In case you didn't know it's cold as hell in Atlanta right now and I am naturally craving hot meals and soup. Last night Brad and I went to see Taken 3 and as soon as we got out (great movie by the way) we were trying to decide what to eat. It was cold and raining and all I could think of was a hot bowl of Mexican Chicken Soup. It's just as comforting as it's American cousin - chicken noodle soup- but with more intense flavor. 

We stopped by our local Mexican joint and I prepared my palate for spicy satisfaction. Unfortunately, that is not what my palate got. Instead of intense tomato broth with tender shredded chicken and just the right amount of spice, I got a sad bowl of salty chicken broth with uncooked red onions and brown avocado chunks.

Lo siento indeed.

I came home feeling let down by Mexico in my time of need and all night I dreamt of what could have been.

Today, though, I was determined to have that perfect bowl of Mexican Chicken Soup so I went straight to the grocery and gathered everything I needed and went to work. Oh, the pure satisfaction I felt when eating this for lunch!!

Here is my recipe and final pics - hope you like it as much as I do:

• 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
• 3 tablespoons of oil of EVOO
• 2-3 teaspoons of a mix of ground cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and cayenne
• 1 large onion, diced
• 2 celery stalks, diced
• 6 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
• 1-2 tbls tomato paste
• 2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock
• 1 28 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes
• Juice of 3 limes
• 1 cup parsley (or cilantro)chopped
• Splash of your favorite hot sauce
• avocado and fresh herbs for garnish

1. Preheat your oven 375 degrees.. Place your chicken in a large glass baking dish, and pour one tablespoon of oil over all, coating well. Sprinkle your seasoning over the chicken , coating well, and place in the oven. Cook for about 30-45 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken pieces) until cooked through and liquid from chicken runs clear. Cool and using two forks, shred the chicken
2. Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven over medium heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and when hot, add in the onions & celery ( season with S&P). Cook until onions are translucent, about 4-6 minutes.
3. Add in the garlic and pepper and saute for about 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
4. Pour in the fire roasted tomatoes with juice, tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.
5. Add 1/2 the herbs, hot sauce and lime juice. Taste to see what you’re in need of (salt? pepper? more of a kick?) and adjust as need be.
6. Reduce & simmer for 30-45 minutes.
7.Add chicken and any accumulated juices. Serve nice and hot with some fresh herbs and chopped up avocado to go on top.


A Dozen Years.

It’s been a dozen years since I’ve seen her face, heard her laugh or held her hand. Tomorrow will be twelve years exactly since that awful night.

It’s been so long that my memory has started to fade. I have a hard time telling the difference from real memories and the ones that come from pictures. I remember her smile, I remember her laugh, but I can’t hear her voice anymore. I can’t remember what happened the week before she died.

I do remember that morning; we rode together to school because my car was in the shop. We went to different high schools that year so it was very unusual for us to rider together and I remember telling her I loved her as she got out of the car. It was the last time I ever saw her.

I remember everything about that night – the painful details are branded into my memory. The waiting, not knowing if she was dead or alive; the police walking up to our door. Listening to the officers explain to my parents what happened in the accident, hearing the words that we were all praying not to hear - like a bullet through our hearts.

While we went downtown to identify her body I sat in the front seat of my pastor’s car staring out the window into the Atlanta night sky. I was thinking how peaceful it looked outside while my Mom wept into my father’s chest. Her heart was broken into a million pieces and it would never be put back together.

For years I couldn’t sleep; every time I closed my eyes I would imagine what those last minutes were like for her. She must have seen the drunk driver’s car as it crashed right into where she was sitting. What went through her mind? She must have been terrified. I am thankful I never actually saw the wreckage but I have pictured it so many times I feel like I was there. I replayed it over and over obsessing over what could have been different.

I always wonder what she would be like now. I know she would be beautiful, but would she be married? Where would she live? Maybe she would be a National Geographic Photographer or Missionary as she wanted to do both. She would probably still be an on-again, off-again vegetarian and a lover of all living creatures. I am sure she would still climb trees on the weekend and love the outdoors. She would have been the Maid Of Honor in my wedding; I would have let her use my id to get into bars underage.
We would be close. We would be sisters.

Unfortunately, those dreams will never come true. I can’t change what happened no matter how many prayers I say, shooting stars I wish on or pennies I throw into fountains. The only option I have now is to cherish the time I did have with her and learn to hold on to my loves ones a little tighter; to be more forgiving and to always say I Love You. I smile every time I hear her name or see her picture. I love when her friends tell me stories about her and share their memories of time they shared together. It’s important to me to keep her memory alive.

My life is forever changed. My heart is permanently broken, and, although I now sleep through the nights, my pain has never faded. But, somehow, we have all kept moving forward; kept living. We laugh and love and enjoy life. As much as I thought it would, the world never stopped turning. The sun has risen every day since and I see the moon every night. Life does go on, as it must.

The past twelve years have taught me a lot. I now know what I am made of, what I can endure and what I can overcome. I know the kind of person I want to be and how I want to be remembered. I know how precious every second is with the people that you love and I will never take even a moment for granted.

Life is a gift.


Love at First Flight

** First, let me preface this post by saying that I am totally, madly, completely, head-over-heels in love with my husband but I had to kiss a lot of "frogs" to find him. This was one of those frogs.**

Not many people from my high school ended up at Auburn, so my freshman year I joined a few organizations to try and meet friends. I joined a sorority, the crew team (only for 2 days, tell you about that one later) and also the Young Republicans Association (YRA). About 10 minutes into the first YRA meeting I had all but fallen asleep. This just wasn't the party crowd I was expecting. They kept talking about boring political crap that I didn’t care about at all. About half way through the meeting the president of the association took the mic to talk about an upcoming event. I looked up from my intense game of tic-tac-toe long enough to see a total DREAM BOAT walking up to the stage.

Ohmygosh. He (Pete) was a senior, pre-law, president of the YRA and totally hot. I perked up immediately and I realized that he was talking about an upcoming trip to DC for the National Young Republican’s Conference. He was PERSONALLY attending this trip and was encouraging the members to go because we could make a change or something. I don't know, wasn't really listening. After the meeting I made a beeline for Pete and made a point to introduce myself and my passionate love for politics. I just wouldn’t miss this conference For. The. World.

Later that week we had a meeting - at Pete’s house!! – to go over the itinerary and travel arrangements for the trip. I couldn’t have cared less about what lame politicians were going to be speaking, I was there solely to figure out a way for Pete to notice me and ask me out. He said that everyone was responsible for their own flights but he did share his arrangements in case we all wanted to go together. Of course I used this little bit of information in a very sane, and legal, way...

Not even ten milliseconds after I got to my dorm room I was on the phone with Delta booking a seat on his flight. I asked the representative if there was any way possible to be sat next to Pete. She said that, unfortunately, there was already someone sitting beside him.  I asked if that guy could be moved or bumped up? She said that was not possible without first speaking to the passenger.

At this point most people would.... scratch that. "Most people" are not crazy enough to even come up with this stuff in the first place and are usually above begging a complete stranger to put their job in danger by completely breaking protocol to assist an apparent stalker zone in on their prey. But, as you know, I'm not "most people".

So then I said: “Look, you just don’t understand, I joined this dumb group just to meet people and I think I have found the man that I might marry and even though we haven’t even had a real conversation yet I know that if we can just get sat beside each other he will totally fall in love with me and..."

“Ok, girl, I’m gonna help you get your Man!!!”

So, in violation of several Federal and State laws, and after promising she could be the maid-of-honor at our wedding, she moved the poor guy that was supposed to be sitting beside Pete and put me in his place. Good thing I use my powers for good and not evil!

The day of the trip I played it very cool and as our group was waiting in the lobby I didn’t say a word until people starting looking at their seat assignments. Undoubtedly someone asked Pete where he was sitting and I acted totally surprised, but cool, when I told him I had the seat beside him. What are the chances? Ha! To this day I don't think he had a clue what I had done. Actually, I am sure of it, because I don't recall any restraining orders being brought against my by him.

Oh, and by the way, I will just have you know that my plan worked like a charm. By the time that plane landed in DC Pete and I were inseparable. A match made in political heaven! And we continued to date for about 6 months my freshman year until I ended up falling through his back porch and landing in the hospital - but that’s a different story all together.


Snappy Apps

I love to have people over, and to cook, and to host any kind of party! People are always telling me that I am a great cook, but really I have everyone fooled. Most of the things I serve are so easy it should be a crime but the result seems like I really put a lot of effort into it. I thought I would share a few of my favorite hor d'eouvres that work great for a crowd. They are are inexpensive, easy and quick! If you have any of your own - please share!

Stuffed Mushroom Caps
2 boxes Baby Bella Mushrooms, washed and stems removed
1/2 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 sour cream
1 Tbl mayo
1 can of marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
( you can also add crab meat to this and it's delicious!)

Grease a baking sheet and spread out caps so that they are not touching. Mix remaining ingredients together and stuff each cap with a heaping spoonful. I top with a drizzle of olive oil and some freshly ground pepper and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until mushrooms are cooked.

Mini Brie en Croute
1 package frozen mini phyllo shells
1 small round of brie, room temperature
1/2 cup jam or jelly (I like raspberry preserves or orange marmalade)

Place mini phyllo shells on a greases baking tray. Put a small chunk of brie in each shell and a small spoonful of jam on top of that. Cook according to the phyllo directions, but usual 3-5 minutes at 350.

Bruschetta Cups
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 medium yellow tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 onion minced
1/2 Tbl minced garlic
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbl basil, cut into ribbons
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup Melted Butter
1 package frozen phyllo sheets, thawed

In a large skillet heat about a tablespoon of EVOO over medium and add onions with a little salt & pepper. Saute until onions are soft and translucent (about 5-7 minutes), then add garlic and saute for another 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn garlic. Then add all of your tomatoes and the vinegar and stir to incorporate. Let this mixture saute over medium low while you prepare the cups.

Lay 1 sheet of phyllo down on a work surface. Brush with melted butter and lay the next sheet down on top of the first. Repeat until you have 5 layers and do not butter the top of the last layer. Cut the sheets into 6 sections. Repeat with more phyllo sheets until you have enough squares for your entire muffin tin(s). Pick up each section and stuff into a greased mini-muffin tin. You may have to trim the sections down, you want the pastry to stick up out of the muffin tin but not be so big that it flops over to the other cups.

Drain the tomato mixture and spoon into each cup. Bake according to the phyllo instructions, usually about 10 minutes on 350. Once the phyllo is browned, remove cups and top with shaved parmesan & basil.

I hope that you enjoy these tasty little treats but,  if all else fails, put some Cheese whiz on a Ritz cracker and call it a day!


What the Pug?

So 2012 has already been quite eventful. It all started New Year's Eve...

For NYE we had a group of friends over for cocktails and hor d'ourves before going out for the night. Right after dark the doorbell rang and I went to welcome in the next guest but was met with a woman that I have never seen before.

She was middle-aged and looked kinda frantic. She was so worked up that she could hardly get out the words when she said "Excuse me, I hate to interrupt your evening, but we were driving by and saw a Pug puppy fall into the water drain and we know you are dog lovers and 911 is busy....."

I met this situation as I meet all emergency situations: with complete panic and fear. I starting to yell back into the house at Brad that a puppy had fallen in the storm sewer and then began fumbling with my phone to try and call animal control. Before I knew it Brad went sprinting past me in Super Hero Mode out the front door while throwing off articles of clothing and jumped right down the man hole to look for the dog. Then everyone else ran after him, in their NYE finery, to try and save lassie from the well.

I ran out after everyone, in my heels, to let them know help is on the way and I see my husband down in the man hole with a tiny key chain flashlight and he said that he couldn't see, or hear, a dog. We assume that the dog must have run down the drain towards the opening near the creek behind our house. We all followed the man holes to see where the drain let out. It was dark and we were in dress clothes so we didn't actually see where the opening was but assumed that since the dog could walk that it would eventually make his way out. Animal Control finally showed up and said that they would take a look.

Satisfied that the dog would be OK, Brad got dressed and we went back to our NYE festivities. We had quite the NYE night complete with good food, great company and lots of white people dance moves.

The next morning, and I use the term "morning" loosely here, Brad went out to walk our dogs and went over to the drain to check on the lost pug and thought he heard the puppy barking. So he jumped back down the man hole and, again, saw no sign of a dog. I was beginning to think that the lady had maybe seen a rabbit (or smoked a joint) and that Brad was hearing a neighbors dog and that there was no pug to be found.

Over the next few hours Brad and several neighbors had heard the dog barking and realized that the poor puppy was stuck. We called animal control again and starting trying to figure out where the tunnel emptied. After discovering that the exit was covered by rocks and dirt, Brad and another neighbor took to digging it out. After hours of digging the hole was finally uncovered so the puppy legitimately had a way to get out. Then we stationed 3 different people in the 3 manholes to try and coax/scare the puppy to the exit. We tried everything to get this dog out. We heated up food, yelled, called, whistled, begged and pleaded to get it to go out and we had no luck.

Finally after hours and hours we decided to go back inside. The tunnel had an exit, the dog was walking and we put food right outside the opening and had done all we could do. We went home and I sat on our back deck that was overlooking the creek to try and see if the puppy would crawl out. Sure enough, after about 20 minutes the puppy walked out. So I hollered at Brad we went chasing after it. That little sucker was fast! He was also no pug. He looked like a little German Shepard pup and I named him Moby. After running all over the neighborhood we finally corralled him into a corner and Brad was able to grab him. Turns out when a puppy spends the night in a storm drain, is hollered at, scared to death, chased by humans and caught by force; he gets a little angry and the dang dog bit Brad! It was a small bite, but still punctured the skin.

We tried to get the little guy back to our house and he was growling and barking and wiggling around and ended up biting through the little makeshift leash animal control had given us and then ran under a neighbors car. Brad and I were on our hands and knees, armed with a broom and a shovel, trying to get this puppy out from under the car. Half the neighborhood came out to help/watch and it took another half an hour but we were finally able to grab him out from under the car and get him home and into a crate.

The poor thing was TERRIFIED! He was balled up all the way in the back of the crate with his little nose in the corner and just cowered. We put some food and water and a blanket in their while we settled down. Then we decided to tend to Brad who was not only bitten but also all cut up from being in the brush. We cleaned up him and called our doctor to see if Brad should get any kind of vaccine and, upon their recommendation, we went to the ER to get a rabies vaccine. Even though this little guy is only a puppy he had been in a sewer and had no tags so you never know what germs he may have gotten into. I am sure that we are the only "puppy bite" victims to ever grace the halls of Emory Adventist Emergency Room, but it was after hours and had nowhere else to go.

We went to the ER and were waiting to get a vaccine and did the only natural thing to do in this situation; googled rabies in humans. OHMYGOSH. Did you know that rabies is 100% fatal in humans? We started watching this u-tube video of people being chained down and going crazy from rabies and at this point Brad and I are freaking out and frantically trying to reassure ourselves that Brad is not going to suddenly start frothing at the mouth and try to bite me. After 2 hours of waiting we were finally told that since we have the dog in our custody that they would not have to give the vaccine just yet. We would need to give the dog to animal control for observation for 10 days and if the dog develops rabies then he would have to get the shots. Oh, and by the way, you want to do everything you can to avoid the rabies vaccine because it is a series of 8 shots in your STOMACH! So instead he was given a bunch of antibiotics to stave off infection from the bite and a tetanus shot for good measure.

We went home and a VERY  nice animal control officer met us and took the puppy and said that they would do a full examination of the dog and watch him for 10 days and give us a call on if he develops signs of rabies. Case closed!

So this is how we started our 2012. Luckily we were able to save a poor, tiny, helpless puppy from certain death and had the pleasure of spending the greater part of the first day of the new year in an emergency room; but, all in all, it was a very exciting way to start the year. I hope that everyone else had a a great NYE and was able to avoid manholes and emergency rooms altogether.



2011 Chirstmas Card Review

In January we were lucky enough to see our Auburn Tigers win a National Championship! We were supposed to stay in Arizona for a long weekend but that was extended due to snowpocalypse shutting down the city of Atlanta for an entire week. While on vacation we went to see the Grand Canyon (which was a first for us both) and Brad even went 4 wheeling up a mountain all while our friends and families were iced in their houses back in Atlanta! We could not have asked for a better start to our year, unfortunately that trip ended with us finding my car encased in 6 inches of ice that we had to chip away with a coat hanger and an old CD case because we live it the South and are totally unprepared for winter weather!

For my Christmas gift last year Brad surprised me with a trip to New York to see Andrea Bocelli sing opera at The Met. Knowing my husband’s affinity for opera, crowds, Yankees and traffic he might as well have surprised me with a 3 legged monkey - I could not believe it! We had the most wonderful trip and, even though Brad played Angry Birds and plotted ways to commit suicide the entire time, seeing Andrea in person was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! We also went to Peter Luger’s Steakhouse, Rockefeller Center, Ground Zero, Times Square, Katz’s Deli and even rubbed shoulders with a few people helping to run NY Fashion Week that was going on at the same time. To top it all off he also surprised me with tickets to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway – my all time favorite musical. The brownie points he earned from this trip alone will provide an almost endless supply “free passes” for things that would usually burn my biscuits.

In April I ditched my 7 year career in Finance and starting working for Thomson Reuters. I now sell a tax & accounting research software and honestly couldn’t be happier! It’s a great company with even better people and I am no longer burdened with the responsibility of managing millions of dollars – thank you Lord!
Mom & I took a trip to Italy in May. We went for two weeks and spent time in Florence, Tuscany & Rome. During our time in Tuscany we stayed with my dear friend, Chef John, who taught us how to cook Italian foods like tiramisu, minestrone soup and homemade pasta! It was truly the trip of a lifetime and getting to experience it with my Mom made it all the more special!

After all that exotic travel I knew I was due to arrive at some less-than-desirable destinations at some point and that came in the form of mandatory training for my new job in Ann Arbor, MI. I ended up spending a total of 3 full weeks in Ann Arbor for training and between that, and being out of the country for 2 weeks, you can imagine my concern for my house, dogs and husband. When I finally came home for good I was thanking my lucky stars that my pups were alive, my house was still standing and I did not have to swing by the county jail to find my husband!

Throw in a trip to Destin for Labor Day, a trip to Helen with friends for Oktoberfest, another work trip to Arizona and going to St. Simons for a wedding, it’s hard to believe that we were both able to keep our jobs this year! It was certainly a fun year that was full of “firsts” for us. Brad turned the Big 3-0 and we celebrated our 3rd year of marriage together. As we close down 2011 and get ready for the New Year we are constantly thankful for our health, our family, our dear friends and our love.

We are immeasurably blessed.


A Paula Dean Christmas

If you have ever met Pancake (my 1st born dog) you would probably comment on her beautiful hair. She has long, flowing, Fabio-like, silky hair that makes her look like the worlds tiniest, and most beautiful, Cousin It.

Most people think that I spend hours a day brushing her auburn locks into perfection but the truth is I rarely touch it. First of all, Pancake HATES to have her hair brushed… I mean HAAATTTEEEES it. She barks and wiggles and bites and whines and makes it almost impossible to deal with her. In addition, her hair gets so tangled and matted it takes an act of congress, and the aid of Vidal Sassoon himself, to get it brushed out.

So, a couple times each year I attempt to wrangle the (8lb) beast and brush her dang coat out. It is complete hell for her and for me. She may be small but she is very forceful when she is angry and the brat plays dirty. So I have to hold her down with one hand and force  her into all kinds of weird positions to try and get all of the tangles. She is also a huge baby and every time I even slightly pull her hair she screeches like I broke her leg and then just falls apart and does this weird tornado-crocodile-spin move and gyrates in such a way that I can barely hold her down.
Anyway, it’s torture. So, this process happened last week and it took me 3 or 4 days of sitting for several hours at a time to get the job done. Once I was finished she was the most beautiful I have ever seen her. Her silly locks would blow in the wind as she walked across the floor and she totally knew how pretty she looked. She was working it!

As I went to grab my camera to capture her in all of her glory she went outside to show off to Brad who was cooking on the patio. Apparently she walked up just as he had unwrapped an entire stick of butter and godonlyknowswhathappenedthen, but, he dropped the butter in her hair. IN HER HAIR! And of course when a pound of butter dropped on her back she completely freaked out and ran inside screaming. Then Brad started running after her. And the more he chased her, the more freaked out she got and then they were running circles around my kitchen. The faster her little cubster legs ran the more the butter became entangled in her perfect hair. So I hear the commotion and join in the chase and now the dogs are all barking, Pancake is covered in butter, Brad is screaming “Broken Arrow” and all hell just breaks loose.

When we were finally able to corral the pup she was so flustered that she had melted most of the butter and looked like more like an oil spill seagull than a Pomeranian with perfect hair

Needless to say, for Christmas she is getting a day at the doggie day spa.


Contributing Factors

 Things that drive me crazy…

  1. High heels with sweat pants
  2. High heels with bathing suits
  3. Children
  4. Children in heels
  5. Smacking
  6. Talking to me while I’m on the phone
  7. Talking to me while I'm watching a movie
  8. Children talking to me
  9. A size 12 girl squeezing into a size 8 dress
  10. A size 10 boy wearing size 14 jeans (lookin like a FOOL with your pants on the ground!)
  11. Waiting in any line for any thing
  12. Small talk
  13. Automated phone messages
  14. Being hot and having a stranger’s bare arm brush mine
  15. People who speak slowly
  16. Back hair
  17. Walking to close to me (mother!)
  18. The surgery channel
  19. Waiters who don’t write you order down and then screw it up
  20. Jhorts
  21. Having to press 1 for English
  22. Directv


The Fabulous Fart

In 1991 I was 8 years old. It was in that year that I saw Phantom of the Opera for the first time at the Fabulous Fox Theater and, not to be dramatic, it changed my life. I fell in love with theater that night and have appreciated the arts ever since. Also, there is no place on earth I would rather see a production than the beautiful Arabian background of the Fox Theater.

I remember that night so well. I was wearing a dark blue ruffled dress that had pea-sized round crystals sewn on sporadically and it resembled the night sky painted on the ceiling of the Fox. I had on black patent leather Mary Jane’s and Mom had curled my hair. I looked so fly it was unbelievable. I went with a friend and her family and we sat on the very front row of the balcony which is arguably the best seat in the house.

I was mesmerized by the elaborate sets and costumes and hung on their every word. To this day it is one of my very favorite musical scores of all time. I also developed a tiny crush on the Phantom, but who doesn’t? Right?

Anyway, that year was the very first time that the famed Andrew Lloyd Webber musical had graced Atlanta with its presence and last week marked its very last. I was so sad to hear that Phantom had begun its farewell tour but I knew I had to see it one last time.

I have been excited for WEEKS! Jenn has become so tired of me telling her how excited I am that she has stopped talking to me altogether. I HATE when she screens her calls. Ugh!

Ok, so anyway, my Mom and Dad, Brad and I all had great tickets to go see the show and have all been looking forward to it for a while. In Brad’s case he has not so much been looking forward to it as much as dreading it. He’s not quite as enthused to see musicals as I am. Whatev. But he did agree to go and he was such a good sport about the whole thing. TEN POINTS BRAD.

As we sat down, eager for the show to start, my heart sank as the effing Jolly Green Giant sat down right in front of me. I HATE THAT! Why can’t there be a Tall Person Section for all the giants to sit together?? I’m only 5’6… Come On! So when the show started I had to lean waayyyy to the left to see around the Giant Lady’s Giant Hair and ended up practically putting my head on the shoulder of the dude next to me. He loved that by the way. Yes, it was awkward and inappropriate, but at least I could see-ish.

My dad was sitting on the isle seat and I could hear him grumbling about how the lady two rows in front of him was sitting up really high. I didn’t pay much attention until I saw him flag down one of the attendants and I leaned back over towards him and noticed that, yeah, that chick was sitting really high?! It looked like she may have been sitting on her legs or something, but it was a grown lady and that would just be strange. So he asked the attendant to get her to sit down normally and we went on watching the show.

Well, nothing was really ever said to the lady and my Dad really started to get ticked off and he bugged a few more attendants to say something to her. My Dad said that they all seemed like he was asking something ridiculous but he thought SHE was the ridiculous one blocking everyone’s view! Come to find out – my Dad definitely ended up being the ass. He had caused such a stir that they did go to her to resolve the problem which was a little different that sitting on her legs…. she was in a freakin’ WHEELCHAIR!

Yes, her chair sat up higher than the rest of the seats and, yes, it did block the view, but holy lord you can’t complain about it! She is in a wheelchair for crying out loud! So about 3 attendants came over to her and they had to physically pick her up and put her in the next row where she would be sitting in a regular chair and not blocking the view. It could not have been a more awkward ordeal. And I’m pretty sure that handicapped lady turned around and shot my Dad the bird a few times. Oh well, at least he could see the show, right? Ehh…

After all that hullabaloo had settled down I went back to snuggling with the stranger next to me and Brad continued to use all of his strength to not scratch his own eyes out enjoy the show. Then, just as I was really getting into the show, the Giant Lady with the Giant Hair in front of us let out the most disgusting, nasty, popcorn scented Giant Fart ever! My eyes started to water and Brad began to choke and the man beside me cried out “Why God?? Why??????”

Ugh. Needless to say, Brad did not develop a love of The Arts that night. Next time I'm bringing a booster seat and a gas mask.


One Hot Mess

My parents love to cook and they are pretty darn good at it, too. Before they had kids they actually owned a catering business together and my Mom even has a published cook book. Naturally, a love for cooking leads to a love for cooking supplies and kitchen gadgets; and boy do my parents LOVE kitchen gadgets. My Dad has a particular weakness for items that perform more than one task. Like, he would totally buy a toaster oven that can also mow your lawn. He has also been known to purchase As-Seen-On-TV items on more than one occasion (and by that I mean he has hundreds).

To make matters worse my parents, collectively, have no memory at all. So they will buy the same gadgets that they already own because they totally forgot that they already have one! This has always worked in my favor; I never have to buy anything for the kitchen. If I want a new pot or pan, I just go over to my parent’s house and chances are that they have 12 of the very same piece. No lie. And they will occasionally decide to clean out their kitchen and just give me whatever I want.

So, about a year ago they were having a kitchen-clean-out and I went over to pick up some new swag. I cleaned house! New knives, new pans and even a very nice Le Cruset pot I had been eyeing for a while. In addition to the big ticket items I also walked away with a new zester and a few more pyrex containers. As I was leaving my mom said she had a one more thing that she thought I would like: an As-Seen-On-TV Bloomin Onion Maker that had never been opened. Sweet Mother of Fried Goodness! I’ll take it!

I was so excited to get home and try this bad boy out- I mean who doesn’t love a Bloomin Onion?!?! I opened the package and took out the instructions and recipe book eager to get started. As I began reading it I was totally overwhelmed – it's easier to build a freakin spaceship than make one Bloomin Onion. Let me walk you through it:

Step One – Assemble Onion Cutting Contraption and place a large onion in center to cut. You have to bear down on this thing with your entire body weight and even then I could barely do it. I ended up getting Brad to do it and prayed that he didn’t loose a finger in the process. So now you have an onion that has been cut to look like a flower - thus the “Blooming” Onion.

Step Two – Make a dry mix. The recipe must be for people who plan to eat a lot of these things because it makes a Kroger bag full of dry mix. So then you have to roll the onion in the mix and peel back each individual “petal” to get the dry mix in all of the crevices. Next you shake the onion to get off the excess mixture which, in turn, covers your entire kitchen with flour. It also covers your Pomeranians in flour since they will be standing there waiting for food to drop.

Step Three – Make a beer batter. You then dump the flour covered onion in the beer batter and again have to manipulate the individual petals so that they each get covered with the tasty coating. The combination of dry mix and wet batter makes everything very goopy. You end up covered in this crap up to your elbows and then get it all over your face and body.

Step Four – Put the onion BACK into the dry mix. Re-cover each and every petal, blah, blah, blah… before frying.

Ok, so while this is going on I asked Brad to fill a pot with oil to fry the onion in. I didn’t pay much attention to what he was doing since I was covered in flour and beer batter trying to coat individual petals of an onion. As soon as I go over to the BOILING HOT oil I realize that Nimrod had filled the pot all the way to the rim with oil.

I look at him and asked if he had ever gotten into a bath tub before? If I put this onion in the oil it’s totally going to spill over into the OPEN FLAME below the pot. HELLO! So he had to carefully dump out about 1/4th of the BOILING HOT oil and return the pot to the stove without killing himself. Not an easy task, but somehow he did it. As I gently slipped the onion into the oil it quickly became apparent that Brad had not poured enough out – the oil started running over the sides! Into the flames!

Oil was quickly pouring over the side and we just knew the pot was about to burst into flames so we started to freak out. Brad decided to ball up paper towels and use them as potholders to grab the pot handles and try to pick it up before it exploded. Unfortunately in his panic he forgot that paper towels ARE FLAMABLE and will LIGHT ON FIRE pretty easily. And they did. And Brad freaked out even more and threw the burning towels down. Unfortunately I was standing right beside him and so he threw them at ME.

Burning Paper Towels…. En Fuego!... at ME!!!!

Then we had to stomp on the towels so they wouldn’t burn down the house. And the oil is still spilling over into the flames and all hell just breaks loose. I keep telling Brad to turn the burner off and he just keeps telling me “it’s too late”!!

So, what did my Knight in Shining Honor do? He grabbed all three flour-covered-dogs and a fire extinguisher and freakin ran out the front door. He then proceeded to stop, drop and roll while repeatedly screaming that it was “too late” and to “save myself”.

Oh dear lord.

I went over and just turned off the burner and we somehow escaped the trauma without burning down our house. Once Brad stopped screaming and came back inside we surveyed the damage. The kitchen was covered in flour, beer batter, burnt paper towels and hot oil. We just stood there for a minute in disbelief. Brad was still clutching on to the fire extinguisher for dear life and the only thing he could manage to say was “Oh shit! What about the onion?!”.
We scooped the onion out of the hot oil and laid it down on a square of burnt paper towel and sampled a “petal”...and it tasted like burnt crap.

I looked over at Brad and said that the next time we get a hanker’n for a Bloomin Onion I will be happy to drive to Outback and pick one up myself but unless we increase the coverage on our home owner's insurance I didnt think it was a good idea to ever try this again!


Bad, Bad Leroy Brown

As many of you know, I went to an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, private Christian High School: Providence Christian Academy. I have very mixed feelings about my time there that I will write about on another day, but one of the highlights was my participation in the various Cheerleading Squads. I LOVED to cheer! (hard to imagine, I know) And I was not only on both the Basketball (we did not have football) and Competition school squads, I was also on a couple of All-Star Squads that were not affiliated with my high school.
I actually met one of my best friends through cheerleading: Ashley Reccord. My sophomore year I was Captain of the JV Squad and she was my Co-Captain. Although life has pulled us in different directions I still love that girl to death and we have some VERY funny memories together. We even decided to take a tumbling class together to improve our cheer-abilities. At the time I was 16 and she was 15 so I drove us to tumbling class twice a week after school.

Not only was I old enough to drive, I actually had a car. It was a 1996, white, Honda Del-Sol (or Honda “of-the-Sun” for my Angelo readers) and his name was Leroy. I LOVED that car and it made me feel so cool to have a two-seater! And everyone knew when Leroy and I were coming down the road since I am the only non-Hispanic to ever own this particular make and model car.


One day I was totally playing hooky and stayed home from school – which happened a lot. It was on tumbling class day and I was still planning on going given that I was not sick in any way, shape or form. I wanted to somehow let Ashley know that I would still pick her up from school - and this was way before kids started taking their cell phones to class – but wasn’t sure how to do it. I didn’t want to call in to the front desk and tell them “Hey, can you let Ashley know that Rebekah Samford will still come get her for tumbling class even though she is home stick from school?”. You have to remember, I went to a tiny private school so they would put two and two together and realize that I was not really sick at all. They really shun that you know.

So, I figured out an amazing plan. I called the front desk and asked them to “Please let Ashley Reccord know that Leroy will still be picking her up from school.” Genius, right? I knew she would instantly know that “Leroy” meant my car and therefore that I was still picking her up. Fool Proof!

Only problem was that the ladies who worked in the school office thought it was very suspicious that a man named Leroy was picking up one of their young, female students. Go figure? So they called Ashley in and asked if she knew who Leroy was and, she, being the good friend that she is, denied everything. So then they called Ashley’s MOM and asked her if she knew anything about a man named Leroy coming to pick up her daughter this afternoon. And, like any mother would, Mrs. Reccord freaked out. So then Ashley was forced into telling everyone what had really happened and how Leroy was just my car, not a real man.

Of course the next person they called was MY mother. When they told her that I had caused a real problem by:

1. Playing Hooky
2. Concocting a scheme to pick up Ashley
3. Alarming the staff and Mrs. Reccord
4. General Tom-Foolery

my mom did the responsible thing and Burst. Out. Laughing! She thought is was hysterical that they damn near called the SWAT team to investigate "Leroy-the-Felon" when really it was just a couple of teen-aged, high-schoolers trying to get to tumbling class!!

That did not help my case.

So, after a week's worth of detention and several stern talking-to’s by various school authorities on how immature and reckless my behavior had been I was released back into the general school populace to wreak havoc once again. And I did just that.


International House of Problems

Have I ever told you that my Mom is hysterical? I mean she is so funny, but has no idea. Also, she has quite a dramatic flair. She loves to wear those really big pashmina’s and they end up looking like a giant cape on her tiny frame.

Back when I was about 8, which would have made my sister (Amanda) 5 and my brother (James) 4, Mom had all of us with her one Sunday. After church that day we went to a very fine eatery for Brunch: I-HOP. (Only the best for us!) As we walked in my Mom noticed a sign that said the special of the day was Egg’s Benedict, as it always was on Sundays, and that’s exactly why we were there. Now, one thing you have to know about my Mom is that she LOVES Egg’s Benedict, so naturally she knew what she was going to get.

We all sat down and we kids got the chocolate-chip pancakes that I-HOP is so famous for while my Mom ordered The Special Sunday Egg’s Benedict. According to my Mother we kids were being especially demonic that day and she had Had It Up To Here and the only thing that was going to get her through that meal and to our home without killing one of us was the bliss she was about to experience via her Benedict.

Unfortunately for my Mother the waitress informed her that they were out of Egg’s Benedict. After Mom’s head spun around about 5 times and she breathed fire on that poor girl she settled for a sub-par breakfast substitution: Scrambled Eggs; which, by the way, ended up being very lack-luster.

Side bar: Do you know what Egg’s Benedict is made of? Eggs – you KNOW they had eggs. Bacon – what I-HOP doesn’t have bacon? There would be a riot! English Muffin – the wildcard of the Benedict ingredients, but could have been substituted with a bagel, toast or biscuit if push came to shove. Hollandaise Sauce (Eggs –check, Butter – soooo check and Lemon Juice - they totally have lemons for sweat tea.) So, with this list of ingredients how could ANY breakfast establishment be OUT of Egg’s Benedict?? It’s virtually impossible. WTF International House of Panackes? END RANT.

After a mediocre brunch, and dealing with her HORRIBLE kids, my Mom was ready to get the hell out of I-HOP. She gathered us up and we all walked to the front check-out to pay. As she was standing there she noticed that same sign for the Sunday Special still proudly displaying false information so she mentioned to the check out lady that they might want to take it down. The manager was standing near by and said to my Mom that he was so sorry she was misinformed, but that they did, indeed, have the Egg’s Benedict that day.

Wrong Answer Manager Boy...

Mount St. Helen made less of a scene than my Mother.

She FREAKED out on that poor man. She told him just how incompetent our waitress was and how the ONLY reason that we ever came to this CRAP HOLE OF A RESTAURANT was for the Egg’s Benedict!!! After he stopped crying and crawled out from under the desk where he had curled up in the fetal position, he very timidly offered an apology. He said that he was so, very sorry and that he would be happy to give my Mom a free Egg’s Benedict on her next visit (and could she please let him know what day that would be so that he could vacate the state?).

My Mother stuck her nose way up in the air, grabbed the end of her pashmina and threw it across her body and over the other shoulder dramatically, and said in her best British Royalty Voice: “Don’t bother –we WON'T be back!!!!”

And then Amanda and I both mimicked her dramatic pashmina throw move and said “YEAH Mister, we WON'T be back!!” and followed her out the door like a little row of indignant ducks.

Apple, meet the tree you fell from.


Doggie Paddle

While attending Auburn University I didn’t exactly try to stretch myself scholastically. I was more interested in having fun than learning much of anything. So, as you can imagine, I did not pick the most challenging classes as my electives. Instead I gravitated towards the easy stuff like tennis, rowing and swimming.

I was very excited about taking swimming as a class because I used to swim when I was little. I was the Butterfly Champion for the 5-7 year old Albany Doublegate Swim Team -two years running. Thankyouverymuch! So how hard could this be? I singed up for Swimming 101 and felt confident that I would ACE this class. A few days before class started I got a call from the instructor and she asked if I knew how to swim?

Blink, blink.

I was 21 years old; of course I knew how to swim! She then told me that the 101 class was for students that did not know how to swim and that I would need to go to 201. Well, long story short 201 was full and so was 301 and so I ended up in a Graduate Level Swim Class (if there even is such a thing) and I think it was actually called Swimming 97001. No sweat for an old swim pro like me!

I was running a little late to the first class and hustled into the indoor pool to find everyone already in the water. When I looked around it was apparent that I had missed some sort of memo regarding the details of the class expectations; specifically the dress code. All the other kids had on their Fancy Professional Auburn Swim Team One Pieces, matching swim caps and goggles. I, on the other hand, had on a bikini, a pair of swim floaties and I think I even grabbed a shower cap to put over my hair.

I got the stink-eye from everyone and the instructor felt it necessary to let me know how inappropriately I was dressed, as if I hadn’t already figured that one out. So, to “warm up” we swam 30 laps. I thought I was going to die but everyone else seemed fine. I started noticing that everyone else was, like, really fast. And, like, really good. And then I took a closer look at their Fancy Professional Auburn Swim Team gear and realized that they all said “Auburn Jr. Olympic Swim Team.”

Oh. Dear. Lord. All I wanted to do was take an easy elective and somehow I ended up training with Michael Phelps.

The smart thing would have been to drop the class but, as we all know, I rarely do the “smart thing” in these situations. I had to defend my swimming honor! So there was no way that I was giving up.

Over the course of the semester we had to perform ridiculously difficult swimming tasks. Things that I had never heard of. Things that you only see in Rocky! One class all we did for the entire hour was tread water while holding a 5lb weight above our head. I know that may not sound that hard but it would take a lot less than 5lbs to drown you if you are totally exhausted from treading water for an hour! A lot of days we had to do relays of some sort; sometimes just for speed, sometimes utilizing different strokes and sometimes we had to swim through fire. Ok, maybe the last one was a stretch. But every time there was a team relay I was ALWAYS the last one to be picked.

I was totally the fat kid at swimming dodge ball.

Then one day we went over and practiced with the dive team. Now, I am not a fan of heights. The prospect of standing on a chair to change a light bulb kind of makes me woozy so you can only image how freaked out I was when we had to jump of the high dive. Head first. Do you know how high the high dive is????

Thirty Three Feet!

Thirty Three Feet straight up in the air!

That is really freakin high!! Especially when you are forced to leap off of it HEAD FIRST! All the rest of the class had no problem climbing right up and taking a perfect swan dive off. I was the very last one to go and I cried like a little girl. When I eventually got up there I just could not muster up the nerve to actually stand up on the board. I clutched on to the board for dear life and inched my way out to the end of the board. And then I just stayed there paralyzed with fear. There was no way that I was voluntarily launching my body off this bouncy board, so I started inching my way back. The instructor had enough of my antics and eventually just climbed up there and pushed me off the damn dive board with her foot. I screamed bloody murder all the way down to my death.

Ok, I didn’t die. But, I totally could have.

By the time the semester ended I felt like I had gone to war. I was bruised, tired and physically exhausted from the TOTAL HELL this class had put me through. The upside was that I was in amazing shape and could totally out-swim any of my friends. I got there on the very last day of class praying that the instructor would take it easy on us since we had been in full forced Olympic training for the last three months.

Not so much. Our “final” was that we had to swim a mile. A MILE. Do you know how many laps that is in an Olympic sized swimming pool? Seventy Two. And one lap is there and back, so that is really 144 lengths of the pool. I was obviously the very last one to finish. It took me the entire class time (plus a little extra) and I puked about 15 times during it, but so help me I finished! I could not believe it.

So, I was unofficially on the 2004 Auburn Jr. Olympic Swim Team and am damn proud of it.


Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams

For our very first (dating) anniversary Brad and I took a trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee. We thought it would be fun to see the Aquarium there and bum around the quaint little town. I didn’t realize how impressive the Aquarium would be, but it was really awesome.

Brad knows everything in the world there is to know about the ocean and all of the creatures that live in it. He watches the Discovery Channel non-stop and can tell you the Genus/Phylum/Order/Species of practically any fish in the sea. It’s pretty impressive. Me? Not so much. I’m doing good to identify a “Dora” fish or a “Nemo” fish and that’s about it.

So as we were walking through the different displays Brad was telling me all about the little creatures and their lives. We saw some pretty cool things. There was this one Seahorse that was bright yellow and looked like seaweed - very cool. I’m kind of skived out by things in the ocean, but this guy – he was really cute!

When we got towards the end there was an “interactive” area (which I now know is code for HELL ON EARTH Kid Zone) where you could touch some of the sea life. As we got closer we saw some small-ish fish-type things that were swimming around in a kiddy pool. They were about 2 feet long and grey and seemed unbothered by the pummeling they were receiving by hundreds of snotty hands. I looked at the sign that said “Beluga Sturgeon” and had the following exchange with Brad:

Me: Huh. Beluga? Like where you get caviar from?

Brad: Well, yes, you get caviar from Beluga Sturgeon.

Me: (the hamster in my head is running FULL SPEED on his wheel)

… ??....??….

(Light bulb goes off)

Me: So, those things are WHALES?!?!?!!?

(massive laughter erupts from the sea of children around us)

Punk Ass Kid: Lady, these are not whales! They aren’t big enough, these are fish.

Brad: Actually, they are Sturgeon. (laughing hysterically) We get Beluga Caviar from Beluga Sturgeon, not whales. Whales are much, much bigger, Rebekah. You just got schooled by a 9-year old. (high-fives Punk Ass Kid)

Me: Whatever. I hate fish.


A few things about my ‘09

1. Due to the fact that we experienced a WORLD WIDE RECESSION, and I am in finance; I spent the greater part of the year hiding under my desk in the fetal position wishing to die.

2. My Husband was subsequently laid off due to said WORLD WIDE RECESSION. It was a shock that you could be laid off at the tender age of 27. We felt that it was the universes way of giving us a nice, swift, kick to the balls. And it took 6 months for him to find new, gainful, employment. But he was some of the lucky few who actually did.

3. Also, in a related note: Because of said WORLD WIDE RECESSSION and temporary unemployment for the year of 2009 we went nowhere, saw no one and did nothing.

4. Except for our anniversary. My loving husband of one whole year, with all his marital knowledge, completely surprised me. We already had planned on going back to the Ritz, where we were married, to cash in on our “free anniversary dinner.” (That’s the thanks you get in exchange for spending a gazillion space bucks on your wedding.) Brad had suggested that we go early and hang by the pool for a while before dinner. As we walked into the hotel Brad suggested that we change into our swimsuits upstairs in the locker room?...... What locker room? But I went along with it, and as Brad swiped a 5th floor room key I begin to wonder where we were really going. He then took me to a beautiful Club Level Suite where we were greeted by a bellhop who congratulated us on our anniversary. The room was covered in roses, a bottle of champagne was chilling and there was a present on the bed. As I opened the gift I couldn’t believe how thoughtful he had been. He had the lyric’s to our first dance song framed beautifully with our wedding date at the top and “On this day I married by best friend. The one I laugh with, live for and dream of” inscribed below. He had packed a weekend bag for me, got a friend to watch the dogs and did it all without me knowing a thing! We spend the rest of the weekend walking along the lake, standing where we said our vows, lounging by the pool and enjoying the peacefulness of Lake Oconee. He got some MAJOR brownie points with me but all of his guy friends now hate him since they are being forced to do kind things for their wives. (boo freakin hoo)

5. I changed jobs. This included moving about 150 families with me via uprooting every invested dollar they posses and forcing them to sign an egregious amount of paperwork and endure untold phone calls from Ameriprise advisors begging them to stay. It’s been a lot of work, but by far the best business decision I have ever made. Holla at your girl if you need financial advice!

6. We got ANOTHER dog. I know, it’s ridiculous. She is another Red Sable Simba Pomeranian, just like our precious Pancake, and they could almost be twins…. that is, if Pancake weren’t such a chubster. Her name is Roxanna Eloise Nuss, but we call her Roxy, and the vet said that she has a “sexy little body”. Brad gave her to me as an “anniversary gift” but really it was just an excuse to have another dog! She is such a sweet little pumpkin and I just want to eat her up. Witness:

7. Speaking of dogs… we had an unfortunate “incident” between Roxy and Fisher in 2009. Ok, so, Roxy had not been fixed yet and she was in heat for the first time so we had to get her little diapers to wear. They were too cute. Well, Brad had taken the dogs out, and they ran upstairs before he had a chance to re-diaper Roxy. I heard Roxy and Fisher playing around, and then I heard Roxy starting to cry. I ran over to see what was going on, and I. ALMOST. DIED. Apparently Fisher got excited over her being in heat and had his way with her and THEY GOT STUCK! I am not even kidding. So they were stuck together, but facing opposite directions. I started screaming for Brad, Roxy was crying and the peanut gallery (Pancake) was barking at nothing. We had no idea what to do so we called the emergency vet (excuse me, I called the emergency vet and Brad took pictures with his phone. And NO, we will NOT send them to you, you sick weirdo!) and they said it was pretty common and that we needed to let the “swelling go down.” Eww. So I have Roxy’s head in my hands and I am telling her it will be alright and that I was so sorry and Brad is holding Fisher telling him he’s a no-good, dirty bastard, and to leave his little angel alone!! They eventually just came apart, but I was emotionally scarred and have still not fully recovered.

8. I was conned into doing Boot Camp for a month by my cousin, Tiffany. If you don’t know what Boot Camp is, it’s a workout group that meets at 6 AM each morning and pushes you to the brink of death. And it SUCKS! There is nothing worse than being forced to do 100’s of push ups with someone yelling in your ear to go faster at the CRACK OF DAWN. No fun. Not at all. Not even a little. But, I did do it for the entire month and I was very proud that I finished it. And we are going to leave it at that.

9. One big theme for 2009 was friendship. I made it my mission to make new friends and deepen my existing relationships. I started a monthly –ish dinner for a small group of girls that I knew from my neighborhood, college or work. They have been gracious enough to eat the food I make (trying to become a better chef!) and I have enjoyed the gatherings immensely. It has really been a joy to get to spend time with ladies I admire and love. And it’s also been a great excuse to drink. I have tried to theme our dinners and so far we have had a lot of fun with meals like Fancy Valentines Dinner, Fondue Dinner, Spaghetti Night, and a Southern Spread!

10. I also took it upon myself to be the self-appointed Social Chair of my Junior League small group. It has been so rewarding to be apart of such a wonderful organization and to become friends with some truly inspiring women. These new friendships have become such a welcome addition in my life. We have had some very fun gathering including a BBQ, cocktail parties (with man-friends), Christmas parties and other fun outings. A funny story about this group…

I was so excited to host our very first get together with the Jr. League girls at my house! I had the maid come, I got out all my fancy serving dishes, polished the silver and put on my pearls – it IS the Jr. League after all! I spent all this time and effort in cooking elaborate hors devours, and making sure everything was picture perfect. As I opened the door to welcome in the first arrival, the heavens open up and torrential downpour began like I have never seen before and our power WENT OUT! It didn’t come back on that night even though we had a house full of people. We made the best out of it and lit a MILLION candles, so many that I am sure my neighbors thought we were hosting a séance instead of a dinner party! I guess I should’ve left the house a mess and used Chinet! Lesson learned.

11. I think the best part of 2009 was that we survived. Between job loss, investment losses, changing jobs and the recession as a whole, we count our blessings that we made it though alive. We are very lucky to both have jobs, have food and shelter, and to have come through this whole mess almost unscathed. It has really confirmed what’s important to us: Our love, health, friendships and families. Oh, and our precious little pups, too.


Dental TLC

Going to the dentist is never fun. I happen to hate going to the dentist. First they take a metal toothpick and jab it into your gums and then they purposefully floss so aggressively that you bleed just so that they can then yell at you for poor dental hygiene. Not fun. AnytimeI hear someone bragging that their dentist isn’t “that bad” I am totally skeptical. So when Brad’s sister, Missy, started telling us that she had found the Holy Grail of Dental Offices I naturally sent Brad to be the Guiney Pig before making any plans to go myself.

Brad came home from his first visit RAVING about his experience. He said that there are flat screen TV’s in every exam room and they are not only on the wall but they are ALSO in the ceiling so that you can watch TV while you’re being worked on. Also, he said the dentist is a total hippie and that there are Morrison posters hanging all over the office and good music pumping through-out. They also have massaging chairs so that while you are watching TV, listening to cool music and getting worked on, you ALSO get a soothing massage. Pretty cool? But the best part is that they are a “gentle dentistry” office meaning that they voluntarily give you laughing gas to calm you down for every single visit. No wonder he was raving; he was totally high!

Of course I was ready to make the switch for my next visit. One thing you don’t know is that my husband is a TOTAL FREAK about teeth. He goes to the dentist like I go to the dermatologist: practically once a month. His one requirement for our prenup was that if I loose my teeth he gets to walk, no strings attached. And since I no longer had the argument that it was self-inflicted torture, he made me go see the new dentist that same week.

Being the good wife that I am, I went for my quarterly dental visit without an argument. Honestly, I was kinda curious about the new place. Everything that he said was true. As soon as I walked in I was greeted with Crazy Love playing in the background and a host of unexpected amenities. Like there are two computers set up in the lobby for waiting patrons to use. There are also hundreds of trashy magazines and a flat screen pre-set to a dirty soap opera. I had a very short wait and then was escorted back to my exam room. As I laid down on the massage chair the nurse asked me what show I would like to watch and would I like the laughing gas while I wait? Yes please!

I have never had laughing gas before but had a pretty good idea what the effect would be. I kinda wasn’t paying attention to how long I waited, what with all the back massaging and drugs pumping through my system, but when the dentist came he apologized for the long wait. They kept the gas on the entire time during my visit and when they were finished took the mask off and escorted me to check out.

Now, I was never one of the kids who experimented with drugs growing up so I *might* be a bit of a lightweight when it comes to this sort of thing. But, ya’ll, I was TRIPPING MY ASS OFF when I got out of that chair. It hit me all at once and I was hysterically laughing and could not stop. The nurse gave me a funny look and asked if this was my first time with the gas? When I burst out laughing at the question she winked at me and said that they probably left it on a little too long but that it should wear off pretty quickly.

I got into the car and headed to work and called Brad to tell him how great the dentist was. I had to drive down Roswell Road to get to my office and passed by a bar that used to be called American Pie that had recently changed names to Cocktail Cove. They had the new sign proudly displayed on the side of the bar.

Brad had just picked up the phone when I passed the sign. I was so totally high that I thought it was hysterical that a shrimp formed the “C” on the Cocktail Cove sign. I couldn’t breathe; this was the funniest thing that I had ever seen in my whole life. I kept saying “The-e-e shrimp….it’s, it’s a “C”!!!....ohmygod… but the “C” is, is a SHRIMP!...Isn’t that hi-hi-hi-larious?” I was laughing so hard that I was snorting and crying and could barely drive the car in a strait line.

Brad was silent for a few seconds and then said “Hilarious, Rebekah. Pull over. I’m coming to pick you up.” It was 10:30 in the morning and I was drunk off my ass. So, now I have to have a designated driver to escort me to my dental appointments, but I never miss a one!


Dork Fish

There are a lot of couples out there that have cutesy little names for each other. Some people call their spouse Cupcake, Love Muffin or Butternut Boo. Not in the Nuss house. Oh no, we are WAY to sarcastic and "funny" for that. Instead of something sweet, my husband calls me a Dorkfish.

How endearing.

You might think it's because he loves to fish and everything in his life relates to fishing in some way, but that's actually not it. He got this "sweet saying" from a comedian we love: Bill Engvall. Bill describes what a Dorkfish is here:

That is just too funny until I starting thinking about what this means my husband must think about me. I, like all wives, like to think that Brad sees me as an exotic Victoria's Secret model. In my mind, when he looks at me, he is seeing this:

Once he gave me the nickname Dorkfish I started to question how he saw me. Maybe, when he looked at me, instead of seeing a VS model he sees something a little less "exotic". I asked him about the nickname and he said that sometimes when I am telling a story I make a face that looks like what Bill describes in his stand-up act. I am very expressive and tend to make really silly faces when I talk. Apparently this is the face he was talking about:

People, I am a total Dorkfish. But the sweet part is, Brad loves me anyway. My nickname for him: Douchbag.


Just Kidding, you know I love you Sugar Britches!!


Melanoma or Melodramatic?

Ok. So, I recently almost died-ish for the second time. As you know I am totally afraid of getting skin cancer because of my family history of being German and the fact that I have see-through skin. Because of this I have my dermatologist on speed dial and go in to see her at least twice a year even though they only recommend me to come in every other year. I’m crazy thorough, I know.

So the other day I was talking to Jenn and she told me that she has a friend that had this spot on his arm that he was concerned about. He said that it looked like a mosquito bite that just wouldn’t go away and so he went to the dermatologist, thinking it was a wart, to have it removed. They ended up telling him that the spot was no bug bite, in fact, it was very serious – stage three melanoma and that he had a very grim outlook for recovery. He is our age and was facing chemotherapy and radiation: so scary.

Now, I have been to the dermatologist a million times and always make sure to have them tell me exactly what to look for. They always say to look for odd coloration, undefined edges or something that looks different from the rest of the moles and freckles that I already have. Not once have they told me to look for a flesh colored bug bite, so this was very concerning. The next morning I was shaving my legs and noticed a spot on my right leg that had been there for a while. It was flesh colored and small. Naturally, I had a very sane reaction…I called my dermatologist in hysterics.

Receptionist: Good Morning! Olansky Dermatology, how can I help?

Me: I need to come in as soon as possible…

Receptionist: Ok, is everything ok?

Me: (sobbing) No! Not at all…

Receptionist: What’s the matter?

Me: I'm technically not a dermatologist, but I am pretty sure that I have stage three melanoma and I need to come in today.

Receptionist: Well, we have some time we can squeeze you in this afternoon, how about…

Me: I don’t think I have that long, I’m on my way right now!

I ran to the car and the whole way there I am crying hysterically and I just know that this is the end for me. I am toast. I have already picked out the flowers for my funeral. I run into the office and I have mascara running down my face and am all red-eyed and look like a basket case. I know this is totally out of the norm for a dermatology office that usually has a lobby full of pizza-faced kids and Cougars awaiting Botox injections, so I think my presence probably freaked a few people out.

They quickly ushered me back to an exam room to keep me from scaring more patients see me right away. I told the whole story to the first nurse and then again to the physicians assistant and I had worked myself into such hysterics that they almost had to sedate me. When the dermatologist finally came in to see me I could barely relate the story through my sobbing. She patiently listened to me and once I was finished telling her why I was totally convinced that this was my last day on earth she said, very somberly, “Well, let’s take a look”.

So, I showed her the spot on my calf and she took a very thorough look. She ran her fingers over it and then pressed the sides and took out a magnification thing and really examined my leg. After about two minutes of studying the spot from all possible angles, she sat back in her chair and looked right at me. Bracing for the bad news, I grabbed a notepad and pen to right down my treatment options. She then told me that the spot on my leg… was… an ingrown hair.

WHAAAAAAAA???? Seriously? Are you sure?

She told me that, yes, it's an ingrown hair. That is was not cancer, nor would it ever be cancer and that it posed no threat to my health and never would. She said that I had probably just scratched at it and so it formed a little scar tissue and it would just be a permanent tiny spot on my leg but that there would be no reason to ever come into her office, and scare the shit out the rest of her patients, again.

Ok, so you’re saying I’m going to live??!?! Hallelujah!

I called Brad and told him the good news that I was going to live, and he was all “you were going to die? When did that happen?”

As I was checking out I told the lady at the billing counter about my miraculous day. As she was processing my paperwork I noticed that they had a drawing you can enter for a free microdermabrasion treatment so I started filling out the entry form when the lady said to me “Haven’t you tested your luck enough for one day?”

I guess she was probably right.


Closing Time

You know how women talk a lot? Well, I guess I am just a typical woman in that respect. When I get together with my girlfriends we talk and talk but never seem to run out of things to say. This is the case, especially, with my best friend Jenn. We have known each other for going on eight years and speak to each other pretty much every single day and yet we still can get together at any time and talk for hours. We have fallen in to a pattern over the last few years. We will decide to meet for dinner, after work, during the week to catch up. We usually end up at a Mexican restaurant because:

a. Her husband doesn’t like Mexican food so she never gets to go (ironically they got married in Mexico.)

b. My husband can’t eat spicy food so I never get to go

c. Our mutual love of cheese-dip is one of the main reasons that we are friends (even more ironic: there is no cheese-dip in Mexico. Apparently that's an American thing. Whatever.)

We will usually get to the restaurant around 6ish and start chatting and drink a cerveza or twenty. And then all of a sudden we will look up and it will be 10:30. How did that happen? At that point we will usually just keep talking and order another round even though we are the very last ones left and we know the place closes at 11. For the next thirty minutes the bus boys, waiters and bartenders start to circle our table and give us the get-the-hell-out-of-here look. We completely ignore this. And eventually the restaurant closes, they sweep and mop the floors, have the chairs turned upside down on all the tables but ours and they still have to ASK us to leave. You got it. We can talk so long that we routinely close down Atlanta area restaurants on week nights. Ridiculous. One time this even happened in a mall California Pizza Kitchen. The entire mall had closed down when they kicked us out!

So, I have decided to start a little list of the places we get kicked out of on week nights which I will keep on the right side of this blog. I’m going to call it “Closing Time.”

Partners in Crime

UPDATE: Yesterday I came home from work totally exhausted. I went right upstairs, changed into my PJ's and parked myself on the couch ready for a night of Tivo. I told Brad that I was just too tired to go to his softball game and just as he was about to leave my phone rang. It was Jennifer and Brad knew exactly what that meant... CHEESE DIP! He said that it was funny how I had enough energy to go out with Jenn but not enough to go to his game. He kissed me on the forehead and told me not to stay out too late. Ha Ha, Lord that man is funny. So I threw on some jeans and met Jenn at Monterrey's. I *swore* I was only going to stay an hour.




I will have you know that not only did we TOTALLY close the place down... I mean they had to physically escort us out of the restaurant... we also set a new record. For cheese dip consumption. We had three orders of cheese dip. THREE. That's tres, trois, TRIFECTA! It's also way too freggin much for two people to consume in one sitting. And, truth be told, I totally could have gone for a forth. Is that bad? Ok, don't answer that one.

Congratulations Monterrey's: you make the list!


Pygmies, Sambo and one Hell of a Hangover

**This was several years ago and I have not been allowed out of the house since.**

At this point it’s becoming painfully obvious that I should never be allowed to leave the house unsupervised, and here’s why…

The other night I went to watch the Auburn vs. South Carolina game at the Bucket Shop. I went with Brad, Jenn Foster (J-FO) Chad, his wife LeeAnne and this other girl, Jennifer. We all had a great time and loved to see South Carolina embarrass themselves on the Plains… War Eagle!

After the game ended, the boys went home and the girls decided to go to another bar, Peachtree Tavern, and watch the Velcro Pygmies (an 80’s band) play. So we all hopped into Jennifer’s car and drove there, leaving mine and J-FO’s cars at the Bucket Shop. So we watched the band and had an awesome time. And there was drinking. Lot’s of drinking compliments of a bartender who apparently had a moral objection to mixing anything with the alcohol she was serving. So my 7&7 was just 7. And a very strong 7 at that.

By the end of the show J-FO and I were ready to leave, but LeeAnne happens to worship the Pygmies (and by worship I mean she has driven to see them play at a distance of 5 hours from where she lives on more than one occasion) and she and the other Jennifer wanted to stay a little longer. So J-FO and I “cab it” back to the parking lot where our cars are. She dropped me off at my car and continued home. As I turned to get into my car I suddenly realize, oh shit, my purse that holds my car keys, money and phone is still in Jennifer’s car at the Peachtree Tavern. I can’t get into my car; I have no phone and no money. Oh, and by the way, it’s now 2:30 in the morning. And of course by the time I realize this J-FO is long gone.

I walked into the Bucket Shop hoping that someone was still there closing down the bar and sure enough there was. Praise the Lord! So I asked to use the phone and called my loving boyfriend ( the man who promised to always take care of me and be there for me) to ask him to come and get me, but the butt-head didn’t answer his phone. So, I called again. And again. And then I called our house phone, and then again, and then his cell… and on and on for about 10 minutes. I was starting to realize that Brad was not going to answer the phone and since I am a child of the 21st century I haven’t memorized anyone else’s phone number thanks to the miracle of modern technology! So, now I am really screwed: don’t’ know anyone else I can call to come get me, don’t have any money for a cab and have no way to get into my car and drive home.

Enter hysteria.

The manager could tell there was something wrong with me, what with all the crying and gnashing of teeth that was going on. So he tried to help me out and was looking for someway to get me home. At that point one of the waitress’, a petite blond girl, said that her boyfriend was sitting in the bar waiting for her to get off work and that it would be at least another hour before she was finished and would I like for him to take me home in the mean time? Ok, there should have been a red flag here, but I weighed my options: ride home with strange man or sleep in the parking lot. So I agreed, sight unseen, to the boyfriend driving me home.

As I said before, this was a tiny, white, college-aged girl named Tiffany so I was imaging that her boyfriend was a college-aged, frat-guy-type, with cut off khaki’s and a polo. Harmless, right? When her boyfriend came over to introduce himself, he turned out to be a little different than what I was expecting. He was actually a 35 year old black man named Sambo. I am not even kidding. Meet Sambo:

I know what you’re thinking…“Tell me that you did not get in the car with Sambo!” Oh, but I did. Since I had already accepted the offer, I felt like it would be really RUDE to say, “Well, Sambo, I am sure you’re a very nice thug young man, but I just can’t possibly get the in the car with you.” Plus I was still a little drunk and so I hopped into his 1986 Cadillac and we headed to Vinings. The entire way there I am thinking to myself that this has got to be the dumbest thing I have ever done and my mother is going to kill me when I tell her about this. Instead of trying to make meaningless chit-chat I just curled up in the fetal position and sucked my thumb the whole way there.

Somehow we made it to my neighborhood without me being attacked or killed and we didn’t even have to make any stops for drug deals. PLUS TEN POINTS FOR SAMBO! When we arrived at the gate to my neighborhood, of course, I didn’t have the gate opener. So I had to get out of Sambo’s car, in the pouring down rain, and crawl under my front gate on my hands and knees and then walk about a quarter mile to my house. I wish I was making this up. I can’t even imagine what my neighbors must have thought.

It’s now 3:30 in the morning and I am soaking wet, bawling my eyes out and banging on my front door to no avail. My buzz was officially gone and this was no longer funny. Finally, after about 30 minutes of constant banging, Brad came to the door, still half asleep, and more than a little confused at what he saw. I looked like a drowned rat, eyes red from crying for the last 3 hours, knee’s all scraped up from having to shimmy UNDER the gate to our neighborhood and all he says is “Babe, what the hell happened? Are you ok?”

“Uhhh, NO. No, I am not ok. I am far from ok and I would like to request that a babysitter accompany me on all future outings.” He said he couldn't agree more.


Let Them Eat Cake

** I was right in the middle of planning my wedding in 2007. It was a shock to learn that weddings seemed to be more about commerce than love**

I’ve come to find that planning a wedding is less about love and more about how to scam people out of money. Movies have crammed little girl’s heads with impossible dreams of unicorns and ice sculptures and now they just can’t live without a chocolate fountain on Their Big Day!

Also, I now understand the concept of a “non-refundable deposit”. It turns out that it’s so overwhelming and expensive to plan a wedding that anyone who truly knew what they were getting into would hop the next flight to Vegas. So what if most people frown on the impromptu nuptials? Who cares, at least you’ll be sane. And not broke. But the wedding industry has figured this out, and that’s why they created the “non-refundable deposit” to chain you to the wedding of your dreams weather you like it or not! Elvis is beginning to sound better and better. He’s an icon, right? What’s not to love?

I have tried to be a reasonable bride (if there is such a thing) and use the phrase “It’s My Day!” as sparingly as possible. I have also subscribed to the Martha Stewart School of Planning and have organized my entire wedding into color coded sections of a bridal notebook that has “Rebekah’s Wedding Organizer” embroidered on the front. Don’t Judge. I have immersed myself in learning the proper protocol and etiquette for every bridal occasion and decision. It’s my opinion that some of these traditions are really fun and some are dumb as shit. For example:

Fun: Being fawned over and showered with champagne while trying on designer gowns.

D.A.S.: Hot-gluing Life-Savers all over a t-shirt that says “Suck for a Buck” and expecting the bride to wear it in public for her bachelorette party. WTF?

Ok, so another wedding tradition that I am really not a fan of is the Wedding Cake. I know it’s important to a lot of women, just not this one. Number one, I don’t like cake. Number two, I especially don’t like super expensive cake. So I was planning on having a plain cake that wasn’t crazy expensive just to say I did it, but frankly, I didn’t care if we had one or not. I heard that Publix made a pretty mean wedding cake and luckily there was one right by the Ritz that we were getting married at. I knew it wouldn’t be expensive and so this was going to be a perfect solution and I mentally checked it off the list.

When we went to the Ritz for our first tasting we also met with our wedding planner and I casually mentioned that we would be bringing in our own cake. She said that would be “no problem at all” but that there would be a small fee charged to have the staff cut and serve any cake that was not made by the Ritz bakery. I figured that we would still come out on top since the Publix cake was such a steal. I gave the go ahead and didn’t think anything of it until the end of the meeting I thought to ask how much that “small fee” would be?

“Six Dollars” she replied. I’m thinking: “wow, $6 that’s it? Man, everyone thinks the Ritz is so overpriced but that’s just not true, look how reasonable this is...” “Per person” she continued. Um, WHAT?!?!! So, it’s an ADDITIONAL $6 per person on TOP of the cost of the cake just to have someone slice it?? I’m doing the math here and we are having 150 guests and at $6 per person you are telling me that it will be NINE HUNDRED FREAKIN U.S. DOLLARS JUST TO CUT THE CAKE?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?

No effing way.
After I reattached my head to my body from where it had blown off, I asked about the other options. She said that their Ritz-Carlton Bakery could prepare a beautiful, one of a kind, wedding cake that would be a culinary and visual masterpiece! They would fly in a world renowned German Chocolatier, the Queen of England’s Personal Pastry Chef and only use the eggs from virgin baby chick’s who have been specially bred for just this cake…. or at least that’s what you would assume she had said based on the fact that the Ritz-Carlton cake was $16 per person!!!! SIXTEEN! PER PERSON! For 150 guests that math works out to be a $2,400 cake!!! (It's not possible to use enough exclamation points to convey the ridiculousness!!!!)

Are. You. Kidding. Me.
Hell no. There is just no way that I am going to pay twenty-four-hundred-dollars for a wedding cake that I didn’t even want in the first place! Absolutely not. No. So, after I very calmly told the planner that I would sooner pay $2,400 for pile of dirty socks and that no cake on earth is worth that much money, I decided that we would just not have a cake at all. If I was going to spend money on a dessert I was at least going to have something that I would actually eat. We ended up serving a Molten Chocolate Lava Cake with Chocolate Mouse and a Raspberry Gelee instead of cake. And you know what? No one even missed it.