Monday, September 26, 2011

Active Bottoms

Yesterday a TJ Maxx opened in my neighborhood. Wedged in between a Whole Foods and a Starbucks with a Yoga Works above it, I knew this was going to be one classy TJ Maxx. Always loving a bargain I decided to check it out this afternoon and oh, it did not disappoint! Here are my top 10 favorite things I saw while shopping.

1. A "Hello Kitty" bathrobe. Appeared to be only 1 in stock...still kicking myself for not purchasing it.

2. A section called "Active Bottoms"........ turns out these are work-out pants. Funny, I was picturing something completely different.

3. A lady with a parrot in a cage in her shopping cart. I'm only about 20% sure she didn't purchase it there.

4. Diamond earrings for $16.99. Whaaaaaat? You don't think those were real diamonds??

5. An 80 year old lady dressed in all leopard print, literally head to toe, going to the fitting room with 5 leopard print blouses. Stick with it, Grandma!

6. No joke, 40 people in the check out line.

7. 6 pissed off cashiers.

8. A sign for employees that said "Don't pass it by...Pick it up!" and then immediately saw 4 employees pass by an item on the floor. Turns out that TJ Maxx employees are not that receptive to customer feedback.

9. Jessica Simpson's complete line of shoes.

10. An older gentleman wearing Active Bottoms (see #2) pulled up to his boobs waiting outside for his wife while smoking a Virginia Slim.

Oh, in case you are wondering....I'll be back there tomorrow. Possibly with my resume.

Thursday, September 22, 2011



My friend Alexandra, fellow ginger and wife of Michael who is a subject in many of my stories, brought this disturbing article to my attention. The Today Show reported this morning that the worlds largest sperm bank, located in Denmark, is turning away red headed donors due to the lack of demand for such genetics. No place for red headed sperm? This is the trait you don't want your children to have? Of all the genetics that are out there, this is the one that is banned??

Here are my list of donors that should be banned from the sperm bank due to their questionable genetics, which by the way are way worse than being a red head.

1) Guys who wear NFL jerseys to a sports bar and then proceed to walk around during the game high-fiving fellow patrons while holding a Bud Light.

2) Gary Busey

3) Guys who wear denim shorts to the beach, not just because they  are more comfortable than jeans but because they also double as swim trunks.

4) Hipster Doofuses

5) 50-60 year old successful white men. This group, probably due to a fair amount of success that they have had in the business world, assume this makes them an authority in every other situation. For example, they know exactly how long a medium rare steak will take to cook, the can look at dining room in a restaurant and tell you where they should be sitting, and finally, they know they can do your job better than you and enjoy telling you that in front of their friends.

6) Presidential candidates. To be fair, I'm against the female candidates becoming egg donors.

7) Guys who don't like Seinfeld, The Office or Arrested Development. Nobody likes a baby who doesn't see the humor in a show about nothing.

8) Guys who go to the gym and then stand around in small groups with like minded guys and discuss their work-out ad nauseum.

9) Guys who take up multiple parking spaces then as they get out their car they walk backwards so they can keep an eye on their car.  News flash: "You have all 6 parking spaces, no one can get within 10 feet of your car or within 2 blocks of the gym/Ed Hardy Store/any restaurant I have ever work in!"

10) Restaurant Managers. But not all restaurant managers, just the ones who take their job a little too seriously. You know the ones, they  are usually sweating because they are running around when there are only 3 tables in the restaurant, they use terms like "we're going to rock tonight!!", their facebook profile picture has something to do with the restaurant, and they usually wear a sports coat when no one else does.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Emmy's-Lookin' Good!

I know many of you turn to me for my fashion insight.** Without further adieu, here are my favorite and least favorite looks from last night's Emmy Awards.


#5) Padma Lakshmi
Not a fan of the hair but she just looks so shiny and glittery...and that I'm a fan of!

 #4) Sofia Vergara
I may be biased as Sophia and I look so much alike...... the dark skin, the spicy Latin personality, the sexy accent, the curves. I have this dress and look equally as stunning.

#3) Lena Headey
I'm sorry, I like this. 
ps. Who is she? I have no idea.

#2) Christine Baranski
The camera panned from Charlie Sheen presenting to Christine Baranski in the audience,  it may have  been my eyes thanking me for not making me look at Charlie Sheen. Needless to say, when I looked at this dress again today without first viewing Charlie Sheen, I still find it very sophisticated and classy.

#1) Aubrey Plaza
Love, Love, Love


Jayma Mays
One one hand, I like birthday cake. On the other hand, it looks like birthday cake.

Not So Favorite

#5) Katie Holmes
No joke, I wore my hair exactly like that yesterday and it looked much better with a V-Neck T from the Gap and JCrew Cargo Pants. Plus, I don't like the dress.

#4) Christina Hendricks
She's a gorgeous red head, but honestly, her boobs scare me.

#3) Olivia Munn
I want to like this dress because I love the color green. But the dress is preventing me from liking it.

#2) Lea Michele
Too shoulder paddy.

#1) Gwynth Paltrow
I don't understand anything about this dress except that it makes my eyes hurt.

**Not an actual fashion expert.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Who's Crying Now

Tareq and Michaele Salahi, in happier times

A few days ago the story broke that Tareq Salahi, reality star douchebag from the Real Housewives of Washington DC, was fearful that his wife Michaele had been abducted
and was being held against her will. Michaele had not been seen since mid morning when Tareq had left to go into work at their winery in Virginia. She missed her hair appointment and later called to say she was going to her mother's house. Suspicious, Tareq call his mother in law to confirm the story only to find out that she was not there. This lead Tareq to the conclusion that she had been abducted and was  forced to make the reassuring phone call. Tareq was outraged that the police and FBI were not taking this PR stunt  abduction seriously. Even after police told him that Michaele had placed a phone to the them stating that she was fine but dealing with family issues. Tareq was unconvinced until Michaele came forward the following day stating that she had run off with former fling, Neal Schon of the rock band Journey, and was with him in Memphis.

Michaele and the other man, Neal Schon

Assuming this is not a PR stunt, about a 2% chance of that, I'm sure this is difficult time for Tareq. But with all due respect to Tareq's feeling in this time of darkness, this is difficult time for me. Yet, again the Salahi's are ruining everything I love. Yes, everything! Let me run down the list for you.

If you read this blog regularly, then you know I love Virginia. I loved living there, I loved working there and I loved the people I met there. How can I be expected to move back to Virginia know there is a chance of running into those two buffoons. I can't! I won't!

Every time I am on my 4th glass of wine, my mind starts to wonder. Did this wine come from the Salahi's winery? Is that why the top note has hints of desperation? Is that why the finish is so excruciatingly long and annoying, similar to the RHOWDC? Suddenly, I am unable to order a 5th glass...and the bartender agrees with me.

Playgirl Magazine
As a life long subscriber to Playgirl magazine, I was appalled at Tareq's push to pose for Playgirl. So deep was my fear that I penned a strongly worded letter to the editor of Playgirl, begging them to not allow Tareq to pose. Where would it stop? If you allow him to pose then next it will be Bobby Zarin from RHONYC, then pastey Simon McCord also from RHONYC, then smarmy Slade from RHOOC. "Playgirl, I reminded them, you are not that desperate".  And they weren't. You're welcome, America!

White House Dinner Party's
I treasure the invitations I receive to attend dinner party's at the White House. I makes me feel special and part of an exclusive group of high rollers. Once the Salahi's were able to sneak in to a dinner party, the invites didn't seem so special and I haven't been to one since.

All of these I can handle and learn to move on, but then came......

 JOURNEY?? They are ruining Journey! How dare they! How can I be expected to listen to "Faithfully" while picturing Tareq sitting at home alone filled with betrayal? How can I hear "Wheel in the Sky" at Karaoke night and not picture that Jezebel, Michaele, stealing off into the night? Don't get me started on "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin"...I feel dirty. And finally, when I hear "Who's Cryin' Now", a little piece of me dies.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Throw Backs

In week two we are already seeing throw back uniforms in college football.  This weekend Notre Dame and Michigan sported uniforms from yesteryear. I get it. These uniforms take us back in time when thing were simple, people were kinder and sports were about the game and not money. But why stop with college football? Why not have throw back uniforms in other sports?


Hey Serena Williams, feelin' sassy and argumentative in your muscle baring low cut shirt that wicks away sweat? Bet you wouldn't pull those antics if you were wearing this very demure and lady like gown to play tennis.

Not sure this wicks away sweat


Of course, they have throw back uni's during the season, but they really only go back to the 1970's. Why don't we throw this sport way back and don the uni's from the 1700's. It is all about showmanship.

May not be suitable for network TV.

But really, why does the throw back uni only take place in sports. Why can't this catch on in other professions?


I think Michelle Bachmann would be much more likable if she rid herself of the helmet hair and went with a powdered wig. Why not have the next debate be throw back?

'Sup, Monroe.

Life Guards

Aren't we all just a little sick of being saved from drowning by a muscley, bronzed guy in shorty red shorts. Wouldn't it be fun to have Old Timey day at the beach? Then, when we get drunk on bootleg moonshine and think we can swim out to the dolphins, the hunk in the picture will dive in and rescue us, Bay Watch style?

I picture this look with arm floaties.

But why just other professions, why not groups of people?

Pageant Contestants

How about a good old fashion throw back pageant? No boobs, no spray tans, no tape...... just wholesome ladies covered from head to toe in wool!

How did we get Toddlers and Tiara's from this?


Sick of those hipster babies sipping cappuccinos in their designer T-Shirts, skinny jeans, sneakers and blow dried hair? Me too! Let's have Baby throw back day, complete with the long gowns, bonnets and those white lace up shoes.....that will teach them.

Not so fussy  now, are you?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cheese Heads

Tonight the NFL season kicks off and in honor of the Packers v Saints game I will pay tribute to the people of  Wisconsin. I am not a Packers fan, nor am I  from Wisconsin, nor have I ever lived in Wisconsin, actually I'm not even sure I have ever been to Wisconsin.  But I do know people from Wisconsin and like most Midwesterners, they are very proud of their state and even more proud of their football team. Sure, I love the fact that the team is owned by people, I love the Lambeau leap and I really love/am confused by these cheese head hats that they wear. But what I am most impressed with is the level they will take their love for cheese.

This is a good look

My Cheesehead Story, A Tribute

I spent several years working at "Not Bucca" (name has been changed to protect Maggiano's) in Chicago. Banquet facilities were built while I was working there. Now I'm using the term "built" loosely, the banquet facilities were carved out under the restaurant, basement style. If you know anything about the plumbing and sewer system in downtown Chicago, then you know I have enough stories about these banquet facilities to keep this blog going for the next 120 years. But I digress as those stories are for another time. In order to keep a small group of us off the dining room floor, we were "promoted" to banquets. The banquet spaces weren't huge but they were popular and unique to the area.

The weekends quickly filled with rehearsal dinners, bar mitzvah, baby showers and wedding receptions and soon this small group of banquet staff I belonged to was making quite a bit of money. For the most part the events were pretty straight forward...cocktail hour, family style dinner, speeches and video and then desserts. "Not Bucca" provided everything from food to wedding cakes to speciality linens to ice carvings. The special orders were pretty similar so it was always exciting when a client was doing something unique.

One Saturday night we had an anniversary party booked. The couple, who was from Wisconsin,  had been married 20 years and had invited all their friends and family to celebrate their love.  Reading through their contract it looked pretty standard except for the fact that they were bringing in a "sculpture" to be on display during the event. As we were setting up the room we placed a cocktail table near the bar as a display table for the "sculpture". Not really thinking much about, it we continued with the set up as normal. As we were finishing, a member from the party arrived early to drop off the sculpture. As we offered to take the sculpture (which was completely covered) for him, he hesitated and said he would feel more comfortable placing it on the display table himself. As we showed him to the display table he gently and gingerly set the sculpture down. Now we were getting curious. As he started to unwrap the sculpture the room came to stand still as our heads, one by one, started to turn around and saw a piece of art of some sort. We were blinded by the bright orange color, the smell was familiar yet confusing, and like the Mona Lisa, it was much smaller than expected. It was a carving, that much we could tell. But of what and out of what? Like moths to a light, we were drawn to this piece of art and before we knew it we had gathered in a circle around the sculpture. That is when one brave banquet waiter quietly and somewhat excitedly asked, "What is it?".  And then the guest proudly stepped back and addressed us. As he spoke, he never looked at us but kept his eyes transfixed on the sculpture. He stated, "What we have here is block of cheddar cheese with the happy couple's faces carved into it. Take good care of her, she came all the way from Wisconsin.".  As quickly as he arrived he was gone, leaving us gazing in amazment at this..........

The happy couple are the 2 on the left.

Years have passed since then, but to me a cheese head will always mean something slightly different. Good luck to the Green Bay Packers tonight and all you cheese heads out there!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I've worked with a lot of memorable people in my restaurant career. There is one person who stands out when it comes job performance. Everything you need to know about job survival you can learn from this guy.

Without further ado, I present you Urbino.....

Urbino worked with me at "Not Bucca" (name has been changed to protect Maggiano's). His position was pretty basic, show up early in the morning to clean the dining room (mop, dust, etc) and set up the coffee and bread station. When the restaurants opens, cut bread for the table and make coffee drinks. When the lunch rush was over, clean up the coffee station and gather tips. But Urbino did much more than that, he unwittingly carved out a road map for getting ahead at work, or in his case, happily staying at the same job for years. Now you may not be a "Coffee/Bread Guy" (official title) but the same rules Urbino worked and lived by can easily translate to corporate America.

Urbino's Guide to Staying in the Same Job for Years or Getting Ahead...Its Totally Up to You
(still working on  the book title)

#1) Keep 'em Guessing
Employers don't want the same old, same old. In this day and age, unpredictability in the work place is a valuable asset. Whether it be the uncertainty of your puncuality or the impulsive mood swings, employers aren't looking for the status quo.  Urbino certainly embraced this unpredictablitity when it came to his coffee drinks.

Urbino had about 5 coffee drinks he made at "Not Bucca"; cappuccino, latte, espresso, hot chocolate and hot tea. He could have been that Starbucks barista that is predictable, same flavor profile every time. That's not how Bino rolls.  "Keep em on their toes" was his motto. I used tell him that his drinks were like 2 were alike. Whether it be too bitter, too chocolatey, too much espresso, not enough espresso...when the drink kept you guessing that's when you know you were drinking an Urbino original!

#2) Don't be afraid to make mistakes
Employers want people who aren't afraid to fail. This job market embraces employees who accident prone and mistake happy, what the market will not tolerate however, is covering up those many mistakes. Take a chapter out of Urbino's book. Proudly and with honor, own your mistakes!
My favorite drink of Urbinos was his hot chocolate. He would pour about 3/4 cup of Hershey's chocolate in the cup with a plastic squeeze bottle which happened to be the same type of squeeze bottle which also stored the balsamic reduction sauce for our tomato, mozzarella appetizer. One day as I was sipping my hot chocolate, it was tasting more balsamic vinegar-y than normal. As I asked Urbino what he put in the drink, he ran and got the squeeze bottle, which was the balsamic sauce. Realizing his mistake, the first thing Urbino did was apologize, the second thing he did was re-make the drink, and third thing he did and this is what separates him from the rest, is to remind me everyday until my last day about that time he put balsamic vinegar in my drink....and he laughed harder each time he told me the story. I've never seen an employee bring up a mistake of theirs with such amusement. To this day it baffles me.

#3) Right Place, Right Time
Being in the right place at the right time can make the difference between being up for a promotion or quietly disappearing into the background. Urbino always chose the former.

Each morning, Urbino would mop the dining room floor. As he filled the mop bucket with which I can only imagine was 2 parts butter and 1 part water, he would mop the floor relentlessly. One morning as I was coming around the corner in the dining room I slipped and fell on the freshly buttered floor. My feet went out from under me and I landed on my back. As soon as I hit the floor I heard what sounded like a teen-age girl squeal, "Momma!". As I came to, I saw Urbino standing over me, he had the look of terror in his eyes. He reached down to pick me. I explained to him that I need to just lie there for a few minutes. He was adamant it was the wrong thing to do. Urbino weighed about 115lbs, I weighed more than 115lbs, so I had the advantage when it came to not wanting to be moved. Realizing that picking me up wasn't go to happen, he decided that he would grab under my arms and drag me along the floor to safety. And drag me he did, all 25 feet to nearest booth. All the while whispering, "Mamma! Are you Ok?".  I was fine and quickly recovered. And again, Urbino proudly re-told this story every day about how he saved me as I would surely would have been left for dead had he not stumbled upon my lifeless body that morning.

#4) Communicate Up
Its important in your job that you not only communicate with your co-workers and subordinates, but that you also communicate with your supervisor. This is called communicating up, also known as ass kissing.

Often times during a lunch rush or early in the morning or after his shift, really anytime, Urbino would initiate a conversation about anything. As the conversation was ending he would usually finish up by saying, quickly and quietly, "I love you".  The first time it caught me off guard, the second time I responded just as quickly, "I love you too, buddy".......and I did.

#5) Stay in Touch
As Urbino knows networking is the number one way people find jobs. Staying in touch with former co-workers  is a great way to build your network and you never know when you may need a reference, a job or a contact.

I met a lot of great friends at "Not Bucca" and still keep in touch with a several of them. Urbino was the first person to call me the day I left, to put that in context, I have never heard from my direct supervisor since then. But then again, he never dragged me across a freshly mopped floor.

Of all the people I met at that restaurant, I think I miss Urbino and his life lessons most of all.