Saturday, December 28, 2013

End of the year

I wanted to be able to say I blogged before the end of the year, and I was sick of seeing my old post lingering at the top like it was hanging on in desperation,  so here is my last 2013 post.

Mind your manners.
Be nice to others.
Help out when possible.
Make healthy choices.
Have a great 2014.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Recipe ideas using greek yogurt

Got plain Greek yogurt? No problem!

I buy plain Greek yogurt by the tub and I substitute it straight across for sour cream in all of my recipes. I also dress it up to make it sweet. It is so healthy for you and is easy to cook with...and delicious! I feel like most Greek yogurt recipes involve either A) pre-flavored Greek yogurt or B) they are inherently Greek recipes (tzatziki sauce anyone?) Here are seven ideas to turn that wonderful and versatile ingredient into something fabulous.
*As luck would have it, almost all of my pictures were deleted, so that's why I only have three...
  1. Guacamole. I love guac, but I don't love all of the extra calories from sour cream, so I substituted the sour cream with the greek yogurt and it was delicious! 
  2. Chicken pot pie. I betcha didn't think you'd see that one! It adds a nice creaminess while cutting the calories that you'd normally get from a cream of chicken sauce. Tip: add to a rueafter adding a can of chicken stock. You want it to thicken before adding the yogurt. Unlike sour cream it does not act as a thickener.
  3. Chicken poppy seed casserole. This is a family favorite and I feel better about making it knowing I can do it somewhat healthier than a typical casserole recipe. Swap out the sour cream for yogurt.
  4. Vanilla yogurt. If you add a couple of drops of vanilla extract and some honey, you have a yummy bowl of vanilla yogurt. Add some nuts, fruit, or granola and you have a well rounded snack. 
  5. Crepe filling. I make a creamy filling to mix with my fruit when I make crepes. Add a couple of drops of vanilla extract and powdered sugar to flavor and keep it thick. If you add regular white sugar it will make it soupy. Blah. Tip: fresh fruit is better to use than canned fruit...
  6. Enchiladas. We love green chile chicken enchiladas and I used to make it with green chile sauce, cream of chicken, and sour cream. Now I do just green chile sauce with greek yogurt and it is absolutely delicious!
  7. Dip/sandwich spread. If you've ever bought Hidden Valley dry ranch mix it calls for a tub of sour cream to make the dip. Sub that out for plain greek yogurt and you're golden. I also will take a heaping tablespoon, add onion & garlic powder with a pinch of dill and use it on sandwiches instead of mayo. 
Guac...yum.






















*Remember how I said to use fresh fruit for crepes? Yeah, I used some peaches I canned and it was a runny mess!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Why I've never been pulled over

The short answer? Because I'm a good driver.

The long answer? Because I'm not a Utah Driver.

I learned to drive in Oregon. The speed limit there on the highways is 55 MPH in almost the entire state. There are a few stretches where it is 65. And I'm telling you, for realsy reals, people go 55. The "speeders" go over 60. My dad is a very conservative driver and always told me to never go more than 7 over the speed limit. So I don't. I give drivers a good amount of distance in front of me, I watch the car two cars ahead to react to them in traffic, I don't speed (unless I'm passing someone), I use my blinker, I don't cut people off, and I stop at red lights. Sounds basic, yes? Not in Utah.

Here in Utah drivers as a whole (of course there are exceptions) speed like crazy, pull out and cut you off instead of waiting 5 seconds to turn when the coast is clear, they don't use their blinkers, they tailgate like crazy, they think that because the have an SUV or 4-wheel drive they can go 70 MPH in the snow...and so on. But here is the one that gets me the most and it drives me INSANE- they consistently run red lights. Yellow means slow down and prepare to stop, not speed up to run the red light. In Utah you can yield to turn left at a light even if you don't have a green arrow (whereas in Oregon you can only turn left with a green arrow--in most places). If the light turns yellow, cars keep going. Then once it's red, almost consistently, 2-3 more cars will turn left through the red. Then all the people waiting to go straight have to wait because even though they have the green light, they are waiting for the drivers to get through the red light they are running. And people wonder why there are accidents all the time around here! It drives me crazy. And for a state that has a ton of traffic circles, no one knows how to use them properly or who to yield to. It's easy- yield to the left. Use your left blinker to enter and right blinker to exit. EASY but it causes so many traffic jams. Here is the thing about the highway drivers- they either speed like crazy (10+ over the limit) and weave in and out of lanes, or they go 5 under the speed limit. They also think that they can merge onto the freeway going 35 when the speed limit is 65. If they see a cop, they go blatantly slow. I wanna punch people sometimes. If you see a cop, at least go the speed limit. They other thing they do is a "Mexican road block." For example, everyone in three lanes will all be going the same speed, so no one can pass them. People speed up and slow down so inconsistently that it's hard to get around them. Or you do change lanes and then the person that was going faster decides to slow down and you're stuck.

This, among many other things, is why my dad hates to drive in Utah. He jokes that a 90 year-old will run him down and pass him on the highway even when he goes the speed limit. This is also why I get so much anxiety driving on the highways here. I would rather do almost anything than drive the I-15 down to Provo or up to Salt Lake.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Happy Birthday

My little man is 1! I can hardly believe it. I don't have his one-year stats yet, but if I had to guess I'd say he's just tall enough with just enough chunk. He said 'mama' a ton yesterday and it made my day--he's only said it once before. 'Dada' on the other hand...he has that one down. He is not walking yet, but did I mention he took his first step? Oh yeah, he did (on Tuesday). We had our family celebration on Tuesday since that was Brenan's day off, today we are just chillin' and he gets to open a toy. Tomorrow we are having a family party since Uncle John's bday was this week also. Then he can open the rest of his presents. And let's be real...he's one and doesn't know what presents are. This kid absolutely can turn a frown into a smile and is so adorable, I am constantly kissing his chubby cheeks. I am amazed every day at how magnificent he is (even if he doesn't sleep through the night) and everyday is a new adventure.


Did I mention I don't have a real camera so capturing my kids (or just getting them to sit still) feels impossible since I only have my phone...
And now that my baby is one, my womb feels really empty. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

BotH: Chapter 13

Chapter 13
The Butlers

One thing that set our resort apart from other brands is that we have butlers. Really, really, for real, butlers. Most people who were first time visitors weren't sure how to use their butler and people who had used them at other locations were super critical of their service.

Nigel was originally from Great Britain and served in HRM army to some capacity. He also had met the Queen on several occasions (usually when they handed out their Christmas gifts) and really fit the "butler" stereotype. Plus it was fun to hear his accent. Nigel, however, was quite the scoundrel around most of the employees. We knew he was married, with kids, yet he flirted relentlessly with pretty much any female employee that he encountered. He was nice though and we had some lovely conversations about good ol' England. I think that because I've never been there and since we don't have royalty it fascinates me to know end to talk about things that probably seem so ordinary to him. Moving on. A group of ladies came for a girl's weekend and stayed in a suite, which meant they were entitled to the butler service. Normally this meant that their butler would bring them coffee/tea in the morning, assist in unpacking and organizing their suitcases, and various small tasks. While there the lady who was hosting the weekend asked if he would come and read them a bedtime story. Sure enough, he went into their room and read them all a chapter of Harry Potter. He also had been requested (by a different lady on a different occasion) to fluff her pillows. You never say "no" at The Resort, so he had to go fluff her pillows before she could go to bed.

There were two other butlers, Ernest who I have discussed before (remember Mr. French?), and Mike. Mike was super cool but you could tell he didn't love being a butler. He used to help out in banquets if they were slow in the butler department. Most guests (and most employees) didn't really understand what a butler did. You could tell it annoyed Mike since he got called to do things that were not his job, at all. Once there was a business group staying at the hotel and in between meetings, several days in a row, Mike got called up to go change the sheets of a male guest who had been "entertaining" one of his co-workers on their breaks. He had to speak with Housekeeping on the protocol of handling these particular sheets because it was her time of the month. Disgusting, I know. And not his job. Eventually Mike left and I can't blame him!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Happy Anniversary

Happy 5 year anniversary to us! I can't believe how amazing and how quickly the past five years have gone! We have our two wonderful children (and no, none on the horizon), our dog, we love where we live, Brenan loves his job and I love mine :) Being a mom is the best. The best part of it all is that we will be together forever, and that means the most to us. Here's to eternity :)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 1 of the rest of my life

I'm tired. I'd like to sleep for more than 3 hours at a time. Lately 3 hours has been a luxury, too. I am ready to take my sleep back. I am ready to start the rest of my life, filled with fun days with my kids, kicking butt around the house, and feeling invincible. The few nights that I've had good sleep I have been invincible the next day. No amount of green smoothies can make up for horrible sleep, trust me.

My lovely son who always seems to be full of life and energy will not sleep through the night anymore. The thing that kills me most is that he used to! Just after this amazing point in our lives of very rest-filled nights he got sick and essentially reverted back to newborn sleeping. After a winter of mild but persistent colds he is now oh-so-used to mom and dad's comfort at night. He doesn't take bottles. He doesn't take pacifiers. He will take a sippy cup, but only if it's water and he won't take it if he's upset. He won't take mamma's milk from anything/anyone but mamma.  In his fits of rage/crying he throws any comfort object we offer him. He will cry for hours if we let him (we don't). He will rock/walk to sleep- after 30 to 45 min. Should I go on? I think we see the picture here...mom and dad are suckers. Fool me once, fool me twice, fool me for nearly 365 days...shame on me. But we still love you.

But that's okay, because starting tonight everything is changing. We won't pick him up from his crib. I won't nurse him to sleep initially and I won't feed him past 11. We will hear a lot of crying. We might even have to put miss thang back to sleep several times if his crying wakes her up. I will not sleep well tonight. I may have to sit propped up against his crib all night in the rocking chair (hopefully not). He might even vomit (REALLY hope not). Mom will be there for you and I will visit, but you are putting yourself back to sleep tonight buddy, no matter how many cute little tears you shed and no matter how much my heart breaks. Wish us luck.

Monday, July 29, 2013

11 Months

I cannot believe that my little man is 11 months old today! The fun thing about him having his birthday next month is that he is included in birthday season :) From August 27-October 24 we have 7 birthdays in our family! Anyway, little man is getting so big! He is already outgrowing his 6-12 mo clothes, he is starting to stand on his own, and he says 'dada' and 'baba' with ease. He's only said 'mama' once, and luckily I heard it, but I won't give up on getting him to say it. He is understanding a lot more of the toys that we have and he actually enjoys playing with them. Him and Julia are starting to play together a lot more as well and it is SO adorable. He wiggles like crazy all the time and it is nearly impossible to get him dressed or change his diaper by myself. He LOVES baths and splashing in water. I really wish that he'd sleep through the night...since he's teething he is still waking up around 3 times a night :/ He does have a third tooth with 3 more on the way.

At the aquarium today.



The hooligans playing together.

High Altitude Chocolate Chip Cookies











I love to bake and since living in Utah I have felt like I've had more baking fails than ever in my entire life. I'm from Oregon so I never thought twice about using the high altitude conversions listed on most recipes. One day it hit me *duh* I'm at pretty high altitudes and I should convert my recipes. I've started doing that and ever since I have had no mishaps whatsoever. Here is a recipe that I adapted from a secret recipe and then also adapted for high altitudes. The nice thing is that they get cooked all the way through without overdone bottoms and they don't fall after baking. They will be just crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside (without being doughy/under done). It's a small batch, which is nice for my family since Julia and I are the only one to eat cookies.















My cookie helper :)

Recipe
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 tea salt
Scant 1/2 tea baking powder (measure 1/2 tea then give it a little tap to knock some out)
1 stick butter
1 egg
6 TBL brown sugar
4 TBL white sugar
1/2 tea vanilla
1/2 bag chocolate chips

Cream together the butter and sugars. Then add the egg and vanilla, mix well. Add the baking soda, salt, and flour. Mix until blended, but do not over mix. Then add the chocolate chips.

Bake at 375 for 10-12 min, or until the edges are just golden brown.
















Done in the middle but still soft. Lightly crunchy on the outside and they didn't turn out hard as rocks once they cooled down.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

An "everything" smoothie

I know, it looks gross...but it tastes great! Have you ever heard the saying "everything but the kitchen sink" is in it? That's how I feel about this. The great thing is that it hits a lot of must haves for a smoothie these days.

Ingredients
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup frozen sweet potato*
1/4 cup frozen peaches*
handful of frozen blueberries
2 handfuls of spinach
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

Blend it. Drink it. Love it.




*Remember how I made homemade baby food? I put some in ice cube trays and I now have perfectly sized cubes of frozen sweet potatoes and peaches for smoothies, as well as for the baby's meals.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

BotH: Chapter 12

Chapter 12
The Chefs

The chefs at The Resort were simultaneously the best and worst people to work with. On the one hand they were friendly to me since I wasn't their subordinate and I was nice to them, but on the other hand most of them had huge egos and thought they were always right, even when they weren't. The Resort had a weird hierarchy for the chefs, so it seemed like there were always power struggles amongst them. At the top was the Food and Beverage Manager (not a chef...at all) and he was over things like food cost, events, supply chain...the boring stuff. Next was the Executive Chef, Phil, who was technically in charge of all of the other chefs. Then there was the head restaurant chef (side note: the restaurant was not technically run by The Resort, it was run by the brand of restaurant that it was-- like how the food court is in the mall but each restaurant is run by itself, not the mall as a whole but the mall still has some say in what happens...it was confusing), the sous chef, the head banquet chef and his assistant, the head pastry chef and his assistant, then there were all levels of chefs in the restaurant. They all had numbers (like chef I or II) based on seniority/experience so it was also confusing to know who to talk to about what.

In the first couple of months I mostly worked around Tony the head banquet chef and Phil the executive chef. Phil was full of all kinds of random information that he felt the need to always divulge. Sometimes it was interesting, like how the pigs in Italy are fed certain foods (like wine and nuts) before they're made into prosciutto/pancetta, and sometimes it was not, like how he showed his sons his scars from his vasectomy. For real he told me all about that in addition to how his wife cheated on him but they decided to stay together for the kids and how she pretty much sounded like she was in the marriage for the money. One time I saw him go ape crazy on a mouse in the kitchen--obviously necessary, but instead of disposing of it himself he left it there and called stewarding to come clean it up. I don't think I mentioned stewarding before, they were at the beck and call of the chefs, managers, and servers to do things like dishes, polishing large silver pieces, moving flatware and silverware, cleaning up broken glass, transporting trays of glasses from point A to B...lots of hard labor, basically. Anyway, back to Phil. I liked him and didn't have any beef with him, but apparently he threw a lot of people under the bus to save his own butt. And one last thing about him, his favorite thing to eat was ramen and beer...I guess you just never know sometimes.

Tony was from New York (I mentioned him in the royal wedding) and so most people were afraid of him because they thought he was "mean." Don't get me wrong, I saw him get into a lot of arguments with my manager (she was also from New York) but he never was mean to me. He thought I was joking when I told him that I worked with my mom...most people didn't believe me actually. He also teased (but not in a mean way) that I was Mormon. It's funny how people who know something generic about you tend to bring up all they know on the subject, which ends up being a whole lot of nothing. Like if I had ten husbands...silly stuff like that. Anyway, we got along really well and he would teach me how to make things when they were slow. I did an amazing hollandaise sauce for a holiday brunch (on my first try, if I might add) that he taught me to make. He also helped me plan my birthday dinner that another chef was catering for me. Him and his assistant, who were friends, were always bickering with each other and I remember him (the assistant) saying that he was sure that Tony was wrong so he was going to make it his way and not listen to him. He got sick of being over worked so he left a few months before me and went to go work at The Montage and he is managing his own restaurant over there now.

Orin is my favorite. We're still friends and he owns an amazing pastry shop in Draper. He originally came in as a pastry chef, and after our head pastry chef/chocolatier left becasue she thought everyone in charge was idiots (too true) he became in charge. The annoying thing is that they wouldn't give him the title of "head" pastry chef. Him and Phil didn't get along very well. Anyway, whenever we were slow or had time in between events I would go hang out with Orin. He had pastries that he would share with me, or let me try out new things that he was making. He also gave me TONS of baking advice and shared a lot of fun stories with me about his pastry upbringing and his family growing up in...Norway (?). It annoyed him to no end that instead of allowing him to make things from scratch, Phil ordered premade croissants, muffins, and bagels which contributed to the huge "food cost" debate that seemed never ending. I got to the point where when I was pregnant I did not want to work up in Private Dining anymore and Orin wanted me to come work with him but Phil said no. Then I went on maternity leave. Then I quit...but I digress. We actually both quit at almost the same time. Orin had to drive over the mountain from South Salt Lake and during the snow season you never knew how long it could take. He got stuck in an accident that shutdown the freeway so he was a sitting duck for two hours on his way to Park City. He called to let Phil know about the accident and Phil told him to not even bother coming in. That was the end. Orin is such a nice guy and he owns his own pastry shop now, but he was the scape goat up there and it was ridiculous.

I mentioned that chefs had egos and could be hard to work with. One time when I was working in Private Dining I went to the line to pick up my order and it was wrong. I told the sous chef who sat there and argued with me and i told him over and over again to read the ticket again because I was missing a dish. This was the first time that I literally yelled at a chef and then once he read the ticket he saw he was wrong and walked off to fix the order. The head restaurant chef was the most egotistical chefs I had ever met. Phil and I discussed how much we both disliked Bobby Flay and I never had the heart to tell him I disliked his restaurant more than I disliked Bobby Flay and that is saying something. Almost all the chefs swore like sailors which annoyed me, but was bad for The Resort when they had guests touring the kitchen and came around the corner hearing a string of profanity. The restaurant's kitchen was not my favorite place.

Friday, July 19, 2013

1 Dinner 2 Ways

Do you ever make something for dinner and then realize you have too much left over? I made a big ol' batch of chicken kabobs for dinner and we had a ton left over and so I decided to do a dinner "refashion".

Day one we had chicken kabobs with bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and pineapple. I marinated it in a yummy citrus blend (I didn't use a recipe, but McCormick has great mixes) I whipped up and did it on a baking sheet (we don't have a grill).

Day two I took some of the left overs (minus the pineapple) and turned it into fajitas. I added some sour cream and cheese and I'm telling you it was delicious. And I bet you're wondering, "Rachel, where's the pictures?" Well, funny story...I gave my camera to Alex for his mission and so I only have my phone to take pictures with and both times I was eating I forgot...until I was done. So...great ideas can come without photos.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Potty Training

We are potty training in these parts and the past couple of months I have not been diligent enough about getting number one done on the potty. She loves her princess potty and the music it plays when she does number two but mom is ready for number one to get that happy song, too. I know there are a million websites with potty training, but what I think it comes down to is finding out what drives your child and what they're comfortable with. Julia loves stickers, so that will be our first bribe/reward of choice. She really digs the singing potty, too, so I think we'll stick with that. She has only once gone on a real toilet and it was stressful for her (we were in public). Wish us luck, here we go!

Also, here is a potty training sticker chart that I made for her. I'm hoping it will help ME to be more diligent about getting her on there more frequently and help her to see her stickers/reward.

BotH: Chapter 11

Chapter 11
10 kinds of crazy

The Resort offered great packages for companies as an incentive to get them to stay, dine, and play with us. We had a group come in, the Smith-Colby Group, and they took up around 50 room and had every meal and snack with us as well as booked up all of our conference rooms for a few days. It was the most hectic week of my life there and a lot of planning went into making it easier on the employees to handle.

The Smith-Colby Group had breakfast, lunch, and dinner banquets everyday in between which they had meetings and in between the meetings were "snack" stations throughout the hotel. As a banquet team most of us worked splits (5am-9am and 5pm-9pm) to handle the load. This meant that I was waking up at 3:45 am so that I'd leave my house by 4:15 and would catch the 4:45 shuttle to the hotel. This particular week I lived off of 5-hr energy drinks and Powerade. After my shift (which usually ended late) I would go home, sleep, then wake up and repeat the same morning schedule in the afternoon all over again. All week. Rough. Imagine an entire team running this schedule. Things got crazy fast. This also didn't include the extra shift we picked up to help private dining with their portion of the load (which was the coffee stations/snacks in between meetings) throughout the day. They had to synchronize delivering coffee and snacks twice a day to about 20 rooms at a time with just a few servers and two elevators. Yeah, things got interesting there. Luckily they were really well organized and most of the things went well on their end. We (banquet members and butlers) sat and packaged snacks (all custom made, too) for each room, everyday, as well as helping them with their regular service. They also paid for drinks and packaged (non-custom) snacks per item, so that was challenging to bill. All the servers had to drop off, refill, and count missing items in about a five minute time span in each room they visited each time. Luckily I wasn't one of those servers, I was a prep and bill person for the week. If that sounds hectic, you should have seen banquets. That's where the "real" fun began.

By the middle of the week we were really worn out and things were tense. One meal in particular I was assigned to be a greeter. Little did I know that the servers were getting their butts handed to them since all of the guests came to breakfast (?) at once. This is the one and only time that I got on Candace's bad side (and trust me, you knew if you were). About three-quarters of the way through the meal my manager asked me to go join the rest of the servers, so I did. In the back of the house Candace reamed me for not helping sooner. She didn't know that I was assigned to stand as a greeter per the client's request, and was furious because she thought I was doing nothing while they were all running to catch up with the rush -- end of the story was that I ended up sitting in the ballroom once guests were gone crying since it wasn't my fault the meal went poorly. I tried to transfer to private dining for the day to help them and they said I had to have my manager approve it. Then I looked like an idiot crying in front of my manager asking to switch someone for the day. I was broken. I ended up still going back to finish the day in banquets, and things were a little awkward between Candace and I for a couple days, but things ended up being fine. I think the thing that was even worse than that encounter was my manager at one of the dinners. We had completely set up the ballroom for dinner, which takes quite a while when you have to polish every piece of silverware and every glass, plus folding all the napkins. My manager walked in just as we were finishing and decided she didn't like the napkin fold (which she originally chose) and she made us unfold all of them and do a different one fifteen minutes prior to guests arriving. I was furious. The one really nice thing from the week was that the meeting planner was so impressed with how the core servers did that she gave us a card with lots o' cash in it :)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

ANOTHER new project

Just in case I wasn't busy enough, I have really felt like I need to start this new project. It's based around price matching for missionaries. My poor bro who is serving in San Antonio seems to always be emailing us the woes of being poor or asking for a few extra dollars. I know he's in an adjustment period since he's only been there a month-ish, but I suggested price matching to save him time and money. Now I feel like it is a huge undertaking that I want to offer to ALL missionaries in the U.S. If anyone is interested in helping, even like 30-60 min a week, I will take it. Let's help all the great missionaries out there!!

I might be crazy.

I'm probably really crazy.

Monday, July 8, 2013

BotH: Chapter 10

Wow, 10 already.

Chapter 10
The Residents, Part deux


I recently wrote about some of our residents, but I did not mention that it was only residents that could stay in a residential suite. Friends and families of an owner could come and stay there also. This is a great benefit to the owner to get more use out of their condo/suite if they aren't there often, but it also caused small amounts of chaos trying live up to their (the friends) expectations.

One morning I was in Private Dining working as an order taker. This means that I sat in a chair taking orders all morning over the phone. Once I got used to the phone etiquette and AAA/Forbes standards, it was a pretty easy job. Now, here is where things get hairy; I got a call around 10:30 am from a man who was staying in a residential suite (that his friend owned, not him) and he wanted chocolate croissants with his breakfast. Usually that would be an easy order to fill, however since it was a particularly busy weekend and breakfast service ended at 10, we were out of chocolate croissants. I offered him regular croissants and he would not have it. I sat there on the phone with him, him yelling at me nearly the entire time, for about fifteen minutes. The outrage. He couldn't believe that we would be out of croissants and it was such a horrible thing, and we were ridiculous and he wanted to speak with the General Manager (he called him by name, apparently they had met...once) and he wanted his food for free and so on. He had a point, I won't deny that, but lets get real. It was after breakfast hours and it was a busy weekend. We actually were able to find some mini chocolate croissants that were left over from a banquet that morning, so we sent those up, but this guy was the worst. The thing is that this seemed to happen a lot. What was listed on the menu was not always available, but you can't change out 200 menus on a daily basis. I would say that about eighty-percent of the time we did not have all of the flavors of yogurt listed on the menu.

There was another family that stayed with us often in the a residential suite. His family was super nice; his wife was a doctor, he had twin girls and one of them was a tennis prodigy, and then they had another little boy (who looked like a girl...he had long hair). They were in town often during the first summer I was there and every time you went to their room they gave you twenty bucks.  I had brought them up some hot chocolate and once I was up there they wanted extra marshmallows, so I ran down and got more. Twenty bucks the first trip and twenty bucks the second trip. I served them so much that I knew where everyone sat at each meal and who ordered what. They also were sick of renting cars so they just willy-nilley went down and bought two Escalades and had them parked in the underground parking at The Resort. No big deal.

Remember Mr. French from chapter 4? He stayed in the residence as well. He would play really weird power games with us...for example one night a server delivered his meal and left the check for Mr. French to sign. We didn't always have them sign it in person/right away if they didn't motion to do so. Later when the server picked up his dishes he noticed that he still hadn't signed the check, but he charged it anyway (that was our policy). Mr. French was in an uproar about it (remember how he's a billionaire?!)  and called the General Manager, Mr. Great, and told him that since he didn't sign the check he would not pay for the meal. Of course, Mr. Great comped the meal that was over $100. And that was $100 just for one person. Another night I delivered drinks to his family as they sat out on the terrace by the fire pit. Our policy, according to AAA/Forbes was to open and present a drink to the guest in front of them. So, I did just that. I think his wife had wine so I gave her the plastic wine glass (so tacky but no glass was allowed outside). Then I walked over to him, opened his Fiji water and set it in front of him with the cup beside it. Picture perfect, I was proud since I was so nervous. Nope. He reprimanded me for not bringing him Evian (which we didn't have) and then said he wouldn't drink the water because some was missing from the bottle. I had literally opened it right in front of him and he would not take it. Then I brought his kids apple cider. The wife asked, "where are the cinnamon sticks?" I understand the thought process there, but we didn't give cinnamon sticks out with apple cider so I didn't bring any and they hadn't requested it prior to my delivery. So, I ran back to the kitchen, got a new water bottle, cinnamon sticks, and was then told to speak to their security guard/man servant. He paid in exact change, no tips. And they had the poor man being bossed around by walkie-talkie while he watched over/chased around their kids. I hope they paid him well...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Homemade Fruit Leather















Homemade {Plum} Fruit Leather
This is probably our new favorite snack and it was super easy to make...3 ingredients and that's it!

First wash, cut, and pit approximately 18 ripe plums (we like ours thick). Roast them at 350* for about fifteen minutes, just to help them warm up and relax. 

If they release water/juice into their cavities (as seen below) just pour it out. 
Transfer them to a food processor or blender and puree them until the chunks are gone. Add sweetener-- I had a couple that were tart so I added 1 cup sweetener (1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup). You want to add enough sweetener to get it to the "just sweet" realm. Don't add too much because once it dries it will be too sweet. 

Pour onto a pan with raised edges that is either A- lined with parchment B- lined with a Silpat C-sprayed with cooking spray (I have not tried that method) or D- lined with plastic wrap.
Dry in an oven set at 175* until it is smooth and not sticky (especially the middle). If your outside edges dry a lot faster, you can trim them off during the process. Mine, since it was SO thick, took about 8 hours to dry.
Once it's done, if you used a Silpat just put plastic wrap on top, flip it over, and un-peel the Silpat (pictured above--the plastic wrap kind of blends in, but it's there I promise!). If you used parchment paper or plastic wrap, you can cut it straight from the pan into strips and roll it up. I used a pizza cutter and it worked great. I've also used scissors and they did great.
Store it into an airtight container (up to two-ish weeks) or freeze it in a freezer bag (up to a couple of months). Most of all, enjoy!  

You can easily use any fruit to make fruit leather, and with most fruits you don't even need to add sugar. We did mango-banana and it was delicious plus I didn't add any extra sugar.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

BotH: Chapter 9

I promise I will do residents part 2, but this popped up and I wanted to write about it first :)

Chapter 9
Employee Shenanigans

You would think that The Resort would be very particular in the employees that they hired. But what it comes down to is that if they passed the drug test, they were hired. We had a lady named Susie that was hired to be a part of the banquet team. She was hired to support the "core" team (me, my mom, Candace, and Remy) on larger events. I'm telling you know, this lady did not know beans about serving. She was nice as a person, but she was slow and stumbly/mumbly. It was hard to work with her when we were going mach 10 and we could barely get her going, let alone to keep up. In response to watching how she worked my boss said to Candace, "I just don't understand, she wore a suit to the interview." That's right folks, she was hired because she wore a suit to her interview...that solved a lot of questions as to why she was hired. She wasn't the only one.

Unfortunately the inmates ran the prison. Members of the restaurant and bar staff stole alcohol from the bar. One employee brought a duffle bag up to the floor with him and stuffed wine bottles in it. When a guest was done with their meal or if they needed it to be boxed up, it was brought to the back of the house to be taken care of. Time and time again I saw restaurant employees eating off of plates. Oh they didn't finish their fries? Then it's only natural that you should...super gross. When a guest first arrived to dine they were given a basket of bread that was freshly sliced. The servers would slice the bread, then sit there and eat the seeds that had fallen off the top. Also gross. The thing was that we were allowed to eat bread, so I don't know why they felt the need to pick seeds off the cutting board that was used over and over.

The thing about The Resort is that it is open 24/7, which means that it is staffed accordingly. You'd better believe that people were sleeping around with each other. The girl who worked overnight in Private Dining was sleeping with one of the security guards. The thing was that she was married and had kids. Yuck. Our other overnight guy (Van) was completely unreliable. He would show up, watch movies on his laptop, and then do some of his work here and there. We would show up at 6:45 am to get ready for breakfast and he usually hadn't done much to help, leaving us to pick up all the slack. He got fired/re-hired a million times. One time I had a guest call and ask for a side of berries to be added to his order. Alex asked Van to get the side of berries for room 611- meaning he wanted him to get them and add it to the table we were taking to his room. Van got the berries and walked off-- instead of putting it on his delivery table, he delivered just a bowl of berries! A few minutes later I got the angry phone call from the guest in room 611 that only his fruit had arrived and that he didn't want blackberries in it (not previously mentioned). He also slept on the job and would just forward calls to the front desk. This type of thing happened time and time again with Van.

This is my all time favorite story. Steve was a Private Dining Server and he was really good at his job. He was almost always on point and got tipped really well from guests. He and I got along and we carpooled to work a lot since he and his girlfriend shared one car. Anyway, remember how we couldn't be on property if we weren't working? Steve forgot that. He left work through the front entrance (into Park City) and went drinking but didn't remember until later that he had parked on the other side of the mountain and was shuttled to work, so he decided to cut through the hotel to catch the shuttle down to the employee lot. When I got to work the next morning everyone in security was in a roar over the surveillance video of Steve. Housekeeping had arrived that morning and there was poop all over the floor of their office. All over. Apparently Steve had been so drunk that when he was making his way to the shuttle he somehow mistook the Housekeeping office for the bathroom and made a mess everywhere. The video showed him stumbling all over, coming in and out of Housekeeping, and crawling out to the shuttle.  I felt bad for him since we were friends, and he got fired that day. He came up and said goodbye to me on his way out and he was crying. I think it was a hangover/oh-crap-what-did-I-do cry more than anything, but still, I was sad to see him leave. The news spread quick about what happened to him and people would say, "You work at The Resort? Did that guy really crap all over?" Yes, we became notorious amongst other Park City resort employees for having that guy.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Why I'll have as many kids as I want

I was recently disturbed by an ad that I heard on the radio; they said "whether your family is just you, you and your spouse, or just two kids, it's okay to have a small family." I'm not disagreeing that it's okay to have a small family, I'm disagreeing that it is the right thing to do or that it is the only socially/economically/ecologically acceptable thing to do. I ventured to their website to see what the flip they were talking about and to be honest I don't think that the g o v e r n m e n t (or state coalition) should tell me how many kids I should/shouldn't have OR reward people with the offer of free diapers to visit and support their site (since I want to have more than 2 kids, do I not get the chance for free diapers???). Their entire website is dedicated to showing why small families are best and why it is the financially/emotionally/ecologically smart thing to do (last time I checked we don't live in CHINA). Now, I want to be somewhat level headed here and say that I see the other side. Utah families, generally, tend to have more than two kids...but not all. Maybe the small families feel prejudiced against or uncomfortable explaining their "small" family situation and perhaps that is what this site is intending to do- offer support to those who are in a small family. Their is nothing wrong with having a small family, let that be said and if people really need help understanding how to have a small family, then great.

Aren't you glad I saw it from the other side? Here is my side. How many children I have is up to me, my husband, and The Lord. We prayed about when to start our family. We prayed about waiting or not waiting. I perfectly understand that some families cannot have children and my heart goes out to them. I completely understand that some families can't afford to adopt and I sympathize. But I don't need coalitions blasting the radio with ads telling me it's "okay" to have a small family (as if it is the right or only thing to do). So if I have to more kids, is it not okay anymore? What about support for people who want to have a larger (2+ kids) family? I'm not a leech that wants welfare because I have "too many" children, so what are my options and where is my support? Everyone should be smart about starting a family and taking into consideration all the financial/emotional/time management aspects. If I have four children does that mean that I can't give each one the time they need to feel loved? According to them my kids won't feel loved enough if I have more than 1-2 kids. They won't get the attention they need or deserve. And also, don't dissuade me to have less kids because it's "bad" for the environment and our green footprint (or whatever). That is the dumbest reason I've ever heard about why I should have a small family. They try throughout their site to say that they're, "not trying to tell you that small is the only way to go." Laughable. Let me just say this, I am from a kind-of large family and looking back I don't feel like I didn't get enough attention growing up or that my parents loved me less because they had "too many" kids. I didn't turn out to be some menace to society and that's because I have good parents and was raised in a good home with good values. Shouldn't that be the focus for families, regardless of size?

All I can say is that it's a bunch of garbage to dissuade people from having more than two kids, or any kids at all because it is irresponsible or not okay by society. Whether you have none or nineteen, it's your choice and the stupid coalitions should stay out of it. Raise your children, however many you do/don't have, to be good members of society.

Monday, June 17, 2013

BotH:Chapter 8

Chapter 8
Residents, part 1

In addition to renting out rooms nightly, our guests had the option of buying a resident or suite. The suites were regular rooms and the residents were custom-built condos on the top few floors of The Resort. This first owner that I am about to discuss is rich and famous-ish so I am not going to give any specific details about who he is... He owned a resident and I interacted with him several times, dreading it each and every time.

When we first learned that Mr. Live would be visiting his residence for the first time, our Food and Beverage manager sent out a memo on how to pronounce his name correctly and would randomly test employees. "It's Live like Hive not live like give." I can understand that if you paid millions of dollars to live somewhere you'd want the staff to pronounce your name correctly, but it was a little annoying. Before I met him for the first time, I heard lots of hearsay about him from the Restaurant Manager who was one of my friends. She told me it was hard to respect a person that came into the restaurant with women other than his wife. I've never seen his wife and I don't know if he was cheating on her, but the manager was pretty convinced that he was.

The first time I delivered a meal to his room I had gotten over being star struck when I met celebrities. I knocked on the door, asked if I could come in and he let me in, but only into the foyer. Forbes/AAA wanted us to setup a guest's food on their actual table, so I had to make a quick adjustment to my routine to figure out what to do with all of his food. I showed him what everything was (we used metal covers to help keep things hot), and as I proceeded to leave gave me a firm handshake (weird) and told me it was nice to meet me. That sounds normal enough, but he did it in a way that made me feel like he thought I had come in as a gushing fan and was so humbled to meet him, when in reality it was laughable that he treated me like that. I didn't gush. I said his name properly and did all of my usual protocol. Anyway, the entire first meeting was awkward and I would always try to get someone else to deliver his food. Carlos told me that I had to serve him. Blah. Another time I went to deliver his breakfast -- $125 for 4 people...they all had filet mignon and eggs-- and do you know how much he tipped me? $1.99. That's right!! Everyone in the department had a good laugh about it. But, in his defense we had a wicked steep auto-gratuity. Unfortunately as servers we had to split the auto-grat between everyone that worked that shift and only write-in tips (or cash) went directly to the server. Anyway, he always seemed to make such a big scene about being around and it got old, quick.

The second guest that owned a suite (not a resident) is/was the co-creator (or CEO?) of a famous medical website. He was really nice and I loved serving him breakfast. He almost always got eggs Benedict. It's funny how you remember what people ordered, especially if they were regulars. Anyway, Mr. Badger was at The Resort Monday through Wednesday, then spent the weekends in New York. Every time you went to his room and delivered his meals, he'd tip $20! My kind of guy. After almost a year of being open we started to offer a grocery service to our guests (such a pain in the butt) and we would always go stock his room before he got there and rotate his beverages throughout the week. He was a fitness buff from what I saw in his room-- fitness magazines, protein powders, etc. It turns out he was a swinger and asked out one of the restaurant managers for a drink. Although other employees had taken him up on the drink offer, this particular manager kindly declined.

It was interesting to see how people in the spotlight treated the people who served them. I really enjoyed working with Mr. Badger whereas Mr. Live was no treat. There was always a buzz about in the back of the house when either was on property.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Healthy Recipe Reviews:Grain-Free Desserts

I have a sweet tooth and there is no denying it. We have been trying to eat healthier lately so I have been looking for alternative recipes to our normal sweets. The PB Blondies I found from The Detoxinista  and the CC Cookie Dough Balls I found from Texanerin Baking. Of the two the blondies were my favorite. Brenan also liked them which was a huge plus!! I always have him try things before I tell him what's in it...My edges got a little over done, but other than that they were great. The cookie dough balls...If you are craving cookie dough and that's it, then these are great. The texture and flavor is spot on when they are uncooked/slightly cooked. If you are craving chocolate chip cookies (and want a healthy version) these are not for you. I cooked my second batch for-ev-er to get them to be less doughy and the end result was edible, yet very chewy (and not in the good way). Baking them longer also brought out the chickpea flavor. I ate them, but didn't love them as a cookie alternative. Just as dough balls they were great.

















Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies
Adapted from Detoxinista.com

Ingredients
1 cup peanut butter
⅓ cup honey
1 whole egg
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F and grease an 8″ square pan with butter or coconut oil.
In a small bowl, mix the peanut butter, honey, egg, and baking soda until well combined, then fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the greased pan, and use a spatula to smooth the top.
Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is a light golden brown.
Let cool, then cut into squares and serve!
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Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites
Adapted from texanerin.com

Ingredients
1¼ cups canned chickpeas, well-rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup + 2 tablespoons peanut butter
¼ cup  honey 
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 dash cinnamon

Instructions
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Combine all the ingredients, except for the chocolate chips, in a food processor (I used a magic bullet...it took longer but it worked, then I transferred it to a Kitchenaid) and process until very smooth. Make sure to scrape the sides and the top to get the little chunks of chickpeas and process again until they're combined. Put in the chocolate chips and stir it if you can, or pulse it once or twice. The mixture will be very thick and sticky. 
With wet hands, form into 1½" balls. Place onto a Silpat or a piece of parchment paper. If you want them to look more like normal cookies, press down slightly on the balls. They don't do much rising. Bake for about 10 minutes.

















Wednesday, June 12, 2013

BotH: Chapter 7

Lucky 7!

Chapter 7
Alcohol?

As I previously mentioned, I am an alcohol idiot. In terms of serving alcohol I had only served it for about 4 months prior to working at The Resort. It may surprise some that I grew up (kinda) around alcohol(ics) my entire life. My dad drinks and so does his side of the family so I know very basically what names of alcohols are. Little did I know that I knew nothing compared to people in the service world.

During our first two weeks of training we had a 2-hour class with The Resort's sommelier (wine genius). Talk about information overload. It was literally his job to know every single bottle of wine in The Resort and how much it costs, what to pair with it, and how to recommend it. I would say that ninety-percent of the information went over my head. The first time I ever opened a bottle of wine was about 2 hours before an event. My manager knew that I knew nothing about alcohol, least of all how to open wine, so she gave all of the wine idiots the task of opening all the bottles. It really was good practice to do it over and over again and I thought that the experience helped me to know how to serve wine better. She also taught us how to pour wine. In our resort you had to hold the bottle with one hand, present the label facing out to the guest, and then pour the right amount. With our other hand we had a cloth napkin draped over our forearm to use to wipe the wine bottle with if we had any drips. Luckily I never spilled wine on anyone.

For Banquets we had bartenders so realistically all I had to do was know what we were serving and take orders. Sounds easy, right? You would think so. Then there came me. I remember one of our first events I had someone ask me for a beer. He asked for something that I tried to memorize but I kept repeating, "sorry, what was that?" I ran to the bartender and tried to mumble back what I thought the guy had said. I think I said "stellar tois" and the bartender gave me a your-an-idiot laugh as he handed me a Stella Artois. I had never heard of that brand of beer before that day. Like I said, I had only had a few months of alcohol experience before working there. We had a small event that was me and our bartender, Ryan. He had to step away from the bar for a minute which left me alone with about thirty guests. Naturally I started to get drink orders that I would have to fill. Luckily for me Ryan had set a good mood, being loosy goosy and interactive with the guests, so that when I went to get a drink and botched pouring it they were able to be fun/understanding about it. The guest said to me as I poured a bottle of beer into a pilsner, "if that beer had much more head it could walk around with us!" If you don't know what that means, beer foams when you pour it which is why it has to be poured at a sharp angle. I had only used taps before and wasn't sure how pour the beer into a glass without spilling. Ryan casually walked up after that and grabbed another beer, dumped it straight upside-down into the glass, and made a joke. He made a lot of tips that night...he even shared with me, even though I was a klutz at the bar. Then we ate all the leftover oysters and seafood. Delish. By the way, when Ryan and I worked at events together we were unstoppable. And not so much at our service, but you couldn't get us to shut up and stop cracking jokes. He was hilarious and I give him all the credit for that. Plus he was super fascinating, but I digress.

My last alcohol disasters, and I think these two were the worst one. When I worked in Private Dining (room service) if a guest ordered a bottle of wine you had to open it and present it to them in person. You couldn't' open it in advance to save time. Since by this point I had opened hundreds of bottle I felt confident doing this in a guest's room. I had a couple order a bottle of wine. Easy. I got to their room, set their table with their meal, then proceeded to open their wine. But it wouldn't open. At all. I sat there for nearly ten minutes trying to open  the bottle but the cork wouldn't budge. I also shredded through about 1/4 inch of its top layer and I thought I was going to die. To make matters worse I could tell they were annoyed both at me and with each other. It was so awkward to hear them bickering as I was trying to hurry and get the heck out of there. I was about two seconds away from leaving and asking them if I could bring wine back or asking if they wanted to open it. After A LOT of encouragement from me I finally got the cork out. So embarrassing. In my defense it really was the hardest bottle to open of all the bottles I've ever opened. The second less intelligent thing I did was open Prosecco (sparkling wine, like champagne but not) in a guest's room. I didn't think ahead that I should open it before I went in the room (she only ordered a glass of it) and then it hit me that duh- sparkling wine has a tendency to spill out of the bottle if it isn't opened right (I was trained to open it without spilling, not easy though). Luckily for me I didn't spill wine all over her room when I popped the cork, but it was definitely a dumb thing to do.

As a pat on my back, I am proud to say that I know how to saber a champagne bottle. I was trained, they let me practice with real champagne (so we waste another bottle...no biggie), and I did it as part of the evening ceremony at The Resort for about 15 guests. The one time I did it publicly I did mess up a little, but eventually I got it --I was so nervous doing it for guests that I forgot about placing the seam on the bottle at the right place. Luckily my manager was there to help.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Julia's second birthday

 Our sweet Julia turned 2 this week and we had such a fun day together celebrating as a family. I decorated her door so that when she woke up she'd have a surprise. This backfired a little bit since she woke up at 5:45 bawling, so she didn't notice until later. Of course her birthday balloon was her savior, so that put her in a pretty good mood. We started out the morning by meeting up with Grandma C at Target to pick out her gift, then we all went out to breakfast. Once we got home we all went swimming together. During  nap time she had a delivery come for her and she got a big box of gifts from Papa Ron and Grandma Lorraine. This prompted our afternoon outside playing with her bubble gifts (she got 2) and then we all relaxed for a while and watched her favorite shows together. For dinner we had pizza and a mini birthday cake. She loved being sung to and blowing out the candle. She sang "Happy Birthday" back to us for the rest of dinner. It was totally adorable.
 The hat didn't last long

 LOVES bubbles

Opening gifts with daddy 

Blowing out her candle

Monday, June 3, 2013

BotH: Chapter 6

Chapter 6
The Royal Wedding

This was one of the weddings that I was most involved with. The bride, Ms. Princess, was a very rich lady. Her father is an owner of a nationwide restaurant/bar chain and they have tons of money. Her parents are divorced, which made for an awkward menu tasting. The wife and daughter have both had lots of work done, and I was surprised to see that the mother looked like she just came from gardening--not done up, no make up, sloppy clothes, etc. Ms. Princess on the other hand came looking like a super model. She had the snottiest attitude and most spoiled demeanor of anyone that I ever came across while working there.  Her fiance Mr. Prince was a little pretentious, but you could tell by the way he acted that she was in charge of that relationship. Everyone at a tasting got a complimentary beverage and I remember him asking for something that wasn't initially offered to him and at the time I had no idea what he was talking about. I think he ordered prosecco or something like that and I tried to mumble back to our bartender what he ordered (I'm an alcohol idiot, but more on that later).
For the tasting our Banquet Chef, Tony, actually did it in the restaurant (which was not common) so I had to stand "guard" outside the doors of the chef's private table and act as the liaison between the guests and chef. I remember listening in to what they thought of the food, and for the salad course she seemed mostly pleased and swapped some toppings, but other than that there were no complaints. The main course tasting was where it all went downhill. I brought them in their halibut and steak and this is what I heard. "I've had a lot of halibut in my life and this is literally the worst halibut I have ever had. Like, it's disgusting and it's the worst ever." I could tell that the Catering Manager was speechless because she wasn't sure how to react to the criticism and after the tasting she asked me to get Tony. Since Tony and I were friends I gave him the heads up that she hated the fish (he was furious) before he went in to meet with them. Without being rude while talking to them, he became slightly defensive (a New Yorker defensive? No...) in trying to understand what exactly was wrong with the halibut. I don't remember what she said was wrong with it, but they ended up figuring out a solution. Once we were in the back of the house Tony went off. Realistically whatever her complaint was was something bizarre, I remember thinking it was petty. She was the only one at the table that complained about the fish.
Then there was the wedding cake fiasco. She came in with a drawing she did herself of what she wanted her cake to look like. She was not an artist and gave very vague ideas about what she wanted it to look like. Our poor pastry chef was left with a scribbling to go off of for her enormous cake. Ms. Princess wanted her cake to look like Italian Stucco so Orin did the best job he could. Phil, our Executive Chef (he was in charge of all the chefs and dining in The Resort), showed up just before the wedding to the Pastry Kitchen, saw the cake, criticized Orin, and decided to re-decorate it himself. As nice as Phil was (at least to me), he was no pastry chef and he went to town on that cake to "fix" it, just to make it worse. The weird thing about all of this is that I didn't serve the wedding. I was annoyed to miss it, but I injured myself that week at another event and per doctor's orders I had to sit-out banquets for a while.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

9 Months

Holy cow my little boy is 9 months old! We actually got him to the doctor on time as well, so we have his stats this time. Weighing in at a whopping 19 lbs. 4 oz the little guy is in the 30th percentile (though sometimes he feels much heavier). He is crawling like a maniac, pulls himself up to his knees with ease, and is just starting to pull himself to standing (with support). He likes cheerios and goldfishes and from time to time will drink from a bottle/sippy cup!! We've gone through some rough sleeping lately, he went from teething to this super bad cold so there have not been many sleep-filled nights (at least not for me...). He finally got a crib and he is playing with toys a lot more now. His favorite song is "You Are my Sunshine" and he likes to drum. He also loves baths and swimming--we went today and because he still has erratic leg/arm movement, he is nearly swimming on his own. We love this little man and are so happy he is in our lives!



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

BotH: Chapter 5

As I was driving up the Provo Canyon this last weekend I saw a ton of "so-and-so wedding" signs and it sparked the wedding chapters in my mind. I'm going to do it in two chapters because the Royal Wedding needs its own.

Chapter 5
The first summer that I worked at The Resort we did several weddings. Guests paid a lot of money for their family and friends to stay the night, location reservations, catering, decorations etc...so you'd think that everything would be flawless. Think again. The Catering Manager, the Banquet Manager, the Executive Chef, the Banquet Chef, and the Pastry Chef had never sat down to discuss what options are and are not feasible for a wedding. And somehow their subordinates never coordinated either, thus creating wedding panic all the time.

After the bride and groom cut the first piece of cake, my Banquet Captain, Barney, somehow became in charge of the man who cut cake. I'm telling you right now that if I was the bride and I saw how he massacred my cake, I would have freaked out. And even though part of it was his fault, some of the blame also needs to be assigned to the managers that didn't stop crazy brides from making ridiculous cakes. The Catering Manager would sit down with the bride and groom before the wedding and have a tasting. I was the server assigned to the tastings so I saw a lot of this unfold. For a cake tasting our Pastry Chef would make each person a platter of 4-5 cake samples and 4-5 frostings that they each could mix and match to decide on flavors. Though it wasn't offered, at some point brides started requesting fresh fruit in their cakes...it doesn't seem like a ridiculous request, but when you have a cake that has a lot of thin layers and you're trying to cut through chunks of fruit with a cake knife it tears your cake apart. Then the Banquet Manager or Catering Manager would freak out and yell at the Pasty Chef. Guess who's fault it wasn't? Yeah, the Pastry Chef. The Catering/Event team never said no to requests, so when it came to the practical application of table setting, placement, service, food, etc. there was always problems. And somehow they were always surprised...what do you mean we can't fit a 400 in a 200 person-capacity ballroom? Duh idiots.

One problem was serving large weddings plated dinners. Guests at the weddings saw a huge ballroom where dinner would be served. Us servers, in the back of the house, saw a huge kitchen that we had to carry hot-as plates with our bare hands (yeah, we didn't get gloves for the longest time) from one end to the other. The team was divided into usually 3 or 4 servers per section, depending on the size of the table being served.  I was on the team that had to run to the opposite end of the kitchen and enter the ballroom through the doors furthest from the prep area. Yes I burned my hands, but what was even worse was that I remember spilling sauce off the plates all over my stomach because we were in such a rush with such hot plates. I felt so bad serving the dinner looking all junky. The other problem with large weddings was keeping the drunk guests under control. Usually weddings had open bars, which was nice for us servers because we got gratuity off of all the drinks served-- the more they drank, the more we made. Since it was at a hotel where wedding guests either had or could get a room, you didn't have to cut them off unless you knew they weren't staying or became belligerent. Somehow misfortune happened to me again and at one wedding I was serving the table with the guests who showed up drunk. As I was trying to serve these two men the salad course, they refused to acknowledge me so I had to remove the napkin and menu from their plate, lay the napkin across their lap, set the menu to the side, and serve them their salads. And if that sounds tricky, I had to do it while I was holding three salad plates. Needless to say I was annoyed. These two particular men were kicked out of the wedding right around the time the main course was served.

There were two things about weddings that I did like. First was the entertainment. We would have mini-dance parties in the back of the house when there was a good DJ. The drunk entertainment was also awesome. At one wedding the bridal party sang a Michael BublĂ© song and they were terrible! It was hilarious. The second good thing about weddings was the food. If the chefs made too much for a plated dinner (usually didn't happen) or if there was left over food from the buffets we got to chow down afterwards. And the cake...oh the cake! My favorite was the wedding that had the red velvet layered with cheesecake (like the Cheesecake Factory) and it was amazing. I got a stomachache because I ate so much --I didn't eat enough before I went to work and around 11 I was starving so I scarfed it down. And that particular wedding had lamb as the main course, which I don't like so I didn't eat any "real" food.

Weddings were always interesting, both good and bad interesting. The Royal Wedding was probably the most interesting I was involved with, and that is Chapter 6 ;)