Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Now I know why men carry pocket knives; they need them to open boxes.

If you made it through yesterday's post,  you know I walked away from the "deal of a lifetime." At least, that's what Mr. Salesman would want me to believe.

Daughter and I continued our shopping, making a trip to Hallmark.  I sent Hubs a text telling him I would pass on the cooktop and explain later. He wrote me back.

"Where are you?"

"The mall."

"Me, too."

"Where are you?"

"Near the food trough."

"Meet me outside Hallmark."

Then we looked up and saw each other.  Hubs was doing some last minute shopping after work. I explained the situation with the cooktop and how the salesman wouldn't even open the box.  Plus, the fact that he said the measurements for the downdraft portion were off made me a little skeptical. Honestly, it was all very odd because the box wasn't even opened yet. How did the previous customer know if the measurements were off?  It all sounded made up, as Hubs would say.

Hubs wanted to go back and talk to him together.  I agreed, but first we had to finish some shopping. We walked to Dillard's, split up again, and then met back.

When we arrived in the appliance store Hubs asked for the previous saleswoman he had spoken with the day before. Of course, she wasn't working that day.  So, we wound up with Mr. Deal.

This time the salesman offered a different reason the last customers returned the cooktop, saying it was the measurements of the actual cooktop and not the downdraft. Obviously, he was guessing. 

Then he continued to say, "Well, she was just interested in the burners."

HELLO. Of course I am interested in the burners. That's where all the cooking happens!

I said that I really wanted to see it, no matter what kind of burners it had.  Hubs pressed and the salesman hesitantly opened the box. 


Surprisingly, the burners were completely different than the ones in the picture and were actually more like the ones I am wanting.  But the cooktop is glass, not porcelain or stainless, and I had to think about it. 

If this is painful for you to read, I understand.  The entire experience was painful. 

We ended up walking away to talk about it and I decided that night to wait.  I have had glass cooktops before and don't care for cleaning them.  They are great as long as you use the perfect cleaner, but I always ended up using the wrong one because I am clumsy and a clutz and not good at following directions.

In the end, I'm still "driving" my old cooktop with the all its dents and wobbly burners. After Christmas, I will continue my test drives for a new one.

If, you know, they will let me actually see it.

I will be off the blog for a few days. Y'all have a Merry Christmas. I hope you get to open all of your boxes!   

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What can I do to get you into a downdraft cooktop today? It's got 10,000 BTUs.

Daughter and I ran last minute errands yesterday in an effort to regain my sanity.  My goal was to finish everything last week, before school was out, but alas, I didn't make the goal. I've never been good at sports.

Our first stop was the post office.  The parking lot was full so the only place I found was behind the little "Authorized Vehicles Only" sign, so I went for it. 

Hubs always teases me that I never break any rules, so I turned to Daughter and said, "Tell your daddy I parked where I wasn't supposed to today. He would be proud."

That was a pristine parenting moment, people.

As soon as we walked up to the post office, I saw the line and did an about face.  We climbed into the car, pulled out of the illegal parking space, and headed for UPS.

The line at UPS wasn't much shorter, but Brown is so much more efficient than Newman, so we were finished in no time.

The next stop was the appliance store where we looked at a cooktop that Hubs had found on sale.  We are looking to replace our old one and this store had one on closeout that had been returned from an order.  Daughter and I stood browsing the cooktops on display.

The salesman walked up and asked,"Hello, m'am.  What drove you in here today?"

I so wanted to tell him a Honda Pilot, but I thought that would be rude.  Clever, but rude.

So I said,"A cooktop" which is not only inaccurate but actually impossible.

I proceeded to tell him that my husband had been in there the day before and looked at one on clearance. 

"Oh, yes, this one," he said," as I recall the only thing wrong with it was that the measurements on the box did not match the actual measurements."

"Hmm.. the clerk yesterday said there was nothing wrong with it."


Crickets chirping.

I continued,"So, the customer's measurements were wrong or the box is wrong?"

"The box."

"Then, can I open the box and look at it?"


More crickets.

He pointed to other models on the floor, all on sale but more expensive.  I told him I needed a gas cooktop.  The one on clearance was a real deal, but Hubs and I wanted to make sure it was one we wanted.

I asked again about the closeout one.

He started to walk away and said,"Let's look at a picture in the catalog."

At this point I was starting to understand why he asked me what I drove in there because I was beginning to feel like I was at the used car lot instead of the appliance center.  I went along for the sake of being polite (again, I may break one law each decade, but I try my very best not to be rude.)

He flipped through the pages to show me a wallet-sized picture of the life-sized cooktop that was in the box on the floor that I could potentially see in person if only he would open the box.


He showed me pictures of other cooktops, some of them electric.

"I need gas," I said.

"Oh, yes, that's right," he said as he flipped the pages.

He turned back to the picture of the original cooktop.  I looked at the tiny picture and told him that I wanted to see the burner covers, which is why I wanted to see it in person. I want a smooth, continuous burner cover so my tiny pots don't wobble. 

He said,"Well, they're going to look like this. They're cast iron."

I looked more closely, becoming increasingly frustrated that I should be able to open the box and see the cooktop for myself. Right there in the little picture were burner covers that appeared to have openings at the burner.

Wobbly pots.

I told him those burner covers wouldn't work and I'd have to think about it.

He sighed and said,"Well, we're just going to have to blow up the cooktop and build a new house."

"Nope, we're going to have to keep shopping." I said, and politely walked away thanking him for his help.

That's when I decided to head toward what actually drove me there and go home. Right after I finished the rest of my errands. 

That part of the story tomorrow.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why I Love Fresh Market and Other Places That Draw Me Into Their Vortexes of Pleasant Shopping

I suppose in Shakespeare's day, what you are about to read would be in the form of a poem or maybe even a sonnet, but this is 2011 and I'm sure not Shakespeare.

Fresh Market rocks. 

(See, not Shakespeare.)

I have no idea if Fresh Market is regional or if most of you know what I am about to describe, but I have a feeling that if you do not have a Fresh Market near you, most of you (except those in SmallTowns everywhere) have something like it.

Fresh Market makes grocery shopping pleasant- not to the point of fun, because people who shop at Fresh Market are much more serious than that.  (They probably read Shakespeare.  ALOUD.)  The marketing department is GENIUS.  I can picture the development days when they all sat around with their half-caff, non-fat lattes in their all black wardrobes drawing the diagram of a grocery store experience on recycled bamboo paper.

Here is what they brainstormed:

1.  Warm Welcome- As soon as I walk in, I see woven baskets hanging from some sort of natural display, market bags, gifts and candles.  Then I turn the little corner into the dimly lit grocery store where I'm greeted by the scent of roses and lilies.

2.  Fresh Flowers- The scent of roses and lilies is strong, but not funeral strong.  Pleasant strong. The flowers are so fresh I'd swear a small child just picked them from her grandmother's garden.  None of the flowers are ever wilted or brown and they all are wrapped in pretty papers.

3.  Free Coffee- They give me coffee in tiny Dixie cups, the kind you use to rinse at the dentist, but because I am standing there near roses and kumquats, I don't notice my free coffee is just a tiny paper cup filled with two sips of coffee. No, I feel special, appreciated, dare I say- loved? 

4.  Dim Lighting-  I am not sure if the dim lighting is to hide all the prices or just to add to that loved customer theme, but it works.  Once my eyes have adjusted, I want to stay and spend money.  (Rotten marketers!).

5. Classical music- Seriously.  They play Bach while you check the lettuce.

6. Produce-  Each tomato and every grape is exquisite.  They have interesting fruits and vegetables that I can't get anywhere else, but I'll probably still have to go to Winn Dixie for my green peanuts. Granted, a head of cabbage is five dollars, but that would make some mighty fine cole slaw.

7.  Perfection-  Every single item on the shelf is perfect, free of flaws, dusted, and straight.  But it's not perfect in a creepy Sleeping With The Enemy kind of way, more like a THIS PLACE IS AWESOME AND MAKES ME WANT TO BUY STUFF kind of way.  (Although, the regular shoppers do not use words like awesome or stuff. I'm not a regular shopper.  Could you guess?)

8.  Special Displays-  The cheese is always stacked haphazardly on purpose and even the chips look like they just arrived and are waiting for me to toss them ever-so-gently into my unique little shopping cart (that never, ever squeaks.)

Just FYI- Once a shopping cart squeaked in Fresh Market and an employee wearing a pretty apron and offering slices of warm French baguette, swiftly rolled it into a back room with the wilted lilies and the bags of bags of discarded Dixie coffee cups, never to be seen again. 

9.  Joyful Deli and Meat Department Workers-  There are always people diligently making something and they always look happy. They even look attractive in hair nets.  Maybe it's the dim lighting. They make me want to eat sushi and things like squid salad. 

10.  The Nut Bins- Every time I walk by I have the urge to purchase raw, organic almonds.

11.  The Candy Bins-  Chocolate covered everything.  It is strategically placed right next to the free coffee, which makes me want to buy ten dollars worth of chocolate to see if it compliments the freshly brewed Dixie cup of Hazelnut blend. 

12.  Food I've Never Heard Of- They have crackers from France and cookies from Germany. (Cue the Bach CD.) All of it costs more than the gas that got me there yet I want to try each and every one.  Oh, wouldn't that be tasty with some organic horseradish raspberry orange blossom honey mustard...

13.  Izze- They sell it.  Enough said.

14.  Customers-  We're all hyped up on free coffee, but the dim lighting makes us a bit sleepy, so it balances out and everyone is happy and friendly and simply a delight to be around. 

"Oh, did you want to get by me so you can buy that nice Sockeye Salmon?"

"Why, yes."

"Then, pardon me. Let me move my quiet little cart so you can pass by."

"Thank you, lovely woman with the Dixie cup, have a most joyous day."

"You, too.  May I say those roses in your cart compliment your skin?'

"Why, thank you.  You are most kind."

15.  Free Coffee- Yes, I repeat myself, because let's face it,  whether it's at Sam's Club or the Wal-mart Auto Center, people love some free coffee.  Drat! Those Dixie cups!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

TV personalities stranded in the jungle would be happy to have this!

Yesterday I felt a little like Paula Deen and a little like a reject from Iron Chef America.

Wouldn't it be a hoot if they had an Iron Chef The South?  The secret ingredient is...water chestnuts!!

I was making a meal for a family who recently had a baby. I'd planned that menu and also needed to plan for my own family. Instead of having double dishes and trying to fit it all in the oven, I decided to put some chicken breasts in the crock pot for us.  I made extra rice and cooked some veggies on the stove. While I was out delivering the meal to the family, I had Hubs and Daughter watch the biscuits.  (Mary B's, not homemade.)

I returned and Hubs had taken the biscuits out of the oven.  We were fixing our plates and I told him the biscuits were Mary B's. 

"Oh," he said. 

He doesn't complain, but I could hear the disappointment in his voice. Mary can make some mean biscuits.  They are as close to homemade as you can find, but Hubs likes my biscuits.  For this dinner, I didn't have time to make some from scratch. 

Then we started dinner and I took a bite of my crock pot chicken.

"This is the most bland chicken I've ever made," I said.

Hubs and Daughter assured me it was fine and then I gave Daughter the go-ahead to get some ketchup from the frig.

Ketchup fixes everything.

I added some to my own plate and continued to eat the chicken. 

Then Hubs spoke up in an effort of encouragement. 

"If we were Survivorman, we'd be happy to have this," he said.

I put down my fork and laughed. 

"So, basically you are saying that the only way this would be good is if it we were starving and we had nothing else to eat," I said. 


I ate my ketchup-covered chicken and continued to laugh knowing what he meant and that he was really trying to encourage me and also knowing that he was absolutely right.  Survivorman could eat it, but only if he had some ketchup.

Hubs ate his chicken, along with two of his frozen biscuits and thanked me (as he always does) for making it. This is why I love him.

That's when Daughter spoke up and said,"You should blog this."

And so I did.

(And if you've never had Mary B's biscuits, do try.  They are yummy. Unless your family members are experts in the homemade biscuit making circle, they will never know the difference.)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

And the award for soliciting specimens goes to...

I am happy to report that all of my begging and whining (for fish scraps) paid off.  Daughter got second place on her science fair project.  She is tickled to death and we are proud as can be. In case you were wondering, which I am CERTAIN you were, the exoskeletons were more affected by the vinegar.  This doesn't mean a whole lot except that we may never see pickled crab or oyster on the menu at Red Lobster.

They say that next year she can build on this project.  So, what does that mean? Should I go ahead and contact area merchants for shark cartilage? 

I'm still holding out hope that she will choose to grow tomatoes.

On another subject, I was encouraged by your comments about getting ready for Christmas.  I did manage to get more lights on the tree.  It's not Martha Stewartish, but it is done.  Tomorrow we may go all out and hang an ornament.

We are crazy busy with the decorating.

Tomorrow was supposed to be a shopping day, but something came up, so now Friday will be a shopping day.  Technically today was a shopping day since I was at Target buying Christmas lights.

As you can see life is riveting.  This ain't New York.

Edited to note: I was reading over this again and realized my typo. It was the ENDOskeletons that were more affected. I corrected it. This is why she is the scientist and I am just the one who begs for FREE DEAD CRABS.

Not a post, but more of a survey really.

We finally have a Christmas tree in our house.  It only has lights on the bottom because each and every year a little lights thief climbs into our attic and steals at least one strand of lights.  I am not kidding.  Every. Single. Year. I end up buying lights because as soon as I start putting them on the tree, I realize we are short. Then I end up making a run to Target or Wal-mart.  Maybe the little thief wears a red  polo or a blue vest.  It is VERY suspicious.

I am a bit behind on the decorating. Hopefully I'll be all caught up soon.

As soon as I get all the stuff down from the attic.  Sigh...

What about you?  How is your decorating going?  And if you tell me that you are all done, the gifts are all wrapped, and your third dozen of cookies are in the oven, I won't harbor any grudges.

Nope. Not at all. AHEM.