Friday, October 9, 2015

Recent Happenings at Chez Sluggy

Let's see.....what's been happening here at Chez Sluggy......these are in no particular order.

I've been getting some really strange comments lately.  One was in German(and I don't understand a lick of German)and linked to an anonymous blogger profile.  Another was really bizarre and talked about how the Illuminati can guide you to being rich beyond your wildest dreams.
I always know which are oddball comments or shameless commercial links because they are always left on a very old post.  Ok, almost always left on a long ago blog post.  ;-)

*  Last week when I smoked those ribs and that chicken I also smoked some potatoes.  McVal posted a recipe for a smoked potato salad eons ago that I wanted to try and I finally got around to smoking the potatoes for it.

 They smelled really good when they came out of the smoker.

And you can even see a smoke ring on them!  I didn't have all the ingredients however to make the recipe for the dressing in the recipe she sent so I just made the dressing like I always do and it was even yummier than the way I usually make my potato salad.

I did notice though that smoked potato salad is much better when it's WARM.  Eaten cold from the fridge later as a leftover, the potato skins seem tough for some reason....maybe smoking made the skins tough?  The next time I make this I'll just make enough for one meal and not plan on having any leftovers.....or I'll try it with the recipe ingredients(if I plan ahead and make sure I have everything for it).

*  I've also gotten more "we love your blog and we want you to link to us or we want to post something on your blog that will make us money somehow/somewhere else" emails.  I got another one that opened with "Dear Linda".  Um, I'm not Linda.
Remember the one I got in May HERE?  They also called me Linda.  Is there a Linda out there somewhere impersonating me? lolz

*  The local Bakery where College Boy worked part time during his last year of high school and where he hoped to work again this past Summer ended up closing it's doors this June.  Good thing he got another job for the Summer, huh?
Well a couple of weeks ago I drove past and the Bakery is back!

WTF?!  Same name/sign.  I wonder what happened?

*  I graduated from Physical Therapy.  rah! 
7 appointments and they gave me the boot.  Well insurance actually gave me the boot if you know what I mean.   Since this wasn't really addressing the current issue with my foot(but rather exercising and strengthening my ankle which was good but not necessary)I could have stayed home and gotten as well just as fast. lolz

*  I picked collards from my garden for the first time earlier this week.

This lot came to about 1.5 lbs.  I cooked them up for dinner on Wednesday and Hubs said, "So is that all of them?"
"Hardly",  I replied.  I've got 6 plants out there and this is just the beginning of what they are going to yield.  I wanted to wait until the first frost to harvest them but I may have to go ahead and pick them all this weekend and put them up for Winter.

Cooked Collards are so much better when you can find them fresh, whole in the store or grow your own rather than buying the bagged stuff they sell.  The bagged, washed and chopped collards are always full of the big thick stems.  The companies don't de-stem them so your whole collard experience is spoiled by that IMHO.

*  Hubs and I went to that annual Church Auction fundraiser last weekend.

Here are the actual "things" we won......

A vacuum cleaner
A car/truck organizer
A miniature electric skillet
A basket of jams and vinegars
A car cd player lock(this was thrown in with a gift certificate I wanted, it was not wanted but I had to take it, and it will be going into my next Salvation Army donation)
A large warty pumpkin and a massive watermelon which aren't pictured.

I also won this print.........

It's a print of boat house row in Philly on the Schuylkill River by Carl Whitney Bucks.  It's part of a series on Philly and is framed nicely.  This would go for at least a couple hundred bucks in an art store.  I paid $16(and got Domino's discount Qs as well with it).
Now I just have to figure out where to hang it........

And now for the gift certificates we won.............

This is the reason we go, for the gift certificates to local businesses.
We got everything from pizza, to restaurants, to oil changes, to auto parts stores, to haircuts, to grocery store GCs.
Included in these gift certificates are a few things I am using for Christmas presents so a win/win!
We paid $320(it was less but I always round the amount on the check I write up)and received $600+ worth of goods and services.

* I spent a half an hour on the phone with the billing department where I had my cataract surgeries because the last bill I received from them made NO sense whatsoever to me!
What a PITA!!!  I must have sounded like a total idiot to the billing clerk but I was NOT getting off that phone without understanding what was going on with my bill.  It looked like I was double charged for something(which I had already paid 2 months ago) and none of what they claimed I owed lined up with anything on my EOBs from the insurance company.
In the end I found out when they charged a co-pay upfront for the surgery center facility charges it was WAAAAY under what they should have charged, and that I will most probably be getting billed for another facility charge for the 1st surgery back in April(which was also way under charged in the upfront co-pay)and that charge the insurance keeps denying and they are still appealing.  Very strange.
Anyway it ended up today that I still owed them $427 or so(and will probably owe another $427 once the appeals are done).  If insurance won't pay that appealed charge I will end up owing $1300 so I sure hope it gets straightened out!!!
It's bad enough I owe almost $1K I didn't realize was going to be due but owing $1700+ would be worse.
So I wrote a check for the $427, put it in an envelope and stamped it.  You'll LOVE the stamp I chose to use to mail this to the Eye Doctor........

*snort* Ya, I am that gal!

*  I received a rebate check in the mail last week.............

When I shop online(on the rare occasions I do shop online)I use the cash back portal ShopAtHome dotcom.  You can cash out at $20 minimum.  I got an email from them in July that they were sending me a check(even though I didn't ask to cash out).  I wanted to wait until after the Holidays this year to cash out since I probably would buy some stuff online but not get at least $20 back in savings so I would let what I had accumulate some more and cash out Jan. 1st. 
Now if I buy anything online I'll have more rebate $ to carry over into 2016 and will have to wait even longer to be able to cash that out. Ugh.

Yes, I've used ShopAtHome almost 2 years now and this is the FIRST $20+ in rebates I have accumulated.  I told ya I don't shop online much! lolz

*  I've been doing Genealogical RAOK(Random Acts of Kindness)for folks online who don't have access to the documentation on Ancestry dotcom.  I sent a woman photos of the death certificates for her great grandparents this past week.  She said she had been searching for this information for years!
I found it almost instantly with a few keystrokes.

*  A follow-up to the Plenti Points snafu of last week.  I talked about going back to do the $10 in Points Deal on Pink Eye and Ring Relief products HERE (toward the end of that post).  Well I went online with Rite-Aid the evening of the day I bought those products and they only gave me $2 total in points instead of $20.  The online CS person couldn't do anything but have the District Manager call me on the phone in the coming days and in his words, "make me a happy customer". lol

I gave him the phone number but said I just wanted my points and I didn't want to have to talk to yet another person to get satisfaction and I ended the chat session.  And then I went back the next day to Rite-Aid and returned the products, got a refund in the form of points back in my account AND a partial refund on the gift card(they also yanked the $2 in points I got for buying the products).  And I thought this Crapfest was over with.

But on Monday evening the phone rang and it was the manager of my Rite-Aid.  I didn't pick-up the phone(I never do!lol)and he left a message that he was calling about the problem I had had at Rite-Aid over the points not generating.  Yes, they yanked/changed the deal and it now gave $1 in points not $10 in points and there is nothing he can do to put more points on my account.  So he was giving me a $10 R-A gift card for my troubles(even though I really think it should be for $20 as that was the amount of points that was the issue!)and it will be in the office and to just let a manager on duty know to get it for me the next time I was in the store.
I was picking up rxs last night and also picked up an envelope with this in it....

So it goes to show that it pays to complain when things don't go the way they should and you may get something.

And just to be a real bitch about this, here are 2 photos I took in the eye care aisle at Rite-Aid last night on my way to the pharmacy counter..........

 The shelf tag for the Ring Relief is STILL THERE!

The shelf tag for the Pink Eye Relief has been removed.
Soooo, instead of changing the sign and making it the correct 100 points they just took the whole thing down.

And you will plainly see that it states you get 1000 Plenti points still when you buy this item!!!
The next time I go to the store I think I'll whip out a pen and change the sign to reflect the correct amount of points just so no one else gets tricked by Rite-Aid.

So what has been happening in your world lately?


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Another Family Reunion has Come and Gone...2015 Edition

It was a quick trip down to Virginia to attend another Family Reunion of the Baker/Vassar Clan.

These are the descendants of my great grandparents, Lucy Ellen Baker and John Little Vassar, maternal grandmother's parents.

This year since my Eldest son is now living in Virginia he was REQUIRED by me to attend the Reunion this year.
After all we could take a route to the Reunion that practically took us right by his apartment door so how could he not go? ;-)

I had to remind Eldest son that he actually HAD been to the Reunion before this 1995, when he was 4 years old.

PHoto of the 3rd generation of cousins at the Reunion 26 Aug 1995.  My oldest two are sitting on the bottom step on the right side in this photo.  Eldest was 4 and Daughter was 2.5 years old.
I have no clue who's the other kids are. 8-)

So Hubs and I drove down to Fredericksburg on Friday.

The Pope was touring along the East Coast that weekend and we saw signs like this near the connectors to the PA turnpike........

The state closed down the turnpike totally east of Valley Forge and the turnpike extension for the whole weekend!  It's a good thing we took another route!  I heard it was a big old clusterf*ck outside and around Philly that weekend!
Though we didn't hit the Pope Traffic we did make a stop along the way before leaving PA....... Chocolate Valhalla!

We pass this chocolate outlet in Carlisle PA everytime we go down this stretch of I-81.

 It's visible from the highway and there is a big sign.

So after commenting every time we pass it that we should stop and check it out, we actually did!

Nice address, huh?

I didn't find the prices very low actually, except for the bags of naked "seconds".  But they did have many MANY flavors you can't find in stores, like citrus or Irish cream or almond.
Lots of unusual flavors we've never had.  So call me a goof but what I did was buy a bag of individual pieces from the bins(you had to buy at least 1lb.), pay for it, then sit in the car and eat one of each(we shared one of each)to see what flavors Hubs and I wanted to buy more of.

Boy, it's a dirty job but somebody has to do it! lolz
After going into a chocolate coma out in the car we went back in and made a bigger purchase.

They had a mix and match(from the big bins)special for Halloween--fill a bag with 100 truffles for $35 or 2 bags of 100 truffles for $60 total.

We got 1 bag of 100 truffles plus a couple of Christmas boxes for holiday presents for people.
And we signed up for the loyalty rewards card and I am already almost up to earning a $5 discount on a purchase.
This chocolate stop blew our trip budget but whattheheck I say! lol
I figure last reunion trip we bought a country salt-cured ham so we are about even with the spending this trip.

After bidding Lindt adieu we continued South.  Hubs got hungry(what? a bag of chocolate isn't enough to keep you happy!?) once we hit Virginia so we stopped at a BBQ place we found a couple of years back called Big Daddy's BBQ and had a quick sammich and iced tea.

My Big Daddy's selfie fail......

Next door to the restaurant was a thrift store so we went in to browse and walk off some lunch.
I didn't buy anything but I did snap a few photos of interesting finds......

"Car Lashes"  Hmmm......who buys crap like this when they can spend their money on chocolate?!? lolz

I found KIM a new record for her Celtic classes......and yes "Bonnie Tunes" is by a gal named Bonnie. lol

This thrift store was for an animal shelter and they had cats lounging around the store.  I was sort of scared off of buying anything because I feared I'd get a free cat with purchase.  ;-)

It was back on the road and soon we were passing one of the landmarks along this route.........

Though we finally stopped at Lindt's we still have this one to look forward to exploring Clark Bros. in the future.

Once we got near the hotel where we stayed that night in F'burg I spotted at a light, my first one of the political season, a bumper sticker.........

After checking in and NOT being able to connect to the internet for HOURS, we met up with Eldest son for dinner.  He wanted to check out a local Asian place(Chinese/Japanese/Thai menu items).  It was a bit pricey but very good.  Eldest ended up paying for dinner and I brought him his birthday card his aunt had mailed to our house a month after his birthday..........

Then we hit the Total Wine & More store to check out the craft brewskis.......

 Funny name for this mead concoction.......sort of like Will Shakespeare's "kill all the lawyers" line, right?

I thought Hubs would like this Kings Mountain Scottish Ale made by Heritage Brewing in Manassas, Va.

For all you non-history peeps, the Battle of Kings Mountain was a big Revolutionary War win in October 1780 for the Americans.  Incidentally, Davy Crockett's father fought in this engagement along with General William Campbell.  Campbell was a signer of the Fincastle Resolutions the earliest statement of armed resistance against the British crown in America.  He married the sister of Patrick Henry and they settled in the area that become Saltville, VA in the western part of the state, where one of my direct ancestors was captured during the Battle of Saltville and ended up dying in a Northern POW camp during the War of Northern Aggression outside of Columbus, OH.  Campbell County in Virginia, where many of my maternal side relatives and ancestors are from, is also named for William Campbell.
*History lesson over for the day.*

I bought 3 single beers there to try that I've never had before.....

An O'Hara's stout made in Ireland,  CoCoNut porter made by Maui Brewing and Raven's Roost Baltic porter made by a VA brewery called Parkway Brewing in Salem.

Sitting in the car waiting for everyone else to finish up in the liquor store I noticed this Vape Bar next door and had to laugh.
Looking at all the vapor in the air in there, it's just as smoky as regular bars use to be "back in the day", minus the darkness. lolz

Afterwards we hit the Food Lion near Eldest son's apartment.  I needed to pick up some fresh veggies to make a cuke and tomato salad to bring to the reunion.  While in the grocery store the "Carole Curse" struck again....this time Eldest was the victim.

My mother, bless her heart, had an uncanny knack for making friends quickly everywhere she went.
She came to visit us when we lived in the Poconos once and I took her to the grocery store I had shopped at for 5 years, but she had never been in before.  By the time we paid for our things and left she had made friends with at least 4 people who worked in that store-2 at the deli counter, the produce guy and the cashier.  She knew their names their marital/family status and various other personal things about them.  I had been shopping in that store for 5 YEARS and didn't know any of this, besides a name or two(if they wore it on their work uniform). lolz

Eldest was talking to me while I picked out produce at Food Lion and someone who worked on the night crew cleaning floors was over by us and before I knew it, this guy was chatting away with Eldest son.
Yep, he's got the Carole Curse alright!

Then it was back to Eldest son's apartment to chat, drink a few beers and make my dish for the reunion.

Back to the motel and a short night of sleep(still couldn't connect to the interwebs that night)and the 15 minutes before we packed up and left the next morning I finally got online.  Stupid motel!

Picked up Eldest and off we went flying down I-95 toward Richmond in the rain.

Oh look!
Let's go to Kings Dominion instead.......

Another 1.5ish hours through Richmond and on soggy back roads and we were pulling into Roxabel...........

The weather the entire day was miserable so it kept down the number of folks who attended this year's Reunion by a lot.  Hey!  Most of these relatives live in or near this area of VA and ALL of them live IN Virginia so if I can drive all the way from Northeastern PA they have NO EXCUSE not to show up!
And that's all I'm gonna say about that.  ;-)

The cousins had set up a large tent and had heaters going, as well as tables set up inside the house so there was plenty of room for everyone who showed up.

I really didn't take any pictures this year besides this one of Eldest and my brother.......

I chatted with a few more folks this year......I guess they are getting use to seeing me at this thing after 3 years in a row and aren't scared of me. lolz

My brother's bbq ribs are always a big hit and this year was no different.  He always leaves with an empty pan.  My salad was enjoyed by many as well and I only brought home a small portion.

The requisite photo of me in front of the house.  Hubs didn't get much of the house in the picture though. lol

With the rain and the tent covering the backyard/patio Cousin Shelby wasn't able to get a photo from the balcony of everyone like in years past........

She had to take multiple shots and will attend to stitch them together photographically and make a group shot.  I'll share that as soon as she sends it to me because I know everyone is on the edge of their seat wanting to see that, right?  ;-)

I brought a photo to give to my mom's cousin Hilda that I found on Ancestry of the high school yearbook in the town they both lived for awhile.

Neither of them were in high school that year but they were in the band which included 7th and 8th graders too so they are in this photo.  I knew right away which girl was Hilda but I couldn't figure out who and IF(more names on the page that kids in the photo)my mother was in the photo.
This is from the 1945 Pioneer yearbook from Portlock High School.  At that time Portlock was a section of South Norfolk, VA but sometime in the 1960's South Norfolk became part of Chesapeake, VA.

Hilda & mom spent a few years living in the same town and attending the same school during WWII.   Hilda was a grade/a year older than mom. 
Hilda pointed out which one she thought was my mom......the one the red arrow is point to.

My mom would have been 10.5 years old in this photo from 1945.
The photo jogged my mom's cousin's memory and she sat and recollected some memories from that time in her life and it was nice to hear them.

She also told me how much she loved my grandfather, my mom's dad.  Evidently he spent a lot of time with them both, taking them places and doing things with them when they lived in the same town.  Hilda recalled how her own father didn't do that much and how she loved to go off with my grandfather and my mom as a kid. 
I had never heard that before and it made me smile.

So we spent a few hours chatting and eating and I showed Eldest son the house(he had never been to Roxabel since the reunion when he was 4 was held at a different location).  There was no exploring the grounds or spending time in the Marshall Family graveyard on the property as it rained incessantly.

We bid goodbye to all and my brother took Eldest off to walk the property we own jointly, the land we inherited from my mother where our Grandparents home had stood at one time.  This property was at one time part of the original plantation roxabel and was gifted to my grandmother when she married. Brother and Eldest had fun shooting off guns there.
Sister in-law, Hubs and I went off back to Charlotte Court House.   Sister in-law wanted to go see the house in town where my Great Grandmother Lucy had lived when she moved away from Roxabel until her death in 1973.  The house is now a B&B right in town with a gift shop, so Hubs dropped us off to go see the gift shop.   They were doing some renovations so there were no guests that weekend and the handyman guy let us go upstairs and see the bedrooms(Sis in-law used the pretext that we were interesting in maybe renting rooms next September).
I didn't get a shot of the room that was being used as a gift shop(women's higher end clothing and accessories)but it had been my great grandmother's downstairs bedroom.  It was strange to see it crammed full of dresses, hats and purses.
And I don't think the two young sales girls who were moving merchandise around got too weirded out when I told them my grandmother died in their gift shop. lolz

This was the bedroom where my parents and I stayed back in the 1960's when we visited.  It hasn't changed much except for a wall border. and a fancier bed.  My great grandmother had an old brass bed.

 And this is the other bedroom across the hallway.

They have even put a small en suite bathroom in that room.

This is actually the end of the hallway between the bedrooms.  It is now a fancy shmancy sitting area with book shelves, 3 chaise lounges and a fur rug.  The man who bought this house after my grandmother passed away was a history enthusiast/Civil War re-enactor and he left all his books on the subject in the house.

The back addition of the house was put on when my great grandmother moved in in 1965.  Until then there was no indoor bathroom.  This addition also included an indoor stairway to the upstairs and a small kitchen and den area.  Before then the downstairs was 2 large rooms and the upstairs was a large hallway and 2 more large rooms.
 The old smoke house in the backyard.

The old barn now used as a conference room and/or available for party rentals.  They named it for the guy who lived here after my great grandmother.

Bob Moates as Robert E. Lee standing on the front veranda at Diamond Hill.

An article about Robert C. Moates is HERE.

It was nice to see that the house is still being loved and cared for.
If you want to stay in the house, HERE is the link to their website.

In the history of the house section they don't mention that Diamond Hill was used as lawyer offices in the 1800's too(since the courthouse is right down the block)or that it was used as a boy's boarding school before WWII(I know because I have a photo of it from then that has a caption written on the back at that time).

After this trip down memory lane we drove back to the motel in Keysville......the ONLY motel in this part of the entire county!.......and some of us took a nap and I sat outside on the bench by our room and drank a cider and watched the cars and the cows.

The view from our room.....a dairy farm across the highway.

That evening we all met up in Keysville at a pizza restaurant for our annual dinner with Cousin Ruby and Donnie.
Ruby is my mother's cousins(her mother and my grandfather were siblings).  We always have a fun time catching up on our lives and kids(and her grandkids), reminiscing and laughing lots.

Almost got everyone in that shot.....

So we tried a selfie too and did worse.....just got Hub's eyeball and "almost" all of my brother's face in that one. lolz

Hugs all round and we headed back to the motel for some drinks in the room and then off to dreamland.
The next morning my brother and sis in-law met us at Sheldon's for breakfast and we ended up sitting by our Cousin Dean and his wife, Gwen, too.

We tried to be good and stay away from the "bad for us" foods on the breakfast buffet but the sister in-law just couldn't resist the siren song of bread products.....biscuits and gravy, scones, pancakes, French toast and grits. 
I was bad and had some deep fried fat back.  Imagine bacon but a lot thicker with a tough rind on it and 4 x as salty as bacon.  Now throw it into hot oil and fry it.
Yep.  It's a hot tasty salt lick.  8-)  I could only eat one and I still think I am swollen with retained water. lolz

So we did another family selfie..........


Better but strange looks.

Bingo!  Or as good as we were gonna get. lolz

We headed back to F'Burg and stayed a little while to visit with Eldest son's GF and the grandkitty then it was back on the road toward home.

Having made a late start back, we only made one stop only on the way home and that was for dinner.  No lunch stop because we were still too full from breakfast(and I only ate half my dinner sammich too).

No return trip to the Lindt Outlet either.....just a diner along the highway in Carlisle PA.

A nice find we will have to try on another trip again.
Good prices, wide variety of meals, good sized portions and tasty!
Check out the Walnut Bottom Diner in Carlisle, PA if y'all are in the area.

By the time we arrived home it was getting dark and I got a shot of the Blood Moon just beginning to turn an orange hue before the eclipse happened.

 It was a quick trip with crappy weather mostly but we made the most of it and had a good time.