Archive for the ‘Treats’ Category

Service of Happy Surprises: Contango IT Will Make Your Day

Monday, July 17th, 2017

I associate a surprise with a treat. I enjoyed both recently.

The place: The kitchen in my office

The time: Lunch

One of my office friends was making a cup of coffee. As I walked past him to get my daily seltzer I mumbled that I was so much in the mood for lemonade but would settle for the cold fizzy water I’d stored in the fridge.

As I returned to my space a few of the others in the office were milling about, putting food in the microwave, washing a dish or walking down the hall.

Sean Galvin, service coordinator, Contango IT

Around 4 pm Sean Galvin, a service coordinator fairly new at Contango IT, one of the other businesses in the office, walked into my room, put a bottle of Tropicana lemonade on my desk, didn’t say a word and left. Imagine that! The surprise made me so happy. The lemonade was delicious.

Contango is a leader in IT consulting, wiring/infrastructure and custom programming–a pioneer in cloud computing since 2008 with a client list of household names. This growing company is staffed with young and bright, informed millennials with a range of extracurricular interests making them fun to speak with after hours. Danny Mizrahi, founder and principal, knows how to pick staff. They work hard; are conscientious, and at the same time are thoughtful neighbors. Previously they’ve cheerfully participated in posts on this blog, sharing titles of their favorite scary movies and IT buzzwords that irritated them.

We are bombarded daily with examples of greed and selfishness so that a kind act takes on additional significance. Have you benefited by a surprise lately that warmed your heart?

Service of Time and Place: Is Something Still Funny with Kids in the Picture?

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Todd Schnitt, co-host with Len Berman of the morning drive show on WOR 710 radio in NYC, deplored the slogan on a tee shirt that a young woman wore on the plane he, his wife and two kids were boarding recently. It promoted the F-word within a snarky comment. He was irritated that his kids had to see it.

He’d wished the crew had asked the woman to either wear her shirt inside out or buy another one at an airport shop as he’d read that other flight attendants had done the same. He also mentioned women boarding commercial flights in ridiculous décolleté who have been told either to cover up or leave.

Schnitt is no prude: He isn’t afraid of the racy story. He seems obsessed with Anthony Weiner and others caught in twisted situations of a perverted sexual nature. He reminds those who object—usually women–that his audience is young to middling-aged men.

A day later an out of town friend told me that he was choosing some chocolate cupcakes for a five year old from a bakery often filled with kids buying treats. [He’d forgotten to recognize the child’s birthday and was seeing his dad and wanted a surprise at the ready.] “We call those Prozac cupcakes,” said the counterman. 

This friend doesn’t shock easily either, and even though he knew the baker picked what she thought was a clever name in an attempt at humor—as in desserts named “death by chocolate”–he wondered whether his choice was right for a chocolate-loving child and about the appropriateness of the name in the first place.

Do you think Todd and my friend are being prissy? Have we lost our compasses as to what’s funny–when–and in what context?

Service of Full Measure

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

I love to feel as though I’ve received my money’s worth and like to surprise people by giving them more than they expect.  So that may be why when I feel short-changed, I’m really irritated.

There’s a boutique takeout place in a nearby village that charges a premium for a small container of soup and when you get it home, the container is only three-quarters full. It happened twice–I figured it must have been a mistake the first time.  I don’t care for this approach so in spite of its stellar reputation, I’ve never been back. [Soup is one of the most profitable things on any menu so on discovering the skimpy portion I thought, “You’re testing my patience” when I should have been thinking, “um um good!”]

When I order wine-by-the-glass, I’m amazed by the difference in the amount of wine I get from place to place and in my experieince, the less I pay the more wine I’m served. And it has nothing to do with leaving plenty of room for a fancy red varietal to breath or because the goblet in an expensive place is bigger than in a reasonably priced one.

Dinner portions have a way of being amusingly tiny in some of the more expensive restaurants as well. Nobody needs enough roast beef to provide leftovers for a family of four [though dinner the next night is a treat!]. Yet to leave hungry after someone’s spent $100+ makes a customer feel duped as well as the brunt of a proprietor’s joke.

If I’m paying top price, I also like a nice big dollop of ice cream in a cone, even if I can’t finish it all.

If you speak with a lawyer or psychiatrist in an office or over the phone you are charged to the minute. Shouldn’t it be the same for everyone else who charges for their time–no more, no less? Here are examples of both instances:

**A friend recently signed up with a trainer at a well-known sports club. She pays $45 for half an hour and she has a $700+ contract. She works hard for her money and her clients get the best of what she does and she expects the same from the people she hires. She lets the trainer know every time he tries to shortchange her by five minutes at the end. She also makes him give her the time when he starts late because he’s finishing up with someone else. And she’s right! She’s paying $1.50 a minute so why toss away $7.50?

** Some PR staffers work at agencies where clients are charged for their time, billing in the $hundreds per hour. Accurate time cards are essential. Some write fiction–you know who you are. I’m always amazed when clients don’t speak up or weigh a hefty bill against a skimpy activity report.

When you feel you don’t get full measure, do you care or shrug it off? Are there instances that particularly irk you?

Service of Little Luxuries

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

It’s easy to criticize how others spend–or you may feel waste–money. We all have our little luxuries and they aren’t the same. Chances are, what’s important to you is considered frivolous to someone else and vice versa.

An acquaintance bought a pair of non-prescription designer sunglasses at what was for her a bargain price of $150. They normally cost $400, she said. Hiding behind those shades must make her feel like a million bucks. As long as I don’t squint when I’m in the sun and they look OK, what makes me happy is to pay $25 or less for sunglasses. I love beautiful clothes and accessories, though I’ve never been fashion label-addicted or impressed. It’s the overall effect I’m after at the best price I can find. Neither of us is right or wrong.

A bag of truffled [sic] popcorn @ $8.99 for three ounces and a $206 olive-wood handled picnic knife were featured in a Town & Country column, “Life’s a Picnic,” in the June issue. They got me thinking of my little luxuries. My current favorites: Verbena-scented soap, greeting cards on fine paper, creamy lipstick, getting my hair done when I don’t need it cut, buying a perfect gift and dinner party favors.

I also observe others’ essential non-essentials. Some are not so small.

**A frugal friend who lived in a series of rental apartments couldn’t move in without a new refrigerator and top-of-the-line washing machine. In every other way, she was totally unspoiled and a penny-pincher by necessity. Hot water, disinfectant applied with a new sponge on the appliances that came with the apartments was not an option for her.

**Another pal watched every dime spent on herself and spent almost none. Fresh flowers were her only extravagance if you don’t count the wonderful, creative gifts she gave friends.

**I know people who still smoke. A pack runs upwards of $7 in New York City and I bet they can’t buy just one.

**Brought up to read the right side of the menu [where the prices are listed] before ordering food at a restaurant, I discovered my mom wasn’t as careful when traveling.

**Some eat dinner nightly with a bottle of wine. If you know where to buy wine these days, it can cost less than soda, milk, juice, or bottled tea or water. Compared to water from a tap, all of these drinks are luxuries.

**Manicures, pedicures, massages and other spa amenities may not be my style but are very much in style and beloved.

What are your small–or not so small–luxuries? Have these changed recently? Are you judgmental about friends’ picks? Any in particular?

Service of Seasonal Treats

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

A good friend said that she wasn’t exchanging gifts with family at Christmas this year because “we already have enough stuff.” While some on her list are getting gift cards, for the most part, her family plans to make merry with museum visits, tickets to a play and other special event-sharing.

Last Friday night we were grabbing a bite of pizza in Poughkeepsie. I overheard a conversation in which the father of three boys, [he turned out to be the neighborhood doctor], told the restaurant owner that for Hanukah, his children weren’t getting gifts on every one of the celebration’s eight nights. One night would be game night, another, book night and so forth. It can pay to eavesdrop because we plan to do the same on Christmas Eve this year. Our gathering will include friends and family ranging in age from eight to 70+.

Moving my mind from my Christmas gift list, I thought about some of my favorite holiday treats, the smaller, meaningful indulgences I anticipate or hope for every year.

***While the thumbprint cookies our grandmother made could be eaten at any season, the aroma and taste of the family’s traditional Christmas cookies signals the holidays. We make them with ground almonds (3oz), sweet butter (1/2 lb), flour (2 cups) and powdered sugar (2.5 oz) with red current jelly in each thumbprint. Once baked and cool, we sprinkle confectioner’s sugar on them–it’s reminiscent of snow. My grandmother also made crescent-shapes with the dough, but I love the look and taste of the jelly. I always double the recipe so I have extras to give away.

***Eggnog, with or without extra rum, is so tempting. I haven’t tried the low fat version, though I plan to, with fingers crossed. [I prefer skim milk, so there’s hope the taste will pass, as long as my husband doesn’t see the low fat designation.]

***I discovered Bella’s butter toffee  [photo right] with dark chocolate and nuts at craft fairs. It also comes with milk or white chocolate. There’s only one problem with it: It never lasts as long as I’d wish! Open a box to share with guests and I wager it will be empty before they leave. You can order the toffee [and other goodies] on line.

***Once I ate an unusual ham at a holiday cocktail party. It looked like a regular ham until I saw a slice. [I was told it wasn’t at all pretty before the host removed the maggots.] The meat was translucent–I’d never seen anything like it. It was home-cured, nurtured in an uncle’s barn. It wasn’t like prosciutto, nor was it stringy like Virginia ham. I keep hoping to meet someone with generous southern relatives who share this tradition.

***My nephew’s wife, Annie, makes magnificent rice. When she contributes a platter of it for holiday dinners, I’d be happy to eat nothing but, regardless of what wonderful roast and other veggies are on the menu.

What are your favorite Christmas and/or Hanukah treats?

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