Café Vico Restaurant and Piano Bar

Family owned for 25 years, the Café Vico now has two locations:

1125 N. Federal Hwy. Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304  Sunday – Thursday 4pm – 10 pm

Friday & Saturday 4 pm – 11 pm

(754) 399-4021


3496 N. Ocean Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308  

Sunday – Thursday 4pm – 10 pm

Friday & Saturday 4 pm – 11 pm

(954) 563 6441

Out Door Patio Seating at Café Vico, 1125 N. Federal Highway

I am really behind on my restaurant blog partly because we haven’t been out to eat in new restaurants but, also I have been busy in my studio creating new machine embroidery designs and bags and updating my website. Haven’t visited my website yet? Check it out- ArtGiftsEtc.Com

November 19 is my birthday and my mother-in-law wanted to take me out to dinner. On local public TV out of Ft. Lauderdale, Marcus and I had seen a restaurant review show that featured the Italian restaurant, Café Vico. We decided that we would try it out. The restaurant on Federal Highway, in the corner of a strip mall, and is at least about a half hour away from our home in Coconut Creek. But we decided it was worth the drive.

Since my birthday fell on a Saturday, Enid had made a reservation for us for 6pm. When we arrived the restaurant was not too full and we were seated right away in a section with a very attentive waiter. The restaurant is divided into several rooms that are separated by open woodwork windows so you can see into the rooms next to you but you feel like you are in a very intimate restaurant. The walls are covered with photographs of actors, actresses and musicians from all decades. I found that each waiter having their own dining room to be a very smart way to assign tables. Each partitioned space has (I believe) 6 tables and one waiter and his/her assistant were tending all the tables in their partitioned room. The acoustics weren’t great. It was quite loud even though it wasn’t crowded. Lots of wood and the quarry-tile floor amplified the noise but the seats were comfortable and the lighting was good. There is also outdoor seating on a patio and a big bar that boasts live music every night.

Special fruit greens salad with toasted almonds and gorgonzola cheese

I’m not sure if it’s because our table was right across the hall from the kitchen or because our waiter was very good at his job or both, but, the service we experienced was top notch. There is a fine line between being a great waiter who anticipates your every need and one who shows up at the table too often and lingers too long. Ours was great. He had an assistant who took our drink orders and also helped deliver our food.

Stuffed Artichoke
Arugula Salad

Each of us started with an appetizer. I chose a salad that was one of the specials that night ($15.95). The crispy greens were accompanied with orange, mango and strawberry slices as well as a generous handful of blueberries. The Gorgonzola cheese and toasted almonds and a light raspberry vinaigrette were the perfect finishing touches to this refreshing salad.

Enid ordered the Stuffed Artichoke with breadcrumbs, oregano and parmesan cheese ($19.95). I’m not a big fan so I didn’t sample any of her dish but she loved it. Enid ate her way down to the heart, mopping up the sauce as she went saying more than once that the sauce was delicious. She took the heart home “With the sauce!”. By the time she finished her appetizer, Enid said she was pretty full. But our dinner was just getting started.

Marcus had the Arugula Salad ($10.95). He told me it was one of the better salads he had had. The greens were fresh and the tomato tasted like a ‘real’ tomato. (alluding to years of being spoiled by me growing tomatoes every summer when we lived up north and abstaining from them in the fall and winter.)

I admit I am an Eggplant Parmesan snob. It’s my favorite Italian dinner and I have eaten it all over the world. I have had extremely good, maybe the best ever, sitting in an outdoor café in Fiesole which is the hillside town that looks down over the entire Old city of Florence, Italy. And I have had the the absolute worst-On A Royal Caribbean cruise we took in March, 2022. It was inedible. I have had lots that fall somewhere in between. So, when I saw Eggplant Parmesan offered on the menu ($25.95), I had to try it.

My mother-in-law cringes when I order the eggplant remembering the fiasco that followed on the March cruise when I asked my waiter what I was eating? The thick, tasteless hockey puck looking lumps of breadcrumbs (with no eggplant inside) topped with a dab of sauce (which was really good) resulted in the chef visiting the table that night and then returning the following night with a special order made just for me. I have to say I appreciated the efforts and in my cruise survey I commended my waiter and the chef’s attempts at making me happy. But, it was still the worst I had ever eaten and suggested that they consider changing their recipe? Anyway, I digress…

Eggplant Parmesan

My impressive looking plate arrived very hot, the eggplant was covered in a thick slab of mozzarella over a skimpy covering of sauce. The Eggplant Parmesan came with an order of pasta that looked dried out like it had been sitting under a heat lamp for too long and it too was skimpy on the sauce side. Flipping the slab of cheese off of one slice of eggplant onto the other side of the gigantic potion, I took a bite.

Enid, with trepidation in her voice, asked me how it was. I told her it was OK. Honestly, though I wasn’t impressed. For nearly $26 I guess I was expecting it to be one of the better versions. I suppose the price reflected the huge portion and the half pound of cheese, not the recipe. The best versions of this dish have a light, eggy coating almost like a soufflé. And, the eggplant is fork tender. This was not that. Unfortunately the breading was so heavy handed that it made the entire dish dry and tough. I really thought I had been served the Chicken Parmesan and not the Eggplant. I can’t recommend it and would not order it again if we go back. The little dab of sweet potato on the plate was delicious though. Because I was really hungry having skipped lunch, I ate one of the two slices and took the other home. Marcus enjoyed it a couple of nights later admitting that maybe a lot less cheese and more sauce might have helped. I did not eat any of the pasta that was served with my eggplant and although I requested it be packed up to go, I never saw it again. Probably just as well. It would have needed more sauce to make it palatable.

Marcus chose the Lasagna Bolognaise with béchamel sauce. (Voted the best lasagna in Broward County) for $24.95. I had never seen this combination offered before in Italian food. I had only ever seen béchamel sauce used, thickened on my favorite Greek dishes-Patitsio and Moussaka. I was immediately regretful that I didn’t order this. It both looked and smelled yummy. Although not a big fan of milk products Marcus said he couldn’t say that it was the best in Broward County, but it was really top notch. He ate about half of the generous portion and took the rest home.

Lasagna Bolognaise with Béchamel Sauce

Enid chose Pesto over angel hair pasta. She added an order of meatballs with marinara sauce ($5.95) “On the side” with her dinner. Honestly, I don’t know how much the pesto-pasta was because it isn’t listed on the main menu. It might have been a special for the night. Enid enjoyed it although she admitted she was too full to eat much so she had a good portion of her dinner with the meatballs (barely touched) to have as left overs. “The bread too!”. Because of the generous portions, by the time we walked out, Enid had food for the week.

Angel Hair and Pesto Cream Sauce and Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

After dinner, to my embarrassment, Enid let our waiter know it was my birthday when he came with the dessert menu for us to look at. Marcus ordered the Apple Tart ($9.95), I decided to splurge and get the Tartufo ($8.95) although I was torn between this and the Profiteroles (small cream-filled pastries usually covered in chocolate sauce $9.95). I asked our waiter which he preferred and he didn’t hesitate when he said “The Tartufo is great!” Enid didn’t order any dessert and it’s a good thing too, my Tartufo (vanilla and chocolate gelato in a rich fudge coating was way more than I could eat on my own. Luckily the big ball of gelato was cut into 4 pieces making it easier to eat…and share!

Truth be told, if I had known our waiter was going to surprise me with a Tiramisu, I might have skipped the gelato. Maybe…I like Tiramisu but it isn’t something I usually order. I took one bite of the Tiramisu admitting it was one of the best I had ever had and then I let Marcus and Enid fight over it. I think part of it ended up in Enid’s doggy bag.

I didn’t taste Marcus’s apple tart. I was overwhelmed with the amount of sweet stuff in front of me already and he really loves any apple dessert above all others. So, I declined the offer to taste it, letting him dig in. He ate every bite of the apple tart without complaint sharing, the vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce with Enid and me.

Happy Birthday Tiramisu

Apple Tart

I have to admit that I made a pig of myself with the desserts. I ate half of the Tartufo and gave half to Enid and I had a couple of bites of the vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce. Gelato doesn’t travel well so it was eat it or loose it. So, I ate it!

On the way out I noticed that most of the dining rooms were filling up and there was a full bar. Live music was playing and people were dancing on the small dance floor. It looked like a good crowd for an off-season Saturday night. I wondered if the bar was full of locals who came every weekend to enjoy the music and dance.

The bar in the front of the restaurant

I stopped in the ladies room on the way out and was greeted by a stall full of photos of very good looking male actors and musicians. I might have lingered a bit looking back at the image of Matthew McConaughey…..

Ladies Room Stall

I forgot to get the total of the bill but I think it was over $200 by the time we added the tip. This restaurant is a bit pricy so it would likely be one we reserve for special occasions. The Café Vico website says they offer catering and live entertainment. My regret is that we live kind of far from it so it isn’t a place we would think of right away on the next birthday we celebrate. But, I would like to go back to try that lasagna!


2821 East Atlantic Boulevard
Pompano Beach, Florida 33062

(954) 783-9499

On July 12th, my husband, Marcus, mother-in-law, Enid, and myself were headed to Pompano Beach for a couple of days of fun in the sun. We decided to stop for lunch before we checked into the hotel. Our first idea was The Peking Duck Restaurant on East Atlantic Blvd. We had a Peking Duck dinner here last year that we enjoyed very much and wanted to try dishes from their extensive menu. Unfortunately, we discovered that they were closed for renovations. So, we will have to try back again in the future.

Enid remembered a restaurant she had not been to for a number of years that is just down the road from the Peking Duck. Houston’s (Pronounced like the city in Texas? Or like house? We never found out but Isuspect it is like the city in Texas).

As we drove up to the entrance there were two gentlemen ready to park our car for us. That’s a nice treat but didn’t seem necessary on the afternoon we visited. There were a number of empty parking spaces in the lot. Maybe during high season in Florida, it gets very busy. It was nice to have them park our car though because we could quickly get out of the hot sun. The outside of the restaurant is very underwhelming. There is nice landscaping all around but the building doesn’t look like much. However, this drab exterior is cradling a hidden gem of a restaurant.

Houston’s Entrance

The inside of Houston’s is really large and dark. There are a number of tables and a bar on the left with the kitchen and prep center for waiters, food runners and cocktail waitresses along the right side. There is a wall of floor to ceiling glass windows and doors to the outside seating area. It was difficult for me to get a good photograph of the interior because of the bright sunlight streaming into the dark interior.

Interior bar and hostess stand

Wafting through the air outside and throughout the restaurant was they inviting smell of BBQ’d Ribs. We walked the narrow passage that separates the two sides to the hostess just outside the back door.

Outside bar and seating in the back of Houston’s

Immediately outside on the right is a bar and about 25 tables along the patio that looks out over a beautiful harbor scene. Although it was a hot and sunny day, cheerful yellow umbrellas and ceiling fans strategically placed along the length of the patio ceiling and a breeze blowing in from the water, made the outdoor seating very comfortable.

We were seated by the hostess who greeted us just outside the back door and then after we were seated we were immediately greeted by a cocktail waitress who took and delivered our drinks while we looked over the menu.

Lunch/Dinner Menu

It was hard for me not to order the ribs I was smelling (maybe next time!). I decided on the Grilled Chicken Salad, Enid picked the Thai Steak & Noodle Salad and Marcus went with the Ruby Red Trout with Coleslaw. We didn’t have too long of a wait for our food even though many of the tables were full when we arrived for our late lunch.

Each of the dishes we ordered was presented in a very appetizing way. All three plates looked wonderful and, honestly, we couldn’t find any complaints with any of the food we ordered-Except that maybe the portions were a little too generous! We were not able to take any left overs with us so we had to do our best to finish our meal. I had no trouble with this task and admit that I enjoyed every bite.

My Grilled Chicken Salad was a combination of mixed greens, plentiful lightly breaded chicken breast chunks, jicama, grilled corn all lightly tossed in honey-lime vinaigrette & peanut sauce. It was not just wonderful mix of flavors, but this salad satisfied the variety of textures that I look for in a salad.

Grilled Chicken Salad

Although I didn’t taste the other two meals, Enid and Marcus both were very impressed with the Thai Steak & Noodle Salad -marinated Filet, mango, chopped peanuts, basil and mint topped with noodles, that Enid ordered. The large pieces of meat were well seasoned and very tender. There was also a wonderful mix of textures that she enjoyed very much.

Thai Steak & Noodle Salad

I admit that I don’t like fish unless it doesn’t taste like fish (think Cod that is used in Fish and Chips) so it isn’t often that I try it when Marcus orders fish. But, this looked really good so I was tempted to try Marcus’s Ruby Red Trout with Coleslaw. He assured me I wouldn’t like it because it did taste like fish. I could see it was cooked perfectly-juicy and boneless. Marcus told me it was one of the best pieces of fish he had had in quite a while. He struggled to finish the whole fillet because of the generous portion, but he managed it!

Ruby Red Trout with Coleslaw

We didn’t order any wine or mixed drinks. Houston’s does have a wine, cocktail and beer wine list.

When we were talking about the rating we would give the restaurant, I said I would easily give it an 8.5 while Enid and Marcus went as high as 9.5. I withheld the extra point+ because I want to do a return visit for dinner. I find when an experience in a restaurant is so good, both in service, that was attentive but not hovering, and food, that was very good, I wonder if it was a fluke. A second visit will definitely be in our near future to determine if we caught them on a good day or if Houston’s is really this good all the time. Maybe I would be tempted to give them a perfect score. However, I could not deduct any points from Houston’s view-it is a perfect 10!

View from the outside seating in the back of Houston’s Restaurant
Houston’s lovely view

 Sorrisi-Italian Restaurant

I believe this Italian restaurant, found within the Coconut Creek Seminole Casino, is fairly new. I went to order a couple of Italian subs about a month ago and discovered that it isn’t open very often.


Thursday & Sunday
Noon – 8PM

Friday & Saturday
Noon – 10PM

I find the limited hours of operation puzzling. I usually go to the casino on Mondays to play. Even on a weekday in off-season, the casino is busy all day. It gets even busier the closer it gets to dinner time. It seems to me they are loosing out on business during the week. But, maybe they just can’t find staff to work the weekdays? There have been times when I wanted to stop in and pick up subs to take home only to remember that Sorrisi wasn’t open.

Marcus and my Mother-in-Law and I went for dinner on Saturday, July 9th. We didn’t have any trouble getting a table. The restaurant was about a quarter full with a steady line of people ordering food for takeout. When you arrive, you place and pay for your entire order at the bar, are given spindle with your order number on it and then you can sit where you like. We picked a booth along the right hand side of the restaurant near the front.

If I didn’t know this was an Italian restaurant, I would not be able to guess by looking at the décor. Lots of warm wood, fun chandeliers and TVs all around the restaurant tuned to sports channels, gave no real indication of the ethnicity of the food served. But, this wasn’t a bad thing really-just unusual for Italian restaurants in general. I did get a delightful whiff of the pizza the women were enjoying on the table next to ours. As far as the noise level in the restaurant, it was loud at times but we didn’t have to raise our voices to talk to each other (see my review of The New York Steakhouse also within Seminole Casino)

Interior of Sorrisi
Sorrisi Food Menu

You won’t find eggplant parmesan, chicken cacciatore, risotto or spaghetti puttanesca on the menu. It’s more in line with a fast food menu. However, even though the menu is limited, the portions are large and there is something for everyone.

Each of us ordered a salad and entrée. None of us ordered any dessert (kind of an oversight because we were not familiar with the ordering system. Next time I will try the Nutella Brownie!)

Both my husband and Mother-in-Law ordered the Caprese Salad and Spaghetti and Meatballs. I ordered the Antipasto Salad and the Italian Sub. The sub came with the choice of Hand Cut Fries or Pesto Pasta salad. I chose the chips. If I had known better, I would have skipped either the salad or the entrée because each is a meal in itself.

Both my salad and sub were really good. There is a generous amount of meat, cheese and olives on the super-full salad. I only ate about a third of it, taking home the rest for an additional meal. The Italian sub was stuffed with meat, cheese and a generous helping of hot peppers. I am a rebel and like mayo on my Italian sub and I forgot to ask for it when I placed my order. I was able to flag down our food runner and he brought me a jar. I did eat all of my fries because I didn’t think they would reheat very well. This was a treat for me. I don’t usually eat fried foods but I couldn’t resist trying the Hand cut Chips. They were very crunchy like thick potato chips. Although it was really tasty, I only ate a small portion of one of the halves of my sub. The rest I took home and it ended up being another two dinners!

Antipasto Salad
Italian Sub with Hand Cut Fries

The Caprese Salad is served with a generous portion of mozzarella balls, good looking ripe tomatoes and a balsamic dressing over a bed of crisp mixed greens. Marcus & Enid enjoyed the salad but mentioned that they would not have ordered it had they known it was so large. Or, like me, they would have skipped an entrée. Next time we will know better.

Caprese Salad

At first glance, the spaghetti and meatballs bowls looked like they were nothing but sauce. However, both Marcus and Enid remarked that the portion of noodles was quite generous. It is served with three large meatballs that are very tasty and a couple of slices of garlic bread. Fresh basil and ricotta cheese make a flavorful and lovely garnish.

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Wine List

Beer List

Although we did not order any wine or beer, there is an extensive list for both. The restaurant has a bar that seats about a dozen people. If you are sitting at a table, I assume drinks have to be ordered at the time you order your food. I also assume that the bartender will serve your drinks before you select a table since there is no wait staff.

Our food server was pretty good at timing the delivery of our entrée and he brought us anything we wanted to go with our meals. But, once he was finished delivering our food, he never came back to the table. This isn’t really unusual for a food runner in a fast-food restaurant, but since there are no waiters, we had to flag down the manager on duty to bring us boxes for our left overs.

We gave this restaurant an 8 1/2 . The food was very good and generous, the noise level was tolerable, and the prices, although a bit high for a fast food place, are very reasonable given the generous portions served. We took points off for the lack of wait staff that could help out with requests that we had (ie-refills of water and hot tea). Maybe the food runners will become more like waiters in this regard? Also, I personally would like to see the restaurant extend their hours. I look forward to a return visit to try the pizza that smelled so good when we walked in.

NY Steakhouse

Seminole Casino, Coconut Creek Reservations required online or call (954) 935-6699

Open 7 Days a Week for Dinner

Sunday – Thursday
5PM – 10PM

Friday & Saturday
5PM – 11PM

New York Steakhouse

The true test of a restaurant that has high rating requires at least two visits. So much can change over time that your first 10 star impression might drop considerably on your return visit. This happened years ago when my husband, Marcus and I and another couple went out to a DC steak house to celebrate the birthdays of both of the guys. Our first time to that steakhouse couldn’t have been any better. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience. The atmosphere was intimate, our waiter was well trained and attentive without hovering and the food was wonderful and plentiful. We enjoyed it so much that we decided to do a return visit the following year for the birthday celebration. It went from a 10 to somewhere around a 6. Big disappointment. Not sure what the rating might be on a third visit but with that much of a drop in our opinion of the place, we never went back.

However, we didn’t have this experience with the NY Steakhouse. (decorated with New York Yankee baseball memorabilia and photographs). We went to this restaurant in May and gave it a 9.5 on our rating scale and talked about returning soon. I had not started my food blog for Broward County and surrounding areas yet, so I did not post about our first visit. But I did take a few photos from our meal that night which I include in this blog entry. We didn’t have a special occasion then, we went so I could use some of the comp money the casino gives me for being a regular.

However we did have a special occasion this time. Thursday, June 9th was my mother-in-law’s birthday. I asked Enid if she would like to go back to the NY Steakhouse to celebrate. Without hesitation she said “Yes!”

I made my reservation on line for 6:15 for 3 through the Seminole Casino website. They have a dialog box where you can make special requests. I asked for a booth in a more quiet section of the restaurant and I let them know it was Enid’s birthday.

Meat Cutters at NY Steakhouse

Just as you approach the hostess desk, you will see a glass case on the left that displays the different cuts of meat the Steakhouse offers. It’s an impressive display! The two gentlemen were busy trimming and weighing the steaks.

From their website-“NYY Steak utilizes the dry-aging process to perfect each cut of beef and lamb to ensure that its quality and flavor are second-to-none. Dry-aging is the process by which large cuts of beef are aged through natural enzymatic processes that break down the connective tissue and fibers. This process enhances the beef and lamb’s flavor and tenderness before they are trimmed into steaks and chops. NYY Steak’s USDA Prime steaks are dry-aged 21-28 days and USDA Prime lamb is dry-aged 14-21 days. In order to maximize flavor and tenderness, NYY Steak uses Himalayan Pink Salt to absorb the beef and lamb’s intramuscular moisture within the in-house dry-aging room.”

On our visit in May I ordered the Porterhouse cut, Marcus got the New York Strip and Enid got the Delmonico.

Porterhouse Steak

I found the Porterhouse to be absolutely delicious but because of the big bone, I felt I was paying a lot for something I was going to toss out. True, the bone adds flavor to the meat and if I had planned ahead, I could have used the bone for soup stock, but that didn’t happen. Marcus enjoyed the New York Strip but said it wasn’t the best choice he could have made. It was a bit tougher than he wished. However, the flavor was great. Enid really liked her Delmonico and had no complaints. So this time Marcus and I opted for the Delmonico and Enid went with the Prime Rib Special. We were all very happy with our choices.

Dinner Menu

Everything is à la carte. Because I know the portion size is huge, I didn’t have an appetizer. The vegetable side dishes are large enough to share. I skipped the Garlic Mashed Potatoes (really tasty!) this trip and opted for the Salt Baked Potato instead. It was served with crumbled bacon, sour cream and butter. Even the baked potato was big enough to share although I didn’t have any takers when I offered.

I also asked for two orders of the Sautéed Mushrooms for the table. This was my only disappointment with the meal. Last time the mushrooms were plump, tender and juicy, this visit they were tough and dry but they still had a great flavor. I wasn’t as impressed with them as I had been on the first visit. However, their dryness didn’t prevent us from eating them and they were not so overcooked that I felt the need to send them back.

Last visit we spied something being served on a hanging rack like one that might be used to dry pasta. It is their signature Thick Cut Bacon appetizer. Although we vowed we would try it this time, we forgot to order one! Next time. Along with her Prime Rib, Enid ordered the Sautéed Peapods and Carrots . (They were cooked al dente as expected). I had my eye on the onion soup which is one of my favorites. But if I eat a bowl of soup before dinner, you might as well pack everything else to go. I’d be completely full. Maybe next time I will try it.

Marcus ordered the Caesar Salad on both visits, enjoying the crisp lettuce and tangy dressing.

Caesar Salad with Extra Anchovies

He especially loves that the waiter added extra anchovies without a fuss! The half-salad is quite large and is served with a fried cheese wafer.

It’s hard not to fill up on bread while you wait for your dinner to arrive. They serve a big basket full of warm soft pretzels and a wonderful cranberry bread with two different flavors of butter softened to the perfect temperature for spreading. I chose the herb butter and Cranberry Bread and Enid went with the Soft Pretzel and the butter that has mustard seeds throughout. Both are delicious. Be sure to ask the assistant waiter to pack the leftovers to take home….if there are any!

Soft Pretzels and Cranberry Bread.

Shortly after Marcus finished his salad, our dinners were served. Our waiter, Melissa was great. The perfect blend of professional and comfortable. She got our drink orders correct (no ice in our soda water served with a plate full of lemon and lime slices), she came to check on Marcus to see if his salad was ok and she showed up with refills of our drinks just after our dinners were served without us having to ask. After we had a few seconds to get our first inspection of our steaks, making sure they had been cooked the way we wanted, Melissa arrived to ask if everything was to our liking. She also returned a few minutes after we got started eating to see of we needed anything. We did not. We dug in!

Dinner is served at NY Steakhouse
Delmonico Steak, Salt Baked Potato, Sautéed Mushrooms and Sautéed Snow peas and Carrots

Maybe it doesn’t look like it from this photograph but the portion of meat is huge and this is only a third of my baked potato! I’m sure it is easy to overeat at this restaurant because everything is so good. But, because we were celebrating my mother-in-law’s birthday, I knew there was going to be dessert, so I stopped with lots of room left for whatever was selected from the dessert menu.

The assistant waiter came to pack up our leftovers for us after we finished eating dinner. He had a cart with plenty of plastic boxes with good fitting lids stacked up ready to be filled. By the time he finished packing things up for us, we had two large bags of food. Immediately after the assistant waiter was finished our waiter arrived with dessert menus asking if we wanted coffee or an after dinner drink. The restaurant has an extensive wine list and full bar. We didn’t get a cocktail before dinner nor did we get coffee or an after dinner drink.

We had watched as the waiter from a neighboring table prepared the flaming NY Steakhouse 151 Volcano (Vanilla Ice cream covered in Heath Bar crunch, doused with 151 rum and set a blaze). It sounded really yummy! I think Enid and I would have enjoyed that but Marcus isn’t big on ice cream. And, because of it’s size, there was no way we would be able to finish it. I think it’s a sin to waste ice cream and it doesn’t travel well.

NYY Steak 151 Volcano
Colossal Chocolate Cake and Carrot Cake (from our May visit)

Marcus thought we should give the Carrot Cake another go but, remembering how sweet it was and that it’s full of raisins that Enid doesn’t like, I suggested we go with the Colossal Chocolate Cake again and see if it is as good the second time as it was the first. Enid, proclaiming that all the desserts sounded good to her, agreed with my suggestion. And, because she loves blueberries and doesn’t care for strawberries or blackberries, she requested extra blueberries as garnish. This was not a problem. Our waitress delivered the cake with a birthday candle. However she made a quick getaway so she didn’t have to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ with Marcus and I.

For those of you who, like me, have no trouble polishing off a piece of cake or pie after dinner, take this as a warning-these cakes are huge! The desert portions are intended to be shared. The slice of cake is easily 6 inches high and 4 or 5 inches across at the widest side. I suppose if you came in just for dessert and coffee (reservations needed), you could probably finish the whole slice. But after a big meal, that’s a challenge even I would not accept.

I am happy to report that the chocolate cake was every bit as good the second time. It is served with a few decoratively piped real whipped cream piles, blueberries and a puddle of chocolate sauce that is as thick as pudding. So good! All of us had a slice and there was about half of piece left that the assistant waiter boxed up for Enid to take home.

Happy Birthday Enid!

Our first visit to The New York Steakhouse was on a Wednesday night. Our reservation was for 5:15. This time, we went on a Thursday and the earliest I could get was 6:15. It was more crowded on this visit. I would say by the time we left the restaurant was about half to 3/4 full. It’s a big place but I am not sure how many tables it has. Quite a few. Many tucked into every nook and cranny.

I counted 12 people in the kitchen at one point. Many were cooks and others were assistant waiters and waiters picking up food orders. I didn’t get an accurate count of waiters attending customers since there was always a flurry of them walking about. But I would say somewhere in the neighborhood of 7. Each of them has an assistant waiter. It looked to me like every waiter had three or four tables very closely grouped. This makes for efficient service especially in a restaurant as large as this one.

The back section of NY Steakhouse
You can see the activity going on in the kitchen. I was impressed by how clean it is.
NY Steakhouse tables just past the entryway. Notice the large wine rack along the back wall.

We gave the New York Steakhouse a rating of 9.5 both times we came. The service is great, the food is delicious and the service is timed to perfection. The staff is very friendly and helpful. They are eager to make their customers happy. This is an important part of a fine dining experience. Even though I paid for our dinner with comp money from the casino, I was not treated any differently than anyone else in the restaurant. Both times we ate here, we were shown respect by the hostess and wait staff.

The only real complaint, and the reason we can’t give it a 10, is the noise. There is no escaping it. Both the floors and ceiling are wood. There are several large wooden wine rack walls and a large glass panel dividing the kitchen from the dining room that reflect the sound back into the room. There is music playing softly but honestly, it’s so noisy you can’t really hear it most of the time. With such a large staff working and so many patrons, it’s not going to be a quiet meal. But, the noise level is not anything that the staff has any control over and it does not ruin a wonderful experience.

Of course I left a generous cash tip. I think the prices are reasonable for a fine dining restaurant. Especially when you consider that each of us has leftovers for at least one, if not two more dinners. This is not a place where you come to stick to your diet, it’s a place where you come to splurge. It is perfect for special occasions. Arrive with a big appetite and you won’t be disappointed. New York Steakhouse has proved, after our two visits, to be consistently good.

Very reasonably priced for a fine dining steak house restaurant

I just wanted to post an update to this review. Our wedding anniversary is June 26. The three of us decided to go to the NYS to celebrate. We were seated in a booth on the left side of the restaurant kind of tucked away in a corner. Since the noise level is the reason I couldn’t give this steakhouse a 10, I thought this might be a great place to sit because it is away from the largest crowds in the restaurant. Boy was I wrong. There were two other tables of four or five women on each seated near us and they were having a great time celebrating something. Between their celebratory banter and the high-level sound reflection, we couldn’t hear each other talk. I literally had to relay messages to my Mother-in-Law through my husband. It was nuts how loud it got. I found myself nearly shouting at one point and then realized how ridiculous this was and gave up.

However, although our waiter was quite occupied by the two other tables and his assistant waiter seemed absent most of the night, the service was ok and the food was wonderful.

I had thought about getting the French Onion Soup on this visit, but opted for the Thick Cut Bacon and Cornbread appetizer to share instead. Both the bacon and cornbread come dripping in maple syrup. While I enjoyed the first few bites, it really is a bit too much as a stand-alone appetizer. (we all took some of this home and I used mine as salad toppings for the next few nights). The bottom of the cornbread tasted burned. It is baked in a cast iron pan and the syrup on the bottom (and butter? or whatever they put put in the pan) had burned. That’s a shame because the top portion of the bread was very tender, moist and tasty.

Thick Cut Bacon Appetizer

For dessert this time, we shared a Crème Brûlée. After we finished the dessert I remarked that next time I won’t be sharing. It was really good. Creamy vanilla custard was complimented with just the right amount of burnt sugar on top. And, it was presented on a lovely plate made up with a Happy Anniversary candle and chocolate disk.

Crème Brûlée
Happy 18th Anniversary!

I’m Back with Broward County, Florida Restaurant Reviews!

It’s been a long time since I have written a blog entry. A lot has happened since my last pre-45-election post, like moving to Florida, but I will save that for another day.

My husband, Marcus, and I moved permanently to Coconut Creek, Florida in the late spring of last year, 2021. We are living in a 55+ community where my mother-in-law, Enid, has lived for 30 years. Generally once a week we pick a restaurant to go to and during the past year we have been doing a private rating of each place we visit. After a couple of not so great experiences, I thought maybe it would be fun to share with the public our evaluations of the restaurants we go to. It may be helpful to them in making a dining choice here in Broward County. I may have lost all 3 of my blog followers during my absence, but I’m hoping to attract a few through these Restaurant Review posts so feel free to share the link. I believe there is a place at the bottom where you can add a comment if you want to.

Many of the places we have been to have been very good. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, a return visit to an establishment isn’t quite as good or sometimes, is even better than the first visit. Lots of times the change in our rating from 1-10 with 10 being the best, occurs because of the service from the waiter or busyness of the restaurant.

I am starting off my new blog series with the latest outing that took place this past Friday, May 22. The day was extremely wet with thunderstorms all day long. I read a report that we got over 6 inches of rain here in Broward County. So, maybe this poor experience was a result of an off day. But, maybe not.

Pho Saigon Cuisine-1394 FL-7, Margate, FL 33063 Hours are 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM every day. They are closed on Monday. (954) 975-2426

My mother-in-law likes to arrive early to restaurants. She is uncomfortable when they get loud and arriving early is one way to avoid this situation. This is often a good plan because parking can be a problem at some locations. On Friday, finding parking wasn’t a problem. We found a spot behind the restaurant in a lot with plenty of empty spaces and walked through a covered ally to the front of Pho Saigon Cuisine to avoid getting wet from the rain. It was about 5:15 when we arrived.

It was empty except for one very bored looking waiter. We asked if they were open. “Yes, sit wherever you like”. Being particular about where in a restaurant she sits, tonight Enid would have no difficulty picking a table. We were quite literally the only seated customers in the restaurant the entire time we were there.

Pho Saigon Cuisine Restaurant. Empty.

I have a real aversion to being the only people eating in a restaurant. Are we the only people who have been here all week? Is the food been in the kitchen any good? Will we seriously regret our decision to stay and eat? All of these questions ran through my head in the first seconds after entering

She selected a table in the middle of the restaurant and sat down. Our waiter brought us the menu and came back minutes later with water for each of us. He then stood, pen in hand ready to take our order. I had barely made it through the first page of a 6 page menu. None of us had time to make a selection. My husband asked him for hot tea for all of us. “We should be ready to order when you get back.” I said.

In just a couple of minutes, the waiter deposited a pot of barely warm tea and 3 cups on our table. He then took our order. I found the menu confusing. Different soups were listed on at least 3 of the pages. Feeling overwhelmed I ordered the Wanton soup as an appetizer since I am familiar with it and Pork and Shrimp for my dinner. Marcus had egg rolls and Mix Salad with Lotus Shoot Shrimp and Pork for his meal. My mother-in law ordered the Spring Rolls and a shrimp dish over rice noodles that I didn’t catch the name of.

After finishing the lukewarm tea, we ordered another pot. It arrived slightly warmer than the first. But, still not really hot. We were half-way through our second pot of tea and still our first course had not arrived. It took over 15 minutes to receive our appetizers.

The Wanton soup was presented in a large bowl full of pork wantons. It looked really good. However, the bowl was not sitting on a charger plate so when the waiter put the bowl down onto the table his fingers were on the inside lip of the bowl. I found this disturbing.

Wanton Soup

Since the idea of starting a restaurant blog began mid-meal, I didn’t get photographs of everything we ordered. All of the appetizers looked good. My soup, in addition to being scalding hot, was extremely salty. It was so hot in fact that the first taste burned my mouth. My fault for thinking the soup would be lukewarm like the tea! After eyeing Enid’s spring rolls, my husband wished he had gotten them instead of the egg rolls. But we all dug in, hungry from our wait.

One of my biggest pet peeves with a restaurant is serving an appetizer within minutes of delivering my meal. I know it happens when establishments are busy. Orders get mixed up, the waiters get swamped with tables and can’t keep up. I was a waiter for many years so I know. It happens. But it should never happen when a restaurant is not only not busy, but they only have one table to serve!

With the exception of three people who walked in to pick up carryout orders, there were no other customers in the restaurant the entire time we were there. So, when the waiter delivered our dinner before we even had a chance to get started on our appetizers, I got irritated. Although the bowl of shrimp and pork I ordered looked nice, it was not what I was expecting. I was hoping for a hot dish served over rice noodles or rice and received what looked like a salad. I should have asked our waiter. So, it was my fault for not asking him. (In all fairness though, he mumbled when he spoke and seemed reluctant to converse with us. So, I didn’t bother to ask him for recommendations.)

Wanton Soup and Grilled Pork and Shrimp bowl

There was a selection of condiments on the table including Hoisin Sauce, hot pepper sauce and Sriracha Chili sauce. We noted the message on the sticky bottle of Hoisin sauce “Refrigerate after opening for quality”. This bottle had never seen the inside of a refrigerator. I guess we may never know what quality Hoisin Sauce tastes like.

Also on the table were heavy plastic soup spoons, napkins dispensed one at a time whose container boasted “better for the planet” (not sure how or why?) and an abundance of chop sticks. Our waiter never came back to check on us after delivering our food. He didn’t come back until the end of our meal. I find chopsticks impossible to use and there were no other utensils on the table or offered to us. The plastic spoon wouldn’t work with the dish I was presented with. I picked up a shrimp and some of the pork with my fingers.

My husband stopped eating his Lotus Shoot Salad about halfway through because they had a hairy quality to them that he found distasteful.

 Mix Salad with Lotus Shoot Shrimp and Pork

Except for sampling a few mouthfuls, I didn’t eat my main meal. The bowl of soup was sufficiently filling. I added some hot pepper sauce to the soup to try and break the saltiness. It helped. The shrimp in the giant-sized bowl of salad was quite good. They had a teriyaki flavor. But the pork was overcooked, dry and tasteless. I offered my dinner to my husband and mother-in-law. They picked through the bowl eating what they wanted. Enid was happy with her dinner and ate quite a bit of it. She took her leftovers home along with some portion of my dinner.

Like I said at the start, maybe it was the rainy weather that kept people away from the Pho Saigon Cuisine restaurant, or maybe there has been a slip in business for another unknown reason. Whatever it is, I won’t be going back. I gave the restaurant a 4 on a scale from 1-10. Marcus & Enid were more generous giving them a 5. Most of the food was ok but the school lunch room atmosphere, a complete lack of other patrons and bad service from a waiter who seemed he’d rather be anywhere else but there, heavily influenced my decision. I thought the cost of our meal was high but maybe that’s because we didn’t eat very much of it.

“Your Entry Has Been Accepted!” or ‘What can go wrong will go wrong’

This year The Philadelphia Flower show is doing something new. They are holding a photo contest. I heard about this contest last summer through my nephew who works for the Flower Show. Knowing how much I love to shoot photographs of my flowers, Andrew thought I would be interested in entering.

After he sent me the link to the contest I entered six of my photographs in three of the six categories.  Knowing that the judging and notification of finalists was around the same time I would be on a Panama Canal cruise with a friend of mine, I decided to get prints made of all the photos I entered. Although there was no fee to enter, it was up to finalists to mount each selected photograph on black foam core, trim it to size and then mail it to the contest coordinator by Feb. 25th. I thought I had a slim chance of having any of my photos selected but, just in case, I would be prepared if I was pleasantly surprised.

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When I returned home to PA on Feb 4th, I spent a couple of days deleting emails. While at this task one afternoon I received a text from Andrew

“Congratulations! You made the cut for category 195-Avant-Garde at the Flower show.”

I did? Wow!

Turns out I had accidentally deleted the notification emails. I went back and scoured through my trash bin and found all 3. Two were rejections but sure enough, there was one –

“Hello Jennifer Congratulations!”

This is where Gremlins took over what should have been a relativity easy process and turned it into an absolute fiasco.  I’m talking about the Gremlin that ate after midnight, and got wet. Not the cute fuzzy Gremlins.


I quickly opened the email and I was crestfallen. Wouldn’t you know the one photo that was accepted was also the only print  that looked terrible. Either I provided Shutterfly with a crappy file or they printed it badly. In any case, I had to have this photo reprinted and rushed to me so I could get it mailed out by the deadline stated in the email of February 15th! This didn’t leave me much time.

For 12 years or so I was a certified picture framer. I even had my own shop at one point. So I have a shops-worth of framing supplies and equipment in my basement. I have mounted and trimmed maybe 50,000 photographs and posters in my lifetime. This should be like riding a bike. Should be…

While I waited for the rush delivery of my accepted photograph, I rooted around in my boxes of mat boards hoping to find a piece of black foam core. Wouldn’t you know  I have several sheets of white foam core and hundreds of mat boards but no black foam core.  Luckily, my local Walmart had some black foam core and spray adhesive.

I was nervous unwrapping the photograph when it arrived, fearful that it would look dull and out of focus like the first copy. If that were the case I wouldn’t be able to send it. I would have to withdraw. But no, it looked great! I got it flattened out and ready to mount.

While looking for the foam core in my studio, I too was searching for my heavy metal utility knife. It was one that had belonged to my dad and I had used it for years. I couldn’t find it anywhere. But my husband & I keep a yellow plastic one in the kitchen that we use for opening packages.  I believe the blade in this knife had never been changed. It wouldn’t cut butter let alone trim this photograph so I replaced the blade.

And, I promptly poked my finger.Blood was everywhere!

I wrapped my finger in a paper towel while I trimmed the mounted photo. Luckily no blood got on my picture, but the yellow cover of the utility knife looked like it had been lifted from a crime scene!


Off to the post office I went, finger now wrapped in a band-aid. As I drove into the parking lot, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was packed with cars. I swear it looked like 3 days before Christmas and everyone in town had forgotten to mail their packages! Once inside the tiny room, I found a line of about 10 people. I busied myself finding an envelope big enough for the photo and I finished taping the cardboard around my photograph. After about twenty minutes, it was my turn.

“This has to arrive by Friday 15th. ”

“Not a problem”.

I included a self-addressed stamped envelope, sealed up the whole package and finally breathed a sigh of relief when my photo was among the huge stack of mail collecting behind the counter.

Friday night I’m watching TV and decide to check my email. I see an email from the contest coordinator:

Jennifer,  I received your beautiful photograph today and unfortunately two corners are badly bent! Can you please reprint, matte and send to me again ASAP! Unfortunately I can not pass this for the show. Your deadline to have to me is no later than Feb 22! If you can not make this happen I will need to know ASAP so I can let the alternate know.

Thank you and I’m so sorry. Next time please use a much thicker, cardboard material to support the photo in shipping.


Oh no! This is Friday the 15th. I am supposed to leave for Florida on Wednesday the 20th. Panic sets in. Can I get a new photo printed, shipped to me, mounted and mailed to her in a week? Shutterfly was giving me a guaranteed delivery date of Feb. 20th. It could work but I would have to have the supplies on hand when I arrived in the evening and rush the picture to the post office the next day mailing it next-day-air. I could do it but I would need help.

I called my husband and asked him, if needed, could he could go to the Walmart near us in Florida and get a piece of black foam core. ”

Yeah, no problem. Just let me know. I can go tomorrow.”

I also sent a text to my sister & brother-in-law asking if there was any place around here that could print the photo while I wait? No sense having to pay for rushed delivery if I can take care of this locally.

Turns out our local FedEx does do printing! They do what’s called-Personal Prints up to 8×10 and they also do Poster Sized prints starting at 16×20.


I bet you can’t guess what size my photo needed to be.

Right, 11×14. And, they don’t offer 11×14.

Back to the Shutterfly rushed delivery option.

My sister in law suggested I have the print sent to her, she would mount it and get it mailed for me. I thought about it for a minute and decided it’s too stressful a task for someone who has never spray-mounted before. Also, that utility blade does like to draw blood. I declined that offer and, afraid I was going to lose the guaranteed delivery from Shutterfly of Feb.20,  I quickly placed a super-rush delivery with Shutterfly and I decided to go with my original plan of having the print sent to Florida. I could do the work when I arrived.

Gremlins don’t like getting wet and my plan was beginning to feel like a wash out.

Monday the 18th was Presidents Day & there is no mail. Does Shutterfly use regular USPS, UPS or FedEx to deliver? couldn’t remember. Did their guaranteed delivery take this holiday into account?

A giant snow storm is forecast for Wednesday. Of course it is. It always snows when I go to Florida in the winter. it doesn’t matter what day I decide to fly down, it’s going to snow and I’m going to have to reschedule my flight.

I kept a close eye on the tracking of my Shutterfly order and the weather forecast. Both were dismal. Shutterfly’s guaranteed delivery of Feb. 20th was changed to Feb. 20-21st.

No, no, no. This is no good. There is no way I can get my mounted picture delivered to the contest coordinator by the 22nd if I don’t receive it by the 20th.

The snow storm forecast went from bad –

‘Snow and ice from Tuesday 19th through 20th’

to, hey wait this might work

‘Snow starting Wednesday night through Thursday’

to I’m doomed and probably won’t be leaving Wednesday after all-

‘Snow staring early Wednesday 6-8 inches with ice in the afternoon’

Oh great. Plan B. Marcus isn’t going to like plan B.

Turns out Shutterfly uses UPS and delivered my photo on Monday 18th. Really? I wish I had known they were going to be able to deliver it early. I could have mounted it and and mailed it out in plenty of time. No need to worry about snow or Plan B.

Plan B, as it turns out didn’t work out as expected.

On Valentines day Marcus calls me from Walmart to tell me they only have white foam core.

“Really, oh ……! OK, OK, you will have to find a Michael’s or a frame shop and get a piece from there. ”

I texted him the addresses of Michael’s stores near us in Florida. Turns out there are three pretty close by our apartment. He got two pieces ‘Just in case” and also got a new utility knife, a cork-backed ruler and some sturdy cardboard.


When I saw that the photo would be delivered on Monday the 18th I suggested he go ahead and mount it and get it in the mail.

“I may not make it down in time because of the snow.”

Always the optimist, “Na, you’ll be okay, I’ll wait.”

Today Feb. the 19th, I called Marcus telling him it’s looking more and more like i’m not going anywhere on Wednesday. There is already a ‘No fee for rescheduling canceled flights’ notice on Jet Blue’s website and no snow is falling…yet.  Anyway, I walked him through how to spray mount a photograph and trim it. I suggested he do a practice magazine cover or something to get the feel for it and call me back. He agreed to give it a go.

“I can’t get the page to stick.”

That’s weird.

“You may not have used enough spray stuff. Try again while I have you on the phone.” he put me on speaker phone.

I hear the spray can over the phone and then he says “It stuck that time. I think I used too much, there is a sticky puddle outside the photo.”

“Try another page and don’t hold the can so close. 3-4 inches away should be fine.”

This worked fine.

“My fingers are full of glue.”

“You can get that off with alcohol or acetone.”

“Okay that worked but I’m afraid I’m going to get fingerprints all over your photograph.”

“You’ll be fine. You just washed your hands in alcohol. There’s no oil left to leave prints.”

Now I suggested he try trimming the foam core to get the feel of it.

“I don’t want to cut these out because I’ll get glue all over the ruler. then when I trim the photo, it will get glue all over it.”

I suggested he do a practice cut on the extra piece of foam core that doesn’t have any glue on it yet. I could hear him through the phone grunting and groaning as he tried. It didn’t sound like it was going well at all.

“Marcus, come here. Stop. You’re too nervous and getting too worked up. Something will go wrong because you are too worried about messing it up. Take the photograph and the black foam core back to Michael’s and ask them to dry mount it for you while you wait.”

“They can do this?”

“Yes. they do it all the time.”

“What if they mess it up? You only ordered one copy. What happens if they mess it up?”

“How about we don’t create another problem before we have to? If that happens, then I email the coordinator telling her Michael’s ruined the photo & I will not be able to send my photo. I’ll be screwed. but, this isn’t going to happen. Relax.”

I’m happy to report that Michael’s broke the Gremlin’s spell over this endeavor.  My photo is mounted, trimmed and wrapped in heavy cardboard. The gal even adhered the required information on the back of the photograph. It’s ready to go into the mail and will arrive by Friday.

This free submission contest has cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 so far. I wonder how much rushed delivery costs?

I’m not saying I’d like to go through all of this stress again. This hasn’t been fun. But somehow it’s worth all of this to have my photograph among the other finalists in the Philadelphia Flower Show! Maybe it will win a ribbon!

If you go, send me a photograph of the display. Unfortunately, after all of this, I won’t be able to make the show this year. When I finally do get out of town after the snow, I will be testing out my new camera on a much anticipated Galapagos Island trip!



Enjoy the show! Get your tickets here

Dashed Hopes?


I watched the election returns on Tuesday night until early in the morning. It was nerve-wracking and exhilarating at the same time. The Democrats gained control of the House and 100 women were elected to represent their state! Women would have a voice in politics and 45s hateful, divisive agenda would be held in check. It was a big step forward for this country.

election night

For the first time in 2 years I went to bed with a feeling of hope. Hope that our county’s democracy would not be destroyed as a result of the daily barrage of lies, hateful rhetoric and fascist views held by 45. I felt that the complicit behavior of the GOP was also at an end. I felt that this was the start of the two parties working together for each of us.

Magic night fairy with a moon illustration.

Wednesday morning I actually woke up early feeling good for a change. That gnawing sick stomach, constant dull headache and the feelings of dread that seem to always be with me were gone. After checking emails and listening to a few minutes of the Morning Joe show on MSNBC, I headed outside to get some neglected yard work done. The day felt like the beginning of something positive rooted in growth- building each other up, supporting and defending each other.  Hate has no place in this day!


By late afternoon, my positive and hopeful feelings were gone. They were replaced by that clenched jaw reaction of anger that I have come to know all too well. 45 was at it again. He held a ‘press conference’ (I didn’t listen. I won’t. His face, his voice, his lies his egotistical BS makes me physically sick). This meeting with the press was his first public appearance since the Democrats won control of the House. In the muted clip I saw, 45 looking angry, combative and bullying.  The MSNBC commentator said that there as a rambling ‘speech’ where 45 claimed victory in the election and then became antagonistic and combative with a reporter, Jim Acosta,  who was asking questions 45 didn’t want to answer. 45 stomped around the podium and called the reporter “A rude and terrible person.”   It got ugly.  In a particularly authoritarian move, I have never witnessed before, 45 stripped Acosta of his press pass.


But, that wasn’t the end of the bad news. 45 was just getting started.

Just minutes after the horrible press debacle where 45 spread his ‘supreme leader’ wings, he fired his Attorney General. OK, he has every right to do this and it was not really a surprise that he did it after a loss of control over the House. BUT, to anyone who has watched this story unfold over the past two years, it is clear that  this move is just another step in his plan to derail the Russian investigation.

To add insult to this injury, 45 installed a temporary AG, Matthew Whitaker, who has spoken out openly against the investigation and is known to support 45s views of the investigation being a “witch hunt’ instead of an act of war perpetrated by our adversary, Russia.  Investigating  45s involvement with the Russians and holding him accountable for those actions isn’t something the new AG supports. Also, as the new temporary AG, he will control the cases that the special investigator,  Robert Mueller has sent to New York.  Matthew Whitaker has said publicly that the meeting during the 2016 election  with the Russians was AOK with him & totally acceptable and investigating  45s financial ties with Russia is off the table.

 What could go wrong?  tattered-american-flag-drawing_384209

    I sat in front of the TV last night watching  Rachel Maddow explain how much damage this obvious move of self-preservation could do.  A possible ‘Constitutional  Crisis” she called it. Seems we have had one of those every day since the last election but that’s another story for anther day and  a better writer.

    I followed the Rachel Maddow show with The Lawrence O’Donnell Show.  Lawrence seemed a tad more positive. So my upset stomach and throbbing headache subsided for a while. He seemed to think, like Rachel, that this move by 45 is part of his plan to keep his involvement a secret. It is another clear obstruction of justice and it is  10x worse than what Nixon did during Watergate.

OH, Goody.

    The glimmer of hope Lawrence offered was that when the Democratic House takes over in January, Adam Schiff can not only pick up with the investigation that the GOP closed before it was completed, he can also acquire all of Mueller’s investigation materials. Morning Joe suggested Schiff could bring Mueller on board as part of his investigative team. That IS good news!

    Knowing that Mueller is the best of the best, I am assuming he has already made several back-up copies of all of his discoveries. So despite his attempts, 45 can not make the investigation go away entirely.  All corruption and involvement will be exposed no matter how hard he tries to keep them under wraps. We will have to endure even more frequent and more unhinged anger, insults, bullying, lies, projections and deflections the closer any investigation gets to 45s doorstep.


    During this past year I had intended to make frequent blog entires  but I found myself overwhelmed and unable to gather my thoughts on one crisis before the next was instigated by 45.  It became impossible to separate one story from the next, one thought from the next and one reaction from the next. I did start collecting cartoons and memes on a daily basis that touched on some of the reported horrors. I thought maybe this would help me when I decided to go back and write a post in response to a particular event. That too has become impossible.

    I have hundreds of images now that tell a story of 45 and his GOP administration over the past (2) years. The images are a story of the lies, denying, decay,  greed, hatred,  deceit, bullying, division, cruelty, abuse, projection, indifference, ignorance, misogyny, narcissism, gloating, bloviating, hatred and prejudice that we have been bombarded with every damned day since 45 took office. Strike that-since before 45 took office.

  I don’t believe this country can continue to suffer these constant attacks.  I know I can’t.

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On Tuesday the Democrats re-took power in the House. For almost 24 hours I was reminded what hope felt like. I was reminded what it felt like to have a lighthearted outlook. For the briefest of moments I didn’t feel like I was being constantly assaulted by the hateful words and actions that guide and control 45s every waking moment.

I felt hope for us. I felt hope for our country.

It is my sincere wish that this is the beginning of a time of civil, bipartisan negotiations between our elected officials. Negotiations that reflect the hopes and wishes of we the people who elected them.  I hope too that this is the beginning of the end of the ‘leading by fear and hate’ from 45. We are all so tired of the constant attacks, the lies, division and hatred.  To continue on the path that 45 has been sending this country is to destroy everything that makes it a great nation.

To echo a sentiment I have heard Dan Rather say numerous times over the past 2 years:

“We are better than this.”

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Quality Control? DOA

After a more than two week back and forth with CreateSpace /Amazon about the discrepancies in the quality of  my book “Two Weeks in Africa, A photo Journal” I pulled the book from their site and decided to re-release the book with their competitor-IngramSpark. This is apparently the only other Print To Order self-publishing company in the USA.


CreateSpace/Amazon’s lack of quality control among their printers is quite obvious.


Although I pulled my first edition of Two Weeks in Africa off of CreateSpace you will see it on Amazon because some retail site is attempting to sell  copy for over $500. Why? I don”t know. I suggest you don’t buy it because even the great copy I got from their printer in KY isn’t worth over $500.

Since I knew my book could  look good if it was printed on the correct paper, I didn’t make any changes to the interior of my book but I did create a new cover. IngramSpark charges $49 for setting up a paper-bound title and does not automatically assign an ISBN#. I bought one for $100. I chose ‘Premium Color’ Printing which was described as the ‘preferred choice for those who care about the quality of color photos in your book’.  That’s me!

I was extremely optimistic when I finally made my way through their process, uploaded my book & then ordered a printed proof. Shipping only took about a week. When I saw the package at my door, for some reason, without even opening the cardboard cover, my stomach filled with dread. It was one of those ‘feelings’ I get. Pushing this aside, I pried open the package trying to remain optimistic.

I have learned to trust my instincts, those ‘feelings’ when I am in the casino playing video poker work to my advantage. I  have a knack for finding the winning machines. My instincts were so strong on the Panama Cruise my husband & I recently took that I won…no kidding…$25,000. This is more money than i ever made in a year of working full time + overtime. My point is, my gut is usually right. And, unfortunately it was right this time too.

At first glance, I hated the photograph on the cover.  I chose an image of an elephant chewing on some grass. Instead of gray, the elephant was very yellow. I accepted full responsibility for this and immediately went back to the original photograph and set it up with less contrast and better color correction.  This was an easy fix.


New cover on my new edition of Two Weeks In Africa. Elephants aren’t yellow. I adjusted the colors and resubmitted my cover to IngramSpark

When I flipped through the book I realized that their ‘Premium Color’ printing is only a half-step above CreateSpace/Amazon. The paper was better quality and most of the images were true to color. But, the images were still washed out not like the beautiful book I received from CreateSpace that was printed in KY. This new edition was not, in my opinion, worth the $149 price tag of set up.

However, I was willing to accept this new edition as an upgrade even though the photos were not vibrant like I expected.  Although the quality is only slightly above Amazon I could sell the book for $47 instead of $60 that CreateSpace required so, I guess I was OK with this new book.


As I flipped through the pages of my new edition, I became incredulous. Every left hand page (even numbered page) has a scratch running from top to bottom about 2 inches in  from the spine. This scratch is not in the PDF and was never on any of the 15 copies of the book I bought from CreateSpace. So this tells me something was wrong with the printing equipment that produced this book.  It should ever have left the printer like this. So, once again I began a back and forth about the lack of quality control. Only this time it’s with IngramSpark.

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Today I resubmitted my complaint because I never received a response. I still do not know if they will replace the book (I had to pay $34 for my proof that is essentially garbage). More importantly, I don’t know if they can guarantee this isn’t going to happen again. As I type this, I am seriously considering pulling this book again. I may re-re-release it with Amazon because at least my book does look great if your order is lucky enough to be printed in KY. I’m not so sure about IngramSpark.

What has happened to quality control? What has happened to taking pride in the work you do? Why is it now acceptable to produce inferior products and then shrug when confronted?

The following is my email to IngramSpark. It’s short. I’m tired of being polite but I did exercise a bit of restraint  today when I replied to the response I got. This complaint is still ongoing. My dogged perseverance really has little to do with this book any more. But it does have everything to do with all of my future books. I am currently working on a new Wally & Petey Sock Monkey Brothers story book and I anticipate putting together another photo book about an upcoming Galapagos trip. I sure hope to have all these kinks worked out soon.



Love Sock Monkeys? You will love Wally & Petey!

 On May 29th I contacted you about a defective book I received. I was asked to submit photos of the damage and told that I would hear from you within 5 days. I have not heard a peep. At the very least I expect the damaged book to be replaced and an assurance that this will not happen again when orders are placed.
 I am attaching a few photos, my original complaint and the information on the inside back page of the book. I expect this resubmission of my complaint will take priority and not be overlooked or pushed to the side.
This is my first publication with you. It’s ironic that it was Amazon’s lack of quality control that made me give you guys a try. I must say that I find my complaint being ignored to be completely frustrating.
My original email:
 I just received the first copy of my printed photo book,Two Weeks In Africa: A Photo Journal,(order # SPK-6584088-1) and noticed right away there is a scratch on every image on the even numbered pages. It looks terrible. It’s in the same place on every page (about 2 inches into the page from the spine). This  is not on the PDF file, it is something that happened during printing, gluing or trimming. Is this going to happen on every copy? This is unacceptable.
This book should never have left the printer looking like this.
Thank you for your help,
Jennifer Wheatley Wolf
This is the information about the book:
Two Weeks In Africa: A Photo Journal Available for Printing/Download 9781732378100 Perfect Bound Wheatley-Wolf, Jennifer A

Premium full color

printer information:
CPSIA information can be obtained at
Printed in the USA

Jun 7, 4:41 PM CDT


Thank you for your email.

According to our premedia team, “The “scratch” is a jet-out. Also, in order for the cover to print less “yellow” the images should be color-corrected prior to submission. The light areas of the elephant are made up of mainly yellow (from the lightest area at the top of the elephant’s ear – C-1, M-1, Y-22, K-0).”

Please let us know if you need further assistance. Have a great day!

IngramSpark Customer Support


What the heck is ‘Jet out’ and how do you intend to correct the problem?
Since it is not on the PDF and it did not print with this flaw when I first published it with CreateSpace/Amazon, (15 copies) I deduce it is an equipment problem on your end. Your answer provided absolutely no information on how you intend to address this problem. Since this is my first publishing experience with you I don’t know if you are reading from a scripted answer, being obtuse or just assume I can read your mind. This is really frustrating and unacceptable.
I expect a replacement for the book I bought because the one I was sent is garbage. I also would like to know if this kind of sub-par quality is common with your company or if this was a one time occurance. I have nothing to compare this experience with so I can only assume the worst. I was really hoping my choice to use you for future publications was going to be a step up from CreateSpace/Amazon but after this experience, I can’t be certain.
 I paid $33.47 for something that is garbage. I really would like a replacement book so I can be sure the problem has been resolved. However, if that is not something you will do, I want my money back.
 I personally color corrected the cover and  resubmitted it. I don’t know if it’s better or not because you have not sent a replacement book.
Thank you for your help,
I can not in good faith recommend IngramSpark for your printing. I anticipate there will be a few more emails back and forth where their customer support responds with their scripted answers and I bang my head against the wall until I give up and pull my book off their site.  I still have faith that there must be printers out there who takes pride in their work in addition to the folks in KY.
(see my blog post -Createspace/Amazon “We aim to displease

CreateSpace/Amazon “We Aim to Displease”

This is a story about David and Goliath. I am David and Goliath is CreateSpace, the POD publishing branch of Amazon. Only, in this story, without the help of a major news organization taking notice or this post going viral, Goliath will win.


David.  Florence, Oct. 18, 2014

I have created several books with CreateSpace over the years. A couple of children’s story books, a few coloring books and my true-crime novel about my cold rape case that was solved after 20 years.  I have sold a number of copies of all of them but am by no means a best-selling author.

Just a few weeks ago I published a photo journal of a recent trip to Africa I took with my husband and three friends. I was so touched by the animals, landscapes and people of Africa I thought it would be fun to create a book of our trip. I knew going in that this was never going to sell more than a handful of copies and that was OK with me. I wanted to be able to look through some of my favorite photos, not sitting at a computer, but sitting in a comfortable chair.


After going through the required process set up by CreateSpace, I submitted my PDF to their site and I ordered a proof.  This book shipped from Columbia, SC printed on March 21, 2018.  My husband edited the text for me and I made those corrections.  The photographs in the book looked washed out and fuzzy and several of the photos had printed way too red. I thought this was how the book would always look so with this in mind a made some color corrections to a few of the photographs and then I submitted the PDF again and ordered a second proof.

When this proof arrived I realized that CreateSpace/Amazon has a substantial quality-control problem.

The second book was printed in Lexington, KY on April 16, 2018. It looked beautiful. It was printed on bright white high quality full color ink paper. The photographs were rich in color, crisp and clean.  It was so unlike the first proof I received that I immediately realized I had never before seen what a full-color book printed by CreateSpace should look like. I was so excited with the look, feel and quality of this proof that I OK’d my book for publishing and I ordered several copies to be shipped directly to my fellow African-adventure travelers and a few family members. I also ordered one for myself.


From Top to Bottom: First proof printed in NC, the copy I ordered after approval (also printed in NC) and second proof printed in KY.  There are distinct differences between them.

I was crestfallen when I saw that that the books delivered were not the fine quality produced by KY but, instead  were again, the fuzzy and dull books from NC. It was then that I contacted CreateSpace to voice my concern for their lack of quality control.

What follows is back and forth correspondence that has taken place over the past couple of weeks.  I realize this is a lot to read and I can understand if you get tired of making your way through this. Trust me when I say, I felt like throwing in the towel myself several days ago. But, I hope you do read all of this. If you don’t have time to read each email, at least check out the captions under each of the photographs I have included. This will give you the gist of this exchange.

This story is about taking pride in the work you do and taking responsibility in producing a product that reflects an honest work ethic. Amazon’s CreateSpace does not feel it is their responsibility to see to it that their printers send out a consistent product.  Nor do they feel quality control it is something they should be doing or have any control over. Within the text that follows I offer what may seem like a simple solution to their problem. But, no changes will  happen unless they stop blaming their customers and they take responsibility for a flawed business ethic. And, none of this will happen as long as they continue to make sure nobody gets two books printed by two different printers and are allowed to compare the differences.

My original message:


I recently published a photo journal book and I have a problem with the quality control or, rather, lack of quality control from one printer to another. The first proof I order was on a white, eggshell-type finish paper and the photos printed very red and dull. (Printed in Columbia, SC).

I made changes to my photographs and edited the text. I then ordered another copy. The next copy I received was beautiful. The paper was bright white and slightly shiny and the photos were true to color.(Printed in Lexington, KY) Based on the look of this second printing, I went ahead and approved my proof. I then ordered 4 copies to give to family and friends. They look awful. Most of the photos are too red and the dull paper was used. They were printed in Columbia, SC. I am really upset about this. 

As a photo book, the quality of the photos is important to me. I loved the way my second proof looked (Lexington, KY). When I approved it, I had no idea that this was not the quality I would be getting all the time; the quality I could expect all the time. I paid $25 for each book and I am embarrassed to have anyone see it. This is unacceptable. It isn’t even only the money lost that really makes me mad.(although a full refund is the least you can do in this situation). What really concerns me is that I have been asked by a few people if they can buy a copy.  The minimum price for this book is $49.73. With my markup, it’s $60. I cannot in good faith ask someone to pay that much for a book I cannot guarantee the quality of. I can’t guarantee it, because YOU cannot guarantee the quality or  control it from one printer to another.

As a full color book, I expect good quality paper that showcases my photos. How can I be sure I will get this every time? How can I be assured that every time a copy is ordered that it will be the fine quality I received from Lexington, KY and not the crap I got from Columbia, SC?

Book information: Two Weeks In Africa, A Photo Journal

8.5″ x 8.5″ (21.59 x 21.59 cm) 

Full Color on White paper

272 pages

ISBN-13: 978-1978210103 (CreateSpace-Assigned) 

ISBN-10: 1978210108 

BISAC: Photography / Subjects & Themes / Travel / General

Thank you for your help with this problem,

Jennifer Wheatley-Wolf


    On Saturday, April 28, 2018, 12:14:35 PM EDT, MS: Info <> wrote:

Hello Jennifer,

Thank you for contacting CreateSpace, I am here to assist.

I’m really sorry to hear that the orders you received were not to your expectation.

While we have no full control as to where manufacturing will occur based on printing demands, we may transfer the order request to one of our “sister sites” to meet printing and shipping demands.

However, we would be more that happy to perform a Quality Check on any future orders per your request.

In addition, I have issued refunds to your VISA  for Order # 219775973 for $25.47, Order #219775820 for $24.67, Order #219775709 for $24.74, Order #219775377 for $25.47 and Order #219775053 for $24.67.

These refunds should appear as a credit on your Credit Card with the next 1-2 business days and your next credit card or banking statement within the next two to three weeks.

Again, we sincerely apologize for any convenience this has caused you, and should you require personal assistance in the future please reach out to us directly at 866.356.2154.

I hope I have satisfied your inquiry and I wish you all the best going forward.

Best regards,


CreateSpace Member Services



Top book was printed in NC. Bottom book was printed in KY.

Hi Glenn,Thank you for the refund of my recent purchase. 

You say >>”However, we would be more that happy to perform a Quality Check on any future orders per your request.”<<

* How do I go about requesting a quality check on the replacement books I plan to purchase?

* What does this quality check entail?

*How do I quality check orders that are not placed by me?

Also, why is it MY responsibility to ask you to be sure the printers you use are doing the job I am paying for? I am paying for full color premium printing. EVERYONE who orders my book is also paying for full color premium printing. How in the world am I supposed to check these order?

I should not have to worry if people that place orders are not getting what they are paying for. CreateSpace is charging for full color printing and this costs considerably more. Because CreateSpace is charging for premium printing, EVERY ONE of your printers should be using good quality paper for the full color printing. It is the responsibility of CreateSpace to be sure the product someone pays for is in fact the product they are getting. Your response seems to indicate that you do not think this is the case. This is unacceptable. I plan to purchase 5 or 6 copies of my book to replace the ones I ordered a week or so ago. Please tell me how I can request Lexington, KY print my copies (and ALL copies ordered in the future) since they delivered what I was expecting. 

Thank you, 

Jennifer Wheatley-Wolf


On Tuesday, May 1, 2018, 5:08:51 PM EDT, MS: CSP Tier 2 <> wrote:

Hello Jennifer,

Thank you so much for your contact. It is my pleasure to clarify your inquiries today. I apologize for the inconvenience you’ve experienced with the print quality of your books in these orders.

What happens is that as a print on demand company with thousands of members around the world, several production facilities around the United States and thousands of copies printed daily on each facility, it is not possible to revise each and every copy and compare them with the approved files. For this reason, we have the quality check option as a manual option to be requested for specific cases since it is not normal for the books to be misprinted.

Also, being a Print On Demand company, we use different printing facilities to produce your order, the interior paper finish may vary slightly from print run to print run, due to a difference in the print technology used at each location and we are unable to select a specific production facility to process an order since this will become a glitch in the production queue, your order will have to be separated from the queue and will be delayed for a long time; we would like to avoid more inconveniences to happen to you. While we are always taking steps to ensure consistent and uniform printing, as with all titles published on-demand, a small amount of variance from unit to unit is expected.

Now, I’ll be delighted to assist you placing the Quality Check if you want. Please proceed to place the replacement order and reply to this email with the order number. Once I have it, I will contact the production facility and request for this quality check.

I will keep this case open for 48 hours and if there is no response I will resolve it concluding that you don’t want to proceed with the Quality Check. I await your response!

Best regards,


CreateSpace Member Services



Not “a small amount of variance” in my opinion. It’s curious that I was credited for first 5 books I ordered but the next 10 that were also poor quality was essentially, not their problem. In fact, I was told to modify my photos to compensate for their poor printing.


Hello Bernard,

Thank you for your response. The problems with your explanation are:

*The differences between the first proof, approved 2nd proof and what I received are do not ‘vary slightly’, there are big differences between the book that was printed on the correct paper and the ones that were not. I expect slight color variations, but not extreme variations in supplies used to print the all-color books.

*It is your responsibility to utilize printers who do the job you expect, I expect and the rest of your customers expect. Now that I know all of  the full color books I have received from CreateSpace (mostly printed in SC) have been done wrong, I know that there are a good many of my customers who have also been cheated out of getting what they paid for. I would never have known better if I had never received a copy that was printed correctly and looked beautiful. I may never have approved the copy with you and would have taken my business elsewhere.

I ran an A.B.Dick offset printing press for a few years in the 80’s. It was my responsibility to be sure that each job was printed on the paper requested with the colors a customer wanted. Sure, this was dark-ages printing compared to the technology today. However, consistency in the product, printing the run correctly and taking pride in your work should not have to be sacrificed just because the equipment is different. Just because the company you are doing the job for is so big the little guys (like me) should not be taken advantage of. I would guess there are thousands of little guys like me who make up your business. We should get what we pay for (what you charge for).

It is my belief that there are thousands of printers in this country who would love to score a printing contract with you & who would do the job consistently. From your response, I gather that my getting a proof of my book printed the way everyone should expect it to be is rare. If I were someone who would be buying and selling millions of copies and I had approved a proof that looked beautiful only to discover all subsequent printings were nothing like the approved copy, and I voiced a complaint, I suppose my displeasure would be taken much more seriously. Having to refund the cost of only a handful of books rather than hundreds seems to be the easy response to my concern. CreateSpace/Amazon performing quality checks with the people who print their jobs…well, that’s too much like hard work. One more question since I have to be in charge of the quality control-how do I go about future requests about quality control of my book(s) since a long-term solution can’t be anticipated?

  I have placed an order for 10 copies of my book. I anticipate that these books will be printed on the appropriate gloss white paper. If they are not, I will be requesting a refund for these books as well. This is the order: Your order number is #221046374. Please print out this page to serve as a receipt. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Your credit card statement will show CREATESPACE as the merchant name for this order.

Jennifer Wheatley Wolf


Hello Jennifer,

I’m really sorry about the problem you had with your shipments.

I have passed your feedback to our concerned department for review. We’re aware that our choice of delivery services reflects on our business as a whole, and we appreciate your feedback.

It is always important for us to hear how our Members react to all aspects of the services and products provided by our company. Strong feedback like yours helps us continue to improve the service we provide, and we appreciate the time you took to write us.

In this case, I see that your order #221046374 has already been shipped on May 03, 2018 hence, we are unable to perform quality check on this order. If in case, the issue still persist with this shipment kindly let us know so that we can take further action accordingly.

We appreciate your patience and understanding in this regard.

Best regards,


CreateSpace Member Services


Hello Anshu,

I just received the 10 copies of my book Two Weeks In Africa, A Photo Journal and, as I anticipated, they are not printed on the correct paper. The photos are dull and fuzzy because the paper isn’t suitable for color printing. I am extremely disappointed and frustrated by all of this.

It seems to me that the easiest solution to CreateSpace/Amazon’s lack of quality control between your printers isn’t to continually refund a dissatisfied customer (which I expect will be the case here). The solution is to model every one of the print shops you employ after the shop that is getting it right, Lexington, KY.

If I were in charge of this task I would have the shop in KY, that printed my book beautifully, make a list of all the equipment, inks, paper types and suppliers they use. I would then send this list to all the printing facilities employed by Amazon/CreateSpace and insist that all of them use the same. This could probably be done within a few emails and phone calls. Anyone who does not or will not use the supplies you ask should be replaced by a facility that is willing to produce a quality product all of your customers should be receiving (not just the ones lucky enough to have their books printed in KY). I bet you you will find plenty of facilities more than willing to score a big contract with you guys even if it means making a few changes.

Maybe I’m naive but this lack of quality control isn’t something that should be overlooked or left to me and other authors to insist on. Because of the volume of work you produce for writers and authors like me, It is something you should be demanding from everyone who does your printing for you.Although I am feeling defeated by this continuing problem, I do not intend to be quiet about it.  

Thank you for your help,




This photograph of the lizard on Table Mountain shows very clearly the extreme differences between the quality of the two books.  In the bottom photograph you can see the gloss of the paper. The color is deep, crisp and clean.  This is the book proof I approved for publication and this is the quality I expect for every book printed.   “In the print on demand industry, there is a small amount of variance between different types of printers but the differences are usually minuscule and are rarely ever noticeable to readers who usually are not purchasing books to compare print quality.” CreateSpace May, 16, 2018

Hello Jennifer,

I trust this email finds you well.

I’m sorry to hear about your book order. In order to investigate this issue more thoroughly, I’d like to get more details regarding the condition of the books you received.

Please provide the following information to help with the investigation:

  1. Pictures of the defect

  2. The Product ID of the defective books (the Product ID can be found on the last physical page of the book under the barcode. If there are multiple defective books, please provide the

product IDs for each book.)

You can send this information to us at this link:

Have a great day further.

Best regards,


CreateSpace Member Services


Hello Tayla,

Below you will find the list of ID codes you asked for and the ID code for the book that was printed correctly and this entire email thread. I have also included a photo from my book for you to see that compare the books I have received from SC to the book that was printed beautifully by KY. (I would include several more, but your form will only allow for one attachment). Since this book IS a photo journal (hence the name), it is impossible for me to include every photo from every page of the 250+ page book. Rest assured that all pages of each of the 10 books I just received were printed on the same incorrect paper. 

If I worked for CreateSpace/Amazon and I was assigned this complaint, I would order a book from each of the printers and compare the two. Actually, I might just select several others in addition to the two my books have been printed by. This would give me a sampling to choose from to compare for myself. The difference is night and day. It’s like getting an engraved invitation printed on regular computer paper. While it displays all the information, it lacks the expected elegance. This lack of quality is not what I paid for or agreed to, it’s not what anyone who orders this book is paying for. You are, in effect charging for the engraved invitation and providing something quite a bit different. 

While I have done the best I can to capture with my camera the differences between the books printed on the wrong paper and those printed on paper suitable for full color photographs, the picture does not do the differences justice. That being said, there is an obvious and disappointing difference.

Here are the I codes from all 10 books I received printed on May 3rd 2018 in Columbia, SC:











This is the ID # for the 2nd book I ordered that is printed correctly and I approved after making a few editing corrections. It was printed in Lexington, KY on April, 16, 2018:


I really do not understand why every printer you employ cannot produce the exact same quality product. The achievement of every successful business model is constancy of their product. Every successful chain restaurant has one thing in common. That is, I can go anywhere in the world and eat in their restaurant and already know what to expect when I walk in the door. The one I walk in to that does not follow the model is the the one that suffers and closes

Thank you for your help,



On Friday, May 11, 2018, 11:00:59 PM EDT, MS: CSP Tier 2 <> wrote:

Hello Jennifer,

I hope this email finds you well.

I have compared your files with the printed copies of your book, Two Weeks In Africa.

The copies printed on May 3rd 2018 in Columbia, SC that you notified us about are within the allowable printing variances. This means that since some small spaces  may be slightly different in print than they are in electronic files, some variability is acceptable. This difference falls within the acceptable variance. Occasionally, these slight differences from copy to copy are expected.

We pride ourselves on the quality of books printed on-demand in our manufacturing facilities. We are constantly innovating and adopting new technologies in the on-demand arena. However, as with all books printed-on-demand, a small amount of variance among each book is expected.

In order to address this concern, you may consider updating your files and submitting them in CMYK vs RGB mode if you have not already. We recommend maintaining all original artwork in CMYK, which allows the most accurate color management for our digital, CMYK printers. If your files are already submitted in CMYK, we suggest that you adjust the colors as necessary until the desired color is achieved in print.

If you need additional assistance, please let us know.

Best regards,


CreateSpace Member Services



Instead of taking responsibility for their lack of quality control, CreateSpace told me the fault was mine and suggested I adjust my photographs to compensate for the lousy printing done by their SC facilities. “We pride ourselves on the quality of books printed on-demand in our manufacturing facilities. We are constantly innovating and adopting new technologies in the on-demand arena. However, as with all books printed-on-demand, a small amount of variance among each book is expected.”  If they can print my book beautifully in one facility, they should be able to print it beautifully all the time. The exact same file is used for all printings.

Hello Christian, 

My complaint about the printing of my books is not about ‘slight variances’ in margins or even slight color differences. These are expected.  My complaint is that EVERY book I have had printed in SC has been printed on the WRONG PAPER. I’m not sure why this is so difficult for (all of) you to understand. This is not anything I have any control over. It is, however something that CreateSpace/Amazon should be able to address very easily. The lack of quality control is unbelievable.

You charge premium prices for full-color printing on high quality paper. This means the minimum I have to charge for the books is much higher.  But, I am not not receiving books printed on the paper I have approved in my proofs. I suspect no one who’s books are printed in SC are being printed on quality paper. This means, simply, that we are being ripped off. 

Your suggestion that the problem is on my end is ludicrous. The EXACT same PDF file was used to print the books in SC and KY. The difference is that Lexington, KY printed the file on the correct paper resulting in a book that is the quality I am paying for; the quality I expect. SC is not. The quality of product sent from SC is inferior because the paper they are using is NOT suitable for color photographs. This is a simple problem to fix on your end by making sure EVERYONE who prints books for you is using the same full color photo paper. 

I am attaching several photos that show how the books printed in SC (top on each photo) compare to the book printed in KY (bottom of each photo). The SC books, because they are printed on the wrong paper result in fuzzy and dull photographs. This is unacceptable. The book printed in KY, ON THE CORRECT FULL COLOR PHOTO PAPER, result in photos that are rich color, crisp and clean. If the ALL of your printers were using the same paper KY was using, ALL books would look beautiful irrespective of small variances in margins or color differences. Since you are charging me (and everyone who orders this book) higher prices for quality printing, this is what all of us expect to receive. I am very unhappy not only with the inferior quality of the books but, more importantly, the lack of concern by CreateSpace/Amazon to address this complaint seriously. The lack of quality control on your end is the cause of the problem and can be solved by you quite simply buy insisting everyone who prints orders for full color books all use the same paper and equipment. 

I would really appreciate if CreateSpace would resolve this problem.  



On Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 10:55:23 AM EDT, MS: Info <> wrote:

Hello Jennifer,

Greetings from CreateSpace. I am contacting you regarding the variance in print copies.

Our technical team has confirmed that the books are printed on the same type of paper, they are just printed with different printers.  In the print on demand industry, there is a small amount of variance between different types of printers but the differences are usually minuscule and are rarely ever noticeable to readers who usually are not purchasing books to compare print quality.

They have reviewed the printer metrics and it appears the titles printed within variance, so these are not print defects.

In this case the level of quality seems to be purely subjective and based on the comparisons but, when when looking at the prints individually it is clear that there is a slight color variance but, both books are printing in full color and resolution with no print defects. It doesn’t appear that either site is printing at a lower quality and the same type of paper is used at all our manufacturing facilities. We can guarantee that the print books will have good quality but, we cannot guarantee that every printed book will look exactly the same; we leave some room for print shift and color variance as it is unavoidable with-in Print-On-Demand.

Please know that there will always be slight variations in color and this goes for all print types, not just books. Printing variance is not only common it’s almost completely unavoidable.

I understand that this might not be the response you were waiting for and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. I strongly regret that I am not of much help in this case, I hope you will understand our limitations. 

I appreciate your time and understanding. Thank you for using CreateSpace.

Best regards,


CreateSpace Member Services


May 16 at 12:19 PM

Hello Sachin,

 It is really a shame that you are unable to be much help in this case even if you recognize the problem for what it really is and not the ‘small amount of variance’ as it is being labeled.
 A company as large as Amazon should take immediate action to correct a problem that is well within their ability to correct.  Your response indicates to me that Amazon is OK with shipping books that do not meet the approved proof quality of the writer because, well, who’s going to know anyway? This is disgraceful.

  When I first mentioned this problem to a friend of mine his response about the differences in the printing quality was “How will you ever know if Amazon corrects the problem since you won’t be able to see all the books?” My response was that it is unlikely that this book will sell many copies. It is very likely that I will be the only one who buys this book so I will be seeing nearly every copy sold. I am not delusional. I know CreateSpace isn’t going to have to print millions of copies of my book; it will not become a best seller. This being said, everyone who orders this book should be receiving a copy of the book that is like the proof I approved. This is not the case. 

If I had never received a book printed beautifully and had I not approved this copy of my book for printing and had I not expected it to be printed like this all the time, I would never have known that you do not consider product quality control something you should concern yourself with. This is unacceptable. 

CreateSpace and Amazon believe that as long as no one knows the problem exists, it’s OK to avoid correcting it. 

My complaint is not about a ‘slight variance in color’ but, instead, is about a dramatically different product sent from one of your facilities than another. The fact that several of the people responding to this ongoing saga have used the exact same words in answer to my complaint indicates to me that:

#1-All of the CreateSpace Member Service representatives have been given a list of scripted responses to use whenever a particular complaint seems to fall within the boundaries of these answers.  

#2-None of the CreateSpace Member Service representatives is really seeing the problem.

#3-No one has actually seen a copy of my book printed by SC & KY to compare for themselves.

#4-None of the CreateSpace Member Service representatives can really do anything that will affect change. 

If the differences I noted between the books was in fact ‘slight’ as all of the CreateSpace representatives keep referring to them, I would not have complained. Having experience in a printing facility myself I know that colors can indeed change slightly and margins can be slightly different because of trimming. This is not my complaint. My complaint is that the differences between the books printed in your different facilities are quite dramatic. Night and day. These differences should not be accepted by you and they should not be passed on to the consumer. This brings me all the way back to my original complaint of your lack of concern regarding quality control.

 CreateSpace/Amazon should step up and take responsibility for the quality of their products insisting that all of their printers use the same supplies and equipment to ensure consistency in their products. It’s a simple solution to the problem that would genuinely reflect what are now only hollow words written on your standard responses form-“We pride ourselves on the quality of books printed on-demand in our manufacturing facilities. ” 



I thank you for making it to the end of this exchange. If you feel as frustrated by this as I do perhaps you will share this post on your social media page? No doubt this David and Goliath story will not knock the current headlines off the front pages of news outlets, but  I think it’s important to know that one of the biggest companies in this country is ripping off every one of their customers who aren’t lucky enough to get their books printed by the folks in KY.

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In addition to the obvious issues I have with this whole situation, what I find really frustrating is how quickly CreateSpace managed to clip my creative wings. I was just beginning to put together a photo book of a recent trip to the Panama Canal. I have put this on hold.  I was also really excited about putting together another photo book of an upcoming Machu Picchu and Galapagos Island trip.  I have been given the name of another POD site. I will be checking them out. Here’s the link.

Although I cannot guarantee the quality of the books you will receive and CreateSpace will not guarantee  the quality of the books you receive, here is the link to my author’s page on Amazon. Leave me a note if you order a book. Thanks!


My Amazon Author’s page. You can order all of my books here.

A Taxing Situation

When I posted the projected results of the new tax bill over a month ago on Facebook and Twitter, I was blasted for spreading fake news and I was told
“It will never pass anyway but why shouldn’t the rich get a tax cut too?”

This was the story in today’s New York Times:

“With barely a vote to spare early Saturday morning, the Senate passed a tax bill confirming that the Republican leaders’
primary goal is to enrich the country’s elite at the expense of everybody else, including future generations who will end up bearing the cost.
The bill is expected to add more than $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade,
a debt that will be paid by the poor and middle class in future tax increases and spending cuts to Medicare,
Social Security and other government programs. Its modest tax cuts for the middle class disappear after eight years.
And up to 13 million people stand to lose their health insurance because the bill makes a big change to the Affordable Care Act.”


let us prey-thomas nast

Let Us Prey by Thomas Nast

What the GOP in Congress did in the middle of the night last night by pushing this tax bill through was an egregious display of power.  Additions to and subtractions from the bill were hurriedly scribbled in the margins quickly rendering the bill illegible. Cross-outs and strikeouts made with the skill of a swashbuckler throughout the nearly 500 page document occurred up to the last few minutes of the vote.  All of this was to appease one GOP senator or another.

No one actually had a chance to read the final document that was voted on at nearly 2am. This is our government at work much like slippery eels slinking through the swamp at Foggy Bottom.

The Republicans denied the Democrats a thorough analysis of the bill because they know the guts of this legislation will further hurt the middle class and poor of this country and fill the pockets of the elite.

This bill was, admittedly, voted for by the members of the GOP  “Because our donors expect us to pass this for them.” Humanity and decency be damned!
The needs of the American people be damned! We need to keep our donors happy or the campaign funds will dry up.  We need to keep 45 happy, do what he wants, or he will humiliate us!




The haphazard appearance, scribbled margins and chaos of this significant piece of legislation would not be accepted by a 4th grade composition class teacher. It would be given a failing grade on presentation alone. Add to that, who really knows what is in these pages? Some news stories today are reporting that millions of people will lose their health insurance, abortions will be considered illegal and the national debt will increase by BILLIONS of dollars.  ( I can not verify all of these claims, I have not had time to read through the bill .)

To pay for the cuts so generously given to the nations financially fortunate, we the regular folks will have to pay a heavy price. I wonder if those who voted for these senators will vote differently when the 2018 elections roll around?

45 voters


There was no reason to rush this bill through to the vote. There was no deadline. It could have been worked on and tweaked until both Republicans and Democrats agreed with the language of the bill. It could have been written and rewritten until it worked for all of us.

They GOP voted for this bill without concern for the longterm effects of this bill and without regard to those who it will hurt.
They voted despite the public outcry against this bill.
They voted for it despite knowing the majority of people of this county oppose it.
They pushed this bill through despite reports on the horrific long-term effects it will have on us, the average Americans, and the county’s national debt.

They did it because they could. They did it because they enjoyed the power. They did it because of greed.

repub-votes for tax hike 12-2-17

Our Senate is supposed to represent the people of this country.  Last night, December 1, 2017 they demonstrated that we do not matter.  They pushed this vote through because it suited them, the GOP.  There was only 1 Republican, Bob Corker, who did not vote for this bill.  You can see for yourself how the Senate voted  by clicking the link below. It’s pretty clear that the GOP stood alone in favor of this.

arctic drilling-12-2-17

To execute control over and take advantage of those who you deem inferior to you is akin to rape. Last night, in the middle of the night, like burglars, rapists and thieves, the GOP assaulted all of us. They showed all of us by their actions that this vote was their  display of power. This practically clandestine vote was all about them pleasing a few, giving them what they demanded, and laying the burden of paying for these demands onto the rest of us.

In light of recent indictments of people who worked in an official capacity for this administration, it makes this middle of the night, ‘Let’s just get something passed to keep the money coming in & keep the boss happy’ vote seem even more horrific. It’s not what we hired them to do.

2018 elections can not come fast enough.
During this past year we have witnessed the daily attempt at suppressing and admonishment of our free press, the deportation of people who 45 has deemed ‘undesirable’,  the suppression of women, the support of white supremacist, the promotion of State TV (FOX, Breitbart & 45TV) ,  the proposition to limit internet access,  ignoring USA citizens who are in need of help because of the color of their skin, the undercutting of environmental protections in order to allow oil drilling, the gutting of the State Department, and now the rewarding the wealthy people at the top by heaping taxes on the middle class, poor and underprivileged.  This administration has consistently hired people who’s only qualification for the job given is a hefty campaign donation.

We hear the press say how “Unprecedented” all of this is; how everything is different. I say it is no longer unprecedented. The unbelievable has become accepted. Have we forgotten about the frog? Do we no longer feel the water getting hot because all we can focus on is the constant barrage of stress heaped on us daily?

All of this is  being orchestrated by a senile, petulant, evil man who is under the thumbscrews of Russia…

what could go wrong?

(Don’t bother it’s a hypothetical)  We shall see soon enough won’t we?