Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas: Chicago Style

The kids were out of school at noon Friday afternoon and by 1:30 we were on the road: Chicago bound!


The trip was ... meh. They get better every time we travel together but only marginally. One was knocked out before we even made it to Missouri:


There's one story from the trip I have to share. We were playing "I packed my bag for Chicago" and had some pretty ridiculous things ... the planet Neptune, an elephant, Texas. J had the letter "U" and said ... "I packed my bag for Chicago and I took Uranus!" Mark and I lost it. I laughed until I cried. We kept saying things like, "I knew that cargo carrier was big but it must be huge since we fit Uranus up there."

I feel like I should also point out that we packed Walter Payton on our trip.  Aaaaaand . . . the kids were really hungry once we hit southern Illinois and, seriously, there's nowhere to stop on that stretch of the trip.  Once we finally found an exit with restaurants, who did they give thanks to?  Yeah.  Walter Payton.  Totally Mark's influence!

We made it to Ed and Beth's around 9:39 Friday. We pulled into the driveway and what to our wondering eyes did appear but ... SNOW! Only a dusting and only on the car windows but it was enough to put our southern kids on eleven.  As in, as soon as K1 saw the snow he was FREAKING OUT. "Where's my coat?  Where's my coat?  DO I HAVE GLOVES?!?  GLOVES, NOW, MOM!"

They opened their first round of presents and we finally hit the bed around midnight. 



Saturday was Christmas with Mark's family. We all met at Aurelio's for some DELICIOUS food. 


We ordered a super six pizza and Mark and I split an Italian beef sandwich. And the boys, ya know, had a sword fight with straws ...


After the grub, it was time for PRESENTS!


Before we hit the gifts, Mark's sister-in-law asked people to pipe in something they were grateful for. It was the usual ... family, friends, God, health, and love. Then Mark's mother said, "I'm really thankful that Mark and Brandi found each other." Everyone "awww"-ed, we hugged and the kids joined in. It was totally a Moment and demonstrates just how special this family is to us and how much they've rallied to include my children and me. From the moment we first met them, they've made us feel included and loved.  And I'm pretty sure my family has done the same for Mark and his kids.


(Both other boys already had this Batman shirt and now, thanks to Mark's brother and sister-in-law, so does J!  They can be triplets now instead of twinkies!)

By the way ... I totally got Chicago Bears gear for Christmas. And expected nothing other!

After the presents were opened, we wound down with Christmas Vacation and, man, did we el-oh-el. Love that movie. 

Sunday morning was church. We went to Mark's brother's church ... mega church. I feel a little "meh" about the mega church phenomenon but this service was simply amazing.  I don't know that I could attend services like that on the weekly but I did enjoy our time there. The pastor was an amazing speaker. We were handed a bulletin explaining January's sermon series. "How to Love a Vampire: Loving the people who suck the life out of you." I think we might actually try to watch online. We both really enjoyed the speaker and it's a topic we both need addressed in life (though it's more tolerating the people who suck the life out of us.)

After church, the girls and I headed out to meet my friends Mo and Gina for lunch. 


We went to Pepe's for lunch and drinks. It was so good catching up with them!  And, BONUS, Mo was my Secret Santa this year!!!  She brought me a bag with cookie butter, cookie butter candy bars, wine, some Chicago-brewed beer, and my favorite gift . . . a collage of pics of the two of us.  We've been friends since our '06ers (J and her son Kam) were just tiny babies.  LOVE getting to see her and spend time with her.


That night everyone else went to see Star Wars. I give zero - ZERO - shits about Star Wars. So the girls and I just hung out and walked around to check out Christmas lights. 


I've lived in the south my whole life and, in the past couple months, I've been able to experience two holidays (Halloween and Christmas) in the Midwest.  I'm not sure if it's just the suburb we were in or what but it feels like Midwesterners do so much MORE when it comes to these holidays.  Like, I'm not going to give up my warmer weather for a few Christmas lights but, I mean, come on southerners . . . let's get with the program! 
 

After everyone got home, we visited more then Mark and his kids opened birthday gifts (he and his son have January birthdays; his daughter's was the 12th.) 

Around 5:00 Monday morning, we woke up to K2 coughing and crying for me. The next three hours were hell as some weird stomach virus (combined with a cold/ allergies) worked through her body. Not the best way to start our trip home! She was a trooper, though, and once the bug worked its way through her, she was fine -- though very tired and slept a majority of the way home. In fact, we were ALL pretty exhausted and there was a lot of this going home:

(These two are really sweet with each other and I had to snap the pic because I know we're only three or four years away from, "UGH! GET OFF ME, BRO!")

We were home by 7:30, in bed by 9:00, ready to get the rest of this busy week underway!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Life Was So Good. Then He Came Along and Made it Even Better.

Wednesday night, Mark came in from his work out carrying a bottle of champagne.  Neither of us could remember when exactly our first date was, we just knew it was sometime around December 7th and we wanted to celebrate.   Interestingly enough, this picture came up on my TimeHop yesterday:



I posted it the morning after they had gone to their very first Grizzlies game.  And the morning after I went on a first date that would change my life forever. (And our first date actually WAS on December 9th, the date Mark randomly decided to bring a bottle of champs to celebrate!) I had no idea when I walked into Doc's that night that I'd be walking into the very best year of my life. Especially given how things started out ...

Our first date was originally supposed to be at a restaurant downtown. He worked down there and I was dropping my kids there to meet their dad. I was headed downtown when Mark called me. "I'm so sorry, I forgot I have a doctor's appointment. He's running late so I'm late. I still really want to take you to dinner." We decided to meet closer to where his doctor's appointment was and, after dropping my kids off, I headed out to do some Christmas shopping while waiting for him to text when he was done.  He texted constantly, apologizing and saying how embarrassed he was, but you know what? I was shopping. WITHOUT KIDS.  It really wasn't a huge deal to me. Now, of course, I'll tease him constantly about being so late for our first date. At the time, though, I was just like "heyyy, I get to shop alone and then have dinner with a cute guy!"

Our first date went so great that we made plans to see each other again a couple nights later. We added up the other day that we saw each other at least four times before Christmas. So, yeah, we were both pretty smitten from the jump. 


Since it's the week of our first date-iversary, I thought I would share a few reasons why I think this guy is so great. 

1) He never hesitates to tell me how much he loves me or how much I mean to him. He's definitely the more emotionally expressive person in our relationship and that's helped me to better express my emotions. I know what I mean to him because he tells me and he shows me. And he's helped me to be able to tell and show him just what he means to me. 

2) He is AMAZING with my kids.  Amazing.  He has fun with them and he loves them but also doesn't hesitate to put them in their place if they choose to be disrespectful or rude or need a good dose of "just stop it now."  Blending families is hard and I have to constantly remind myself that the kids didn't ask for any of this.  They didn't ask for their parents to divorce and they didn't ask for a new man in their lives.  There are times when we get a, "ugh!  We're going to Mark's again?!?" or "Mark HAS to go with us?!?"  However.  They're also quick to run and jump on him when they see him, to hug him, to beg him to play football.  They love him and that does my heart so much good.
 
3) He works hard and he's a great provider. But he's also knows how to have fun. This man seriously works hard all week long in a stressful job (his company went from 400 employees to 40 and he went from having one job title to having three) yet he doesn't spend his weekends laying around or catching up on rest. He's all about having a good time and really living life. 


4) He wants me in his life more than he needs me in his life. I don't know if he realized, in the beginning, that he was getting into a relationship with a person who was basically emotionally shattered. He'd been through divorce too, though, so I'm sure he did. One thing I always told myself is that I'd never be in a relationship where I was NEEDED more than I was WANTED. I know the songs say "I need you now" and "baby, I need you" and all that. But to be wanted is so much ... more. And he never hesitates to make me feel wanted. he wants to spend time with me, to do things with me, go places with me. Because he wants to be around me, not because he needs me to do the dishes or make the beds or watch his kids. That's an amazing feeling. 

5) His brothers very obviously love, cherish, and respect their wives. His oldest brother is pretty social media inept. When we were at the Bears game last month, he asked us to post a picture to Facebook but please be sure to tag his wife and tell her how much he missed her being there. And he meant it. Why am I including his brothers in this? Because it's a sign they were - he was - raised right. 

6) His family reminds me of mine ... and I totally love them. Now, of course, they're all in the Chicago area and we're in Memphis so it's not like we see them daily. But they're good people. They're my kind of people. They remind me of my people ... right down to the political arguments!


7) He's still friends with people he went to high school with ... and not just Facebook friends. His friend Ed visits Memphis yearly, we've already stayed with him and his family twice in Chicago. Mark still sees his college roommate a couple times a year, even despite their distance, he keeps in close touch with another roomie who lives in Denver. He keeps up friendships. That's a big deal.

8) I love his friends.  I feel like it's not just his presence that's enriched my life the past year but also the people he's brought into my life.  It's very easy for us to have friends in common -- it's yet to feel like I "have to" hang out with his friends out of obligation.  Because they're my friends too!  I really appreciate he's friends with the kind of people I like having in my life. 

9) We're a true partnership.  If one of us cooks dinner, the other one cleans up.  He goes grocery shopping while I vacuum the floors and fold the laundry.  I watch the kids so he can go golf; he keeps them so I can have a Girls Night Out.  Neither one of us is bearing the complete burden, we're 50/50.  We're partners. 

10) And, finally, because he made this statement Wednesday night when he brought in a bottle of a champagne, "I was going to bring you flowers but I knew you'd appreciate this a lot more."  He gets me.  He knows me. 

 
A lot of times I think about how I found the perfect guy for me but I didn't just find that: I found the perfect love for me.  Sometimes it feels a little . . . weird, I suppose . . . to write all mushy-gushy about the love I'm in now considering I'm divorced and I wrote in the past about my ex.  But if I can say anything about everything that's happened to me in the past two years, it's that I've learned a lot.  A LOT.  I would never, ever, ever call my ex a mistake (hello!  Children!) but I can say that now, being on the other side, there were a lot of red flags. Not with him or with me but just with compatibility in a relationship.  Going through divorce helped me to understand what's really important to me, what's a deal breaker, what kind of love I wanted and deserved.  And now I've found and it and I'll be all mushy and gushy if I want to!  ;)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Kindness

I kinda hate when people toot their own horn about kindness.  You know what I'm talking about, right?  Every once in a while there will be a viral Facebook post about how someone bought this for a homeless person, paid for a veteran's meal, gave a tank of gas to someone in need, you get the picture.  All of those things are awesome and I understand the giver wanting to tell their story: it feels good to give!  It feels great to be kind!  I get it.  But, at the same time, it feels a little like . . . I don't know.  Asking for head pats?  Wanting someone to give you props for being kind?  I say all that to preface what I'm about to tell you.  I'm not looking for props or head pats; I just want to share a "what goes around comes around: in a good way" story.

Last week, I was rear ended.  I was having a horrible, horrible morning.  And I very easily could have lashed out at the girl who hit me.  I remember several years ago, I was probably 13 or 14.  My friend's cousin was driving a group of us through the Taco Bell drive-through and accidentally hit the car in front of us.  It was, admittedly, a distracted teenage girl.  But it was also a total accident and she was very, very upset that it happened.  It was in a drive-through so there was minimal damage.  However, that did not stop the guy she hit from unleashing on her.  He let the f-bombs fly and had the poor girl - and all the rest of us! - in tears.  It was uncalled for and that's always stayed with me.

Fast forward to last Tuesday.  I was hit.  I pulled over on the side of the road to examine the damage and speak to the other driver.  Said other driver was a very young girl who was very upset.  She was in tears, calling her mom, apologizing immediately.  I've already said it but, really, I was having a HORRIBLE morning and I was in a complete bitch mode bad mood.  I very easily could have taken that bad morning out on her.  But.  All I could think was, "she could be me, she could be anybody."  It was a total accident and she didn't deserve my outrage or me berating her or anything like that.  I did take down her information, just in case, but I never filed a police report or anything with insurance (it was only a tiny scratch!) Instead, I gave the poor girl a hug and told her a very real nugget of truth: "we've all been here." 

In the moment, I didn't stop to think that I was being kind to her because I wanted karma to come around and hug me or anything like that.  All I could see was a young girl who needed a hug.  All I could think was that could've been me, couldn't been anybody.  And, therefore, I treated her the way I would have wanted to be treated . . . the way my friend's cousin should've been treated all those years ago.

I firmly believe "what goes around, comes around" and that goes for kindness too.  Let's fast forward to yesterday afternoon.

The kids and I were prepping to go to boyfriend's house.  I warned the boys that once we got there, they were going to be responsible for cleaning my car out.  J decided he wanted a jump start on the cleaning so, even though it was only ten or so minutes before time to leave, he ran out to get started.  In the process, he locked my keys in my car. 

Not going to lie: I was LIVID.  LIVID.  I will routinely give my boys my keys to get something out of the car (we live in there: you'll often find shoes or a jacket, a random Barbie, etc.) and always make sure to tell them to bring the keys back to me as soon as they hit the "unlock" button on the fob.

Here's the deal: I don't have my extra set of keys (my ex still has them which, note to self, time to ask for those back! and he wasn't answering his phone.  I'm not even sure he's in town.)  I also don't have OnStar or any of those nifty services.  I called boyfriend in a panic.  My neighbor came over to help me: we both consulted Google.  There really weren't a lot of options.  I called Pop-a-Lock but it was $19 just for someone to come out.  It very easily would've cost me around $100 for them to let me in my car.

Google told me, though, that with the VIN number my local dealership could cut me a valet key for around $20.  I immediately called and spoke with an absolute ANGEL named Kenny at Sunrise Buick in Wolfchase.

I explained my dilemma.  He confirmed they could print the key if they had the mold but then gave the kicker, "I'm going to need your drivers license and either your registration or insurance."

"My registration and insurance are in my glove compartment, locked in my car!"

"I'm sorry, ma'am.  Have you tried Pop-a-Lock?"

Instant tears.  Not even planned.  I told him I had called them but it was going to cost me around $100 and I just did not have the money, not at all, and especially not right here at Christmas.  He listened, very patiently, and asked for the last eight digits of my VIN number.

"I'm not supposed to do this . . . I'm really not . . . but if you can get here before 6:00, I can cut you a key."

GOD BLESS THAT MAN, GOD BLESS HIS SOUL.

I took pictures of my VIN number and also of the car, showing it obviously parked in a driveway, as some kind of proof it was mine -- or at least that it wasn't sitting in a random parking lot or anything like that.  When I showed up at the dealership to pick up the key, he shooed away the picture proof.  "I don't even need that, girl!" 

He cut me the key and charged me a whole . . . $21.97.  Sent me on my way with merely a "Merry Christmas" and "make sure to have yourself a drink!"

Kenny at Sunrise Buick: YOU ARE AN ANGEL.

I still can't get over the absolute kindness this man showed me.  He took me at my word that he car was mine, he heard the desperation in my voice.  I'm not going to lie, dropping $100 to get my keys would absolutely have impacted a portion of my Christmas.  $100 doesn't seem like a whole lot until it's yours and you NEED it.  I swear, y'all, Kenny is an ANGEL!  And I also swear that when you're kind to others, it will come back to you in some shape or form.  I tried to teach that lesson to my kids when we were driving home last night.  I explained what happened to me last week and went on to explain that, most of the time, the kindness isn't returned to you as fast as it was to me.  But it always comes back to you  It always does.  Being kind will ALWAYS benefit you.  It will, selfishly, make you feel good about yourself.  And, sometimes, it'll manifest in others being even MORE kind to you.

I can't end this post without a shout-out to the best boyfriend ever.  I had to call Mark to come and drive me to the dealership.  He didn't even hesitate, even though it meant he was going to miss his class at the gym.  He keeps a bottle of vodka at his place and instructed me to start pouring myself shots as soon as I made it over there.  After I picked up the key and was feeling somewhat better, I told J he owed me the $21 and went on to say, "I was going to use that to go toward a case of beer and some cheap champagne for Thanksgiving!"  Mark went on to the gym and, when he came home a little while later, he was carrying . . . two cases of beer and a couple bottles of champs.  "I wasn't sure which cheap champagne you wanted."  I mean . . come on . . . he's the best! 

I'll end with words of wisdom for the great philosophers, Bill and Ted . . . "Be excellent to each other . . . Party on Dudes!" 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why We Work: Because We're Assholes Together


**Sorry not sorry, this post starts off pretty sappy!

A few weekends ago, I had two different people comment on how happy I seem lately.  One of them has known me for years and remarked on how she feels I'm back to being myself again.  The other has known me in recent years and made the comment that I'm happier than he's ever seen me.  Both are accurate.   Then we went to Chicago and Mark heard the same thing from old friends and even his brothers.  His sister-in-law told me, "In all the years I've known Mark, this is the happiest I've ever seen him."  The truth is, I don't think you realize how much being in the wrong relationship weighs you down -- and how obvious it is to those around you -- until you're out of that relationship.  Then once you find your happiness again - rather in a relationship or on your own, just doing you - everyone around you notices your change, your shine.

I can't even lie.  I AM happier than I've ever been in my life.  A year ago, I would've told you the same thing.  And I completely meant it.  And I would've thought you were DEAD WRONG had you told me I could be even happier because of a relationship.  I was not ever, ever, ever going to be THAT GIRL.  But here I am.  That Girl'ing all over the place.  And not even sorry for it.  Who knows.  Maybe the happiness is also rooted in finding myself again, getting a little bit of Brandi back.

One thing I can tell you is that the reason my relationship has worked up to this point is that we are a lot alike.  A lot.  I know people say "opposites attract," but in our case it's the, well, opposite.  We obviously have our differences.  Who doesn't?  But we have a ton of similarities.  And one of those is a sarcastic sense of humor.  We both love to laugh.  We laugh at the same of things.  And, I'm not going to lie, we crack ourselves UP. 


I thought I'd share a few of our recent conversations as an example of how we "work."  (And reading back on these, I realize some of them make us seem like assholes.  I was going to say I swear we aren't but maybe we are?  Regardless, our sarcasm works well together.)

Me: "I read the comments on Saturday Down South when I'm bored at work."
Boyfriend: "I play Words with Friends."
Me: "Ooooh!  I have the word "jute" on one of my games and I can't figure out where to play it."
Boyfriend: "Well, this just became the best Friday night ever!  Go grab your phone!"
Yeah, we're nerds.

Boyfriend: "Remember when I was going to lose 20 pounds before we went to Chicago?  This is the first diet where I've actually gained weight."
Me: "Well, we can try to drop ten or so before Thanksgiving.  Do you think we could not drink at all between getting back from Chicago and Thanksgiving?"
Boyfriend: "Have you MET our kids?"

Me, a couple weeks after the previous conversation: "You know the whole thing about not drinking so we wouldn't eat and lose weight before Thanksgiving?"
Boyfriend: "Yeah . . . "
Me: "I'd rather be fat that deal with these assholes sober."

Me: "Are you going home with me for Thanksgiving?"
Boyfriend: "Can we talk about this later?  I don't want to commit while I'm drinking."
Me: "Yeah, that's why I'm asking you now . . . "

Boyfriend: "If I do go for Thanksgiving, I'm going to fry a turkey.  Then I'll have to sign autographs and pose for pictures before we can even leave."

 Me: "Did I invite them to Thanksgiving last night?"
Boyfriend: "Only eight times.  And you made everyone take shots too so they'd commit while drunk."

Me: "Do you want me to drive?"
Boyfriend: "No.  You hit things."
* A few days later *
Boyfriend: "Are you prepared to be our DD when we have to drive back to St. Pete after the Tampa game?"
Me: "No.  I hit things."
(There's a 99% chance that I hit his garage a few weeks ago.  In my defense, his driveway is much shorter than mine.)

Boyfriend: "Why couldn't we have met 20 years ago?"
Me: "Because it would've been illegal."
(He was in college, I was still in high school 20 years ago)

*Passing the Hilton, where we went to his company's Great Gatsby party (And, awwww, I wasn't yet referring to him as my "boyfriend" in that post) earlier this year*
Boyfriend: "I fell in love with you in that building.  I mean I was pretty sure I was already in love with you but that night sealed the deal."
Me: "Are you sure it wasn't the open bar?"

Me: "Thank you for being you."
Boyfriend: "Thank you for being me . . . with boobs."

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Defeat Snatched from the Jaws of Victory


Several months ago, Mark tossed out an idea to me. "I think I'm going to the November 1st Bears game and I really want you to go with me." And, so. We planned and we secured childcare, bought tickets, planned tailgating. And, before we knew it, November 1st!
 

My first Bears game but he's been going to them since he was a boy. I was so excited to experience this with him. Even though it meant getting up before the crack of dawn Sunday morning. 
 

We pulled into the tailgating lot around 7:30 Sunday morning and got the party started. There were four couples including the two of us, both Mark's brothers, and one of his nephews. Oh. And there was enough food to feed a small army: burgers and chicken wings, smoked sausage, chips and dip, cookies, so many things thrown on the grill. Aaaaand Jell-O shots. There were Jell-O shots. 
 

We tailgated for a few hours then walked under the tunnel and made our way to Soldier Field. Our seats were seriously so amazing, a perk of waiting until the last minute to buy during a mediocre-to-bad season. 
 



Cutler had a TD pass to the end zone and we were RIGHT THERE. My boys swore they saw us on TV but I don't know about that. The seats were amazing though. Even though the Bears lost a heartbreaker. Womp Womp. 
 

We walked around the stadium more after the game with a certain boyfriend yelling, "PAXTON LYNCH! I'm telling you! We gotta draft Paxton Lynch!"


Paxton Lynch is the Peyton Manning-ish quarterback for Memphis and who Mark has pegged as the Bears' savior. 

I have to point out that the weather was absolutely amazing for the game. I was freezing when we started tailgating (two hoodies and a borrowed pair of gloves) but I actually ditched one hoodie during tailgating and the other during the game. I even got a little touch of pink from the sun. 


We headed back to meet our group at our tailgate spot. Ate a little more, drank a little more, aaaaand found out that his brothers and nephew accidentally bought tickets to the Bears game that's in St. Louis on the 14th. Ha! We'd love to go meet them there but not sure how to swing it. My second Bears game will probably be when we go to Tampa in December. 


It was such a fun time with my favorite Bears fan! So much fun that he's not having to work hard on converting me to fandom. And so much fun that as soon as we got back home, I promptly fell right to sleep and didn't wake up until (very early) the next morning ...

GO BEARS!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

SCHWING!


Friday morning, we loaded up the car, put Wentworth on the dashboard, and headed out. Destination: Chicago!

We were staying with friends, Ed and Beth, outside of the city and just a few miles from Mark's hometown. On the drive, he called a high school friend of his to talk about the game on Sunday. Somehow from there it was decided they would hold a (very) mini high school reunion in Ed's garage Friday night. 
 
With the exception of me and the guy on the end, these all went to high school together. The last time they were all together was over ten years ago.

It ended up being such a great night! I only knew Ed and Beth when we arrived but I never felt awkward or uncomfortable. They all immediately accepted me and we had so much fun. 

Saturday morning was cold and rainy; just miserable. We had some errands to run (Brandi had no Bears gear!) and Boyfriend has been talking about getting me a gyro from a certain place for ages. 


We each had a Chicago dog and split a gyro at Mickey's. The dog was better than anything I'll get in Memphis but no poppyseed bun, no tomato, and it was missing something else that questioned its authenticity. The gyro was out of this world phenomenal. 

Oh! And we also took sample vodka shots. In TARGET! God bless the Midwest. 

Saturday night was ... SCHWING!


Party on!

When I started thinking about Halloween costumes, I wanted something very "us" and not lame. Wayne and Garth ended up being perfect! And any man who will put on a blonde wig for you is one you keep around. 
 

Molly Ringwald showed up too ...


And so did Princess Leia and one of those Duck Dynasty dudes!
 

There was a decent sized group but WE WERE THE ONLY COOL PEOPLE WHO DRESSED UP! What the? It was so funny, though, when people walked in and saw Mark with his get up. I don't know how many times we heard or said, "party on, Wayne. Party on, Garth."
 
We're not worthy

We went to sleep for a few hours then it was up early for DA BEARS.  I'll talk about that tomorrow. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Dip!

Thursday night, we were discussing the upcoming weekend's beer-and-football garage fest.  Big weekend, big game in Memphis and we were PUMPED.  We were all talking about what we were going to make when I mentioned I'd do two different types of dips.  This was met with a chorus of, "well, of COURSE you will!"  and "REALLY?!?  Brandi is making DIP??"  I've kinda turned into the unofficial dip-maker.  And, in lieu of that, I thought I would share a few of my favorite dip recipes.  After all, it's tailgate season and what good is a tailgate without dip?

These are my favorites, dip recipes I've collected over the years and, honestly, I have no idea where most of them came from so no way to attribute them to anyone.  Most of these are so super easy to throw together -- they really can't even be called "recipes" so much as "methods."  However, they're really delicious!

Corn Dip

What you need:
2 cans of corn
1 cup mayo
1 red pepper, chopped
1 purple onion, chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 small bag of chili cheese Fritos
More Fritos (I like the Scoops!) for dipping

What you do:
Mix together corn, mayo, pepper, onion, and cheese.  I try to do this several hours before serving to let the flavors really soak in and meld together.  Just before serving, toss in the chili cheese Fritos.  Serve with Scoops or your other favorite corn chip.

** A few weeks ago, we were at a friend's house and she made a hot corn dip that was delicious.  Turns out it was the exact same recipe - sans the chili cheese Fritos - and she just baked it in the oven until the cheese was bubbly!  It's FANTASTIC either way.  Perfect for the pool when it's cold; awesome for football when it's warm.

Taco Dip

What you need:
8 wedges Laughing Cow cheese (I use the light Swiss)
1 can refried beans
1 can chili
1 package of taco seasoning
2 cups shredded cheddar or taco blend cheese
Jalapenos

What you do:
Spread the Laughing Cow over the bottom of a casserole dish.  Top with refried beans then a layer of a cheese then chili.  Sprinkle taco seasoning over the chili.  Top with remaining cheese and add jalapenos on top.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until cheese is bubbly.  You can also add all kinds of things to this dip: lettuce, tomato, sour cream, whatever floats your boat.

Pumpkin Dip

What you need:
1 can of pumpkin (just plain old pumpkin -- don't mess with the pie filling!)
1 package vanilla pudding
1 tub Cool Whip
Pumpkin pie spice
Cinnamon

What you do:
Mix together pumpkin, pudding (just the mix), Cool Whip, pumpkin pie spice (sorry, I don't measure my spices!  I just taste test as I go), and a dash of cinnamon.  Let it chill overnight.  Add a little more cinnamon when ready to serve -- just to make it a little prettier.  It's best served with cinnamon-flavored graham cracker sticks but it's also good with apple slices.

Crack Dip (I know that I found this recipe on Plain Chicken)

1 16-oz tub sour cream
1 package bacon bits (the real bacon pieces, please don't mess this up by trying to make it with something disgusting like Bacos, mmmkay?)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 packet Ranch dressing mix

Mix everything together and let chill.  As with most dips, this one is best if you refrigerate overnight but even letting it chill for a few hours is good.  We like it best with plain potato chips or cucumber slices.

Happy Dipping!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Saturday Down South

Well, schon of a bisch, COLLEGE FOOTBALL STARTS THIS WEEKEND!

Let me say it again.  COLLEGE FOOTBALL STARTS THIS WEEKEND!  (Technically it started last night but Saturday football is the best football.)  Forget Christmas.  This is the most wonderful time of year.  I'm going to be obnoxious for the next few months and if my team does well then I'm going to be even MORE obnoxious.  Sorry not sorry. 

In light of it being THE BEST TIME OF THE YEAR and COLLEGE FOOTBALL STARTING THIS WEEKEND (see?  Obnoxious), I thought I'd share a few things and a few memes (some memes have nothing to do with anything I'm talking about.  They're just funny as hell and quite politically incorrect.)  Here we go . . .
 
1) As you may or may not know, my team has had a rough few years.  It's all Bobby Petrino's fault (and more on Bobby P. in a moment.)  We now have us an amazing coach and I expect a MUCH better season.  We're starting the season ranked at 18.  I'm going to say it now: if this isn't our year then next year certainly will be.  Barring any motorcycle rides with blondes, of course.



2) My boyfriend was raised in Big 10 country and since we all know that's not real football, he's more of an NFL fan.  And by "more of an NFL fan," I mean that his brother told me last month that I'd better be on board with being a Bears fan if the relationship was going to last.  Anyway, he now lives in SEC country and, unfortunately, an Auburn fan got to him before I did so he claims them as his SEC team.  Of course, we're going to have to do something about that and at least it's not Alabama, right?  Gus Malzahn is the head coach at Auburn and he's an Arkansas boy so I can get behind me some WAR DAMN EAGLE every once in a while.  Still.  We're going to begin the "conversion process" this weekend.  I'm gonna make the man a Razorback!


3) Guess who Auburn plays this weekend?  Louisville.  Louisville is now coached by assface Bobby Petrino so you best believe it'll be a WAR DAMN EAGLE for this game!


4) Any good Arkansas fan, knows that you have to hate Texas.  It's in our blood.  I hope they lose every game they play . . . unless they happen to play Ohio State or USC.


5) If I see a bad driver in Memphis, I know to expect a "Roll Tide" sticker on the back of their car.


6) I hate Bama almost as much as UT but at least they have the good fortune of being in the SEC.  HOWEVER.  I'm still pissed that I actually cheered for them last year against Ohio State and they went and lost.

7) This right here is one of the greatest moments in all of college football.  My oldest child STILL talks about this:
I watched this going, "what the?  What?  Oh my . . . !  What?  Can he?  OH MY GOOOOOOOOSH!"
 

8) My children know that Saturdays from September through December are devoted to college football . . . ESPN Gameday then the 11:00 game and so forth, so on.  I don't know what I'm going to do when my boys start football on Saturday mornings and I can't watch Kirk and Corso and the gang!  Wahhhhh!

9)  I wish I could find a better quality video but . . . OH LORD IT'S HARD TO BE HUMBLE WHEN YOU'RE AN ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS FAN!

Hello college football season and GO HOGS!