Hot mess airplane travel tips

I feel like I haven’t been home in ages. My adventures have kept me going going going like the energizer freakin’ bunny from Vegas to Orlando to the weird depths of Wisconsin. And I have SO MUCH TO TELL YOU about said adventures. But first, I really needed to throw down some serious advice. Because tonight I’ll be on another plane, and I definitely needed a reminder on proper travel etiquette (and not fucking shit up) because this one’s a work trip. You know what a hot mess I can be, so I devised a set of rules (which, let’s be honest here, I break every now and then) in order to prevent myself from being a complete douche in the air.

Southwest new planes

I was so stupid excited to fly on one of Southwest’s new fancy planes, you guys. My next flight was almost a disappointment because I missed the newness so much.

Without further ado, here are my top airplane travel tips if you’re anything remotely close to a hot mess like me.

Drink clear liquids

Go ahead and have that cocktail on the plane. Especially if you fly often enough that Southwest sends you a regular supply of free drink tickets. Or you just know when to procure free drinks from Southwest. Or if you’re fancier than me and have one of those preferred statuses that gets you free cocktails whenever you want. But for the love of God, whatever you do, make sure it’s clear.

Bubbles on Southwest

It was Southwest’s birthday. And on Southwest’s birthday, everyone (of age) gets a free drink! I like to celebrate with bubbles, and so bubbles it was.

Vodka and soda? Check. Tonic? If you’re into that sort of thing, sure (gross, but it’s cool). White wine? Clink Avoid red wine at all costs. You may even want to skip the whiskey, depending on what you’re wearing. I know I don’t want my rainbow yoga pants covered in deep dark liquid. Not into an alcoholic bevvy because you’re flight is at the crack of dawn and you’re more respectable than me? Sprite. Ginger ale. Water. But steer clear of the Coke and whatever else can spill all over you and your fellow passengers. Especially when you’re sitting in the middle of two strangers.

Bring a change of clothes to the airport

I’m embarrassed to admit the number of times I’ve changed inside airport bathrooms, but damn am I glad I travel with a spare outfit or two. Especially since I like to make the most of my last day wherever I am. In Vegas, I went straight from the pool to the airport, so I wanted to change out of my bathing suit before my flight. In Orlando, I took an Uber straight from Disney’s Animal Kingdom to the airport (with a brief stop at my hotel to grab my luggage from the bell station), and I was a sweaty disgusting mess. I also have a propensity to spill shit all over myself. Change of clothes? Makes everything better.

Make your in-flight entertainment easily accessible

There are dozens of great ways to entertain yourself on a flight, but make sure you don’t have to dig to the bottom of a large duffel bag every 25 minutes in order to find your Nook, Kindle, tablet, laptop, charger, etc. You’ll get dirty looks from the people who’s empty seat you usurped. I mean, not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. And try not to read a book that makes you laugh so hard your boyfriend will wish he wasn’t sitting next to you.

Think wisely about your snack choices

I know. Planes don’t really serve food all that often. Well, Southwest has some killer snacks and all…especially on their fancy new planes. So you’re forced to bring your own reinforcements. But let me tell you guys. There are good options. And there are bad options.

Southwest Airlines New Plane Snacks

I really wanted to ask for one of each. But I am not an asshole. So I asked for cheese crackers and peanuts. And spent two hours wishing I had asked for butter cookies.

A small, easily hand-held sandwich or wrap? Great plan. A large salad that requires shaking and flying croutons? A pastry dealie with delicious ham and cheese and buttery pastry crust that ends up crumbling everywhere? Those are less than stellar ideas. Take my advice/learn from my mistakes. Those will also incite dirty looks from your fellow flyers.

Well, I’m absolutely sure I could give you more pointers on how not to be a dick in the ways I’ve been a dick, but I think this is quite enough for this morning. Be sure to follow me on the social medias for all my travel adventures.

This post uses affiliate links. When you click on them and make purchases, I can occasionally earn dollars to help keep this site running. Thanks for being awesome and such. I talk about Southwest a lot. Because I love them. I don’t get paid any money from all my shout outs to them. They just make me insanely happy.

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!

Fear and loathing in Las Vegas

You guys. I made it back alive from Vegas, and if all goes according to plan, I’m in the Mouse House as the post is published. I thought I’d throw down a few highlights of my Viva Las Vegas jaunt.

There were ghosts or someone was stalking my room. I walked into my hotel room at about 10pm, and the T.V. was on. Thoroughly creeped out, I scanned the room for signs of someone else’s luggage. Then I called the front desk and asked if that was normal. Spoiler alert: It’s not. She told me to “be careful” and I thought those were some pretty bold words for someone sitting in a proverbial tower. I opened every door, turned on every light,  pulled the curtains wide open and patted them down for good measure, and slept with one eye open. It was not unlike that one time I was alone and afraid in my house when we first bought it.

The Backstreet Boys are still awesome. Amber and I had one hell of a time. It was like being 14 and in college at the same time all over again. Although my love for Nick Carter died a quick and painless death, I realized that I am definitely a Brian kinda girl. 

I read 3 books. This may not seem all that exciting to you, but when you’ve got a cocktail in a cool spot by the pool, you can  churn through a lot of books and call it research for your own book. Of course, you can also start reading a fourth book,  a series that was highly recommended to you, and not understand why in the world you couldn’t get into it…and also why it was super confusing…until you realize you’ve started with the second book and you feel like an idiot.  You know…hypothetically. 

I realized that I can make friends everywhere. Whether I want to or not. On Saturday evening,  I sat down in the coolest little pool nook,  right alongside the deep end.  I was hanging out, people watching, and taking selfies, as I’m typically wont to do, when a group of people sat down next to me. A man eho was about my age affectionately told an older woman to sit there beside me. So I scooted over when teo more people came up on my other side. I was almost disappointingly trapped, but they started talking to me, and we had a bizarre conversation about the Backstreet Boys,  Britney Spears, and Mariah Carey’s ex-boyfriend. 

My new friends weren’t the only ones to invade my personal space that weekend,  though. Poolside again on Sunday, I was giving off my very serious KeepOut vibe as the sun slowly crept up the foot of my chaise lounge, when a leathery, red-tanned man in his 50s or 60s walked up to me. 

“Hey sexy, can you do me a favor? Can you put some sunscreen on my back?” 

Whatever was unfolding, I’m not one to take skin care lightly. I agreed, as he definitely looked like he needed it. 

“I can put some on you too.” 

“No thanks, I’m good.” I had alread doused myself in half a can of spray sunscreen.

“I don’t want to get burned ya know?” 

“Me neither. That’s why I’m hiding from the sun.”

I quickly patted some sunscreen on his back and sent him on his merry way. He returmed to the pool where a few of his friends were laighing and smiling. Whether I was a bet or not, I hope he got a good story out of it too. 

Going places without my husband is weird. I forget sometimes what it’s like to be single, but both of my aforementioned interactions included, “Where is your boyfriend/husband?” With the first group, I’m sure it was merely curiosity, as I’d preciously mentioned him in conversation (because I love the word, “husband”). The second was definitely fishing for information. Both times, though, “your husband doesn’t mind you traveling without him?”

Mind? I’m pretty sure he appreciates that I don’t drag him on every wild adventure I say yes to. 

Speaking of wild adventures, follow me on the social medias to catch the next leg of my summer adventure.

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!

Adventure is out there!

Ya know, I’m not normally one for exclamation marks, but I’m about to embark on three weekend adventures in a row.  Tomorrow after work, I’m heading on a flight to Las Vegas to hang out with one of my besties and see the Backstreet Boys — who, apparently, I see every ten years-ish. I saw them in 1997 and 2008 (yeah, I know a little more than 10 years. Whatever. Close enough). And now, I’m going to see them in 2017 in Las Vegas. I wonder where I’ll catch them in 2027…

Chrissy falling out of her camp chair at the Backstreet Boys concert

This is the only photographic evidence I have of me at a BSB concert. And it’s because I fell out of my chair and my girlfriends thought it was funny.

Of course, I’m not entirely sure that I’m going to make it out of Las Vegas alive. Just last weekend, one of my other besties sent me a text sharing a link to an article about Legionnaires disease in Vegas. My mom had suggested I stay at the Rio, but I’m thrilled she helped me find a sweet deal on a room at Bally’s instead. Either way, I’ve decided that I’m just not going to shower while I’m there. You know…Just in case.

And that’s only the beginning of all the ways I could die in Las Vegas.

After a few cocktails, I have a tendency to wander off. On my own. And in a city like Vegas, I’m likely to get eaten by wolves. Or something. Maybe I’ll walk the plank on that pirate ship in Treasure Island…or get too excited near the Bellagio and fall in. The possibilities are endless. And terrifying. At my bachelorette party, I started talking to strangers with the promises of free shots. I’m not entirely sure that won’t happen in Vegas. Except, I won’t have a brood of lady friends protecting my ass. It’s me and my girlfriend against the world. And this is how we roll:

triple fisting cocktails

Why yes, we are both triple fisting the cocktails in 2006. And it’s entirely possible we’re at a strip club. Also, I really miss that strapless shirt.

The only other time was in Sin City was approximately a million and a half years ago when I was 17 with a bad haircut and couldn’t do anything fun. I was with my best friend and we wandered the hotels, shopped, and gossiped about life. But as an adult? I don’t know if my brain was designed for Vegas. There are so many bright and shiny things and lights and sparkles and OMG you guys I’m going to get so distracted, I’ll probably miss my flight home.

Chrissy at 17 with a vegas gondolier

At least I knew this gondolier was attractive when I was 17…

And I can’t miss my flight.

Because I’m coming home for approximately 46 hours to smooch my husband, throw dirty clothes down the laundry chute, and refill my suitcase for Orlando.

From there, I’m going to gently dabble in a little solo Disney adventure. I say gently because this shameless hussy sharing a room with me promised to meet me for an after-5 dinner date inside the Magic Kingdom.  The next day may include a little waterparking before heading into BlogHer17, my fourth BlogHer conference. Much hugging will ensue, and at that point, there will be plenty of friends with me to make sure I don’t get lost in the House of Mouse.

Chrissy and Mary Poppins Disney World

I’ll return for about 5 days, this time, with one final adventure on the horizon for Fourth of July weekend. 5 days in the cheese motherland of Wisconsin with the one I left behind two weekends in a row. But honestly, guys, don’t feel bad for Brian, abandoned though he might be. He eats this shit up. You mean days upon days in a row in which he doesn’t have to do ANYTHING but go to work? No peopling? No socializing? No incessant babbling? No Disney music? The man is going to be in heaven.

Me too, Brian. Me too.

What adventures are you heading for this summer? Anything sweet on the horizon? 

Want to follow my adventures? Make sure you’re following me on all the social media nonsense. 

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!

Butterfly kisses, and how I kind of sort of almost died in New Orleans…twice

I love Southwest. Even when I screw up my flight reservation, I can change it lickity split for a few extra bucks, a middle-of-the-night arrival time, and a “happy fun” layover in L.A. I also love that I can stalk their rates obsessively, buy when I think it’s super low, and then change my flight when the price drops even lower. All I have to do is use those remaining funds to fly somewhere else.

Southwest free drink coupons and a bloody Mary

I especially love that Southwest regularly sends me free drink coupons.

So, it was no surprise that when December rolled around, Brian and I had a few Southwest credits that were on the verge of expiration. “Where shall we go?” I probed. I suggested a cozy cabin somewhere in the northeast or a relaxing trip somewhere chill.

“How about New Orleans?” my introverted husband of nearly 3 months suggested. We planned a trip to coincide with our 3-month anniversary (if that were even a real thing) shortly before Christmas for funsies to New Orleans. A quick Friday to Sunday weekend of indulgence. We’d eat too much, drink too much, and come home ready to face the holidays.

Unfortunately, when you live in Chicago, the best-laid winter plans get shot down because Jack Frost is kind of an asshole.


Our flight was canceled early that morning, on account of the projected snowmageddon that never came.
Luckily, we were able to cancel the New Orleans hotel we booked through TripAdvisor. Southwest offered us the opportunity to reschedule our flight anytime in the two weeks that followed our planned trip for no extra cost, and we found a better price for the same hotel the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

“Do you want to stay for New Year’s Eve?” the aforementioned introvert suggested…

“You would hate that, Brian. Even I would hate that. I did it once. Never. Again.”

So we planned to leave the Tuesday after Christmas on a 4-hour flight with a Kansas City layover.

Upon our noon-ish arrival, I was riding the Chrissy travel high, and Brian was…well…

Done. Checked out. “Sayonara, wife. You’re on your own.”

We ate some snacks, and then he went to the hotel for the rest of the evening where I’m pretty sure he slept for 18 hours. I wandered. I shopped. I ate more food. I hunted Pokemon.

Chargrilled Oysters

Sweet baby cheeses, these oysters, though.

I almost got abducted and died.

Well. Not really. But when a homeless-ish man walks up near you and yells in an attempt to scare the shit out of you, you feel like you might die. Even if you’re barely 15 feet off the main drag of Bourbon Street, just around the corner from your hotel. I started walking faster, while still trying to find an elusive Pokemon because priorities. I ran my hip right into a bicycle and could hear the man’s laughter echoing after me. I crossed the street, turned around, and walked right back to my hotel room faster than you can say Pikachu. I did not pass go. I did not collect $200.

St. Louis Cathedral from Jackson Square

When I was 19 and insane, I woke up at the crack of dawn and attended mass at the church after being out until 4 am the night before. Now, I’m content to snap a pic from Jackson Square.

The next day, Brian was up for a little bit more adventure. We ate breakfast, took a carriage tour through the French Quarter (which was actually super interesting), wandered the French Market, ate turtle soup and bananas foster at Brennan’s, and created our own special little NOLA bar crawl, eating and drinking from bar to bar to bar.

Brian and Chrissy posing by candlelight

Cozying up in the dark at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, which has no artificial light (except the Christmas twinkle lights, because Christmas).

We made our way from Bourbon Street to Frenchman Street and back again, consuming all the booze.

Drunk Brian holding a cup with his mouth.

I may have gotten Brian a smidge on the drunk side. This is a rare occurrence, so it was worth every second I was alone the next morning. Well…except when the homeless man almost stole my phone.

So when Brian wasn’t down for breakfast the next morning, I didn’t fault him. Again, I made my way out into the city on my own, wandering, eating, shopping, hunting Pokemon, hatching eggs, eating eggs…you know…me time.

I was headed to a restaurant I wanted to try, and as I walked up, the staff was shooing the homeless men away from their opening doors. I walked toward the main entrance just as one of the homeless men reached out to me and slapped my phone so hard, I thought it was a goner. I squealed and ran ahead, clutching my phone tight, the sound of laughter again trailing behind me. My heart was racing as I feared for my safety for only the second time that week. And this time, it was broad daylight in the middle of Jackson Square. Apparently, I’m not so good at traveling on my own.

Breakfast in New Orleans

Two biscuit halves topped with crawfish cakes, poached eggs, and crawfish etoufee…and a side of the cheesiest grits on the planet.

After breakfast, I went back to the hotel room and jumped on the bed to wake Brian up. I brought him a breakfast sandwich and told him it was time for adventure.

He was not in the mood for adventure.

So I took him to the bug museum. And all of a sudden his spirits were sky high. Yes. I did say bug museum. New Orleans, home of the Po’ Boy, Muffaletta, Hurricane, Hand Grenade and the best damn crawfish on the planet, is also home to a rather fancy insectarium where you can sample chocolate chirp cookies for free (Noooo thank you).

Personally, I found it a little disturbing, but I took solace knowing my museum tour would end with a trip through the butterfly garden. Plus, Brian was in heaven.


Two hours later, we finally made it to the butterfly garden, where everything was peaceful and serene until a gaggle of small children hurdled through the room, stepping on butterflies and wreaking havoc. Brian raced to the outer edge of the space, and I found the most interesting thing in the room. A pair of turtles…making sweet sweet love to one another.

I could tell you more about the trip, but nothing we did really tops two turtles banging.

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!

If Shingles Didn’t Kill Me, Wedding Planning Might…

One month from today, I’ll be waking up next to Brian (um, yes. He’s not allowed to abandon me the night before our wedding, despite the fact that the world thinks he shouldn’t see me before our wedding. And despite the fact that he’s probably going to wake up to a house full of crazy if my family has anything to say about it…) and starting the most magical day of my life to date. You know how my Clark Griswold expectations have already built this up in my mind. Don’t try to fix it.  

But the last nine months have not been without fault. I’ve made LOTS of mistakes in this whole wedding planning process. Even while utilizing the best wedding advice ever, I still managed to stress out internally to the point where it came out in the form of motherfucking shingles. And remember how that advice said not to stress about the details? I just put them off until…well…now…or two weeks from now. Whatever.

Quirky Chrissy Wedding shower

So I’ve made some errors…while drinking a lot of champagne. And enjoying every minute of being engaged (except for the moments people encourage me to use the word, “fiance,” because I really think it’s a douchey word). I thought I’d tell you things you should probably not do (and I’m sure over the next 31 days, there will be a laundry list of more things I’ll do wrong. But you know what? At the end of the day, Brian is marrying Chrissy. And then we’re going to Europe (and don’t try to rob my house, robbers. My brother is moving in for the time we’re gone. And he’s big and scary and mean).

Don’t do what I did

  • I ordered enough invitations to hand one to every. single. man. woman. and child (yes, even the toddlers standing up in my wedding). NO ONE TELLS YOU THAT YOU ONLY NEED INVITATIONS ON A PER HOUSEHOLD BASIS! So I’m telling you. We ordered our invitations from Vistaprint using Ebates for a sweet bonus, but I ordered way too many of them. Luckily, I was able to change my order when I realized my mistake, but they could only give me a big fat credit on VistaPrint to make up for it. So, I’ve pretty much got business cards for life or I might order some cool rando swag. We’ll see.
  • I forgot to stamp envelopes. On both thank you notes from my showers and actual wedding invitations, several came back to us because I didn’t triple check for stamps on everything. Sometimes, the post office is nice to me. Sometimes, it’s not.
  • Speaking of invitations, I also sent several invitations to the wrong or old addresses. Also resulting in envelopes being returned to us.
  • I’m also pretty sure we forgot to send invitations to some people full stop. This was a very hectic time in our lives, and I don’t know how people do this and dear god why didn’t I hire someone to manage the details?!
  • I waited until the last minute to book our hotel rooms. I know that had I booked two months ago, when I booked our flights, I probably could have saved a shit ton more money. But I did work pretty hard to get the best prices I could for the nicest hotels in our price range on TripAdvisor. I’m very happy with our choices. For now. I’ll let you know in October how that worked out for us.
  • I still haven’t picked out music. Like…none of it. Ceremony music. First dance song. The only thing I know for certain is that my dad and I will dance to “Daddy’s Little Girl” because the man has had that planned since before my actual birth. And now it’s like fuuuuuck. I can’t believe I put this off and now I have to make decisions. I hate making decisions. WHY DIDN’T I HIRE SOMEONE TO MAKE DECISIONS?

6 wedding planning mistakes to avoid because no one tells you this stuff.

Well, I know there are more mistakes to be made, so I’m just going to get to making them, and I can’t wait to tell you all about everything! And if you’re getting married…hire someone to manage the details.

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!

Summer of Food, Drugs, and Travel: How I Spent My Summer “Vacation” in 500 Words or Less

The summer is coming to an end, the kids are going back to school, and all the fun things are happening that happen in the fall. (I see you, Pumpkin Spice everything, and I’ll take two.) I thought I’d write you a quick little ditty in honor of my summer. Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to put music or my voice to it. 

I kicked off summer, threw a birthday party, and celebrated my “29th.” Began the summer of pain and “fame.” My back was screaming, “Welcome to ’29 again,’ bitch.” Couldn’t get out of bed, sit comfortably or easily wipe my own ass. Worked from home, indulged in an overabundance of over-the-counter pain killers, and boarded a plane.

Landed in Baltimore, visited a breakfast nook, crammed 27 (or 5) bloggers into a small rental car, and traipsed to the quaint college campus we would call home for two days. People squee’d, hugged me, commanded me to yoga. Was loud, obnoxious, and confident. People still kinda liked me. Won a bunch of awesome shit, which sent me on a cool trajectory for the summer. Returned home to Brian, who wanted to bottle the energized Chrissy that came home, exhaustedly babbling about the amazing adventures of BlogU.

Lost my car in a flood. Cried. Roof leaked. Cried some more.

Made tasty snacks, drove to central Illinois with my parents, recorded them talking, and hung out with my family.

Raspberry picking in Michigan

Threw another party, drove to Michigan for an impromptu romantic getaway, dined on crazy delicious food-potato chip nachos, ribs, and bbq pork mac and cheese, returned to our fancy room for wine and Jacuzzi. Wandered the southwest corner of Michigan, antiqued, went to the beach, picked cherries and raspberries, drank wine, bought crappy cider, wore a bikini.

A photo posted by Quirky Chrissy (@quirkychrissy) on

Traipsed to Indiana, hopped on a boat, headed to the beach and got dizzy. Jumped in the lake, swam to solid ground, and watched everyone hang on the boat. Got back on the boat, drank some beer, and watched fireworks. Fourth of July happened, Ate some food and took third place in the three-legged race. Played some games, went to bed.

Red moon at the dock

Published on Huffington Post, went semi-viral, received a call from a radio producer. Listened to everyone’s first period stories.

Woke up with more back pain, screaming in agony. Went to doctor. Got on insane drugs. Jumped on another plane, landed in New York, hung out with blogger friends. More yoga demands, more squees, more friends, more booze, more food. All appetizers. Weird feminism. More winnings. Talked to Jenny McCarthy, met Hickory Farms, went to a rooftop bar, saw Aladdin, stayed too long, felt lonely, missed Brian.

Came home, snuggled Brian, acquired more drugs, experienced serious anxiety, met up with friends, had my palms read, was told I was lucky, got drunk, changed my website, felt lonely.

Bought a new car. Trekked to Indianapolis. Played games. Bought games. Ate food. Won more prizes. Came home, basement flooded, fixed air conditioner.

Eating in Michigan

Started physical therapy. Tried to yoga. Asked for a raise. Worried about job. Began an episode of vertigo (still going), took more drugs. Received a KitchenAid Mixer. Joined a weight loss competition.

As it turns out, my themes this summer were pain, drugs, travel, food and booze. I’m sure more happened, but I was lost in a haze of everything else. With the summer winding down, we don’t want anything else to go wrong, so we’ve started gearing up for TV season, and consequently just started Season 2 of 30 Rock on Netflix, where Liz Lemon also returned from her summer vacation. And can I just say how much I’m obsessing over 30 Rock right now? Do you KNOW how many things Liz Lemon and I have in common? Pretty much, like…everything. Also, the topical nature of 30 Rock from 2006 is surprisingly working really well in 2015. 

I'm obsessed with 30 Rock right now

135 episodes of THIS on Netflix right now. If I’m not writing, blame Liz Lemon.

How was your summer “vacation” did you get away? Stay at home? Do anything spectacular? Tell me everything!

Anyways, as usual, I wasn’t paid to write this post, but I was given a free Netflix subscription and a device on which to watch 30 Rock and other shows. 

Netflix Stream Team

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!

6 Ways to Keep Yourself Entertained on a Plane (That DON’T Involve Tapping Your Boyfriend on the Shoulder Asking “Are We There Yet?”)

I fucking love flying. Air travel makes me ridiculously happy. There’s some mix of “I’m going somewhere exciting or new or just somewhere ELSE” that makes it magical. And at the end of the trip it’s all: “I’m going to sleep in my own bed tonight!”

You can get almost anywhere in less than a day. At least anywhere I’ve been. Which is awesome. I’ve only flown on my own a few times, but Brian and I have been trying to travel somewhere twice a year for the last few years. Florida in the dead of winter and some place else in the summer or fall. It’s a good system. When we fly, I try to make it as easy to get on the plane as humanly possible. I used to try to bring an emergency set of everything in my carry on – toiletries, clean underwear, an outfit, etc. But now? I’m VERY selective as to what I bring on board. Of course, we almost always fly Southwest – where bags (two per person) fly free, so it’s pretty easy to check everything (including that empty suitcase to fill with seashells, wine, Christmas ornaments or other souvenir crap on the way back).

But even packing super light (did I ever tell you how much the TSA hates me? They MANHANDLED my cheese. Probably because of my letter to TSA.), I need to make sure that I have enough valid ways to entertain myself without bothering Brian TOO much. Because he does not love flying as much as I do. Something about people and lines and crowds or something.

Here are just a few ways that you can occupy your time on the flight.

6 Ways

How to entertain yourself on a plane full of people without being a jerk…mostly

Read

I mean…this one’s a given. But when you’re packing light, I highly recommend an e-reader. I was always against them until Brian insisted on buying me one. And I haven’t looked back. I can take FIFTY books on a plane with me…and my bag weighs less than it would with a single regular book. It’s fucking magical. Just be cautious, because the funnier the book, the more you’re likely to become a jerk and irritate all the people on the plane.

Watch a movie

In addition to the possibility of an in-flight movie…If you have some sort of tool that allows you to copy your DVDs to memory cards or tablets (I think that iTunes sells your favorite movies and TV shows too, but since I’m not really an Apple girl, I’ll have to assume maybe?), you can plan in advance and bring about a movie or two that you want to watch (I’ve watched Bridget Jones even though Helen Fielding is dead to me and some other beloved favorites). Just for the love of all things – WEAR EARBUDS.

Watch TV

Along the same lines as watching a movie, you can catch the newest released season on DVD of your favorite show (This last trip, Brian and I used an ear bud splitter to watch Person of Interest because we were binge watching to catch up to the current season). If you have Wi-Fi on the plane, you can Netflix Kimmy Schmidt or Grey’s Anatomy or Hulu Plus your current shows. Some flights even offer free (or paid) in-flight TV. Again, headphones are a necessity.

Play games

Whether you bring one of those fancy handheld gaming consoles (I haven’t had one since I got my Sega Game Gear in 1991), you carry on your travel version of Scrabble in order to whip your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife’s ass, or you pay for the Wi-Fi to play some games on your phone (Hello Simpson’s Tapped Out, I’m looking at you…), you can keep yourself entertained and occupied while enjoying that competitive thing you’ve got going for you. Of course, if you have the sound on while you’re playing these games, someone is going jump across the seat and wring your neck or throw your device. I’m just saying. I’ve thought about it. Several times. Turn the notification sounds off. No one wants to hear you rocking out to the Candy Crush greatest hits.

Snack

I don’t know about you, but I love a good snack pack. Brian and I have an excellent flying/packing system. I carry…well…almost nothing in my purse (a few bandaids, necessary drugs like Midol, Dramamine, Gas-X, Zantac, Pepto, and Sudafed to help us survive the airport time and 2-5 hour plane ride, and my travel pillow). And Brian carries the power cords, backup batteries and snacks in his backpack. It’s a really good system. I recommend trying it. So snacking is a great way to kill time. If you travel during dinner time and bring a meal on board, that’s a good 10-20 minutes of snacking depending on how fast you eat and what you grabbed at the airport. You could also play with your food – you know get like some animal crackers and play with them Ben Affleck style. Just remember if you’re sitting next to strangers that you don’t need to share. Especially when it comes to your crumbs. Be kind, my friends. Be kind.

Social Media/Blog/Internet Time Suck

You can live blog about the crazy lady on the plane or the kid that keeps kicking you…or continuously share on Facebook pictures of your kid’s first flight or humblebrag on Instagram how you can’t wait to be somewhere warm. People eat that shit up. You’ll have fun and so will I. Get lost down the internet rabbit hole and you’ll be at your destination in no time. Just you know…don’t BE the crazy lady or the mom that doesn’t tell her kid to stop kicking (you totally get full points for trying. I won’t judge. I was kicked on a plane once. They mom tried to keep the little guy at bay, but he fell asleep and apparently kicks in his sleep. She apologized several times and kept trying to move him. The effort was acknowledged and I was fine…albeit a little bruised.)

Okay blog friends, your turn. What do YOU do to occupy yourself when you travel? Even if you don’t fly – how do you keep yourself entertained on the train or in the car?

 

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!

Holy Shitballs! I’m Off The List!

Remember when I thought I was on one of those TSA watch lists? After an unfortunate incident with a skunk, a dog, and a trip to Disneyworld, I thought flying was never going to be the same. I mean…I’m sure my letter to TSA stuffed delicately in my luggage wasn’t helpful. And the fact that EVERY TIME I fly from Fort Myers, I have a suitcase that smells like a salty combination of ocean, sea death, and bleach…But I mean, really…they went so far as to MANHANDLE my cheese.

Cheese

When ww were in Petaluma, we picked up a giant piece of Achadina Capricious. So. So. Soooo good.

We haven’t made it through a TSA line unscathed since 2012. Until last week.

Somehow, we were pulled magically through the pre-check lanes (because they weren’t busy) on BOTH legs of our trip. We don’t carry much on board these days (I carry a nook, a phone, a tablet and a pillow; Brian carries a phone, tablet, snacks and charging cords/batteries) thanks to flying Southwest and checking everything.

Did you know that you don’t have to take your shoes off in the fancy pants VIP lane? No walking around barefoot where every Tom, Dick, and Harry has stepped with their icky feet. It was magical.

So thank you, TSA. For recognizing that I’m just a girl who accidentally got skunked one time…and has a little packing OCD…and sometimes travels with recently bleached seashells and other stinky sea life.

Approved flyer - No More TSA problems

Blog friends, what issues do you deal with when you travel? What’s your favorite part about flying?

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!

If We’re Going to Die, I Want to be Covered in Cheese.

Driving along the coast, just north or south of San Francisco is terrifying and breathtaking in the same moment. The varying drops off the side of the mountainous roads are steep. And I have a thing with vertigo and windy (as in wind a clock, not wind and sea; although I suppose that fits, as well) roads. But it’s also beautiful. The fog rolling in creates this amazing visual that is hard to describe and even harder to capture.

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On our way up the California coast from San Francisco to Sonoma Valley, we took a long and curvy road up into the mountains (well, they looked like mountains to this Great Plains girl), & I was more than a little terrified. Brian was driving through the curves as if he had been doing it all his life (I suppose that’s the Irish coming out), when he told me that in Ireland, the hill roads were the same…ONLY NARROWER.

Um. I’m never going to Ireland. (I’m lying.)

We stopped when we discovered a space to pull off the road and snap a few pics for you. It was harder to do than I thought. The fog isn’t very accommodating in the world of photography. But I tried. For you.

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Brian LOVES the mountains and the fog and the cool weather. (There’s that Irish thing again.)

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I wasn’t terrified at this stop. It was quite neat, actually.

On our way down to San Jose, on the other hand…I freaked out a little when we stopped. And wouldn’t get out of the car.

So driving out of Sonoma, we took a seriously scenic route. We rolled down through San Francisco, and further into the woods. We thought we’d check out a state park south of San Jose. In that time, we ALMOST ran out of gas, drove in a giant circle, and couldn’t find any flipping redwoods. It was like a horror flick waiting to happen. We had to pull up to some random worker dudes on the road and ask for the nearest gas station. With a rental car on E.

The gas station was a little dive in the middle of the forest and I feared for things like kidnapping and murder (I saw The Vanishing one too many times as a kid). After we filled up, we passed the same workers…coming from the same direction we had before. 40 minutes later. (See. Giant circle.)

And the we started climbing up the hills again. Beautiful and scary. Epic.
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At one point, I was trying to take pictures out the window, and Brian offered to stop to get better images. I was all about it. Until we stopped and I was about to get out of the car. I was a bit nervous, and Brian cracked a joke about not falling…and then he volunteered to go take pictures for me. I let him. I looked out from the safety of the parked car while fearing that my boyfriend would fall down with the keys in his pocket and I would be stranded and panicking about Brian. I have a bad habit of imagining the worst case scenario for every situation.

California View

One of Brian’s snaps. Is that not absolutely stunning?

 

We had picked up snacks and sandwiches for a little picnic lunch in the forest, and it was getting late for me. The hangry was creeping up on me quite rapidly, so I pulled out the Tostitos Mild Salsa Con Queso and tortilla chips. Brian warned me to not spill the cheese (like I would EVER consciously waste cheese like that.) I told him that the only way this cheese was going to spill was “if we were to fly off one of these cliffs. And quite frankly, if we’re going to die, I’d want to be covered in cheese.”

He realized I made a fair point and promised not to drive off any cliffs.

We finally arrived at the entrance of the state park, enjoyed lunch and were on our way. By then, we were both too exhausted to hike through the forest, and I had a party to get to a few hours later. So we rolled out. Even still, the drive continued in a frightening pattern. Instead of just curvy roads, we were now encountering those one-car-width roads PLUS curves PLUS steep inclines and declines.

Oh! And CHRISTMAS TREES!

Christmas is coming...

Christmas is coming…

Have you been to northern California? Or just driven through scary hilly roads? What’s the scariest road trip you’ve taken? Do you imagine worst case scenarios?

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!

Wine-Paired Dinner at Seared Petaluma

I’ve been dreaming of wine and cheese lately. I’m not sure why, since I happen to have a pretty decent stockpile of both wine and cheese in my fridge. But it happens.

#PetalumaMade Wine Paired Dinner

 

Remember back in July when I was all over social media with some of my new blogging buddies telling you how fantastic Petaluma, California is? Well, I absolutely HAD to tell you about the wine-paired dinner that we had at Seared. It definitely hit the level of meal-amazingness that our Disney dinner at Cat Cora’s restaurant had.

After a day of boozing and wining through the Petaluma countryside, we made our way back to Seared, a fine dining establishment in downtown Petaluma for dinner. We were greeted by a lovely collection of Petaluma business owners, wine growers and farmers.

Seared Wine Paired Dinner

While the 5-course dinner itself was exquisite, the experience was what truly made this meal magnificent. Brian couldn’t stop bragging about how awesome it was that the chef came out and described each course in detail, followed by a short description of the wines by the wine owners and growers, and in one case, the farmer who raised the quail. It was the ultimate in dining style.

Grilled stone fruit soup

The first course was a stone fruit soup garnished with baby greens, creme fraiche made of Purple Haze (a lavender and fennel pollen chevre goat cheese from Cypress Grove), preserved lemon and black pepper. The flavors melded together perfectly for a phenomenal soup.

Grilled Stone Fruit Soup with Purple Haze Chevre Creme Fraiche

Paired with the soup was Lelarge-Pugeot Champagne, which was represented by the lovely Clémence Lelarge, whose family vineyard produces this delicious Champagne in France.

Heirloom Tomato and Cucumber Salad

This course was absolutely delightful and refreshing. Have I told you how much I love arugula? The cucumber was sliced thin, the tomatoes were amazing and the burrata complemented the salad perfectly.

Heirloom tomato and cucumber salad with arugula, burrata and basil vinaigrette

This was my favorite course of liquid joy, featuring the Fogline Vineyards 2013 Chardonnay with a lovely introduction presented by winemaker, Evan Pontoriero. This wine was sunshine in a bottle. Brian and I came home with a few bottles of this brightly flavored wine.

Crudo

This delicious raw dish featured a flavorful albacore and a unique combination of accouterments to create a delicate balance of complementary flavors. Brian (who, as you may remember, despises seafood) and the vegetarians all received a similar dish with a trumpet mushroom instead of the albacore. The culinary geniuses in the kitchen made every effort to accommodate our entire group and all their dietary restrictions.

Crudo with albacore, avocado puree, grapefruit, pickled fennel, breakfast radish and Fresno chili

 

This dish was paired with the La Cruz Vineyard Pinot Noir from Keller Estate, as introduced by the delightful Anna Keller, who I had the pleasure of sitting next to during dinner. I love a good pinot, and this wine was decadent and delicious.

Devil’s Gulch Quail

Our main course was this amazing quail, stuffed with a rib eye chorizo boudin surrounded by a smoked tomato broth and topped with spinach, pine nuts, and golden raisins. After the chef discussed the course, we were treated with a short presentation about the quail and Devil’s Gulch Ranch from owner, Mark Pasternak. As I gently tried not to make an ass of myself, eating the quail with a fork and knife, both Anna and Mark were found teasing me for not just picking it up and going to town like everyone else. I was pretty proud of myself and the fact that not once during this meal did I dribble, spill, spit or splash!

quail, stuffed with a rib eye chorizo boudin surrounded by a smoked tomato broth, spinach, pine nuts, and golden raisins

The quail was paired with that tasty Luma-Rouge from Corkscrew Wines that we sampled earlier in the day at Azari Vineyards. A perfect pairing for a fine meal!

Black Pepper Panna Cotta

I had never consumed panna cotta until this event. I didn’t even know what it was. Cake? Pie? Pastry? Jello? Pudding? It was its own magical sweet dish that made me want to pick up the plate and put tongue to remnants. But I refrained. Because I’m respectable.

Black pepper panna cotta with aztec chocolate and red wine-blackberry compote

 

The panna cotta was finished with Enriquez Vineyards Tempranillo, which was the happy ending of an amazing meal. Cecilia Enriquez, wine owner and maker briefly spoke about the wine, which we had the joy of tasting earlier in the day, and she thanked everyone for their participation in this wonderful trip that was her brain child.

One of the most amazing aspects of this meal was the introductions from the winemakers and owners (and the rancher who supplied the quail!) describing their wines and their stories. This was an experience that could not have been matched, and I can’t wait to visit my friends in Petaluma again soon.

Blog Friends, what’s the best meal you’ve ever had? Have you experienced a wine paired meal? Tell me about it!

 

 

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!