Monthly Archives: August 2010

Most Car Dealerships Have Cafes

Strange, But True

Given that my husband Mike and I have visited about 10 car dealerships in our search for the perfect new car for me, I became a sort of expert on the drink offerings at the various dealerships. I mean, I got thirsty with all that test driving, especially the Saturday we visited four dealerships in one day.

At the BMW dealership we visited Mike and I could have ordered a fruit smoothie, prepared by a person specially hired by the dealership to make them for us. I didn’t like the BMW I test drove and I definitely don’t like smoothies.

At the Volvo dealership I didn’t see any coffee or water or anything offered to potential car buyers. Like the Volvos they sell, the dealership was solid, but not flashy. Perhaps the Swedes figured we’ll buy their car so fast we wouldn’t have time to get thirsty.

At the Infiniti dealership there was a small but stylish coffee bar. The Infiniti G37 I test drove is a very fast car, and like that car, the dealership’s coffee bar was set up for maximum speed. The Japanese make a good cup of tea, but no tea was offered at the Infiniti coffee bar.

Who knew car dealerships named their cafes?!

At the Audi dealership’s Quattro Café a variety of tea and coffee was available.

Something for everyone at the Quattro Cafe.

I selected my beverage of choice, chai tea, walked the little sealed container over to the “coffee” machine and popped it in its slot. I closed the lid, pressed the button for an 8-ounce cup and presto! Out came piping hot tea!

This is a nifty "coffee" machine!

After adding sweetener and milk I had a perfect cup. The café was just right for me, maybe because I’m part German? Or could it be because I’m an “Audi person?”


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Filed under Audi A5, BMW 335i, Car Shopping, Infiniti G Series Convertible, new car, Shopping, Volvo C70

Audi A5

Final Decision

Saturday morning my husband Mike and I got up later than we planned; our electricity went out sometime during the night so our alarms didn’t sound. Jumping out of bed and rushing around wasn’t much fun, but Mike and I had a mission: to drive to an Audi dealership on Long Island, NY that had an (already sold, but not yet delivered) Audi A5 with Arum beige metallic paint on the outside and a cardamom beige with nutmeg laurel wood trim interior. We wanted to get in, see the car, then hustle out of New York before the traffic started it’s usual insane behavior.

Ohhhh. Isn't it a pretty color?

The salesman was happy to have us come out to see the car; however, if you know me, you know it was a real stretch for me to drive to Long Island. I hate the drive. I hate the  drive across Manhattan. I hate the Long Island Expressway. I hate the ridiculous stop and go traffic. I hate, hate, hate it!

<deep breath; exhale>

Unfortunately for me, the only (yes, it’s true) Arum beige Audi A5 within hours of our home sat in a dealership lot on Long Island. So Mike and I went to see it. Mike, bless his heart, drove. It took about 75 minutes to get there with me white knuckling it the whole way. We pulled into the lot, the salesman pulled the car around and I fell in love. I love the car. I love the exterior color. I love the brown roof. I love the interior color and wood trim. I love, love, love that car.

Mmmmm. Look at that light-colored interior. It reminds me of my old Lincoln. . .loved that car.

After looking at the car for maybe 10 minutes we thanked the salesman, hopped back into my Honda Pilot and motored toward home. On the way we stopped at an Audi dealership much closer to our home that our friend Craig recommended and ordered the car. Yes, for the first time in my life I ordered a car. It’s being made just for me. Me! I am so excited. Guess I’ll have to contain it until the car arrives, sometime in November.


Wheels! I'm gonna have new wheels!!

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Filed under Audi A5, Car Shopping, new car, Shopping

Let’s Talk Recipes

Meatloaf the Betty Crocker Way

Old Faithful when it comes to comfort food recipes.

It rained most of the week; Thursday I woke up to sunny skies and a stiff breeze. It felt like a meatloaf day so I hustled my bustle to ShopRite, a local grocery store, and bought ground beef (80/20 combo of lean/fat) and pulled out my trusty Betty Crocker Cookbook. It’s the first cookbook I ever owned and I’ve used it a lot over the almost 30(!!) years Mike and I have been married. It’s my go-to recipe book for comfort food.

My husband and kids love this recipe and so do I!

My mother gave me her circa 1956 mixing bowl set a few years ago (I think she received it as a wedding gift) and it’s my favorite; the bowls nest together on my kitchen counter just waiting for me. I always make meatloaf using those brightly colored bowls.

Do you gather all your ingredients first or do you run around getting them out as you cook?

The bread cubes and milk went into the red bowl so the cubes had time to get absorbed by the milk before they got smushed into the ground beef. The ground beef went into the yellow bowl, then I chopped the garlic and onion and measured out the spices. Last of all I cracked two eggs (I doubled the recipe) into the blue bowl (to make sure they were okay looking and shell-less before I mixed them into the ground beef). Then came the fun part. . .the part my son Max does for me when he’s home. . .mixing all the ingredients together using clean, bare hands. Oosh that beef can be cold!

The big yellow bowl can handle a double batch of meatloaf.

Since I doubled the recipe (it’s easy to do) I made two meatloaves and put one in a freezer for dinner another day. I love this kind of two-fer!

What did I make to accompany the meatloaf? Steamed new potatoes with garden parsley and a mixed lettuce salad. Yum!

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Filed under Betty Crocker meatloaf recipe, Cooking, Food, Let's Talk Recipes, meatloaf recipe

Eating at College

Cooking with Max

Behind this door two college men are eating very well.

Our son Max is happily ensconced in his first apartment at Big Ten College. One of the exciting parts of moving into his apartment, he said, is the ability to cook for himself instead of eating food service food. And Max can cook. One of his sister Tory’s and my favorite meals is his risotto. Max watches a few cooking shows, loves to eat in restaurants (we call it “fine dining” at our house) and has a good buddy named Greg who is attending the CIA (you know, the cooking school?!).

My husband Mike and I gave Max the amount of money it would have cost us for him to eat on campus using a meal plan. We expect him to budget that money and plan/cook his own meals. Max agreed, saying, “I’m down with that.”

All the basics Max requested.

We helped Max move in, set up his kitchen and stocked his freezer and frig with some basics to get him started. After all, he doesn’t have a car so he’s going to be either biking or walking to the nearest food store, then returning home, likely carrying his food on his back. We (okay, me, since I don’t think it even occurred to Mike) wanted to set Max up so he could jump right into actually cooking.

Sunday night we spoke with Max and he said he’d cooked breaded chicken, green beans and new potatoes. Monday night he ate baked pork loin rolled in breadcrumbs and rosemary. And Tuesday night he ate this:

Per Max's email to me, "Sauteed garlic, shallot, mushroom pasta with cream and parm."

Our son is cooking meals for himself and his roommate Tim that he never cooked for his own family!

So far this week Max has eaten far more healthful food than his own family has. Sunday night, exhausted, we ate at Tinga, our local Mexican restaurant where Max used to work and now Tory works. Monday night we ate various leftovers that were sitting in the frig. Tuesday night I made sausage, peppers and onions sandwiches.

I’m thinking about moving in with Max and Tim. I’d eat really well. . .but I guess I wouldn’t sleep worth a darn.

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Filed under Big Ten, College Apartment, College Living, Cooking, First Apartment, Food

Sleep, or Lack Thereof

Living with College Students

Max loves his college.

My son Max is now happily ensconced in his first apartment, located hard by his Big Ten College campus. He and the rest of the building’s tenants are college students, serious young men and women studying hard every day, intent on obtaining a college degree then going forth to change the world. Yep. That’s who they are. . .until night falls.

This is where our son lives.

My husband Mike and I helped Max move into his apartment over the weekend. After driving for hours, carrying furniture and stuff up flights of stairs for more hours, then unpacking and assembling everything for many more hours, Mike and I were exhausted, and we knew we’d sleep like the proverbial rock. We showered the sweat off and crawled into bed, Mike on his brand-new, bought-for-this-purpose Aero mattress and me into Max’s freshly made bed.

Our heads hit the pillows, and we exhaled.

The night breeze flowed into the room, cooling it off, but with it came. . .music, laughter and conversation.

At 1:30 am we weren’t expecting it, the music, laughter and conversation, I mean. Perhaps we should have, though, since as we were yawning and saying goodnight, Max was still assembling furniture, wide awake, in the living room. At first, I wasn’t too concerned about the sounds since I figured it wouldn’t last for more than an hour. After all, by 2:30 am normal people are fast asleep in their beds, right?

Wrong. And might I add that I’d forgotten that college students aren’t by any stretch “normal” when it comes to their sleep patterns.

The 1:30 am-3:00 am group, although chatty, played music I didn’t know so I drifted in and out of sleep, jolted awake only by really loud bursts of laughter. The 3:00 am-4:30 am group was a bit more problematic since I know the words to many of the songs they played and my brain insisted on singing along.

The deep bass beat permeated my brain.

By the time the fun and noise from the parties dwindled into nothingness, another sound sprung front and center: a steady, deep, repetitive bass beat, almost like those on a keyboard with built-in “bass beats.” Do you know the ones I mean?

Hit the 'beat' button and sound like a band!

The beat kept repeating itself over and over and over. Then it would pause. Then it would begin again. The same notes. Over and Over and Over. When I finally got out of bed at 6:45 am the beat was still playing. . .or else my brain had imprinted it and I was hearing a phantom beat. It was time to finish up and then drive home.

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Filed under Big Ten, College Apartment, College Living, Moving Day, Uncategorized

New Baby Alert!

He’s a Boy!!

My niece Moriah went into labor at about midnight last night. Her husband thought it was a dry run since the baby wasn’t due for another four weeks. Her brother LJ, who had slept at Moriah’s house last night, wasn’t taking any chances and followed them to a local hospital where Ariel said he expected Moriah to be checked and sent home. Not.

I received my first text from LJ at 6:05 am letting me know Moriah was in labor.

At 8:22 am I received a second text from LJ, “Just had him.”

LJ was over the moon. . .that his sister was doing fine after a fast and furious delivery and his new nephew is healthy.

Baby Nathaniel weighs 4 pounds 15 ounces and is 18 inches long. He is four weeks early, at least according to Moriah’s doctor. Of course, according to Nathaniel, he is right on time.

White roses for my niece.

I couldn’t wait to see my niece and my new great-nephew. So I ran to get some white roses for her and some newborn diapers for him, then jumped in my Honda Pilot and drove south on the Garden State Parkway. I must have had a brain fart because I got off the Parkway five exits early, but still managed to find my way to the hospital (thanks for the guiding hand, Daddy!) through unfamiliar territory. Whew!

My sister Cindy and I spent the afternoon with Moriah, keeping an eye on her, walking to the nursery window to gaze adoringly at Nathaniel, and talking. It was a magical afternoon of happiness and full hearts.

Dear friends, meet Nathaniel.

My niece, a new mom, with her darling baby boy, Nathaniel.

Nathaniel, meet your fans!


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First Apartment


We were a little nervous to see what awaited us behind this door.

We arrived at my son Max’s Big Ten College apartment building Friday afternoon without incident. That’s right, nothing broke in transit. Sure, the leg of the sofa got scratched, but a little brown Sharpie marker can fix that! I got a parking space for the “stuffed” Honda Pilot in the little lot in back of the building, while Mike pulled up and parked the 15’ U Haul in the (narrow) street with the rest of the Dads who were moving their kids into their first apartments. It was controlled, polite chaos in the stairwells as sofas and wing chairs and tables and more were lugged and hefted and cursed up the stairwells. (Note: The three of us didn’t curse, not once. And for the record, Mike and I had a blast helping Max move in!)

Everything except for the kitchen pantry was clean. Clean!

My husband Mike and I were really impressed with our first glimpse of Max’s apartment. Let’s just say that neither Mike nor I had as nice a looking college apartment! I was leery about  Max living with (and perhaps bringing home) “bugs,” if you know what I mean. Either the building had been freshly bombed or it is clean. We didn’t see one roach! Ask Mike about his stint as a college student in Marine View Plaza; he can talk roaches, bags and bags of them after he and his roommates would bomb the place every couple of months!

First look. Tiny, but clean. We installed a new shade and navy blue valence for Max.

It took a while, but the three of us managed to unload Max’s stuff from my Honda Pilot and the 15’ U Haul, carry it up three flights (below-grade parking lot, anyone?!) of steps to his second-floor apartment, then begin to arrange, assemble and set up his living room furniture, kitchen stuff and bed.  After the guys carried the big denim sofa up the stairs it sat in the hallway for a good 3 hours until we could muster up the energy (and space) to move it into place.

We sweated. . .a lot. Mike later said that Max won the prize for “most sweat on an individual during a single move”; he said I came in second. I think Mike won the prize for “most beer consumed while assembling furniture.” Just sayin’!

The apartment was freshly painted (except for the kitchen pantry, which looked gross), the carpeting was clean and the bathroom well scrubbed. It looked like new kitchen cabinets were installed too; either that or the previous guys never used them in their three years living there!

I got to work organizing the chaos in the kitchen. Fun!

I started with the kitchen. It was fun to wash the canisters and glassware, then put it into the cabinets. Mike put together the kitchen table and chairs, while Max put together the rolling kitchen island, then he reassembled the old (but refurbished!) three-shelf metal rolling cart. I put his canned food and pastas on it. The silverware went into a nearby drawer and the plates and bowls went into the cabinet above. I rolled out the new rug and hung the hand towels and potholders. All three of us were impressed with the end result!

What do you think of our efforts? Nice?

We took a break to eat dinner at 9 pm and made the first of two Walmart/Lowe’s runs. We got replacement window blinds since the ones in the apartment were mostly broken and pitiful. We got 2 storage units (assembly required) for Max’s folded clothes (his roommate Tim was coming with a full-size dresser and no way would the tiny bedroom accommodate two dressers and two single beds!) and a nice white kitchen garbage can. We also got glass shades to cover the three ugly florescent light fixtures in the two halls and living room. Mike stood on a sturdy bench my Dad had made for Max years ago and easily installed the glass covers. What an improvement!

A big square space with nice natural light and cruddy ceiling light!

Fixing up the living room was great fun. After Max put together the two student desks and coffee table, and Mike put together the desk chairs, we started to figure out, given the length of the cable/internet wires, where the furniture should be placed. The guys wrestled the sofa into place, while I cleaned the brass lamps. Mike hung the curtain rods, and I arranged the curtains on them. Max kept a good eye on Mike as he hung the mirror, poster, bulletin boards and the wood artifacts Max carted back from our vacation in Jamaica. It all came together nicely!

Max spent a lot of time assembling furniture. He did a great job too!

Do you see some of the dumpster stuff we refurbished? 2 black and cane chairs, round table, tv stand. . .?

After I have another (hopefully) good night’s sleep maybe I’ll tell you about sleeping in an apartment building filled with college students. Maybe!


Filed under Big Ten, College Apartment, College Talk, First Apartment, Moving Day, U-Haul