Friday, December 28, 2012

Going back.

It's the first time I've seen this building in over 2 months. My office building resembles a maximum security prison, cold and gray. The weather is cold and gray, too. Fitting...

The large parking lot is more than half empty since it's the day after Christmas. No one wants to be here, and neither do I. I've been on maternity leave for 12 weeks and 2 days. It feels very surreal making the long walk up to the revolving doors, and yet, at the same time it's all very familiar. Just like riding a bike as they say.

Going back to an old routine is very strange...especially when you don't want to do it. I know every crack in this walkway. I've been staring at this pavement for the past 6 years as I traipse in and out of the building.

I don't mean to overdramatize the act of going back to work. Okay, yes I do...I've thought about this day since before he was born. I thought about it 100 times a day, and each time it made me sick to my stomach. What am I doing? Is this the right decision? Because it sure doesn't FEEL like the right decision. Can't there be another way? Ah, but there isn' least not for now. I want to stay with him, but I also want to contribute to our family's success. More specifically, for our future success - savings, college funds, vacations, retirement, etc.

So, I keep walking towards the gloomy building.

Three months with my brand new precious baby felt like a lifetime. The longest 3 months of my life. The days were super long, and more often than not they were super hard. I remember the early days when he was just days old and very tiny and frail...I'd be crying my eyes out because he was crying his eyes out, and I didn't know how to help him. Caring for my little man seemed to get easier with each passing day. But then again, I think it wasn't getting easier...I was more used to it. I learned what to expect and learned how to manage our day.

I learned that the book said the babies would nap for an hour or 2, but he will only nap for 30 minutes. I learned that he enjoys watching me say "La La La" and "Ma Ma Ma" but he does NOT enjoy when I sneeze loudly. I learned that he'll watch anything on TV even if the screen is solid black. He uses his right arm for everything, and left arm is only good for thumb sucking. He doesn't enjoy the morning routine of sucking snot out of his nose. His dad can always get him to give us a giant toothless smile. I memorized his face while I held him and I see it every time I close my eyes.

The elevator smells funny - like biscuits and cigarettes and cologne. As the doors open to the 5th floor I feel like I'm walking into an alternate reality. I pull my gym bag and breast pump behind me as I walk down the hallway, past the giant rolls of bubble wrap and the walls lined with filing cabinets. Hardly a soul is in attendance, and I'm thankful for that. I don't much feel like interacting with anyone.

I sit down at my desk and stare at 2 blank screens. I stay this way for the entire day since I've forgotten all my passwords and no one is here to re-set them. I stare at my plant Kate and the 2 new garden gnomes that someone put here while I was away. One of the gnomes is missing a hand.

I walk around the office a couple of times to stretch my legs and I see a few familiar faces, but most of these folks are strangers. A lot has changed around here since I've been gone, and I'm a bit nervous about my new role and my new boss.

I realize that not many people recognize me, but I walk around with my head held high because I'm an old timer here. I know this place. A few work friends greet me with giant hugs. They ask about the baby. "He's doing really well," I say as I smile and nod my head. I'm mostly just trying to reassure myself. The truth is that I don't really know how he's doing. I made up a song when he was newborn, and it was this: "You're not the best baby in the world, but you're not the worst baby in the world either." I think those lyrics still apply. The baby is a baby. He's sweet most of the time, he poos, he cries, he fights sleep, he wakes up once a night, and I'm tired. There you have it.

But I don't say any of those things because no one really gives a shit.

I go down to the gym during my lunch break and punch the punching bag. Punch, punch, punch...over and over again. I can't seem to hit it hard enough. My biceps burn, but it's not enough. I pick up a set of 5 pound weights and get back to punching.

As the day goes on, I see a glimpse of my former working self...the self that sold more than anyone on my team last year and closed the 2 biggest conversion deals that the company saw in months. (There's only 2 other people on my team, so it's not that big of a deal).  I find myself talking about account strategies and using silly acronyms and dropping terms like "app" and "platform" and "sales funnel." Gross. Gag me.

But, apparently I'm good at it. I reckon I have all these people fooled. I'm walking around wearing black slacks and a white blouse with jewelry and heels. I must look like I have it all together - the working mom with the happy baby. But in reality I'm crying silently at my desk and crying while I pump.

Pumping at work is a humiliating feeling. I feel ashamed as I quietly lift my shirt and unhook my giant bra. These utters are disgustingly large. I think for a moment about lifting each one and resting them on the table, but I don't. The mini blinds are closed as tightly as possible (I checked them 3 times), but I still feel exposed. I sit in a small conference room next to our application developer's office. His last name is Lovely, but this is not lovely at all. The conference room is small and plain. Beige carpet and beige walls. No pictures are hanging and nothing is in the room except a round table with 4 chairs. And here I sit, hooked up to a machine like a dairy cow, watching as my milk goes drip, drip, drip. My baby should be here with me. I wonder what he's doing right now? The machine is really loud and I feel like everyone who passes can hear.

I drive home in the rain. The city added 2 new traffic lights to my commute. Great...It shouldn't take me 30 minutes to go 7 miles, but it does. I listen to pop radio for the first time in what feels like forever, and I realize that all the songs are crap. I turn the radio off.

The baby cries when he sees me. Not a good cry either. It was like an "I'm mad at you why did you leave me all day" kind of cry. Listen, bud, I'm not happy about this either. I smile at him and play with him, feed him and get him down for bed. I'm really exhausted. I'm hoping for 6 hours of sleep, but I don't get it. I cry myself to sleep. I guess I'll do it again tomorrow. Remember to bring Kleenex.

This is my new reality. It's not bad, so I can't complain. But it's certainly not what I ever envisioned.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Bah Humbug

I'll have you know, I wrote an entire post about how much I dislike Christmas (or rather, what Christmas has become nowadays). But, I deleted it. You're welcome. Instead I'll try to stay lighthearted and positive, and I promise not to bore you with my rants about the obsessive materialistic behaviors of today's Christmas lovers.

If I could celebrate Christmas like the Victorians did...simple celebrations with candles, fruit and small gifts...then I might enjoy this holiday a bit more. It's just way too out of control - you can't deny that. Heck, they start putting Christmas decorations out before Halloween now because they KNOW people will buy them. And they do! Grrrr...

I'm trying my best not to stress out about the truck loads of stuff that's about to enter my home.

But I digress...the babe is doing well. He's napping in his swing downstairs while I run around (literally, RUN) to try and get things done while he sleeps. His naps last about 20-40 minutes, so he keeps me on my toes. Other than not being a sleeper, he's doing just fine and growing like a weed. He's days away from being 3 months old, and let me tell's been a LONG 3 months. He's really grown on me, though. His smile melts my heart. Sometimes while he's sleeping I have the urge to go grab him up and snuggle him. (Don't worry, I'm not that dumb!) But I really do like him. I love when he falls asleep in my arms. I could watch him sleeping all day...if only he'd do it!

I officially return to the world of working the day after Christmas, which starts a whole new routine for us. I'll be a WORKING MOM, and quite frankly, I'm scared to death. I have no problem leaving the baby in the care of others. In fact, I welcome it! It's the schedule and logistics that I'm most scared of, but we'll do it....somehow. In the mornings I'll carry with me: carseat + baby, diaper bag, gym bag, breast pump bag, purse, lunch, coffee and most likely an on-the-go breakfast. And once a week I'll have a box of diapers for the day care, too! How many freakin' trips to the car does one woman need to make to start her day?!?!

Oh, enough about that...I don't want to think about that anymore.

Poor Sean came down with a dreadful cold yesterday, so he won't be participating in any of the extended family Christmas festivities. We'll stay at home Christmas day, open gifts and eat some good food. Sean's mom, brother, sister and soon-to-be sister in law will stop by for a visit and gift exchange.

I don't really know what else to say that isn't something Grinch-y. I really just want to crawl in bed, lock the doors, turn off the phone and hide for the next 2 days. Bah Humbug!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Grown up things.

Ever since our family got baby bombed, it's been a challenge to make time for grown up things. Sean and I know very well that this is par for the course, and we're very lucky to have so many family and friends nearby when we need a little help. Seems like everyone is in line waiting for their turn to babysit...which is a good problem to have!

Yes, the family dynamic has changed quite a bit, but we're still making time to do grown up things with each other. I believe you can't have a happy family without having a happy marriage first.  

We had a lovely anniversary date at the beginning of November - totally baby free for 6 hours! We ventured to East Nashville to try Eastland Cafe and enjoyed and excellent adult meal, complete with wine. Who knew they had such a great happy hour? Our meals were fantastic and we can't wait to go back.

She had: Seared Halibut served over a butternut squash puree with a black pepper molasses and roasted root vegetables tossed with chorizo sausage.

He had: Quail and Tabasco cheese grits, saute of oyster mushrooms, bacon and green onions

They had: THE BEST. DESSERT. EVER. A Homemade cinnamon sugar doughnut stuffed with apple pie filling, served over white chocolate frosting and topped with a salted caramel gelatto. Damn, it was so good. I wanted to order 4 of them...just for myself.

After dinner we went to TPAC to see Anthony Bourdain's show, which was a unique one-man act, but we enjoyed it very much. It was the perfect way to celebrate 6 years of marriage with my sweetie.

Less than a week after our anniversary, it was time for another special evening as Sean had a speaking engagement at the Franklin Theatre. I wanted to be there to show my support for him and his team of Next Gen members. The theatre hosted Next Gen's theme reveal for their upcoming Three Blind Vines event. Go here to see more about it.

And finally, last night was a big night for us...a fire pit night! It was our first fireside date since having the baby. We put the baby to bed and prayed that he'd go to sleep, which he did (after much crying). With the baby monitor in tow, we bundled up and parked our butts beside the fire in the back yard...with a glass of wine, of course. We were only our for an hour or so before we got too sleepy, but it was so very special. I love sneaking in time with my man whenever we're able.

Monday, November 12, 2012

I see.

I see now...I see how very DIFFICULT it is to raise a happy, healthy, functioning family. No wonder the world is as screwed up as it is. This is nuts! And as I'm sure most new mothers do, I have a newfound respect for everyone involved in raising a child. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, caretakers and teachers...

I used to cringe when I hear babies screaming in public. Now I breathe a sigh of relif and say to myself, "Thank God it's not mine..."

I mean, we MADE a baby...he LIVED inside my BODY...You think it would be the most amazing and gratifying thing to hold him and love him and care for him. NOPE. He's trying his damndest to get voted off the island.

Sometimes I like him. Just sometimes. The rest of the time I'm praying to God to help me get through the next hour without having a meltdown myself.

Any parent reading this surely knows what I mean. This tiny and precious 11 pound being has the ability to instantly turn into some kind of posessed thing that screams bloody murder in your face, scratches you, kicks you and clearly doesn't appreaciate that you're trying to keep him alive.

In addition to the calming lullaby CD playing in his room, there is another track going on in my head. It goes something like this: You'll get through this. This is only temporary. He doesn't know that he's evil. He's just a baby. You don't need sleep. Who needs sleep? Don't move or you'll wake him up. Just pee on yourself in this chair. The smell will go away eventually. Whatever you do don't wake him. Just love him and hold him and rock him. He needs you. There's a good boy in there somewhere. One day you'll forget this ever happened and you'll really love him. One day. One day you'll play with him and he'll laugh and say "I love you, Mommy." I hope. Right? Yes...he will. Okay, just 10 more minutes and then you can call for Sean to come save you.

I see now how kids can ruin a marriage. I see how parents can flip out on their kids, lose their patience, yell, scream and yes, even hit their kids. (For the record, I don't plan on doing any of these things.)

I'm a relatively normal person. I'm of sound mind and body, and yet, he is making me LOSE. MY. MIND. Sean's too. My Sean is the most patient and calm person I know and, yes, even he has been beaten down by the little baby.

We're living on hope for a peaceful tomorrow. There are easy days and there are really hard days, but every day is a good day because we're alive and well and together. (and crying)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The big reveal

He is sitting downstairs with his dad as I type. Crying, of course. About what? Who knows...Maybe he's upset because UT is losing to S. Carolina.

I CAN'T BELIEVE WE HAVE A BABY!!!! I stare at him and all I can think is, "Those feet were in my belly. Those little hands were in my belly. That button nose was in my belly." It's so strange to have him here with us after all this time. We are PARENTS. I carried him for 9 months wondering who he was and what he'd be like. Now I get to see him each day, and talk to him, and we look into each others eyes. It's so cool!

He came to us on Friday, September 28th and he'll be 1 month tomorrow. I'll be honest - it's been a long, long month. Very draining, but we're hanging in there. He sure is a cutie.

I published his birth story on the secret blog, and I decided that I also wanted to share it with y'all here. That's right! You get to venture over to the secret baby blog if you wish to do so. Just follow this link and it's all right there waiting for you. All 9 months of my thoughts. Knock yourselves out!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Disclaimer: I somehow managed to use the words Penis, Vagina and Tits in this post. If you are easily offended by these words, please close your browser immediately.
In other parts of the world, a very small object may be considered "tiny." Not so in The South. Down here the very tiniest of objects are known as "Tee-niny." Say it with me, now: Tee. Niny.

For example, I'm about to have a baby here in a couple of weeks. And rest assured, someone at some point will state the following: "Ohhh, lookie thar. Ain't he a sweetie? He sure is a tee-niny little thang." (For my vagina's sake, I'm really hoping he is as tee-niny as possible.)

The use of the word tee-niny has fallen out of my personal vocabulary, thanks, in part, to my being married to a neutral accented feller. However, this gem of a word is alive and well with my mother and sister. Thank goodness!

I've had an obsession with tee-niny objects my entire adulthood. Show me a miniature ANYTHING and I will squeal with delight. Guaranteed. The bigger deal, here, is that I'm not generally a squeal-y type person. Quite the opposite, in fact. Hardly anything gets me excited, but show me a miniature tea set and I'll damn near faint. In fact, I damn near fainted when I saw this most amazing hand-crafted miniature mouse tree house on the Internet today. Just look at the thousands of meticulous miniature details!!! I'm dying.

And it got me thinkin'...Why do I find such large amounts of joy in the smallest of objects? (And don't go making any jokes about Sean's penis. It's huge, by the way.) I think my love of all things tee-niny stems mostly from the world of Barbie. Sister and I must've had HUNDREDS of Barbies...and Barbie's clothes, shoes, a fleet of vehicles, houses and furniture...She and I were recently reminiscing about our passion for playing Barbies. It was a daily activity for us, and our Barbie story lines would last for weeks at a time.

While I loved my Barbies and everything, I was always very jealous of this girl in my neighborhood named Cate Morris. Because Cate had a dollhouse. A REAL Victorian dollhouse with tiny little shingles and tiny little furniture and tee-niny little doll plates to sit atop the doll dining room table. My mind would get lost as I stared into that dollhouse. It was full-on mesmerizing to me, but Cate didn't seem to appreciate her dollhouse at all! I would shake my head in disgust and think, "If only it were mine..." (I felt the same way about her American Girl Doll Samantha and her NES power pad, too).

The dollhouse made my Barbies look like Mrs. King Kong, the giant plastic woman who came to kill you with her thunder thighs and torpedo tits. And nobody wants that.

I never had a dollhouse of my own, but let me tell you about one tee-niny set of toys that I did have -- The Cottontail Rabbit Family from Calico Critters. My sister had the Milky Mouse Family. Or maybe it was the other way around. Regardless, we had the bunnies and we had the mice. Not only am I amazed that I was able to recall us having these things, I'm also amazed that they still sell them! I probably shouldn't tell you that I just spent the past 15 minutes gushing over the Calico Critters collection of homes on their website. If I'm not careful, I'll end up with my very own TLC show: My Miniature Obsession. Now, who wants to buy me the Meerkat Triplets for Christmas? Anyone??

Sunday, July 29, 2012

In time...

Oh dear me! I've let an entire month (plus some) pass without stopping by for a StacePlace post.

Truth be told, I have been blogging...somewhere else...somewhere secret. I started a secret baby blog shortly after I found out about this pregnancy. The news was a shock to my system (both mentally and physically), and I needed a private space to unload some of my emotions. I read somewhere that it takes 9 months to grow a baby, and it also takes 9 months to grow a mother. This is so true for me as it's taken this much time for me to run through all the emotions - fear, gratitude, nervousness, joy and of course, the planning. My life is changing course in the most major way possible...because of my life there will be a new one.

So if you were wondering where I've been, well...that's where. In another blogosphere.

The babe will be here in 2 months, which equals about 2 blog posts these days! ACK! Let the countdown begin. I can almost hear the clock ticking in my ear, and I know there's so much more to do/plan/prepare before he arrives. I just hope I remember to do it all! Regardless of what is or isn't ready, he will come...that's for sure.

Sometimes he wakes me up in the middle of the night with a kick, or flutters around in my belly in the wee hours of a Saturday morning. But I'm quick to give thanks that's he's just in my belly and doesn't need a feeding or a changing. Nope - not much for me to do except try to go back to sleep. Pregnancy is the easy part. I won't call it "fun," but it's definitely easy compared to what lies ahead. To all those women who gripe and complain and say things like "UGH just get this baby out of me already!" - what is wrong with you? Seriously. I'm currently responsible for wiping ONE ass, and I'm quite fine with that. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm patiently waiting for this little one to arrive, not trying to rush this at all. Each day that he's tucked away in the womb is one more day of his development, and one more day of serenity for me ;)

Speaking of...all is quiet in our home this evening. Sean is reading a magazine on the patio while I've been paying bills and neglecting to fold laundry. Things are winding down around here after a fun and busy weekend. We were granted a last-minute visit from my sister. Was SO glad she was here because I enjoyed her company, but also because she helped paint the baby's room. We went to the bluegrass festival with Dad and Susan, had a nice dinner with Mom, Sean helped Ed install a new vanity, and we tackled a few chores around our house, too. We enjoyed the farmer's market on Saturday along with some time a a friend's pool this afternoon. We made BLT's for lunch with our homegrown tomatoes, visited a new church, and stopped in for yogurt at Sweet Cece's (Heathbar froyo, yum!)

Sean has been dutifully tuned into the Olympics like he's going to win Patriot of the Year or something. I, on the other hand, do not find enjoyment in watching the sporting events. I was going to say that I don't enjoy competition in general...but I do! Because I love watching singing, designing and cooking competitions on TV. But sports? No, thank you.  My participation in the games is at most a comment regarding the non-existent bosom of the female athletes, or questions such as "Where's Serbia? Does Ireland have a team? Who's winning? How is this game even played? Why does anyone enjoy watching synchronized diving?" It's only day 2 and the theme song is already driving my nuts. I will say that I'm glad Michael Phelps is a total LOSER this year. Gah, go away already!

On that note, I'll take my own advice and go away as well. Not forever, just for now. I'm terribly sleepy and it's my bedtime. Thanks to the customer who requested an 8 a.m, my Monday morning is bound to be fun!

Monday, June 25, 2012

REWIND: Sister's Weekend 2012 - St. Louis

Last year we visited The Big Apple for our first annual Sisters Weekend. Sister and I scaled it back this year and opted for The Gateway to the West - Saint Louis, MO - where we shared a wonderful long weekend together in May. I love you, sissy!

Having spent a bit of time in STL, I knew the city offers a variety of FREE! attractions; more than enough to keep sisters on a budget entertained for a few days. And along with exploring the city, we also got spoiled by our host family The Jensens.

So what did we choose to do with ourselves? Well...

FREE! An afternoon stroll through Tower Grove Park. After settling into our room at the adorable Jensen Inn and Suites, sister and I walked to nearby Tower Grove Park and spent time stretching our legs and catching up on men, work and family politics.

FREE! Grooming advice from a caring sister: "I don't know if it's your pregnancy hormones or what, but your beard hair is OUT OF CONTROL. I knew no one else was going to tell you that."

FREE! Backyard cookout @ The Jensens. Everyone in the family pitched in a served a delicious dinner including burgers, chicken, fresh broccoli from the garden, slaw, baked potatoes and stawberries with vanilla custard for dessert.

$10.00 The St. Louis Arch - Journey to the Top. First thing on Friday morning, Sister and I headed to the city's most recognizable landmark - The Arch. At 630 feet in the air (via a very sloooowww mid-century modern rickety pod) we were able to see an areal view of the city. And after about 3 minutes of viewing, we were done. Back on the ground we entertained ourselves by taking pictures under the Arch.

$10.00 (about) - Lunch @ The Vine. After a failed attempt to locate a tapas style restaurant (thanks to the crappy Garmin getting us lost), we ventured back to the Tower Grove Park area. I remembered eating at The Vine before, and I knew it would be delicious. The flavors at this Medieterranean restaurant are like none I've had before. The rice is cinnamon-y and the fresh pita bread is warm and soft. The serving sizes are so generous that you can easily split a plate between 2 people. Did we do that? Of course not! The stretch of South Grand where The Vine is located -  between Arsenal and Humphrey - is host to a whole mess of restaurants, most of which are international. Yet, I keep returning to The Vine because it's just that good.

FREE! Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis - a breathtaking experience. Completed in 1914, this cathedral offers 5 billion square feet (or thereabouts) of gold mosaic tile. Okay, I just confirmed on Wikipedia that it's actually 83,000 sq ft, one of the largest mosaic collections in the world. It was GORGEOUS.

$5.42 - a large strawberry concrete (custard) from Ted Drewes, a local shop serving shakes to the people of STL since 1929. St. Louis is HOT in mid-May, and my pregnant ass needed a big cool treat.
FREE! (Well, free for me.) Dinner at SALT was definitely NOT free, but sister treated me to a birthday dinner. Salt is located in the area of STL known as Central West End (just sounds fancy, doesn't it?) We spotted this restaurant after leaving the cathedral and knew that it would be worth our while. Had we made a reservation early enough, we might have been able to enjoy dining on the whimsical outdoor patio, but this converted funeral home offers an artistic and modern indoor dining experience as well. We feasted on several small plates; gnocchi, pork belly and pickled vegetables, pork meatballs and mussels. Though, it was dessert that really had my eyes rolling into the back of my head - a whipped goat cheese custard (yes, goat cheese) served in a small mason jar, topped with strawberry fluff and served with chocolate sauce and wafer cookies.

After dinner, it was back to the Jensens' abode for some R&R. We watched Magic Beyond Words: The JK Rowling Story with the family.

$34.75 - a Saturday morning stroll through the historic Tower Grove Heights neighborhood followed by breakfast for 2 at Local Harvest. I love this place! Their vegan sausage is surprisingly delcious, and they serve a huge portion. (Before you get all crazy on me, don't worry - I'm not vegan. I had enough pork at dinner the night before and thought I ought to lay off for a while.)

FREE! Following breakfast, our busy Saturday tour of STL started with a trip to the Missouri Botanical Gardens. St. Louis City/County residents are generously offered free admission on Wednesday and Saturday mornings before noon. Knowing this, Sister and I turned off our Southern twang and offered our local zip code to the gate attendant...and in we went for $0.00! (Normally, admission is $8 for adults.) The garden is offering a Chinese lantern exhibit through the middle of August, and although we didn't see the lanterns glowing at night, I could tell that the displays would be magical. We were especially impressed with the Climatron domed conservatory, which held a maze full of unusual plants, waterfalls and lizards.

$28.32 lunch @ Wildflower. After a long and hot trek through the botanical gardens, these sisters had worked up an appetite. Our bellies took us back to the Central West End area in search of good grub. The intersection of Leclade and S. Euclid is another little pocket of eateries, and we settled on the outdoor patio at Wildflower. The place was hopping with guests, the food was acceptable, but the service left a lot to be desired.

FREE! We made the quick hop from Central West End to the entrance of Forest Park and headed towards the St. Louis Art Museum. The collections and exhibitions were a bit lackluster in my opinion. The place was half empty, and I felt any eerie sense of abandonment as we headed to the top floor (most of which was blocked off). Regardless, we found some noteworthy pieces to ponder, but our journey to the art museum didn't last very long. I reckon I shouldn't complain about a free activity.

$32.55 Admission for 3 to the City Museum. The rate drops from $15.00 to $10.00 per person after 5 p.m. Sister and I borrowed the youngest Jensen child to acompany her through the museum. Due to my current condition (pregnancy) I was unable to participate , but I was still very excited to see the museum again. This is THE PLACE to visit if you only have 4 hours in St. Louis. It's an old shoe factory that a group of artists restored and decked out with the most imaginative creations, a la Tim Burton. There's an outdoor jungle gym that climbs several stories into the sky, twisting and turning, taking you through gutted airplanes. The indoor space offers a 7 (?) story slide, man-made caves and tunnels to explore, an acquarium...and that's just the beginning! For added admission there's an extra special exhibit on the rooftop, which I've never seen. Adults and children can both get lost for hours exploring this place.

$33.44  Dinner for 2 at Anthonino's on "The Hill." The Hill is the Little Itlay of St. Louis, and this joint came highly recommended to us by a local. THIS JUST IN: Food Network star Guy Fieri visited Anthonino's for his show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives less than one month after we were there. His show is stuipd, but the restaurant was perfect-o! (That's an Italian word, right?) The restaurant itself is rather small and dark, which I enjoy if done right - and it was. The dining room was cozy and offered a good atmosphere. The guests were cheerful and clearly enjoying their meals. The service was SPOT ON, and I couldn't have been more pleased...until I got my food, and then I was all, "WOOOOWWW!!! YUUUMMMMM! MMMMMM CHEEEEESSSSSEEE." Our pizza was delicious. I sure do love pizza, especially Anthonino's. Definitely ranked among my Top 5 favs.
$18.16 Last stop on our tour of St. Louis was Sunday breakfast at City Diner. We once again walked through Tower Grove Park and enjoyed our last moments together. City Diner is just that - a diner with greasy breakfast food and lots and lots of 1950's memorabilia. A little too cheesey for me...but it got the job done. After breakfast we were back on the road - Sister to Lexington, and me back to Nashville.

**You may have noticed that we skipped a few St. Louis highlights...and that was on purpose. What we DIDN'T do?? The FREE! Budweiser brewery tour. Why? Because I've been before and it wasn't all that great. We also didn't go to a Cardinals game. Why? Because last time I went to a game I thought the Cards were playing a baseball team from South Dakota. And guess what - there is no baseball team from South Dakota. Little did I know, the "SD" on the scoreboard stood for San Diego. It is a complete waste of money for me to attend ANY sporting event. And finally, we skipped eating at the world famous Pappy's Smokehouse. Why? Because I've been several times, and because Sister is a martian and doesn't care for BBQ.

$82.41 - gas for the 10 hour round trip drive from Franklin, TN to St. Louis, MO
$16.33 - food for the road - a combination of Wendy's, Chik-fil-A and gas station snacks/drinks
Grand Total: $271.38 (a fraction of what I spent on last year's trip to NYC!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Company You Keep

I've heard it said that the older you get, you'll realize "true" friends are few and far between. You know, it's those people you may as well consider family because you're completely YOU when you're around them. They've seen the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between. I consider myself very lucky to have a healthy number of true friends. I don't kno why they keep coming back for more, but they do!

One of those true friends is Jordan, whom I've known since we were 12 years old and in the 7th grade. I haven't seen Jordan since her wedding 2 years ago, and I was SOOO excited when she told me that she was bringing her family in for a visit. She stopped by for one night with husband and baby in tow, and it was wonderful to visit with them. We had just enough time to eat dinner and gab with our husbands for a while before bed. It was too short, but I'm so glad they came through town!

Jordan and I have matured into full-blown women and mothers now, but when I'm with her I feel like I'm 12 again. Not that I'm squealing about cute boys or making a fool of myself at the mall. No, we're perfectly normal 30 year olds now. We spent a healthy amount of time talking about pregnacy, baby routines, baby poop, baby products, baby get the picture. I just mean that being with Jordan makes me feel like I'm the same middle schooler, like nothing has changed, like no time has passed at all. We slide back into being easy friends like the girls were so many years ago. I'm not even sure I can accuratly describe the feeling of comfort that brings to me.

Thank you to Jordan and to all my precious friends for filling my life with joy!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fashion in Franklin

Friday night we were invited as VIP guests to attend the 14th Annual Eloise Fashion Show. What a treat! We've been for the past couple of years, but this was the first year Eloise was held locally at The Factory. Fitting, since Eloise showcases student collections from Franklin's O'More College of Design.

I can't say for sure what makes this event so exciting...the runway? the talent and creativity? the surprise element as each piece is revealed? free hors d'oeuvres and wine? mingling with Franklin's finest townies? I reckon it's all of the above. We absolutely LOVE this show and look forward to it each and every year.

We looked on with excitement as the models made their way down the runway. I pretended that Sean was America's favorite fashion consultant Tim Gunn and I was the gorgeous Heidi Klum, and we critiqued the pieces like we were judges on Project Runway. Our front row seats gave us excellent views into the detail, construction and quality of each piece (along with several ass cheeks). So impressive! While most of the collections didn't suit my personal taste, I still appreciated the aesthetics.

(photos borrowed from Beladonis Fashion)

These first 2 pictures are from a collection called "Mrs. Robinson." I feel terrible that I don't have the name of the designer because she was our favorite.

This collection was also very well made and unique. Applause to the furry jacket in the background!

And this piece I loved because of the asymmetrical cut and the metal mesh collar. Very medieval chic.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Franklin's Main Street Festival 2012

According to moi - an expert in all things fantastic - this year's Main Street Festival was the biggest and best yet. An estimated 150,000 people come out to browse the arts & crafts and sample the street food (more on the food later, 'cause you know that's what  we're all about!)
Just to give you an idea of the volume...Overnight, the town more than DOUBLES in size. Instead of the population being spread across its 30 sq miles, everyone congregates on Main Street which is about 300 yards at best. It's shoulder to shoulder crafty chaos for 2 days.

Franklin's preservation society, The Heritage Foundation, has done an amazing job of promoting our city over the past 30 years. People from far and wide travel to get a taste of our little Main Street. It truly is the place to see and be seen.

Um, hello Hollywood! Ryan and Juliann blend in with the crowd while they do some shopping. (photo courtesy of Sean's friend W. Dunavant.) Apparently Eli Manning and fam were also in attendance, but no one cared enough to take his picture.

I think Sean summed it up perfectly when he said, "I wish Main Street smelled like kettle corn all the time." And why shouldn't it? There's your next project, Heritage Foundation! Sadly, we didn't eat any kettle corn this year. I'd like to blame Puckett's DEEP FRIED OREOS. Wow, what an experience. I didn't realize the heat from the fry oil would melt the cookie into a soft, brownie-like dark chocolate center.

JJ's food truck was by far the best street food of the weekend. Listen, I love oysters, and I've been dreaming about these oysters on a stick since we left the festival. JJ took 3 giant oysters, put them on a stick, wrapped them in BACON, then battered and deep fried the suckers. The oysters were served with a fresh and spicy cocktail sauce and topped with chopped scallions. And you guessed it - I don't have any pictures because my hands were busy shoveling fried food into my face.

Real Simple Meatloaf

Nothing says "meatloaf" like Mama's homemade...except for maybe THIS. I stumbled across this recipe a few years back, and it's one of my favorites - Real Simple's Turkey and Roasted Red Pepper Meatloaf.

Before you go all "Ewww, Turkey Meatloaf!" on me, hear me out: More than breadcrumbs, one of the main fillers in this loaf is parmesan cheese. I heart cheese, and I'm also a big fan of roasted red peppers.

When our friends Chris and Kassia moved into their new home, I really wanted to bring them a dinner (because moving SUCKS and it messes up your schedule.) This was the first recipe that came to mind. It's comfort food with a twist, and it also freezes really well. I made a loaf for the new home owners, and doubled the batch so I could freeze a loaf for Sean and me. Score! You should totally give it a try.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Busy Bees.

Surely you've been wondering what we're up to since I last posted. I'm sorry to say, I don't have any thrilling stories about traveling across the world, or even the country. We DID, however, leave the state. So where have we been? Let me see...

Earlier this month we hosted a small family gathering for Sean's long lost step sisters who traveled down from New Jersey. Quite fun to sit around the fire and catch up with pseudo-siblings.

Speaking of our outdoor space, Sean spotted a good deal on Ikea patio furniture. We thought it would fit nicely under our pergola (and it does!). We took a last minute trip down to Atlanta to visit the Scandinavian superstore, and my goodness...what a day! Five hours, five pallet carts, and lots of money later we finally made it out the doors. We were beat! We got everything we needed and more. And now Sean gets to enjoy building it piece by piece ;)

While in ATL, we shared an amazing meal at the restaurant Canoe in Vinings. The property is gorgeous and sits right on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. Canoe is best known for its game and seafood. Sean tried rabbit for the first time while I had quail - and both were delicious! Perhaps my favorite part of the evening (besides spotting Dr. Sanjay Gupta) was valet-ing our giant white cargo van (a.k.a the rape mobile) at the swanky restaurant. We attracted a large number of stares from the Land Rover and BMW owners. Super. Awkward.

If only we knew how to prepare rabbit at home...We see plenty of the big-eared fellers hopping around in our back yard. I'm certain they are responsible for nibbling my hostas down to nubbins. !@#$ We're also being taunted by a mischievous raccoon, who ate his way into our crawl space and is supposedly camping out under our home. We've tried catching him with 2 different traps and every kind of goody from apples to carrots to cat food.  Darn thing left muddy coon prints on our brand new Ikea furniture!

In other news, I started a 4 week digital photography class at O'More, and I'm really excited to share better pictures with y'all here on the blog. At least that's the plan...Come September I should be ready to take gorgeous photos of our cherub-faced babe. Doc says the heartbeat is strong, everything looks great, and we'll know in less than 1 week if it's a boy or girl. What's your guess?

Looking ahead, we're going to be busy, busy bees. This week is already chock full of activities (Heritage Foundation meetings, trivia, yoga, HOA, photo class), and this weekend brings the annual Main Street Festival. Who's excited about an extra 100,000 visitors in town? Not. Me. But it's really something special, and we always enjoy it. And in case Sean and I don't get our fill of food truck grub during Main Street fest, Franklin is hosting its first Food Truck Fair the following weekend. So many eateries to try!

My sister and I are gearing up for our 2nd annual Sisters Weekend mid-May. This year will carry us to the gateway to the west, St. Louis. And later that month [GASP] is my birthday. [GASP, GASP] Until then, I plan on enjoying these last few weeks in my 20's to the fullest.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Frumpy Dumpy

I'm captivated by the world of fashion bloggers. I love them and hate them at the same time, but mostly I'm left wondering...Who are these women, and where do they find so much time to do all this shopping and styling? Are they really trying to pass as regular every day people? Because I don't buy it. No one in real life looks that cool, or put together, or has so much time. And when do they find time to do their amateur modeling routines in the middle of their street/ally/random brick wall? Before work? After work? During lunch? Do they even work at all!?!? Where did they gain so much confidence? Where are they "thrifting"? Because I'm certain there ain't no vintage couture dresses lying around Nashville. And WHO is indulging them by taking these photos? And how do they make the world's UGLIEST most mis-matched outfits look kinda cool?

I mean, really...

And here I am getting worked up into a tizzy.

Of all the fashion bloggers I stalk/hate/love/loathe, Kendi from Kendi Everyday is my most favorite. I appreciate her style, her sense of humor and her triumphant story of rising from her unfashionable roots to becoming the owner of a clothing boutique. She is truly an ever day kinda gal. Kendi brings me hope...that I may one day be stylish. And most importantly, her outfits are not whacked out like these. Like, I can actually walk around town or go to work in a Kendi-inspired outfit. In fact,  I've attempted to copy a Kendi look on several occasions, and last Wednesday was one of them.

Here's my frumpy dumpy version of Kendi, y'all. It's proof that I can frump the hell out of the most simple looks.

The real deal:

My frumptastic version: