Tuesday, March 30, 2010

We've Been Pink'd!

First of all, your computer is not playing tricks on you...I am. If you were over here anytime yesterday, you noticed I had gone blue...and um..very, very basic (which is, of course, very unlike me). Neal and I were at Army Dad's yesterday (I volunteered Neal to help Army Dad put rear shocks on Col. Ketchup. I mean, if this whole project manager things falls through, wouldn't it be nice to have a back-up? Mechanics make an obscene amount of money...well, at least they charge an obscene amount of money) and I was working on my laptop on Army Dad's network. Army Dad was a computer programmer in his former life so his network is locked down tighter than Ft. Knox. When I pulled up my blog, I didn't see anything but text boxes. I freaked. I hopped on Blogger and uploaded the first non-vile template I saw and everything appeared. I breathed, but I hated it. Sometime last night, in a Zyrtec-D-induced sleep, I remembered that Army Dad is locked down like San Quentin and that everyone, except my stepmom, can see my blog in its entirety. Sorry about that, Suzy Stepmom. So, I made it all spa-like up in here again and I will totally blame all of this on the bizarre amount of cold medicine I have coursing through my body right now.

Which brings me to...
Dear ManCold version 2.0,
You can suck it.
My Immune System

And Dear Dayquil/Nyquil,
You haven't done much for me this time around, either. Bah!
Zyrtec-D User

Anysnot..I'm way past due in posting these, but Tuesday is better than no day...yes? Please enjoy the pictures we snapped from Champagne Friday. And by the way...Shana, Neal has a bone to pick with you. I may never drink "regular" champagne again. I will always think pink!

It kind of always amazes me when people pop corks in the movies and champagne bubbles spill forth all over the carpet. What a waste. Neal has popped many a cork since he's met me (yeah, yeah...that's what she said) and never once spilled champagne on the kitchen floor.

Pretty in pink and in one of the champagne glasses from our wedding (which we always use...goes with the whole "life is too short to not drink champagne, use your wedding glasses, and eat off your china" thing).

Nothing better than seeing the ass-end of a champagne glass!

Hugs and kisses to you, Shana! That was fantastic!! Y'know what else is fantastic? That necklace! Silver Summer is now posted on Etsy. I thought pink cat's eye beads were the perfect addition to Pink Champagne Friday.

And just because it entertains me, here's a breakdown of last weekend's TV watching:

The Red Violin - 5 stars (a good deal of it takes place in Italy so just remember...subtitles are your friend. But this movie ROCKS).
The Proposal - 3 stars (sorry, Sandy. I heart you and I think Jesse James should be exiled to Antarctica for what he did to you...but I saw this movie before...it was called 2 Weeks Notice and While You Were Sleeping).
The Love Boat (would it be rude to say that I am just slightly younger than this show and thus totally missed out? That's OK...Neal and Netflix are making sure I get all caught up).
Miami Vice (We began with season 1, episode 1...how it all started).

AND Hobby Lobby just came out with the cutest picture frame bobby pins.
*Gasp* I know...love at first sight, right? I was so inspired by Kelly @ Dare to be Domestic's lemon fixation that I opted for yellow plaid scrapbook paper to stick in there. Then you throw some sealant on and voila! You've got bobby pins that just scream SUMMER! I bought 4 more packages just so I can play around with pictures and whatnot. If I have to get a job, you can find me at Hobby Lobby. Or Michael's.

It could get a little blue around here tomorrow. Because if you were paying attention last weekend, you know that my boys lost to icky WVU! And I have something to say on the matter, of course.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

This Is Not Me Comment-Blocking You

Kiera @ Imperfect Daisies just emailed me to say she can't comment. GAH! OK...fixing it now...

Excuse Me While I Become Bilingual For a Sec

Inspired by reading Boops Does Tulsa's blog, I decided to renovate. I downloaded a nifty little template from a website that boasts loads of free blogger templates. It was a lot like trying to find Myspace backgrounds, actually...back when I did that sort of thing. Like last week. I love the new design. It relaxes me and makes me want to ride a bike with a wicker basket and have picnics in the park. Except my bike is specifically designed for mountains (which we don't have) and our parks are fields of sparse grass and a set of swings. But if I lived in North Carolina, I would totally do both of those. Anyway, not that I'm complaining really, because y'know I love all things Italian, but this specific design comes with labels...in Italian. Because we were in Italy for five minutes, I can read these...and also maybe because they are roughly the same in English. But I cannot figure out how to change it. At least it's better than it was an hour ago...with a life-size picture of our wedding officiant and 3 dots across his forehead.

So, yeah thanks, Boops. Any other bright ideas?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Champagne Friday Lives (or The Ways Y'all Amaze Me)

THAT, my darlings....is PINK CHAMPAGNE...chillin' in my fridge!! (I tried really hard to zoom in so you would only see the soy milk and not the 1/2 gallon of heavy whipping cream.) Why does the pink champagne have a bow on it, you ask? Because it was a gift of epic awesomeness from Shana @ Fumbling Towards Normalcy!! Apparently, the death of Champagne Fridays was too much to bear in her tax season-induced frenzy. So, Wednesday afternoon I was on the chest press while Neal was opposite me on the chest fly when my phone rang. It was my most favoritest liquor store in Big Blue Country, Liquor Barn. (Seriously...it's a barn...with liquor....OK, it's not exactly a barn...but it's as big as a barn and that makes me as happy as that milkoholic, Lindsay). I had a gift awaiting me. The best part is it's PINK...wait, did I say that already? I've never had pink champagne. So, thank you, thank you, thank you, Shana. This is so beyond believable that every time I tell this story, the person says, "SERIOUSLY?? That's so freaking cool." Yeah. It pretty much is. My first toast goes to you, girl! AND you earned the #1 slot on Top Five Friday. Cheers!

#5 My Posse Brings Their A Game (and some nasty words...but I like it).
When I posted about the Anonymous Arshole, y'all totally backed me up. I couldn't help but giggle and strut my peacock feathers a little bit whenever I got a new comment. My favorite, though, goes to Krysten @ After I Do who said "that's being called LAMESPICE." And just like that, I've looted this word and added it to own vocabulary. Thank you, Krysten. I'm so excited to add Lamespice to 100, key grip, and bang bang skeet. Sweetmeat.

#4 You Mess With Hello Kitty, You Are Messin' Wit Me
This is Mama Virgo at my cousin's birthday party last Saturday. It was one of those bouncy places where the children fly down inflatable slides and the parents wish there was a bar instead of a soda machine. These are actually truckloads of fun and great toning for the hips and thighs...if they let the adults play. We didn't get to play. We got to watch and discuss why you never eat the top layer of a kid's birthday cake.

#3 You Would Think We Had Just Emerged From 6 Month of Darkness

My cats are whores for the sunshine. Obviously. LuLu actually snored right through the taking of this picture and several more. It's no wonder they have an exponential amount of energy to destroy the house during the night.

#2 I Have Chosen....Team Bill.
I have tried to get into Twilight...really, I have. I read the first one. The second one is serving as a paperweight when I open the windows in the office. The whole high school setting makes me feel like I'm about to get busted by To Catch a Predator. Vampires that go to bars and hit on girls who work in bars? I can totally relate to that. That's hot! So, I know it was slow going, but I've finally chosen a team. I'll be making t-shirts next week. Until then, I'm stringing a Peace, Love, Vampires necklace. I can't believe I've succumbed to the vampmania. Again. I totally blissed out to Anne Rice...y'know, before she found God and decided that God and vampires couldn't co-exist peacefully in her world.

#1 Cheers to My Peeps and Especially Shana!
30 minutes until we pop the cork on this bottle, this week, and the True Blue madness that will ensue tomorrow when we put the smackdown on WVU. Also? Even though the WVU Mountaineer is armed, it's with a musket so in my mascot bracket, UK still wins. Where do you even find musket balls these days? I consider that an unarmed mascot..which means Wildcats win again! C-A-T-S, Cats, Cats, Cats!!

Oh and I apologize for the late post....UK didn't tip off until 10PM and we were at a grand opening sipping candy cotton martinis from 6-10. No the fungus didn't get me, but I almost wish it had. At least my head would still be in one piece instead of shattering every time I stand. Last night's drunken debauchery was brought to me by BFF:
My partner in crime, Sparrow:
And Rayna of Simply Love Studio (with her deceptively strong pink cotton candy martinis). Now THAT was a grand opening!
15 minutes until the weekend. Pop a top...on something.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tyne Daly Demasculinized Neal

I totally blame last night's theater in my head on Neal's bright idea to watch vintage television.

The Insight guy came yesterday and took our cable box away. It wasn't quite as heartbreaking as I had imagined. Except for the 7 episodes of American Experience and the one episode of Life, it didn't contain anything that I can't live without or find elsewhere. Neal got an HD antenna for his birthday (who needs pearls and diamonds when you've got electronics??) and he had just purchased a Roku, which allows us to download all of our news channels daily and watch on demand. Plus, we've had the ability to stream instant watch Netflix video for some time. All in all, we're pretty set to watch anything that we would want to watch (as opposed to CNN on 24-7 for background noise...which is apparently not child-friendly, anyway).

Last night, as we settled into our butt-carved seats on the couch with dinner, he loaded an instant watch show on Netflix. I thought it was going to be MI-5, which was the British template for 24 and, in my op, an infinitely better show. But no. He had loaded Cagney and Lacey. Yeah...Tyne and Meg together again (let me just say that it was not until the writers of Burn Notice wrote Tyne a part this past season, opposite her old partner, Meg, that I was clued in to their former working relationship. The skies parted, the sun shone through, angels sang the Hallelujah chorus. I got it). I will go more into the phenom of revolving fashion some other time...but for now, let me just say that I'm desperate trying to find way to make these:

They are RUBIX CUBE EARRINGS!! Tyne was sporting a pair as an undercover prostitute. And I feel the need to make and sell immediately.

Any80's, we went to bed, I read like 4 pages of A is for Alibi, my March bookclub book, and passed out asleep. And then it proceeded to all go down like this:

Neal came home from the gym, doubled over in pain and complaining that some guy had accidentally racked him during a basketball game. When he took his gym shorts off, the...er...base was badly bruised. To this, he muttered, "damn...I'm going to have to take it off to let it heal." Then he unvelcroed his penis and set it on the coffee table. Yep...it was just a flat landscape down south with a bean bag left blowin' in the spring wind. And that did not at all seem odd to me. I just knew that it would sit there, next to my stack of unread Real Simple magazines, until the bruise disappeared and he could re-attach it.

If you're thinking what I'm thinking, then you are humming Detachable Penis RIGHT NOW!! I actually woke up with the melody echoing in my head. Need some words? Let me help you out:

I woke up this morning with a bad hangover
And my penis was missing again.
This happens all the time.
It's detachable.
[background singing begins: "detachable penis" over and over]
I really suggest you give iTunes your 99 cents for this little ditty. You won't be sorry, swearsies.

And because I can't leave well enough alone, I went back to sleep. This time, Neal and I were in a mall in London (England, not Kentucky...yes, we have a London, KY...and a Paris, KY...and a Versailles, KY - pronounced Ver-SALES with about 32748 syllables) and someone released a bioterroristic gas in the mall, which killed all of us.

So now I have convinced myself that I have 7 hours to live because when I went to water my ivy this morning, it had a fungus and sticky leaves...and now my throat sort of hurts and I have a little bit of a headache. It's just a matter of time. I promised Queenie Jeannie the Mustang yesterday. Everything else is up for grabs. Except for my husband...who has to now go commit himself to the monastary and marry God. But I really hope it doesn't go down like that. Maybe if I wash my hands and eat a brownie, it will all go away. I'll give that a shot....

Oh and if this fungus doesn't kill me today, come back tomorrow because Champagne Friday LIVES and I have the BEST Top 5 Friday EVAH!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What To Do With a Problem Like Anonymous

I was going to let this slide because what should not be rewarded is bad behavior....contrary to the belief of many Girls Behaving Badly producers. But it was so sadly hysterical that I have to share. I want everyone else to feel the love, too....or the serious lack thereof. I got this from an Anonymous Commenter on The Death of Champagne Fridays:

Wow. It takes a really "special" kind of person to twist her husband's job loss into something that's all about her...Why is it YOU got drunk and angry instead of supportive and comforting? Can't you get a job for awhile?
(I put it in poopy brown....hehehehe...yes, I'm 12. Thanks for noticing).

So, I feel like I have just completed the final stage of being a 100 blogger (Thanks, Jessalyn). I've gained followers, lost followers, published guest posts, and now received a ridiculously negative anonymous comment. I will not waste my time or yours on all 48236792 reasons why this comment is absurd. If the reader even bothered to scan back past March 19th, he/she/ChickenLittle would see that I support Neal 150% everyday. And that is evident. Or it should be. If it's not, I seriously doubt it is anyone's responsibility to judge me on that. My day will come, don't you worry.

I've written, deleted, re-written, deleted and finally written again the next part because what spilled forth originally was vomit of the ego. My first reaction was to be mad...then hurt...then misunderstood (like Van Gogh). So, I left this to sit in the queue for an hour while I went to run my 4 miles and think about what I really wanted to say. And what I decided is that as I get older, I'm learning an important lesson...you never know where the other person is coming from. Don't judge because you never know the path they've walked. Was I judged too quickly? I think so. Everyone who reads me regularly knows 2 things:
1. I can be a bit of a drama queen
2. I truly believe Karma catches up
Well...3...I am not the only one drinking champagne at Chez Miller on Champagne Fridays.

But what I will not do is fight this firestorm with a blowtorch. I will not put negative back out into a world that is already drowning in it (yes haters, I'm talking to you). And I won't judge Anonymous because maybe it's a guy whose wife left him when he lost his job and now all he has is his dog, his fridge of deer meat and the Internet. Or maybe it's a she who has never been supported by her husband, regardless of her career choices. Maybe it's Neal's former employer. Or maybe it's Neal. All I know is that even if Anonymous had a face and a name and a Facebook profile, I still couldn't judge because not everyone puts their life on the chopping block like I do. I'm bound to get cut from time to time. I do feel some kind of unjustified need to clear the record about how we do things around this house.

1. I will support Neal in whatever he decides to do.

Want to take an active tour of duty in Antarctica?
Let me just put the house on the market real quick.

Weighing the options between Cosmotology and Massage Therapy School?
I've got my pro/con table already drawn out.

Deciding to take an early retirement and see the world through the windshield of an RV?
I'll call the dealership and tell them we're on our way.

I know that he will not choose any of these and he will take the most logical path...and get hired in about 9 seconds because he rocks tech socks. I'm just sayin'...I'll be there for you...always have been, always will be. I mean, you put me through massage school and then watched me pack up all of my massage supplies last weekend. I figure I owe you...

2. We are one of those obnoxious couples who is only completely happy when the other is happy. I've been edgy ever since Neal gave up, mentally, on making a difference at his job. Before I opened the business, Neal was always suggesting things for me to try....anything to make the crying after work and on Sunday nights stop. If he wants to go RV'ing, we'll be poor, but we'll be happy. Likewise, Neal does not want me to give up the business. He knows I'm all stupidglowy when I make and sell stuff. Why would he want me to give that up just to get a steady paycheck? Yeah, he wouldn't. Plus, someday the business will draw a steady paycheck. So, we have an understanding....I will see the continental U.S. from the passenger seat and he will let me keep Daisy & Elm.

3. The wine club membership was his idea, I merely agreed. Although I was not all that hesitant about it. And I lay in the tanning bed for relaxation purposes. I am literally slathered, head-to-toe, in Baby Sunscreen. I'm still pasty white...just like a Kentucky girl should be in March. But as I said before, I will easily give them up and take up something that does not involve cooking from the inside, out.

4. Neal and I have been through much worse than him losing a job and still came out holding hands and telling dirty jokes until we laughed. It will be fine like frog's hair and once I got past the mad (I call it sympathy anger because he was also less than pleased), I realized that he had been unhappy for quite some time and that couldn't last much longer.

And now I've just spent 1000 words justifying a blog post to an Anonymous commenter. LAME. Sorry guys, but the secret is out...I am not Chelsea Handler/Surferwife-tough. I am a hot mess of hormonal hominy that does not appreciate outright judgmental comments. Have something helpful to say? Go for it...even if it makes me squirm on my stability ball, I want to hear it. But please don't come in here and spray your nasty on my walls. I just cleaned them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The One Where Neal Quits Shaving and Wears His PJ’s All Day

Well, I can finally report that I no longer want to put my rubber cowboy boot up the "exit only" of an agency director and her wingchick. But it took me almost 5 days to get there. I cannot even begin to express how grateful I am for your all's positive thoughts, prayers, and general rock-it-till-it-hurts comments. And y'all are right…God closes doors and open windows…but until He pops the lock on a Pella, it really kind of sucks. I won't go into the whole who/what/where/why/how the Hell could you's of the situation. I will simply say that:

  1. Neal is not a sugar-coating individual. If you want rainbows and fairies blown up your ass, you don't ask him for it. You get it from somebody else. But if you want the facts, served up with a side of vision and ambition, he's your guy. And Neal had, up until Thursday, only had 3 jobs his entire life. He just celebrated a 40's birthday. So, obviously this approach worked for the majority of his employers.
  2. The directors in this particular agency tend to last about as long as a mild case of poison ivy. Therefore, they spend very little time starting from scratch on personnel, projects, and goals. The last director skipped over the meet-n-greet and asked all of his general managers to complete a personality profile. Neal's was alarmingly spot-on and I wish I had read it before we got married (just to skip over the arguments about money, cleanliness, and deadlines…not because it would have kept me from marrying him). If the agency director and her cohort had bothered to spend 5 minutes reading it, they would have known exactly the kind of person Neal is and not expected him to prance into their office and spray a nice coat of gold over everything. But some people get lost in the forest and end up using the trail map for toilet paper. That's unfortunate, considering it could help you get to your ultimate destination.
  3. This will end very well for Neal and very badly for them. If you choose to "dismiss" the driving force behind a department for 16 years, especially one that is constantly changing (like, say, technology, for example), you could easily deflate morale to the point that your only choice left is to hire a whole new crew. And this is what leads to the vicious cycle that is state government. It tends to go a little something like this:

    Why do I have to go to (insert state capitol) to do this? → Why can't I update this information on a website? → State government is SO inefficient. → An agency director comes in and immediately starts making drastic changes, including firing a very progressive and motivated general manager of technology. →The entire staff of the department begins to fear for their own jobs, thinking "if they fired HIM…." →Staff begins to look for new jobs. → Staff leaves department to take on new, more dependable jobs. →Agency director must begin filling all of those slots with fresh college graduates who are far less experienced than the staff that had been there for 20 years. →New staff starts at Square One which, usually, does not involve progressive and innovative projects. → Why do I have to go to (insert state capitol) to do this?


    And round and round we go with tax payers complaining about their wasted dollars and strong employees like Neal sit at the house and update their resumes. La Cycle of Life.

And here's what I know:

  1. Neal quit being happy at the agency the day they quit respecting his ideas. When I met him, he nearly skipped into work every morning. He worked on his BlackBerry the entire time we were in St. Lucia and on our honeymoon….ignoring all of my passionate pleas and finally threats to launch his CrackBerry into the damned Caribbean. When he came home at noon on his birthday, I knew it was just a short journey to unemployment or complete madness.
  2. Neal is very marketable with skills that are in high demand right now. He will probably be employed before I can relax long enough to actually enjoy having him home all day.
  3. I am not giving up Daisy & Elm. For about 10 minutes when he got home on Thursday, I played the "well I guess I can go get a job at Hobby Lobby or Cracker Barrel" card…but the truth is, I love my business. I am 31 years old and I've had 36 jobs (I know this as fact because I had to go through a security clearance once and list them all. That was a very dark day). I love making beautiful and affordable jewelry. And I would have to say that I'm no worse at it than I was at anything else (including cleaning cars, answering phones, personal training, being a massage therapist, and waitressing at a truck stop). Plus…I work all of the time. I would work in the car or in a bar…near or far or for a Czar…And I owe this little piece of realization to Shana @ Fumbling Towards Normalcy. She just finished The Happiness Project and has been re-evaluating her own happiness. Her thoughts on the matter caused me to evaluate mine and I decided that I would rather sell our house, our cars, our big, expensive furniture, and a kidney before I give up Daisy & Elm. So…that's kind of saying a lot, considering I probably need both kidneys to offset the abuse of my liver. Good-bye tanning bed package, cable TV, wine club membership, Champagne Fridays and perhaps my BlackBerry…but hello doing what I love and loving what I'm doing (and not dreading Monday mornings, for a change). It's so easy, it's hardly a sacrifice.
  4. Neal now understands what my days are like…which does not include lying on the couch, watching One Life to Live and finding out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop. SCORE!


While I have not yet started clipping coupons (which is mainly because I forgot to pick up the Sunday paper yesterday), I have given up my clothing budget and pillaged my house looking for crap to sell. And in the process…I found my oil change coupons!!! So, that's like making $60. Maybe I can bring Champagne Friday back for just one encore?

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Death of Champagne Friday (or The Day Neal Lost His Job)

I am not going to go into this too much this morning because:

a) I'm still wrapping my head around it and I should probably not use the "c" word to describe Neal's former employer on a public space. That would probably be immature. And...

2) I wrote a guest blog for Krysten while she's off sunning herself and drinking margaritas by moonlight in Mehico. So, go visit me over there today and then come back tomorrow and hear my rant. I should be dried up and cried out by then.

At Krysten's @ After I Do , I am discussing the pros and cons of marriage...which, now that I think about it, is wildly appropriate, seeing as we seem to be in the throes of the "for worse" part. And while you're over there, give Krysten a follow. Just her posts about hubby Dustin make it worth it. Also? She's blogging with 2 other fellow bloggers on The Wife Diaries, which is amazing just in title alone.

I'll be back tomorrow. More sober and less angry....well, less like The Shining angry and more like P!nk angry. And I'll be looking for a free version of champagne...which could involve a gassy husband in the garden tub.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Luck of the Irish

And this is how I feel my luck is going right now...specifically regarding cars and electronics.

I would just like to say that I am a Virgo...this means that everything in my house is color-coded, alphabetized, and cross-referenced...with an index card explaining said cross-referencing. Even if everything does have a fine layer of cat hair on it, it's still organized, dammit. We don't even have a junk drawer...even the junk drawers have separators. But either I am too organized or I had a temporary moment of insanity because I've misplaced 2 coupons for free oil changes at our friendly neighborhood tire store. We have spent a lot of money there. And by "a lot"...I mean A LOT. Colonel Ketchup and his old man neediness has just about purchased us our very own wing of the tire store. So, I'm sure I could call up those friendly tire guys and explain the dilemma. But now it just comes down to the principle of the thing. I know I had 2 coupons left in an envelope from the store. Where the hells is it?? Adding to the madness is the fact that I'm in full-fledged CD-copying mode right now. We own about 450 CDs (thanks a freakin' lot, Columbia House and BMG. You really know how to hit up a 16-year old with 10 cents, don't ya? Now I own The Best of Ace of Base, the soundtrack to The Lion King, and John Denver's Greatest Hits) so I'm burning what I want and donating them to the library. I think once this epic task is finished, I will feel about 439 LBs lighter. It's the gettin' there that sucks. So, picture my office with piles: CDs to be burned, CDs that are burned but not cataloged, CDs that are burned and cataloged and ready to donate...plus the receipts from last week's buying spree that must be entered into the budget app and 2 weeks' worth of mail and you've just gotten a good glimpse of my personal hell.

Then you've got the fact that we own a Prius. That used to mean that we wanted to hug a tree and make all of my tampons out of seaweed. Now it means that we would like to die, careening at high speeds down I-64 until we come to rest under a semi for Wal-Mart. Because it's a 2009 and has only been recalled for floor mats, they won't do anything to it until the software issues in the other models have been fixed. But it still needs oil changes. At the dealership. Where 184999938 other people are also having their Toyotas maintained. An oil change used to take 45 minutes. I was there for 3 hours yesterday. I finished my book for the book club meeting last night...it's 482 pages and when I got there, I was on page 250. I'm no speedreader, kids. They did keep offering me free pork BBQ sandwiches (no thanks, I don't eat meat from a car dealership) and unlimited coffee (have you met me? No caffeine after 2PM or I'm pacing the yard until dawn the next day) and bags of Dorito's (I prefer my breath not to smell like sick baby diaper, thanks). And now there's an issue with the auxillary port, so I'm driving a loaner...a 2010 Corolla...which is fine, but when he gave it to me, he held the keys out all here kitty, kitty like and said "I'm really sorry. I had to give you a car with 300 miles on it. Hope you don't mind." Hardy, har, har. You're not giving me a LandRover or a Lexus, buddy...don't expect me to do backflips over a Corolla. Also? Colonel Ketchup has like 275,000 miles (it's now impossible to keep track of accurately, however, since the odometer quit working on Father's Day of 2008). I'm not a milesgirl. I'm a speedgirl. Give me a cobalt blue Mustang, and then we'll talk. Still waiting on that phone call to get the DeathTrap back.

Add to this the fact that Neal, AKA Mr. Electronics Gadgets, has had to return something not once, but twice this week...as he tries to hardwire the network in our house and rig our TV with an HD antenna. How nice it would be to not give money to the cable company every month. That's what we're working toward. It's a process, though.

So, since neither of us are Irish...Neal's half fullblood English and I'm a mut of European proportions (none of which involve being Irish), perhaps we should not expect the rainbow to end at our house. But I'll keep looking for that pot o' gold, which will give me 2 more free oil changes. And we shall celebrate with green liquids. Last year it was this:

That's right...if you add 2 drops of green food coloring to a glass of Chardonnay...you get green Chardonnay. We have a box (quit judging me...5 liters for $14. Mama didn't raise no fool) of Chablis in the fridge right now...another excellent white wine. So, perhaps this again? Or maybe something more daring.

Also...I lost a follower. *sad face* This is the first time. Rejection is a bitch. But it's a party at Magnolias and Mimosas and maybe they just couldn't hang.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Champagne-Infused Blogging

Happy Champagne Friday!
*clink* and Cheers!

So, Neal would like to say "thank you, 'ppreciate it. I hope there's one birthday wish for every year...and if you slacked...(uh, no, I did not actually count 42 of those sweet nothings) then you can always make it up to me next year." Did you get that, Blogiverse? Neal's giving you another chance. He never does that.

To celebrate his big day, he called at 11 AM to say he was bringing his "old ass to the house." My old ass was still in my even older pajama bottoms and some raggedy sorority t-shirt from 1990-something. Yeah, yeah...at 11 AM...it's called working from home and I love it each and every day. So, we took advantage of the 68-degree weather and dropped the top on Colonel Ketchup as we headed to Smashing Tomatoes for lunch. And then a movie. I can't actually remember the last movie he and I saw together. It could be The Kingdom. It's been awhile. And then dinner at Saul Good (say it really fast and it will make a lot more sense. And 3003 points if you throw a sign while saying it).

And then...I got ManCold. Not sure what ManCold is? Click on the link and go visit Amanda. She'll explain it all. You should probably stick around to hear what else she has to say, though, because she's a Wildcat fan living in Gainesville and I have to say...that takes brass monkey balls.

Dear Amanda,
Can I send you the Gator Hater shirt they're selling at Cat-Fanatic right now? Will you wear it to the Cracker Barrel? Totally worth the $5.
Big Blue Blogger

Anyway, I am fighting off ManCold with Nyquil and Dayquil and boxed wine and, tonight, champagne...because...it's CHAMPAGNE FRIDAY. You no longer have to pretend you haven't been working all week for this. It's OK..you're amongst friends. We know. So pop the cork and pour a little bubbly...I'm gonna mix it up around here.

I've decided to start a meme. I have, actually, no idea what that is. It looks to me a lot like mime and I have no intentions of letting mimes drink my champagne or even letting mimes mime-drink my champagne (Neal is lucky to get a glass from the bottle...but it is purchased with his paycheck). Today I am kicking off Top Five Friday...which can be read with or without champagne. I realize some of you are pregnant, living with 1/2 a liver, or choose other demons (i.e. cigarettes or scrapbooking) to consume your discretionary income. So, here goes kids...my top 5 most favoritest things from this week:

5. Alice in Wonderland...in 3D...

This was the movie Neal was determined to see after it was revealed that I had never actually been to a 3D movie. I've been out of the country at least half a dozen times, held over 35 different jobs, and been to every warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse, and doghouse this side of the Mississippi River...but I'd never been to a 3D movie. In short...it's my new favorite thing. You really can't fall down a rabbit hole until you've done it in 3D. Also? The glasses are going to be all the rage this spring. I didn't turn mine back in because I've decided to Bedazzle them.

I know y'all may be unaware...but we seem to be having a bit of wet weather here in the southeast. And I have been on a 6-month mission to find Wellies. That mission ended a few weeks ago when I found these fantastical darlings. First of all, they're rubber. Second of all, they're cowboy boots. In case you aren't paying attention, they are rubber cowboy boots. Like manna from heaven. I seriously had someone try to buy them off my feet. I will let you buy the jewelry off my neck. You cannot have my rubber skull n' roses cowboy boots...so back off, bitch. (Oh, and the peace sign necklace is new Daisy & Elm piece...gotta pimp my wares where I can.)

I am such a whore for St. Patrick's Day. I'm not even Irish. I'm like GermanCherokeeEnglishSwiss. It doesn't make any sense. But leprechauns dancing a jig? Yes, please. Green beer/wine/flaming vodka shot? Don't mind if I do. Rainbows and pots 'o' gold? Does Lindsay Lohan's ego need a separate limo? So, I made this fun piece a few weeks ago. And then it sort of sat in my studio for 3 too many weeks and now I will never sell it in time for St. Patty's Day. But actually, I think that will be fine. A girl has to keep something for herself, y'know.

C-A-T-S, Cats, Cats, Cats!!! We dried out the Rolltide (sorry, Kelly) this afternoon and I just know we're about to give a job to the Volunteers. Also? This is the original wildcat. They no longer put this wildcat on anything because it was brought to the attention of the marketing department that the tongue looks like...er...uh...how to say this...(oh hell, I know more about your all's pooping habits than I do my own husband)...it looks like a PENIS. P-E-N-I-S, Penis, Penis, Penis!!! (Have mercy, that was liberating. You should try it. Go ahead. I'll wait.)

Feel better?

Anyway, to commemorate, I made this little cutie:
It was, of course, snatched up in about 8 seconds...which kind of makes me sad because I had grown really fond of it. But only one of everything...blah, blah, blah...

So, with about 394,003 million apologies to Foxy, I don't have an actual picture of me sporting my new gorgeous scarf from her Etsy store because Mother Nature smiled on Big Blue Country this week and granted us 6 days of above freezing temperatures...well above freezing, actually. I wore flip flops. *gasp* And a t-shirt without anything under or over it. *double gasp and squeal* But Foxy and I worked a trade through our mutual Etsy stores and I got the softest, most elaborate winter white scarf I've ever seen. And, as you can see, it perfectly matches the Kangol hat I bought with my horse racing winnings way back in 1998 (well before the owner of said hat store went to jail for spying on college co-eds in the shower. How very Porky's of him.) So...thank you, Foxy, for my awesome scarf. I know that we are not done with winter...or rather, winter is not done with us...so I will post real-life pictures of me in your frothy creation. In the meantime, I just sleep with it because it's much softer than Neal. And go visit Foxy's Etsy store, DownwithKnit. I personally am not down with knit or knitting needles or anything that comes by the yard...but I'm down with Foxy and that's more than enough for me!

Off to blog hop and comment. ManCold got me down, but it can't keep me there. I'm every woman...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wrapping' It Up...Puttin' a Bow On It

I am going to shamelessly pick up where I left off last Thursday. I say shamelessly because this whole little Ally and Neal Go West series was supposed to wrap up on Friday. But then someone popped the cork on the champagne and the weekend kicked off and suddenly I found myself at Target buying the crystal lamps I've always wanted (which, in turn, lead to a full-blown spring cleaning and lamp shade buying mission. It can never just be "I'm going to buy a lamp" around here. It always leads to a double-digit to-do list). But Tuesday is the new Friday AND it's Neal's birthday! He joins the many of you who are celebrating birthdays this month and the several of you who were born in 1960-something. So, Happy Birthday Boo-Bear (no, we don't actually call each other that, but I figure it's a nice time to start. And it's much better than Precious Prick, yes?).

Friday morning, over breakfast, we (and by "we" I mean "I" because I get my most inspired and ludicrous (and I can no longer spell ludicrous without spell-check. Thanks a kilo, Ludacris) ideas over an all-meat omelette) decided to hike to the summit of Camelback Mountain. If we finished breakfast by 8 and were on the trail by 8:30, we would easily be done by 10 and showered and checked out by 1:00. Our flight back to Kentuckarctica was not until 3:00. And? It's only 1.2 miles to the summit. Easy cheasy. We do that all the time in the Gorge. Neal was raised near the Gorge. He practically rappelled out of his mama's womb. We might even get back in time to have a second omelette.

Except that it's 1.2 miles up. Yes, yes, it's a summit...what did I expect? A ski lift to meet me at the end of the plateau? No, not really. But I did not expect to be bouldering...up...for a half a mile. So, let me set the scene...we're both wearing our tennis shoes, I'm in a white, cotton, eyelet shirt and he's carrying his Starbucks mug of hotel coffee. We had tourist written across our foreheads and our asses. I hate it when I do that.

The views of Phoenix and Scottsdale were astronomical. And the mountain was crowded with athletes of all kinds who obvi rise with the roosters and run the mountain everyday. We passed one group of guys coming down and then going back up. That's a special kind of crazy that usually results in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (look, Mama Virgo! I am using that degree!). I'll climb this beast once and call it a day, thankyouverymuch. The pictures don't really do it justice, but I'm happy to give it the ole college try:

See that little building in the bottom of the picture? We didn't even get that far on Day 1...just to give you some perspective (because I'm an artist, yo, and I believe in perspective).

The fence, I get...although I'm not sure it's so much to keep people from falling off the cliff as it is to keep people from climbing the hill in their backyard and hiking around at night (also...crazy. There are wolves and desert creatures). But the railing? Really? Oh. Yes, really. Going up is not so bad since you just kind of lean in and put your glutes into it. But coming down, you either lower yourself down using whatever upper body strength you've gained from carrying the milk and 4 bags of canned goods up 3 flights of stairs or you tuck and roll. All. The. Way. Down. What? It doesn't look far? In 3D, it's far. Allow me to demonstrate:

Yep, that's how you do it. With a sweater thrown over your shoulder and a thermos of water stuck down the back of your pants...not in a pocket, but actually stuck between flesh and your VS. In the end, it was all worth it. Like this kind of worth it:

What? Cotton and wool are the undiscovered wicking material of Olympic athletes' uniforms. Note to self: always pack more than one bra. Always.
Not sure if Camelback Mountain is for you? Perhaps this will inspire:

This is Gino. His owner is a Gabrielle Reese-look-alike who apparently hikes Camelback every morning before she heads off to her job as a Nike model/Denise Austin body double. She informed us that Gino has done Camelback Mountain well over 100 times, usually on his own. But he was recovering from some sort of doggy malaria, so she carried him part of the way on Friday. What I hear when I look at Gino is the Taco Bell dog harassing me with, "You had to stop? To what? Look at the view? This is the view. Stopping is for pussies. But then, you are wearing cotton." Yeah, that's what I hear. Gabrielle calls him her little mountain motivator...I call him more of a man than half of my high school boyfriends. Print this out, tack it to your corkboard. If Gino can do it...

And if you need a visual, this is pretty indicative of the trail, plus a couple of railings (yes, there was more than one. I would say the second one is what separates the girls in Old Navy flip flops from the women in Merrell boots).

There's not so much a trail as there is a path of least resistance. As in life, everyone chooses their own path. I chose the flattest path possible. I'm sure that speaks volumes about my appetite for ambition in this life.

We did not make it back in time for a second omelette. We made it back just in time to shower, eat leftover non-$250 brisket and get to the airport. I couldn't really walk very well for 2 days, but it was well worth the burn and ache. We climbed a mountain. *Cue Diana Ross*

In other news...
Today is Neal's birthday!!! He's at work today because for some reason, birthdays, for him, are synonymous with any day ending in "y"...unlike his wife who celebrates birthday month. This picture was from about 3 years ago, when I decorated his office while he was whisked away to lunch. I have failed miserably in doing anything extreme this year. His wish list was so chock-full of functional items that it just sapped the creative spirit right out of me. But he gets a dinner tonight. And he can drink his white wine from the red wine fish bowls we have, if he so desires. But tomorrow is another day so all festivities will be wrapped up by 9:30. It's a bitch to be born in 1960-something...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Saturday is the New Friday

Because...whoopsie...I forgot I wrote a little sumpin'-sumpin' for my girl, Masala Chica, while she jet sets on "work" trips (yeah, whatevs, Kiran. We know you're fist-pumping at London's hottest underground spot and writing it all off at the end of the year. But we love you anyway. Just bring us back something tall, dark, and looking a lot like Colin Firth).

Anyway, Happy Champagne Friday...go visit me over there. Because two posts from me in one day is enough to make a person blind. And I have birthday shopping to do for Hubster's big day next week. I would tell you what anniversary of 21 he's celebrating but, technically, he still has a blog and retaliation stings like a wet handtowel snapped on the inner thigh.

Also? While you're over there, go ahead and follow her because she's hysterical, with an H. I mean how many beautiful mommies do you know who find themselves getting kicked out of the American Legion? If your answer is "zero" that's reason enough to stalk her. Even if you somehow know somebody, stalk her anyway. And if you're lucky, you may just stumble across the post where she discusses how she made the most gorgeous pictures with a squirting-poo-baby.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lions and Tigers and UK, oh MY!

In case you haven't been following with bated breath, this is the week-long travelogue of our trip to Phoenix. Today brings us to Thursday of last week. Just one more day to go. And then it's back to snow and bone-chilling winds and chili in the crockpot (oh fancy carrot-topped beef brisket, I miss you already!) Also? This daily blogging thing is hard. HOW do y'all do it? I mean, I barely have time to cook dinner and watch the 7 episodes of American Experience clogging up my DVR. Oh right, I've pretty much blown right though my 500-word limit with every post.

Neal graciously agreed to follow me to Budget Rent-a-Car on Thursday morning so I didn't have to hitch my way back to base camp. We left the hotel around 6 AM which is well before sunrise and, as it turns out, the middle of rush-hour traffic in Phoenix. Who knew?? So, Catalina and I took off down 51 North, with Neal driving Henry the brigade Hyundai behind me. Props to him for keeping up with me because, as we eventually learned, I was driving without any headlights on. All the way down 51 North. In rush-hour traffic. In the dark. That would explain all of the honking. We missed the exit, took the next one and stopped at a gas station to get turned around. And that's when I discovered the headlight situation. It hadn't been an issue up to this point for me because I had only driven during the day. But remember that dinner excursion out to Chez $250 last night? Yep. Completely without headlights. Awesomesauce. Neal's motto is "I'd rather be lucky than smart." I think I'm going to stitch it on a pillow.

We returned Catalina without issue (except for my tear tracks down her driver side window) and put-putted back to the hotel. It was about 10 minutes later that I realized I had left something in the car. And not just something but a package. A custom order that should have gone out at the beginning of the week, but I was distracted by all of the cacti and free wine. My only thought was (cover your child's eyes) OH shitcrackers! I called the rental agency, spoke to a very nice gentleman who was not nearly as panicked as I and tried to convey to him the urgency of the situation. He promised to call back within 10 minutes. After 12 minutes I called him back. He had it and I was on my way back down 51 North before he could say "you're welcome." So, yeah Foxy...when I say I was having a day...that's how it was all going down.

By 0900 I was out of the shower and getting ready to hit the Phoenix Art Museum, which got rave reviews from no one I had ever heard of. The phone rang. It was Neal standing outside the door. The double-bolted door. Colonel Somebody had released them with a "thank you for your service. Enjoy your day," before they could even sit down. Sweetness. We were off to the Phoenix Zoo, instead. AND we were just in time for the giraffe-feeding (which I was more than a little pouty about missing when we originally planned to hit it after Neal's conference at 2 that afternoon).

The Phoenix Zoo apparently has Mommy Group Day. Also known as A Day That Would Make Even the Most Maternally Instinctive Woman Want to Jump Into the Lion's Den Just to Avoid Getting Knicked in the Ankles By a Stroller. Again. Seriously? I drank a very large beer with lunch. I'm not lying. Neal had one, too. So, we paid our money and made our way to the giraffe feeding area where a very nice man who has mad skillz with a Canon Rebel shot a few snaps of us feeding a lovely female giraffe. Her name was something African that means something exquisite in English. But it all escapes me right now. But she was happy to lick us.

Check out the tongue!! And when it comes out, it's all slow and reptilian-like. But she was very sweet and had the most beautiful eyelashes.

And on our way back down the hill, toward the flamingos, we saw this phenomenon. It was the first time we had seen a barrel cactus propped up by 2 x 4's...but not the last, actually.

Apparently, they can store 6 tons of water. I happen to know what 1 gallon of water falling on me feels like. So, yes Phoenix Zoo, please know there's no judgment here.

Salt? This one is TOTALLY for you. Also, I looked at your wedding pictures on Facebook and if that's the rockin body that Yoga gives you, I am canceling my gym membership and buying blocks and straps today.

Sort of looks like...

This is how I feel about Mommy Group Day:

There are literally about 100 more and if you're that interested, come find me on Facebook and you can relive our zoo experience, frame-by-frame. I didn't really see anything there that I haven't seen at the Louisville Zoo or the Cincinnati Zoo or the Jacksonville Zoo...

As mentioned earlier, we left the zoo and headed for a British pub with about 754 different beers on tap. Then headed for Camelback Mountain, to hike the summit in non-flip-flop footwear. Except that it was the first truly gorgeous day in the valley and people were waiting in their car for hikers to descend the mountain and relinquish their parking space. Not interested. I found a park on the GPS and we put-putted over to Chaparral Park in Scottsdale. It was not a 1.2 mile vertical hike to a summit, but it would do in a pinch. 75 degrees and sunny did not require much more than a roofless space and a picnic blanket. There was a paved walk/run/bike trail around the pond and tennis courts that lead to a water conservation exhibit...the Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden. I'm certain that we had no idea what we were looking at, but the sound of water was peaceful...and a welcome change from screaming children chasing down pooping pigeons.

You can probably expect this idea to materialize into jewelry someday:
After all of that brisk walking on flat land, it was time to replenish with 3999 more calories than we originally burned. Thus? Gelato.

We stumbled across The Gelato Spot while looking for a coffee shop that has unfortunately morphed into a Starbucks, which is, granted, still a coffee shop but can also be found 2 miles from our house in either direction. I now wonder how many times this sweet shop gets shortened to The G Spot? Because that's what it did for me....

After gelato, I decided that we must have at least one (and preferably 6) bottles of Kokopelli Vineyard wine...which I have ONLY found in Arizona. And trust me I've looked all up and down the eastern seaboard. And once in Chicago. We GPS'd it. The first place to pop up under "liquor stores" was Kevin's Quality Liquor. Neal's theory was that because "quality" was in the name, then it must have the. best. quality. liquor. It did not have the. best. quality. liquor. It had 2 aisles of bottom-shelf horse piss and 2 full aisles of kids' cereal. The door had barely shut behind us before we booked it back out. Then we hit 2 more places before the manager of CVS told me about Total Wines, which I guess is like our Liquor Barn. We found our bottles of Kokopelli Vineyard wine in Total Wines and had driven approximately 20 miles within 5 square miles trying to find it. Neal needed a drink.

Thursday night was UK game night. So, we grabbed a pizza from the hotel restaurant (which was during the manager's reception. The bartender kept trying to pour me Chardonnay. I don't know what part of "8-hour flight home tomorrow" he didn't understand. But I'm sure my >$4<$250 tip helped him remember my wine preference). And Kallay, I really hope you appreciate that I just worked greater than/less than into a post.
So we ate our pizza, drank a bottle of Kokopelli and watched UK put the thump down. C-A-T-S, Cats, Cats, Cats!! And then B-E-D, Bed, Bed, Bed!! Home, sweet home, tomorrow!

But first, a summit cuz ain't no mountain high enough...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wild Wednesday

OK...it wasn't that wild...

It was the last day Catalina and I would have together, so we had some errands to run. I know, right? Errands to run on vacation? Well, when you're in the land of inexpensive, beautiful gemstones and you own a jewelry business, then a little shopping tops the to-do list. But first...lunch with the Phoenix socialites.

Wednesday morning, after my half-hearted attempt at strength training, (why hotels insist on putting state-of-the-art ellipticals and just one rack of dumbbells is beyond me. Hello...osteoporosis anyone?) and a shower, I ventured out in search of Bead World. When it popped up on my GPS, I think I peed a little. Bead World?? Doesn't it sounds like Sea World and isn't that the most magical place on earth? Er...or something like that. Fortunately for me, Bead World had not one, but THREE locations nearby! I set my coordinates for the Phoenix store and vroom-vroomed right over.

To say that I was a kid in a candy store is a vast understatement. I was a 4-year old in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory minus creepy Willy Wonka and the Oompa Loompas plus Grandpa Joe (because let's face it, he was the only redeeming character).

Ladies and gentleman, I give you....BEAD WORLD!!! The clouds part, golden light shines down from above, the angels sing a note reserved for second comings. It. Was. Beautiful.

And then Neal texted me. I know it's only 11:00 but they let us out for lunch. Can you come get me? And as I stood there, dripping in Zebra Jasper and Sardonyx and Carnelian, I not-so-silently cursed my husband and his inconvenient timing. I made arrangements for them to hold everything because I will be back and vroom-vroomed back over to the hotel. And waited. And sat and waited some more. Where are you? In a meeting...give me a sec. Or 200 secs. Fifteen minutes later, he strolled through the door. You know what a Mustang is really good at? Handling under aggressive driving. Fortunately, he got lucky and picked a lovely place for lunch. Sophie's, A French Bistro. In the parking lot of Sophie's was a Jaguar, a Maserati, a Porsche, a BMW, and a Prius. The Prius owner was fairly easy to spot...plus, she came over to thank Neal for his service (yep, still in ACU's). I'm not exactly sure what made this the lunch spot for the diamond and pearl encrusted elite...the lunch did not require a loan and the water was not served in crystal goblets. The food was light and flavorful French cuisine (I had crepes because what else do you get at a french bistro?) and the total was $30 for the both of us. OK...maybe a little pricey for lunch but 1) we had a per diem and 2) that was not even close to what we spent at Med Fresh, A Mediterranean Grill. And that parking lot was full of bicycles.

Also? A good amount of the menu was in French, as was the guest ticket.

Dear Madame Delk,
Your hard work paid off! I remember cheese, chocolate, ham, and two in French! I remember more than "your chest is like a sack of potatoes." Well done.

Back to Bead World. And three other stops, but none as jaw-dropping, imagination-inspiring, and friendly as Bead World. Plus, one of the ladies helping me attended Gonzaga. So, here are a few of the beauties I brought home with me. I'm doing something I've never done...letting people see what I've purchased and then make a request for something custom. If nothing gets snatched in a week, I'm taking it all into the studio and designing things I want to wear.

This is a Sardonyx donut. I was recently introduced to Sardonyx by a friend requesting a rosary using more traditional birthstones. Sardonyx is often used for both August and September and I LOVE it. So much texture...

The saleslady didn't exactly know what this was and to be fair, neither of these pendants came from Bead World but from Scottsdale Bead Supply...a very reputable store for gemstones, but this was hot off the truck and she hadn't seen it yet.

Mookite! Just saying it makes me giggle. I should have bought an extra strand. I'm going to have a hard time parting with these girls. MUAH! I just love you, little mustard and crimson marbled rose!

Yes, yes..we've all seen Tiger's Eye (and the first person who breaks out into Eye of the Tiger has to run steps)...but Tiger's Eye in its true gemstone form is breath-taking. Accept no substitutions from Michael's. This is where it's at, y'all.

It's a gemstone...and it's PINK! Rhodonite...not to be confused with Rhododendron...which is not pink and should not be worn around the neck.

Zebra Jasper, as if it could be anything but. It's Yin. No, it's Yang. No, it's both. Perfect balance, just as it should be.

And saving the best for last, Crystal Quartz. It's like diamonds but bigger! These are easily confused with glass beads, but once you see them in person, that mistake is in your past.

By Wednesday evening, I was a couple hundred dollars down in the business checking account and entirely too sober. So, we grabbed our laptops and headed for the manager's reception. I decided that if it was going to be just the 2 of us drinking and looking at each other over a high-top, we needed a project. We needed to plan our trip to Hawaii this summer. So, the Chardonnay flowed and the itinerary came together. Hunger pains kicked in around 7 and I started Googling places to eat. Farm at South Mountain came up on my BlackBerry app and it had 5 stars. We had started the day with 5 stars, we should certainly end it that way. I emailed the link to Neal (yes, his laptop screen was literally touching mine. That's just how we roll. I text him to bring me coffee on Saturday mornings and he sends me links to Amazon shipments from the corner of our sectional couch). He looked it over, agreed, and I made reservations for 8:00 (after all, the manager's reception didn't even end until 7:30).

We vroom-vroomed out to Farm at South Mountain, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in 3 separate dining facilities and prides itself on the organic garden they keep on site. It was well past dark when we arrived so getting a good look at the outside was nearly impossible. But the inside was tastefully decorated in the traditional farmhouse style (or as far as I can remember. I'm pretty sure Embassy Suites lost money on me last week). We were one of the last couples to be seated for the dinner service so there was not much of a crowd. As the waitress was taking our drink orders, she mentioned that the chef was offering a special menu: he chooses your 3 courses and the wine to be paired with each one. My eyes lit up. When she left the table the conversation went something like this:

Me: How awesome is that? A food and wine pairing chosen by the chef himself!
Neal: Yeah, that's nice. So, what are you going to get?
Me: Well, if I had my choice, I'd go with that. I mean, what a GREAT meal!
Neal: It is great. It's also $250.
Me: Well, it's not like we're out here everyday. (Note to self: 6 glasses of wine does not equal unclouded judgment. This is how people wake up in the morning to find they've ordered Styling Barbie Heads from Amazon the night before).
Neal: I understand that. But if we're going to have a $250 meal, I need to budget for a $250 meal. The pork chops look good.
Me: *exasperation oozing from my wine-constricted pores* Fine. I'll have the brisket and a beer.

As it turns out, I only remember this conversation because I'm still in shock about how ready I was to charge a $250 meal to our Amex. And that's a $250 meal that I would not have remembered. The only reason I remember the brisket is because I was half-full on wine before we even got there and I had leftovers on Friday. Otherwise? I could have eaten stir-fried goat balls for all I knew. Oh well, and there's this...

I shudder to think of the 658 different types of Hell I used to give Neal for photographing food.
Lesson learned: I can lay my head down on a pillowtop mattress and blog from my leather couch because my husband puts the kibosh on impromptu dinners that cost more than Colonel Ketchup is worth...especially after a binge on corkless wine at the manager's reception.

Thursday: Neal is dismissed (in a good way) an hour after the conference starts and we get up close and personal with the animals.