The Best First Date Ever

After I got into what I thought to be the ugliest car, ever

I resumed nervous first date girlitude. I’d only once been alone in a car with a guy on the first date. I didn’t even know what to do or say. So I just sat there with my hands clutching my tiny purse, wishing I had taken a shot of vodka before jetting out the door.

The Grown Up (<—start the story here) was quite curious about my impression of his car, and I just laughed a little and told him I never thought I’d sit in a Mini Cooper. See? I could be tactful. We made polite conversation (small talk, really) during the twenty-five minutes it took to get to the restaurant.

TGU: Have you ever had Indian food?

Me: No. Well, sort of? Does chicken tikka masala from a fast food joint in London count?

Honestly, even with my near-idydic memory, I think I blocked out most of the car ride because I was so nervous. But I know conversation was relatively easy. We shared the floor, switching back and forth with questions and answers that were simple, but not entirely trite.

THE BEST DATE EVER

When we arrived at the restaurant, I stepped out of the car into the winter chill without a coat on, and The Grown Up commented on my insanity. I proudly professed my hatred of coats, and that I was a Chicago girl through and through. I strutted to the restaurant quickly in my heels, showing off my graceful stride and praying to all the things that I didn’t trip and fall. We stepped inside, hit with the aroma of curry and other spices.

I had previously browsed the menu for a good 45 minutes to get an idea of what I would order, and there was a spicy prawns in sauce dish with my name on it. I couldn’t let him see what a terrible decision maker I was on the first date!

We were seated at the farthest booth, directly next to the kitchen, which can sometimes be detrimental to conversation. Fortunately, this was not the case. The booths were secluded, closed off with ornately decorated, gold dividers. The seats were round benches that wrapped entirely around three sides of the table. Very romantic.

Basically, it was really fancy for a first date. Thoughtful. Classic. Elegant. Exciting. Everything that the boys I previously went out with were not. Things were looking up for the Mini-Cooper-driving Grown Up.

We slid into our respective sides of the booth, both sitting near the corners of the table, unsure whether to sit across from each other or next to each other. The hostess handed The Grown Up a wine menu and placed two dinner menus in front of us.

I was all set to take drink cues from The Grown Up, and he suggested wine. I was down. I told him I was a red girl, and he was a white guy (ba dum bum bump), so we opted for glasses of wine instead of a bottle. I chose a Pinot Noir and he opted for a Riesling. When the bartender arrived with our drinks, he stereotypically handed me the white wine and The Grown Up the red. We had a good laugh and switched glasses.

We ordered a giant platter of deep-fried…stuff…mystery vegetables and meats that were absolutely delicious. As we noshed on appetizers, we chatted about very-non-first-date topics. We talked about people and perception and personalities. The Grown Up got REALLY excited about these things, and spent more than a few minutes explaining one of his theories on how we perceive people.

The Grown Up’s theory: When we look at a person, we think “You’re like me, only different,” and so each person’s perception of another stems from their similarities to themselves…even if that’s not really the case. So someone like me, who is an introverted extrovert, sees people as equal parts social and shy and evaluates the differences from there.

His theories resonated with me. They were provocative, but real. I was fascinated and energized by his ideas and the stimulating conversation. This was so much more than a boring date in which we discuss favorites and musical tastes and our jobs. As his previous chat messages had suggested…he was INTERESTING.

Hearts

We each had another glass of wine, and the conversation, like the vino, flowed so easily. I hate to be so cliche, but it was as if I had known him forever. He actually apologized for his rant. (Wait? Rant? Apparently that’s what he called his long-winded discussion about people and psychology or sociology…one of the ologies. I thought it was wonderful.) I spoke of the horrors of student teaching, and we even talked about dating. There was plenty of laughter and with each giggle, we scooted closer to each other in the booth.

By the end of the dinner, we were practically touching. I didn’t want the date to end.

Apparently, neither did The Grown Up. He had previously determined a second location should the evening be going well, so we made our way to a nearby Irish pub for another round of drinks. It was here that he asked my most-despised question.

“Why are you single?”

Why, oh why, do people ask this? It’s like a fucking interrogation. Luckily I had prepared myself for this inquiry because I was sick to death of it. Dating is a lot like interviewing. So I was ready with answers to commonly asked questions. I pulled from my beloved Bridget Jones.

“Well, aside from the fact that underneath my clothes, my body is covered in scales…”

“Wait, really?”

“Ugh. No.”

“I just really hate that question. But mostly it’s because I’m super fucking picky. I’m not going to jump in a relationship just to be in a relationship. That’s stupid. I just haven’t found the right guy yet. Why are YOU single?”

“Uhhh…same.”

Whoops. I think I made shit awkward. Whatever. He’ll get over it. Or not.

From there, the conversation slowly returned to the gentle flow that we had for most of the night. The Grown Up was a genuine good guy. I was crushing HARD. I think he was too. It just seemed so…easy. The night was winding down, and he had to work the next morning, so we paid the bill and left the bar around 11. I still didn’t want the night to end…but did he?

You’ll have to wait until next week to find out!

What’s the best first date that you’ve ever been on? Or the worst first date? I’m easy and obviously love a good story.

The story continues below…

Tonight and the rest of my life

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Weight Loss Wednesday: Healthy Eating Habits Should Start Early

Quick intro/disclaimer of awesome: I’m working with the NRA (That’s National RESTAURANT Association) and Triberr to talk about healthy eating, especially with kiddos, through the Kids LiveWell Program. Everything I say, I do believe, but for the record, the NRA has sponsored this campaign post. 

Okay, so I’ve been Dietbetting with Joules and Kari and a whole lot of YOU this last week and a half. In addition to the Pocketful of Quirky Grace DietBet, I’m also participating in the Transformer DietBet-a six month commitment to lose 10% of Chrissy. And my real goal? More than 10%. Because I used to be healthier. And I want to be healthier again.

So far, I’ve lost 4.5 lbs. I’m weighing in weekly, instead of daily or multiple times a week. This is best for my weight loss, so that I don’t see the regular ups and downs of a typical week. If my weigh-in shows that I gained a pound this week, I’m still down by 3.5 and if I lose more…well YAY! I’ll be keeping you posted on Wednesdays from now on.

These days, I have some pretty healthy habits. I love vegetables. I love lean proteins. (Okay and cheese). I don’t eat a lot of pasta or breads…but I have a tendency to overdo it on the snacks. And the sweets. Those are my kryptonite.

But I didn’t always have healthy habits.

One of the things I forever think about is my chubby childhood. I was never the tiniest girl in school, not by a long shot. I ate a lot of McDonald’s. In fact, I could eat more McDonald’s as a kid than I could eat right now. I can remember my grandfather taking us to Mickey D’s and ordering a value meal because a Happy Meal just wasn’t filling enough. And you bet your bottom I super sized it. And ate every bite.

Sure, I wasn't fat...but I was one of the biggest kids in my class. That's tough on a little kid.

Sure, I wasn’t fat…but I was one of the biggest kids in my class. That’s tough on a little kid.

From the age of 8, I was always on the go, whether we were heading to or from cheer practice to this event to that party, I had a pretty busy life. So fast food was definitely a thing for us. But it wasn’t just fast food chains…my family ate out…a lot. Not because my parents couldn’t cook or didn’t want to (they were/are excellent cooks), but because going out was a family thing that we did. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way. That’s where my brother and I gained our passion for fine dining. Our love of delicious food. Our tact and class when it comes to behaving in a restaurant.

What I would have changed-would have LOVED to change-would be the choices that were available for me. At 9-years-old I was a connoisseur of chicken fingers and honey mustard sauce.  I ordered chicken fingers every. where. we went. And the honey mustard sauce was a big deal. I’d eat it by the bowlful. Because that was what the restaurants had. Chicken fingers. Cheeseburgers. Mac and cheese. French fries.

kids_livewell

With the Kids LiveWell Program, sponsored by the National Restaurant Association, restaurants across the country are offering healthy and delicious options for kids (and adults too!) You remember my amazing breakfast sandwich from Denny’s right? They’re working to make healthy choices for kiddies so that they can start building those healthy eating habits right from the start.

This Saturday, at the NRA Show in Chicago, bloggers will be meeting the restaurateurs and chefs behind the new and exciting healthy kids meals. Will you follow along with me on social media with the #KidsLiveWell?

Follow Kids LiveWell on social media (Twitter and Facebook) for updated news, information and more! You can also find out if your favorite restaurant is a participating Kids LiveWell restaurant and start making healthy choices for you AND your family!

Do you wish they had healthier choices when you were a kid? Do you have kids and try to make healthy choices for them when dining out? What do you think of KidsLiveWell?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

I May Not Have Won a Bloggie, but I did Win a Dance Off and That’s Good Enough for Me.

So, y’all remember how I’m an elite Yelper, right? The other night, I attended a sweet Elite event at my favorite breakfast restaurant, which happens to conveniently live across the street from me…for 17 more days.

At this delightful event, we were served mimosas, crepes and French toast…in our pajamas. And you know how I feel about breakfast. I love me a pajama jammy jam if there ever was one, and any opportunity to wear my sparkle camo slippers in public is a big win.

There are sequins on them, I swear. Also, don’t judge my Polish cankles.

Anyways, so I found out at about 7 that the Bloggies went and lied, saying they were tweeting the winners on March 31, but really they did it on the 30th. Whatevs. I was over it with three swigs of my mimosa. (I was honored to be nominated for THREE flippin’ categories, and it makes my heart happy that y’all supported me in this endeavor. So thank you!)

But THEN the Yelpy community manager, Candice was all, “Hey there’s a dance off!”

And I was all, “Pants on dance off, right? No public pants off dance offs, right?” Because sometimes you have to confirm that shit.

My pal, V, was chanting like “Do it! Do it! Do it!”

And I’m thinking to myself, Fuck. I’m not wearing a bra…

And then I thought…But I have mad dance skillz. 

OBVIOUSLY, I danced anyway…

And tied for first place. It was a great honor for sure, because my dance moves were rocking (not). I did the running man, the twist, the Chrissy (basically bounce around like a fool until someone tells you to sit down before you hurt yourself) and many more. And I looked like an ass. But people think I’m funny…or they feel sorry for me and I got a gift card to go back and get me some corned beef hash bennies (it’s the best corned beef hash ever. Even better than my own corned beef hash recipe!) *drool*

And here’s a video created by one of my favorite Yelpvendors Andres D., photographer/videographer extraordinaire!

Have you ever participated in or won a dance off? What did you win? Would you do it? What would you dooooo for a Klondike bar (or an ice cream sandwich cake)?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

A Love Letter. To Denny’s.

Yes, yes…Denny’s occasionally sends me gift cards to test out their tasty treats, but if I wasn’t a fan, I wouldn’t say yes. So, just because I got to enjoy the following breakfast sandwich at no-cost to me, doesn’t mean I don’t go there on my own. Because I do.

Dear Denny’s,

Thank you so much for creating a most-delicious breakfast sandwich. I feel like you can read my mind. It’s like you KNOW how much I love breakfast. And breakfast sandwiches, in particular. And a good deal on top of that! Even more so, I feel that you’re really trying to be innovative with your breakfast options. You accommodate the foodies with unique ideas and flavorful combinations. You accommodate the breakfast traditionalists. And most importantly for this girl right now, you accommodate the healthy eaters.

Just because I’m starting a healthy-ish eating plan today doesn’t mean I intend to banish dining out from my routine. Nor does it mean that I can’t indulge in a breakfast sandwich every now and then. But if I can enjoy a healthy alternative that doesn’t make me FEEL like I’m giving anything up? Awesome. That’s where you come in, Denny’s. Because your new fit fare breakfast sandwich? To die for.

Denny's Breakfast Sandwich

Look at that healthy plate of joy. It looked just like the picture on the menu! And nooo, that isn’t a side of hashbrowns that I ordered to go with my healthy breakfast (OK, fine. Yes it is. But I didn’t eat them all…OK, fine. Yes I did. Gosh!)

Now if I was rolling on a budget, and didn’t want the healthy fruit and yogurt side, I could also have gotten a sandwich and hashbrowns for $4. Um, tastier than fast food with higher quality ingredients and…wait for it…cheaper?!

Sold.

Denny’s you’re getting better every day.

I look forward to more delicious adventures with you in the very near future,

Sincerely,

Me.

Denny's Fit Fare

Of course, for those of you who aren’t trying to eat healthy and don’t want a breakfast sandwich loaded with egg whites, turkey bacon, spinach, tomatoes and pepper jack cheese, you can get a deliciously loaded meaty-cheesy-eggy sandwich instead. Either way, you’ll be pleased. I was.

Blog friends, do you have favorite breakfast combinations? Comfort food for the morning soul? Keep the conversation going on Twitter with @DennysDiner

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Denny’s: From High School Hangout to Tasty Breakfast Spot

Remember when you used to go hang out at Denny’s until curfew? Drinking coffee with your pals, talking about everything, playing card games and other random large group games like Mafia? Or in college, when you’d go for large group late night snacks after your fraternity’s chapter meeting, sipping on strawberry shakes while waiting for your loaded cheese fries with sour cream instead of ranch because you hated ranch with a fiery passion that could only be matched by your love for cheese? Or maybe that was just me.

Denny’s was a staple in my high school and college life. It’s a great place to reminisce. And as I more recently learned, it’s a great place to celebrate change. For the better.

A few weeks ago, as I was watching Breaking Bad’s Season 5.2 premier, I was excited to see that Walter White was enjoying his 52nd birthday at Denny’s. And that he got it for free. (In case you’re wondering, I have a Google spreadsheet with a list of places to get free food on your birthday. And yes, Denny’s is TOTALLY on that list. Maybe one day I’ll share my list with you.)

Breaking Bad 52 Bacon

And maybe if you’re really nice, they’ll shape the bacon for you.

But when I made my way into Denny’s this past weekend, I was all over their BYO Omelette menu. You guys, let me tell you a little about the awesome add-ins that you can use to create the biggest, tastiest omelette for a really great price.

Breaking Bad 52 Bacon

  • 6 different cheeses (YES!)
  • 7 different meats
  • 7 different veggies (including some sauteed options)

I opted for cheddar cheese, chicken sausage, pico de gallo, jalapenos and avocado on an egg-white omelette (in an effort to be somewhat healthy, despite my add on of hash browns. Hey…I was proud that I opted out of the added bacon and cheese on my hashbrowns, okay?)

I was also super stoked to discover that Denny’s has a meal nutritional calculator on their site, which I could even use on my fancy phone. I knew going into the hash browns that they were 6 points plus on my Weight Watchers plan and the omelette that I created was still going to be a whopping 11 points plus. But for a delicious breakfast chock full of protein, I could totally deal. Besides, breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. And quite frankly, I’d rather use my points in the morning than at night. So about that omelette…

I LOVE that they actually put all of the ingredients INSIDE a folded egg. You don’t know how often I get annoyed when the ingredients are cooked into the eggy part. Because then what’s the difference between that and a finely shaped scrambled egg? The best part? The avocado wasn’t slimey or brown. And I could SEE that they didn’t skimp on the ingredients. Happy breakfast = happy Chrissy. Denny's BYO OmeletteOverall, I was thoroughly impressed with my fast and delicious meal. That chicken sausage? WAY tastier than a lot of turkey sausages I’ve tried.

Guys, do you have any positive Denny’s memories or experiences to add to the conversation? Would you go try out this tasty Build-Your-Own-Omelette menu? Do you even like breakfast?

This post was sponsored by the fine people at Denny’s. I was compensated with a gift card to try out their new BYO omelette menu. I was not compensated to say nice things; those were all mine to say. You can keep this conversation going socially by connecting with @DennysDiner and using the #BYOomelette.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

When Hate Happens (I Probably Shouldn’t Write About This)

I try really hard to be a mostly positive person. Sure, I bitch about shit. Life’s life, guys. Shit happens. Bitching happens. And Hate. Hate unfortunately happens. Not my hate, though…someone else’s hate was spewed on me. Just like that one time I got hate mail from MySpace. And so my dear friends I am offering you a piece of my past.

I Used to be a Waitress Server

I grew up in a bar, so it wasn’t unusual that I found myself working in restaurants and bars whenever I wasn’t working a full-time job. For about 6 months, I worked as a waitress an Irish pub (you know, the dark wood, make the servers wear kilts and knee highs kinda place).

But at the same time. After that job, I swore that I would never be a waitress again.

I’m going to give you a little glimpse into the why.

One afternoon, two very unhappy looking ladies entered the bar and sat in my section. They ordered chips, soup and salad. No beer. No booze. And no smiling.

So I tried to be my chipper cheery self.

Unfortunately, they also got to meet my super klutzy self. As I was clearing their plates away (and God forbid they should have attempted to move out of the way just a smidge so that I could easily access the empty plates that they wanted removed…), I accidentally tipped the dressing boat/ramekin and some spilled out. Most of it went to the floor, and a few drops landed on this girl’s winter coat. I rushed to clean the mess, and apologized profusely, but I was met with disdain. Disdain for me being a lowly server. Disdain for my MASSIVE life altering error. Disdain for me as a human being. And I apologized. And this girl glared at me. And I offered to pay for the coat to be cleaned, because God forbid you spill anything on an old-looking, dark colored coat…

She paid the bill, and forgot to leave me a tip. I’m going to assume she forgot. I mean, she must not have realized that servers get paid like $4/hour if they’re lucky.

Seriously guys, I’ve spilled ice cream on bridesmaids that were nicer to me than this girl was. I went home and cried.

A few weeks later, my boss came to me with the following (on which I’ve blacked parts out to protect the guilty.)

Bitchy Waitress

Bitchy Waitress

The dry cleaning cost more than the bill she stiffed me on.

If you’re wondering whether I sent her the check? I did. A few weeks afterwards…I wasn’t making a whole lot of money at said bar…I didn’t think she was that desperate for the $20 based on the fact that she spends $20 to dry-clean one item…

Unfortunately for this girl, the check was returned to me about 3 weeks after I retired from waiting tables. Apparently, she gave me the wrong address.

I didn’t think it was necessary to seek her out.

For the record, guys…ALWAYS be nice to your servers. The Golden Rule ALWAYS applies. Even when it’s lowly, bitchy waitresses. Because one day, she might be almost famous and tell the story about how you were mean that one time.

Were you ever a server? Bartender? Anything in the service industry? Dealing with people sucks, amiright? Tell me your story!

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!