Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Do's and Do Not's of Talking Someone Who has Lost a Pet

I have been thinking about this blog post for a really long time.  In face, it is the first thing I have felt compelled to share in a really long time.

On October 3, 2014, we lost our 2.5 year old greyhound, Batman.  He was the light of my life (nothing against Marshmallow, I adore him, but he is a Daddy's boy) after losing three of my girls (Mary, Daisy and Fancy) in a 10 month span.

After Batman's death, while many people were understanding, I received numerous insensitive and hurtful comments.  I view my pets as part of my family, and while not everyone views animals this way, anyone who knows me, knows that this is how I feel; so some of the comments brought me to tears.

It has been awhile since Batman's death, and it has taken me a long time to process what has happened and to cope with my overwhelming grief at losing so many beloved pets in a relatively short period of time. 

After processing things, I came up with some Do's and Do Not's for others.  Hopefully this will help people who are attempting to talk to people they know who have lost fur-babies.

1)  Do not minimalize or trivialize my grief.  This is the one that hurt the most.  Especially when people would tell me that Batman was just a dog and that I needed to get over it.  He might have been just a dog to others, but he was my fur-baby and he was a big Mama's boy.

2)  Do not tell me I need to get another pet to replace the one I lost.  This is not helpful at all.  Batman was irreplaceable.  There will never be another dog like Batman, and that is part of what hurts so much.

3)  Do not tell me about the loss of your own pet.  This does not help me with my grief; in fact, it makes me feel worse.  I know you are just trying to say that you have been through the death of a pet, but everyone's experience is different.  Additionally, knowing you lost a pet as well, makes me even more sad.

4)  Do not try to distract me.  You will not succeed.  This also tells me that you do not understand how important my pet was to me because you think a piece of chocolate cake is enough to overcome the loss of my baby.

1)  Do let me talk about my grief and do listen to me.  All I wanted to do was talk about Batman and my memories of him.  It helped so much to think of the good times.

2)  Do ask me about my pet...not the actual death, but what my pet was alike when he/she was alive.  I love to tell people about all of Batman's quirks.  For example, Batman hated smooth floors, but loved to play with toys.  If we threw a toy on the tile, he would run to the toy and then gingerly back out every time (he would never risk turning around).  It was so cute!

3)  Do tell me your own good stories, memories, or pictures of my pet.  Oh, these helped so much and brought me so much joy, even in my grief.

4)  Do just give me a hug and let me know you are here for me.  The day after Batman died we had to tell some members of the greyhound group we volunteer with about his death.  To this day, I remember the hug Dona Ghadimi gave me.  It was so overwhelmingly supportive.

I hope this has helped someone.  It has been cathartic to talk about it.  I am ok now.  In January we adopted a beautiful greyhound we named Zadi.  She is a mama's girl and I adore her.  She has unknowingly helped to heal my heart.  (I tried to add some pictures, but blogger was taking too long to upload.)

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Server's Thoughts on Tipping, Diners and the Restaurant Industry

In the last couple of months I have read several Internet and magazine articles about tipping standards and the restaurant service industry.  I have been very frustrated by the responses to a lot of these articles and quite frankly, the ignorance of many of the people responding. My frustrations have really been eating away at me, so I thought I would just post some thoughts I have on the subject.

1.  Servers are people first and servers second.  Just because we work in the service industry does not give customers the right to treat us rudely or poorly.  I can't tell you how many times I get to a table and greet people only to be ignored or rudely acknowledged.  Additionally waving your hand at me, calling me "girl" or whistling in the middle of a restaurant to get my attention, is just plain rude. Thank goodness I was raised to be kind to matter who they are or what they do for a living.

2.  We are not all uneducated people unable to get a better job.  I am probably more educated than half the people I serve, but I choose to work in a restaurant.  The job I have now fits where I am in my life right now.  Many people work in the service industry as a second job to supplement their income because of the flexible hours.  Do not assume that we are not intelligent people or not capable of working outside the restaurant industry.

3.  This one is going to be controversial but here goes.  Tipping is not optional.  If you cannot afford to tip your server at a sit-down restaurant, then you CANNOT afford to go out to eat at that type of restaurant.  I make $2.15 an hour and I have been with the same place for 5 years.  This is the way the industry works, my wages are primarily dependent on tips.  Many people say that the restaurant industry needs to change and pay their employees competitive wages so they, as customers, are just expressing their opinion by not tipping, but your opinion hurts my livelihood.  The reality of the situation is that the restaurant industry is NOT going to you know how much your food would cost (in the US) if every server made at least minimum wage?

On the flip side, I do think you have a right to choose how much to tip your server.  The current going rate for good service is 15-20%. (I really strive to be a 20+% server).  If your server is exceptional, than go ahead and give 25% or more.  If your server is terrible...and I mean truly awful than it is your choice how you tip.  I have had some seriously bad servers, I mean bad (think scratching private parts and then touching my plate) and have actually left a restaurant without tipping (this is really rare for me because I will almost always leave 10% for bad servers since I know what their job entails).  But here's the thing, I expressed my frustration with a manager so that the person had a reason for why I left no tip and had a chance to improve.  Also, I NEVER look for things to "punish" a server.  I feel like many people do this as a reason to justify not tipping..."my food took forever to come out, you didn't fill my tea immediately, you didn't read my mind that I can't have blue cheese, the prices are too high, etc..."  Very few of those things are actually things I have control over.

Something to ponder, if you get bad service everywhere, is it the server or is it you?  We learn very quickly which people tip poorly just because they think they can or are exceptionally demanding and rude without compensating with a tip.  Many servers will write these people off and give them bare minimum service because they know no matter how hard they work, they will not be fairly compensated.  Is this you?

4.  Yes, you should tip on a take-out order.  I am not saying to give the server 20% for your take-out order, but 10% is a decent tip for this type of order.  Please understand that in many restaurants when you talk to a server over the phone and place an order, that server is responsible for the order.  When I take a take-out order (either over the phone or in person), I not only have to ring it up, I have to make the salads or soups, ensure your order is completed correctly, bag it up, and still maintain a good level of service to the customers I already have in the restaurant.  I can actually lose money on a take-out order because the work to complete it takes away time for serving the customers eating in the restaurant.

5.  Most servers really do want you to enjoy your dining experience.  I honestly want everyone that comes in our restaurant to enjoy their meal.  If there is something that could improve your experience, kindly let us know and most of us will try to help.

6.  Back to the practices of the restaurant industry.  As mentioned before, I make $2.15 an hour.  My place of employment is legally required to compensate me to at least minimum wage if I don't make enough in tips.  Here's the thing, this is not a daily practice, it is per paycheck.  I can work one day and make less than $5 dollars an hour, including my hourly wage (yes these days day I worked a four hour shift and walked out with $5 cash) but another day I can make $11 an hour including wage and tips.  Because the average between the two days reflects minimum wage, I don't have to be compensated by the restaurant for the really bad day.

These are just a few of my thoughts.  I am sure I am forgetting something, but at least I have tried to clearly express my thoughts and frustrations. I understand that not everyone agrees with me, and that is OK, but I feel better having typed all that out!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

I'm still posting the recipes I made on baking day over a week ago.  Today's recipe is one I found on Pinterest.  The actual recipe is from a blog and these Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies were pretty easy to make, if a little time consuming.

I'm not actually going to type out the recipe since the only thing I changed was to use smooth peanut butter since we didn't have crunchy on hand.  If you would like the recipe just follow the link above the picture.

These cookies are ok.  They definitely taste the best hot, right out of the oven.  Once frozen, they just lose something.  I probably won't make these again as I think there are better versions out there, and I can think of other ways I prefer to use my peanut butter cups.

Happy Eating!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Here is another recipe from my baking day last week.  James requested these Lemon Blueberry Muffins for quick breakfasts. I am not sure where I got the recipe from.  I think it is from Pinterest and was originally a cranberry based muffin.

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

½ cup plain yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
pinch salt
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup oil
2 cups fresh blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix the yogurt, sugar, salt and eggs together in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to wet, and stir together until moistened.
3. Add oil and mix, mix, mix until batter is smooth and homogeneous. Fold in cranberries.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into muffins comes out clean.

Lemon Simple Syrup
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar

In a small saucepan, heat the lemon juice and sugar together gently until all the sugar dissolves. Brush over muffins.

James really likes these.  He says they have a good flavor and reheat well from the freezer.
 Happy Eating!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

White Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins

I have had this recipe bookmarked in my ever-growing "Recipes to Try" folder for a very long time.  James is not a huge fan of whole wheat items, but I love the flavor.  I finally decided to give it a go on Monday and I am pleased with the results.  The muffins definitely are more dense than traditional muffins and definitely have a wheat taste, but the chocolate comes through strongly as well.  

The original recipe is from the King Arthur's Flour website...which I love.  White Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins are worth taking a look at if you are trying to have a yummy quick breakfast, but add some fiber in your diet.  As usual, I made a few changes.  I used organic, non-fat plain yogurt instead of the milk, for the "strong flavoring" I just added extra of my homemade vanilla extract and I decreased the chocolate chips to 1-3/4 cup.  Also, I used my homemade vanilla sugar to top the muffins instead of coarse, sparkling sugar.

Let me know if you try these!  Happy Eating!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Today's Baking Session

It has been a long time since I've posted. Lots of things kept me from posting... James went on a trip, Mary got sick, we lost Mary, I was working a ton of shifts covering for other people, I got the stomach virus and then within days got a very bad case of food poisoning.  I'm glad that is all behind us, but I have had a really hard time losing Mary and haven't really wanted to do much.  I finally decided I needed to get some baking done so we would have some quick breakfasts and a couple of snacks.

I made Lemon Blueberry Muffins, Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup cookies, Mary Drops (I posted the recipe for these a long time ago on my other blog), Rice Krispie Treats, and not pictured is a loaf of whole wheat yogurt bread.

The bread didn't rise...not sure if my yeast is not good or if the bread was just too heavy for the yeast (it had whole wheat, bread flour, yogurt, and oats in it).  When it cools a little more I will taste it.  I imagine it is still salvageable and I don't mind eating "ugly" bread a long as it still lasts good.

I will try to post a better picture and recipes for the goodies not already on the blog later this week.

Happy Eating!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Peanut Butter Oreo Brownies


I saw this idea on Pinterest a couple weeks ago, but just now got around to trying to make them. Super easy to make and oh so tasty.

I lined a muffin tin with cupcake liners and preheated the oven to 325.  I spread some peanut butter on one Oreo cookie and then put another one on top.  Next, I spread some more peanut butter on the top cookie and then put the stacks in the cupcake liners.

I mixed up my favorite brownie recipe and scooped some on top and then baked them for about 15 minutes. You could easily use boxed brownie mix if you prefer, but I like the taste of my homemade batter. After baking and cooling the brownies, I cut one in half for a picture.

Of course, the picture didn't turn out well, so I took a closer shot and it also didn't turn out, but I think you can still get the idea of the goodness that is waiting for your taste buds.

I have to remind you of the warning I opened with...These brownies are so delicious.  I am glad that I only made 12 of them and used the other half of my brownie recipe to make German Chocolate Brownies for James.  In order to save myself from inevitable weight gain, I am going to have to take some of these to work. Peanut butter-y, oreo-y, and oh so yummy!!  Happy Eating!