Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

This was the Halloween card from my mom. I thought it was hilarious and very appropriate given the fact that all the stripper stores also turn into Halloween stores around this time of year.

Anyways, I hope everyone has a fabulous Halloween! We are having a pre-party (an excuse to bake the adorable tombstone cupcakes again) and then heading out on the town for the evening. I will be sure to post pictures later.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

French 101

{Rocamadour, France}

After the post last week about the $40 piece of cheese I started thinking about all the delicious food and all the memories from to my trip to France. It was over ten years ago, but some of the memories are as clear as if they were yesterday.

One of those memories is of this adorable guy that worked at one of the hotels that we stayed in. The night we arrived we went down to the hotel restaurant for dinner. It's so cheesy, but throughout dinner the waiter and I kept accidentally making eye contact. We were in this tiny little town called Rocamadour... just small enough that our chaperones let us roam around without much supervision. That night after the restaurant closed, the waiter came and hung out with a few of us. He was 17 and spoke very little english but it was fun to try to communicate with him despite the language barrier.

After exploring the little town with him for several hours, our curfew came and we had to go to our hotel room. I don't think he understood our curfew or why we had to leave because he stood outside below our balcony calling my name asking me to come back down. I know this sounds like something out of romance novel, but before your mind goes there... *trust me* it was all very innocent.

The next morning at breakfast he was there again, but wasn't allowed to talk to us while he was working, so before we left I slipped him my address. About three weeks after I got home, I got the first letter. Written in very broken English. So for the next year or so we wrote back and forth to each other. I would stay after school and my french teacher would help me translate everything. You can imagine the excitement of a 15 year-old girl when those letters with "Par Avion" stamped on the front would come in the mail from the dreamy french waiter.

After awhile we kind of lost touch. I had a boyfriend and was looking forward to college and was caught up in all the excitement of senior year.

So last week after I finished writing the post about the cheese, I closed blogger and facebook was open behind it. I figured it was worth a shot and typed in his name. Only one exact match came up and it was from France.

So, I sent him this:

Salut,

Avez
-vous habité une fois en Rocamadour?
Je ne suis pas sûr si vous me rappelez, mais je pense que je vous ai rencontré en 1998.

Si non, mes excuses.

Natalie

And got this in return:

i m very happy to see you. i have miss your address i live next marseille on the cote d azur i work in restaurant i m the chef of the waiter and you where do you live what is your job. your french its perfect.

And we've probably exchanged a dozen emails since. I write him in French (thank GOD for google translator!!) and he writes back in English. It lacks the storybook charm that receiving those hand-written, "Par Avion" stamped letters had, but the turnaround time is definitely much quicker.

I know it's probably silly to be spending time writing to someone I will probably never see again, but it's just so fun to have a reason to put the hours and hours of french classes to use... and I have to admit that the 15 year-old girl in me is still stupidly giddy.

I may have to start a new weekly post about his emails. It is pretty funny how some of the things he tries to say translate. Although, I have no doubt that my french probably translates pretty roughly as well.

Check back for updates!

à la prochaine...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lubbock Trip... Fun: A+ ; Football: F

52-30, A&M.
I believe that says it all.

And besides, pictures are way more fun:
Our favorite college hang-out. This place has consumed more of our money, memories, and liver function than I would care to openly admit. We have cried here, snuck in here, been kicked out of here, and most often- danced and laughed our asses off here. Blue Light will always have a special place in our hearts*.
Jodi experiencing Blue Light's finest... the deliciousness that is the "Call-a-Cab". Being that she is an Oregon girl, we probably should have warned her that drinking these two at a time was not a good plan.
Rachel and I enjoying our girls night out after the boys had left.
Saturday morning. Yes, I made Alex drive me past it. :) So much has changed on greek circle, especially with the fraternity houses, so it was nice to see that our little house was still looking the exact same as I remember. As we were taking this picture, a carload of baby Kappa Sig's drove by and started laughing at me. Yes, I may be old, but at least with my age has come a new and improved fashion sense:
I am quite certain I could find some pretty embarrassing outfits in my collegiate photo collection, but really?? There was a lot going on here, but the boots on the left with the distinct Ed Hardy-ish vibe were my personal favorite. I am confident that these girls will soon learn there is definitely something to be said for keeping it simple and classy.
Self portrait roomie shot in the stands.
A picture Alison took right before kick-off.
Our aggie friends that we met when we left around half-time to go drown our sorrows at the Chili's across the street. We made a little wager with them and every time Tech scored they would buy us a shot and every time A&M scored we would buy them a shot. Um, yeah... that did NOT work in our favor.
However, they were good sports and played along when I picked out a certain shot (which will remain nameless here on moose and lulu) in which you weren't allowed to use your hands to drink it. I was a little shocked and highly amused that they agreed to do this in a crowded bar. Gotta love shameless 22 year old boys.
Back at the game. It was still an embarrassing scene when we returned.
And finally, post-game, all bundled up and choosing to enjoy our last night in Lubbock despite our team not showing up.

It was so fun to be back in Lubbock, even with a let-down for a game. As much as everyone complains about it, you can't help but smile when you see the landmarks of the city where you created memories and friendships that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

*A throw back for old-times sake. The wall at Blue Light on one of our last nights before graduation. It has since been painted over to make room for the next round of college kids:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hotels: 2, Natalie: 0

We got home from Lubbock earlier this afternoon, and as I curled up in my bed to write a recap of the weekend, I realized that I am missing the blanket that I sleep with. Yes, I sleep with a blanket. It's not a baby blanket (although I was that child*). It is a cable knit throw that my mom gave me a few years ago for Christmas. It's incredibly soft and I sleep with it every. single. night.

Explanation: I hate having my arms pinned down but I like to be covered up and warm. So my solution is to sleep with my comforter pulled up to my chest and then a blanket covering my arms and pulled up to my face. It's weird. I know. But I can't help it.

Regardless, I left the damn blanket in Lubbock at what may perhaps be the trashiest hotel I've ever stayed at (more on that later). So what are the odds of me getting that back? Considering one of our friends left this hotel because the sheets hadn't been washed and had stains on them... I'm guessing not good.

This is on the tail end of me leaving my favorite necklace at the hotel after Jodi's pre-wedding slumber party.

S0 there ya go... I'm 0 for two in terms of successful hotel departures.

I'm super annoyed, but what can I really do other than call the hotel tomorrow and hope for their sympathy to overcome their apathy?

C'est la vie.

*For the record, I can already hear certain family members scoffing at the use of the word "child". And what I meant by "that child" was that I was a person of which we will not discuss baby blanket retirement age. Let's just say there were many jokes at my expense involving said blanket.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Natty's Cooking Tip of the Day

Is it possible to have selective OCD? Because I'm pretty sure I do. In general, it's safe to say that I can be all over the place, but when something really catches my eye, it usually has my undivided, all-or-nothing, heightened-sense-of-awareness, attention.

Case in point: Risotto.

Since the first time I made it two weeks ago, I have made four batches. Three out of the four have been the same recipe.

My mom and I went to Williams-Sonoma shortly after the inaugural batch and as fate would have it they were doing a demo of this delicious, elegantly simple, mushroom risotto. I almost had dinner there. Literally, my mom was trying to distract the prep chef so I could go sneak more samples while she had her back to me. If there hadn't been two other ladies there, I probably would have stuffed some into my pockets. No shame- fully aware.

So anyways, tonight was my fourth batch, third of the mushroom, which leads us to "Natty's Cooking Tip of the Day":

DO NOT MAKE RISOTTO WITH LOW SODIUM CHICKEN BROTH.

It just wasn't the same. It was like peanut butter without the crunchies, champagne without the bubbles, Bella without Edward, fall without Lincoln Park after Dark, Texas Tech without the feisty fans*.

Simply not the same.

Which I should have known better. The whole "season every step of the way" mantra has been burned into my head, but I just had a fleeting thought in Central Market that perhaps a little less salt would be good for me. Screw it, my new mantra is BRING ON THE SALT!

My apologies to the cardiologists out there. Your taste buds will thank me later.


*Freud would probably have a thing or two to say about this list... I'm guessing since these are the first things that came to me, this might be a good indication of where my head is at:

Peanut butter, vampires, champagne, pedicures, and football?

Sounds about right, I suppose.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

You're never too old to play dress-up!

Last night was just a normal night. I decided to cook risotto for the second time in a week (seriously, I'm addicted) and my friend Kate came over. However, one tiny little tub of Halloween costumes changed the entire night. Good friends + wine + halloween props = hilarious, unexpected girl's night of fun and side-splitting laughter.

They a picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go:
Alex.
Alex + Afro Wig + Peter Pan Hat
Sad but true.
Me with Kate as a ragdoll. Yes, folks, that would be a Team Aniston shirt... don't ask.
Alex sporting leopard capris.
Me as.... a budget cheerleader/streetwalker? Who knows....
Alex as Carrie gone wild?
Yep... Chi Omega representin'. Self-made jean capris circa 2001 Fiji Olympics.
Even moose got in on the action!

Needless to say we had a lot of fun. I'm not sure why I even have half of the stuff in that tub, but it's always funny to go through it all and try to remember the good old days of college and what I wore to which theme party.

Come back Friday for the risotto recipe that I can't seem to keep myself from cooking every three days. It got high praise all around last night.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Moose Monday

Moose is a pretty well-maintained pup, but if there is one area that he could use a little help in, it would be his toes. I hate trimming his nails because I'm so afraid of cutting them too short and hurting him. As a result he needs a doggie pedicure in the worst way.

So I stole the Pedipaws from my mom, got a tub of treats, and have been trying to take care of the problem. I try to bribe him with the treats, but the jig is up and he now knows exactly what I am trying to pull. The picture above is him staring back and forth between the treat and the Pedipaws while I can only assume trying to do his own puppy version of a pro/con list in his head.

Okay, so I realize I just wrote a post about clipping my dogs nails, but wasn't his face in the picture just so funny!?

No?

Okay fine, I'll go back to the ass shaking and the drama.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Reason #724 Why I Love Having a Roommate

Goofy things like having a dance-off with the flat screen on a Sunday afternoon would not be near as much fun living alone. Okay, so probably more like downright weird, but that's a whole different story. Alex and I sometimes find ourselves in pretty funny roomie situations (throwing pirate parties, decorating the Christmas tree while wearing santa outfits, puppynapping, etc.)

We were being lazy this afternoon and watching last night's tivo'd episode of SNL. Shakira was the musical guest and did the Shewolf routine that she's been performing on the talkshow circuit for the last few weeks:


I'm not a huge Shakira fan, but her crazy bendiness at about :50 seconds in caused us to wonder how she managed pull that off without falling over. Which led to my attempt. Which in-turn led to a dance off of sorts between me and Shakira. I think it's safe to say that my white-girl genetics were no match for her latin sassiness, but it sure was fun to try.



Surprisingly, this last one is much easier accomplished in heels in case you ever find yourself with an undeniable urge to bust this move out. I would like to warn you though, at the age of 27, this did make a few things pop and I might be sore tomorrow. Shewolf is not for the faint of heart, folks. Proceed with caution.

Aroooo......

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Happy Thursday!

Pro: The beautiful weather made for a great excuse to take the {some might say} slightly overweight moose for a walk.

Con: Stepped in another less polite dog's "mess" in my $150 running shoes.

Pro: Ohsoconveniently passed wine-stocked convenience store on my route home with my ID and $10 that just so happened to be in my pocket.

Con: Jacob's Creek Cabernet with all the bronze "LA International Wine & Spirits" medals. Notsomuch. Either those little little sticky awards do not mean sh*t or I got a bad bottle. And I'm not even a wine snob! {As evidenced by the Oak Leaf Chard that I may or may not have on my wine rack right now....}

Oh well... I'm letting it sit out on my counter right now to 'open up'... sidenote: does $7.99 wine even open up??

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Psychology of Purchase Motivation: Bossdad Edition

It's time. I've put in the hours. I've established a pretty decent set of skills. And most importantly, I've realized that my love of cooking is not looking to be a passing fling à la my seamstress phase of 2006.

What could possibly be worthy of such dramatic build-up, you ask??

Knives. Good ones.

My mom suggested that I start looking around since Christmas is coming up and good knives aren't exactly cheap and therefore not something that I am going to run out and purchase for myself. So on a recent trip to Williams-Sonoma, she and Bossdad decided to check out the selection for me, and while there are so many options, my dad immediately decided I needed these:
Global. Beautiful, right? The stainless steel handles are hollow and then filled with just the right amount of sand so they are perfectly balanced. And they are apparently sharpened in some sort of fashion that makes the blade sharper and keeps it sharp much longer (beveled vs. straight edge, I have learned).

So was it the sleek, modern design that attracted my dad? The perfectly balanced handles? Or perhaps the innovative technique used to sharpen the blades?

Nope.

He got cornered by some WS sales lady who gave him the ultimate sales pitch in only seven words.

"These are the knives that Giada uses."

That's all my dad needed to hear to conclude that I had to have these knives. My mom said he got so excited and was yelling across the store for her to COME LOOK AT THE KNIVES THAT GIADA USES!

As gorgeous as they are... I think I should probably start out with something a little less pricey considering my current knives are from Ikea of all places. (I think butter knives or those weird plastic lettuce knives might be a better bet than what I'm currently using). However, it was really sweet to hear how he fired up he got over the news that my favorite chef's knives were readily available for purchase at the local Williams-Sonoma. :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Party like a lob... party like a lob-ster.

Moose is officially outfitted for Halloween! I saw this lobster costume at Target and had to get it due to it's wiener dog appropriate length and height. It's perfect! He actually doesn't seem to mind it too much and appears to like it way better than the hot dog. (probably because the velcro on the underside of this one is much more "ideally" placed.)
It's particularly funny when he runs up and down the stairs in it because you can't see much of his body... just this big, fat, lobster shape.
I got busy doing other things and forgot about it and left it on him for awhile.... I think that's his "mom, I'm so over this stupid outfit" face. Poor guy.

Happy Halloweenie!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A long post that ends with cheese.

See how I bait you there with the promise of cheese? Like a sneaky bloggy version of a mousetrap. Only way more humane and fun than getting your neck snapped. ANYWAYS...

When I was 15 I was lucky enough to spend three weeks in France. Before you think I'm a spoiled brat, when the trip was brought to my attention as a sophomore in high school, here is how the resulting convo went at Chez de W:
  • me: So, the french department is taking 30 students to France for three weeks next Summer and I would really, really like to go.
  • The Parents: hmmm, okay... what are your reasons for wanting to go?
  • me: Insert all the logical, parent-oriented reasons including but not limited to: learning the language via submersion, architechtural and historical enlightenment, and all around cultural exposure.
  • The Parents: how much will it cost?
  • me: $3k
  • The Parents: Okay, here's the deal: you come up with half by the payment deadline (4 months away) and we'll pitch in the other half.
::Insert parents exchanging look of "pssshaw right" complimented by mutual congratulatory glances on their uber-intelligent, non-confrontational roadblock of my Grand Parisian Plan::

Well, four months later and looooots of QT working at the neighborhood Benny's Bagels, I came hauling in the scrilla. I don't think they anticipated the determination of a starry-eyed 15-year-old with Big Plans.

The look on their face when I came across with the cash was priceless. But being the amazing parents they are, they honored their promise and kicked in the other half. I think they will agree to this day that it was money well spent because it truly does change your life to get out and see more than your little corner of the world.

On to the cheese part of the story: We spent three lovely weeks there which involved an insane amount of walking, museum wandering, stair climbing, castle perusing, etc. Every single person on the trip lost weight with the exception of me and my two girlfriends.

For the following reasons:
Nutella
Nutella Crepes
Kinder Bueno
Baguette avec Jambon et Fromage

These things quickly became our Parisian obsessions. I'm talking eating Nutella on the bus between cities (out of the jar. with a spoon.) and stopping to get baguettes when we had just eaten lunch. So it was only natural that I would want to find/recreate my newfound food loves when I got back to the states.

Nutella: widely available and I don't believe my parent's and/or my pantry has been sans nutella since 1998.

Crepes: with the availability of Nutella, the only thing you need a good recipe and one of these suckers.

Kinder Bueno: Luckily for my figure, this is not widely available in Dallas. On my last trip to New York, however, I did find that some of the markets carried it. I cleaned out two of them. Literally.
A happy, happy girl.

Baguette avec jambon et fromage: Nothing compares. You can buy a baguette. You can buy the best ham and cheese you can find. You can slather that sucker in butter like only Paula Deen could imagine and you STILL won't be able to recreate it. I've thought a lot about this. (sad, perhaps?) and the only conclusion I can think of is that France is far less strict about pasteurization thus making the butter and cheese much richer and impossible to find stateside.

So you can imagine my giddiness when I just saw this in my reader.

The foodie in me is screaming... "GET TO MOLTO FORMAGGIO, STAT" the more sane version of myself that controls the cash flow (albeit, not very well) is telling me to go freeze the credit card in a block of ice before I even think about spending $39.50 on a piece of CHEESE.

But what if that piece of cheese is the missing link to recreating one of my favorite foods from my trip? What if that satisfies this craving I have had since 1998? What if this tides me over until the next time I can make it back to France? THEN wouldn't a piece of cheese be worth $40?

See how I rationalize things? It truly is a gift...

So I'm torn... do I reserve my fancy hunk of cheese in hopes that it will taste the same as in my memory or do I save that $40 and put it toward a plane ticket and get the real deal in like 2020 when I will be able to afford to go back?

*sigh*

Decisions, decisions....

Friday, October 9, 2009

Foodie Friday: Graveyard Cupcakes

As I have mentioned here before, I love, love Halloween! It's definitely in my top three holidays. Combine that with my love of being creative and cooking and it's the ultimate for holiday fun in the kitchen. So the next few foodie fridays are going to be some fun things that I made last year around this time.

First up: Graveyard Cupcakes! I can't remember where I found these, but this is a pretty popular idea adapted from the idea of a dirt cake.

You will need:
Cake Mix (eggs & oil)
Cupcake liners
Chocolate Frosting
Oreos
Chocolate Milanos
White Fondant Icing
Green Fondant Icing
1. Make the cupcakes per the directions on the box (feel free to make homemade cupcakes- I was short on time, but I did add Reese's baking chips to liven things up a bit).
2. Ice with chocolate icing.
3. Put oreos in a gallon ziplock baggie and crush with a rolling pin.
4. Pour in a plate and dip tops of cupcakes in crushed oreo.
5. Ice cookies with RIP along the top and grass about halfway up.
6. Poke cookies down into cupcakes until they hit the bottom.
7. Take cupcakes to party and later start food fight with the asshole who goes in and starts removing and eating all the cookies (I made him eat all the cupcakes that he de-tombstoned).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Italian Comfort Food

I absolutely love tackling new culinary feats. And whenever it's a project I have had my eye on for awhile, I love tackling it in my mom's kitchen. Don't get me wrong... I'm very lucky to have a fairly well-equipped kitchen for a 27 year-old, but it's always fun to mix it up a bit.

What I love best about my kitchen is that each piece seems to have a story or background: the kitchen aid mixer I bought for $25 from my boss at the golf course I worked at through college, the pans inherited from my parents, the hotpot from my dorm that I still use when a recipe calls for hot water (seriously... cold to boiling in a shocking amount of time), the silicone food ties that I fell in love with at Sur la Table and have subsequently bought for everyone under the sun, the polka dot apron my girlfriends bought me for my birthday last year. Little memories that make my kitchen such a fun place to be.

However, as personal as it is, it doesn't quite compare to my mom's kitchen in terms of function. She has every type of chopper and slicer you can imagine*, fancy induction burners, and olive oil in flavors I can't even find in my beloved Central Market. It's just fun. Everything you need is at your fingertips and she's pretty handy as well.

My latest foodie project was something that I have been wanting to try for awhile- what we decided was comfort food in italian form: risotto! I love the flexibility to throw whatever you have on hand in it and how you can come up with a different creation each time it's made. So we started with Giada's recipe {naturally} for Red Wine Risotto with Peas... and then got a little creative.

We took her original recipe and subbed garlic salt, added crumbled pancetta, and then drizzled the top with white truffle oil. It was creamy, nutty, and delicious. In the future I think I would use less a touch less parsley and trade the parmesan for piave vecchio. I would also consider testing the recipe with white wine instead of red... the purple color threw me off a little even though it was still delicious. I know that's slightly ridiculous, but as the old adage goes... you eat with your eyes first and I like my risotto white.

Things I can't wait to try in the future:
*Seriously, I'm not lying. One time my brother and I took inventory, and the slicer collection included (but was not limited to): an egg slicer, an avocado slicer, an apple slicer, a butter slicer, a tomato slicer and at least three different kinds of cheese slicers. She literally has a "slicer drawer". What's even more sad is that it wasn't all that surprising...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Feelin' the Love

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who called/emailed/commented about my last post. It was something that I wasn't sure about writing mainly because I didn't want to take anything away from Jodi and especially didn't want to be negative about such a wonderful day. But I also knew that a lot of people that come here, knew about the situation and would be curious. Which is why I decided to write about it, but separate it out from the fabulousness of the day.

I just have to say that I'm so glad that I did because I got some of the most amazing comments and from people that I would have never even expected it from. From people who know or have known "M" personally, to people who had never even known about the situation in the first place, to people I have dated. It was unexpected, appreciated, and {I'm not going to lie} was such a lovely little ego-boost.

This blog is such a wonderful outlet for me from a creative perspective, but the past few days I have also realized that it connects me to so many amazing people that I may not otherwise be. Having people with so much grace and class surround me truly inspires me to be the very best version of myself possible.

So thank you for that.

Annnnd, now back to your regularly scheduled witty, light-hearted banter...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wedding Recap - Juicy Edition

Being as close as I am to both Jodi and Matt, I was so excited for them to take the next step and to celebrate their love with all of their closest family and friends. However, it was an emotional day for me from another aspect as well.

Matt had 10 groomsman. I casually dated one of the guys forever ago.... and I not-so-casually dated another one for the better part of the last decade. Also known as the ex-fiancé (or M as we've taken to calling him). There were two groomsman to every bridesmaid and Jodi had joked for the past year that if I wasn't a good maid-of-honor she would have me walk down the aisle with one ex on each arm. Luckily, I held up my end of the bargain and ended up with two of the brothers instead.

M and I have broken up a lot over the years and have been up and down the break-up spectrum from attempted politeness to downright hatred. We ended our engagement somewhere in between. There was a slight incident at Jodi and Matt's shower which probably drove the needle a little further away from the "polite" side of things and that's where we stand. And regardless of where it's been or where we are now, I would say it is virtually impossible to end an engagement or any relationship of that magnitude and expect anything more than civility at best.

In social situations we don't talk. We don't make eye contact. We don't really even acknowledge the 800 lb. gorilla in the room also known as each other. It's a little awkward, especially considering the massive role we've played in each others lives, but I was hell-bent (as was he, I'm sure) to suck it up and make sure the focus of the weekend was where it should be: Jodi & Matt.

To thicken the plot and make this situation even more the stuff good hollywood scripts are made of, Jodi & Matt got married in the church we were supposed to get married in. And the reception was where we had planned on having ours. The first was pure coincidence, the second was not. Jodi was having trouble finding a site, and I loved Hickory Street Annex so much that I suggested she go look at it. She loved it and booked it almost immediately and I was happy I could help.

There were a few interesting moments in the planning process, like doing the slideshow for Jodi and attempting to figure out how to strategically crop myself out of the friend photos that had him in them or vice versa. But the face time was what I was most worried about.

Naturally, the closer it got, the more anxious I got. He has a new girlfriend who I knew would be attending. I am single, and totally fine with that, but you know, it never hurts to show up with a smoking hot date that's just a little taller, smarter, and better looking than the ex. I would be lying if I told you I didn't seriously consider have the fleeting thought to hire a male escort à la Debra Messing in The Wedding Date.
{if I had any sort of confidence that he would have showed up looking like Dermot Mulroney, I can't promise that I wouldn't have drained my savings, in a heartbeat}

I had options I could have taken as dates, but decided that I ultimately would have ended up baby sitting them, or abandoning them in the craziness of MOH duties. So single it was.

And you know what? It wasn't that bad.

My main goal was to be able to lay my head down at the end of the night and think "damn, I was graceful". Which those who know me in person, "graceful" isn't always the best descriptor. I tend to be loud, I tend to speak my mind, and often I tend to drink a little too much wine. Those three things, given the circumstances, had serious explosive potential... so the goal was grace. And I think I accomplished it. And thanks to four inch stilettos, professional hair & make-up, airbrush tanning, and spanx... I think I accomplished it while looking pretty damn good.

I tried to avoid eye contact with him, although my family and friends damn sure didn't. When I started down the aisle it was like they were watching a tennis match. I was told later by them that he watched every bridesmaid walk down the aisle, but the second I walked through the doors, he made it a point to look to the side of the church, the ground, the back of the guy's head in front of him... anywhere but at me. Although, how can you blame the guy? He probably no more wanted to see me walking down the aisle toward him than I wanted to be doing it.

Standing at the altar with a clear shot of him right in front of me was by far one of the most awkward things I've ever gone through. But luckily I was so absorbed with trying to straighten Jodi's gigantic train while wearing a floor-length, skin-tight dress and avoiding a) losing balance in my very impractical choice of footwear or b) splitting my super-tight dress up the back in front of the entire congregation when I bent over, that it provided some comic relief.

The reception went fine as well. We played nice and stayed out of each other's way. The funniest part to me was that Jodi's table numbers were framed cardstock with dates that corresponded with an event in their dating history complete with pictures on each one. The week before the wedding when we were finalizing the seating chart, I looked at M's table to make sure everything was good and noticed that his table date was 10.28.06, the day Jodi and Matt met at a Halloween party. Well, I had helped frame all the dates and knew that date had a picture of Jodi and I on it because I made her come with me to this party where she and her soon to be hubby met. I asked her if she wanted to switch the table number so M wouldn't have to look at my face the whole time he was eating dinner, but apparently everything had already been printed. So at the reception, I go to set my set my purse on our table and notice they are at the table next to ours and had sat right where the framed table number complete with my picture would be facing them. M and his girlfriend had turned it around backwards to where it was facing the back wall. Not surprising, but amusingly childish all the same.

All in all, I survived. In the end I realized that it wasn't worth near the stress that I had put myself through (I lost five pounds in three days because I couldn't eat). And seeing how in-love and right for each other Jodi & Matt are, it also made me realize that I truly did do the right thing when I decided not to make that same walk down the same aisle, toward that same guy, but in a big white dress instead.

And you know what? Cheers to that.