Hit the buffet

mandarin buffetEach year we have a “last in the lake” contest. The last in the lake gets to choose dinner at their restaurant of choice. Clare has won it the last two years in a row (the date was October 30th for the record) so we made the trek on Friday night to what’s becoming an annual tradition to the Mandarin restaurant.

The Mandarin is the penultimate, king of buffets. Dave and I are skeptics when it comes to buffets—usually “buffet” means mediocre food at best served at room temperature. The Mandarin is the exception to the rule. They know how to do buffet right.

We arrived and were greeted by our hostess who showed us to our seats in the F room. It’s important to remember your room number, because it is easy to get lost (Dave and I both entered the wrong rooms that night after filling up our plates).

The Mandarin isn’t just a food experience. It’s eye candy if you like people watching. You never know who you will bump into or what you’ll see. Grace ran into a high school friend. I saw my co-worker Shelli and took the opportunity to ask her what she thought of their new practice of putting the number of calories on the glass above each dish. We both decided we didn’t like it.

It’s particularly fun to see the different strategies for the buffet. Some prefer a traditional approach, starting with soup or salad, then hit the mains while others go off the board for 200 and mix it up. Some people get small dainty plates of like-minded dishes. Others pile food on their plate in a magnificent mound while you watch in admiration and fear as they wind their way back to their seat from the busy dining room.

I especially like watching kids eat. Grace was a classic example. She started with the hot, traditional Chinese food fare, filled up on a plate of waffles and French fries for her second course, went back for salmon and ice cream and finished with a plate of ribs, green tea jello (which she didn’t eat), chocolate cake and a chocolate dipped strawberry. Nothing short of inspired.

Mid-way through your dinner, as the blood rushes to your stomach to digest the copious quantities of food, your mind starts to wander.

  • How many items are in their buffet? 150
  • What’s the most anyone has eaten? I suggested to the waitress they should have a contest. Give contestants a two-hour window and have designated calorie counters track their every calorie. It would be an amazing marketing campaign for the restaurant.
  • How much food do they go through in one day?
  • The kids wanted to know what happens to the leftovers—do they get donated to shelters?
  • What’s the profit margin on each meal? Our waitress told us it’s just $1 for lunch and a bit higher for dinner—we found that hard to believe but then thought maybe they make profits on the drinks
  • How many people do they serve each day? The room we were in held 64 people for example, and gets turned over 3-4 times during dinner. Our restaurant had six rooms—you do the math
  • When Clare started to slump over in her chair after her fourth plate of dessert, we asked our waitress if anyone has ever fallen asleep at the table before? The answer was yes.

My only regret on Friday night was I didn’t have my phone to take any pictures, well and maybe that fourth plate of dessert.

This week’s #HappyAct is to hit the buffet at the Mandarin. But give up on the calorie counting—it’s just not worth it!

A twist on 13 things you must give up to be happy

Inspirational sayingA local Ottawa radio station recently shared a list put out by Pop Sugar, “13 Things You Must Give Up to Be Happy”. Here was their list:

  1. Bad spending habits! Stop accumulating debt. Make a budget and stick to it!
  2. Waiting for the perfect moment. There’s never the perfect time. Live in the moment.
  3. Give up your social media obsession.
  4. Give up living in the past.
  5. Give up yearning to fit in.
  6. Give up your disorganized lifestyle.
  7. Give up overanalyzing situations.
  8. Give up your need to have the best things.
  9. Give up toxic relationships.
  10. Give up your hesitation to indulge. Have fun every now and then.
  11. Give up comparing yourself to others.
  12. Give up your packed schedule.
  13. Give up relying on others to make you feel happy and fulfilled.

Personally, I think they have it backwards. You shouldn’t have to give up things to be happy. It’s like dieting. If you focus on what you can’t eat, odds are you’ll end up falling off the wagon and being extra miserable since you haven’t been able to eat what you like and you’ve failed in your goal to lose weight.

Here’s how I would reframe their list.

13 things to embrace to be happy

  1. Buy what you want as long as it’s within your budget—there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself from time to time.
  2. Make the perfect moment, it’s so easy to do (a hug, stopping to enjoy a beautiful view).
  3. Use social media to share, learn, grow and connect but set limits for yourself so you enjoy the non-wired world too
  4. Learn from your past and focus on the future.
  5. Always be you and be happy with who you are, whether you fit in or not.
  6. Try simple things to help you stay organized so you can focus on what’s important and buy you precious time.
  7. Understand that you will never know why people act or say what they do, and know it may have nothing to do with you.
  8. Have one or two nice things you cherish.
  9. Look for the good in relationships and if there isn’t any, move on.
  10. Indulge yourself and always have fun.
  11. Understand your own strengths and the strengths of those around you.
  12. Build in free time every day.
  13. Rely on yourself for your own happiness.

This week’s #HappyAct is to practice the art of reframing the negative to the positive. The next time you see or hear something negative, try stating it in another way that’s positive. Special thanks to my guest bloggers the last two weeks, Tim and Ray–fine job guys!