Friday, April 20, 2012

I have a confession ...

Why do women get so emotionally involved with the characters in the books we read?

I ask that after reading this article on Huffington Post where the author says she has cheated on her husband with Christian Grey, the dominating male in the Fifty Shades series that have taken women by storm. I found myself reading her article and saying "YES. I TOTALLY FEEL THE SAME WAY!"

I feel like I have cheated on my husband with Christian Grey. Two weeks after finishing the series, I still find myself thinking about the relationship between Christian and Anastasia. I compare myself to them and my own relationship to theirs. And it almost killed my relationship.

A week ago, after being on the road for work, I had an opportunity to spend a brief few days with Rob before I went back on the road for work. And I found myself begging him to be more like Christian. I wanted someone who was chivalrous and kind. I wanted someone who would turn off the sporting event to be with me and do what I wanted to do. And as I was saying things I really only meant to keep bottled in my head, I could see the hurt in his eyes.

I still want some of those things, but as I've been sitting and comparing my relationship to theirs, I realized I was too envious of the lifestyle this author created. And that's just it. It's just a creation -- a utopia for mom's across the country about which they can dream. It's a fantasy, and while I could debate the quality of writing with anyone (because honestly, it wasn't of the high caliber we see in most bestsellers), what E.L. James did with the characters made the book for me. E.L. James was able to find pieces of every housewife and mom in this country and put them into the book. And she was able to take the character of Christian Grey and turn him into the man every woman in America desires.

I didn't marry Christian Grey. I married Rob. He's a wonderful man and an amazing and caring father. (In fact, he's at home right now taking care of our sick son while I'm at work!) He has flaws, but we all do. So while I strive to be more like the strong woman I found in Anastasia, all I can really ask Rob to be is himself. Because in the real world, that's what really matters. I don't want my husband playing a role created by some author. I want my husband to be true to himself in all that he is. And if I'm half the wife I strive to be, that will be more than enough for me.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Another week, more traveling and no crafts

You know, when I took this job, I really thought I was going to be able to craft a lot more. Not so since it seems like I'm living out of hotels these days.

Really, it hasn't been that bad, but this week, I spent two days on the road and three more days exhausted and just trying to catch up on life and work I missed because I spent two days on the road. Next week will be a real test for me. I am working all weekend at my part-time job, because I love it, and then leaving Monday morning for a three day/two night trip to Kansas City. By Thursday, when I'm waking up in my own bed, I'm going to be grateful for my crappy mattress that desperately needs replaced, but at least it's in my home, in my room.

On to the good stuff. I didn't take any photos this week, which I know, is very surprising. I was in Springfield at the Hilton Garden Inn. The thing about Springfield that outsiders don't understand is their friendliness. We were traveling with a colleague from St. Louis who was amazed at the kindness of the staff at the hotel. We told her it's just a Springfield thing. Total strangers say hello as they are passing on the street. People hold doors open for everyone and then ask how their day is. It's a Springfield thing. And it's part of the charm of the city. It's not a small city by any means, but the people make it feel like your hometown. Well, except my hometown, where everyone is all consumed with government and make no effort to be kind to strangers, but that's another blog for another day.

The Hilton Garden Inn was incredible. It was a brand new property that was eco-friendly and was very well designed. The rooms were clean and spacious. I generally like more light than I had in my hotel room, but it was still a hotel room and lights are still generally minimal in hotel rooms.

My only real complaint about the room was the bed. I know everyone is going to these "sleep number system" type beds, but that was the most uncomfortable bed I have ever slept in and I had a mattress once that sunk so deep I thought it might be a water bed. I woke up several times in the middle of the night. I'm hopeful that my other Hilton property stays aren't quite so bad, but I have a feeling that all Hilton properties have the same beds.

The food in Springfield was wonderful, as always. As I was looking for a Starbucks on Yelp, I realized that Springfield has more unique restaurants than any city in which I've ever lived. There are the typical chain restaurants, and some that aren't quite as typical, but then there are a ton of places that are unique to Springfield. Ebbett's Field is one of those places. In college, I loved eating at the Ebbetts Field on Walnut. In fact, if memory serves, the weekend of my cousin's wedding, we went to Ebbetts the night before to drink. Seriously, memory could be an issue that weekend as I seriously thought I was dying with a 103 degree fever and a severe infection in my throat, but I'm pretty sure I still remember that night.

They've opened a south branch of the restaurant known in Springfield for its sports memorabilia. I had the monterey chicken sandwich -- a seasoned chicken breast (a little heavy on the lemon pepper) topped with provolone cheese and served with fries and a pickle. Their fries were covered in parsley and were delicious. I do wish one of the two had been served with a condiment. The chicken was a little dry and the fries just needed something. Maybe ranch dressing or honey mustard would have pulled the meal together nicely.

My second night in Springfield, I had Maria's downtown. I was with an old friend (he's not old. Our friendship dates back to 5th grade.) and the atmosphere was perfect. We were sitting by the front windows which overlooked downtown Springfield. The room was large enough and had great acoustics, so we were able to carry on a conversation without feeling like we were shouting. And the food was pretty good. It was Mexican and I've never had a cheese enchilada I didn't like, so I was pretty happy with that one. The chicken enchilada was topped with some white sauce that was almost gritty. I think it was supposed to be a cheese sauce, but it didn't have the intense flavor of cheese most cheese sauces have.

The best way to describe it -- the sauce when making a homemade mac and cheese and you've added too much of the milk mixture and not enough cheese. I'm still not sure about that sauce at all. It really wasn't great.

Overall, here's how I would rate the stay:

Drive (50 to Union and then 44 to Springfield): A+ This drive is gorgeous. Long, but gorgeous.
Hotel: B+ The friendliness of the staff and the delicious Pinot Grigio I had delivered to my room made up for the uncomfortable bed. I can sleep when I'm dead.
Ebbett's Field: B- It really needed a condiment with the sandwich or the fries. Dry on dry just isn't good.
Maria's A- In reality, I was able to remove most of that sauce from the enchilada without too much work.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Friday full of food

Last Friday was a great day for food in my house. I had a morning meeting at Yanis Coffee Zone in Jefferson City, and let me just say, it was the best omelet I have ever had in my life. The business associate I was meeting was running late, so I took the opportunity, and great weather, to drink a white mocha and eat Yanis' veggie omelet at one of the tables sitting on the sidewalk of downtown Jefferson City.
I didn't ask, but I am 99% sure that omelet was made in a cast iron skillet. I say that because the bottom of the omelet was seasoned perfectly with a mix of seasonings one can only get using a pan that holds seasonings in its grooves.

It was also the largest omelet I've ever seen in my life, and a perfect way to start my Friday.

For lunch, I had my Friday usual -- a veggie sub (without mushrooms) from Sub Shop. It was great as always. No need to ever review that. I recommend them to everyone I know.

Then Rob and I headed to Columbia for a date night of movies and dinner. We had some time before our first movie was set to begin, so we were looking for places to eat on Yelp when Jazz caught my eye. I'd been to Jazz before, though it was years ago, and I'm fairly certain the location has changed. We, once again, took advantage of the great weather and sat in their patio area.

Jazz is located in the same shopping center in Columbia as Macy's, and, as the lady on the phone had to tell me because we couldn't find it, it's three doors down from Dick's Sporting Goods. She was right and we found it easily once we were actually looking for it in the right place.

I started my night with an Abita Purple Haze. I think this must be my favorite beer on Earth, and not just because it tastes like grape soda -- though, I do love a grape soda now and then.

The first time I had a Purple Haze was at Jazz, many years ago, when I didn't drink much beer. In fact, I had probably only tried Natty Light, Coors Light and Bud Light back then. Can you tell I'm a light beer drinker?

However, the first time I went to Jazz, I had graduated college and was home for a weekend to see my friend Allison. We had planned to go to dinner and out with friends afterward. I don't remember what we were celebrating, but I do remember we were celebrating something. I was not an experienced beer drinker like I am now, and back then I preferred a mixed drink over beer any day. Purple Haze was the perfect mix of the sweetness one gets from a mixed drink, and the carbonation of a beer.

Since then, I've had beer from all over the world. I regularly get the sample packs from Hy-Vee and enjoy them. I still think Purple Haze is my favorite beer, though. When I'm out, in general, I drink Blue Moon or Michelob Ultra, but neither can hold up to Purple Haze. It really does taste just like grape soda.

On to the better part of the meal.

I chose Jazz specifically because it was a Friday. Rob thinks he's Catholic and won't eat meat on Friday's, and most years, I suffer through that with him, but I just couldn't handle it this year. I don't know how my sister hasn't eaten meat for the last six weeks. Trying to come up with six vegetarian meals is like pulling teeth most years for me, let alone six weeks worth.

Rob ordered, as expected, seafood. Cajun Fried Shrimp, specifically. He paired it with sweet potato fries and two (that's right, TWO) hurricanes. Good thing we were going to two movies to sober him up!

I ordered the blackened chicken fettuccine, which was divine. I mean, seriously, I could have seen angels eating that dish. I could eat it every day and still be happy, though I won't because I'm not driving 30 miles for fettuccine every day! The chicken was cooked in cajun spices and blackened on the flat top (or grill, but the level of blackening told me it was a flat top). The sauce was a mixture of cream and cajun seasonings mixed with finely chopped fresh herbs.

It was delicious. So, if you're in Jeff City, head to Yanis Coffee House. Get a great coffee and a delicious Mediterranean omelet. If you're in CoMO, Jazz is amazing. It's casual, and, when the weather is good, sitting in their patio area is great.

I know some of you are waiting to hear a bad review from me. I have a lot of travels coming up, so maybe it will happen, but for now, I'm eating great food and loving it.