Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Half Shell

So I want to write about a book I read lately (Where'd You Go, Bernadette if you're interested) and I want to share a few quotes from another book I ready (Wildwater Walking Club, if you're still interested) and I also want to write about a couple of local restaurants I've eaten at recently.  I'm Brandi so you obviously know what won out.

The food.  Always the food.

I'm going to start with Half Shell and leave the other restaurant for another day.  Half Shell bills itself as the best seafood in Memphis and actually has two locations.  A friend and I hit up the one on Mendenhall the other night.  It was a Friday night and we arrived around 7:30.  We were told there was a 20 minute wait but were seated in a much shorter time frame.

By the way -- please hold your shock but -- BUT -- I did not take ANY PICTURES OF ANY OF MY FOOD.  I know!  I was with a new friend and wasn't sure if, you know, whipping out my camera and photographing my food would put me into, "that chick is totally weird" territory.  So you'll just have to use your imagination and picture the food in your head.  Better than licking the screen of the actual pictures, right?  Right.

So, yeah, food.

We decided to split the lobster and shrimp bruschetta as an appetizer.  It came out chilled and seemed more like a shrimp salad but was pretty damn good.  I'd hit it (again.)

Our waitress told us that "voodoo" is the most popular thing on the menu.  It's a type of shrimp stuffing and you can get it with salmon, steak, chicken, whatever served over it.  I opted for the shrimp voodoo - with a side of mushrooms rather than broccoli - and my friend had the salmon.

Oh em gee.

I know why it's the most popular thing on the menu.

SO GOOD.

The mushrooms were delicious but I only took a few bites because the shrimp was THAT good and THAT filling.  And, honestly, if I would've looked like I'd been hitting the Blue Moon a little too hard, I totally would've picked my plate up and licked off every bite of that stuffing. 

Speaking of Blue Moon . . . they had it, bottled, but brought me out a glass garnished with an orange slice to pour it in.  Not too shabby.

I'll definitely be hitting up Half Shell again.  The food was delicious, the atmosphere was fun, and anyone who serves Blue Moon is a-ok in my book (the bar we hit up afterwards only had Shocktop!  Nooooo!)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Give Birth to Yourself

I stumbled upon this on Pinterest the other day and it really spoke to me, the truth of it.




The Pinterest caption reads best advice ever and you know what?  It totally is.  It is some of the best advice ever, something I hope to instill in my children.  Something I wish I could go back in time and instill into my own thick skull.

I love my children more than anything in the world and I don't regret them for a single moment.  But, I'm not going to lie, I wish I'd focused more on me - finding myself, "giving birth" to myself - before bringing them into the world.  It would make me a better mother.  It would make this point in my life right now an easier transition.  I truly believe that.

It sounds a little weird to say but I want my own children to be selfish.  In their 20's, I want their world to be about THEM and what makes them happy (but, oh God, please don't let it be smoking pot in someone's basement.) 

I want them to complete their education.  I want them to travel.  I want them to date around, perhaps having serious relationships but not settling down too young and never, ever, EVER just settling.  I want them to volunteer to do something that helps society and makes them feel fulfilled.  I want them to go to Happy Hour on Thursday afternoons with their coworkers.  I want them to try new things and not be afraid of new experiences.

What I don't want is for them to ever think that they have to be one half of a couple in order to be happy.  I hope they focus more on falling in love with themselves, not thinking they have to be in a relationship in order to find true happiness.  I've been in my 20's so I know how much of a pipe dream that is and how easy it is to think you're lonely just because they're the only one in their group of friends not coupled off (never mind that said friends are constantly complaining about their other half . . . )  A mom can hope though, right? 

Friday, January 17, 2014

That Time I Went Skiing


It was Spring Break, freshman year of college.

Instead of doing what every good 18-year-old does on Spring Break (wet t-shirt contests in Cancun), I went skiing. 

SKIING. 
In the snow. 
And the cold. 

It's okay. I'm judging 18-year-old Brandi too. 

Here's the thing: I'm not exactly what you'd call athletic. I don't like cold weather.  I've never been an "OMGSNOW!" person. I'm still not sure - 15 years later - why I chose to go to Leadville, Colorado, for Spring Break that year. 

Let me tell you a little about that trip. 

For starters, since I'd never been skiing before, I decided to attend ski school. They would teach me and I'd be zooming down a mountain in no time. Yeah, no. If they gave grades in ski school, I would've received straight F's. If you could be held back in ski school, I would have been. Repeatedly. The kid who got made fun of in second grade because they stumbled over the word "is" while reading out loud? ME IN SKI SCHOOL. 

After completing ski school (the instructor got tired of me), I tried the bunny trail. Four year olds were zooming past me. I fell a few (hundred) times.  Even still, I decided I was ready to my first green. Well. My ski fell off as I was getting on the lift. Then I fell getting off the lift. Then I spent the next three - yes, three! -hours tumbling down a mountain. 

Fall. 
Check for broken bones. 
Get up. 
Fall. 
Get up. 
"Ski" approximately three feet. 
Fall. 
Check for broken bones. 
Lather, rinse, repeat. 

And that was just the first day. We had three ski days. They're all full of shame and humiliation and I'm pretty sure I have PTSD and have blocked most everything out. 

To make matters worse was the group I went with. There were ten or twelve of us and I only knew three of them. One of the girls who went along decided early in the trip that she didn't like me and made it her mission to fire as many rude and snarky comments at me as possible. I was 18 and could not legally drink. And I was with a group of people who didn't drink. We spent every evening playing cards. Brandi-at-33 would've owned that trip with spiked hot chocolate in the lodge and Jello shots and dirty Scrabble in the evenings and telling that snarkalicious heffa what she could do with herself. 18-year-old Brandi was lamesauce. 

We spent three full days in Colorado, a beautiful state with the most snow I've ever seen. We started the drive back to Texas with a few snow flurries falling. And ended up driving in a full-on blizzard that saw us through Colorado, New Mexico, and the Texas panhandle. We slid on slick roads and did a 180 on the side of a mountain in Colorado (totally thought we were going to die. I was in the car with two guys and we all swore we wouldn't tell our parents. First thing each of us did when we got home? Told our parents.) The drive from Dalhart to Amarillo normally takes less than an hour and a half. Yet, that trip, we managed to listen to the entire George Strait boxed set, all four discs, during that stretch. The drive back was hell -- and very much in the time before everyone had a cell phone. We kept up with the other cars in our caravan via CB. CB. As in breaker one nine breaker one nine. 

The trip was ... an experience. An experience that I guess ... maybe ... I'm glad to have had. I probably should've chosen the beach and that wet t-shirt contest in Cancun because, let's face it, even Brandi-at-18 was much more Beach Bum than Ski Bunny. But at least I have a story to tell. 

And I know to never attempt skiing again. 

Now getting tipsy in the lodge?  Totally there. Totally. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Giving Myself a Break

 

I have a list of resolutions and goals for the year.  My biggest goal?  To get back at being Brandi.  To be me again.  To be proud of who I am.  To SHINE.  That's what I want the most out of 2014.

Another goal is to stop judging and criticizing myself so harshly. I found the above graphic on Pinterest and it really just kind of . . . it got me, with how true it is.  I realize that we are all our own worst critics but sometimes, sometimes, I feel like I could earn a gold medal - a platinum medal! - in self criticism. 

The thing is, I like myself.  I'd want to be friends with me!  I think I'm an a-ok chick.  I'm smart and I'm funny and a good mom (and I'm super humble too!) But that doesn't stop me from thinking about all the things I've done wrong I wish I'd done differently.  I wish I had never dropped out of college.  I should have never quit my job to be a stay-at-home-mom.  I'm 33-years-old and already have a failed marriage under my belt. 

I can own the fact that I've made some poor life choices (though I like to think that my poor life choices are on par with most others in my age group.)  But there's a big difference in owning what you've done wrong you wish you'd done differently and constantly beating yourself up.  The thing is . . . it's not what's in the past, it's not the poor choices you've made or I've made, it's how we move on.

Judging myself . . . beating myself up . . . that's not moving on.  I suppose it's better than making excuses for the wrong turns but it's also certainly not helping anything.  It's time to let that go.  I made mistakes; we all do.  Now what can I do with those mistakes?  Get over them.  Move on.  Realize I could have made better choices, I could have done things differently, and just pour myself into making the future better.

I don't think I can truly shine until I learn to stop criticizing myself.

It's something I'm going to work at this year, in these coming weeks and months . . . giving myself a break.  I deserve it.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ethel and Shirley Do Dallas (Well, Ft. Worth): Part Three

FOOOOOOOOD!

People.  Friends.  Y'all.  I stepped on the scale last Wednesday morning and realized I had gained ten pounds since Thanksgiving.  A little later I pulled on a pair of leggings and did the whole "check myself out from all angles" thing in the mirror.  I turned to the side and was all, "OH MY GOD, BECKY!" so, luckily, most of those ten pounds have descended upon my booty booty booty booty rockin' ever-wurrrrr.  ANYWAY.  I'm pretty sure I gained 9.4 of those pounds while I was in Ft. Worth.

Let's talk the food, mah friends!

First, let's talk about food I did not photograph.  (I know!  You're shocked!)  When I was a kid, we went to Texas roughly 23094208 times per year and every time we crossed the state line from Texarkana, Arkansas, into Texarkana, Texas, my dad was bee lining for the nearest Whataburger.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  I am my father's daughter.  I love me some Whataburger and, though we made it well past Texarkana before we stopped, it was our first Texas meal.  It's been a year and half since my last trip to the Lone Star State (what the what what?!?) and in that time Whataburger has introduced . . . SPICY KETCHUP.  And, my people, it is . . . it is everything you'd imagine spicy ketchup would be.  I love spicy and I love ketchup and now I'm wishing I'd stocked up on that shit before we left Texas.  It was so.good.

The first photographed "meal" was at Baja (I couldn't find a website.)

That peach margarita?  It was AMAZE.

And, also?  It reminded me of a story I forgot to tell in yesterday's entry.

You see, we're sitting there and we order our drinks.  Jenn ordered hers after I ordered mine and the waiter did not ask for ID.  She was all "HMPH!" about it.  The waiter went to put in her order, is halfway across the restaurant, and he turned around and started motioning toward us.  She just KNEW he was asking for her ID and shouted, "MY ID?  YOU WANT TO SEE MY ID?"  And he was all, "NO!  Do you want me to split the check?"  Then I died.  I died.  Maybe you have to be knock-knock-knocking on the door of your mid-30's to understand just what an ego boost it is to be asked for your ID.  And, I don't know, it was just FUNNY.  And I need to record it for all posterity so that three years from now when I'm looking through all my old entries I can stumble upon this one and LMAO.

Anyway.  The margarita was wonderful.  The queso though?  Ugh.  I could make something better in my kitchen with a block of Velveeta and a can of Rotel.

For breakfast on Friday, we hit up OC Burgers in Watauga.  I ordered a chorizo burrito.  It was big and cheap and it was okay.

When I lived in the Waco area, there was this little burrito place that was so so so so good.  These burritos were good but they did not even begin to hold a candle to a Tiny's burrito!

I was finally able to get a hold of these bad boys in Texas:


Tennessee has some antiquated liquor laws.  Like, we cannot even buy wine in grocery stores (should change this year though!)  Since the cran-brrr-rita's are 8% alcohol, they can't be sold in Tennessee.  Say it with me now: LAME.  I was so so so so so excited to try these and we FINALLY found some.  They were . . . so good.  Better than the lime or strawberry.  Too bad they're limited because I'm kinda in love.

P.S.  My friend Casey found some MANGO ritas in California.  Mango!  I love mango! 

Saturday morning afternoon, Jenn and I were looking for ANYWHERE to eat when we passed a little burger shack that I, for the life of me, cannot remember the name of.  A greasy burger sounded good and, come on, we all know the hole in the wall places are le best


The burger was good but let's be honest here.  The number one component of a hole-in-the-wall burger?  It should be THICK.  And juicy, obviously.  But it needs to be a nice, thick burger and this just . . . it was not.  Good but not great.

However.  I had my first Coca-Cola in A YEAR AND A HALF while I was there and I'm pretty sure I heard angels singing.

Chuy's is a Texas institution but, prior to last weekend, I had never had the pleasure.

Um.  Whuuuuut is wrong with me?


We started out with an order of queso and three different sauces.  That jalapeno sauce?  Y'all!  I'm going to need a moment.

I had no idea what to order when I was looking over the menu because everything looked so yummy.  I ended up going with Elvis chicken (hashtag Memphis!)  It was a chicken breast coated in Lay's potato chips and deep fried then smothered in green chili and cheese.  RIGHT?  Hey there, mouthgasm!



Chuy's has most def been added to my list of "OMG MUST EAT THERE" places while in Texas.  We don't have ANY good chains in Memphis . . .

Sunday morning, we met a few friends for brunch at Taverna.
 
This place.  They had $1 Mimosas and Belinis!  Score!  We were pretty sure this meant they would be super weak.  But either our waitress really liked us or they hook you up every time because every single one I had was GOOD.  And not weak!  My breakfast, on the other hand . . .
 
I was not impressed.
 
I should've gone more adventurous.  I usually do.  But I ordered fried eggs (over garlic bread!) with sausage and potatoes.  The potatoes were amazing.  Everything else was merely meh.  I did get a bite of Vanessa's shrimp and artichoke omelet and I'm pretty sure it was a gift from Heaven.  I just ordered the wrong thing.  Well, except for three four five of those $1 Mimosas.
 
Our last Ft. Worth meal (exception: Burger King breakfast the next morning) was at Rodeo Goat.  (You KNOW you want to say "totes magoats" right now!)
 

 
We split an order of cheese fries and I had the Cowboy Murrin.  I thought it was super delish but both Jenn and Storme thought Jenn's burger (can't remember which one!) was better.  We also tried a couple of the specialty drinks.  Jenn had the moontang (SO GOOD!) and I went with the Fainting Goat (meh.)
 
** Speaking of the Fainting Goat --  I've become more of a beer drinker here lately and I love - LOVE - me some Blue Moon.  When we were at the Pour House, I looked over their drink menu to find the one that most resembled Blue Moon and discovered a Texas beer, Revolver Blood and Honey (what the Fainting Goat is made of) that tasted pretty darn close.  I was proud of myself.  It's like I'm becoming a beer connoisseur or something.
 
And, finally, it's just not a trip to east/ north Texas without a trip to . . .

I was burgered out at that point.  But, seriously, I couldn't leave Texas without a Braum's burger . . . and without taking a picture to taunt my mom with!
 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Ethel and Shirley Do Dallas (Well, Ft. Worth): Part Two

I feel like I should explain the whole "Ethel and Shirley" thing.

You see, Jenn and I may be chronologically in our late 20's (stop laaaaaaughing) but we're actually little old ladies. Little old ladies who are up with the sun and think 9:30 is staying up late. When we were in Vegas a couple years ago, we were up (after having slept!) and walking the Strip ... towards Denny's, naturally ... at 6:00 in the morning. 

We also have no use for youthful shenanigans, say things like "shenanigans," would rather spend our money at Trader Joe's than a bar, and do things like go to the beauty school so they can fix our hair for the bargain basement price of $9 each. 

We are Ethel and Shirley.

So, this Ft. Worth trip.
 
My words just can't do it justice.  And I don't want to be all "first we were like . . . and then we did . . . and after that . . . "

Instead, some highlights.  I use the word "highlights" quite liberally.

- I picked Jenn up from the airport Thursday afternoon and we promptly proceeded to get lost in the parking garage EVEN THOUGH I TOOK A PICTURE OF THE ROW I PARKED ON.  Seriously?  Who DOES that?  My mom.  That's who.  I'm turning into her.  Anyhow.  Not only did we get lost but once we finally found the car I went to the wrong lane to get out of the damn thing.  I mean, really?

- Thursday night, we met Storme and her boyfriend for dinner and drinks.  I kind of love Storme's boyfriend with one little exception.  You see, Jenn and I were trading Steel Magnolias quotes back and for and this dude . . . he's all, "What movie is that from?" and "Do you have to be over a 'certain age' to have seen that?"  A CERTAIN AGE?  What the what what?  Ethel and Shirley were not amused.

- I wasn't kidding when I said we go to the beauty school so they can fix our hair.  That's exactly where we headed Friday morning.  I told the girl who did my hair, "I usually blow it dry and then straighten it but I'd like something a little different this time."  Yeah.  Homegirl proceeded to straighten mine with the blow dryer rather than pulling out her straightener.  It looked exactly the same as it always does with the exception that she used a shit ton of product and I was sporting some greasy hair.

- Friday afternoon, we headed over to our friend Vanessa's house.  Vanessa is the most amazing hostess ever.  She made this amazing chipotle blueberry dip (seriously.  Still having dreams about that stuff.)  We roasted marshmallows.  Drank.  Harassed her kids and her brother.  A good time was had.
 
- I got two words for you: TRADER JOE'S!  They have a few in the DFW area, including one in Ft. Worth so you knew - oh you knew! - we were there.  I love me some Joe!  I picked up a jar of cookie butter that I was actually able to get home this time.  And I may or may not have already laid in bed eating it with a spoon. 

- So, Saturday night.  It was just . . . interesting.  We valet parked the car and decided to meander through downtown Ft. Worth.  We ended up at the Pour House.  When we got there, we were two of approximately 15 people.  Like, the waitresses were still caking on their eight pounds of foundation in the bathroom.  Things changed, though, and a table of what had to be SWINGERS quickly took up residence behind us.  One of them men asked us to meet him (for The Sex) at 1:00 a.m.  At least two others (one male, one female) propositioned us.  It was . . . interesting.  We even told them our names were Ethel and Shirley ("Really!  She's named after our dad's mom and I'm named after our mom's mom.  We're TWINS!") and they wouldn't leave us alone.  Probably due to the twins thing.

There was also a guy in their group wearing a suede shirt.  I'm just sayin'.

- We also made . . . friends (I guess?) with the band that night.  It started when we kinda sorta mocked their guitarist (his nipples were following us!) but he was a good sport and we ended up having a good time talking to him and the other guys in the band.  Not groupies.  With the band not WITH the band.

- On the way back to Storme's that Saturday night, we might - or might not have - got in a drag race with what appeared to be a 15-year-old boy  in his mom's truck.  And Jenn might - or might not have - said, "Oh my gawwww, Brandi, you're going 90 in a 35!"  (I was not going 90.)  (Really, Mom, I promise, I was not going 90.)

- We went to the Stockyards on Sunday.  Please tell me why I've never been to the stockyards.  I spend a decade of my life in Texas!
 
There were saloons and smoky bars and cowboys riding down the street and WE WENT TO A CATTLE DRIVE.  When we first arrived, we wandered into the livestock barn.  The first thing we saw was a CAMEL.  We automatically began with the "Mikemikemikemike" and "Guess what day it is!"  One of the guys who worked there told us the camel's name was "Toe."  Mmmkay, Pervert.  Also, the camel tried to take a bite outta my boob and another out of Jenn's butt.  Who knows.  Maybe his name WAS Toe.

Really, though, if you're ever in Ft. Worth, hit up the Stockyards.  If nothing else, to see dudes wearing spurs.  Real spurs!

- I legit had an amazing time.  I want to go back (when it's warmer!) and I want to introduce more of my friends to the amazingness that is Ft. Worth.  It's a pretty awesome little city and it's kind of crazy that Dallas gets all the attention when it comes to the Metroplex.  Ft. Worth is where it's atttttt!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Ethel and Shirley Do Dallas (Well, Ft. Worth): Part One

Do you ever have a story that you just . . . you HAVE to tell?  You NEED to tell?  But then you realize that there's no way you can do the story any kind of justice at all and you might pour your soul into writing it down only for other people to sit back and be all, "Heh.  All the build up for THAT?" 

That's how I feel about last Saturday night.

I have started writing about the epicness that was the last Saturday night in 2013 no less than five times and each time I realize that my words . . . they just are not enough.  There's no way I can tell all about that night and have anyone - other than Jenn B., the friend I was with - get it.  I mean, there were swingers!  And we were definitely sexually propositioned at least once and probably three or four times.  And I think I might've sexually propositioned the valet guy but I didn't really MEAN to.  And we were with the band but we weren't WITH the band.  And his nipples were watching us.  And there was live porn.  And, and, and . . . I could just go on and on.  And I would except I can't do justice to anything that happened. The words.  They are not in me.

There is one story, however, that I have to, have to, have to must tell.  Because, you see, from now until the rest of my days, whenever I need to figure out a way to laugh on the spot, I'll remember this story.  And I will LOL.

Jenn B. and I were at the Pour House in Ft. Worth.  A large and ever growing group of what HAD to be swingers were behind us and kept invading our space.  There was a guy, not with the swingers, we noticed standing behind our table.  He was cute.  Really cute.  But he was also creepy.  Total Creeper Status.  He looked as though he was scanning the crowd, trying to find someone to roofie.  He came over to our table and struck up a conversation with Jenn and me.  "Blah, blah, the band" and "I came here thinking they'd be showing the fight."



One of the younger Swinger Chicks was none to happy that he was talking to us and decided to cock block (except not cause, yeah, no way he was getting any of either one of us.)  She struck up a conversation with him right there at our table.  Meaning, we could hear everything they were saying.  She flirted.  He was dumb.  She flirted some more.  He was dumb some more.  And then it happened.

"How old are you?" he asked.
"How old do you think I am?" she flirted.

Ladies. 

We've all been there.  We're guilty.  I know I am.  We ALL ask that question.  Don't do it, y'all, if you can't handle the truth.

Or if you're talking to a dumb guy.

Because, y'all, he said to her, "I think you're in your mid-30's."

Then I died. And Jenn died.  And we came back to life and then we died again.

I am a stone's throw away from my mid-30's and I'm here to tell you.  I don't want anyone telling me they think I'm in my mid-30's until I'm at least ten years past that point.  I mean, you might as well be all, "well, judging by your crow's feet and the lines marching across your forehead . . . "  Not to imagine, this girl probably wasn't any older than 27-ish.

"I think you're in your mid-30's."

There's a lesson in all this, probably about morals and standards, but I'd prefer it has more to do with not invading my space bubble.  I'm just sayin'.

P.S. I'll write more about my trip to Ft. Worth next week because a) I fell in love with FW; b) It was legen-wait for it-dary; and c) THE FOOD, THE FOOD, OMGTHEFOOD

P.P.S. This very same night some guy uttered the words, "this song changed my life" about THE CUPID SHUFFLE.

P.P.P.S. For real.  Best night ever.