Thursday, May 31, 2012

kids are funny. and mean.

I went to Charleston for Memorial Day weekend. I ate seafood by the water, drank cold beer, and succeeded at being the laziest person in America, moving only when I needed to get to a pool or the beach.

The first pool I went to was the one in Danielle's neighborhood. She took the kids there after they got out of school on Friday. A few minutes after I arrived to meet them, Danielle's four-year old son Greyson emerged from the pool with one of his friends, wearing a rash guard and a circular raft around his waist. As the two made their way towards us, I heard Greyson yell to his friend, “That’s not my Grandma! That’s my Aunt Steph!”



Admittedly I was not looking my very best (I was at the pool!), but I refuse to believe that I look old enough to be someone's grandma. Right? I don't, do I?

Half an hour later, after I'd recovered from the grandma nonsense, I was standing next to Karson in the pool. She rubbed her hand on my leg under the water and then rubbed her mother's leg. She looked at me, as earnest as ever, and said, “How come your leg is so smooth and my mom’s is all rough?”

Without skipping a beat, I said, "Well, your mother is married. And pregnant. Her priorities are different."

Friday, May 25, 2012

wedding tour, part one.

Summertime is here - which means Stephanie's Wedding Tour 2012 is already underway.

I don't know exactly how many weddings I've attended over the years but I know it's a lot. My colleague and I counted once a few years ago and it was in the 60s, which could mean any number of things -- I'm an excellent dancer (true), an excellent gift giver (also true), or I have difficulty saying no to someone when they invite me somewhere (the most true). It definitely means that I'm broke.

I have also been blessed to have made some pretty amazing friends along the way who have allowed me to share in their nuptials.

Going to this many weddings means that I've become somewhat of an expert over the years. Considering this is the season that many of you will be embarking on your own Summer Wedding Tours, here is some completely unsolicited advice I've gathered over the years.

The Do's and Don'ts - from a self-proclaimed wedding professional.

DO wait until you're later in life to get married.

I love the quote from When Harry Met Sally, when Harry says, "When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible." I completely believe it myself. But if you wait to get married, the more likely you are to get better parties and better gifts from your friends who now have better jobs than they did when you were all 23. You might luck out with entire set of glasses instead of just one or in some embarrassing cases, none at all (sorry, Kimberly). You may get your own bed at your bachelorette party instead of searching for floor space at a beach condo with 25 of your closest friends (sorry, Katherine).

Well done, Emily and Jay. Your patience will be handsomely rewarded.


Despite having plenty of friends who have waited to get married, Wedding Tour has certainly slowed down in recent years. But even still, family commitments, work responsibilities have all at one point interfered with my plans to rock the "Electric Slide" all summer long. Attending every shower and bachelorette party isn't always possible.

My advice - DO what you can.

Despite pleading with co-workers, I couldn't get off work to attend my friend Emily's wedding in Florida. But I was off the couple of days before the wedding, so I decided, with her blessing, to celebrate at the beach for a few days before.


My abrupt arrival and departure from the weekend's festivities was awkward - especially when people said, "See you tomorrow at the wedding!" and I had to say, "Well, actually . . .you won't . . . but it was so nice to meet you. Bye!!!!!" I was tired at work on Saturday after getting up early to drive back, but I'm so glad I made the trip to be with Emily before her wedding.


DO kick off the wedding weekend with a bang.

In Emily's case, it was a Thursday night beach party at sunset, but any kind of party that welcomes your guests and gives them an opportunity to get to know each other will work. Your wedding is likely (and unfortunately) the only time in your life when everyone you love will be at the same place and the same time, so maximize the time you spend with them.




When you don't know anyone at a wedding besides the bride and groom, DO find the oldest people there and befriend them. They are not necessarily looking to drink as much as possible in a short period of time and they have the best stories.

Take Carl, for example.


Carl immediately took a liking to me when he saw that we were both the party paparazzi, stalking people with our cameras. When we both took a break from taking pictures long enough to have a beer and enjoy the fire, we sparked up a conversation. Carl told me he was a teacher, with a sincere love of science and traveling.

Carl apparently thought I was a lot more popular at this wedding than I actually was because he kept interrupting his stories about all of the amazing countries he'd visited, insisting that I leave him to go hang out with my, "friends." I had to keep reminding him that besides the bride and groom, he was the only other person that I really knew.

He went back to telling me more about his travels. Then he paused and looked out at everyone standing around.

"There sure are a lot of pretty ladies at this wedding," he said.

You got that right, Carl.


Coming in a close second for coolest new friend I met at the pre-wedding festivities was Emily's Granny. She did a little dance for us as we were leaving to head to a bar, so I said, "You need to come with us!"

She said, "I'd love to go, but I've got to hook up!"

I stopped abruptly and looked at her.

"Hook up to my dialysis machine!," she laughed as she walked away.

I. Love. Her. We further sealed our bond while putting fruit skewers together.

DO hire a steel drum band.


DO take part in the fireworks. Weddings are a celebration.


DO NOT light six of them at once.


DO crash the rehearsal dinner - you never know when one of those bridesmaids is going to fall out and the bride is going to be looking for a back up.



Gotta run, I think I hear the Chicken Dance . . . CONGRATULATIONS EMILY AND JAY!

Friday, May 18, 2012

mom's gone wild.

When my ex-boyfriend Mark and I were dating, he never missed an opportunity to tell me what he thought of my college roommate, Kimberly.

"Seriously, Stephanie," he'd say, "She might be the nicest person I've ever met."


I suppose the fervor and frequency of his remarks could've hurt my feelings, especially since in his head he was probably also thinking, "I sure wish you could be more like her," his high praise of Kimberly never bothered me because he's right.

Kimberly is definitely one of the nicest people I've ever met.

She has the infinite wisdom, sweet disposition and comforting tenderness of an 80-year old grandmother and the maturity level and sense of humor of a 13-year old boy in the body of a young, hot mom. Strange, yes, but it somehow makes sense. Anyone in Kimberly's presence can't help but feel good, because she makes them feel that way.


So when she told me she was coming to Atlanta for a weekend visit, I was committed to spending as much time with her as possible.

Even if it meant dropping $60 to go to a Counting Crows concert.

Don't get me wrong, I used to rock out to some "Mr. Jones" back in the day, but this was not a concert that was even on my radar. Honestly, I didn't even know the Counting Crows were still touring, or even still a band for that matter.

But Kimberly was really excited and even though I'd heard they are terrible live, I was excited to hang out with her and Erin, our other dorm mate who possesses two of the greatest qualities I can find in another person - a. she laughs at my jokes and b. she makes me laugh so hard my stomach hurts.


IMG_2138 IMG_2123

Telling people that I was going to see the band elicited a variety of different responses. Some, like me, were surprised to hear that Counting Crows was still a band.

Several got goofy, nostalgic grins on their faces, a la Kimberly, remembering where they were the first time they ever danced to "Rain King."

A young girl I work with shrugged her shoulders and said, "Counting Crows? That's a band? Never heard of them." I took a deep breath so I wouldn't slap her and then walked away, questioning to myself my taste in music.

The crowd selling out a Counting Crows concert was as diverse as the reactions I received and as much of an enigma as Kimberly.

Apparently cool enough to attract people like the handsome stranger who sold me his extra ticket and then offered to buy me a beer, but still uncool enough to attract people like this guy.



Maybe Adam Duritz's dread locks were a little too long and he was a little too sweaty. (We were all sweaty. It was crazy hot in there.) But he puts on a great show. And I'm not just saying that because I would do anything for Kimberly. Even see a concert full of old timers who think they're still young (myself included.)


He played "Anna Begins," and it took me right back to high school - not the angst-ridden, self-loathing parts, but the carefree, nothing-bad-will-ever happen-to-me high school.


And watching Kimberly (successful businesswoman and mother of two) lift her iPhone high in the air to record every song was worth the price of admission.


For real. That happened.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sh*t my Parents Say

It's pretty clear this blog lacks vision - I'm in need of a new shtick. (IDEAS, WELCOME)

For now, I'm posting randomly -- When I feel like it, when I take pretty pictures, or, in this case, when my parents say funny things.

Mom: "Are you coming home to help me celebrate Mother's Day?"

Me: "No, Mom, I can't. I'm sorry. I have to work on Sundays, remember?"

Mom: "Oh, right. Well that's fine because I'm not going to be in town anyway."

Hmmm . . .ok?

Not to be outdone, my dad last night on the phone:

"Well, you can have my inheritance when I'm gone, but I'm doing my best to spend every bit of it."

Thanks, Dad.

Monday, May 7, 2012

my mother's daughter.

There is a moment in every woman's life when she realizes she's turning into her mother. Or, in my case, a series of moments over time that makes the realization that I am going to be exactly like her a little more easy to take.

I had my latest of these moments this weekend when I successfully cooked something using only the random ingredients I already had in my cupboards. My mom's ability to do this has been baffling me for years.


Considering all I had to work with were chocolate chips, a boxed cake mix and a can of sweetened condensed milk, the results were decent. I literally typed those ingredients into a Google search and found a recipe for "Can't Leave Alone Bars," and went to work. Certainly not the best thing I've ever made, but not a bad effort. My co-workers, who have been known to eat days-old pizza left out in the office, thought they were delicious.


Yep. I am my mother's daughter. I mean, I haven't yet started humming to myself or listening to the car radio at an undecipherable audio level, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time.

I would love to know when you realized you were turning into your mother.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

day drinking.

My friend Elizabeth flew east from California a couple of weeks ago so that we could celebrate her upcoming nuptials, shower her with gifts, and force her to wear a tiara.

I used the shower as the opportunity to validate my extravagant food processor purchase and prove to myself (and to my mother) that I was capable of making more than just pesto.

So when my friend Trish suggested we create a Bloody Mary bar for the party, I first said, out loud to myself, "Booooyaaaaaah." (Seriously, the best idea ever.)

Then I typed an email back to her, "I want to make a Bloody Mary mix. From scratch."

IMG_1872 IMG_1871

I imagine my super supportive friend Trish was probably on the other end of that email shaking her head at my need to always make things more difficult than they need to be. But she indulged my crazy and simply responded, "Sounds great."

Zing Zang makes a damn near perfect mix already, so my desire to mess with perfection was, and is, troubling. I recognize my own insanity in wanting to spend my entire day in the kitchen coming up with the most perfect recipe for Bloody Marys that also involved hand stuffing olives with blue cheese.

That Friday, I let Trish know, via text, that I had started to make the mix. She texted me back, kinda-jokingly-but-not-really, "Don't screw it up."

The pressure was palpable, but I went for it, juicing lemons and limes, chopping garlic and adding spices, blending away in my food processor. I let the mix incorporate overnight, as suggested, and was excited about how it had turned out. It was certainly different and far more fresh tasting than any other Bloody Mary I'd ever had, but there was a chance it might not go over with a crowd who was used to a pre-made mix.

When it came time to set up the bar, I retrieved the containers holding the Bloody Marys from my bag and nervously put them on the counter. Several of the other hosts looked at me inquisitively.

"It's the mix. I made it from scratch," I said.

I heard how crazy it sounded coming out of my mouth and I flushed with embarrassment when they looked at me and then looked at each other as if to say, "Seriously? Who does this girl think she is?"

But not until my friend Lisa, truly a Bloody Mary connoisseur, arrived and began surveying the scene did I really start to freak. If I did screw it up, I knew she'd be the first one to inform me (and likely everyone else) of her disappointment.

Why, oh why my need to be experimental?


The shower started and though we had other drink options, nearly everyone wanted to get in on the Bloody Mary bar. I held my breath as they all filled their glasses and smiled big when every single person came to tell me, "These. Are. Awesome."

Since I have unabashedly shared my kitchen mishaps on this blog (pumpkin pie, anyone?), nothing pleases me more than to be able to tell you these Bloody Marys were at hit. People could not get enough.

We did end up having to go into our stash of backup Zing Zang, but only because the fresh Bloody Mary mix (MY mix) ran out so quickly. Even the 50 and over crowd (ahem, Trish's mom Claire, who doesn't even drink) was clamoring for it. We were day drinking. Aggressively.
I considered keeping the recipe to myself in hopes of achieving worldwide cocktail fame, a la Bethenny Frankel, but seeing as how I mostly stuck to Emeril's Bloody Mary Mix Recipe (below), I guess that's probably out of the question. I did increase the amount of garlic and hot sauce and added celery salt for extra flavor. The mix was rather thick, even after we added the vodka, so we added in a cup of water as well.
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste (recommended: Tabasco)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

I'm all about shortcuts when it comes to throwing parties, but if you have the time to make Bloody Mary mix from scratch, I highly recommend it.
I also recommend throwing a shower that begins at 11am, takes a time out for an afternoon nap and then goes well into the next morning. There truly is no other way to party.