Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Decorating. With Shoes On.

TB likes to say that I grew up without shoes.  While that is definitely a bit of an exaggeration, I did grow up in a small town.  And I'm talking small.  A few hundred people.  A two-way stop as there was no need for a four way stop.  One police man.  A post office.  A town maintenance man named after a cut of beef.  And that's about it.  I grew up not knowing how the flag on a mail box worked - since there was no mail delivery.  I had no idea until I left for college, that you could get pizza delivered to your home, since the the delivery drivers wouldn't come out as far as we lived.  While I've since moved on to bigger towns and cities, there are still some things that I can't quite get a handle on.  As I recently found out, by the stark difference in picking out a Christmas tree in small town USA versus Atlanta.

There was no black Friday shopping at the mall growing up.  We reserved that day for something a little more special.  Every year on the day after Thanksgiving we would all head out to the Christmas tree farm to pick out that year's tree.  Aside from the turkey, it was the most exciting thing about the Thanksgiving weekend.  On the main highway (if you could call it a highway) going through town, there was a small sign indicating where to turn for the farm.  Way back in a corner of a cow pasture, behind a small farmhouse you could see a patch of Christmas trees.  No need for us to pull up to the farmhouse - we were regulars.  There was a gate of sorts to get into the pasture - so one of us would always jump out of the truck, unlatch the gate and we'd drive through the pasture (avoiding the cows of course) and head straight to the patch of trees.  All three of us would jump out and try to find the best tree - it was always a competition of sorts to see who could find the tree that made it home with us.  At some point during the process, a rickety old truck would come driving through the pasture and the tree farmer would get out with his handsaw.  The tree farmer was the grandfather of my brother's classmate, so we definitely had a tie to him - but it didn't matter, he always remembered us.  He helped us cut the tree down and my dad would ask, "How much?".  In 18 years, the price never changed.  $20.  My parents tell me the price still hasn't changed to this day.

Flash forward 10+ years to Big John's Christmas trees located down the road from the TB house.  Similar to the farm from my childhood, Big John's is located just off the main highway.  Except this is a real highway.  And no cow pasture.  Big John's is set up in the Kroger parking lot with a full out cash register  and pre-chopped trees.  Shipped all the way to us in the big city from small town South Carolina. The selection and ambiance weren't quite the same as I was used to, but we did select a mighty fine looking tree - no saw needed here.  While this "tree farmer" hasn't known us for 20 years, he seemed nice enough and said he'd help us tie it to the car (no truck owners in this family).  I was curiously watching how this would happen, since I wasn't exactly sure how this worked.  How does one tie a tree to a car without messing up the tree?  To my horror, the tree man ran the tree through a netting machine of sorts which bundled the tree up into a tight little package.  TB assured me that our carefully picked tree would snap back into place as soon as we got it home and cut the wrapping off.  I reluctantly agreed not to make a scene since no one else seemed to have a problem with the tree wrapping method.  We were then directed to the cash register and asked if we had a coupon.  A coupon?  For a tree?  Seemed like a weird question to me - why would we need a coupon for a $20 tree?  Well.  Perhaps when your tree isn't $20.  I'm ashamed to admit how much we paid for the tree at Big John's - we'll just leave it at NOT $20.

During this whole process, I kept comparing my childhood Christmas tree buying experience with this year's and TB didn't quite understand my being perplexed by the whole process.  All he could say is, "Well.  You did grow up without shoes."  Hmmm.  Interesting point.  I guess this is how people with shoes buy trees.  I suppose I'd better get used to it.  I like my shoes.

The "wrapped" up tree

The "unwrapped tree"

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Coincidence of All Coincidences. In a Bad Way.

A very bad way. 

We recently scheduled a dinner date with another couple who also likes to eat good food.  It was our turn to pick the restaurant and there was one that I had been really wanting to check out.  So I went ahead and made the reservation at the restaurant.  The restaurant that will not be named. 

Our evening started out just fine, we were seated right away, drinks were ordered, appetizers ordered - and then it all went downhill.  Downhill in a way where we crashed and burned at the bottom on the hill.  And then exploded.

As we were enjoying our tasty looking appetizer of the "cheese plate", TB decided to tell the story of a recent episode of Andrew Zimmern "Bizarre Foods".  The episode was about Andrew visiting a city in Italy that makes this special cheese in which maggots live in the cheese.  For real.  Maggots in cheese.  You open up the wheel of cheese and just eat around the maggots.......   You really must click on the "Maggot Cheese" link below and watch the video before you continue reading this.  Really.  You should watch this.  Go ahead.  Click.

Maggot Cheese

Done?  Story continued below....

As TB was just beginning to recap the video above, we saw a horrified look on our dinner mate's face.  He had just sliced into a piece of cheese, was about to place it on a cracker and noticed something moving.  Something small.  And white.  Maggot.  IN THE CHEESE.  No kidding.  Imagine seeing that video above happen right before your eyes.

A live maggot.  Wiggling in the cheese at the restaurant not to be named.

Long story short - our meal was free.  The restaurant was horrified.  Probably not as horrified as we were - but still horrified.  We lost our appetites.  And got out as quickly as possible.  And will not be back to that place.  Ever.

Worst dining experience ever. Bring on the hair in the soup, the bug in the salad and the finger in the beans. I can top it. Maggot. In. The. Cheese.

Maggots in the cheese.  While telling a story about maggots in cheese.  How weird is that?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I've Always Wanted My Man to Smell Like........ The Pope?

Once a month or so we get a publication in the mail called The Georgia Bulletin.  It's a little newspaper about the goings on of the Catholic church in Atlanta.  Mixed throughout the articles there are usually advertisements about Catholic schools, religious movies, church bookstores - you know, the usual - very targeted advertisements.

We usually thumb through it, perhaps read an article or two and then toss it. The same thing happened this month; however one of those very targeted advertisements caught my eye.  See below:

An aftershave that smells like the Pope?  I'm not sure about you, but when I think of aftershave, I think of a rustic manly smell.  I think TB's current Old Spice says something like, "smells like wilderness, open air and freedom".  Corny?  Yes.  But I suppose it makes sense.  And it probably works well from an advertising sense.  But the Pope?  Nada.  I just can't make any sense of that.  This puzzled me so much that I thought maybe if I visited the website I could understand it a bit more.  I did find a further description of the product - but did I make more sense of it?  Nope.

Benedictus - The marriage of linden blossom from Benedict's native Germany with frankincense from the Holy Land and bergamot from Italy creates a subtle and dignified fragrance, befitting a man of finely cultivated tastes. Barely perceptible is a nuance of citrus, and as it evolves, a discrete hint of musk. The overall impression is one of understated elegance.  A slightly astringent and balsamic quality makes it a soothing and refreshing aftershave.


"Befitting a man of finely cultivated tastes?"  With that description, my mind immediately goes to the Pope.  Right?  Doesn't yours?  But hey - at $27 and free shipping to the US, what a steal!

Upon further investigation of the website, I did discover that if Benedictus isn't exactly your speed, there are other options.   Made from the "private formula of Pope Pius IX" no less.  Christmas is coming up after all. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Airport Dating. The Non-Creepy Kind.

I've come to the conclusion in the past few weeks that we don't lead a normal life.  We keep an odd schedule.  To say the least.
Between both of us having traveling jobs, weddings, bachelor parties, bachelorette parties and football games - we have hardly had any time at home.  Much less for a date.  So what did we do?  We improvised!

It all started 2 weeks ago.  I was flying home from a work trip on a Thursday evening - TB was connecting through the Atlanta airport - from work, but continuing on to a bachelor party.  He had a bit of time between his flights and it happened to coincide with my flight landing.  Perfect!  So we had a nice date at the Wendy's on the main concourse at ATL.  We caught up, shared some fries and it worked out wonderfully.

The next Thursday, I was flying home from a work trip and TB was once again connecting in ATL but continuing on to another trip.  We did a bit more planning and had a nice sit down dinner in concourse B.  Glass of wine and all.  But we did split the check, since we were both expensing our dinners..... perhaps that wasn't romantic.  But it sure was economical.

The following Monday morning, we both had flights out of ATL at the same time.  TB headed to NY, and I was headed to Orlando - but we had time to share some Starbucks and biscuits.

At this point, I'll take what I can get.  I've even done some research on airport restaurants and I hear there's a good one on concourse E called One Flew South.  Yes, it's true.  An airport restaurant that doesn't have fried food as half of the options.

As I was trying to find some pictures for this post (because it never occurred to me to snap a photo of our airport dates), I found a whole bunch of photos of that movie - Up in the Air.   None of them really struck my fancy, so I kept looking.  Until I hit the jackpot.  It appears that TB and I are not the only ones who like to meet up at the airport.   This find was so interesting that it trumped photos:

For realz.  Check it out.  The website claims that you can meet new and exciting people all over the world.  Read the excerpt: 

"Meeting someone new at the airport is fun and exciting. We've all thought about it while waiting for our flight. It's a bit of adventure that adds spice to your everyday life. can now make a fantasy a reality. Find fellow travelers that are looking for that added sense of excitement that you only get when meeting someone new. Share a drink with an attractive stranger in the totally safe environment of a public airport. Perhaps, share a brunch or romantic dinner while waiting for your flight and explore the enticing possibilities that are presented to you. Romance, friendship, travel companion, networking... The possibilities are endless. If you're tired of reading a magazine while waiting for your flight, don't hesitate, register now."

Add spice to your life?  Make a fantasy a reality?  All I can imagine is some scandalous happenings.  In the airport bathroom perhaps.  Remember that senator a while back that got caught meeting fellows in the airport bathrooms.  I wonder if he ever used this service?  

You have to create a profile to see any other details and although I love a good investigation,  I was too chicken to do that.  I could only imagine the creepy characters.  This will make you wonder the next time you see a couple having a drink at the airport......  It could just be someone like TB and I, or it could be someone that got bored of reading magazines and decided to meet an attractive stranger.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Keep Left

Driving on the left side of the road is reserved for the UK and Australia.  At least I thought.  But it looks like I was wrong.

For some weird reason, the US Virgin Islands require you to drive on the left - which we quickly discovered on our recent trip.   But they have American cars with steering wheels on the left.  And most tourists in the USVI are Americans.  So we have American cars, American drivers - but you have to stay left.  Hmm - looks like a lot of confused people to me.

There are signs everywhere that say, "Keep Left".  And when you rent a car, the rental agency nicely reminds you several times to "Keep Left!".  All of these reminders are nice in theory, except that they can also create additional confusion.  For example:

An American guy is driving his American car, with steering wheel on the left - except he has to drive on the left since he's in the USVI.  His navigator wife is giving directions from the paper rental car map and sees a fork in the road.  Being a nice navigator, she says:

Navigator: "Up here, you'll want to keep right."  To which American guy replies:

American guy:  "But I'm supposed to keep left."

Navigator:  "No.  Drive left, but keep right"

American Guy:  "What???"  "How do you keep right when you're driving left?  Would that be a right turn?  And right turns are different when you're driving left."

Navigator:  "What???"  "OK, keep left"

American Guy:  "But I thought I was supposed to keep right!!"

See where I'm going with this.....

We only had our rental car for one day and opted for a taxi after this.  Luckily there wasn't much driving on this vacation and we spent most of our time out on the water.  Where left and right didn't matter.

Monday, August 1, 2011

My (almost) Most Embarrassing Moment

A few weeks ago we met some other couple friends for dinner. They were new friends, so we wanted to make a good impression and not do anything stupid.  So of course, I (almost) did something stupid.

It was on a weekend, so TB and I were running around doing errands during the day before our dinner date.  In an effort to put my best foot forward, I took a rinser before we were supposed to meet our friends.  I'm normally a once a day showerer.  But I went out on a limb this time.  Although I took a rinser, I decided I'd throw on my same jeans and change shirts and shoes.  As I'm selecting my outfit, TB is yelling, "Hurry, hurrrrrrrrrrrry, huryyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!".  Keep in mind, we're not late.  He just likes to stress me out.  For some reason, he enjoys this.  And it works every time.

I threw on clothes, slapped on some makeup, half buckled my shoes, hurried out the door and into the car.  The drive was only about 2 minutes away, so as I was still arranging things in my purse, we hopped out at the valet and into the bar to wait for our friends and my heart was still beating fast from all that action.  AND, we did have to wait at the bar.... because we WERE NOT late.  We were the first ones there.  By a long shot. TB just likes to play this little prank.

As I was settling into my first drink, our friends arrived.  At that very moment of saying hello and making small talk, I realized something was not right.  Something with my outfit.  I'm going through the typical hellos on the surface, but I'm just trying to figure out what was wrong, without a look of sheer panic on my face.

I slowly figured out what was wrong.  There was something wrong with my jeans.  Inside the left pant leg, just behind my knee, there was something lodged between my knee and my jeans.  I quickly did a run-through of my getting ready process and realized it must be my old underwear.  Yes.  I changed underwear during my rinser and when I hurriedly put the same jeans back on, the old pair must have been stuck in the jeans.  And I didn't notice they were there the whole time I was getting ready.  And they were still there.  And I'm in public.  With people that I didn't know very well. What was wrong with me!!!

As I'm coming to the conclusion that I have a dirty pair of underwear stuck in my pant legs, I can feel the underwear slowing start to slip down my pant legs.  I'm trying to hold a conversation with someone about a wedding or honeymoon, or something - I really couldn't concentrate on the conversation and could only nod and smile at the appropriate time, while trying to hold my leg in a position that would stop the underwear from sliding down my leg, to the floor of the bar and have everyone look down to see a pair of purple underwear laying on my foot.  Talk about never going to dinner with this couple again.

It finally reached the point of no return and I had to abruptly excuse myself to the restroom- while getting a weird look from TB for my odd behavior.  I looked around frantically for the restroom sign, only to see it on the other side of the restaurant.  Crap.  I began to dodge my way around tables, waiters and slippery floors all while keeping my left leg bent enough to keep the underwear trapped behind my knee.  But still needing my left leg to walk.  It made for an awkward and very nervous trek across the restaurant.

As I pushed open the door to the restroom, I immediately locked myself in a stall and grabbed the underwear.  I think any sane person would have just thrown away the underwear and cut their loses.  But those were good underwear, and I couldn't stand the thought of giving them up.  So.  I stuffed them in my purse.  And hoped I wouldn't need my purse.

The night ended on a normal note - without needing my purse - and we still have those friends.  Thanks to my quick thinking and a bit of good luck, the night ended up being my (almost) most embarrassing moment and not my most embarrassing moment.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Worse than a Crying Baby

The only thing worse than sitting next to a crying baby on the plane is....

Sitting next to unaccompanied minors.  Two unaccompanied minors.  Brother and sister.  Roughly aged 8 and 6.

I endured an entire flight of pinching, biting, nose picking, 10 minutes of "Ilovejustinbieberilovejustinbieber", singing, yelling, drink spilling, peanut throwing, seat shaking and tray slamming.  It was absolute torture.  Torture.  But perhaps the best part of the flight was the conversation regarding backwash.  Yep. Backwash.  See the rough transcription below.....

Bieber Lover:  (Yelling) "Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!! You have backwash in your water bottle!  Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!"

Nose Picker:  "It's just backwash.  You know what backwash is, right?"

Bieber Lover:  "No.  I just know backwash is gross"

Nose Picker:  "It's just pieces of my sandwich.  They were in my mouth when I took a sip of water and then fell to the bottom of the bottle.  Look, you can see pieces of bread and cheese floating the bottle."

(Bieber Lover and Nose Picker both intently stare at the backwash in the VASA water bottle)

Bieber Lover:  "Oh.  OK.  It's not that gross."

Nose Picker:  "Yeah, backwash is cool."

Ahhhhh. More adventures from the road.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Vegas: According to Your Ears

No, that wasn't some lame audiology joke.  Vegas is one of those places that appeals to your senses.  Sight, taste, and especially sound.  Even if  you've never been to Vegas, everyone has a mental idea of the sounds you will experience.  Particularly the casino sounds.

I've been to Vegas a few times, but this most recent trip was my first since college and at the risk of sounding like an old person, things just weren't the same as they used to be - at least the same according to my ears.  On the college trip, I distinctly remember a few things that were missing on this adventure.  Some auditory distinctions to be exact.

A few years ago you went into the casino, sat at a slot machine, pulled the side handle and (hopefully) won a little coin.  As soon as those lights started flashing, you immediately heard the distinct "dink dink dink dink" sound of the coins hitting the tray as they fell out of the machine.  Then you grabbed one of those plastic buckets on top of the machine, gathered your spoils and jingled the bucket onto the next machine.  It all went down a little something like this:

Really a glorious experience all around.  Until some genius decided to change it.
Now a days, you sit at a slot machine, pull the side handle and when you get lucky, the lights still flash, but there is no sound of coins falling.  Nope.  The metal tray to catch the coins is still there, but nothing falls out.  If you listen closely, you hear a different sound. A receipt printing.   No kidding.  A receipt.  They did away with the coins and spit you out a receipt stating your exact winnings.
I almost felt like I was at the gas pump pressing "Yes I want a Receipt" on the key pad.

And even worse than the absence of coin, there are no more plastic buckets.  I guess that makes sense. Walking around jingling your receipts in a bucket just doesn't seem to have the same effect.

If Vegas had a suggestion box, I would drop a note saying we should bring back the coins.  And the buckets.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Retainer is Never Cool

Remember back to the middle school days, when there was some lucky kid that got to have a retainer?  That kid had already graduated from the old metal braces with rubber bands and corn on the cob stuck in the teeth to the seemingly cool retainer.   The dead give away that you were one of the lucky ones was that distinct lisp the retainer gave you.  If you were super lucky, your orthodontist would make your retainer in a bright color and you got to show it off at lunch time when you removed it to eat.  You then put it in the plastic retainer box and got to show it off once again when lunch was over and you had to put it back in.  And then inevitably one day, you would throw the retainer away and have to dig through the trash to find the retainer to keep your mom from yelling at you about how much your braces cost.  Anyone else remember this?

Well, I did actually go through the ugly braces stage and I eventually got a retainer.  Although my retainer didn't come until high school.  Which meant it was no longer cool.  But I wasn't really a cool kid anyway, so I did diligently wear that sucker until sometime in college and then I fell off the wagon.  A few years ago, I realized that darn retainer really did make a difference and without it my bottom teeth had started to move.  My vanity eventually won out and I started looking into some options for fixing my bottom teeth.  I quickly found out there was no need to go back to the full on braces stage (sigh of relief), which meant that my option was a retainer! But it wasn't that old retainer that I remembered from middle school.  It now looked a little something like this:

No cool colors, but at this point in my life - I'm OK with that.  It's actually quite invisible and doesn't give you that tell tell lisp when you talk (which is definitely not cool now).  The one thing that inherently can't be fixed, is that it does have to be removed when eating.  Unfortunately, there is no way to do this without being totally disgusting.  You really have two choices when it comes to retainer removal:

1.  Reach to the back teeth, pry it up and then pull it out of your mouth - along with a long line of spit. 
2.  Reach to the back teeth, while prying it up, slurp the spit and then pull the retainer out. 

Neither option is what I would call appropriate for the dinner table.  Or around any other people for that matter.  And it doesn't matter which option I choose, TB always makes a barfing sound when I remove the retainer.

Unfortunately, I didn't get the necessary retainer holder box this go around.  So when I remove the retainer for meals, I often slip it in my pocket or purse.  When I'm cooking at home, I do often set the retainer off to the side on the counter, so I can taste my food.  The only problem with this process is that the retainer is clear and can blend into the counter.  Not a big deal, unless you have company coming over for dinner and you suddenly can't find the retainer minutes before your guests are about to arrive and you just KNOW that you set it down on the counter just where the plates are set.  It would be just horrible to find someone else's retainer sitting beside your dinner plate.  After a few panicked moments of frantically searching for the missing retainer, it was found just before our guests arrived.  Phew.  I really need to get a retainer carrying case.

Although the middle school me thought that a retainer was cool, I was so very wrong. What was I thinking back then?  The spit lines, slurping noises, losing the retainer and the thought of searching through the trash for it...... something that causes all of these things could never be cool.  Never.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Someone Else's Sweat... On Me

In an effort to branch out my fitness abilities, I will occasionally try something different from my usual running (as seen in the previous post).  On several occasions, I've tried yoga or pilates and have determined that I am entirely too wound up to do these activities.  I like the middle portion of the class, but the beginning and the end with all the breathing and relaxing mumbo jumbo - I tend to find myself thinking about my grocery list, what I'm going to watch on the DVR and what I'm getting for dinner.  Maybe that's a sign that I need to keep going back to these classes to relax, but I typically ignore that sign.

It's been a while since my last attempt at yoga but Groupon made me attempt it again.  Groupon was offering a great deal on this newfangled thing called Hot Yoga.  It's similar to yoga, with the small exception of the temperature of the room.  The thermostat is cranked up to a mere 105 degrees while you're doing the yoga. It was a good price and good location, so I bought my Groupon and headed down to the studio. 

Before class, the room was a typical yoga studio with everyone laying down on their mat and meditating - while I stared at my toes and wondered if I liked my current polish color.  Then it started.  These little machines in the corners of the room starting pumping hot air into the room and I started sweating.... and the class had not even started.  Uh-Oh.

Obviously not me.  But you get the point.

The class consisted of a full 90 minutes of profuse sweating, with a bit of yoga mixed in.  I'm not really sure how much yoga, because I was in awe of the amount of sweat dripping off not only me - but all the strangers packed into the room, so I couldn't really concentrate on what I was supposed to concentrating on.  I'm talking about sweating to the degree of dripping in your eyes, running down your legs and puddling in pools on your mat.  It sure is hard to hold a downward dog when your palms and feet keep slipping out from under you.  I think I spent more time wiping the sweat off my body in the attempt to hold a pose than actually holding the pose.  30 minutes into the class, I was insanely exhausted - not to mention nauseous.

One shining light in the process was the instructor.  She mingled throughout the room and gave tips on how to hold poses or adjust your body to get the most out of the class.  But a small problem. 

She was sweating too.  And leaning over people.  Which meant she was dripping her sweat on someone else.  Including me.


You never EVER want a stranger dripping sweat on you.  It's pretty gross.

After a very long 90 minutes, the class finally ended and we all filed into the locker room to rehydrate and try our best not to pass out.  I was struggling to stay alive by this point and was one of the last people to trudge in the locker room.  I was so tired and barely hanging in there, in fact I starting trudging through this long trail of water on the floor.....weird.  Someone must have dropped their water bottle.

Wait.  That wasn't water - it was a pool of sweat, running from the yoga room to the locker room.  A collection of the entire class' sweat.  UGGG.

The saddest part of this whole story is that I didn't realize the co-mingling of sweat until after I got home and started to thinking about the class.  The class made me so tired, that at the time I didn't care about other people's sweat.  I was swimming in other people's germs and I didn't even know it.

They say you eventually get used to the Hot Yoga and tend to like the hot room..... but do I really want to spend a day a week mingling with stranger sweat?  Not so sure about that.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fast Girls Have Good Times

I am not a serious runner.  You know - a serious runner, like those people with the crazy belts that hold water, eating that weird energy gel and keeping their pace on the GPS watch.  I am not built to run long distances.  My knees turn in and I don't look like one of those marathon runners on TV.  I have a serious objection to exercising more than 2 hours a day.  And I refuse to change my diet of cereal and chocolate just to run a race.

I like to plug in my Ipod and go running around a cool neighborhood on a nice afternoon.  I may have a distance in mind, but no specific pace in mind.  I like races.  I think they're fun and you usually get good food and a cool t-shirt.  I'm the kind of runner that likes the large races with tons of people.  Yes, you may have to dodge people everywhere, but I like the motivation all those people provide and all the spectators on the side of the road cheering you on.  Honestly, I really need all those people to keep me going toward the end of the race.

Although I sound like a terrible runner, I somehow got this crazy idea that I wanted to train for a 1/2 marathon................................. OK, so maybe the idea came from watching several seasons of the Biggest Loser contestants run a marathon (don't judge me please). 

All in all the race was a great experience.  Completing the race was one of the most difficult things I've ever done, but also great fun at the same time.  I'm not really sure how that worked, but it did. While crossing the finish line I kind of wanted to collapse, drink a gallon of water and cry - but at the same time it was one of my prouder moments.  It was something I never thought I could do, but I did it all on my own.  Even with cereal and chocolate.

After the race, all the serious runners were talking about the course, the hills, their time... blah, blah.  My non-serious runner favorite part of race day was all the homemade signs that are put up for the thousands of runners.  They kept me entertained and almost kept me from asking myself for the entire race why in the world I decided to run this far...  Almost.

A few of my personal fav signs seen in Nashville:

"May the course be with you"
"Kick Assphalt"
"Sorry, I've Got To Run"
"Staying up all night making this sign was hard too"

And of course, my all time favorite:

"Fast girls have good times"

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Right is Right

I do a great deal of teaching and training in my every day job.  The challenge with this task is making something that could be complex seem like a snap.

A big part of what I'm teaching people to do is to put a device together.  A device with many moving pieces and parts that has to fit together in a very specific order.  Among all the moving pieces, there is one very important part of this system that has to fit onto the right side of the device.  It's tricky, because it can go on the left side, but it should go on the right side.  Have I confused you yet?

If you're still with me.... One of my co-workers always uses the saying, "Right is Right", when referring to this very important part of our system.  She means that the right side (as in the direction left or right) is the right (as in the correct) side.  See, right is right.

Right is right, isn't just applicable to correctly putting a cochlear implant speech processor together, it also applies to TB's recent back surgery.  He's been teetering on the edge of being an invalid for the past few months.  He hasn't been able to sleep, drive or even sit - all due to bringing that sweet 65" TV into our living room.  Totally worth it.  But we still had to do something about his back.

After several months and quite a few doctor's appointments, he ended up getting a shot in his back.  The right side of the spine to be specific.  And wouldn't you know it, the back doctor uses the same saying, "Right is Right."  See, they even marked TB, just to make sure that no one forgot that right was right.

Our sheets are even stamped with the confirmation.
And right was indeed right in this case.  I'm happy to report that TB is feeling much better!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

"We Just Have Different Styles"

In a moment of "do-it-yourselfedness", I decided that we should take on a home improvement project - versus our history or just paying someone else to do it.  Since we've moved in, we've hired someone to hang the blinds, paint the exterior, stain the deck, do the landscaping and clean the house.  I was feeling a little guilty and lazy about all this subcontracting - and decided that we could take on the next project ourselves.

Painting the ceiling and built-in bookshelves in the office.

Notice the dark brown color.  Yuck.  Too dark for our taste.

And the dark ceiling beams.  Yikes, those might be hard to paint.....

Painting can't be that bad and doesn't require too much skill, right?  My suggestion was greeted with hostility and doubt by TB.  Serious hostility and doubt. After much convincing, he agreed to make an attempt at this project, but was sure to let me know that my credibility was on the line.  Talk about pressure!

I diligently prepared for painting day, by doing research on the best paints and tools to use for the project.  I wanted our office to look good, but to also prove two points: 

1.   I can prepare for a project just a well as TB can - proving that I am credible and a good project manager.
2.  We could take on a home improvement project and succeed! 
Side Story:  Now is probably a good time to point out a theme in our house, that may explain the comment above about my credibility being on the line.  Sometimes TB gets confused about who I am.  He does often come home in work-mode and thinks that I am one of his employees and not his wife.  He'll occasionally says things like, "Let's have a discussion about our goals for the year." or "Let's table that" or "Send me a meeting invite" or "Why don't you create a deck on that issue" And of course the above mentioned action of often assigning a project manager to each task we take on.

Side story done and on the painting prep:  Now, I'm typically an over-prepared organized person.  BUT, as prepared as I often am for projects, I'm rarely TB prepared.  You see, as Type A as I can be, TB makes me look like a sloppy mess.  He is a super planner.  TB preparedness includes spreadsheets, charts, graphs and research galore!  Checklists and timelines.  From vacation planning to minor purchases.  It's endearing, except when I am painting project manager.  We did assign a project manager to this task after all.  And it was not TB.

And finally, on with the painting. The inevitable happened and we got in a scuffle over whether we should sand  the built-ins with sand paper sheets or sand paper blocks.  I said sheets.  He said blocks.  As we're both furiously Googling the benefits of each and stating our cases, TB stated that this was bound to happen because, "we just have different styles." 

Hmmm.  That's an interesting thought.  We do don't we?  I always lumped us both in the same group, but he made a good point.  I've always been the most organized person in my group of friends and definitely in my family, and I would always get frustrated with the lesser organized folks.  Well, in our house - I am now the "lesser organized folks" that makes TB frustrated. Hmmmm.  That's one side of the fence I've never been on. 

Once we compromised on our sandpaper delimma, it took us 2 weeks, countless hours and few more stupid fights due to our different styles, but the built-ins were complete. And not only complete, they look pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. And we both learned a good lesson - there are multiple ways to successfully complete a project.  Perhaps a chart or graph wasn't completed, but it was done well. 

As for proving my two points:

1.   I can prepare for a project just a well as TB can - proving that I am credible and a good project manager.  Check.  I think you'll see by the pictures below that it was a job well done.

2.  We could take on a home improvement project and succeed!  Half Check.  We both got a little discouraged by the ceiling aspect of the project and had to throw in the towel on that one. Pablo's Painting took over PM duties.  Even without an Excel spreadsheet.

The completed project (without books put up - of course)

Pablo's Contribution

Friday, April 15, 2011

Craig and His Shady List

I will always have a slight allegiance to Craigslist due to my first experience with him.  Thanks to Craig, I was able to snag that amazing Vera Wang wedding dress for a steal!  So what, that I had to drive 10 hours, meet a strange girl in a mall and hand her an envelope full of cash.  The risk was totally worth it!

But all that aside - Craigslist is a dangerous sketchy world.  As I recently found out first hand.....

In all of our furniture buying, I have made one mistake.  The green chairs.  They looked cute in the store, but just didn't match the dinning room.  Unfortunately, they were on sale and I couldn't return them.  Doh.  But, wait!!!  No big deal - I'll just list them on Craigslist!  Piece of cake.

The listing process is easy, all I needed to do was to sit back and wait for the flood of emails from local folks wanting to buy my green chairs.  I even got a confirmation email that my chairs were listed successfully! 

But wait.  

You have to be concerned when the beginning of every email from Craigslist starts like this:

** Avoid: wiring money, cross-border deals, work-at-home
** Beware: cashier checks, money orders, escrow, shipping
** More Info:

Hmmmmm.  Concerning.  But my first experience with Craig was so great!  Maybe all those stories of serial killers and con artists on Craigslist are real?  That warning sure is harsh.  But scams can't be that common - right?  Hmmm.  Nah.  Can't be.

Just a few short hours after my post, I had a nibble from a fellow named Brian.  I replied to his inquiry telling him the chairs were still available and he could come look at them anytime this week, to let me know what day worked best for him.  Oh, and Brian - don't forget, I'll only take cash.

Then "Brian" replies with a few red flags:

- He needs my full name, address phone number and several other personal pieces of information
- He's such a nice guy that he'll pay me MORE for the chairs than the list price!
- He'll get the MONEY ORDER over to me as soon as I give him all my personal information.

I'm pretty sure 'ol Brian is a scam artist in Nigeria and had I replied, you would have seen me on the next Dateline NBC talking about how I was taken for everything I had.  Right alongside the little old ladies who lost their retirement.

Oh Craig.  Your list has so much potential, but hasn't seemed to help with the sale of my green chairs.  It has only succeeded in giving my email address out to shady characters who just want to steal my identity.  That was a bit more than I bargained for.  I just want to sell my chairs.  Is that too much to ask?

Anyone out there need some chairs? :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cheese + Bread + A Bus = Nom nom nom

Remember when you were little and your mom would make you grilled cheese sandwiches?  Every kid loves cheese and bread.  Of course, aside from those poor kids who were lactose intolerant - I'm just not sure how those guys survived.....

My sister recently told me about a new phenomenon hitting the Portland food truck market.  The Grilled Cheese Grill (  What a phenomenal idea! Even into adulthood - everyone loves a good grilled cheese.  I have to admit though, at first I was a little skeptical - I mean how many ways can you spin cheese and bread? And on top of that, it was clear across town from my sister.

But regardless, we decided to make the trek and check out the grilled cheese guys.  Upon walking up to the spot..... my 4 year old niece immediately stopped and said she was NOT eating there.  You see, the seating at the Grilled Cheese Grill was in an old double decker bus.  Tallie exclaimed that she could not eat in there because the bus might roll away.  Once we showed her that there was no engine, she tentatively agreed to give it a go.  And I'm glad she did!  The food was delicious!  Perhaps even the best grilled cheese sandwich.  Ever.  Seriously.  I've tried to figure out how they made their bread perfectly brown and crunchy - but can't seem to get it just right.  If you're ever in Portland - you MUST check them out. 

Now if only the Atlanta area would jump on this food truck train.....

The terrifying seating arrangements
Skeptically checking out the bus and making sure there was no engine

The Grilled Cheese Grill

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Worst Thing in the Entire World

My four year old niece recently asked me an interesting question.  Our conversation went a little something like this:

Tallie:  Auntie Leslie, you want to know what the worst thing in the world is?
Me:  Gosh, I don't know - what is it?
Tallie:  Going to the bathroom on the airplane.
            The door was freaky and the toilet was gross.
            I walked in and said," What the mess is this?"
           The floor freaked me out.
            I don't ever want to use the bathroom on the airplane again.
            It was the worst thing in the world.

Ahh.  That little one is wise beyond her years.

A few more wise thoughts from a four year old:

- My mom is never driving a minivan!  Ever!
- If you cheat at the Disney Princess matching game, my dad will ninja chop you. 
- Freaky looking people live in Portland.
- Policemen come to get you if you're bad, firemen come to help you if you're in trouble and ambulances come to get you if you're dead.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Just Call me Nostradamus

About a year ago, while on a trip to Oregon, TB and I took a little jaunt out to the coast.  While at the town welcome center, we snapped this photo:

Notice the little card in TB's hand.  It says "Tsunami!" and gives instructions on what to do in the event of a tsunami on the Oregon coast.  At the time, we had no idea that a tsunami really can occur in Oregon.  Or perhaps I didn't consciously know, but my Nostradamus skills were showing themselves........

Humor aside, the family in Oregon is safe and sound since they're many miles inland.

See the original post here:

Original Tsunami Post

Friday, March 4, 2011

Winery in Georgia?

Going on a wine tour in the state of Georgia is like sushi in a gas station.

I like sushi.  And the gas station is someplace I frequent, I do occasionally even find a gas station that I could say that I like.  But when thinking about going out for some sushi - a food that is quite delicate, that has to be handled properly and not kept in a walk in fridge next to Four Loko, chocolate milk and a hard boiled egg in a bag - I want the environment that sushi is served in to be a certain way.  I mean, the sushi could pick up the common smells of cigarettes and petroleum if not kept in the proper environment.

Back to the wine tour of Georgia.  Wine is good.  But mind you, I am not a wine connoisseur.  I pick out bottles based on price and pretty labels.  Occasionally I'll luck out and find a wine I like to go back to.  But even considering my lack of knowledge on wine, I have never purposely chosen a wine grown in Georgia - it reminds me of the sushi in a gas station.  I imagine wine from Georgia to be grown next to chicken coops, carpet factories and peanuts.  And who knows - it might pick up some familiar characteristics of that Georgia red clay that it's grown in.

As luck would have it, I went on a mini (perhaps only one) winery tour of Georgia recently.  In celebration of a friend's 30th birthday we decided to spend an afternoon doing something decidedly different - a Georgia wine tour.

Much to my surprise the scenery on the Georgia wine trail was quite nice.  I mean no fooling anyone into thinking you were in Napa - but not bad.  Our actual wine was hit and miss but in general not bad - no essence of peanuts or red clay - success in my book!  It even seemed that the wineries in those parts of the state have become equivalent to the local bar.  Several locals stopped in and the "bar tender"  knew exactly what to pour for each of the regulars.  All in all -not a bad way to spend a few hours in north Georgia.

Perhaps I'll even try that gas station sushi next time...... errrrrr, maybe not.

Monday, February 28, 2011

On the Road Again

These days I've been doing a good bit of traveling for work, which really means that I spend lots of my time trekking through airports and driving in circles trying to figure out where I'm going.  I do however, get some good people watching in and have made some observations and discovered quite a few new things recently:

The TSA needs a new marketing department.
  • With the TSA installing the new body scanner machines in airports all across the country, they decided to post signs throughout security explaining the procedure to you.  That does seem nice enough, right?  It is good to know what you're getting yourself into when you step into one of those contraptions.  However, one would expect that the explanation would make you feel better about getting in something called a "full body scan".  The only problem is, the pictures posted all over the airport look a little something like this:
                 Now, I'm not so sure about you - but that picture certainly doesn't make me feel any better.       
                 Seriously?  There is nothing left to the imagination.  They really should just take the pictures 
                down, as that doesn't make me feel one bit better.  I think I'd just rather not know what they see.

A bit of fashion advice:
  • By no means am I what you would call a fashionable person, but wow.  There are some crazy things walking through the airport.  I can occasionally pick up some good fashion tips on what NOT to wear while on the road, due to seeing so many people trek through the airport.  So speaking of what not to wear,  there seems to be a recent trend of wearing leggings or tights as pants.  These items can often be see through, not to mention skin tight - but maybe people mean to do this.........  you have to realize that what you are wearing is see-through.  Right? 

Pumping Gas
  • It's highway robbery not to fill up a rental car before returning it, so I often find myself at a gas station near an airport driving up to a gas pump and hoping that I guessed correctly as to which side of the car the gas tank is on.  UNTIL, a co-worker pointed out a little something I had never noticed... An arrow near your gas level gauge, which indicates the side the tank is on.  Wow.  Did I feel stupid.

Comfortable Shoes are a Lie
  • Due to all my trekking through long terminals in work clothes and shoes, my feet have begun to look a little something like this:

Definitely not my foot - but they do look strikingly similar.

      So imagine my excitement when I found some heels that were made in collaboration with Nike! Imagine - work shoes that are as comfortable as your running shoes.   Those have to cure my gimp feet - right? Wrong.  The shoes were a lie.  My feet still look scary and my shoes are still quite painful.  Comfortable work shoes just do not exist.

I'm beginning to think I spend too much time on the road....................................

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Green is Not a Green

When talking about that arbitrary difficulty rating of ski runs, that is. 

On my first true winter vacation experience last week in Copper Mountain and Vail CO, I decided (among many things) that there needs to be subcategories of green ski runs.  I'm sure there should also be subcategories of the blues and blacks, but surprisingly I haven't experienced too many of those.  Only one.  And that was one too many.

In order to make my inaugural ski trip the most positive experience possible, I signed up for a private lesson on the first morning.  Ski instructor and I had a great morning cruising down the bunny slopes!  My kind of skiing - just cruising.  No fear for my life.

"Falls without reason" - totally me.
At the conclusion of the lesson, ski instructor highly encouraged me to stay on that slope for the several days and not to let TB and his friends push me into anything that I was not ready for.  We could even leave our skis at right there with him and return for them after lunch!  I should have known the day would take a dark turn when TB politely declined and said we would just take our skis with us.  As we rounded the corner away from ski instructor, TB confidently said, "We don't need to come back here".  Riiiight.

Later that afternoon I found myself falling off the ski lift at the top of the mountain, only to come face to face with.................... a BLUE.  Yep.  A blue that really should have been classified a double black due to the death defying drop that I was staring at.  After realizing I had no alternative, I started down the cliff.  Started and didn't get very far.  Ten feet down the blue that should have been a black, I lost both skis, a pole and every bit of confidence I had gained with ski instructor.  TB and I then proceeded to get an amazing upper body workout thanks to miles of cross country skiing on catwalks, as every trail going down was a black, blue or a green that looked suspiciously like the blues and blacks.  It was a one lift afternoon that included some yelling, tears, curse words and swearing that this was the worst sport in the world and I was done.  D. O. N. E.  Well, I couldn't actually be done until I made it off the mountain, but I would be done once I figured out how to get down. 

After eventually making it off the mountain, I was then left with a delima.  This was day one of four full days of skiing and we had pre-purchased lift tickets.  Groan.  I'm not one to waste money, but I wasn't so sure I was into the whole skiing thing.  In the end, my stubborn side won over and I refused to waste 3 days of lift tickets.  I did eventually master those easy green slopes, appropriately tittled Kokomo (you know, the song about taking it slow). I even got to know the ski lift workers as they wondered why I would only ski one run on the entire resort.  The first winter vacation ended on a high note and I may even be willing to go on another ski vacation provided I get spa breaks and have an easy green friend along for the trip.  I'd at least consider it.

Getting fitted for ski boots.  I was happy and naive.

Amazingly, no emergency phone was needed.  Although I did seriously think about it.
Special thanks to Amanda C. for the loaner ski clothes which kept me toasty!