Monday, October 5, 2015

Goodbye, Big Texas Truck

It turns out this Texas girl doesn't know how to deal with winter weather. I learned that last year when I tried to drive my giant Texas truck up and down the hills that are pervasive in this part of Virginia. (In the snow. Uphill both ways.)

It slipped and slid all over the place. I solidified my decision that I needed to get a different vehicle during one particularly rough snow storm, in which I skidded into a highway guardrail and then fishtailed into a ditch in my neighborhood on the way home from work one day. Once I was out of the ditch — thanks to the help of a kind neighbor — I couldn't get up the next hill, so I abandoned Esmeralda and walked home. My feet did not get frostbite, but they felt like they might. Matt had to rescue the truck later.

(Note to self: don't wear flats if there is a risk of snowstorms. Boots. Always wear boots.)

I knew I needed something with all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. But I hated to say goodbye to my beloved truck. It made me feel big! Powerful! Like a badass chick!

It looks so sad! It looks like it hit a bear!

But, you know. Safety first. I'd like to not fear my own death this winter.

So we bought a new-to-us Toyota Highlander. It's a 4x4 with a snow mode, whatever that means. And it's not too much of a mom-mobile (provided we leave the third row of seats permanently folded down for trunk storage, as we plan to do), so I'm happy. :)

Bonus: I can climb in and out of it in a skirt without jumping or hoisting myself up awkwardly!

So then of course, my next step was to give it a kickass name. I thought that after Esmeralda and Blaine, this one needed an unusual name too.

I decided it should be called PERCIVAL! Like after the knight! My sister told me that name was hideous, but I was already super attached to it. (And I did tell her that it's not like I'd ever name a child Percival. I am not cruel. It's definitely a vehicle name in this day and age.)

Do you like unusual names? Any additional advice for driving/surviving in the winter?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Take My Advice: Don't Throw Long-Distance Parties

Back in June, I threw a bridal shower for my sister. In my head, it was going to be perfect! I had made a big grocery list and had asked my dad to pick up ingredients. I was going to make a beautiful brunch spread, with baked brie and hash browns and fruit dip and blintzes. I would have plenty of time, since I was flying in at a reasonable time the night before!

So why on earth did my dad and I end up at Panera Bread 45 minutes before the start of the shower?

I was all set to arrive in Texas around 8 p.m. We were at cruising altitude, we would be landing in Dallas in about 20 minutes when the pilot announced that DFW airport was not accepting any flights due to a lightining storm. Instead we would be re-routed to Houston, and would head to Dallas when it was safe to do so.

(As a fun little aside, I should probably add that at the time, I hadn't seen Matt in about a week. He was in Dallas for a conference, and I had stayed in Virginia. I texted him to let him know I was going to Houston. Turns out he was at the same Houston airport waiting for his own connection! And I couldn't even get off the plane to say hi!)

Anyway, so by the time I landed in Dallas and managed to get to a different terminal so that I could get transportation out of the airport, it was 10:30 or 11 at night. Too late to do much besides mix fruit dip and prep things for the next morning.

So the morning of the shower, I delegated like a champ. I had my mom on the blintzes station, Rachel making deviled eggs, and I got the brie and fruit and hash browns going. When there was a spare 10 minutes, I took the world's fastest shower and got dressed, only to come downstairs and realize that I had forgotten to put the brie in a ramekin, and so it had melted all over the baking sheet. The crepes for the blintzes were sticking to the pan and tearing, so we couldn't put filling in them. The hash browns were not frying up like they were supposed to. We were going to have no food at this shower, besides the croissants and pies my dad had picked up at Costco! (But thankfully, I guess, there would be mimosas, so maybe people would forget their hunger?)

He said we should suck it up and order some pizzas, but the invitations had said it was going to be an elegant brunch, and I'm stubborn. So we rushed out to Panera Bread, leaving the kitchen a disaster, and ordered a whole bunch of breakfast sandwiches sliced into quarters. We arrived at my aunt's house — with the few remaining food items we'd been able to make work — with barely any time to set up, but my aunt and cousin are awesome and helped me get everything done at the absolute eleventh hour.

The mimosas helped too.

And the party was really fun! No one was the wiser about the disastrous morning. Because Rachel and her friends studied fashion design in school, we played the toilet-paper wedding dress game, and I had asked her fiancé some cute questions about their relationship so we could play the Newlywed Game. I got to see a lot of family members whom I don't see often enough, and had a great time.

Yes, this is what my aunt's house looks like all year round. Complete with terrifying Christmas butler statue.

In my thank-you card, Rachel told me it was perfect just the way it was. :)

But I've learned my lesson. Next time I throw a party, I'm having it catered!

What are some lessons you've learned while party planning?

Monday, September 28, 2015

That Time I Got Tricked Into Eating Meat

So. I accidentally ate meat last week. I've been a vegetarian/pescatarian for a little over two years now. And I got irrationally pissed off over something that is completely voluntary, which is ridiculous.

Last week, Matt and I had a date night. We went to the driving range to hit golf balls for a while, and then Matt suggested we go to this local burger dive. We had gone there on Valentine's Day last year (are we romantic or what), and I had a really good veggie burger with refried beans and chips and salsa on the actual burger, and I wanted to experience that again.

We got our food, and I took a bite. Something didn't taste right. I looked at the patty. I looked at Matt. I looked at the burger again. I said, "I think this is meat." I made Matt take a bite. He said that it was for sure a black bean patty. I shrugged. I took another bite, and a third.

This thing did not taste like a black bean burger! I ripped the burger apart and tore into the patty. Yep. That there's ground beef, through and through.

I took it back. They told me I had ordered a regular burger. I said the burger was CALLED "veggie tostada burger," and thought it was a fair assumption that the patty would have been vegetarian-friendly. Because there ain't no actual vegetables in it! They made me another one, but it kind of put a damper on my evening.

I realize that my vegetarianism is self-imposed. It's not like it would have harmed my health if I'd decided to just suck it up and eat the meat. But it made me think about my dietary preferences. I like how I feel when I'm not eating meat. I'm not interested in going back to a carnivorous diet right now. I don't crave it, don't want it, don't need it.

And I probably won't be going back for another burger at that place.

Do you ever return restaurant food if it's incorrect?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dear Spa Castle, You're Awesome

In general, I have a hard time splurging on myself. I don't particularly like spending money, especially on something that I deem frivolous, which is most everything. A few months ago, my sister basically had to talk me into spending money on myself for something I really wanted (Versace Eros Pour Femme perfume. It's lovely, but I hate how expensive fragrant water is!). I always ask Matt for massage gift certificates for my birthday each year, and that is the only time I end up going to day spas.

So when my sister's other Maid of Honor, Christina, announced that Rachel's bachelorette party would be at Spa Castle in Carrollton, Texas (suburb of Dallas), I was SO excited. A built-in excuse to splurge and unwind!

I mean, a night in a nice hotel and two days where the sole purpose is relaxing? Uh, THERE. (And uh, also a chance to see my sister…)

It was SUCH a nice experience. There were pools with swim-up bars and massaging jets, saunas of varying face-melting temperatures (up to 186 degrees! plus one "ice" sauna that was like, 59 degrees), heated relaxation rooms, and hot tubs all over the place. And that was before we even got to the actual spa services!

For all my typical high-strung-itude, I don't know that I had ever felt so chill. We hung out in the various pools and hot tubs. We explored all the warm rooms and struggled to breathe normally for two minutes inside some of the hotter ones. I got a 30-minute Korean "chair" massage that was actually on a table, and it was delicious. (I thought my sister had booked my Swedish massage, and she thought I had booked my own, so the 30-minute one was the only one they had that was at the same time as both Rachel's and my cousin Autumn's 60-minute massages.) Plus, awkward, but it turns out butt massages are like, really awesome?!

After we'd spent sufficient time in the spa, we went to find our hotel room, which Christina had decorated and loaded with candy, games and a veil and crown for Rachel! Plus, we got robes and slippers to relax in for later!

We got dressed up and went out for dinner at BJ's Brewhouse before heading back to the room to hang out and play bachelorette games.

Pretty bridesmaids and friends!

Me, Rachel and Autumn. You can't really tell, but I'm wearing my beautiful yellow heels.

(Also, the Spa Castle hotel room was awesome. All seven of us crammed into this two-room suite, with blow-up mattresses in addition to the beds the room had. Rachel and Autumn and I all ended up sharing this giant memory-foam bed, and I slept like a rock. In the morning, once both of them were awake, I tried jumping on the bed to see if they noticed, like in the commercials! And they said they barely felt any movement!)

We did go back to the spa right before it closed at midnight, and then again the next morning for pedicures. That's when we decided that we needed to come back here the day or two before Rachel's wedding to make sure she relaxes! We might try to drag my mother, who would probably hate it because she doesn't like nudity (a lot of naked people hanging around the changing rooms and ladies-only saunas) or massages (because she doesn't want people she doesn't know to touch her). Plus we basically had to drag her for a manicure a few Christmases ago.

But yeah, I pretty much can't wait to go back. Why did I never know this place existed when I was, you know, LIVING IN DFW?!

What is the best bachelorette party you've been to? How do you like to relax? And what was the last thing you did to splurge on yourself?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

My Brain is Broke. Or Maybe Just My Teeth.

I've made no secret of the fact that I'm a huge hypochondriac. So much so that friends and multiple family members have banned me from ever using WebMD for any reason.

But my worrying had gotten a bit more irrational than normal recently. I had gone to a new dentist to have a basic filling replaced, since it had fallen out. This dentist was not a very good communicator. He went to re-fill the tooth, something started to hurt, and then he told me that he'd put a temporary filling in. He said I needed to go get a root canal, and sent me on my way.

I was LIVID. And also in a lot of pain.

So I got the root canal (at Dentist #2), and when I went back to Dentist #1 to have the crown put on, he said there was another filling that needed to be done, so he did that too (with me praying the whole time that he wouldn't make me get another root canal).

But by now I had had four dentist appointments in as many weeks, and was at the point where I was inspecting my teeth constantly, noticing indentions I hadn't seen before, and telling Matt that all my teeth were going to fall out. And they'd (obviously) have to be replaced with wooden teeth, like George Washington. I'd need big wooden dentures and would have a gummy toothless smile at age 28.

Matt told me I was fine and needed to stop worrying. But Dentist #1 had made me feel like a lifetime of good flossing habits was no longer good enough and that I was doomed, doomed!

So what did I do? I made an appointment with Dentist #3 to make sure there wasn't anything wrong. (Dentist #3 is very nice, and told me that Crap Dentist #1 should have warned me if there was a risk of needing a root canal, since they did X-rays and all and should have been able to tell.)

This is where I get all sad and paranoid. Because for all my hypochondriac tendencies, I've never actually gone to a doctor for an ailment that might have been made up. I've suffered from imagined blood clots and cancers and ebolas knowing that the chances of them being real was absolutely zero, with not a single doctor's visit to show for them. I can't claim that anymore.

Dentist #3 was very nice when he told me that everything looked okay, and I apologized for wasting his time on problems that were only in my head.

Have you done anything completely irrational lately? What's the worst dentist experience you've had?