Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On Being A Bridesmaid

I was around 11 years old the first time I was a member of a wedding party. My cousin Julie Grisham asked my cousin Casey and I to serve as candle lighters in her spring wedding. In all my experiences since, that remains the hardest wedding job I've had. There were about a zillion candles to be lit and a very ambitious air-conditioning system to slow the process.

We wore the dresses below. I thought they were adorable at the time. Casey and I wore them again for Easter Sunday that year. We took pictures in front of the azalea bushes at Nana's, just like we had done every year prior.

In retrospect, the dresses are not so adorable. I look like bedding. Or with that sash, perhaps drapes. You have to click on the picture to fully read the expression on my face. This also happened to be the Sunday that my grandmother sponge-rolled my hair. My dad was horrified at the sight. He sprayed water on my hair and brushed it to undo the damage, however I ended up looking like this. And clearly by the look on my face, I was pissed off about the whole thing, too.

I haven't been asked to light any more candles since Julie's wedding, however I've been a bridesmaid several times. I can't remember all of the brides, which makes me feel terrible, but off the top of my head there was Tricia Coats, Kristal Good, Danielle Bennett, my cousin Casey, my sister-in-law Ashley. Some dresses were good, others were not.

For instance, the black elbow gloves and black dress with a cathedral train in the middle of summer was not so awesome. But these were actually pretty cute:

But, when you're asked to be a bridesmaid, you really never know. The bride could pick anything, and because you're such an awesome friend, you'll wear it. Even if you can't breathe; even if it makes your butt look big; even if you fear a nip slip, you'll wear it.

I've been lucky, other than the one maiden of death bridesmaids dress. And my lucky streak continues. LJ picked out this fantastic dress (in this color) for her November wedding.

I have no fear. It's breathable, booty-friendly and because of the safe neckline, I won't be cleaving-out and my girls will stay put. Dare I say it? Could this be the bridesmaids dress that you really can wear again?

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Wet Weekend

To our surprise, we had the best time at DiamondJacks' WET party Friday night. This isn't an event I would normally attend, but SB Street Team parties force me into going to a lot of places I normally wouldn't.

I invited several of our friends to tag along. The highlight of the party — hands down — was the swimsuit competition. You had two categories of people. First, the women who looked and danced like strippers. Second, the women who looked like housewives and wanted to be strippers. The horrid attempts at raunchiness had us in stitches. Simply put, it was so bad it was funny. I really can't remember the last time I laughed so hard.

There was also a hula hoop contest, in which my dear friend and co-worked Caroline Leone dared to enter. As she put it, she got no attention since there was a woman hula hooping in her bikini to the left. It's OK Caroline, stay classy. You were adorable.

Finally, came my personal highlight — meeting Big Al from Kidd Kraddick in the Morning. Ty absolutely loves the radio show and has been a fan longer than I have, so we took a picture with Big Al. He was super nice, although slightly flirty.

We spent the rest of the weekend on Cross Lake and the Red River. I always said I would never swim in the Red, however I quickly changed my mind with it being a zillion degrees outside. And after being in the 96-degree lake the day before, it didn't take much convincing to get me in the water. I would say we had quite the WET weekend.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Price of Fame

This whole Michael Jackson thing makes me a little sad. I think he was a pretty dark, twisted person with an enormous amount of talent. I can't really understand his life, although I'm sure in the coming weeks we'll learn more about his reclusive, strange side. I posted an older picture of Michael Jackson. Frankly, I find it hard to stomach pictures of him in recent years.

For a while, I'd like to think of him simply as the King of Pop. The man who could sell 50 million records. His music and his moves are timeless. It makes me think of my brother and I moonwalking across the kitchen tiles. Chris was always a much better moonwalker than I.

I've only drawn one conclusion from all of this. I don't really think people are meant for fame. At some point or another, we all seem to have a desire for fame because with it often comes fortune. But days like yesterday make me realize what fame costs. Happiness and satisfaction disappear. You can never have enough. And the word "no" no longer exists. There are no sincere relationships because you begin to wonder if people really like you for you.

I like that my life is simple. I like that my life has boundaries. Having anything and everything at your disposal isn't healthy. I think it cost Michael Jackson his life.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Some Would Call Me Modest

A few months ago, my friend Nancy flipped out when she found out I didn't wear a two-piece swimsuit until my sophomore year of college. I understand this is a bit bizarre, but let me give you the circumstances.

My formative years were spent mostly with my father. I grew up in his household, and he picked out all of my clothes — knee-length Duck Head shorts, polo shirts and of course one-piece swimsuits. We avoided most of those awkward growing-up conversations. My aunt bought me my first training bra on a summer trip to Sea World, and I learned how to shave my legs sitting on the edge of a bathtub with Ashley Corrie on a church youth trip.

Most of my time spent with my father was at Westwood Golf Course. I sat around with some of the same regulars I still sit around with today. I think we were all in denial that I was a girl, until the day one of them pointed out the "mosquito bites" emerging on my chest. I was horrified.

So, since then I've been a rather modest gal. In high school, a simple V-neck t-shirt showed off too much skin. But in my college years, I let go a little. Some people do rather wild things in college. For me, that was wearing spaghetti straps for the first time.

In recent years, I've become more comfortable in my skin. I've got no problem wearing a two-piece. I've got four or five of them, however old habits die hard. In search for a new swimsuit for this summer, I found this:

I couldn't resist. Some would say you should flaunt it while you've got it, but I've never been very good at flaunting. So, I'll keep my two-pieces in the rotation, but I'm glad I've got this classy little number as a throwback to my younger years.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What My Grocery List Says About Me

I'd never really given much thought to my grocery list until I was standing around in the SB parking lot after work yesterday. In the middle of recapping the day with fav co-workers, Stephanie Patterson (now Pringle) and Caroline Leone, Stephanie grabs my grocery list out of my hand.

"Oh my god, Caroline. Would you look at this," Stephanie said. "Even her grocery list is perfectly in order .... and it's on cute personalized paper."

They giggle and taunted, and I spurred them on by pointing out that my grocery list is also organized by what section of the grocery store the items can be found in (produce, regular isles, cold stuff).

Since I've been at SB, my co-workers have commented regularly on how tidy I keep my desk. I'm not quite obsessive compulsive, but everything has its place. Planner goes here, coffee cup here, banana here, papers here.

I know exactly where I get this character trait. It come straight from my father. He's loosened up in the past several years, but when my stepmom first moved into our house she was in disbelief. My dad got irritated if the cans of creamed corn were mixed in with the regular corn.

So, what can I say? I am my father's child.

I prefer my world in order. And yes, I can understand organizing the cans of corn in your pantry.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

About Those Shrimp Burgers

Kudos to Southern Living. The shrimp burger lived up to my expectations, however the recipe requires a great deal of prep work. I cooked these for Ty, LJ and Marcus last Wednesday. The group arrived hungry. I offered up an apology and kept everyone snacking while I peeled shrimp, crumbled crackers and tried to hide the fact that the burgers had to sit for an hour and a half before they hit the grill.

I think it's overwhelming to try to do it all at once, especially while you're hosting friends. So, I recommend making the patties the night before and letting them sit for 24 hours before you grill them. It will also help the patties settle down and stick together, something we had a minor problem with.

So, here's what you need:

1 1/4 pounds unpeeled, medium-size raw shrimp (31 to 40 count)
vegetable cooking spray
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 1/4 cups crushed cornbread crackers (about 1 sleeve or 24 crackers)
4 Kaiser rolls
4 Bibb lettuce leaves

And here's what you do:

1. Peel shrimp, devein and cut each shrimp into thirds.

2. Line a pan with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray.

3. Stir together egg, mayo, lemon juice, salt and red pepper until blended. Stir in celery, green onion and parsley. Fold in shrimp and cracker crumbs. Shape into (4-inch wide, 1-inch thick) patties. Place patties on prepared pan. Cover and chill for 1 to 24 hours. Transfer to freezer and freeze 30 minutes.

4. Coat cooking grate with cooking spray. Preheat grill to med-high heat. Grill burgers, covered with grill lid, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and grill 4 to 5 minutes until shrimp turn pink and burgers are cooked through and lightly crisp.

5. Grill buns and serve with sweet 'n' spicy tarter sauce and lettuce.

After all that, this is what you end up with (pardon the photo quality):

They looked pretty good and tasted equally delicious. You'll also have to pardon the absence of a few things in this picture. This is a photo of LJ's burger, meaning it lacks everything but meat and bread. And really, the superstar secret ingredient is the sweet 'n' spicy tarter sauce that's so easy to make. It doesn't taste like tarter sauce at all — which is a good thing in my book.

Here's what you need:

1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons horseradish
1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Stir it all together and chill 30 minutes to 24 hours before serving.

It was one of the best meals I've made in a while. However, that could be because it was about 8:30 before we sat down to eat. That's my philosophy: When trying out a new recipe starve your guests for an acceptable period of time and just about anything will taste good.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I've Been Selected

After all the advice on how to get out of jury duty and how not to be selected, I was selected. I don't know if I'm even supposed to say that much, so I won't go any further. I went to jury selection several days last week. I decided I would be honest about my views and opinions. Some people would consider this stupid, but as lame as it sounds, I didn't want to misrepresent myself.

So, I answered honestly, and I've been seated on a jury. I'll tell you more about that later when I'm at liberty to do so.

That nugget of good news kicked off my weekend, and fortunately an uneventful couple of days followed. We hung out with friends, grilled out, ate shrimp fajitas at Cantina, spent time with Ty's sister Mandy and his parents, Butch and Margaret. We did the Father's Day thing with the Jordans and then went to Eastridge to spend the afternoon with my family.

This weekend was the Club Championship, and going into Sunday my dad was the leader, with my brothers Chris in 4th and Taylor in 6th. The three Netherton men are very competitive with their game, and leading up to this tournament there was plenty of trash-talking to go around. The boys would tease "the old man" about his age, saying his was too old to really compete.

He showed them. Dad won, beating Taylor (who came in second) by two strokes. As oftentimes happens with the game of golf, Chris lost to himself. So, we all stood around as the trophy was presented. It was a reminder of my family's history. My grandfather, Big Mick, was the second person to every win the tournament, my dad first won the tournament 38 years ago and Chris won the tournament last year.

It was an amazing day, and even better, an amazing day to remember the remarkable men in my family.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cracker Tracker

I woke up this morning thinking about cornbread crackers. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Me either. But never has a cracker given me such grief.

See, tonight I am cooking these:

Shrimp burgers, which I found the recipe for in the May issue of Southern Living. I all but slobbered on the page when I saw them. Instead of traditional burgers and fries, I thought I would make a healthier version — shrimp burgers with baked sweet potato fries.

Southern Living is great for home cooks because the recipes are fairly simple and ingredients are familiar. You usually won't be scratching your head and wandering the isles of the grocery store looking for some obscure ingredient the store manager has never even heard of.

Or at least I thought that was the case. Last night, I wandered the Line Avenue Brookshire's, each isle up and down with no cornbread crackers to be found. I bought corn meal instead. I doubt there would be any similarity beyond the involvement of the word "corn," but I had to do something.

I've been dying to try these burgers, and I wasn't going to let a simple cracker get in my way. So, this morning I Googled, which led me to the Kellogg's site and wouldn't know you, I found a Cracker Tracker. I typed in my zip code, and the site directed me to Albertson's on Southfield.

I should have cornbread crackers in my hand this afternoon and perfect shrimp burgers tonight. Thank goodness I found the Cracker Tracker. As of this morning, I was the only cracker crumbling.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Abs, Wii and Jury Duty

Well, I got my Bender Ball in the mail Saturday. I did my first workout yesterday, and felt like it was doing little to nothing for my abs. I thought it was definitely the easiest way to acquire six-pack abs. I'm going for the feminine kind, not the ones you cover in Vaseline.

Around 6 p.m., I began to feel sick to my stomach. As Ty and I cooked dinner, I told him that I didn't know if I was hungry or nauseous, but I would eat and soon find out. I'm adventurous like that despite the fact Ty thought eating was a very bad idea. To my relief, it was hunger, but the pain I felt came on as my ab workout started to sink in. Somehow, this little green ball is actually a silent killer.

I then woke up in the middle of the night with a shooting pain in my side. I'm starting to wonder if I have internal bleeding from my workout. Now I know why I've never done ab workouts before. That shiz hurts.

In other news, Ty and I are in the rotation of caring for my parents' pets this week while they are staying somewhere that serves $6.50 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We started the job Sunday night. There are numerous perks to this.

1. We have been given permission to eat whatever we want. The menu: tuna steaks for tonight, shrimp burgers for Wednesday and steaks and potatoes Thursday.

2. The stocked bar. We can make martinis, vodka drinks (I guess this would include martinis) and our old-faithful The Whiskey Drink. Parents, please do not be surprised, but you may be tapped out on Charter and Crown when you arrive home.

3. The Wii (and this is a big one). Looking for a way to pass the time, Ty and I powered up the Wii for a friendly game of tennis. About 20 games of tennis, bowling, baseball and golf later, we were serving, swinging and swatting like the pros. It was also 11 p.m. I think we played for roughly five hours. Did I mention my arms also are sore?

And as my final tidbit of information, I am now on-call for jury duty. I have to call the courthouse everyday at 6 p.m. If they say my name, I have to report to the courthouse at the assigned time the following day. If they don't say my name, I have to call back the next day at 6 p.m. I figure this process will continue until my name is said.

Friday, June 12, 2009

My Day in Court

I have been summoned to appear for jury duty Monday. I think I'm supposed to consider this an honor, or at the very least, feel a sense of pride for pulling my weight for the Red, White and Blue. However, I feel neither of these things.

Instead, I feel three emotions. The first, being inconvenienced. The middle of the months is about the time things get thick at the magazine. There's a lot of deadlines, proofs and other things that need to be done by the end of next week. I don't know how long I will be gone, and I've still got a few thing to tie up with the July cover story. This makes me panic.

Second, I feel uncertain. I don't enjoy walking into situations where I don't know what to expect. If you have ever accompanied me into unfamiliar territory, you know how this goes. I ask a lot of questions. Even if you are just as unfamiliar as me, I will ask you a million questions until I feel a sense of relief. I've been asking questions since my summoning. I hear it's boring. I hear I should bring a book. I hear I'm eventually going to be put on the spot to answer questions in front of a room filled with strangers. While I feel a great deal of comfort writing to the masses, I don't feel comfortable speaking or even replying. THEN ... I start thinking about this case and wondering if I'm going to have to sentence someone to death (worse case scenario, of course) and then I think, "I can't do that" and how my life will be ruined as a result. And what am I supposed to wear for a day like that? Again, I panic.

My final feeling, is one of worry different than the previously mentioned feelings. See, I'm worried that I'm going to forget to go to jury duty. It's similar to those nights when you get in bed knowing you have something really important in the morning, and you check your alarm about 10 times before you go to sleep — that is if you sleep at all. So, not only have I written the date in my planner, I've also written myself this note and stuck it to my computer screen.

There's something really scary about the phrase, "contempt of court." So, there may be no blog come Monday. We'll play Tuesday by ear. Hopefully, I won't be picked, and I'll see you soon.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Vacation, All I've Ever Wanted

For the past two years, I've gone on vacation with my family. Two parents, two brothers and one sister-in-law. We enjoy our week in Orange Beach, drinking Malibu and Pineapple and trying not to kill one another.

We do things like this:

And this. And if we've had enough to drink, or we're really having a good time, we'll even do this. It gives new meaning to the expression, "Like father, like son."

Amy, I'm sorry I didn't get in a picture of you. You were always holding the camera. Unfortunately, this year there will be no Netherton Family Vacation. My brother and his wife are taking a cruise. And Ty and I will be doing this with about six other couples:

We've rented a houseboat on Lake Ouachita. The boat has six bedroom, a hot tub and a water slide. It should be interesting. We're taking two ski boats to enjoy other recreational activities, but I'm really looking forward to just relaxing for a couple of days. Saying goodbye to work, regrouping and not worrying about a thing.

However, there could be some trouble on-board. Come to find out one of our friends doesn't know how to swim. She didn't know we would actually be sleeping on the boat. Oops. Let's just hope there's no man overboard.

Count down to Aug. 14.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

At-Home Workout Miracles

By no means am I obsessed with working out. More or less, LJ has to tie a chain around my neck to get me to do three to four miles a couple times a week. However, I am obsessed in my quest for the miracle at-home workout. Let's put aside the fact that you actually have to DO the at-home workouts to see results. I want them to work simply by adding them to my DVD collection. That part I do quite often.

I've been through this time and time again. Exhibit A: Yoga Booty Ballet.

I thought this was going to be it. The infomercials made it look so fun, and I love to dance. I talked about it so much that someone finally made the $150 investment, buying everything they offer, just to get me to shut-up about it. Well, booty dancing isn't so much fun when you're alone in your living room rather than at Fats (a toast to the good days).

In addition, there were multiple exercises that ask you to imagine yourself as a butterfly and engage in some yoga chants with the gals on TV. I tried to be serious. I tried to be hip and zen. Instead, I just giggled until it was time to shake my moneymaker.

Exhibit B: Love Your Legs.

I knew nothing about this workout other than the fact that I wanted my ass to look like that by summer. Hello, it's June, and I'm now wondering if I can ski wearing a sarong — anything else would be so wrong (hey-o, lame-o). I did this workout twice and soon found Kim Overton to be very annoying. No, it's not an excuse, she really gets on my nerves.

And the last exercise is sitting down and rubbing lotion on you saddlebags. Really? Is that going to work? Perhaps I should invest in one of those exercise band machines that jiggles your thunder thighs away while you enjoy a refeshing Tom Collins and catch up on your soaps.

And finally Exhibit C: Bender Ball.

I ordered the Bender Ball on Sunday night while I was dozing in and out of sleep watching Food Network. It was only $9.99, so it was an investment that will likely equal the results (that being nothing). I will keep you posted. SIDENOTE: And why can you order these on VHS? Can you even buy VCRs anymore?

So the end result is this. No, I'm definitely not addicted to working out, but I'm consistently a sucker for infomercials.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Mark Paul-Gosselaar has once again won my heart. During his recent appearance on Jimmy Fallon, he didn't arrive as himself — the now-serious actor who managed to break free from his type-cast role as Zach Morris. No. He actually showed up as Zach Morris. Complete with acid-washed jeans, mega huge cell phone, and time outs. The interview was so funny. Enjoy.

As you all know, my best friend, LJ, is getting married in November. She picked out her dress this weekend, so the planning has turned to bridesmaid dresses. Oh, the horrors! Do you realize how many terrible dresses are out there? I've been fortunate to never have to wear anything too terrifying. Although one time I did have to wear a long black dress with a train and elbow-length gloves. Yikes.

I have total confidence in LJ. She likes to keep thing fairly simple, which makes me feel pretty safe about the whole deal. So, yesterday LJ calls and asks if I will meet her at this place on Mansfield Road called Bridal Gallery. Both of us were curious considering we've lived here our entire lives and never heard of the place.

I pulled up to find LJ sitting in her car. "I've already gone in," she said. "These are bridesmaid and wedding dresses you rent."

I don't know what sound I made in response, but it wasn't good. The idea of this is horrifying to me. I'm not sure why. Chances are you really won't wear a bridesmaid's dress again. And guys rent tuxedos for weddings, so why is this any different? I can't pin-point why this is so appauling to me, but I know I would rather pay $200 bucks for a dress I'll only wear once than to rent the same dress not knowing who's been in it before. Is this gross to anyone else?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Our Trip Through the Natural State

We spent most of our weekend in the Dodge traveling to and from a wedding in Rogers, Ark. It doesn't make much sense considering you're doing nothing but sitting for hours upon hours, but I was exhausted last night when got home around 8:30. We stopped at Pie Works to eat, but I swear I could have dozed off face-first into my pizza.

But the trip was fun. I always enjoy taking trips with Ty because it reminds me of how we got to know each other, riding to LSU games together (another story about how he literally stole my heart). We divided our trip there in half and stayed Friday night in Russellville with the newly engaged couple below, Tuck and Megan.

Tuck is one of my favorite of Ty's college buddies, and as a couple, Tuck and Megan are so much fun to be around. We spent the night telling stories on the porch, drinking beers and watching fireflies.

The second part of the trip was spent looking at sights similar to the one below. Something this gorgeous makes the trip go by a little faster.

Once we got to Rogers, we went to the wedding and hung out with Ty's college friends. We got to have lunch with Mandy (Ty's sister), Justin and Ruby Belle (in-womb) and my cousin Casey and her husband, Josh.

We packed a lot into one weekend, which can explain my exhaustion today. But it was fun spending the weekend on the road with my guy, visiting old friends and seeing our families.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wild Game Night

I don't know who's growing up faster, me or Caroline. I don't usually hold babies at the hospital. They're just so little, and having never had a child of my own, I'm terrified of all the things I could do wrong.

Apparently, it's not that difficult. I held her, she slept. Pretty simple. I know how some people feel about baby bows, but I think this one is precious. Not sure what that look on LJ's face is about, maybe wedding planning talk.

"My colors are Blush and Bashful!!!"

"Your colors are Pink and Pink."

On to the next topic. Once every couple of weeks, Ty and I are invited to Lane's house for dinner. I call this "Wild Game Night" because we typically only eat things Lane has killed with his own two hands. Backstrap, squab, quail, duck, dove and last night we tried beer-battered pheasant with fried asparagus and twice-baked potatoes.

Normally, I would be very, very skeptical about eating wild game. I grew up eating duck and deer, but I wasn't sure if I would like much else, and I haven't been willing to try what's been offered. Two examples:

One night, I stopped by my parents house to say hello. Something was simmering on the stove, so I removed the lid to the pot to see what smelled so good. Sitting there in a bubbly stew of gravy was an unidentified meat. "What in God's name is this?," I asked and my dad told me it was squirrel.

"Squirrel? Seriously, where did you get squirrel and why are you eating it?"

My dad and Taylor had shot them on the golf course, skinned them and cooked them for dinner! I couldn't believe it. That seemed pretty close to eating a pet in my book. Needless to say, I passed on dinner that night.

Story two: My friend and outdoor reporter Jimmy Watson put me to the test one night at the office. He was heading out to cover a Wild Game Banquet where men bring in anything they've killed and cooked and everyone eats it up buffet style. Not knowing how bad it could get, I dared him, "Bring me the nastiest thing you can find and I'll eat it."

A few hours later, Jimmy returns to the office with a foil-covered dish and a look on his face that said "I've got you on this one." Anxious to show off my steel stomach, I pulled back the foil to see the vilest thing imaginable — a whole raccoon, head on, with carrots and potatoes. I almost barfed at the sight of it, and this was easily the most memorable bet I've ever lost. I think it would have been more disgusting if my co-workers would have had to watch me eat that thing. It was a win for all.

So, I have a new rule about eating wildlife. With the exception of deer, if I can hit it with my car, I don't eat it. That's a pretty good rule of thumb.

While Lane pushes these boundaries, I always eat what he serves. And I always like it. Nothing tastes especially wild, and last night's pheasant tasted more like flavorful chicken nuggets. However, if he ever serves up stewed squirrel or over-roasted raccoon, I'm out.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Eat a Lot of Fritos at Broadmoor Kitchen and Tavern

I've been eagerly watching one construction site on Youree Drive, and good news came this week. Broadmoor Kitchen and Tavern is open for business (I apologize for the lack of photo. It was raining and my hair is naturally curly, OK). It's been a topic of conversation between me and Ty for several weeks, maybe even months, now.

We'll be driving down the road, wondering where to eat, and one of us will say, "You know what I wish was open?"

"Broadmoor Kitchen and Tavern."

Or, we'll finish doing some fun activity, perhaps a day on the lake, and we would like to have a few beers. One of us will say, "You know what I wish was open?"

"Broadmoor Kitchen and Tavern."

With all this waiting, we've built it up in our minds to be the Holy Land. The one thing we've been missing from our lives. You've probably never seen two people more excited about a tavern opening up in their neighborhood. So, the other day, Ty drives by the construction site and calls me. "Guess what's open," he says.

"No. Broadmoor Kitchen and Tavern," I whisper with a far-off look in my eye.

"Yes. I have to say, I was genuinely excited about it," Ty said.

"Well sure."

It has only been open three or four days, but we couldn't wait to try Broadmoor Kitchen and Tavern. We went last night with Marcus and LJ and Walt and Nancy. The place was packed. However, the beer I'd been dreaming about wasn't available. The Tav is yet to get a liquor license (FYI, you can bring your own).

So, it wasn't perfect. The menu is a bit unfocused. Pasta to Philly cheese steaks to pot pies. We ordered appetizers and got two heaping bowls of dip and had to keep asking for more Fritos. And this one vegetable we struggled to identify. "It's a banana peel. No, it's a mushroom. Mushrooms don't have seeds. It's an eggplant." Ding, ding. That's one for Stephanie, although it tasted like the banana peel. We had these delicious cheese grits that made LJ say, "UGH."

Anyway, we enjoyed decent dinner in a pleasant atmosphere at the tavern located about two blocks from Ty's house. I hope service will improve. I have a history of loving restaurants that move into this location and close soon after. That Mexican restaurant with the best, smoothest, most perfect margaritas — I'll never forget you. The restaurant was soon turned into Mary's Thai Kitchen, and maybe something else before that, can't remember.

I hope we won't soon have to forget Broadmoor Kitchen and Tavern. Just give them a few weeks to iron out the problems. If that doesn't work, give them a few more weeks. At least by then they should have a liquor license.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Welcome to the World

Dear Miss Caroline Addison Wibben,

The world met you for the first time yesterday. That's a pretty big deal. As your Aunt Laura (yes, you may call her Lawa) put it, "One minute Crystal (your mom) was walking around, carrying that in her stomach, and a few hours later there she was. It's so strange." We can agree on that. It is pretty strange. But I can promise you from here on out, life only gets more and more strange.

However, no fear. You have a lot of good things going for you. First, your mom and dad are so happy to have you — a baby girl. We've already accepted the fact that you'll be a cowgirl. That's OK. I really liked Ropers when I was little, too. Plus, you really can't go wrong with a french braid.

Second, those brothers of yours are something special. If they do what big brothers are supposed to do, John Collier and Cayden will look after you. If they do what big brothers are supposed to do, they'll also torture you from time to time. Take it from me, they just can't help it. Men never fully understand women. This will help make you a strong young lady. But remember deep down they love you. John Collier already said you're "cuter than a butterfly." That's saying something.

On to the next, your grandparents. What good people they are. You are going to love their house because there are so many things to do. You can swim, fish, ride in a battery-powered hot pink Barbie Jeep (I'm hoping you get one of these one day). You can also shoot skeet — or hogs — but I'll let someone else tell you about that. Not really my thing. Ask your Uncle Ben. Also, I know it will be a while before you're eating anything solid or anything with an ounce of flavor, but when you get there you will be happy to have arrived. You grandmother knows how to fill a belly.

Finally, let's talk about your aunt Laura, or LJ as I call her. I already know she really loves you. She was in your delivery room, and I don't think she would do that for just anybody. She will be among the masses of people who will spoil you rotten. She'll let you eat popsicles in the living room ... on the furniture. I know, crazy right? But that's who she is. The fun aunt.

I write all of this to more or less say, "hello." I came to see you yesterday and didn't end up getting to see you. You'll learn about these things called jobs in due time — I promise, there's no rush. They interfere with really fun stuff like holding you and looking at your fingers and toes. But, I did bring you a cookie basket.

I can't wait to meet you very soon, and I can't wait to see the little lady you become.

Love you,

Your Unofficial Aunt Steph

Sugar Me Sweet

In the past several months, I've been very good about cutting a few things out of my diet. No sodas, which is a gigantic accomplishment considering my undying love a devotion to Coke-a-Cola. I gave up white bread for whole-grain wheat bread. I traded in my bagels for English muffins. Goodbye to the snack cakes and hello to my good friend fruit. I eat more leafy greens and vegetables, lots of fish and less and less fried stuff.

Why? Because somewhere between turning 25 and the fast approaching 3-0, my body began to shift. It began to process things differently. It began to punish me for eating all the things I ate before. I missed the days of chomping down double cheeseburgers and having girls ask, "What's your secret, how do you stay so thin?" The glory days of eating total junk and my body never revealing a consequence.

Knowing the glory days had passed, I quickly decided that I didn't want to be air-lifted from my house one day. I wanted to establish some healthy eating habits that I could feel good about.

But there's one thing I tried giving up and simply couldn't. Sugar in my morning coffee. For me, there's no acceptable, tasteful substitution. In tea, it's no big deal, but there's something familiar and perfect about coffee with a scoop of sugar.

My most recent attempt to ditch sugar (I'm sorry, I really do love you), was Truvia — "natures perfect sweetness." Marketing folks: you're wrong about that one. Hopeful about the zero-calorie sweetener, I ripped open a packet and dumped it into my cup. Stir. Sip. Try not to spit. This is the battery acid of sugar substitutes.

Yes, as a society we're becoming more health conscious. Natural being the latest buzzword. But, do we not have taste buds? My new philosophy: I'll give up what I can, but I'm keeping my morning scoop of sugar.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Family That Plays Together ...

This is one of my favorite family photos — with the exclusion of Taylor and the inclusion of Jeremy Dean (one of Chris' groomsmen). It pretty much sums up our funny little family. Everyone has a different expression on their face, but we're all smiles. I think these candid moments are the best. For instance, let me share example B.

This was taken about two or three years ago during one of our beach vacations. Right before Chris met Ashley (we missed you!). We were all pitching a fit about having to dress in khaki and white and look like all those other goobers on the beach. Meanwhile, the girl setting up beach chairs snapped this little gem. Another perfect image. It may not be the picture you frame on your wall, but it's one of my favorites.

My parents are currently in Alabama with my younger brother, Taylor. For years, their summers have been packed with trips for Taylor to play in different golf tournaments across the region. I've never been on one of these golf trips, but they always seem to be fun — especially if Taylor plays well. My stepmom, Amy, posted a few pictures on Facebook this morning. This one being my favorite.

That is my dad on the right, playing Taylor and his friend Tyler in a ping pong match. Dad playing ping pong? It's got to be hilarious, although his form on his serve looks pretty good.

I'm glad to have a family that I can have fun with. A group of people that I genuinely enjoy spending time with. A few folks who've always got my back. A lot of families aren't like that these days. But I'm glad we are.

Monday, June 1, 2009


Ty and I enjoyed a very recreational weekend (Yay! I'm a step closer to naturally golden-brown skin). Saturday afternoon we made our way to Clint's house for the Floatilla, which I've never been to before. I enjoyed sitting on Clint's back porch and watching the boats try to load and unload from the Legion. Some people can afford a boat, but few of them have the sense to drive it.

I was fine watching from afar. I was fine breezing past the crowds to do some surfing north of the party. However, I was not 100 percent fine when we ventured our way into the middle of the party. I was overwhelmed — this isn't exactly a family event.

Ty was good about it, "Focus on one thing. Like that fat, hairy, drunk guy over there dancing. See, that's funny." That was a good idea and that was funny. We diapered on our life jackets and bobbed in the water for a bit. That was a good idea, too. Until we were surrounded by soggy, swollen Chex Mix and cigarette butts — time to make an exit. Quite an experience, but I'm ready for a more normal weekend on the lake with less boats and less cigarette butts.

Sunday afternoon, after church and pot roast with Nana and Big Mick, we played golf with our good pals Marcus and LJ. It was an enjoyable round, despite what our score card read. We played until dark, and as we raced against the sun, our game grew more and more lackadaisical. On 17 tee, LJ announced that she was going for a hole-in-one, but as she described it, she ended up with a "pond-in-one."

We finished the evening with pizza and beers on the patio of PieWorks. It was a great end to our fun weekend. But it made coming to work today that much harder.