It is hard to believe that we have lived in Portland for 12 years. Before moving out here we lived in Boston, and the last place we lived was in a small town on the outskirts of Boston called Lexington. Compared to anything in Portland, it is old. It was a town involved in the Revolutionary War, and where the Battle of Lexington was fought. That, however, is just a bit of history. We rented the first story of a large house, and 5 women rented the upstairs of the house. Next door, was a farm called Wilson Farms. Next to our house was one of their fields and on the other end of the field was their farm store.
We spent quite a bit of $$$ — as it was so easy, convenient, and of course tasty. In the fall and winter they would have piping hot apple cider donuts and some prepackaged to take home. I think that was probably Chris’ favorite part of living right next door. I loved them too – but what I miss most was the tulips that were the size of my hand. When I recently found this recipe for Apple Cider Mini Muffins I knew we had to try. A bit of Wilson Farms nostalgia. And…they were so good!
Baked Apple Cider Mini Muffins
2 cups flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
⅔ cup brown sugar
½ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup apple cider
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ cup sugar
In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
In another bowl whisk together the egg, melted butter, and brown sugar. Then add the buttermilk, applesauce, vanilla, and apple cider.
Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and whisk together just until combined.
Pour the batter into lightly sprayed mini muffin tins. Fill each muffin ¾ full. Bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees.
While the muffins are baking melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl. In another bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon together.
When the muffins come out of the oven dip the top of each into the melted butter, then dip into the cinnamon/sugar mixture.
Yesterday I received an email from REI, with the subject line: “REI is Closing Black Friday.” Of course like so many people who received the email, my response was: “What, what, what?” It is a great marketing ploy and strategy. I immediately was curious and opened the email and read it out loud to Chris. My next thought was: “Did someone hack into their email server or is this legit?” Here is an excerpt of the email I received from REI:
“This Black Friday the co-op is doing something different. We’re closing all 143 of our stores. Instead of reporting to work, we’re paying our employees to do what we love most—be outside.
We want you, our members, to be the first to hear—not just what we’re doing, but why.
We’re passionate about bringing you great gear, but we’re even more passionate about the experiences it unlocks for all of us. Perhaps John Muir said it best back in 1901: “thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home.”
We think Black Friday is the perfect day to remind people of this essential truth.
And don’t worry, as a member you’ll still enjoy great deals on great gear all holiday season long. But on this one day, we’re going to #OptOutside and we want you to join us.”
From what I can tell, it is legitimate and I applaud REI for driving the point home so clearly – potentially at a loss of revenue. Maybe though — just maybe their members and frequent shoppers will find this admirable and not worry a bit that they will not be open. Of course their website will still transact orders. Why not have the deals happen the day after Black Friday? Why does it have to follow consumerism tradition and happen on Black Friday?
In any case, I hope it starts a new trend. I for one do whatever I can possible to stay away from ANY shopping on Black Friday. The only thing I would do is venture out to what Portland calls “Little Boxes” which supports small businesses. That is something I can support. It makes it even better that they want folks to be outside. Maybe other companies will join #OptOutside.
Other improvements to this year are companies that previously were open on Thanksgiving day are choosing to stay closed. Staples and GameStop will be closed this year as the companies want customers and employees to enjoy the holiday they way they want to celebrate it. There is even a group of individuals trying to get a local mall closed for Thanksgiving Day by way of a Change.org campaign.
It was so nice to have a long weekend. Somehow we got plenty done, did some fun things, caught up with friends and family, and had some naps dabbled within all that. Saturday we napped in the late afternoon (so nice)! Saturday night I fell asleep snuggled on Chris’ nap, and then Sunday we had brunch and I curled up next to him on the couch for a snooze, only to find out my snuggling with him made him fall asleep sitting up. Ah, how nice naps are for adults.
It was an interesting weekend, on Sunday I was quite cranky, and then two random acts of kindness happened to me (and yet I was still cranky). The first happened at the Starbucks drive-thru. I was very thirsty, as all weekend it was between 97-102 degrees which almost never happens in Portland, and definitely not before July 4th. Usually we are just hoping for a slightly warm and dry 4th. This year we got dry and hot-as-hell too. Chris and I spent most of our time in our bedroom where we have air conditioning.
So back to the random acts of kindness at Starbucks. When we got up to the window to pay, the girl at the window said, “The woman in the car ahead of you paid for your drink.” Wow. I always hear of that happening, but it has never happened to me (that I can remember). It makes me want to pay it forward the next time I am at Starbucks. You would have thought that would have lightened my mood. It made me grateful and appreciative, but nonetheless I was still cranky.
Random act of kindness #2. We were at Sephora. Not my favorite place in the world. It was loud, (and remember I was cranky). The line was long and I was done with my errands and just wanted to go home. As I am next in line at the register, the girl who had just paid turns to me and says, “Would you like to use the rest of this gift card? There is only a dollar left.” I was a bit taken aback. Sure, it was only a dollar, but she did not have to pass it on. Most people would keep it until their next purchase. Of course, she might dislike the store as much as me, and hope not to go back. In any case, I think I was a bit shocked at the second act of kindness in one day. I mumbled a “thanks” and continued with my purchase. Later, though I felt like my shock meant I did not share my gratitude in the best of ways. Sure, it was a dollar, but sharing is sharing.
This was my story of the kindness that was shared with me yesterday, now it is my turn to pass on the love. Join me?
Frustrated. I work in a job that is one of service to others. I highly respect those companies and individuals that believe in service, and I get highly disappointed by those that do not honor service. I was raised in a way that living by principle matters. I take a strong stand for that principle. That means I might have a harder time letting a situation go if I feel that someone is taken advantage of or being mistreated.
My situation: I purchased a pair of eyeglasses at the outlet location of a local eyeglass store: Reynolds Optical. It is a great deal, a pair of frames and lenses for $150. Due to my crazy blind prescription, I always have to pay $100 to make the lens thinner. $250 is still a great deal. I think they can give these prices because the frames themselves are floor models from other locations. Fine with me – they can be cleaned, and I always check them for nicks or scratches. I was to receive them in two weeks. Two weeks go by and no phone call that they have arrived. We call, and find out they are there waiting. We pick them up and bring them home. The lenses are massive. I have never purchased a pair with such thick lenses.
I immediately think that they did not make them extra thin, and I paid an extra $100 for that. We take them back an hour later, and the guy says oh, I will send them back and they can put new lenses in. We later find out he is the owner’s kid. The guy agreed with us that they should be thinner. We wait 2 weeks, again no phone calls, we finally learn after multiple phone calls that the glasses are waiting. Bring them home and compare and again they look the same as the first round.
Chris takes them back and meets the owner. He tells Chris that the frames that were selected are not good for my prescription and they should never have been sent back. Chris lets him know that the guy never told us that, and that he is the one suggested that we send them back to be fixed. The owner says we do not do refunds, but I want your wife to be happy, and to have me come back in a pick new frames. We do. Same guy is working and he says yes I think that those frames will work. This time it should only take a week to fix. I receive a phone call a few days later that they are almost done and I owe them money. I lose it on the phone with her, telling her what a horrible experience it has been and I am not paying more money. If more money was needed it should have been agreed upon before work was ever done. I immediately call Chris and he calls the owner.
Owner and Chris get into yelling match on the phone. This is odd. Chris is patient, composed, and never yells. Does that tell you what a horrible man the owner is? Owner does not give in and unless I pay more money I will not have any pair of glasses at all. I am beyond angry. Remember, I am all about principle. How are these people even allowed to still be in business? We decide to pay the extra money and pick up the glasses knowing that we can be done with the situation, never go back there again, and share our experience online to protect others from being duped. Maybe the experience has tainted my brain, but I actually think the prescription in this new pair is not right. I’m wearing old glasses again until I can have my normal eye doctor look at them.
I then decide to read reviews on Reynolds online. There are quite a few of them. Merchant Circle, and City Search for a start. Here’s a recap and reasons why this was horrible service in more ways than one — plus I still do not know if I can wear the glasses:
Poor or lack of returned phone calls through the entire ordeal.
No service or help in the glasses selection process.
Clueless about how lenses should show up in frames. Son should never work in optical shop.
Owner gets involved, lies.
Owner yells at customer, demands more money after work was done.