Day 1 in the books

My day started with an unfamiliar alarm at 5 a.m. I haven’t used an alarm to wake up for quite some time, and I’ve noticed recently that the iPhone’s “birdsong” no longer gets my attention. Though it does get the attention of foster cat Khloe and my Goffin cockatoo.

I quickly and silently crept from my room as to not wake said cockatoo. She needs her sleep and the last thing the teenager needs is a grouchy Goffin yelling for me.

I got dressed in the bathroom.

I had even worn my “Monday mood” socks with the coffee on them from my adult days of the week socks, because even though it’s Sunday, it’s Monday to me. I think this new work schedule renders my days of the week socks obsolete.

I went downstairs, made a cup of coffee and while waiting for it to brew, loaded the dishwasher. I had no intention of feeding cats at 5 a.m.

But you can’t sneak with cats around.

Most of them watched me drink my coffee.

I got in the car and discovered the teenager forgot to put gas in it. 85 miles to empty.

I made it to the Bizzy Hizzy by 6:05, greeted by my favorite security guard.

And I was assigned to Stitch Fix Freestyle QC. I stayed there until 3 p.m. so I guess that means I did a whole shift in that department.

The Big Boss of the Warehouse stopped by, I believe around 7:30 a.m. I overheard him ask our supervisor if everyone showed up.

I enjoyed freestyle today. And I really like the break schedule— it makes a 10-hour day feel like an 8-hour day, at least emotionally.

At our first break (8:55 to 9:10), Stitch Fix served us catered breakfast.

Meanwhile, the teenager and her dog hung out with Nala. The Goffin.

My phone would not track my steps today, leaving me to add them manually.

I had a good meeting with my new supervisor and process lead because they wanted to get to know me. And to introduce themselves. And this is one of the corny parts of Stitch Fix corporate culture that I like— they encourage everyone to connect with one another as people not just as cogs in the wheel.

Honestly the rest of the day passed quickly. Just before last break (3:10 to 3:25) I received word that my estranged husband crashed his car.

And after break, I was walking back to my station in women’s returns when I looked at the time clock at 3:27 p.m. — the time I normally clock in.

At 3:45 p.m., we all looked very confused as the loudspeaker walked us through our first stretches of the day.

Around this time, I received a call that Em was probably going to be adopted tonight. This was after hearing that Shady went home with her new family yesterday.

And we looked confused again when the 5 p.m. safety message played as we clocked out.

The teenager drove her father home. We then stopped at Wawa for gas and dinner. I got a black bean bowl with grilled chicken, spinach, carrots, lettuce and I’m not even sure what for sauce.

The first few bites were the best thing I ever tasted, but by the end I was very sick of it.

I ended my night trying to keep Nala the Goffin from attacking Khloe the foster cat.

A Saturday morning fitness surprise and a delicious breakfast

So good morning all, and I have to say it’s a gorgeous Saturday and I had another great workout at Apex Training with my trainer Dan.

Me in my Best Strong t-shirt

The photo is actually from Thursday’s workout, taken by Dan so I could tag #NickBestStrongman on social media, which I did and his official Instagram account started following me.

But today, the teenager got up early and came with me to the gym. The teenager is super strong and very balanced with the use of her body, full of power, so I wanted her to have the chance to really lift.

I think she’d be an amazing powerlifter.

And she did most of my weights at the gym today without breaking a sweat. Flexibility is her weakness. Balance is mine. Well, other than the cerebral palsy.

The teenager and I did a barbell bench press of 55 pounds, and did some hex deadlifts as well.

I came home and had an almost vegan breakfast— cream of wheat, vanilla soy milk, fresh artisan cashew butter from The Peanut Company in Cape May, dried blueberries, chia seeds and the one animal product, local honey. That was so delicious.

Review: Sunday Adventure to Turn In Family Restaurant

My family has always enjoyed small, off-the-beaten path restaurants. The kind of place many people would call a “hole in the wall” but I prefer to think of them as “independent.”

That’s how you find the best, or the worst, of food. And often the highest quality meals at the lowest prices.

Today, the teenager and I got up at a reasonable hour — or early for us— to take Extra Crunchy and Parker (and another family’s foster Wynken) from our cat rescue Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab to another animal rescue Furry Feet Rescue for shots and neutering.

By the time we retrieved kittens and microchips and made the 17 mile drive to drop the babies off, it was noon.

We found ourselves needing to use a bathroom and hungry in the small town of Bath, Pa. At a traffic light we noticed TurnIn Family Restaurant and with the teenager’s current occupation as a diner waitress, well we couldn’t resist.

Who says animal rescue is all hard work?

Turn In Family Restaurant turned out to be adorable. We got there after the Sunday morning early rush and minutes before the after church crowd.

The restaurant smelled of fresh potting soil as it actually had real plants and flowers. The dessert case looked amazing so I splurged and bought the teenager’s dad a giant cookie (hey, Darrell— “put that cookie down.”)

They gave us the lunch menu but when the waitress arrived she offered us breakfast and I accepted. After all, you can’t judge a diner without trying its classic morning meal.

Speaking of classic, my daughter got the Turn In Breakfast which is the same basic idea as the Tic Toc Breakfast Feast— but the price is $3 cheaper and at Turn In includes toast. I ordered the eggs Benedict.

The Hollandaise sauce couldn’t have been more perfect. The home fries the right delightful mix of soft on one side and crispy on the other. The Canadian bacon with my platter was thick cut and just salty enough to give the meal the right zest.

The teenager and I realized that we have become true pancake connoisseurs. The Turn In pancakes were very fluffy and rather dry, where Tic Roc’s pancakes are denser and have a heavier butter/fried flavor.

The bill came to $20, which included the cookie but not the $5 tip we left.

The blur

The last few days have been a blur: the last of mandatory overtime and trying to rest, seeing my dad for the first time in a while, teenager #1 following up on the job offer from our local diner. Throw in the mix some foster kitten errands, some wintry weather, and my annual fasting blood work and I scarcely know what end is up.

Perhaps this winter is a time of licking and healing old wounds so the spring can be a time of good growth.

Right now, I’m sitting in our favorite diner, really a favorite of everyone in the neighborhood, drinking a cup of coffee while my daughter takes a tour in anticipation of getting her working papers and accepting a job as a waitress.

The weather outside is sleet and slush, so it’s also her first day driving in wintry mix. We picked up some kibble at our foster godmother’s house— we’re down to three foster kittens. The roads in her area were slick and the back end of the car did slip but she maintained control. She also says she can hear the difference of the tires on the road when there’s precipitation under them. Her father says her ears are a superpower.

We started the day getting my annual fasting blood work— the prescription for which expires tomorrow so the phlebotomist was a tad confused. In my defense, I was scheduled to get my bloodwork the very day they closed my local Quest Lab. I had been fasting as required and they emailed less than 2 hours before that my appointment had been canceled.

To get today off on a good note, I wore my adult days of the week socks— Taco Tuesday— which I ordered off Target.com. And after my bloodwork I took the teenager to Wendy’s so she could finally taste the breakfast potatoes. Of course, I also got a free hot coffee from Dunkin. I tried the midnight dark roast.

Teen tries Wendy’s potatoes

Happy Tuesday!

Consolidator

At Stitch Fix, Monday was a paid holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Day. But we still had to do 8-hours of mandatory overtime. So I worked 10-hour days Tuesday through Friday. And then today I worked 10-2. I’ve been experimenting to what works best for my life and my body. After those 10-hour shifts, my four-hour one passed quickly. Super quickly.

Right now I am in an Epsom salt bath, trying to get Nala to play in the water.

The wind is howling vigorously outside. Nala’s more than a little nervous. And I’m having trouble staying warm in this tub.

I’ve worn a couple of my new shirts from Dolls Kill— which the teenagers unboxed here: Teenagers unboxing Dolls Kill haul. I’ve received some compliments.

So, one interesting thing about life at the Bizzy Hizzy is that second shift (known as midnight society) tends to work where needed versus in a particular position. With a shortage of inventory, we’ve been working inbound even if we are normally outbound.

Working in this warehouse environment makes me realize I am fascinated by operating logistics. Day shift has so many people they are streamlined to factory precision. Evening shift does not have quite that automation.

Last night I worked in men’s inbound— and I have never set foot in the men’s section of the warehouse. It’s clean, uncluttered and quiet. Then for my shift I went back to women’s returns processing. Today I served as consolidator. That was collecting clothes and distributing hangers.

Now there are two schools of thought on whether cross-training benefits the worker.

1. As an employee, we are hired for a certain job and our wage or salary is set by our skill level and what we do. When an employer asks us to perform additional roles without adjusting our compensation, they are taking advantage of the employee.

2. When an employee, particular one in a low-skill arena, agrees to perform more than one function, they are proving their willingness to learn and their capacity, which allows the employer to assess their performance and capacity. This will factor into evaluations and could lead to growth within the company.

Both are valid, and both are horseshit as workers are not really valued in American culture. The United States’ system values business and profit but not so much the individual.

But learning these different roles entertains me and quells my curiosity.

And this morning before work I treated myself to a breakfast at Wendy’s because I really like their seasoned potatoes. And I tried the Breakfast Baconator. I wanted it to be a hamburger. See my review here: Review of the Breakfast Baconator

And after work I stopped to see Mars and Vesta at Petco: Mars and Vesta

Meanwhile at home, Minerva turned a corner: Cuddly Minerva

Wendy’s Breakfast

I called Nan, my blind friend, during the weekend and said, “I have to get out of the house. Do you have time this week for a social visit? I have some customer loyalty coupons and specials for fast food— how do you feel about breakfast at Wendy’s?”

Nan has a pretty standard response to my phone calls.

“Ooooooooo,” she says.

We agreed I would pick her up on Monday at 9 a.m.

The teenager usually doesn’t emerge from her room until after 10 a.m. I decide to surprise Nan with a trip to Family Dollar, too.

I need a notebook for my volunteer role as Communications Director for Aspire To Autonomy, Inc., and for my notes as a partner in Thrive Public Relations.

Part of the fun of going to Nan’s building right now is the massive construction project they have going on. Her building has seven stories and they are removing the bricks on the south-most wall. The scaffolding they have is like an erector set for Godzilla.

Nan gets in my car, and despite the temperature already in the 80s and the humidity above 50%, I don’t have the air conditioning on in the car. The breeze is nice, the sun roof is open and the air conditioning is too cold.

We plot our order via the Wendy’s app— I order a small vanilla Frosty-chino (on special for $1) and the maple bacon chicken croissant (free with any mobile order). I want to try the chicken honey butter biscuit, too, but I can’t pass up free.

Nan orders the traditional sausage, egg and cheese combo. We order it on the standard bun as croissants can be greasy and flat and a biscuit might be crumbly. When you are planning a car picnic with a blind person, ease of handling is the primary concern.

We make hers the combo. We can split the seasoned potatoes and she gets an unsweetened ice tea as her beverage. Like me, Nan doesn’t like sweetened tea.

Our total for breakfast comes to $6.77.

We split the tab.

We drive over to Wendy’s, go through the drive through and discover that the Wendy’s parking lot has a lot of shade. Things we never noticed before the Coronavirus pandemic.

Surprisingly, the croissant is not a traditional croissant. It is square. This pleases me as I hate when fast food restaurants use American style croissants for sandwiches.

Nan’s sandwich appears to have a real egg on it.

I really like having chicken for breakfast as I am not a “breakfast meat” person. The maple bacon fills the whole car with maple scent. Nan finds it too strong. It tastes like table syrup.

Nan and I agree the potatoes are amazing. Nan reported that her sandwich was better than the average fast food breakfast sandwich.

We both think the potatoes are dangerous.

And I dribbled Frosty-cino down my white t-shirt.

We were very pleased with our experience.

Evening snack: yogurt and rambling about granola

I said I’d keep everyone informed of my Grocery Outlet experimental purchases. For a snack before bed last night, as I was hungry and logged my food on Fooducate and saw I was high on carbs and low on protein, I grabbed a Siggi yogurt and a tablespoon of Van’s gluten free banana nut granola.

The only time I ever enjoyed eating plain yogurt was when I traveled in Yemen and they served plain yogurt and the best damn honey I ever tasted for breakfast.

Surprisingly this yogurt was good. I could definitely taste the cinnamon though not the banana, which is a good thing because I don’t like fruit in my yogurt. I think they put just enough banana in to keep the yogurt from having that strong tangy taste. 10 grams of carbs, no added sugar or artificial sweeteners, and 11 grams of protein. Nice.

I will definitely buy this again if I see it.

I bought the granola at Grocery Outlet in late December as a Christmas gift for a friend who was testing his sensitivity to gluten looking for an answer to some ongoing health issues. Then he upset me, so I ate it. I can be bratty sometimes. I let him open it on Christmas Eve, but he had to work that day so he asked me to keep it for him. He never asked what happened to it.

I was pleasantly surprised with this product too. Many commercial granolas don’t taste like anything.

I am famous for my homemade granola, having given it as a gift at the holidays. It’s a knock-off of the Imus Ranch Cookbook recipe, read it here: Variation of Granola Recipe.

My bedtime beverage tonight is Traditional Medicinals Nighty Nite Valerian Tea, which i swear by, but tonight it’s 90% so I iced it.

And for the record, I flossed my teeth tonight. I’ve been lazy about that lately.

Matcha Quark

So when I still worked retail, and walked more than 10,000 steps a day and put away about 1,000 pounds of frozen food in addition to other physical stuff, I ate a big breakfast. Eggs, avocado, toast, fruit, vegetables.

For that decade, I worked hard and often didn’t know when I’d have time to eat. Big meals were a must.

But now I’m sedentary (and losing my will to go to the gym) and I’m just not as hungry. And I’m back to my bad habit of not having a proper breakfast.

Luckily, there are a lot of hearty yogurts out there and protein granola bars for a particularly rough start. Trouble is, I bore of food easily.

So when I see a new intriguing, protein-dense breakfast product I try it.

And the Grocery Outlet allows our household to try such things very inexpensively. That’s how I ended up with vanilla Farmer’s Cheese. Now, that was gross. But if I were hungry enough, I could have eaten it.

I also ate it a few days past the expiration but from what I knew about Farmer’s Cheese it is a cross between yogurt and cottage cheese so doesn’t that mean it’s already rotten? It certain had that exact texture.

Next I saw Quark.

Now, it was grass-fed Matcha Quark.

I have no idea what Quark is.

To me, Quark is the software I learned graphic design on nearly 25 years ago.

But I’ve loved matcha since before it was trendy.

Today I saw I had left it in the work fridge. This was good.

It stirred like yogurt, but pulled out of the cup like soft serve. No butter, acidic tang like yogurt. No bits or weird texture like the Farmer’s Cheese.

Day 6. Technically going backwards.

We started the morning by checking out of the Wyndham Garden Inn in Summerville, S.C., at 7:30 a.m.

It took us 20 minutes to get to the IHOP across the street. The shopping centers here are huge and have so many trees you can’t see the stores.

We drove past it and had to backtrack, then we turned into the plaza and drove a mile behind the stores in the prettiest Walmart parking lot ever.

Approaching the IHOP from behind, we recognized it by color.

And, like Waffle House, my meal did not disappoint.

It’s the older teen girl’s 16th birthday today. My girl turns 14 tomorrow. We asked them what they thought about the “fancy” hotel. They didn’t seem to think it was worth all the extra money.

We had to run back to the other shopping plaza across the street to visit Target. I dropped my deodorant in the toilet and my daughter needs some bathroom items.

I made everyone stay in the car. I told them I’d be in and out in five minutes. My teen timed me. 4:50.

Honestly the unfamiliar layout slowed me down, and my cartwheel deals had expired and their store network slowed down my phone… and then I had to choose between rose vanilla and lavender sage deodorant. So it was close.

We are now headed backwards. We’re going to the Bigelow Tea Plantation, the only working tea plantation in the United States. Then we are headed to the Angel Oak on John’s Island (recommended by Alyssa at my place of employment) and hopefully a volkssport walk at Magnolia Plantation back near Charleston.

It is completely possible we won’t gain any mileage today since we are going backwards.

Finally! A Waffle Ho(u)se and Southern fried chicken

I have never been to a Waffle House. I’ve been curious for years and a road trip down South seemed the perfect time.

Imagine my delight to see a Waffle House across the street from the motel.

That night we noticed the U in the sign was out so we drive around the truck stop to get a photo.

It amused me.

This morning I finally had my first Waffle House experience. Everyone was very concerned I would be disappointed.

I loved it.

The woman running the grill was amazing. The coffee good. And my waffle was thin and crispy.

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And then we had lunch at a hickory house chicken place in Hardeeville, South Carolina.

Chicken Lickin’s.

They made it fresh for us and the sides were out of this world. Best coleslaw ever.