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Today! Today! Today! Party time with .@HaitianFam1st !!

Today is the day! It’s the Haitian Families First Back to School Party!
I’m excited for all this to come together. Great sponsors have stepped up, we’ll be rockin out with The Standard Band and we’ve got really awesome gift baskets to raffle off. I feel especially blessed to have AWESOME friends who put together a HUGE wine basket (16 bottles!!) for the raffle auction!
Now I just have to tie up a few loose ends, and shuttle like 3 car loads worth of stuff to Bricolage, and then it’s time to PARTY!! See yinz all tonight!!

http://www.facebook.com/events/126838940812866/?ref=25

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My love for .@CostcoTweets Truly Knows No Bounds

When I was a kid, I hated Costco.  We went there every weekend and went shopping, and it was boring.

When I got to college age, I learned better.  Costco meant huge hauls of food for cheap.  Awesome.

costco Since then, my love for Costco has grown and grown and grown.  I love that they treat their employees ethically.  I love that they offer huge hauls of food (especially produce) for cheap.  I would complain about the mindless hordes of shoppers, but I manage to go there pretty much exclusively at off-times, so I don’t have that problem at all.  Costco has been essential for baby supplies like diapers, wipes, etc.  I can’t imagine how much more those things would have cost basically anywhere else.

To top it all off, I had hands down the best customer service experience of my life at Costco today.  Let’s set the stage:

1.  Last year, I was talked into upgrading to an “Executive” membership, which means you get 2% of your purchases in cash back.

2. At the time of upgrade, I was promised that the cash back check would at a minimum be the difference in cost between regular membership and executive membership ($55).

3.  I got the cash back check, and it was only $21.87.

4.  My mom sent me a gift card for my birthday to renew my membership (this is my awesome awesome birthday present every year).  Except Mr. Beez was the one shopping when we were reminded that our membership was renewed.  He didn’t realize that I had a gift card for that, and he also didn’t realize the difference between executive and regular membership. So he paid out of pocket to renew executive membership, even though we didn’t want that anymore.

So I went into Costco ready to confront them about the insufficient check, and the member renewal gift card that I was really hoping they’d let me just use as a gift card instead of having to hold onto it until renewal time, and was actually unaware that our membership was renewed at the executive level at that time.

I approached customer services, and first asked them about using the the membership gift card as a merchandise gift card.  The representative: “Oh no, I’ll just give you cash for it.” CASH. DID YOU HEAR THAT! SHE JUST GAVE ME CASH, AND I DIDN’T EVEN HAVE TO ASK FOR IT, MUCH LESS FIGHT FOR IT!.

costco logoBut wait, it gets BETTER.

I show her the insufficient cash back check, gearing up to get in a fight about how they promised I’d at least get a check for $55, even though that’s not exactly what the fine print on the member terms says, but i wouldn’t have upgraded if they didn’t promise that….

She takes one look at the check, and before I even really say anything, she says “This was done wrong. You’re supposed to at least get $55.  I’m going to cash this check and also give you the rest of the amount in cash.”  SHE GAVE ME THE WHOLE AMOUNT I WAS SUPPOSED TO GET IN CASH. AND I DIDN’T EVEN HAVE TO ASK FOR IT, MUCH LESS FIGHT FOR IT!

Then came the final step– I asked her if Mr. Beez renewed at the executive or regular membership. She looked it up and said “Oh, it’s executive, if you just want regular, I’ll refund you the extra amount he paid for the executive.”  And then she did it! Right there! In cash!!

So I walked into Costco, ready to start talking my lawyer talk and get all bent out of shape…and lo and behold, I didn’t have to do any of that.  They put about $150 in cash in my hot little hand, right then and there.  It was such an exceptionally easy and fantastic customer service experience, I called Mr. Beez right away and said “YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE WHAT JUST HAPPENED AT COSTCO…”

So folks, my love for Costco is ever stronger.  I of course turned around and immediately filled my cart and spent that $150, and that was the happiest $150 I’ve ever spent at Costco.  See, they give me money, I give it back to them, everyone wins!

Costco, will you be my Valentine?

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A Morning Full of Happiness with Creative Mornings .@Pittsburgh_cm

I don’t know what it is about today, but it’s starting out great!  I had a good workout last night, followed by a good glass of wine and a good sleep.  I woke up happy and well rested.  And even better– Baby Beez woke up in this amazingly happy and friendly mood!  She is so cheerful today, it’s awesome!  The day looks to be a great one– I’ve got lunch plans with a friend, a party tonight, and I’ve got a steady amount of work to do but not so much that I’m pulling my hair out and losing my mind.

Even though the event was a couple weeks ago, my happiness this morning made it a perfect day for my recap of the Creative Mornings Pittsburgh breakfast talk with David Newell aka Mr. McFeely from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.

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The theme for the morning was “Happiness,” and it was clear that happiness is something that Mr. McFeely knows well (yes, I know that’s not his real name, but I can’t help calling him that, and I don’t think he’d mind anyway). Providence has smiled on Mr. McFeely, he found his way into his career with Mr. Rogers by a series of happy coincidences. In Mr. Rogers he then found a true inspiration, friend and mentor. Most of his talk was about Mr. McFeely’s path in life and his memories of working with Mr. Rogers. It was clear that his career and his life has been full to the brim with joy.
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Mr. McFeely was wonderfully generous with his time.  He signed autographs and took pictures with everyone after his talk, and even offered to mail out autographs to anyone who wanted one but could not stay.  He was friendly and chatty and loved meeting everyone. 

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In a world so often full of dead-end careers and disappointments, it is inspirational to hear people who have found genuine satisfaction in their paths.  The path to fulfillment is never a straight one– there are plenty of unexpected bumps and unaticipated tangents– but a positive attitude and a willingness to take a little risk here and there is a constant theme in such positive stories.

Hope you all have a happy day!

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A Lovely Little Day Trip to Christian W. Klay Winery

As much as I love wine, I’m not particularly familiar with wineries in this region.  When LivingSocial offered wine tastings and tours of Christian W. Klay winery near Nemacolin Woodlands, I quickly snapped that up!  Our visit was in late January, so the vines were dormant, but that hardly detracted from the tour.

Roy is in charge of all things agricultural at the winery, and he proudly taught us about his craft.  This winery is a true family business, and they take enormous pride in their work.  Roy was so excited to tell us about all the grapes he had experimented with and all of the seminars he has taken, and all of the famous winemakers he has met.  There are few things more fun than listening to someone share their craft, when they are truly passionate about their job.  Even though I’m not one to dig in the dirt, I eagerly signed up to the winery’s volunteer mailing list.  They have volunteer grape picking sessions, and I can’t wait to get out there this summer and help with the harvest!

Klay winery offers a wide variety of whites, reds and fruit wines.  Their focus is not “what’s popular?” but “what can we do best?”  Although Mr. Beez and I are always an easy sell when it comes to wine, it was refreshing that there was no pressure whatsoever to buy.  Nonetheless we found several wines we really loved, and ended up purchasing four bottles.  I’m generally more of a red drinker than a white drinker, but I love super super dry white wine.  Klay offered two very dry whites that I absolutely loved (the “Fort Necessity” and the “Blanc de Lafeyette”).  The winery’s price point is very reasonable ($14-20).  Lucky for me, they also sell at the wine shop at Station Square, so I won’t have to haul all the way back to Fayette County when these delicious bottles are long gone.

We had a lovely afternoon touring the winery, and I’m very excited to learn more about Western Pennsylvania wineries and hopefully visit a few more once we get back to warm weather!

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Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri (2008)

UnaccustomedEarth Unaccustomed Earth is such a lovely little book. It’s a collection of 8 short stories, each of them a glimpse into someone’s life. Lahiri stays within her comfort zone– most of the stories concern an adult child of Bengali parents, living in (or with connections to) Massachusetts, who is involved in a relationship with a non-Bengali. The stories are heavy with the themes of culture, family, guilt, trust, and independence, but balance those broader themes with an incredibly personal focus on the stories.

Although Lahiri’s characters have very specific characteristics, their decisions and struggles have many universal qualities. There was one story in particular that rang incredibly true to me. Without getting into the details (the story hit home on an incredibly personal and painful issue), reading that story provided me with kinship, feeling like there was someone else who has really been there and really knows how I felt.

This was my first Lahiri book, but I did see the movie based on her novel The Namesake. I’m typically not much of a crier with movies. OH BOY DID I CRY. Did I EVER cry. That movie will make turnips cry. They aren’t tears of sadness, it’s not an incredibly sad story. The struggles were just so personal and intricate and there was not one clear answer on how to sort through them and make everything better. And I cried and I cried and I cried.

Unaccustomed Earth is a perfect book for curling up in the cold winter, drinking tea, and feeling a little sad. Pick this one up for sure, just don’t take it to the beach with you. I’m really glad that my book club picked this book for January. It’s a book I ordinarily would not have chosen on my own, and I really loved it.