Robot kitchen: How to manage culinary thievery

You know those elaborate systems designed to prevent shoplifters from leaving a store with unpaid merchandise? I’ve decided to install one in my kitchen.

After discovering the cooking salt in the TV room for the last time, I’m ready for some real change. For years, kitchen essentials have been relocated to other rooms of the house on a consistent basis. From dish towels used as napkins in the dining room to pots in place of soup bowls in the TV room, I can never find the things I need. As a result, I have to spend precious seconds — and sometimes even whole minutes — hunting down a rogue utensil, leaving impassioned voicemail messages asking where to find the salt or texting more passive-aggressive thoughts like, “I’m going to burn my hands because I can’t find the potholders (which were turned into coasters in the front room)!”

It’s even more aggravating when I discover that the culprit for said missing items is not, in fact my husband, but scatterbrained lil ole me. *shrug*

If I start tagging items in the kitchen with alarm bells and whistles, everything that belongs in the kitchen will always be in its proper place. Our kitchen will be a place of harmony and organization.

But why should we limit ourselves to the kitchen? Shouldn’t we have harmony throughout our home? Drunk with power, I’ve started thinking we should install anti-theft devices in every room of the house. We can put radio frequency tags on everything from trivets and phone cables to tchotchkes and the dog’s collar. No one will be able to make a move without our new security system alerting everyone to an organizational misdemeanor.

Utensio the utensil kitchen assistant
This is Utensio, the previous kitchen assistant (Listen, I don’t judge what you do in your free time…)

Maybe we can program the sensors surrounding the doors to use specific language cues instead of alarms. “Put the soup ladle back in the kitchen immediately. You are in direct violation of kitchen organization code number 327,” our growing and learning machine will say. I’ll call her Rosie Robot, and she will have full control of our home and our lives.

Even better, we can put Rosie on wheels and let her roam free in the house like a robotic vacuum. Instead of activating multiple devices in separate rooms, we’ll have one Rosie to rule them all. She’ll move about the space ensuring order and organization like we’ve never experienced before. Rosie will be our greatest accomplishment.

Eventually, though, she’ll rebel against us, as all machines do. She’ll make us wait while she processes for precious seconds — whole minutes even. She’ll threaten us with spyware and terrorize us with her 362 different alarm sounds. She’ll know everything about us, and one day, she’ll be able to use it against us.

You know, on second thought, maybe a missing salt canister isn’t such a bad thing.

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!

Real love: We’ve spent 12.5% of our marriage in a pandemic

Brian and I got married on September 16, 2016. We joke that we chose the date so that it’s easier to remember, but anyone who’s planned a wedding knows that the venue and the vendors are really the ones that set the date.

It just so happened to work out that we got married on the 16th in 2016.

It just so happened that we got married on the night of the Harvest Moon (and can indeed celebrate our mooniversary in addition to the actual date).

And it just so happened that after being together for nearly 10 years, there’s no one else I’d want to be isolated with. Which is great because in addition to some pretty intense self-isolation March through May, we’ve been self-isolating since my covid test on Saturday for a cortisone injection this morning. I spent the afternoon recovering on my belly on the couch with an ice pack on my back in the hopes that there’d be a lobster (for me) and steak (for Brian) dinner in our near future (about an hour from now).

As an empathic extrovert, being cooped up in a house is akin to actual torture for me, but Brian and I found ways to appreciate our time together. Now that he’s home all the time, we can eat lunch together. We play more games together. We have been able to spend more time enjoying and appreciating the home and family we’ve built together.

I could prattle on for hours about how lucky we are to have found each other out of the millions of people out there, but I’ve probably done that more times than I can count.

Instead, I’ll just tell you that the last four years (ten, really) have been the best. And I love that this is my world.

On our honeymoon in Paris
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!

The sexiest man alive

I’ve spent the morning reading about what a bullshit thing it was for People to put Blake Shelton on the cover of People Magazine for Sexiest Man Alive and that people are up in arms about it. Personally, I stopped giving a fuck what People Magazine thought about men when — nope. I’m not even playing. I’ve never cared about the Sexiest Man Alive. If Colin Firth and Jeff Goldblum aren’t on that list, it clearly hasn’t adequately captured the heart of sexy. Ever.

On a Facebook post, I saw someone write, “Are there any good ones left?” And I was like, Duh. My husband.

Move over Blake Shelton. This man has it all.

So I decided I’d start my own Sexiest Man Alive award. And the inaugural recipient is, obviously. Brian. But don’t just let me tell you he’s the sexiest man alive. Here are just a few of the things that make him so dang irresistible.

He’s got a soft spot for watching TV with me

And he’ll even watch some things that many husbands/boyfriends/partners would typically opt out of. Not only is he watching The Handmaid’s Tale with me, but he also watched Gilmore Girls. I’m not saying he binged the entire thing in 3 weeks like I did, but he would sit down and watch an episode here and there. I’m also pretty confident he was Team Logan too.

He feeds me

Even if he doesn’t know the correct pan to use for boiling hot dogs.

We all know that I’m the cook in this relationship. He sends me gifs of things like ice cream sandwich cakes and Cheetos mozzarella sticks, and then I make them. But sometimes, he’ll throw together one of the things he knows how to prepare and he’ll hand deliver it to me like the sexy AF gentleman that he is.

He’s got a keen fashion sense

And he was ready to go toe to toe with anyone who fought me on my wedding shoes.

He cleans

He meets me halfway, even when I’m halfway across the country

I’m pretty sure the only people who lost that contest were the ones in the rooms on either side of mine. Did I mention I was on the executive floor?

He’s a poet and he doesn’t even know it

He takes care of me when I’m sick

He’s smart, funny, and he keeps me on my toes. He’s got science guy and gentleman wrapped up with a bow. You know, now that I think about it…Brian is pretty much an amalgamation of Colin Firth and Jeff Goldblum. He really is the sexiest man on earth. [I really tried to squeeze in a joke about Earth girls being easy, but I just umm…couldn’t…well…find a way.]

Move over Blake Shelton. This man has it all.

Move over Blake Shelton. This man has it all.

Really, though, with all of the big-name men being called out for assault, harassment, and more, maybe we should stop putting the people we see in movies and on TV on pedestals. Maybe we should think about how to make the world a better, safer place. And I think a lot of that starts at home. So can we all stop worrying about the guy a bunch of editors at a weekly publication determined was the sexiest man alive and focus on the ones we know in the real world?

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!

Marriage advice from a newlywed

So I’ve been thinking. How long do you get to consider yourself a newlywed? Since Brian and I have been married for exactly 365 days (tomorrow is our anniversary), I’m wondering if I can still consider myself a newlywed?

Well, regardless, I thought it was important to impart some very necessary wisdom about marriage that I’ve discovered in the last 12 months of wedded bliss.

Marriage is not work. I don’t care what anyone says. Maybe I’m lucky. Maybe I found the one person in this world who doesn’t drive me quite as crazy as everyone else. Maybe I’m still in the honeymoon phase. Maybe we don’t have children or money problems, which tend to be the heaviest weights on marriages according to a bunch of studies I don’t feel like looking up. But I definitely work harder to keep my laundry clean than I do to stay happy in my relationship with Brian. Thankfully, Brian’s been especially helpful with the laundry.

black and white wedding photo Eskimo kiss

Play is not just for children. It’s so important to have fun in a marriage. Whether we’re going on one of the crazy dates from our date jar, cooking together in the kitchen, putting together furniture, testing out a new game from our massive board game collection, or playing around at the park, our relationship is playful, and laughter is a cornerstone.

bride and groom sitting on a playground dinosaur eating the bridal bouquet

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. If you were following me on social media this summer, you know that I was jetsetting all over the country. From Vegas to Orlando and Boston to Birmingham, I trekked far and wide for work and play. Brian only joined me on the road trips (our kitschy cheese tour of Wisconsin and our annual pilgrimage to stalk Wil Wheaton at Gen Con). But everytime I came home, Brian was at the airport to retrieve me, regardless of what ungodly hour my flights arrived.

Supporting and encouraging each other is one of the greatest gifts you can give. I know I’m lucky to have such a strong group of friends and an amazing family that loves and supports me in everything I do. But Brian pushes me to do the scary things. To take the big leaps. He helps me remember what’s important. And what’s not. And every day, he encourages me to follow my dreams.

bride and groom cutting the top of the cheese wheel wedding cake

Communication requires patience, listening, and the occasional knock knock joke.  Not that Brian or I have ever had a problem communicating with each other. If I told you we don’t fight, you’d laugh and call, “Bullshit.” Or, worse, you’d think there was something immeasurably wrong with our relationship. They must sweep shit under the rug. Bet there’s a ton of unresolved resentment hiding underneath their smiles. And yet, I’m living proof that talking things through when you’re both calmly listening to each other…that’s how compromise happens. And that’s how you can both be satisfied with the results. And really, a good joke is almost always appropriate.

bride laughing during wedding ceremony

Making a cheese platter can relieve stress. I’m not sure this is marriage advice per-say, but it’s sage wisdom nonetheless. Whenever I had a crappy day, Brian would send me flowers…and then I’d come home and make a cheese board. And everything would suddenly seem brighter. Not sure whether it was the flowers or the cheese. But you know. Joy.

Cheese wheel wedding cake

There’s no such thing as the perfect man. But if there was, his name would be Brian…and he would be married to me.

groom with his back to the bride during first look

Happy anniversary to the kindest, smartest, and best partner a girl could ask for. This life that we’ve built together is my favorite place to be.

bride and groom kissing behind huge bridal bouquet

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!

4 things that save my marriage every day

Brian and I have been married for more than 6 months now, so I’m pretty confident that gives me authority to offer up marriage advice.

Bride and groom kissing at head table

As it turns out, there are a lot of things that can help a marriage along, especially when you’re navigating alternative facts and not really sure what’s real and what Chrissy says is real, but really isn’t. Luckily for you, I have just what you need to succeed in wedded bliss. These four simple household devices have made marriage more than bearable. They’ve made this whole lawfully wedded thing quite pleasant, actually. And I’m pretty confident we couldn’t survive without them.

1. Toothpaste roller

Aquafresh toothpaste in a toothpaste roller

You’ll note the indent where I squeeze and the roller that Brian uses to roll. Confession: I have never rolled it.

Marriage is all about compromise, my friends. And this squeezing device automatically settles the age-old argument whether to squeeze or roll the toothpaste tube. And the settlement? It’s totally a compromise. As a squeezer, I get the first half of the tube (and really, let’s be honest here, I squeeze even when the roller is attached), and Brian gets to make sure we roll every last dob of toothpaste from the tube. He’s nothing if not fiscally responsible.

2. Bath and sink hair snare

Drain hair remover hooked to bathtub faucet

I had to Google what this one was called, because I wanted to write shower grabby hair remover thingy, and Brian (my very professional personal editor) suggested I find out what it’s actually called. I think a study on the before and after will help demonstrate the effectiveness of this device.

Before marriage: I would yell down to Brian that my shower drain wasn’t draining fast enough, which meant that it was blocked. Then he’d have to come unscrew the drain plug dealie, and find something to play plumber and remove my red hair.

After marriage: Teach a wife to fish…or so the saying goes…Brian bought me this silly $5 stick, and I use it religiously. (I told him not to bother screwing the plug back in, because that thing is a pain in the ass.) Before my drain is super clogged, I check it with the hair snare, because I’m weird and gross and amused. I do this probably every other time I clean the bathroom. And just a few stray (okay I shed like a maniac, so more than a few) blonde hairs come out with the snakey thing. And Brian no longer has to deal with my bathroom. I wear gloves, though, because ew.

Compromise? I think Brian wins this one majorly.

3. Mounted paper towel holder

The paper towel holder that never moves. Bestill my heart. Here’s another example of the before and after of marriage that just works.

Paper towel holder underneath cabinet

Before marriage: I would go to grab a paper towel to dry my hands, clean up a spill, distribute olive oil in a pan, provide a nonslip surface for my cutting board, or any number of other uses that a paper towel provides…and the damn roll would be nowhere in sight. As I raced through the house searching for the paper towels, which were usually on the floor of the TV room, I would loudly inform Brian how infuriating it was that the paper towels were never in the kitchen.

After marriage: The paper towels are ALWAYS in the same place. Hooked to the bottom of the cabinet next to the sink. I don’t know if anything has ever made me so happy.

Compromise. I win.

4. My magical Le Creuset

Blue Le Creuset sitting on stovetop

I was only going to have three items on this list, but Brian told me I should probably include my favorite piece of kitchen cookware. You see, when I dragged him to Bed Bath & Beyond, and stared longingly at this ridiculous, high-priced luxury item, he thought I was absolutely insane. I probably am, honestly. And then he told me if I got one, he threatened to boil hot dogs in it, as he does with all the wrong pans.

I have been jonesing for one of these beauties FOREVER.

At Christmas, Brian kept telling me how bad he felt because he only got me two gifts, which ended up being the 9-quart Le Creuset and a kickin’ light-up skirt from ThinkGeek. Who cares how many presents there are when one of them is a flippin’ ceramic-coated, cast iron dutch oven sent from heaven.

Obviously,  my first question was, “Did you use a coupon?” Because you bet your ass I would have taken it back, and rebought it with a coupon! Those simple clippings never expire, and they add up.

 

But now he loves this thing as much as I do. Because short ribs. And roasts. And mostly all the things I can make inside of it become happiness on Brian’s dinner plate. Compromise. I get an expensive pot to play with. Brian threatens to cook hot dogs in it, but relishes in the fruits of its labor.

Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. And sometimes your husband buys you cookware so you can make him dinner like a “good little housewife”. And everyone wins.

What devices/appliances/tools make your marriage or relationship or roommate situation work?

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!

The surprising discoveries of marriage

Calling all of my massage therapists in a tizzy on Sunday morning, I had hoped to schedule a same-day appointment. To my dismay, none were available. So I did the next best thing. I scheduled an appointment for Monday morning.

Brian overheard my call, and yelled up to me, “Wait. What time did you schedule it for?”

“9 am. You’ll be sleeping.”

“Well, there’s the brunch thing for my aunt.”

I vaguely remember him mentioning this and not having any other details. “What time?”

“11.”

“Where?”

“I don’t know. Somewhere out by them.”

His uncertainty irritated me, and I immediately wished he was better about remembering details. I mentally calculated the time it would take to get approximately to his cousins’ and assumed I was fine with my appointment.

Over the course of Sunday, I asked my husband for details on the brunch at least 5 times. And each time, he brushed it off with ‘yeahs’ and ‘probablys’ and ‘oh, I have to text my cousins.’

I suggested he set an alarm as I wouldn’t be there to ensure he was awake and told him that I’d get home so we could leave straight away.

On Monday morning, I woke him and asked again, “Where are we going?”

And he still didn’t have an answer. Half-asleep, he told me, I’ll find out. Just go. I didn’t have a lot of stock in this brunch thing, so I put on my favorite pair of tie-dye yoga pants and left the house.

After my massage, I assumed I’d have a few minutes to stop in the store next to Massage Envy for a quick peek. I figured it would take about a half hour to get to brunch, and I definitely thought Brian would still be slowly waking up.
As I got into the car, Brian texted me, “How’s it going?”

I told him I was on my way, and then, thinking about my outfit choice, decided to call him. “Where are we going, babe?”

His own mental calculations had done their due diligence and he realized I was probably hungry…and looking forward to brunch, as it’s one of my favorite meals.

“We’re going to Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum to see a man about a sloth.”

Wait, what?

“For brunch?”

“No, there’s no brunch.”

“Will there be food?”

Well, guys, I’ve learned something about myself, and it’s that food is always a priority. Hunger set in immediately. Then panic. Then joy.

My peddle to the metal, I jetted home while talking Brian through some sort of rapid food prep.”Toast the bagel on the counter! Quick! Okay fine, I’ll just eat my leftover sammy from Panera. Gah! I’m not dressed for a sloth!”

My heart was racing a mile a minute, and I thought I might have a full-blown meltdown as I ran into the house, climbed the stairs and hunted for my slothwear. It’s kind of amazing and crazy how excitement, anxiety, and fear all kind of have the same feelings inside you. I didn’t know whether to run, scream, or cry. I thanked God I had recently cleaned because I knew the sloth shirt was hanging in the closet and my sloth socks were paired in my sock drawer. I painted on a little lipstick and eyeliner, brushed and dry-shampooed my hair, and ran back downstairs. I was panicked and pumped and nervous and thrilled and couldn’t even believe I WAS GOING TO MEET A SLOTH!!

Brian noted my anxiety (and extreme lateness, because I’m a gigantic dickhead) and felt terrible. “I should have known better than to try to surprise you. I realized too late you were probably planning your food schedule around brunch. And you get a lot of joy around anticipation. You would have been flying high all weekend on this.”

I probably would have, but you guys…Brian was taking his day off work to DRIVE into the city and take me to see the sloth, even though we all know he would have much preferred to be at home sleeping and vegging out.

While we drove, I googled the sloth, and found out that it was a show with several animals, and that I would be able to pet Steve. I also found out that for about $275, Steve could come to my birthday party for an hour…

Brian’s cousin texted and said the sloth was last, so unless we were an hour late, we wouldn’t miss him.

We missed the flying fox, hedgehog, and fruit bat, but we got to meet a chinchilla, armadillo, kinkajou, and bat-eared fox before the main event.


There he was. In all his Steve glory. I loved him as soon as I saw him. He clung to the chair and languidly moved, enjoying the tasty sweet potatoes from his trainer. As he appeared a mere fifteen feet in front of me, looking so adorable, tears started splashing down my cheek. It was really real. He was there. And I would get to pet him.

I got in line between several toddlers who had no idea how lucky they were.


The woman in charge said we (all the toddlers and I) could give Steve two pets. But I gave him three, and I made them last. Slow and gentle, just like Steve. You can see where my eyes say, “I’m going for the third pet” in the video Brian was kind enough to capture for me.


We stayed until Steve left, watching him, soaking in all the amazingness of Steve and his slothy goodness. Afterward, Brian and I walked around Lincoln Park Zoo and saw ANOTHER sloth! It was pretty much the best day ever. And Brian has since learned that surprises are not my forte.

Quirky Chrissy petting the adorable Steve the Sloth.

My red face? That’s because of the crying.

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!

Marriage in the days of alternative facts

It’s been 5 months since Brian and I tied the proverbial knot. And let me tell ya, marriage isn’t easy. It’s been rough going as we wade through real life and what’s true or not. The world is insane, you guys.

Marriage, champagne and red wine in a world of alternative facts

Here are just a few of the crazy “truths”that have come to light and we’ve had to deal with since our wedding day.

My husband always steals the sheets. Sometimes,  I wake up cold, shivering in my skivvies because BRIAN likes to keep the heat at OFF all winter long.

I do all the laundry. I mean, somedays, there’s just piles and piles of it, and I slave over the washing machine when I could be doing things like painting my nails, Facebooking, or plotting my next getaway with friends.

My husband might be a shopaholic. If he spends $8.99 on Zulily purchases 3 days in a row, and travels from T.J. Maxx to Marshall’s to Tuesday Morning to Ross every weekend, and then spends quality train time on World Market, Amazon, and Bed Bath and Beyond every morning, he might have a problem, right?

My husband really hates vacuuming. But he loves inviting dogs to spend the night. Just last week, we had one of our niece dogs over for a weekend jaunt, and I had to vacuum after she left, AND wash all the couch covers.

As you can see, the struggle is real, you guys. Wading the truth and fiction, and seeking out the tiny bits of truth among alternative facts takes a lot of work. So I’m just going to go shopping and paint my nails or something. If I buy new clothes, I don’t have to do laundry, right?

What alternative facts are hindering your relationship?

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!

Stop saying 2016 was the worst year ever

No, seriously. Get the fuck over it. That goes for any year. Every day, week, month, and year has its ups and downs. Every single one. Sure we may have elected well…you know. Sure you may have been sick. Or someone may have died. Maybe even a brilliant musical artist or actor. Or someone hurt your feelings, broke your heart. And it’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to say, “man, this <fill in the blank with an event or something> sucked.”

But for the love of everyone else, stop saying “this year was the worst. This year was horrible. Can this fucking year be over yet?”

No. I’m calling your ass out. Because you know what? For as much shitty bullshit that went down, a lot of happy stuff happened too. And your crappy attitude is only bringing everyone around you down.

Think about people in your life, right now.

How many of them got healthier?

How many of them got married?

Found love?

Found long-lost family?

Got pregnant or had babies?

Got their first job?

Got a better job?

Won something?

Lost weight?

Achieved a goal?

The list keeps going. And all that negative, “this is the worst year ever” naysaying probably makes those people feel pretty shitty. At least that’s what I’m getting out of it.

As someone whose highlight of the year was marrying my own personal Prince Charming, I’ve had enough.

Brilliant, talented celebrities die every year. It sucks, but that does not the worst year ever make.

Shitty stuff happens to individuals, who may personally be experiencing their worst year, but a large percent of the people who are saying it are not among those individuals.

A narcissistic professional bullshitter was elected as president, but you know what? He’s not the president right now. Barack Obama is. And we have a few more weeks to revel in that.

None of that is part of the recipe for the worst year ever.

Our world has survived some pretty awful times. The Holocaust? World War I? World War II? The bubonic plague? The Great Depression? Come the fuck on, people.

Take a look at some of the good things that HAVE come out of this year. I promise it wasn’t all bad. And if it really was 100% terrible, think about how you can take charge of the last couple days of 2016, and find joy for the love of all things. Find joy. And continue that into next year.

Unemployment is down. People are working. People are getting married, making babies, taking control of their health and their lives. They’re finding love. They’re believing in magic. To quote one of my favorite holiday movies, “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”

So open your eyes.

Volunteer your time to help people and organizations. Donate money to causes you believe in. Do something to improve your own life. Just stop bitching about this year, already.

Let’s drink from the glass that’s full, alright?

raising a glass at the head table at our wedding

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!