Monthly Archives: July 2009

Sometimes you have to give up your crown

I gave away my crown.

Don’t worry. It wasn’t ↑that crown.

It looked more like tiara

It was my favorite piece of swag from blogher. It came from the party hosted by her.

But on the way home from the airport on Sunday morning, the fiance told me that a good friend of ours had been shot during an attempted robbery at her workplace.

Yeah, freaking shot. Like. bang.

In her stomach.

I felt like I had been punched in the stomach when he told me.

But she survived. And I couldn’t wait to see her. As I was thinking about what I could do for her, I kept thinking of the tiara.

I love that stupid plastic sparkly tiara. It made me so happy at Blogher because it was like the crown for Queen of Quirky.

But sometimes someone else needs something more than you do.

What was I going to do, wear it to work? Go running in it? Wear it to the grocery store?

No. I was going to put it on a shelf and look at it occasionally.

But I knew someone laying in a bed, hurting worse than she ever hurt before, wondering, “why her?” needed it more than I did. 

It was just the girly, sparkly, empowering little thing that she needed.

So I packed it up with the Mr. Potato Head I got at blogger and a pedicure kit and gossip magazines that DD Girl and I went in on together.

And when she opened it and exclaimed, “You got me a tiara!!!” the smile on her face made me forget that I ever wanted to keep it at all. She had me put it right on her head, and you know what?

She wore that crown like a queen.

She’s on the road to recovery and hopefully she knows how much we all love her and are cheering for her.

 

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Monday Night Up in Flames

This week DD Girl and Queen of Quirky’s cookin’ & wine night had to be switched to Monday night. (Usually Tuesday nights) That was OK by me because two weeks ago, I accidentally got DD Girl (an anti-reality T.V. person by nature) hooked on The Bachelorette. hee hee.

Since it was the season finale of said guilty pleasure, it was certainly a great night to tune in. Or it should have been.

On the menu: Prosciutto wrapped chicken stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic and mozzarella, lemon basil rice and snow peas.  I found this recipe in my Pampered Chef 29-Minutes to Dinner Volume II cookbook.

Really, it should have been in the 2 hours and 9 minutes to dinner book.

Since I am on a tight budget after Blogher, I decided to use some chicken I had in the freezer. I figured it would be pretty easy to thaw out using my defrost setting on the microwave. I did not think it would take 20 minutes to do that.

THEN, I had to cut off the bits of chicken on the end that had gotten  cooked in the microwave instead of thawed. It’s a fine line when thawing things in the microwave, let me tell you.

After that, I pounded out my chicken using my rolling pin because I don’t have a pounder thingy. DD Girl was smart enough to suggest I use some foil (didn’t have wax paper) between the chicken and pin.

Have I mentioned how hungry I was at this point? (We didnt’ get started until after 7)

I botched the first one, and put the prosciutto inside the chicken instead of wrapping it, hence the whole prosciutto wrapped chicken. Then, I realized I had no idea how I was even supposed to be cooking the chicken. I checked the recipe and realized I should have preheated my oven to 450. Yikes.

I had the foresight to start the rice during the thawing process, but I miscalculated the ratio of liquid to rice (I used bouillon in lieu of chicken broth) so at this point, I tasted it and it was very al dente. So I added some more water.

I returned to trimming, pounding, stuffing and wrapping my breasts (shut up). At last, they were all ready to go in the oven.

I threw them in and decided my life would be a lot less stressful if I washed up the dishes before sitting down to enjoy the show. As I was putting the cutting board in the dishwasher, I turned and thought maybe the light was on in the oven.

It seemed really bright in there.

No, that’s not the light, that’s a fire.

I turned to DD Girl and said, “um, my oven is on fire.”  She took a long sip of wine and said, where’s the extinguisher?

Um, I don’t have one?

So my oven was on fire, but there was no freaking way I was going to let the  deliscious chicken go up in flames.

Not the chicken! I’m going in, I said. (I turned off the oven)

I quickly opened the door and grabbed the baking pan, quickly closing the oven door, as DD Girl ran to open up the door to my back patio.

Then we stood there and watched the fire with our glasses of wine.

Do you think it will go out?, I asked.

Probably, she said.

What about the chicken, I asked.

We could order a pizza, she said.

Hell no!

While we waited for the flame to go out, DD Girl updated her Facebook status:

Cooking lesson #1: do not set oven on fire. lesson #2 after fire starts, turn oven off.  Hmmm…well that was fun.

Once the flame was out, I could see that the culprit was some drippy bits that had fallen to the bottom of my oven. DD Girl and I found a wooden spoon which I used to scrape out the charred remains as she held her breath hoping I didn’t burn the bajeezers out of myself. 

The charred remains fell all over the floor and wouldn’t you know, we were out of paper towels, so DD Girl suggested picking them up with toilet paper. Since I am down to my last roll, I took the liberty of grabbing some from Roomie.

FINALLY, we got the chicken back in the fire-free oven. Meanwhile, I tended to the poor rice, which was a little mush (DD Girls says it was fine.), but by then I was so hungry, I didn’t care. 20 minutes later, we finally had a meal and could sit down and enjoy the show.

IMG_0932

 (With Gertie.)

But then, as if the evening hadn’t been dramatic enough, the stupid sound went out just as something big was happening. DD Girl put her techy skills to work and tried to get my closed captioning to work, but alas, we were left on a huge hook.

I later learned that all of Kansas City lost sound on our ABC affiliate for about 15 minutes.

And that is how our Monday night went up in flames. (But the wine was tasty.)

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That’s Knotty!

This was one of the highlights of the conference – I recommend not watching it at work, but please do watch it at some point. You will love it.

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In real life I spazzed out, lost stuff, ate stuff, drank stuff, got free stuff, made new friends, held and did not drop a baby, tweeted, cried in front of a stranger, wore a tiara and a boa and r’dotflmao after I fell over my suitcase

 

Blogher did not disappoint  (me), but it may have been a huge disappointment to my Facebook friends subjected to the constant barrage of #blogher tweets that pushed to my page. I’m surprised if any of them are still getting updates from me.

But, I’m okay with that (not really, please unblock me from your friend feed).  I found a world where I am not strange, (maybe weird, but not strange) where I was surrounded by others as obsessed with their blogs as I am mine and where we could all be “twits” as my dad likes to hardy har har.

I heard that there would be lots of free stuff to have at Blogher so I was thrilled when at the airport in Kansas City, Southwest asked for volunteers to take the next flight to Chicago. I was pretty sure they were giving me a $179 travel voucher because I am such an influential and important blogger and not at all because I volunteered to do so.

Once I got to Chicago, I decided to strut my inner urban chick and take the L into the city. I was surprised thrilled when I managed to get on the right train.

I was feeling pretty darn special with myself for being so confident and capable. I was thinking about how awesome it was that I could totally go to any city and just you know, own it.

But then I walked into the Sheraton which was already swarming with women. Women hugging, women carrying matching bags, women with babies, women squealing, women texting and twittering.

Bloghers.

I fell apart.

Get it together, Stephanie! What are you doing?

There I was standing in the check-in line with a big lump in my throat and tears welling up in my eyes.

Don’t let anyone see you crying, you freak show.

Why am I crying anyhow? I’m supposed to be happy to be here. These are my people. This is my thing. I’ve been annoying everyone I know for months with Blogher this and Blogher that. You stop this right now or I will kick your butt.

Later that night, I found myself completely overwhelmed by the crowds, the parties and the swag. Swag we did get. Swag we didn’t get. Swag other people got. It was insane. I’ve never seen people go so bonkers over a brown paper bag with cleaning products in it.  It was a frenzy. And I was a shark.

Among the frenzy, I spotted one of my favorite bloggers. And I did exactly what I promised myself I wouldn’t do. I gushed and sputtered awkward compliments about how awesome her blog is and how much I love it and how I have shared it with others. It was a bad scene. And it was time to call it a night.

Luckily my roommate was super cool and laid back. Especially when she checked us into our room and discovered it was a king size bed. For a short while I mentally prepared myself to get really comfortable with this new friend. But luckily a roll away bed saved us from any spooning mishaps.

I’m not even going to talk about the lump that welled up in my throat during the opening session.

 At lunch on Friday, I found my birds of a feather table after a hotel staff man yelled at me for being in the wrong lunch place. But, I signed up for this special lunch, I tried to tell him. He kicked me out of the buffet line half-way through my already over-filled plate.

But nooooooooo…..there is a chickpea something or another down there I want to try….

So I threw on my sunglasses and tried to sneak back through again, but my disguise didn’t fool the Buffet Nazi who busted me again, so I went without my chickpea something or another.

While I was sitting in my seat pouting, a lady walked up to me a wiggling baby in her arms. She seemed to be struggling with some sort of cloth apparatus that I later learned is called a sling. Hi, she said.

I don’t know how it happened, but before I knew it, I had a two-month old baby in my arms.  I couldn’t move. It was terrifying. I really didn’t want this nice lady to know I was freaking out, so I tried to be calm. But when she was ready for the baby, I panicked. There was no way I could hand her the baby. That would require moving the baby from her safe place in my frozen arms. So I just sat there and smiled trying to will her with my eyes to reach down and take the baby.

Really, this lady had no idea who she had just handed her child to.

It turned out the baby and her mom were from Kansas City and mom is a super cool food blogger.  This would be a good time to just give a huge shout out to all the peeps I met at Blogher. You were fabulous­ — Melissa at Single Gal in the City,  Vodka Mom , Sabrina,  Danielle – knitter and humorist extraordinaire, Jennifer at Baby Makin Machine and too many more to start listing here,  Both of the Birds of a Feather tables (Foodies and Non-Moms) were some of the greatest lunch partners ever.    

And speaking of going well together, Queen of Quirky got her crown on Friday night at the Mommy Needs a Cocktail Party.    MNAC gave out tiaras at her party. Woah. Drop everything. I live for these moments. (Even if plastic tiaras (and copious wine) do give me headache later.)

Speaking of not going together. I could not hold onto my stuff this week if I tried. I lost and found my cell phone about 10 times, my glasses and my name badge. I lost for good my program and several pieces of swag. (No huge loss there; plenty of that stuff to go around, let me tell you!)

By Saturday night I was in love with everyone and everything blogging.  I had found my people and they had found me.  When Deb on the Rocks introduced me to the head of advertising for the Blogher network by asking her if she had met the Queen of Quirky yet. I think I melted a little. Later I told her about my near meltdown Thursday night in the hotel lobby and found myself crying again.  

What is wrong with you? You don’t cry in front of one of the funniest bloggers at the conference? You make her laugh, dummy, so she’ll want to read your blog!

What can I say? I’m a slow learner.

When it was all said and done, I  peeled myself out of bed at the ungodly hour of 5:00 a.m. after completely wiping out over my suitcase in the dark and having a giggle fit over it. Blogher 09 was over and it was time to go back.

On the train platform for the L, I saw a nice “2.5 kids and a dog” family. They looked like they had just had a lovely weekend in the city. I asked them where they were heading and it turns out they were on my flight back to Kansas City.

When they asked me what had brought me to Chicago, I started to gush that I had just been at a blogging conference for women and it was like totally awesome. I was out late at a bowling party and then went to a cheeseburger party in a hotel room where people were eating burgers in the bathtub and swigging out of free wine bottles from the bolwing party while wearing McDonald’s bags on their heads.

<blink. blink.>

Well that sounds, um, interesting, they said.

And I guess then, I knew I was in real life all over again.

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Awkward guest blog

I asked Erin to  give me some tips on how not to be awkward at Blogher. Specifically I was trying to avoid moments where I see a well-known blogger and spaz out in front of her (and her three friends.) This spaz scene was like a train wreck in slow motion as I tried to recover. fail. recover. fail. and so on. “Oh my gosh. I love your blog and I read it all the time and some of my friends started reading it and oh. We just loved your Chipotle story…” 

So Erin, thanks for your don’t do tips. They did not help me in any way. But at least they made me realize that it could have been worse. (Sorry…).

 

Oh Stephanie.
When you e-mailed me and asked me to write a guest post for your blog, at first I was excited.
 
Then I saw one of the topics you suggested, “Advice to me to not act awkward at Blogher when I meet people” and I started wondering a few things.
 
Things like: Have you ever read my blog? How awkward are you, if I am a person that may offer advice on not being awkward. Is this a joke? You solicit advice on not acting awkward from me, the equivalent of advice on maintaining a healthy weight from Oprah.
 
Seriously. I’m the girl that was called “epically awkward” by local news outlet.
 
But then I realized I do have advice to offer you, even if it is in a unconventional way. I give you Erin’s Top Ten Ways to Be Awkward: A Cautionary List of What Not To Do
 
1) Get drunk
 
2) Hear people incorrectly.
Then, when your mind, which resides permanently in the gutter, thinks someone has said something dirty, don’t hesitate to tell them – word for incorrect and painfully awkward/inappropriate word – even after you realize what the speaker actually said. Example: “Then my dad said to put the car in reverse,” “LOLZ OMG, I thought you said your dad found a penis in your purse!!” Bonus points if what you heard sounds nothing like what was actually said.
 
3) Fall.
It isn’t necessary, but #1 can help accomplish this. I actually find it best to be completely sober, but at an event where others are drinking – this way everyone can assume you’re the painfully drunk girl. Really, you’re just awkward.
 
4) Sweat profusely.
Decide it’s best to own this sweating by pointing out the massive pit stains that grace your dress/shirt. In your (awkward) mind, it’s not as sad to point them out to others as it is for others to think you don’t even know you have them. In reality, they never would have noticed if you hadn’t pointed them out.
 
5) Forget a person’s name but, naturally, don’t realize you’ve done this.
Relish the fact that you’ve (finally!!!) remembered a person’s name correctly after just meeting them. Call them by (wrong) name all night. Even better if it stretches over a few separate encounters and days.
 
6) Tell a friend that you’ve known, hung out with, traveled with, etc, “It’s SO nice to finally meet you!!” #1 is completely necessary to reach this astounding level of awkwardness.
And yes, I did this a month ago.
 
7) Dance. 
You must dance as if you are convinced your dance abilities are so good they will land you on Madonna’s tour and this is your audition. Again, with or without #1 it is bound to be painful for everyone involved. If #1 comes into play, you probably really are convinced Madonna is going to bring you on tour – nay – ask you to re-do the choreography for her tour!
 
8) Spike your own drink.
This is an Erin speciality – once you have accomplished #1, spike your own drinks when no one is looking because OMG LOLZ it’s going to be so freaking hilarious when you’re suddenly wasted and your friends aren’t! I can see them now, oh Erin! –with a shake of the head and laugh– she did it again, the ol’ hussy! Gone and got herself blotto while we weren’t looking!
 
This is probably the most awkward thing I do.
I also always try to get my roommate to do shots while Mr. Perfect is upstairs. I’m convinced that it will be hil-arious!! when he comes downstairs to find us wasted.
 
9) Tell people you don’t know to GFY.
I always think it’s funny – it’s so ridonkulously over the top, right? How can anyone think you’re serious? Isn’t it just silly to tell people to go fuck themselves? Apparently, when in a setting where people are accomplishing task #1, they totally think you’re serious.
 
10) Meet a guy you like. Make sure your outfit is totally inappropriate. Then, point it out to him. Spill drinks. Kiss him, fall asleep, and wake yourself (and him) up by yelling in your sleep. Don’t ask for his number; instead, sing AC/DC to him
 
 
Good luck Steph. 

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Guest Blog: Variety is the spice of marriage and the wedding registry

This week, we’ve learned about potty training, Southern summers and now, it’s time to learn about marriage.

 So far, the only advice we’ve  received was  from the fiance’s boss on speaker phone (when he didn’t know I was listening), “don’t do it!!!”  Oops, he was busted in his little joke. Well that’s not the answer at all, T! 

What about the old adage, “If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife?” Nah. That won’t do either. 

Well thank goodness for Katie over at Marriage Confessions. She has saved the day! 

Well, look where I have landed. Right here in the Kingdom of Quirky, at the invitation of the Queen, of course. And I’m so happy to be here. When the Queen asked me to guest blog for her while she is off studying the fine art of blogging (with the help of a few margaritas, I’m sure…), I jumped at the chance. Especially because our Queen here has gone and gotten herself engaged and engagements have been known to lead to the occasional marriage. And, boy howdy, do I have a lot to say about marriages.

My entire marriage can be summed up in the story of our wedding registry. I was almost more excited about our wedding registry than I was about the actual wedding. Visions of Cuisinarts danced in my head. There would be Tupperware and Corningware. There would be gingham and paisley. There would be bamboo cutting boards and knives that I wasn’t qualified to use. Some little girls dream of their wedding dress, but a true shopper at heart dreams of her wedding registry.

The day we decided to go to Macy’s and register, I picked out my prettiest sundress. I wore my most comfortable sandals. I packed an extra ponytail holder in case things got crazy and I needed to keep my hair out of my face in all the excitement. And I dragged Chris into the department store. The clerk at the bridal registry department created our account and then handed the scanner gun to Chris.

She might as well have waived a checkered flag and yelled, “Lady – start your engine!” I was off.

I jerked the scanner gun out of Chris’ hands and reached for a set of bright yellow checkered dish towels. The glory was mine.

“Oh,” said Chris, stopping me in my tracks. “You like yellow?”

Wait. What was happening? Why was he speaking? Didn’t he know that his presence here was completely ornamental?

“Uh, yeah,” I said defiantly. And then I realized other people might overhead us, so I added, “Don’t you, sweetie?”

“I sort of like black and silver.”

Wait. What the hell was happening here? What were these…these…opinions that were coming out of Chris’ mouth?

And the rest of my day didn’t get much better. Suddenly, Chris has thoughts and ideas and preferences. And they were different from mine. And I didn’t like it one bit. The more he picked out, the further away my dreams of gingham and farmhouse style fell. I couldn’t even tell you what we registered for that day because I was in a complete haze of blind rage. Where the crap would my toile kitchen curtains go now that we had chrome appliances? Oh, this was not good. Not good at all.

That night after Chris had gone to bed, I snuck out to the computer and logged in to our registry online. I spent the next three hours deleting everything Chris had picked out and re-registering for all the things I wanted. Once I was finished, I went back to bed.

And the guilt set in.

How was I going to be married when I couldn’t even share a wedding registry? What kind of wife would I be if I demanded things were always done my way? What kind of marriage would that make?

So, once again, I got out of bed and padded down the hallway to the computer. I logged back into our registry and I took off all of my changes. I added back the chrome toaster and the industrial Black & Decker blender. I even added back the Homer Simpson beer mugs (though in hindsight, I should have left those off…). The next morning when we woke up, everything was back in its place. Yellow plaid seat cushions next to black metallic mixers.

When I look around our house today – five years later – I still see the hodgepodge that is our two styles blending. A modern piece of abstract art hangs over a French country rug with pink tea roses. It may look odd to some people, but that’s just the way it is. The perfect blending of two people. We may not match. We may see the world very differently. But somehow, it just sort of fits.

So, my advice to you, Dear Queenie, as you start this crazy journey of marriage is this: Don’t bring your fiancé with you when you register. But if you MUST, then just grab his hand and get ready to embrace the chrome. Life’s better with a little variety anyways

Just be sure you grab the scanner gun first…

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The guest blog that almost tricked me into skipping Chicago for North Carolina

Nice work, Jenny. This post almost tricked me into taking a flight on to Raleigh instead of Chicago today. Sneaky sneaky.

Greetings, from Rocky Mount, North Carolina!

This morning, I just about melted when I went outside to run an errand.

It’s only about 80 degrees, so far. That’s nothing compared to some days. But the humidity….let’s just say it’s moist out there.

Most Southerners have a love/hate relationship with the summer months of July, August and most of September.

Schools are out, vacations have started, the beaches are full, cookouts are in full-swing and gardens are cornucopias of yummy veggies.

But the heat…

It can be stifling.

When I was growing up, we didn’t have (gasp) air-conditioning. My father swore our house was too old to take the wiring for central air and the whole house would blow up if we tried.

So we suffered through countless summers, getting the only relief we could in the family room, where my parents installed a single window air conditioning unit.

That we ran during the day.

At night, up went the windows, in went the window fans and away went all our friends to visit someone at a home with AC.

Of course, right after the last one of us went off to college, Mom and Dad got central air conditioning. And the house did not blow up.

Go figure.

Here are some of my favorite things about Southern summers:

  • Going barefoot outside
  • Not having to cook dinner, “because it’s just too hot”
  • You never know when you’re going to get a beautiful evening thunderstorm
  • It’s not uncommon to find tomatoes or cukes on your desk, dropped off by your retired former colleagues, who now garden all day long
  • Buying a watermelon from a roadside stand from the farmer that grew it
  • Sweating it out at a pig-picking cookout, because, it’s just that good
  • Sipping on ice cold sweet tea on a hot day
  • Buying snacks at the pool, because they always taste better from the concessions stand
  • Screaming/laughing kids, running through sprinklers
  • Feeling the welcoming warmth of the sun after walking out of a freezing-cold building (This usually only feels good for the first 60 seconds)
  • Dainty, delicate humming birds hovering around flower beds
  • Kids playing outside until 9 p.m. because it doesn’t get dark until then
  • Huge, frilly hydrangeas everywhere
  • Juicy,drippy, ruin-your-shirt-but-you-just-don’t-care- peaches, eaten right off a tree.

Hope Kansas summers are as fun as North Carolina summers! If ya’ll come through Rocky Mount, NC, be sure to visit me. I’ll get you a nice cold glass of iced tea…..

tomatoesMysteriously, found these tomatoes on my desk yesterday. We’re going to have BLTs for supper tonight!

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