About Buffy

In another life I was a grade school band director. I still think of myself as a teacher despite the fact that it's been almost three decades since I was in the classroom. I've been the office for my husband's masonry company, cared for my mother for 20 years, and think of myself now as a quilter. Retirement, what retirement??!

Undercover Restaurant Critics

Dear Husband and I decided to have dinner in a restaurant that was totally new to us.  It’s not terribly far from where we are staying for the duration, and we thought we might enjoy trying something new.

When we walked in, there was a sign announcing that there would be a private party downstairs.  We were seated on the main floor, four or five steps up.  We had the choice of a table or a booth, and choose a booth on the outer edge of the room.  At the time, only one other table was taken, which didn’t surprise us given that we were dining rather early on a Monday.

Our waiter appeared, told us about the restaurant and their aim to buy food locally. The menu had a nice selection, and we both opted for soup, and an entree.  And then things began to  go downhill. Just little things, really.  We talked about it, quietly, during dinner.

For instance, the chipotle honey butter was okay, but it seemed the chef was trying a bit too hard for originality.  Whatever happened to plain butter?  DH ordered a Pepsi, but when it came it seemed that the syrup to soda mix was wrong, and he ultimately sent it back, and settled for water.

I asked what the soup of the day was, and the answer was, “Clam Chowder.”  I had to ask which kind.  When it arrived, it might have been a corn chowder, because there was more corn than clam in it, and it looked like it was  chicken broth thickened with cornstarch.  That’s not my idea of a good New England Clam Chowder.

We finished our soup, and the soup and bread plates were still on the table when a bus boy brought our entrees.  His hands were full.  He couldn’t remove the dishes so that he could set the entrees down, so we had to assist him.  I’m surprised that they didn’t bus the table first.

We ordered two different steak dinners.  Both of us ordered the steak done medium rare. Both our steaks came rare

I rarely order dessert, but I was tempted by the idea of cheesecake.  I asked the waiter (who had been conspicuously absent during our meal) what the cheesecake of the day was.  He said it was chocolate and strawberry.  I asked for a more detailed description.  He said he thought it had a ground oreo base, and had strawberries and chocolate over the regular cheesecake.  I asked if I could get it without the chocolate and he allowed as that was possible.  When it came, it had a graham cracker crust, was slightly overcooked, and had frozen strawberries in sauce over the top. For some reason, I was expecting fresh strawberries…you know, their commitment to fresh produce, grown locally.

Now, I should tell you, that we ate most of our dinners.  What bothered us was that the service was off, and the meal didn’t quite live up to the prices.  The look of the rooms, and the look of the staff told me that we should have had a better experience.  As we left, we realized that our waiter was handling all the outside seating.  Another waiter came along and commented that they were short-handed due to the private party.  I’d have thought they would have made sure they had the staff to cover their needs.

One last thing, I went to the ladies room without my purse.  Too late, I discovered that there was no toilet paper.  Luckily a server was in the next stall and shared with me, but someone should have checked the restrooms to be sure they were stocked following the busy weekend.

So, DH and I have decided to offer ourselves as undercover restaurant critics.  We know enough about fine dining to be able to assess what’s good and what isn’t.  The staff would never guess that we were critics.  We don’t look the part.  I wonder how much that plays into whether the staff makes your experience a good one, dressing up for the occasion?   I have to say we are rather casual these days.

Maybe we can find a local newspaper that wants a restaurant column.  We could really expand this, and make a living eating out!

My first comment will be, “Don’t say ‘How’re you dooin guys?”

A Blast From The Past

I was delighted to receive an e-mail from a friend with whom I used to chat when I was new to the computer.  It’s probably close to 15 years since that group broke up.  I’ve lost contact with many of them, but I’m glad to say there are still a few who visit now and then.

QT sent me a note, asking if I still blogged.  I’ve been a terrible blogger lately, but if this is a way for us to keep in touch, I’d be happy to try to resume.  Of course, all my comments these days have been about the sale of our house, but in time that should ease.

Welcome, QT!  I hope that we’ll have the chance to visit with some of our other friends, too.

Easily Entertained

We are so easily entertained.  When we took breaks in packing or moving boxes we would meet in the kitchen and sit where we could look out at the herb garden and the bird feeders.  We have watched a lot of birds over the years, but we were being entertained by a family of squirrels, a colony of ground squirrels, a bunny or two, and some mourning doves.

There was a constant circus going on below both the feeders, but the one closest to the kitchen window provided more cover from which the  ground squirrels attacked.  As with most species, there was definitely a king of the ground squirrel colony, and when others got too close to the prime seed snatching areas, he would run them off. Everybody headed for the highlands rather than risk his wrath!  There were ground squirrels running through the day lilies, the oregano, the thyme, and the choke cherry shrubs,

At one point seven gray squirrels and four mourning doves were peacefully eating seed when the entire chipmunk population decided to run through. Gray squirrels hopped up into the air, and came down and continued to eat.  Some of the doves raised a wing to ward off the little beggars and others were bowled over by them.  I’ll have to see if I can get some video of the circus to save to the computer.

At the end of the day the chipmunks and squirrels had discovered that there is finally a choke cherry branch that leans far enough out over the feeder that they can get to the feeder from above.  Baffles below the feeder have frustrated them for years.  We watched as they tried all the branches until they found the right one.  The squirrels would hang from the eave of the feeder and scoop food into their mouths just as fast as they could.  They understood that if they sat on the bar, the feeder would close.  It’s astonishing that they can hang from one foot for such a long time!

I’ll miss all this entertainment.  It will be interesting to see what visits our back yard at the new house..  You can be sure I’ll put up bird feeders!

The Close of an Era

We are coming to the end of our stay in the house that Dear Husband and I built 25 years ago.  We have fabulous memories  of those 25 years.  My mother, and DH’s second son lived with us for many of those years.  We entertained family at Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter.  We watched my youngest sister’s girls grow in the first half of those years, and have been watching our granddaughters the last ten years.

We will sign the closing papers in two days, and if the walk-through goes well, will close on the sale July 30th.  That day, we’ll do a walk-through for the house we  wish to buy, and July 31st we’ll do the closing.  So…by August 1st we will begin to move things into the new house.

We will need to buy new appliances, and at least three carpets (entry, dining and living room).  There are hardwood floors in the public areas of the house.   I want to have the locks changed, and add deadbolts to the doors.   My friends are baby sitting both my indoor and outdoor plants until we get settled, so I need to get to know the house so we can decide where those plants will do the best.

If all goes well, the movers will bring about two-thirds of our belongings, including the beds, the oak table, chairs, kitchen and quilt studio on August 4th.  Once all that is squared away, we’ll need to have the 16 foot POD delivered.  That has more books, the china, clothing, and more kitchen stuff. (I suspect there is more, but I just can’t remember what was in those boxes.  The most difficult part of our move will be deciding what we keep and what goes.  We’ll have half the room now, so we’ll need to get rid of half the “Stuff!”

Wish us well!  :-)

 

Visiting

My youngest niece, who is a grown woman, is visiting.  She and one of her girlfriends arrived on July 3rd, and the two of them and Dear Husband spent the day and evening on Lake Michigan for the Fourth of July.   They took in the fireworks off Navy Pier in Chicago, and were home close to 1:30 in the morning.  I had the pleasure of playing in my studio all day!

I spent some time yesterday teaching beginning quilting to the girlfriend.  S. has never sewn, and wanted to start a simple Log Cabin pattern. We talked about color layout, and designs that could be created with Log Cabin blocks, and then made a trip to an area quilt shop to buy fabric. S. has never used a sewing machine, so I hope that her mother will be able to instruct her on how to use their sewing machine.  We covered how to cut the strips, and how to sew the pattern.  I had her sew part of a block on my machine.  I sent her home with completed samples, a spare cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler.  I washed the fabrics for her last night, so she will be ready to start cutting strips tonight. when she returns home.  I’ll work with my niece this week, who wants to try her hand at one of the star quilt patterns.

My niece has come to give us a hand packing boxes.  We’ll be working in the basement and garage, trying to get as much cleared out as possible.  I’m very glad to have the help.  The job is dwindling, but still seems very daunting.  We are moving some things that we probably should be pitching, but we wanted to see what kind of room we had in our new home before giving things up.

It’s a lot of fun to have 20-somethings around.  It’s very refreshing to see the world from their point of view!

More of the Same

But  something different, too.

Today, we put a bid on a house.  Last Thursday we walked through three houses.  The first two were ranch houses, and the second turned out to be a two-story duplex.  If you are looking at houses, I recommend that you not assume the pictures are giving you a clear idea of what to expect!  I thought I would love the third place, and didn’t care for it at all.  We looked at the first one because it’s in the same town we live in now.  We thought it had large front and back yards, with absolutely no landscaping, and that wasn’t the case. The yards were surprisingly small, and there was some shrubbery.  Unfortunately, it backed up to a club of some kind that was for sale.  We couldn’t see that in the pictures! lol

The middle house, which I didn’t expect to care for, turned out to be lovely.  The layout is clean, and open.  It’s sunny, has three bedrooms and three full baths.  The basement is partially finished, and one of those bathrooms is in the basement.  The master bedroom suite is on the south side of the house and the two guest bedrooms and second bath are on the north side of the house, with the public areas of the house in between.  There is a two and a half car garage, and a laundry room on the main floor.  I believe the house is about 1800 square feet, about half our present house.  We were willing to look at houses much smaller than this, but this house feels gracious.

There is a brick patio off the kitchen, and a pocket back yard that is surrounded with the most incredible garden.  The bones of the garden are evergreen trees and shrubs that block our view of the house to the east of us.  There are strip gardens along the north and south sides of the house where paths lead to the front yard.  Other than the fact that our neighbors are incredibly close (compared to where we live now),  I can’t find anything to complain about.

Our agent put in a bid, contingent upon the close of the sale of our house.  IF we manage to bring our buyer to close, we would turn around and close on this house the same afternoon.  At least, that’s what we hope will happen.

I’m sure there will be more to come in this saga.  :-)

Back on Track

We are back on track with the sale of our house.  All the repairs have finally been finished, following the fall of a 60′ evergreen onto the roof in February.  The painters were finishing the interior repair in the office minutes before the photographer came through.

Brochures have been printed, the house has been listed, and we had our first visitors Thursday night.  So far, we have not heard anything from them.  Our agent was particularly excited because these people had visited the house last year when it was on the market.

Our house is a one of a kind house, with an unusually large lot within in the city limits.  It’s not going to be easy to sell, but I think the agent is hungry, and he may be able to find the buyer we need.

So, we’re back to keeping the house relatively tidy.  I’ll have to be careful about tracking garden dirt into the house.  :-(

Happy Fourth

To all my Internet friends,  to my local friends, and to my family, I bid you a Happy Fourth of July!  I hope that you enjoy all the wonderful things of summer, family picnics with burgers and hot dogs and potato salad, and watermelon, swimming, carnival rides, sparklers and fireworks!

I hope you’ll take a moment to think about why we celebrate the Fourth of July.   We’re very fortunate to be free.  We owe our founding fathers our thanks for setting us on this path.  I hope this wonderful experiment called democracy will continue for many more centuries.  I, for one, am very grateful to be in the USA!

House Hunting

We looked at three houses today.  I fell in love with the second of the three.

We are looking for a ranch style house (one floor), with a full basement, and an attached two-car garage.  We would like a master bedroom suite and two or possibly three additional bedrooms, with at least two full bathrooms.  It would be nice if the basement is finished, but that isn’t required.  We are looking at houses in a range of size from 1500-2400 square feet. We hope to find a house with a much smaller lawn, to limit the mowing.

The house I liked today has a master bed room at one end of a hall, and the other two bedrooms were on the opposite side of the house.  It’s very sunny.  The basement is not completely finished, but it has a full bath.  It would make an exceptional quilting studio, as long as I could do the stairs.  The back yard is tiny, and the landscaping is phenomenal!  There’s a pocket lawn surrounded by a mulched area with an amazing assortment of trees.  My mother would have loved this house!  I hope we will have the chance to bid on it.

Almost Two Months

I’ve been absorbed with the possible sale of our house.  The same man who wanted to buy it last year has tied us up with a contract again this year.   If he does not come through and purchase the house this year, he won’t get a chance the next time it goes on the market!

We are supposed to have a closing date of July 31st, but the buyer just requested his second extension to find the funding he needs.  He has until July 17th now, but if he doesn’t succeed, we will have to cancel the appointment with the movers.  If we do that, I’ll be canceling the contract, and opting to see if there is anyone else who will be interested.

Meanwhile, we have packed boxes every day, filling a 16′ POD with things we don’t need daily.  Books, china, kitchen things, linens – things that can be stored in a non-climate controlled situation, have all been boxed.  Now our house looks rather like a normal house, with the exception of the living room, which has very little furniture left.  We gave away the two couches!  (It was either that, or burn them!)

We have made electrical repairs, had radon testing, had the exterminator come through, and are waiting for a visit from a roofer to replace a rubber gasket and the top 8 inches or so of the shingles, which were damaged by hail.  We’ve replaced the garage door openers with ones which have an optical safety control.  We’ve had the furnaces tested, and the landscaper is coming to shape up the gardens.  Whew!  If the house doesn’t sell, it will be a very safe, very tidy place to live! lol

My niece is here for a week to help us pack.  I’m delighted to have the help.  It gives me a chance to talk with her, and find out what’s going on in her life, and get more packed.  That’s a win-win situation.

Wish us luck.  Think positive thoughts for the sale of the house.  Pray, if you are so inclined.  We will accept any and all help to move us through this sale.