Fail Ikea

July 12th, 2009 . by Jason

I haven’t really ever been a huge fan of Ikea.  Their huge warehouses of stores and crazy modern decor are just not my style.  While we have been able to find a couple items there in the past I doubt that we will be shopping there much more in the future.

My first experience with Ikea was when they opened their store in Draper, UT sometime in 2007.  It reminded me of Disneyland, but without the rides and characters.  (Although the employees in their bright yellow shirts might have been able to pass as some type of cartoon character.)  On our first trip we parked the car in section D98 and began our half mile trek to the store.  Upon entering we were herded like cattle to the second floor and began our slow windy course through the upper floor and then to the main floor.  We happened to fall upon a semi-classical night stand which we decided to purchase.  We jotted down the product location and continued on.  After wandering through the store for what felt like hours we were finally ready to pickup our beloved night stand and checkout.

Enter the warehouse.  You already feel like you’re in a warehouse as you shop, the unfinished ceiling shows off its steel support beams and ventilation systems and product is placed almost haphazardly throughout the store still on their original shipping crates.  Do not be misguided this is not the warehouse.  The warehouse is where you have to go to actually find your product to take home with you and is devoid of all color and filled with boxes.  We fearfully sidestepped leaning towers of  boxes and made our way to where our nightstand was waiting for us.

Once in our arms we continued to checkout.  In traditional Walmart style Ikea has mastered the art of always not having enough cashiers available.  Once they see that a cashier has less than a half dozen customers in line, they promptly send that cashier home and send the waiting customers to wait in longer lines.  It is all part of the experience they say.  To make it worse, there are no clearly defined lines and when the density of people in front of a cashier lightens up customers are forced to make a mad dash to the open space with vain hopes of being able to checkout.  You may say, but they have self checkout!  Don’t get me started on self checkout.  Self checkout fails to greet me with a smile and leaves you wondering why it won’t let you continue until you realize your wife mistakenly placed the last object on the scale in such a way that it leans slightly on the side wall so it won’t weight properly.

Once checked out you are free to leave, except you cannot take your cart more than 10 feet outside of the store.  Alone?  Tough luck.  You better find someone to watch your cart full of items for you while you trek out to B98 to get your car.  Or if you have the strength and perseverance you can carry the product out to your car.

Our trip to the Chicago Ikea was no different than my first experience, except instead of two floors, there were three.

Ikea Shaumburg

Our purpose in going there was to find the missing partner of our nightstand and perhaps see what baby furniture they had (Babies R Us had much better stuff for nearly the same prices).  So after what seemed like hours of searching we finally found the displays of nightstands and located the one we wanted.  We carefully wrote down its warehouse location and we were on our way.  Once again we walked precariously through the death trap warehouse, located our nightstand and were on our way to checkout.  We quickly located an opening in the crowd and squeezed in and miraculously made it to checkout quite quickly.  The checkout guy taught me how to use the credit card reader (my credit card’s magnetic strip is worn out and rarely swipes) and we were ready for the long trek out to our car.

So, really it wasn’t that horrible, I guess.

Fast forward six hours.

After the three plus hour drive home (bad traffic) I lugged the new night stand upstairs so that I could assemble it.  I pulled out my knife to cut the tape and noticed that it didn’t look quite right.  It looked like someone had taped over the original tape.  I thought nothing of it and continued to open the box.  Once open I began to pull out the various parts, a few blocks of wood, an opened bag of screws, and an instruction book.  Now I was suspicious.  Why was the bag of screws open?  I decided that I should probably make sure all of the screws were there so I flipped open the instruction book (which I normally wouldn’t do) and made sure that all of the screws were there, and they were.

Slightly annoyed that the bag of screws was already opened I started looking for the first pieces of the puzzle.  I located the first side and noticed that the holes looked like they had already had screws in them!

CIMG2908CIMG2906

Now I was bugged, but whatever.  Someone had gotten it home, started assembling it, and then decided they didn’t want it.  So they meticulously repackaged the night stand and returned it as new (or they returned it open and the Ikea employee repackaged it for resale as new).  Not a huge deal.  Ethically shady, but not the end of the world.

So I pulled out the first screw and noticed that the head was stripped out a little bit.  Ugh.  I grabbed the next screw, and the same thing.  The next one was even worse, it was defective.

CIMG2910

Here I was on the first step and I was already stuck.  The first three screws were still usable, but the last one was going nowhere.  So here I am 3 hours away from the nearest Ikea with a night stand that I can’t put together.  I’ve heard their customer service is horrible so instead of wasting the time to try calling them I’ll probably goto the hardware store and grab some screws.

So thank you Ikea for selling us a used item.  I hope to never shop there again.

Oh, How I Love the Scampi

July 8th, 2009 . by Melissa

Chicken Scampi from Olive Garden is my favorite meal. No, Olive Garden is not my favorite restaurant (it takes more than one dish for me to give away that title), but their Chicken Scampi makes me swoon; my knees buckle from the pure bliss that is magically wrapped into each delicious bite.  There is one downfall to this perfect culinary creation, the price. For the regular portion, you pay: $13.59 plus 20% gratuity. For the lunch portion, you pay: $9.59 plus 20% gratuity.  This may seem like a small price to pay for the most wonderful meal in the world, but when you’re stocking up on diapers and baby gear there are less pennies for penne.  Yesterday, as Sesame and I were deeply craving Chicken Scampi, I arrived at a brilliant idea. I would find the Copy Cat recipe for my beloved dish and attempt to recreate it. I have tried Copy Cat recipes before for other restaurant faves, but have never had much success. I scoured the internet for at least thirty minutes trying to decipher which imitation recipe would yield the most similar product. I ended up choosing the most obscure choice from a particularly shady looking website. Fortunately, I had all of the ingredients required except for the produce. I ran to the store, returned to my laboratory, and then began with the experiment. At first, I was convinced that the sauce was way too bitter and overly runny and was already disappointed. Nevertheless, I continued on with the recipe forging ahead. After all of the elements of the dish were created (chicken and veggie sauté, angel hair pasta, white wine garlic sauce) I added them all together and took a bite (with my eyes closed). Guess what…it tasted EXACTLY the same.  Because I already had most of the spices the total cost for me to make this meal for 2 (with lunch portion leftovers) was $5.40.

 Here is the recipe and some of the slight modifications I made or would like to make for next time. We ended up with 2 cups of extra sauce which is currently in the freezer, ready to be thawed for another meal.

 

Olive Garden Chicken Scampi

Source: www.Recipegoldmine.com

Here is the recipe straight from the mouth of an Olive Garden employee. The chicken tenderloins are the only thing not authentic. They come into the restaurant already prepared.

Ingredients
1 stick and 3 tbs. Butter
2 tbs. garlic puree I used pre-packaged minced garlic.
2 tbs. Chicken Base (Minors or Tone brand)  I used 3 chicken bouillon cubes.
8 fluid ounces Chablis I used white cooking wine. And I plan to only use 5 oz. next time, it takes forever to cook out.
8 fluid ounces Water I didn’t add water because it was already too runny.
16 fluid ounces Creme Culinaire (or heavy whipping cream) I used 1 can evaporated milk, but want to try the cream next time.
1 1/4 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp. Coarse Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
2 1/2 tsp. Fresh Chopped Parsley
10 garlic cloves I didn’t add any garlic cloves, I felt it was enough with just the puree

1 red pepper

1 orange pepper I didn’t get a orange pepper, I figured the green and red would suffice.

1 green pepper

1 red onion I only used ½ of a large red onion.

Angel hair pasta
1 ½ lbs. Chicken Tenderloins I sliced up some chicken breasts and used those instead.

To roast garlic cloves: ( I didn’t included roasted garlic, I felt it would be too much with the puree)
For garlic, roast 2 to 3 heads of whole garlic. Slice off top until you see cloves and pour approximately 1 tablespoon olive oil over each head. Put in oven at 325 degrees F for around 1 hour or until they smell sweet. After they cool, squeeze cloves out of the papery stuff and coarsely chop.

To sauté the peppers and chicken:
Cut up green, red and orange pepper into strips also red onion (1/4 by 1 inch strips). These are sauted with the chicken. Marinate chicken in Marzetti’s lite ranch dressing (I didn’t use Ranch this time but will definitely try it next time!), adding 1 tablespoon garlic puree and fresh parsley. Use fresh chicken tenderloin strips (before marinating, I breaded mine with egg, flour and Italian seasoning, because they seem to have a light breading at the restaurant). There are 5 tenderloins per serving. You cook the white wine sauce while that simmers.

To make white wine sauce:
Melt butter over low heat; do not let it brown. Add garlic puree and let sweat for 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for approximately 10 minutes. (My sauce took more like 20 minutes, and I had to add a little flour to thicken it.)

 Cook pasta as directed.

Toss veggies and chicken with white wine sauce (approximately 6-8 fluid ounces per serving) and place on top of angel hair pasta.

Wall Art

April 27th, 2009 . by Melissa

Jason’s Birthday plus a few more…

April 20th, 2009 . by Melissa

Jason Turns 26!

April 16th, 2009 . by Melissa

The 26 Reasons Why I Love Jason (in no specific order). Try not to barf!

He is so stinkin’ smart.

He has baby-soft hands.

He comes up with the funniest and most creative nicknames for me.

He sings to me in the morning on the way to work.

He pretends to watch chick-flicks with me.

He always brings me a glass of water before bed.

He encourages me to go clothes shopping.

He supports my often-outlandish creative endeavors.

He takes my side when it is me vs. the world.

He laughs at my somewhat dissipated humor.

He works really hard to support our little family.

He bought me a house.

He calms my fears.

He loves me for me.

He softens my rough edges.

He fixes my computer issues.

He eats my food and always says something nice about it.

He is tidy.

He is interesting and surprising.

He is benevolent.

He is forgiving.

He is great at sewing.

He gives wonderful presents.

He makes incredible sweet and sour chicken.

He has great tastes.

He has a wonderful laugh.

The Sink Puked

October 26th, 2008 . by Melissa
There it is, in all it's glory.

There it is, in all its glory.

The damage under the sink.

The damage under the sink.

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