If Heaven is a Restaurant, it’s the Catbird Seat

For my 30th birthday, all I wanted to give myself (treat yo’ self, as Kim would say) was a dinner out at the Catbird Seat. For those of you who are living under a rock, the Catbird Seat is a restaurant in Nashville that’s been featured in Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, Southern Living, Travel + Leisure, etc. It’s one of the top restaurants in the country, and I’d venture to say a trailblazer in putting Nashville on the culinary map.

So what’s all the fuss about?

The food. Dear baby Jesus – the food.

But the experience, too. You see, you don’t walk into the Catbird Seat and order some chicken fingers. You must have a reservation. You can only get a reservation within 30 days of when you’d like to go, and you must do it online. You cannot call from your prepaid cellular device. So if you want to go eat there 30 days from now, you get online at midnight and start clicking before the reservations are all gone…because they will be, in seconds.

Then you arrive 15 minutes apart from each of the other parties for that evening. And you sit at one of 32 seats at a square bar around the kitchen, where award-winning chefs greet you, prepare your meal and serve it to you while explaining what it is, how you eat it and then stand there and shoot the breeze with you about things like music and Amsterdam.

You eat 10 courses of the most delightful culinary treats you’ve ever experienced. You don’t order anything – it’s all chef’s choice. Oh, and you have a wine or cocktail pairing with each course. (insert drunk face here).

It is a nearly three-hour-long, foodgasmic party in your mouth where no one overstays their welcome.

And y’all. I don’t really get star-struck in this fair city often – but being the food lover that I am, I knew I’d totally GEEK out over eating here and seeing Erik Anderson in the flesh. In front of me. Cooking food for me. Serving food to me. Talking about food to me. I want to be his best friend and awkwardly show up for dinner unannounced every Sunday.

So yeah, this is what I wanted for my 30th birthday. But alas, I could not get a reservation for the life of me. Enter Daniel – new boyfriend extraordinaire – who surprises me with a 7:30 Friday night reservation. Probably one of the most hard to come by timeslots, I might add. The boy is handsome, smart, good with a computer – and shares my love for excellent food. Let’s keep him.

So we went. We ate and drank. And it did not disappoint. Here is the play by play.

The Catbird Seat.

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We arrived, were welcomed by the hostess and rode up the elevator with her babbling about I don’t know what because OMGI’MABOUTTOEATATTHECATBIRDSEATSHUTUP!

We were seated and then greeted by a tiny plate already waiting on us, with the chef’s version of Nashville’s famous hot chicken.

Crispy chicken skin and a “Wonder Bread” puree. Y’all.

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The wine and cocktail pairing is $40 per person and worth every dime. (Also, take a cab).

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This was another one of our “snacks” and part of the first course. I failed to take a photo of the others before I inhaled them. But this was a beef tartare. Amazing.

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Oh hey famous chef Erik.

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This was a melon salad. And you’re all like “oh melon salad, whatevs.” No. It was to die for. Those little melon balls almost changed my life. There was an avocado puree, some sort of foam and mint and salt something or another that made it to die for.

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This was a celery root that was served on a super hot plate with foie gras shaved over the top. (Foie Gras = duck or goose liver that has been especially fattened). That foie gras melted like butter on the hot root and hot plate and we were encouraged to eat it quickly. Um, no problem.
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Mashed potatoes. But not your grandmas. These had golden caviar underneath and cured sturgeon with lemon thyme. You know, like you do. Amazing, but probably the least impressive thing we ate.

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Now we’re getting to the good stuff. I had known three other friends/acquaintances who ate at the Catbird Seat and two of the three were served Pigeon. Make that three now, counting me. I was so scared and excited when this came up. LOOK at that claw.

And aren’t pigeon’s referred to as “rats with wings?” They are gross, annoying animals. But I would have eaten a frosted turd if Erik Anderson served it to me.

So, he put this in front of us and explained it and I had heard to ask a lot of questions, when you eat at the Catbird. So the best I could come up with was, “How far down this little claw leg can I eat?” Well played.

He said, “well, that’s a bone – so don’t eat it.” Sweet, dude. Y’all. A real, single tear came to my eye when I ate this dish. We will all be eating pigeon in Heaven. Real talk.

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After. Like a boss!

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This was maybe my favorite cocktail that got major points for creativity. It was sweet tea, but real tea leaves were infused in riesling instead of water. That’s how we should all be drinking our tea, folks.

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This was a top contender for favorite dish, as well. Wagyu beef ribeye that simply melted in your mouth. The watercress puree was really strong — watercress is just such a distinct flavor. I loved it, but it could have ruined it for you if it’s not a flavor you like.

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We should always have a cheese course – with every meal. This was harbison cheese, which was kind of the consistency of brie, but twenty times tastier – served inside a hollowed out shallot with a mushy cherry compote of some kind. I don’t know — but it was good.

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Love and food drunk.

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Hey drinks! And the first of three dessert courses. YES! Sweet corn ice cream, y’all. It was SO good. Served in a potato cone with shaved truffle on top. Truffle is such an overwhelming flavor when served in this quantity — but with the ice cream it was on point. This was a super savory dessert, as well.

IMG_2455Another savory-ish dessert. Maple, bacon, thyme custard served inside a real eggshell with a tiny real piece of bacon. I almost licked the inside of the egg.

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Finally — a little smorgasbord of vanilla cake, cherry crisp, oak wood ice cream and pineapple gelee. But the star of this show were the bourbon beads. Close up in the next photo.

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So that bourbon bead you see there was a tiny, gel casing that when bit into shot straight bourbon into your mouth. It was the craziest thing and I don’t know how they made them, but I could have eaten a million. I would have died, but it would have been sort of worth it. They were delicious!

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Lastly, a tunga vanilla espresso drink with an espresso ice cube. Eh, it was fine. I had a lot of food and alcohol by this point, so I would have enjoyed anything.

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Chef Erik, cutting some lady’s pigeon off the bone for her because the claw freaked her out. Really lady? This aint Burger King — you can’t just have it your way.

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The view of the restaurant from the door when you walk in. This is pretty much the whole thing.

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Lastly, here is a photo of our menu that they give you to keep as a souvenir. You can read all about everything here if you’d like. But I suggest you just fork over the cash and go yourselves. It was worth every penny. (FYI — it’s roughly $100/person plus the $40/person alcohol pairing plus service charge and tax, so…yeah).

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We decided we’d treat ourselves once a year to this kind of experience, if possible. The menu changes constantly, so hopefully each time will be new and different.

I love Nashville and I love food. I’m so glad the two have teamed up to make our great city a foodie destination, as of late. There’s so many new eats to be excited about.

Thanks, Catbird. We’ll be back.

XOXO,
Jenn

I mean, everyone was like 30

I turned 30 last Friday. There, I said it.

Up until now I’ve pretty much been calling it my Second Annual 29th Birthday.

Honestly, turning 29 was weirder. Because it was like “holy s$%*balls – I’m 30 NEXT YEAR.” So I’ve been preparing myself for this for a year now.

What I did NOT expect was another huge life change to happen the week prior to the 30th birthday. I moved out of the flat and into my own little one bedroom, urban apartment. It’s been kind of a devastating few weeks, y’all. But it’s getting a little, tiny bit easier every day when I realize that the world doesn’t really give a crap about my drama – it keeps spinning anyways and I better just try and keep up.

That’s all I care to talk about there. Back to 30….

We have new interns at work and one of my friends and coworkers walked by a gaggle full of them sitting in the cafeteria. She overheard then talking about their weekend and heard one girl say, “yeah – it was a fun place. But we didn’t stay very long. Everyone in there was like 30.”

Ohhhhhh girl. YoudidnotjustsaythatOMG!

I guess when you are 20 years old, 30 does seem pretty ancient. Now, please excuse me while I drink this Metamucil and chase it with some Pepto straight outta the bottle.

The 30th Birthday Weekend was great. I don’t ever remember my birthday falling on a Friday, so that was fun. I was surrounded by people who love me and even got to spend 24 hours in Nashville with my lovely parents, eating our way through town, as usual. Although, I was in bed by 10 p.m. both Friday and Saturday night. I’m not even mad about it.

I moved, I turned 30 and stayed real busy that first week in my new place. This second week has been quieter. I’ve been finding myself just looking around and realizing how quiet it is – then running to find Callie and making her snuggle on me. Gawd, I seriously would be locked in the nuthouse by now without that fur person. Her companionship saves me, some days. (So said the crazy, old, spinster cat lady).

So, who knows what 30 holds, but I’m counting on the second half of this year being pretty dang good. It better be. I’m going to make it be. I know by the end of the year I’m going to have a niece or nephew, I have an amazing family, such good friends, a job I love, a fur baby and the cutest roof over my head that you ever did see.

It’s gotta be good, right?

XOXO,
Jenn

Stan the Man

While my family and I were on vacation last week in Destin, we were in a gelato shop after dinner on our last night there. There was a family there and you could tell it was grandpa, grown kids and grandkids. Grandpa was treating the family to gelato and it was adorable. The man must have been about 80 years old and he had a HUGE button on his shirt that said “Stan _____.” I don’t remember his last name. So I casually said, “What’s up, Stan!” And he said “How did you know my name?” I said, “Oh, I don’t know – you just look like a Stan the Man if I’ve ever seen one.”

Then my brother pointed at his button and said “you have a huge button on your shirt with your name on it.”

Way to ruin the fun, Wade.

Stan said “STAN THE MAN! That’s me. I once lived in a retirement home and I wanted them to put that on my shirt and they wouldn’t do it.”

Well, alright then.

About that time, Stan was summoned by his grown son to pay the $14 gelato bill.

I meandered away and moments later realized they had all gone outside and Stan had left his walker by the cash register. Surely he’ll be back for it. Or will he? I mean, he clearly just managed to walk away without its assistance.

So sure enough, here he comes in a minute. I just put my hands on it like it was mine and when he walked up like “why the hell do you have that,” I was like “Oh! Is this yours!? Weird.”

Just a little flirting with an 80 year old man never hurt anyone.

So I passed him the walker and he leaned on it – settled in – and said, “What’s your deal? Are you in school?”

“Nope – I graduated nearly 10 years ago from UT if you can believe it.”

“KNOXVILLE!”

Yes, Stan.

“What did you study?”

“Public Relations – well, communications.”

Stan replied with a resounding, “Shiiiiiiiit.”

“Well, what’s that supposed to mean!?”

“Why not major in something USEFUL where you can actually get a good job, like engineering.”

“Well Stan, I hate science and math. Hate it. That would have never worked for me.”

“WELL SO DO A LOT OF PEOPLE, but you just work through it so you can get a decent job.”

“I HAVE a good job! I do marketing for Caterpillar.”

(Stan gives a look of consideration of this tidbit – mulls it over for a moment).

“Well, that’s pretty good. Alright then. God bless you.”

And then he walked, with the help of his walker, right on out of my life.

We did see him later with his family, after we’d walked around a bit more, and as we passed him all six of us said “Hey Stan!” “See you later Stan!” “Take care, Stan the Man!”

And he looked genuinely confused and shocked. I think he’d forgotten about our conversation and him dropping the career counseling on me.

Wherever you are, Stanley – preach son, preach.

XOXO,
Jenn

Eight Years

Eight years ago, on May 7, 2005, I graduated from the University of Tennessee. I walked across the stage, had lunch with the family and hopped in my already packed car and drove to Nashville. I walked in my apartment that I’d picked out the month prior and started my journey into grown-up land. I was scared out of my gourd and so excited at the same time.

I knew about two people in Nashville and they were only here for the summer before going back to school. I had only been on Facebook for a couple of weeks (weeks!) so even these “friends” couldn’t help me get rooted. Gawd, how did we ever survive?

I moved Saturday and started my new job on Monday, May 9. What a moron! I had no idea to ask for a week or even a few days to get settled. Also, I was making a whopping $24,000 a year and couldn’t WAIT to bring home that first paycheck. SUCH.A.BALLER.

The first week I was in Nashville some belt in my car started making a funny noise. I called my Dad – naturally. I’ll never forget him reminding me that I was “off the teet” (one of his favorite sayings, to this day) and I better take it somewhere to get it looked at. WTF! You fix it! I already spent my money on booze, frozen chicken and crap at Hobby Lobby to hang on the walls. Ugh – being a grown-up is so hard.

Again – MORON. Little did I know – and I have it good, y’all, that the real fun stuff was yet to come. In retrospect and my old sage-like wisdom, I know I have it good. But I was still in no way prepared for the fun little curveballs life throws you when nobody is around to say “DON’T BE A MORON, moron.” I still have my health, my family and my fur baby – but the last eight years have been eventful, that’s for sure.

I thought about making this post some big “if I knew then what I know now” post, but everything I thought of just sounded dumb and petty. Because I’ve watched friends go through losses that would absolutely wreck me. I’ve watched friends my age lose children, parents, pets, jobs, family and even themselves over the past eight years. I have nothing to do but give thanks for my last eight years of grown-up-dom. I have approximately zero room to complain.

But it’s still fun to reflect and think about the steps that got me right here where I am today, which is a place I’m thankful and so pleased to be in. So I’ll just leave it at that.

Nashville, you keep getting better with age. You fine, country wine, you. Now I’m going to go hug on my family real tight for the next seven days.

XOXO,
Jenn

Bike Maintenance 101

A couple weeks ago my friend Kim told our friend Lana and I to sign up for this Bike Maintenance 101 class here in town. We’re all fairly new to riding (I’m the newest) and it wouldn’t hurt to know how to do a couple things on the ol’ bike besides fall off. So for $20, we each signed up for the class. It was over at the Oasis Center here in town which is a non-profit that’s super fabulous. They have a bike shop that provides an after school and summer opportunity for kids to learn how to build and work on bikes. It was an impressive set-up!

First thing’s first though – I have to get my bike TO the class – because it’s a small, hands-on learning opportunity so you BYOB (bring your own bike). When I got the bike back in November, I immediately purchased a rack for my car. Since it turned cold and basically hasn’t quit raining all spring, I haven’t had the need for it yet. So I finally opened the box on Sunday afternoon. I opened the directions and the first page said “for women’s bikes, may need to purchase separate adapter.” Of course you do. Of freakin’ course you do.

I put that out of my mind and proceeded to get the thing on my car. I’m standing in our parking lot, which we happen to share with a bike shop, so I didn’t seem out of place putting this thing on my car. What did seem out of place was that I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. It took a solid half hour or more and I was all but standing on my trunk at some points.

I finally get the thing on there and only smashed my finger in the trunk once. Victory! I retrieved my bike and tried to jam it on there – no dice. The directions do not lie. You need an adapter for a Women’s extra small frame. F.

I went and sat on the porch and surfed the internets for an adapter that would keep my bike from falling off the rack and onto the interstate. I was panicking – because I also REALLY want to haul my bike to the beach soon, and wondered if my adapter would get here on time. Then it hit me – again – I live next to a bike shop! Adapter purchased within two minutes.

It worked like a charm. Although before I took off for class yesterday, I went in and got one of the bike shop employees to come out and look at everything to be sure I’d set it up right. He confirmed that I had, as Rogers stood there nodding like he already knew that he had successfully helped me. Sorry Rog – I just trust those hippies more than you when it comes to bikes.

I successfully drove to class and home and the bike stayed put. I even hit some big bumps to be sure it would stay on. (Better to find out now than on the interstate later). My father would die! (He avoids potholes and speed bumps like the plague. I’m sure his shocks look brand new).

In class we learned how to change a flat (my main mission for going – I’m terrified of getting stranded 10 miles into a greenway), how to clean and tighten your gear and brake cables, how to adjust your shifting thing-a-ma-bobs if your chain is shifting into your spoke or off your gears, etc. Oh! And I learned how to pump up my tires too, and learned that it’s really hard to put 125 PSI into those little flippin’ tires. I mean, I work out, but that was hard pumpin’ y’all.

So, bike maintenance 101 is in the books! Let’s be honest though – if I ever get stranded I’ll probably just cry and then call for help. And if I need a tune up, I’ll either take it to the bike shop I live next to (unless I forget it’s there again), or go to Oasis bike shop’s free bike tune up nights. Yes, for FREE you can go there on Tuesday and Thursday nights (for the time being) and get your bike tuned up. Well, they show you how to do it yourself. But I’d probably just stand there pretending not to know much so they can do it for me.

It wouldn’t really be pretending, I guess.

Plus, Dan (who taught our class) sent this email out today and pretty much won my heart.

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It’s a cat – on a BIKE!? Yes.

Stay on the saddle, people.

Jenn's bike

XOXO,
Jenn

Nestle Tea

I mention (in my newly updated “Meet Jenn” section — gah that thing was outdated) how much I love yoga these days. My friend Kim took me to my first yoga class nearly a year ago. I went in her office at work one day and shut the door so I could lay down in the floor and stretch my hands over my head in order to catch my breath. I was having my first full-blown panic attack. (Side note — this was old job. Exhibit A as to why I’m no longer there). I had no idea at the time what was happening — but after seeing some professionals and talking to Kim some more, she recommended I try yoga with her to get a little more zen in my life.

Now, I’m a runner. Like real exercise. I don’t need to participate in yoga, aka adult nap-time. But alas, I went with Kim to Sanctuary Yoga in Green Hills. This guy was teaching who I had been warned was easy on the eyes. (I may have blogged about this before now, I realize, as I typed that). Anywho.

It was clear real quick that there would be no napping. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing and was POURING sweat about 15 minutes in. This stuff is legit. So soon after, I joined the YMCA and started going to yoga regularly.

Now, I’ve got my Dad doing yoga and he’s got my Mom doing yoga and we’re just a bunch of dang yogis. I.LOVE.YOGA! So much.

Since taking yoga, I’ve only had a couple of teachers who really fit the stereotype I had about yoga. I want to workout and get out of my head. I don’t need to om om om om and ground my roots into mother earth, per se. But every now and then, you come across and little hippy dippy earth muffin.

We had a sub at yoga class recently. I won’t tell you which one — but you could probably figure it out if you know me. So, this guy comes in. First thing he does is make us turn away from the mirrors, so we don’t see and judge ourselves. Oh good — this is going to be rich.

He also was wearing a murse. (murse = man purse). Not a bag. A purse. He wore it the whole class. He told us that he wasn’t going to practice with us, because unlike when he first started yoga and he wanted everyone to look at him, he wanted this to be all about us. Oh — thanks. So I’ll just guess what the hell I’m supposed to be doing since you won’t be demonstrating. So he just paced around speaking in soothing tones that actually felt more like razor blades in my eardrums the more I listened to him.

He said “if you’re new to yoga — and really ‘new’ is anything under two years….” Really? He continued, “Really most people in Nashville are new to yoga.”

Ohnoyoudidn’tjustsaythat.

So he goes on and on about how to get us out of our heads and how we should leave work behind and just not think about anything and just get out of our heads and just be free and just let go of the thoughts and be present in our bodies and listen to our spirits and HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DO ALL OF THAT CRAP IF YOU WON’T SHUT YOUR PIE HOLE.

Y’all — he talked non-stop.

Then he showed us some stretch, which was awesome I admit — but he preceded it by saying, “now, a lot of people in Nashville haven’t seen this move.”

Then it hit me. This dude is from L.A.

I guaran-dang-tee you he is straight outta West Hollywood.

So class ends, which was just more stressful than good because he was pacing around me in his Birkenstocks swinging his man purse the entire time. Then someone asks him how long he has been here and he says, “Oh, just a little while — I moved here from Los Angeles…..” and I quit listening because in my head I was like ‘I KNEW IT!’

Word on the street has it he may soon be our regular teach. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I might make up some yoga moves that involve gang signs and tell him they are the newest on the yogi scene. I bet he’d be teaching them city-wide later that afternoon.

Oh — and about the title of this post — to keep me from going total yoga hippie, I always say “Nestle Tea” rather than Namaste at the end of class. It feels like I’m not totally conforming. ;)

XOXO,
Jenn

Come Fly with Me

On March 1 I got up bright and early and headed to the Nashville International Airport with my best girl Rach. We were on our way to a long weekend on West Palm Beach with four other girls who make up our Book Club. Yeah – we’re crazy like that.

We were going to carpool, but Rogers, being the gentleman that he is, insisted on driving us to the airport. He dropped us off at the door and we headed to security.

Being the good citizen that I am, I had all my liquids and gels in their tiny little containers in their quart-sized Ziploc baggie. I took my shoes off, went through security and was standing shoeless waiting on my stuff to come out. Rach was behind me.

All of my stuff came out of the scanner, except for my purse. Then I saw my purse peek out and go back in the scanner. WTF. Then I saw the x-ray dude call over another TSA official who then removed the bin with my purse from the conveyer belt. WTF. He held it up and yelled “WHOSE BAG IS THIS?”

I shot my hand in the air proudly – “MINE!”

Then my thought process went like so:

“Man – what could I have possibly left in there? Every lip gloss I own is currently in that tiny Ziploc. Are there tweezers in there? Man they are strict…you can’t do anything these days without….OH MARY JESUS AND JOSEPH. My tazer.”

So let me just pause right here in the story and provide you with some history.

Several years ago, my ex-father in-law (if you just said “huh?” then just keep reading… I don’t have time to explain that story too) bought all of the women in his life (his wife, daughter, daughter-in-law) a tazer for protection. It was awesome. It was pink and had a deployable cartridge and could also immobilize a second victim via contact (like a stun gun). And IT WAS PINK! I had carried it for like 5 years and never used it. Well, full disclosure – I never HAD to use it. I may HAVE used it though after one particularly wild Steeplechase weekend when some very brave (read, drunk) young men wanted to see what it felt like. That’s neither here nor there. But I did carry it all the time. If I had to walk to my car late after work I would have it out at the ready. If I ran after dark by myself I would carry it with me. It also had a laser sight on it, which was enough to scare most people off – and I did shine that at a creeper once while running. He took off.

So that’s why I have had a tazer.

Back to the airport. “It’s my bag, sir.”

“I’m going to need you to step over to this metal table – real slow.”

OMG. My stomach just fell out of my butt.

I walked over to the table and he asked me to put my hands on it. He asked again if this was my bag. YES. Is there anything in here that might poke or stick me?

“No, but something might taze you. There’s a tazer in there. I’m sorry. I just forgot.”

He just glared at me and began sifting through my purse. When he spotted said tazer at the bottom of the bag he didn’t touch it. He apparently can’t as it’s not in his jurisdiction. He radioed to a Metro Nashville Police Officer who came over. At the same time, magically a couple of what I assume now were Air Marshalls appeared over my left shoulder. Then another metro cop appeared over my right, and the one who the TSA official called was there also, ready to look in the bag. He pulled out the tazer.

In the meantime, someone appeared with three copies of my drivers license. I don’t even remember giving it to them, let alone know how they made copies that quickly.

“Again – I’m sorry. I just totally forgot it was in there. What’s going to happen? Can I mail it to myself?”

“Ma’am – you can’t mail a tazer. Ever.”

“Oh. Can I check it in my bag?”

“You can NOT check this in a bag without it being secured like a firearm.”

“Hmm.” Now I’m starting to realize why they are annoyed. I clearly know nothing about weapons or traveling and here I am mixing the two.

They were all really nice, to be honest. But they couldn’t have cared less that I was some airhead on a trip to Florida with her book club friends. They took me every bit as serious as you might expect them to take someone carrying a weapon through security.

About that time Rachel asked what was going on and I said “TAZER.” And made a tazer noise at her. “BZZZZZ.”

This is when they separated us. They did not appreciate that one bit.

The cop next to me who was now holding my tazer said, “Well, one of two things are going to happen. We just changed our policies so I’m trying to get verification. Either you can surrender this, which I hate for you to have to do because I know these things are expensive. And then you can hopefully go on your way after some paperwork. OR, if our policy says so (again, trying to get verification), I’m going to have to take you downtown and book you on a criminal misdemeanor weapons charge.”

Oh, I just thought my stomach fell out of my butt earlier – now it really did.

“Are you kidding me?”

“Nope – I hope we can just fill out some paperwork, but up until a few weeks ago our policy was to book you. I think it’s changed.” Oh please have let it changed. Come on Obama!

About that time ANOTHER cop appears and escorts us to a small room where there were mug shots of potential terrorists hanging on the wall. Y’all.

The room was only big enough for about three of us, so the other 5 air marshalls and cops stood outside the door. In the meantime another one of my already boozed up girlfriends walks by and saw me sitting there. She is a lawyer, but since she may or may not have had mimosas on the way to the airport, she just kept walking. Thanks girl.

They took photos of me, took photos of my tazer and had me fill out a bunch of paperwork saying I was willfully surrendering my tazer.

The cop said, “well, that’s it. Do you want to speak with her?” And he waved one of the air marshall guys in.

He said, “why did you have a tazer, ma’am?” Just for protection, sir. I just totes forgot I had it on me. So sorry. He smirked.

He said “Have you ever been in the military?” No. “Have any other criminal charges pending?” No. “Do you go to shooting ranges often?” No. Just the one time. He smirked.

He said, “well, they will take all of this into consideration when giving you your fine.” WHAT. WHO? FINE? “Who is they and how much is the fine?”

“They are the TSA lawyers in Washington D.C. You’ll probably get a call or a letter and you can either get a lawyer or just work it out from there. I have no idea how much the fine might be.” Geeze Louise!

After some quick googling on the plane (yes, I made my flight and promptly ordered a bloody mary), I learned that the fine could be up to $10,000. I ordered another bloody mary.

So, I’ve been waiting on pins and needles to find out how much my fine would be. 45 or so days later, this week, I got a letter that said they were letting me off with a WARNING. A warning!! Praise baby Jesus! Thank you, TSA, for a.) doing your job and b.) realizing there are bigger fish to fry than the book club tazer bandit.

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Quick side note, then I’ll end this long post.

On the way BACK to Nashville from West Palm Beach (great trip, by the way) – I was joking about how I’m probably on a watch list now and bet I get picked for an extra special search. Rachel told me no way, not to worry about it. Well, sure as the sun rises, they pulled my purse from the belt again and he said “who’s bag is this?” Are you kidding me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

“Ma’am – step over to that table.” I KNOW THE DRILL, sir. I’m a pro.

“Is this your bag?”

Yes – is this a bad dream?

He proceeded to pull a giant bottle of water from it. OMG. I SUCK AT FLYING. I said that out loud. He said, “nah, you aren’t that bad.” About that time Rachel appeared and said, “yeah – she’s pretty bad.”

I pulled her away toward the gate before she could blow my cover.

And that, my friends, is how I may or may not have gotten myself on the watch list. Who wants to go on a trip with me!? 

My Juice Cleanse Experience — The Juice is Loose!

juice. Nashville

**I preface this post by saying, I am not a doctor. What works for me may not work for you. This is my opinion and backed by no professional or medical knowledge about basically anything, ever.**

Several weeks ago I got serious about researching a juice cleanse. I don’t really know why – it was a combination of things probably. I have been really serious about trying to eat healthier foods, watch my calories and overall be healthier since the new year rolled around. I also read about it on Beth’s blog when she did it last year – and I pretty much trust that anything she says is awesome, will be awesome. The day I picked up my juice, she was there picking hers up too – for her third cleanse in six months.

Since it seemed to be the best around, I settled on Juice Nashville – a local company who does not have a brick and mortar storefront – they are a mobile, family-owned, cold-press juicery. That means no preservatives are added, no sugar, no nothing. The juice has a shelf-life of 3 days, so you get it and use it – or freeze it immediately. And if you open a bottle, you drink it within 8 hours. All this to say, it’s fresh, y’all.

So I placed my order for a the 3 day cleanse and was ready to pick it up on Saturday morning. I made sure I had no dinners planned, no fun events, etc. I was just going to hibernate all weekend with my juice and wrap it up on Monday at work.

I went to pick the juice up at the Nashville West Farmer’s Market where Wes (the husband half of the Juice team) sells on Saturdays. As he sifted through paperwork to locate my order, my juicy heart sank. He didn’t have it. Even though I had my confirmation email, something happened and my order was missing. I left thinking I might not be juicing after all – but Stephanie (the wife half of the team) called me as soon as I got to my car and said they were trying to figure out what happened to my order – not to give up yet. I went home and put on my PJs and Tweeted my feelings – and in true 2013 customer service style, Stephanie replied to my tweet in about two minutes and said that she was moving heaven and earth to find my juice.

WOW – customer service gold star for you ma’am. About 45 minutes to an hour later I got a tweet that said “found your juice! Calling you now.” And my cell rang. (I did drink a Naked fruit juice in the meantime that I had in the fridge because I was getting hangry = hungry + angry).

I zipped back down West and got my juice. I could have hugged Wes. I couldn’t believe they were so responsive to my juicing woes and were just so, so nice. Turns out, they had my order all along and the paperwork had just been misplaced so the two couldn’t be matched up.

So, let’s Juice.

The Juice Cleanse includes NO food. No drinking ANYTHING other than water or green tea. (I missed coffee dearly). You drink 5 juices a day (the same 5) and one almond milk a day.

The juices are:

 the cleanse 5 juices

I’ll be honest – I liked some of these more than others, but I hated none. I LOVED the C Ya – orange, apple, grapefruit and ginger. OMG. Snap – apple, carrot, ginger. Delish. But I think, crazy enough, the almond milk might have been my favorite. I love almond milk.

The Whoa (apple, beet, kale and ginger) was a bit harder to swallow. The Oh Yeah (apple, kale, collard and lemon) got old by the third day. But again, none were terrible. And the nutrients they clearly contain kept me chugging!

The experience:

Were you hungry? Not really. To know me is to know how much I love food. I love to eat. Food = love, to me. If you love me, cook me dinner. Buy me dinner. I love to eat. I exercise so I can enjoy food. Some people eat to live – I live to eat.

So a liquid diet with no chewing and salty food was a real challenge. But was I hungry? Not really. I did yoga Sunday night (day 2), and the calorie burn made me momentarily starve, so I ate a cutie (one of those tiny mandarin oranges). Juice Nashville says if you are desperate, you can have a raw fruit or vegetable.

By the third day I had a screaming headache, but I still think that may have been from three days with no coffee more than anything. I don’t think it was from no food as much as it was caffeine withdrawal. Although I will say, when that last juice was gone, I ate a spoonful of peanut butter straight from the jar. Sorry I’m not sorry.

How did you feel? I felt detoxed, just like they promised. I felt pumped full of vitamins and nutrients and I felt healthy.

Why did you do it? To detox. To cleanse the system. To purge the crap. I did NOT do it to lose weight.

But did you lose weight? Yes. I lost 4 pounds. It was an added bonus – yes. AND, it did jumpstart my fitness this week when I finished the juice. I wanted to keep that four pounds off. I worked out twice a couple days this week. I was determined. But I also ate pizza, which I did crave while I was abstaining from solid foods during the cleanse! Ha.

Let the record show – I just weighed myself this morning and gained every bit of those four pounds back this week. Even with two-a-day workouts and overall watching what I ate, I gained it back. So it’s my advice not to do this cleanse for that reason. Or any cleanse. Clearly.

How did it work for you and would you do it again? I think it totally purged my system. I was drinking a huge glass or two of water between each juice and I was peeing every half hour. My system was cleansed. I was so hydrated – TMI, but my pee was so clear you couldn’t tell I’d peed at all. It was insane. SO I would venture to say that a lot of the weight I lost was water weight and as soon as I started consuming regular food and salt again, it just came right back. I’m not near as hydrated as I was.

Would I do it again – yes. I would definitely buy their juice again and incorporate it into my regular diet, probably before I would juice again. They have lots of other flavors I want to try! But I would juice again if I started feeling sluggish and full of crappy crap. I’d do it again.

Can you work out during the cleanse? I’m no doctor, so I say just do whatever you feel like. I went to power yoga on Sunday evening, two days into the cleanse. This is a 400+ calorie burn class, so it’s intense, and I was totally fine. Again, you aren’t starving yourself – this isn’t a lemon juice and cayenne pepper cleanse. You HAVE nutrients in your system, so just do what you feel like.

How much is it? Lots of people asked me this. It’s not cheap – but when you realize how much fruits and veggies are crammed into every bottle, they can’t be marking it up that much, y’all. It’s quality product, so you pay for it. The three day cleanse was $123 with tax and the refrigerated tote that the juice comes in (which I’ll definitely be using again!). Full disclosure, in the name of stellar customer service, Stephanie gave me half off my juice cleanse because they misplaced my order. Thanks gurl!

So there you have it. Oh – one more thing. Again in the spirit of full disclosure, this juice cleanse did things to my bowels that you would not believe. And the worst day was on the third day when I was back at work. (You’re welcome, coworkers!) I mean, when you’re stockpiling fruits and green veggies in your system and they are in liquid form, there are going to be some touch and go situations. So, that’s all I’ll say about that. Just be prepared, if you do the cleanse.

Huge thanks to Juice Nashville for being overall awesome and wonderful to work with. I can’t say enough good things about Stephanie and Wes, how adorable they are, the customer service they provide and the product they deliver. They truly have it figured out. Nashville needs you – so thanks for being here.

XOXO,
Jenn

The Calm after the Storm

Bad storms rolled through Middle Tennessee early this morning. That’s what happens when it’s 70 degrees one day and 30 the next. Tornadoes in January.

At 3ish a.m. the tornado sirens, which seem to have multiplied and intensified since our last tornado season, went crazy. I woke up just as Rogers was coming into the bedroom – he hadn’t gone to sleep yet, between mixing and storm tracking.

I got up and watched the TV while Rogers prepared our “safe place.” I could tell he thought this one was more serious than the previous one – even though I thought our windows would shatter last spring. At about 3:15 we crawled into the 3x4ish hall closet with a few supplies and lots of blankets and pillows. It was kind of cozy.

I had to lure Callie Cat in by saying “Want some cheese?” which is only her favorite saying. Ever.

She was pissed when she got in that tight space with us and realized there was in fact, no cheese. (She got some later – as a reward for surviving the storm).

She spent the next 15 minutes while we were in the closet patiently pulling the hallway rug under the door and as much into the closet with us as she could manage. What.a.turd.

At 3:30 I decided Callie would have to face the storm alone and opened the door to reprieve her. So as not to make me seem like a terrible mother, Rogers called the all clear for everyone and we joined Callie back in the living room.

It wasn’t that big of a deal in our neck of the woods after all – but as I type this, trying to settle down, drown out the still screaming sirens and take a quick nap before getting up and heading to work – I thought to myself, “if this was last year at this time, I would be driving out to Old Hickory tomorrow to check on that God-forsaken townhouse.” Somebody has to go be sure the roof wasn’t blown off. I’d probably not sleep with worry that I’d potentially be handling an insurance claim in the light of day. What if the power went out or an appliance got zapped. What if the roof leaked and flooded the attic but I didn’t know it and it seeped through to the top floor at a slow drip for the next two weeks. And then the insurance company won’t cover me if they find out I don’t really “live” there.

See, I’m really good at worrying about stuff I can’t control.

But instead of doing all that – I just took a deep breath and was thankful for my little family in the closet. And that I am super duper blessed to be rid of some of those burdens that weighed me down the past couple of years.

In other news, I do intend to get back to blogging more regularly. In fact, I had a whole series of fun post ideas this weekend. I sat down Saturday morning with my coffee ready to blog. First, I checked my email. I had a 3 a.m. note from my Dad saying that my Poppa Joe (grandpa) had suffered a massive heart attack and was being life-flighted to Albany, GA from his small town in South GA.

Blogging about a wild girls weekend suddenly didn’t feel right.

Several days and big surgery later, Poppa Joe is on the mend – miraculously. Because it was like, bad, y’all. He’s got a long road ahead and has had a few set-backs this week when we thought things were turning around, but hopefully he’s through the worst of it.

Feel free to send thoughts and prayers for my Poppa Joe.

But the moral of this story is – God is good. Even in scary times, I just know that it’s all being handled way better than I could ever hope to. All my worries in the world can’t make a difference. Isn’t it funny how you pray differently than you used to? Or have you noticed that you do this, too? I used to pray to “fix it, please.” “Make it/him/her better.” Now in my wise old sage age, I find myself constantly asking for peace. Just give him peace. Give her patience and understanding. Help him have faith in Your plan. Etc. And man, there’s so much peace in that frame of mind, alone.

Heavy post Wednesday – out.
photo

XOXO,
Jenn

New Year–New Habits

If you read my last blog post, and if you know me at all, you know that in (at least the second half of) 2012 I was happy. Happier than I’ve been in a long while. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. However, I would trade the “eh – it’s ok – I’ll deal with it later” attitude I took toward eating that also came along with this happiness.

It’s something I only realized in hindsight, but I was just shoving whatever tasted good into my mouth and not thinking about the consequences. Whew. It added up in a big way. I also blame the amazing cooks at my office who brought in goodies during the holidays, but that’s neither here nor there. ;)

So on Jan. 3ish I got serious about keeping up with my Fitness Pal again on my iPhone and have a fitness goal (we’ll call it that, instead of weight loss goal) by May – our family beach trip.

I call it a fitness goal, because I know I’ll never be the skinny-mini I was in college and don’t really want to be – but I do want to go to work without the zipper on my skirts pinching my muffin top. There I said it.

And I want to just feel good when I look in the mirror.

The first serious week was this week – and I lost 2.8 pounds. We’ll go ahead and call that THREE pounds! I know it just gets harder, but damn – that was a boost I needed to stay on the program.

I’m sticking to 1400 calories a day and trying to work out at least every other day. I’ve also cut back on my wine intake, but still indulged a few nights this week if I had some calories to spare.

If you’re on Fitness Pal – add me and let’s encourage each other. I also love to see what other healthy things people are eating so I don’t get in a rut.

Speaking of – I made a delicious recipe last night from HandletheHeat.com. Curried Lentil Soup. Note – as Tessa did, I did not use the chutney either. I also didn’t find red lentils in the grocery store, so I just used regular dry lentils – Publix brand. Y’all – this dish was so good. Rogers loved it too. It definitely has a lot of Indian flavors in it – obviously, curry – and was really, really good. And low calorie.

Here’s to a continued healthy 2013!

XOXO,
Jenn