Tuesday, April 15, 2014

But I Am Just A Receptionist! Planning A Company Outing

My current job is a receptionist for a very large company. At my location alone there are 450 people! There are over 30 locations across the country and I am the "default operator" for all of them. By that, I mean if you call ANY of our locations and choose zero on the phone tree, you will end up speaking to me.

You would think I would be much busier than I feel. But the truth is, I do have downtime (most days, anyway). When that happens, I generally reach out for a project. I am a part of the Human Resources team, but my "projects" do come from varying departments.

Two weeks ago, I was tasked with redeveloping and implementing the 10 bulletin boards around the building. It was a huge undertaking, especially since I get limited time away from my desk. I have finished the redevelopment part of that, and implementation will take place soon.

This week I have been handed the task of planning all aspects of my location's company outing this Summer! Whoa!!!! I have never taken on anything like this before, so I am both excited and a bit over my head (I think) on this. Choosing a venue would be a natural first step. But, nope! I have chosen a theme first. I want a 1960's hippie theme.

Let me explain.  My company was founded off the back of a truck in the 60's by, you guessed it - a hippie! So, I think it is fitting. It goes to many of the core, crunchy granola loving, principals that are still in place in our work force.

I am hoping that we can use a State Park as I think this would be perfect! Again, nature as a backdrop. What is better than that?

I have decided on a few things I would love to have for our party:

  • Company T Shirts that we can all Tie-Dye

  • Peace Sign Bean Bag toss

  • Face Painting station

  • Ring toss using mini daisy chains

  • BBQ and Vegetarian options for the food

  • Music from Woodstock and similar

  • Groovy Bingo using phrases of the era

If anyone has any other ideas for activities, that would be most helpful!
Also, any ideas on keeping a park setting "safe" in case it rains!!! Our outing would be in late July, early August.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Would You Like Some Urine With That Coffee????

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Yeah, you read that one right! This was pretty much how my work day started today.  I am still feeling a bit, I do not know, violated, disgusted, incredulous....

So, here's the story:

A few guys from the IT department asked if they could use my Kuerig as their's was broken. Of course, being a coffee addict, I get the NEED for coffee, so I said of course they could.  Now, I have a machine I purchased myself on a cabinet at my work area.  I am the Receptionist, so obviously, my desk is in a public area.

I opened the lid to the water well to see if it needed for water and the water in it had "stuff" floating. So, thinking it was just because that water had been in there since I left work on Friday, I told them I wanted to run that through and another cupful of fresh water to flush it out.

Imagine my surprise to have a foul, amber yellow liquid in my cup after brewing! This stuff was RANK! My whole office reeked.  And, I knew, I just knew it was URINE! WHAT???????? Yep, smelled like 10 guys decided that the "If it's yellow, let it mellow" rule was a great idea on a 100 degree day with the lid closed, was a great idea! Remember I heated this offal to near 145 degrees by brewing it!


Needless to say, my boss is the HR manager and I called him down to report this. He was not thrilled I saved it for him to smell :)

Well, obviously, I threw the entire machine away! Arghhhhhhhhhh......
Don't worry, work will be replacing it. But how can I trust it there.

I am still trying to process this!  Again, WHO DOES THIS????

Monday, April 7, 2014

I Made Yogurt- In A Crockpot- And It's Delicious

I have been dying to try my hand at making yogurt forever!  At first, I worried about the safety factor.  But, the more research I did and read about people who have made their own for years, the less of a worry it became.

Last night I decided to go for it. I am so glad I did!  I may never buy store bought yogurt again.  Not only was it tasty, but it was relatively easy.

I used ideas from many different recipes that I found on Pinterest. You can click on the word Pinterest in the previous sentence to see some I looked at.  I knew I wanted to try the crockpot method, so mostly that is what I looked up.

Some recipes rely on timing and senses. I wanted to rely on temperature to be extra safe.

Here are the materials you will need:

  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 1/2 c powdered milk
  • Cooking thermometer
  • Crockpot
  • 1/2 c store bought plain yogurt w/ live active cultures
  • Something for stirring
  • Large Towel

Here's what I did:

  1. Pour milk into the crockpot
  2. Add dry milk and give it a stir
  3. Leave on until milk temperature reaches 180 degrees (about 1.5h on high, but could vary widely depending on your crockpot, so please use a thermometer
  4. When that temperature is achieved, turn off the crockpot. Remove the pan part from the heating element and take the lid off.
  5. Give a stir to mix throughout. 
  6. Let the mixture decline in temp to 115 degrees (no worries if it gets as low as 100). Stir occasionally.
  7. When this temperature is achieved, take out a cup or so (no need to actually measure) of the milk and pour into a small bowl with the store bought yogurt (Make sure it has live, active cultures- the carton will say it on it!).  Mix together and pour back into the crockpot.
  8. Now cover the crockpot again, wrap with large towel and place in oven without turning it on! 
  9. Let it sit there for 8-12 hrs
  10. Viola yogurt!

At this point, the yogurt should have a texture similar to the picture above.  To make a thicker yogurt (Greek style), place cheesecloth (coffee filters, paper towels, or napkins can do the trick as well) in a strainer with a bowl underneath.  You are filtering out the whey. Many people use the whey in place of water or milk in baked goods as it is very good for you.

There you have it!

Spoon this into small Rubbermaid type containers, mason jars, or what you have handy.  Be sure to take out 1/2 a cup to use as your starter for your next batch!

Flavor as you like.  Right now I am eating mine with fresh pineapple and a honey drizzle- YUM!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Homemade Ginger Ale Is So Cheap, Easy, and Amazingly Delicious

I have always been a ginger ale fan.  What I didn't know, is there was very little ginger in any of the store bought ones.

Being a crafter (not a fantastic one) and a Do it yourself-er, I looked for recipes online. I was amazed by how many there are! I tried a few and decided to take components of a few, plus my own added touches to "create" my own. First you will make a syrup.

Now, I do not follow a strict recipe; I rarely do! But here is a really good idea of what I do:


  • 1 cup chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 cups Water
  • 1/2 Cup lemon juice
  • 2 cups sugar ( for this I mix regular with brown sugar equally) You could use date sugar, coconut sugar, any kind you like to your taste
  • 1/2 T  Red Crushed Pepper Flakes


  • In a saucepan, bring to a boil all ingredients.  
  • Let boil, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.
  • Reduce heat and simmer covered for another 20-30 minutes. You really want to get all of that ginger out of the root!
  • After simmering is done, strain the mixture into jars (I love mason jars for this). It should yield about 5 cups.

This is your syrup. The next step is to mix with seltzer.  I have a Soda Stream, so I fizz up my water and fill the rest of the bottle with my syrup. And I am done!

Without the Soda Stream, you can use bottled seltzer. To make one glass, mix in a ratio of 5 parts seltzer to one part syrup.  You can customize the ratio to your liking.

Sit back and enjoy this healthy, crisp treat!