed (guest services told Jason and Char that it was a zoo record that day with 22,000 people there). We got some food there at the zoo that was truly terrible, so on the way home we stopped at Chik-Fil-A (we had coupons that had been given out at a booth at the zoo). After that, we stopped and picked up Becca and came home. We watched an episode of Pushing Daisies and called it a night.

On Sunday, we went to church and I went to the nursery. 9 kids and me, but Tawna and Damon had pity on me and stayed with their little girl Shiloh. Although I didn't feel great (not sleeping much these days), it was pleasant to spend some time with a couple of grownups that I like.

So, this weekend was lots of ups and downs. Yesterday evening I posted our bed on Craigs List and have already had 5 people saying they want it. I'm just excited to replace it, frankly. Progress. Slow but steady progress.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Personal Space

I'm going to break from the norm for a rant that I feel is pretty important. Well, at least it is to me.

Let me start with a little preface though. See, when I was young - especially when I was a teenager - I was acutely conscious of my size. I think a lot of that has to do with being a girl in our society. I believe it is this awareness of my size that has shaped my consciousness of my space. The space that I take up, not the space that others might invade. I'm talking about the space that I may inadvertently invade.

I have decided that not enough people in the world are aware of the space they use. Sadly, most of that realization has come when people take up MY space.

Example: In the grocery store, how many people go down the aisle and park their cart right smack dab in the middle, not seeming to notice that there are other people who need to use the aisle too? How many of us do that? I can say honestly that I don't.

I do have to admit that when Brent does it, it's probably because of Brent's past as much as it is because of mine. Brent was so skinny while growing up that he never had to worry about his size. He never cared. He does take up space now, but it's not too much. He just doesn't notice that the amount of space he takes up now is more than what he took up as a stick-thin teenager.

Example: On the road. How many of us accidentally cut people off? How many of us merge way too slowly for the rest of the travelers to be comfortable? How many of us talk on our cell phones while turning and thus neglect using the turn signal?

Here's the thing. There's a scripture that tells me we have responsibility for our actions and for the actions of others: Mosiah 4:28. "And I would that ye should remember, that whosoever among you borroweth of his neighbor should return the thing that he borroweth, according as he doth agree, or else thou shalt commit sin; and perhaps thou shalt cause thy neighbor to commit sin also."

In other words, our careless actions can cause anger (sin) in others. I think careless actions can be anything: borrowing something and not returning it, getting in the way of others when we could be watching our space, maybe even being lazy when others are counting on us.

So, why does it seem that so many people are completely clueless about how their actions affect those around them? Or how their space can invade that of others? Yes, it's still our (the invaded) responsibility to control our reactions. But when we (the invaders) have the power to affect the outcome, why wouldn't we want to affect it for our benefit? For everyone's benefit?

This is similar to common sense. But I would coin a new phrase for it: common consideration. It's a lot like the golden rule. It's treating people with common courtesy and respect, thinking about their feelings and needs, and acting accordingly.

Isn't it time we all strive for that standard of behavior?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Happy Tuesday

Lots of stuff going on today, but not much at work. That meant I got to take the afternoon off and take a nap. It was beautiful.

I talked Brent into buying me ice cream this evening. And he made cashew chicken for dinner. Yummy dinner. Yummy dessert.

And now it's 9 pm and I'm totally ready to go to bed, even after a 2 hour nap this afternoon. I like to call it "sleeping for two."
One of Felix's favorite new toys. He's not very good at it, but he does try.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Late Oktoberfest and the Cinder Block that wouldn't die

My team at work decided to have an Oktoberfest party. No beer, but we did have some really yummy bratwurst and sauerkraut. I decided to pull out the Leiderhosen I got in Switzerland over 10 years ago. They didn't really fit, but they worked. Everyone was impressed - by the shorts and by the cuteness of the little boy wearing them.

As you can also tell from this picture, pregnant belly is progressing just fine. I'm now 6 1/2 months along and besides having recurrent UTIs, everything is great. I'm seeing a urologist in a week. But I really do love my midwife and I'm still crossing my fingers that I'll be able to deliver at the birthing center. It's just that awesome.

Yesterday morning Brent and I left Felix with my sister for a few hours so we could go to an appointment. When I went to pick Felix up, he was all scraped up. He had been standing on a cinder block by the backyard drinking fountain and had fallen off. Happily, he had broken his fall. Unhappily, he had broken that fall with his face. The cinder block won, as you can tell from the picture.

Last night we went to dinner with some friends and didn't want to take Felix because he has a little cold (thanks to one particular boy in the nursery - guess who won't be attending church at all for the next couple of months?). Before we got back to pick him up, he had gotten upset and thrown up all over my sister. He calmed down perfectly as soon as we got there, but he's been throwing up since about 4 this morning. Poor kid. He just woke up from a long nap and actually wanted to eat, and he has drunk a few ounces of gatorade. He's still coughing tons (I'm not positive that this wasn't just brought on by a bad cold and being upset) but he's been keeping stuff down so far.

We found out our friends (the ones we had dinner with last night) are expecting twins. They have a daughter who's just over a year old. As exciting as this is, I feel truly sorry for them. Maybe "sorry" is the wrong word. Thankful it's not me, that's for sure.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday mornings should never...

... start with a barrage of desperate emails from clients and account managers trying to figure out what went wrong months ago on a project with which you were centrally involved.

Can we just say "crappity crap!"? Hours later and we do know where the problem started. Thankfully, it wasn't with me. That being said, I should have caught it. So should a couple of other people, but really it all came down to me. Dang it.

Callbacks are stinky in market research and we're already on shaky ground with this client because of other issues. In my defense, the client is particularly difficult to deal with and makes changes all the time that don't make a lot of sense. Of course that doesn't excuse my role.

A particular frustration is that everyone has been putting off my review. You know, the review where it would be decided whether or not I deserve a raise. I even asked my boss about it again just last week but then we forgot and got busy and stuff. Now I'm wondering if I shouldn't just conveniently forget about that review till this whole thing blows over. Blast.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Apparently I'm not the only one who loves Dirt


I have never heard anything in conference that made me cry instantly. A temple in Rome, however? I'm still bawling.

Did anyone else hear this and then hear the huge gasp as it was announced? By the time he smiled from the collective gasp, I already had tears running down my face.

I can't possibly describe how happy this makes me. Wow. Just... wow.