Not Your Everyday News

Friday, June 29, 2007

Remembering Liz Claiborne

There are alot of women out there in mourning these days.
This past Tuesday saw the passing of fashion designer Liz
Claiborne after a long battle with cancer. Liz revolutionized
the fashion industry, designing and producing stylish, classic,
and affordable casual sportwear and coordinated outfits and
that were serious yet so very attractive. Her fashion and sense
of style were aimed at the influx of women entering the work-
place and climbing up the corporate ladder in the 70's and 80's.
Elisabeth Claiborne was born in Brussels, Belgium in 1929 and
came to the U.S. in the 1940's to pursue a career in fashion.
(She married twice and had one son.) After working for years
as a relatively unknown dress designer, Liz, together with her
husband Art Ortenberg and 2 business partners, launched the
Liz Claiborne line of clothing in 1976. It would not take long for
her to totally turn department store clothing policies and sales
upside down; her clothes became an instant hit, and in 1981
Liz Claiborne entered the stock market. In 1985, Liz Claiborne
Inc. became the first company headed by a woman to be listed
in the Fortune 500. So, as you can see, she broke the barriers
and set the table for other successful women that would follow
her (such as another one of my faves, Martha Stewart). Liz
retired from day to day operations in 1989, but stayed active
through various charities and foundations, most recently with
the Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation, dedicated to
wildlife conservation. I was in high school when I first started
buying Liz's clothes; the styles and colors were conservative,
classic, yet very attractive, high in quality yet sporty, all while
being affordable. Furthermore, the lines and cuts of the clothes
fit me well, something not easily accomplished due to my height,
arm length, hips, and bra size. When Liz entered the accessory
line, she sold me there too; shoes in large sizes, fantastic belts,
wallets, and purses....the total package. The only designer that
can come close to her accessory line is Aigner, but in clothing,
no one topped Liz. A pioneer for the non-stick figure, moderate
income woman who wants to turn heads in a non-flashy way,
who desires to wear fashionable and comfortable clothes that
last without going out of style - thank you Liz Claiborne, you
will be missed.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Ok, so is this little fella cute or what? Forest rangers in the
northern Italian Alps came across this very rare albino
mountain goat, the first such find in that area. Photos
such as the one above were taken at around 10,000 feet in 
the Val d'Aosta region of Italy. Hikers and climbers had 
reported seeing a white animal during their treks, so the 
rangers had been on the lookout for such. Well, they finally 
found him; the goat is estimated to be about a year old. 
They even decided to name him.....Snowflake! 

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Monday, June 25, 2007

A diverse trio

I must admit, I have been remiss in introducing y'all to some
of the new wait staff additions that we have had at the 
restaurant recently. They are all night shift girls, as that 
shift has a MUCH higher turnover rate than day shift. I am
pretty much convinced that the main reason for that is the 
late closing hour that we have there; not a whole lot of folks 
are too keen on being out and about at 2 am. Night shift is 
also a much slower, more relaxed pace than day shift; hence, 
the better waitresses tend to work during the more hectic 
day, while at night we can usually get by with staff who are 
not quite as efficient. Those who realize that waiting tables 
is NOT for them then move along. So the 3 newer staff 
members I need to bring y'all up to date with are Patricia, 
Terri, and Susan. Patricia is Hispanic, from Puerto Rico, but 
speaks excellent English. She is a good waitress and a very 
hard worker; the only drawback is that she is habitually late 
to work, to the point that the rare day she is on time, others
applaud or fall over!. In part I can understand her being short 
on time - she has 4 kids at home, plus her sister, with her 3 
kids, has been staying with her as well lately. I can only 
imagine the difficulty of time management in her case.
Patricia has become quite popular, as several regulars ask
for her. Terri is our new part-time gal, working only on the
weekends as she has a full time day job during the week. She 
too has kids, 3 of them, counting on her at home. Terri's sense 
of humor and wry sarcasm is a definite plus in the restaurant, 
you can definitely count on her to liven things up and keep you 
on your toes! One of her victims has been the 3rd gal I men-
tioned, Susan. She is the youngest of the bunch, just 19, and
quite a BIG gal, about 6 foot and very large boned. Let's just 
say she makes me looks small, and those who know me can 
verify that I am not. She is a work in progress, as she has had 
trouble catching on to how we do things there. Susan is part-
time, which is just as well actually; she also babysits during 
the day, and, basically, most of the other staff believe she 
should stick to her day job! But she isn't a bad person, just 
maybe not quite the smartest. The other day one of the cooks 
made a pizza error, and generally mistakes get eaten by the 
staff. Terri, as she was about to grab a piece, commented how
she didn't really need to be eating pizza, which Susan belied by 
stating that, actually, pizza was good for you, not detrimental 
at all! Ever since then, Terri has joked about how eating
pizza will slim you down, allowing you to drop 2 pants sizes!
She even took it further by calling M&M's "diet pills"! Susan's
reaction? A typically blonde one - an oblivious "huh"?!?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Antibiotic free chicken

A bit of good news has emerged from a national food company.
Tyson Foods, one of the largest producers and sellers of poultry,
has announced that as of this coming Monday, they would no
longer sell chickens that have been raised on antibiotics.
Granted, consumers will have to pay slightly more for the
untreated birds, but as a top Tyson's executive stated, "we're
providing mainstream consumers with products they want",
while also stressing that the cost would be below what con-
sumers have said they would be willing to pay. Tyson will now
embark on a $70 million dollar ad campaign trumpeting this
new development; different packaging will also emphasize the
lack of artificial ingredients. Naturally Tyson will be spending
more now to raise antibiotic free chicks. Almost 1/2 of their
production facilities will be converted to produce the 'new'
product. This is a good, albeit overdue, change by a major food
company. Let's hope others will follow suit in the near future.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Grocery shopping is NOT boring!

Sometimes, even the most mundane of everyday events can turn
out to be rather amusing. Take my grocery shopping experience
today. My fave store (begins with a 'G' and means very large!)
had several items on special that my husband and I use regularly,
so I had to hit it. Eventually I made my way to the frozen food
section, and in front of me was a mother with her 3 small children,
2 in the shopping cart, the other walking alongside her. Well, the
lady stopped to check out certain items, so the little boy walking
near her decided to get a few items himself! He opened one of the
glass freezer doors, grabbed whatever items he could reach, and
then tossed them in the shopping cart...MY shopping cart! I simply
removed them and kept going, but so had he, on to the next glass
door, whereupon he repeated his previous action, grab and toss,
again in my cart! At this point his mother noticed what sonny boy
was doing, took the items out of my cart, and apologized to me
before trying to correct her son. He seemed rather unfazed,
because once she turned her back again, he went on to the next
glass door and resumed his "shopping", or should I say, OUR
shopping! All this took place in under 2 minutes, as I grabbed
the items I was actually looking for and finally moved on, but I
just found it kind of cute how the little dude was trying to shop!
Well, I finally checked out and headed to the car with my cart,
and I came across an older gentleman, sitting in the car parked
next to me, undoubtedly waiting for his wife. He had to be in his
60's at least. What caught my attention was how he had his
stereo turned up FULL throttle, blasting some classic Elton John
tunes from the 70's! It was amusing to say the least. Just goes to
show, you are never too young to shop, and never too old to
pump up the volume!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dutch Driver

Read a great story on the Reuters website about another odd
event in one of my fave countries (for their unconventional
antics anyway!), The Netherlands. During a random traffic
checkpoint set up by police in Amsterdam, an 84 year old
man was pulled over. Police discovered that not only was his
car uninsured, but that he had been driving without a driver's
license for 67 years! Apparently the man had never gotten a
speeding ticket, nor had been in an accident, hence why his
flaunting of the law had never been discovered. The octoge-
narian promised police that he would get rid of his car (which
had also never been inspected!). No word if he was headed to
the Dutch DMV to finally get his driver's license, more than 6
decades after he first got behind the wheel!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A lobster of color

This story caught my eye for a couple of reasons. First, my
husband and I are seafood fans, so between that and the fact
that I work in the food industry, food stories catch my eye.
Secondly, this story comes from New London, Connecticut, a
city I know very little about despite the fact that I was born
there. So a seafood story from my original hometown....yeah,
it's a reach, but what the heck! New London is on the Long
Island Sound, which connects the Atlantic Ocean to southern
Connecticut and the north shore of New York's Long Island.
Then, in the actual city of New London, the Sound joins up
with the Thames River. Various fishermen lay lobster traps
at the mouth of the Thames, as well as in the Sound itself.
Well, the other day brought a colorful surprise to one of these
fishermen. When pulling up one of the traps, the fisherman
discovered a 1 1/2 pound BLUE lobster....bright blue at that.
The man decided to keep it in a cooler rather than cook it; the
blue lobster was then taken to an aquarium in nearby Mystic,
Connecticut. The curator there, Catherine Ellis, stated that
only 1 in about 3 million lobsters are what they call "true blue",
meaning that their coloring is due to genetics, not their envi-
ronment. Apparently the blue lobsters produce an excessive
amount of protein due to a genetic mutation. Hey, I am sure
this crustacean could care less about his genetics and color.
After all, he was saved from a pot of hot boiling water just
so school kids and tourists visiting the aquarium could stare
at him, and maybe snap some pictures, all because of his
genetically "flawed" color....claws up for that plan!

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Weekend wrap up

Let's see, what did this past weekend bring? Well, the return of
Annie to the restaurant, at least for now. As she is finally a free
woman, she is in the process of getting her life back to normal. But
she does live in a small town that is close to an hour away, so
personally, I don't think she will enjoy making that drive late night
for too long....time will tell. Sandra dropped in again, 2 weeks in a
row.....yeah, I was stunned! She is about to start a new job, hope
that works out for her. Michelle came in, simply miserable after
some dental work; she had to eat something VERY soft! The dear
Thompsons came in of course, to entertain and BE entertained...
mission accomplished on both fronts! Lisa and Peter also dropped
in, but I didn't have a real chance to chit-chat with them as the
restaurant was getting busy at the time. Lola called me from the
Big Apple. She and her gal pal/future roommate Nora, on a short
break from their summer job, were about to hit the bar scene. I
haven't heard from Lola since, so not sure if no news is good news
or what. Oh, and I ran into Francesca at the gym. Let's just say
she looked LESS than motivated - it was around noon and she still
wasn't really awake, but was there with her boyfriend in, as she
put it, "the beefcake section" where she feels "like a heifer"! She is
not fat by any means, but she does have curves; I am sure the
dudes in the "beefcake section" are quite appreciative of her visits
to the gym!

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Ok, the food recalls are alarming in their own right, after all, food
poisoning is no fun. But some folks now have to even be careful
about what they brush their teeth with after their meal. The FDA
began spot-checking toothpaste retailers and distributors in May for
tainted toothpaste; they were following up on press reports about
contaminated toothpaste from China being found in Australia,
Panama, and the Dominican Republic. On June 1st, the FDA issued an
alert concerning counterfeit tubes of Colgate labeled as having been
made in South Africa; suspicions grew when the words 'South Africa'
and 'clinically' were misspelled on the labels. Furthermore, Colgate-
Palmolive has stated that it does not import toothpaste from South
Africa. The fake Chinese toothpaste does not contain flouride, but
instead has been found to contain traces of a chemical found in anti-
freeze. Now the FDA has issued a full recall of the 'South Africa' tubes
after the counterfeit dental product was found in stores in Maryland,
New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The fake tubes of Colgate
have so far been found in various dollar stores. That in itself would
have raised my eyebrows. I am a loyal user of Colgate, have been for
years. I know the real price of this brand of toothpaste, and it is NOT
a dollar. The FDA has acknowledged that Colgate-Palmolive has not
manufactured or distributed the fake product. Boy, the Chinese really
have high standards - if y'all recall, some of the contaminated pet food
involved in the pet food recalls contained products that came from the
populous Asian giant. Counterfeit purses are one thing, but at least a
fake Gucci or Kate Spade doesn't adversely affect your health.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Thank you

Well, I am just getting through an interesting 4 days. To start it all off,
let me announce that I just celebrated my 29th birthday.....AGAIN!
And again, I was had at the restaurant. See, last year, my dear friends
the Thompsons, and wannabe ghetto fab waitress gal pal Keisha, put
together a surprise party for me at the restaurant for my birthday.
So you would think that there is no way they could pull if off 2 years
in a row, right? WRONG! Not only did they pull it off, but got even
more folks involved in the scheme! Hubby was in on it, as were a
couple more waitresses. Furthermore, I happened to have chance
visits by Michelle and Sandra at the same time, as well as these two
older sisters who always visit me on Sunday nights. Fortunately, the
cake was big enough for everyone to get a piece! It was a really fun
time, dampened only slightly by the fact that the time they chose to
spring this on me of course happened to be the time the restaurant
got a bit busy. But a good time was had by all, especially when I had
to open my presents; Keisha had hidden some unmentionable gifts
under the Reece's peanut butter cups she had bought. Let's just
say that everyone was amazed by the varying shades of red that I
turned, and how fast I moved to put that stuff back into the bag,
the very bottom of the bag mind you! But my thanks to everyone
involved and to all who brought me unnecessary but appreciated
gifts. Hubby and I then celebrated some during my 2 days off; on
my actual birthday, we had the Thompsons over for dinner. I
prepared most of my favorite foods....veal and asparagus (YUM),
quiche, and desserts. The only things missing were shrimp, I had
been unable to find jumbo ones that I liked, and the pasta dish was
not my absolute fave, but one in the top 5. I made pasta carbonara,
with bacon, egg, and parmesan cheese. My actual fave is lasagna,
but for some reason, I can never get it quite right. The noodles
usually turn out tough and crisp on the edges. I guess I am just
not a baker. Things were topped off by a nice Prosecco wine, and
we had a grand time! All I can say again is - Thank You!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I believe that I have mentioned in the past that my husband is
a huge fan of the HBO series 'The Sopranos'. Well, as most folks
know, Sunday was the last ever episode (supposedly). My hubby
was almost depressed just thinking about the show ending. Of
course, he DVR's all the episodes to save and watch again. Thus
we were able to watch the end together (after he peeked and
watched it alone first!). As everyone knows, the episode was
rolling along, a few loose ends were taken care of, and suddenly,
as the Soprano family met in a diner for dinner (with a suspicious
looking character eyeing them from the counter), the screen
went black. I thought the cable company had gone berserk
again, but then after a few seconds, the credits started rolling.
THAT is how this critically acclaimed series ending, it cut to
black and was done. Naturally I have been reading all the
various commentary and opinion online and in the paper. Some
are calling the ending genius, while others (the majority I think)
are seething at the lack of conclusion. My words, or word, when
I realized how is was ending was, and I quote, "NNNOOOO!"
I can't say I was the show's number one fan, not by a longshot,
but the ending definitely wasn't what I expected. I do think
that the ambiguous ending left it open for a possible return of
the Sopranos, or some kind of film or mini-series to tie things
up once and for all. All the characters involved say this is
definitely the end.....we shall see. But for now, hubby will have
to be satisfied with his recorded episodes.....and cut to black.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Carburetor Cuisine

That Lola is really something else. Freshly returned from Alaska, she
is up to her usual hi-jinks with her summer job. Apparently she drives
a truck that delivers luggage for children going to summer camps (the
high end camps that little silver-spooned kids attend). This company
she works for pairs up folks for each truck; one serves as the driver,
the other as map reader/navigator. Anyway, earlier this week she
had been telling me how she had heard about how some truck drivers
cook food in their engines by wrapping it up very well in aluminum
foil and placing it in strategic places. Well, Lola, being the adventurous
gal that she is, decided to try it! She and her buddy wrapped some
bratwursts and other delicacies, placed them under the hood, and
proceeded to drive around for a couple of hours (apparently the
minimum time food needs to cook in an engine...who knew?). Well,
she knew that the experiment would be successful when she and her
partner began smelling the brats through the air conditioning vents!
Sure enough, a couple of hours later, the feast was ready. Lola claims
that it was really good.....I will take her word for it. I may eat her
grandmother's cooking, but I think I will pass on veggies drizzled
with engine oil rather than olive oil!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The return of the Whistler

Some good news to report. I had not see the Whistler - Tom, and
his wife Marion for several months at the restaurant. As they are
both in their 80's, with Marion beset by Alzheimers, I had feared
the worst. But last week they reappeared out of the blue. I then
found out that they had been through a rough few months. Marion
fell and broke her hip; she gets around with a cane VERY slowly
now. And Tom had some health issues himself, high blood pressure
and some circulation problems, both of which called for a change
in diet (no, the restaurant is NOT for health nuts!). But they are
back, for now anyway. Sadly, Marion's Alzheimers seems to have
gotten worse; in the past, she would occasionally have a good day,
but since their return, not one yet. But they still have their odd
habits, such as drinking a beer in a wine glass while eating extra
crisp bacon and a super rare burger, with a side of potato salad
topped with blue cheese dressing . O.K., whatever works!

Friday, June 08, 2007


Today, June 8, 2007, brought us the first majorly hot day of the
summer - even if officially it is still spring - temps over 90 today!
And so it begins for us here in Central Virginia, hot days, made
more difficult by high levels of humidity. It is actually the
humidity that makes the heat worse - clothes sticking to you,
air thick and steamy - as we watch our electric bills go up due
to the constant need for air conditioning. We will also use more
gas in our cars, as we need to run the A/C there also. Fun fun
fun.....complain complain complain! We complain when it's cold
in the winter, hot in the summer, rainy anytime, just never ever
happy. hhhmmm, is that human nature, to moan and groan
about something all the time? oh well, such is life - enjoy!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Coffee and 2% Milk

I am a milk the stuff. And I also enjoy coffee, 2-3 cups
a day. So this article from definitely caught my eye.
Starbucks, that venerable coffee chain seemingly located on EVERY
corner, has announced that they will be making 2% milk the default
milk in their coffee/espresso drinks in all their stores in the U.S. and
Canada by the end of the year. Customers will still be able to request
whole milk, and of course, skim milk. Starbucks conducted tests in
Florida, California, Oregon, and parts of Canada to see what consumer
response would be; the results were overwhelmingly positive.
Consumer requests for 2% milk had been high in Starbucks prior to
the test run; even in grocery stores, lower fat milk purchases are on
the rise. With the changes, the fat content in most coffee drinks will
be reduced by 1/3. It doesn't make the mocha and caramel drinks
exactly healthy, but it's a positive step nonetheless.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Food Recall and Farmer's Market

UGH....yet another food recall. The culprit this time is ground beef.
United Food Group has recalled 75,000 pounds of ground beef due
to possible E. coli contamination. All the beef appears to be located
in Albertson's stores in Colorado. Backyard grillers in the Rocky
Mountain state beware! I am not a tree hugger, or green, or some
environmentalist, but these food scares in the last year or two
have gotten out of hand. I am not saying I am going organic or
natural, but I have noticed myself being more careful with my
picks at the grocery store lately. I have even decided to hit this
new local farmer's market that is going to run every Wednesday
during the summer, might be interesting. There is a big farmer's
market downtown every Saturday during the summer months,
but it only runs in the mornings, so no chance of me getting to
that one! But this new Wednesday one will run late afternoon,
early evening - perfect!

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Lot Lizards

Just to tie up some loose ends here. Kathy, as of this past weekend,
is in New York, hopefully in wedded bliss. She plans to be back in
the area later on this month to get her last things and paychecks -
anyone betting that she may not leave again if she does? But that
is cruel on my part, to be such a skeptic when it comes to Kathy,
but her track record leaves alot to be desired. That brings us to
her ex-roomie in the big house, Annie. She finally became a free
woman last week, and has called the restaurant twice to ensure
that she can come back to work in a couple of weeks once she has
her life back on a somewhat normal track. Changing streams, Lola
has left town for now, as her summer job began over the weekend.
She was able to 'educate' me last week, introducing to a phrase I
had never heard - Lot Lizard. I had never heard it before, and
while it did sound sleazy, I never imagined how much! Apparently
a lot lizard is a working girl who frequents large truck stops on
the interstates. Seems that a gal from Lola's hometown has been
making waves with her choice of livelihood. Apparently she had
to be rescued from 2 different truckstops, one in Tennessee, the
other in Maryland, where she had been stranded. As Lola
explained it to me, a lot lizard picks up a trucker, gets out at the
next big truckstop, whereupon she picks up another trucker who
is going the opposite way, back where she came from. Sadly, the
hometown lot lizard gal was unable to find a client to return home
with twice in the last week, hence the calls to be rescued. Guess
those high gas prices are hurting all kinds of businesses!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Onesole Sandals

Today's blog post comes courtesy of a visit by the always entertaining
Lisa and Peter to the restaurant. Lisa, who is a borderline shopaholic
(just short of having to enter therapy!), came in showing off her new
stylish sandals. They were a zebra print, with naturally matched her
purse and blouse. But that's not all! She then whipped out these black
pieces of material that looked like swatches, covered with multi-
colored rhinestones. Turns out Lisa had just hit a fashion show at one
of the high-end woman's clothing boutiques here in town. Some lady
from Florida was there, touting her comfortable, fashionable sandals.
The kicker (ooohh, bad pun there!) is that you can change the tops of
the sandals with a different color, design, decoration, practically any-
thing. The tops are removable; they attach at 4 points with snaps.
Lisa bought the 2 designs I mentioned above and is ready to buy
more I believe! She then gave me the website to check out, and sure
enough, I saw dozens upon dozens of designs, even holiday motifs and
university logos. Furthermore, you can send in a picture, color, or
design, and the company will make custom tops for you; mono-
grammed tops are available as well. There are different selections for
the soles too. Basically, with 4 snaps, you can go from dressy to casual,
or vise-versa, in no time - it's a snap! They are a little pricey, but for
the big sandal wearer, this is a clever idea.....leave it to Lisa to
uncover something odd but neat! Click on the title of this post to go
to the website - take a peek for yourselves!

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