Our appointment yesterday morning was at St. Mary’s. Just when we got the lay of the land at Mayo, we had to switch locations – St. Mary’s is maybe 4 blocks from Mayo? Either way, it is a sea of humanity, even at 6:15 in the morning. When we arrived for the MRI of Tony’s heart, he immediately starts joking with the nurse. It’s funny because people don’t know how to interpret our sense of humor right off the bat, but the nurse totally got it. As he was getting ready to be taken in for his vitals, he tells the nurse “you know, I think my wife has been slowly killing me over the years – I was never sick before I met her!” And afterwards, I was referred to as “the wife who’s trying to kill her husband!”
We were done by 8:30 a.m. Only one tiny problem, our next appointment isn’t until Tuesday, as in July 22 at 4:30! We tried and tried to get an earlier appointment, but to no avail. Tony then said “I think we should just go home. I’m kind of sick of looking at your face.” Ha! That made us laugh so hard! So glad we still can hold onto our sense of humor in situations like this. We had paid for a whole week at the hotel, so we got back in time to check out and not be charged an additional day, got our refund and we hit the road. And guess what? Tony let me drive home the whole way! I thought for sure once we stopped at a rest stop he would take over, but he didn’t. That’s a first!
Before I go any further, here’s the deal about Extended Stay America. The pros and cons if you will.
- SUPER nice staff. Kathleen was amazeballs – I will have to yelp about her. She’s the one who recommended we go to Whistle Binkies.
- The rooms were really clean. Of course, Tony and I rip off the quilts right away. That’s the first thing we do when we stay at any hotel – who knows when the last time they were washed!
- A mini kitchen! Two burners, a full refrigerator and freezer, toaster and microwave
- Big bathroom
- Laundromat off the lobby entrance that I was able to use after being scared to use the town Laundromats!
- It is a smoking hotel, so while our room was non-smoking (or so we thought) it still had an odor of a bit of cigarette smoke. You kind of got used to it but every time we left for a while and came back, the smell was there. You could smell smoke in the hallways too.
- Only 8 cable stations. Three of which were local stations.
- The “Grab and Go” Breakfast was meager at best. Nature Valley bars (only 1 per package, not 2), Quaker oatmeal packets, apples, muffins and coffee. That was it. I am not sure how you would grab and go with oatmeal as you would with a bagel.
- No ice. Just a couple ice cube trays in the freezer, which would last Tony and I about an hour – we both love ice in our water and lots of it.
- The “fully stocked” kitchen? Two plates, two diner sized coffee mugs, two small bowls, 2 forks, 1 spoon for whatever reason, a plastic strainer, a dishwashing strainer and a can opener. That’s it. No bowls to toss pasta, no spatula or cooking utensil at all – so I was happy I brought some with me. Oh, and one dish cloth and dish drying rag. No dishwashing soap, no shampoo, or conditioner, just one tiny bar of soap. Oh, and NO drinking glasses at all.
So while I had visions of all these creative things I could do in that kitchen and brought a shit ton of stuff with me for all these “ideas” I actually only ended up cooking exactly twice. The first night was a spicy gnocchi with grilled Italian sausage. The other night was ground beef tacos and refried beans. The two burners were very efficient – it’s been ages since I cooked on coiled electric burners, one almost got away from me and I almost burned my sausages! No one likes burnt sausages!
Here is what I actually brought back home with us! Over pack my kitchen much?!
It didn’t seem like much, because it all fit in this freezer bag I got from Karli on behalf of the Beef Checkoff – it’s amazeballs Karli – kept everything cold on our 5 hour drive home with just a few freezer packs.
Oh, and I HAD to buy this detergent when I saw it at Walmart! Well, the name and the fact that it was only $2.99!
The best purchase I made? 35 water bottles for $3.50 from Walmart. I ended up keeping them stashed in the trunk of the car, and I would take a few with us for our day at the hospital during tests, and also brought some in at night. We love our water!
So the recipe contest I entered was for Extended Stay America sponsored by Away from Home. The premise was that you had to cook a meal using only the equipment provided at the hotel. I actually think my submission worked – I mentioned it a few weeks ago, but it was a pan seared pork chop with an apple and spinach topping, with honey Dijon mustard sauce and rosemary new potatoes. Under 10 ingredients and made in under 30 minutes. And I only used one stock pot, a skillet and a fork. Oh, and a knife to chop the apples, spinach and potatoes. You could make that dish in an Extended Stay Hotel! On July 28, the top 50 recipes submitted will be up for a vote to move onto the next round. Top prize? An all expense trip to New York for a cook-off for the top 4 entrants, the winner wins $5,000, AND gets tickets to the Wine & Food Festival in New York!
So there was this cookbook by Sunny Anderson:
I love the premise of this. Basically everything in this recipe book can be made at an Extended Stay. The only thing that threw me for a loop was the required pantry items. Um, they recommend six condiments, 16 staples, 20 refrigerator items and 4 freezer items. Wow, that’s 46 items! It included: honey, jam, salt and pepper, teriyaki sauce, applesauce, canned tomatoes, crackers, dry cereal, pasta, rice, pasta sauce, ramen noodles, tuna, canned salmon, vegetable oil, olive oil, bagels, pita bread, butter, fresh fruit, vegetables, yogurt, Greek yogurt, chicken breasts, fish fillets. . . the list goes on and on. I don’t think most people in a regular kitchen have all that stuff!
Next time we go, I am going to plan differently. This weekend I am going to make some things: healthy breakfast casserole, chicken noodle soup, breakfast burritos just to name a few. I am then going to individually freeze them. Then I can defrost and heat up in a skillet or microwave – while you know I love to cook, with our erratic schedule, it made it difficult to plan stuff, and/or by the time we got back, I didn’t feel like doing anything.
So I had to run pick up my insulin and I’ve had a taste for steak for a while. Tony just wanted a skinny burger. So I stopped by the store and picked up a steak, and about $2 worth of salad bar stuff on the side.
I noticed when I was putting stuff back in the fridge that there were two bunches of cilantro I hadn’t used up yet and were still good, so I decided to make a quick chimichurri sauce on the side. I let my steak get to room temp, generally sprinkled with salt and LOTS of coarse pepper. Tony doesn’t like a whole lot of pepper, so since this was all for me (well, half – the second half is going to be in my breakfast this morning) I went pretty heavy on the pepper.
We sat outside – that’s one thing we missed the most about the hotel, is that other than having the window open, there really wasn’t anywhere to sit around the hotel, except two benches and those were almost always filled with people who smoke.
So I am back at work today. Even though I had the day scheduled off, I don’t know what next week is going to bring, so I need to save my days. Luckily it wasn’t too busy at my office this week, so that was a relief.
I am way behind in comment reading/emails/etc. so I hope to catch up with you all this weekend. THANK YOU for your continued prayers, positive vibes, etc. – I felt every one! Hugs! Make it a great day!