To Have and Have Seconds: My First Year of Marriage Friday, Jul 5 2013 


My husband Michael and I recently celebrated our first wedding anniversary. We spent the weekend in Amelia Island, Florida at a heavenly bed and breakfast nestled on the Atlantic Ocean. We relaxed, we laughed, we canoodled, we swam, we drank, and we ate. We ate a lot. As a matter of fact, it seems that Michael and I have not stopped eating since we strapped on the feedbag of love.

Perhaps our hunger was fueled by the deprivation we both endured before finding each other on Prior to subjecting ourselves to the cyber scrutiny of potential romantic suitors, we both had lost a considerable amount of weight over a short period. I had lost about 30 pounds on the Medi Weight Loss Diet. The diet, which cost a hefty $350 per month, helped me trim down thanks to a daily dose of speed (also known as “fat crack” also known as a physician-prescribed appetite suppressant), weekly injections in my derriere, and starvation. Of course, I could have lost the same amount of weight, or more, during the several months I was on the diet if I had just eaten less and exercised more (or at all), but that is neither here nor there. For his part, Michael had lost an astounding 60 pounds by simply cutting out wine and desserts and occasionally glancing in the general direction of a piece of lettuce.  With our newly svelte-ish bodies, we boldly went where so many have gone before and found each other online.

December 2011

December 2011

Prophetically, Michael and I had our first date at a restaurant named “The Ravenous Pig” and quickly bonded over our shared interests in red wine, red meat, and red velvet cake. Within weeks, we were head over heels, and gut over belt, in love. As our feelings for each other grew, so did our respective diameters.


As our wedding day grew closer, I had already gone up a full size, making shopping for a wedding dress even more challenging, and horrifying, than I imagined. Michael insisted that he was going to wear the dated, dusty old tuxedo in the back of his closet, but when he finally got around to trying it on, he discovered that it no longer fit. We both had gained over 15 pounds since we met, but we just giggled (and jiggled) over our Freshman 15 and congratulated ourselves on how great it was to be in love and not have to worry about such trifling vanity.

Bridal gown fitting, May 2012.

Bridal gown fitting, May 2012.

Michael tux shopping with his mom, May 2012.

Michael tux shopping with his mom, May 2012.

Our wedding was beautiful and our honeymoon pure magic. We ate and drank ourselves through Paris and Amsterdam with such excess we put Bacchus to shame. When our plane touched down back in our hometown, the Foodapalooza continued unabashedly.

Wedding stroll, May 2012.

Wedding stroll, May 2012.


As the numbers on our scale steadily increased, we deluded ourselves into believing we deserved to take a seat at the all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of life after spending years at the salad bar of the brokenhearted. Sadly, we can no longer deny the truth that is staring back at us from our full-length mirror.  I’ve gained back all the weight I lost before we met and then some, and Michael isn’t far behind. And those new, larger-sized clothes we broke down and bought for our honeymoon? They are now splitting at the seams.

Dinner is served, February 2013.

Dinner is served, February 2013.

The other night, I told Michael we really need to reign ourselves in, lest we reach the point of no return. Either we commit to getting fit or we commit to gaining so much weight that we have to get his-and-her motorized scooters and go to Sea World for our annual physicals.  Michael assured me he would love me at any weight and suggested we think about it over a piece of cheesecake.

April 2013

April 2013


Top 10 Reasons I Love My Husband Friday, Sep 14 2012 

10.  He’s handy to have around the house.

Michael has every tool imaginable and knows how to actually use them.  He can build anything and, more than that, he can take apart any machine or appliance (from a lawnmower, to a car, to a computer), fix it, and put it back together.  No job is too challenging for him.

9.  He is a whiz at accounting and has our finances all taken care of, with nifty spreadsheets, graphs, and charts.

I may never have to pay a late fee again now that Michael has organized our finances.  I can call him and ask any question about an account or payment and he can give me the answer in mere seconds thanks to his Excel masterpiece and Quicken graphs.  We’ve paid off 8 credit cards in 4 months and hope to be debt free within 2 years.  It’s liberating to take control of our finances and have him at the helm.

8.  When he gets really mad at me, he leaves the house and chooses Skittles over strippers.

Some guys drink whiskey when they get mad; others slap their women around.  In my past, I had a guy who would disappear and shack up with a stripper for a few days after a big argument.  Not my Michael.  After one of our most serious arguments, he left our home around midnight.  I was worried sick, wondering what male debauchery he would get involved in to blow off steam.  Luckily for me, Michael came back 10 minutes later, with a pack of Skittles he had purchased at the convenience store up the street.  Soothing anger with Skittles?  That’s a good man.

7.  He helps with cooking, cleaning, housework, and childcare.

I still do my fair share around the house, but so does Michael.  As a man who owned his own home and worked full-time while raising a son, he knows how to run a household.  He’s willing to share responsibility for picking up the kids, doing the grocery shopping, cooking dinner, and doing endless loads of laundry.  There is nothing sexier than a man who helps around the house, so Michael is as sexy as they come.

Real men wear toile.

6.  He goes to church with me.

There’s something so special about sitting in church with your husband and having him hold your hand during the sermon.  This is a new experience for me, and I absolutely love it.

5.  He’s crazy smart.

I consider myself of above-average intelligence, but Michael is a whole different kind of smart.  He knows mathematical equations and scientific stuff that leaves me scratching my head, but he also has street smarts.  I could never do what he does, and I admire him for his brilliance.

4.  He is romantic … kinda.

Nearly every day, Michael sends me an email or text and tells me how much he loves me.   Often, the email says something totally gross and inappropriate like, “I love you more than an STD loves a whore,” but every once in a while he says something sweet like, “I love you like Winnie the Pooh loves honey.”   He also sends sexy text messages that consist of ultra-cheesy pick-up lines, like “Are those mirrors on your pants because I can see myself in them?”  He’s no Mr. Darcy, but I’ll take him.

3.  He makes me laugh.

See number 4 above.

2.  He is a good father … but not so perfect that I feel inferior as a parent.

Michael reads to our kids, disciplines them, helps them with their homework, and tucks them into bed at night with prayers and hugs.  He can then walk straight into our bedroom and confess to me that the kids are rotten and we should sell them on e-Bay or chain them to the radiator.  His genuineness enables me to candidly share my own parenting frustrations and rants without the kind of judgment you’d get from anyone on the outside.

1.  He loves me.

I’m not an easy person to love.  I’m moody and opinionated and a wee bit domineering … and those are my good points.  Michael took on a lot when he married me, and I’m so grateful he did.

And he took me to Paris on our honeymoon!

(E)Mail Order Bride, or How I Met My Husband Wednesday, Aug 29 2012 

In honor of the upcoming one year anniversary of our first date on the first of September, I dedicate this post to my loving husband Michael.  Here’s the back story on how we met . . .

In January 2011, I was reeling from the slow, tortuous death of my non-relationship with my daughter Madison’s father.   I had been seeing him for years on and off and,  after eight years and one child together, he still felt uncomfortable with “titles” or any commitment whatsoever that lasted longer than a head-cold.  So, in January 2011, after Madison’s father had moved on to his next long-term non-girlfriend, I sat down and wrote out my New Year’s Resolution.  “I will go out on one date in 2011.”  That was my entire New Year’s Resolution – go on ONE date.  Easy enough, right?  Hardly.

Fast forward to July.  Seven months had gone by and I had not gone out on a single date.  How was I even supposed to date?

First, I was a busy lawyer.

Second, I was a single mother of a Kindergartener.  It took an Act of Congress to go to the hair salon, much less out on a date.

Third, I was older than I had ever been on a first date and felt like I couldn’t attract a mosquito, much less a desirable man.

Fourth, I didn’t want any strange man (all of whom were assumed to be deviants until proven otherwise) around my daughter.

Fifth, I had not been out on a real date (other than when I would take Madison’s father out and foot the bill) since 2004!  (I was briefly set up with an arborist with a penchant for motorcycles but it fell apart after a couple months when he figured out that I was NEVER getting on the back of his Harley.)

Sixth, and most importantly, I hated men (well, at least one man in particular) and thought it might be better to live out the rest of my days unattached than to suffer the pain of another failed relationship.

So there I was at the end of July 2011 with nary a date to speak of and little opportunity to meet eligible bachelors in my everyday life.  What’s a girl to do?  I had to take affirmative action.  At the urging (read:  begging) of friends, I turned to for assistance.  After a few cringe-worthy dates, I was just about ready to throw in the towel.  But, there was this one guy — Michael, a structural engineer who had sent me a friendly message of introduction my second day on Match.  Initially, I dismissed Michael as being way too nice, intelligent, employed, and emotionally healthy for serious consideration.  We chatted on-line a few times about our children (both of us had one child in elementary school) and our careers, but I didn’t feel compelled to drive by his house in the middle of the night or drunk text him so I thought we lacked “chemistry.”  I did not accept his first two requests for a date.

After about a month of conversing with Michael on-line, I was talking on the phone with my brother Will, and an email appeared in my in-box from Michael:  “I’m going to give this one more try.   Your profile says your favorite restaurant is The Ravenous Pig, and I work nearby.  Would you meet me there for drinks?”  When I read the email, while still chatting with my brother, I said aloud, “Oh, man, this guy is asking me out again.”  Will said, “What guy?”  I explained the situation to Will and he inquired, “What’s wrong with him?”  I said, “Nothing.  Absolutely nothing is wrong with him.  That’s the problem.”  He replied, “Well, why don’t you go out with him?”  I said,  “He seems too nice.  We wouldn’t have anything in common.”  My brother, knowing me all too well, encouraged me to try something different and “give the nice guy a chance” for once in my life.

Me with my sage brother Will

The rest is history.  Michael and I met and, after a semi-disastrous first date, he kept asking me out.  At first, our dates were friendly but far from the emotional rollercoaster ride I remembered from years gone by.  I struggled with thinking that we were just destined to be great friends and to help each other out as single parents.  After all, after numerous dates, Michael had not even kissed me.  Who ever heard of such a thing?

After a month and a half and our fifth date, Michael finally kissed me.  What followed was nothing short of an epiphany.  I realized that I can be wildly attracted to a good man who will treat me well.  Several months later Michael and I were engaged, and we were married last May.  Some people thought we were crazy for getting married after only nine months, but it wasn’t crazy.  Crazy was wasting eight years of my life on someone who didn’t value me.   That was crazy.  What I have with Michael is just right.  And when it’s right, you know it.

And that’s the story of how a bitter spinster with a bum magnet resolved to go out on “one date” in 2011 and ended up a first-time bride at the age of 42.  I’m so glad I listened to my brother and gave the “nice guy” a chance.

Michael loves to quip that he ordered me on-line and got free shipping.  Indeed, he did.

With our children on our wedding day.

Top 10 Things I Didn’t Know About Being Married Friday, Aug 24 2012 

Michael and I on our wedding day; May 2012.

Beginning today, I’m starting a new Friday feature on my blog — a “Top 10” list covering a variety of topics that will probably be of interest only to me and my mother.  The first Top 10 list is in honor of my dear husband Michael and in commemoration of our 3-month wedding anniversary.

Top 10 Things I Didn’t Know About Being Married:

10.   That having a grown man and a tween boy invade my girl palace would prove to be a major test of my character.

9.     That blending families is not as easy as blending margaritas.

8.     That it takes a while to become accustomed to calling my husband to check-in before agreeing to meet the girls for happy hour.

7.     That I don’t spend nearly as much money now that someone else is monitoring my day-to-day spending.

6.     That, for me personally, being a married parent of two is harder than being a single parent of one.

5.     That even though I finally have a built-in date to escort me to a multitude of dinner parties, charitable events, and social gatherings, I would rather stay home than go out.

4.     That I still need time to myself.

3.     That I may never come home to a neat house again.

2.     That I still have the same hopes, fears, insecurities, dreams, and interests I had when I was single.

1.      That even though I’m a newylwed, I still don’t shave my legs every day.

I love you, Michael!  Thanks for being a saint, a masochist, or both, and making me your bride.

Have a wonderful weekend, all.


Guardian Angel Thursday, Aug 9 2012 


One of the most enduring memories I have of my beloved Granny Griffin, other than playing Yahtzee in her kitchen while devouring her heavenly banana pudding, is the collection of religious décor she had scattered throughout her humble 1950s home in Samoset, Florida.    Among other things, Granny had a painting of an elderly woman and man with heads bowed giving thanks for their daily bread , a rendering of Jesus, a plaster sculpture of praying hands, and a large tapestry of DaVinci’s “The Last Supper” covering the wall behind Granny and Papa’s dueling gold recliners.


My favorite relic of Granny’s, though, was a shiny foil reproduction of Lindberg’s painting “Heilige Schutzengel” (Guardian Angel), which hung in her living room.  Nearly every time I went to Granny’s house to visit, I would study that foil angel and the blurry outline of the two young children crossing a perilous wooden bridge over a tempest sea.  Unfortunately, when I was 14, I lost my dear Granny.  After her death, Papa gave the Guardian Angel picture to my cousin Angie as a keepsake.  As the years went by, I would sometimes see variations of the Guardian Angel in people’s homes and churches and, when I did, my mind always turned to Granny and the devotion she had for God, for me, and for her family.

Granny’s foil reproduction, compliments of Angela Griffin Smith.

 Last year, after a month of dating, Michael invited me and my young daughter over to his home for the first time.  We were still in the discovery phase of our nascent relationship and unsure of what the future would hold, both of us scarred from previous failed relationships and both of us single parents to grade school children.  Michael  took me from room to room to show me his home and pointed out the various renovations he had made.  When we reached the living room, I stopped in my tracks.  There was Granny’s angel, in all her resplendent glory, still guarding over the children and guiding their every step.   “I can’t believe you have that painting, Michael,” I said.   He explained that his mother had given him the Guardian Angel at his son’s christening.

God only knows how many reproductions have been made of the Guardian Angel.  It has been around for decades, and a Google search yields dozens of links where you can read about the painting or purchase your own copy.  The image undoubtedly hangs in thousands of churches, pre-schools, and homes across the U.S. and around the world.  But, to me, the Guardian Angel holds special meaning.  When I saw her hanging there in Michael’s living room, I couldn’t help but consider it a sign from above that Michael was the man I was supposed to marry.  After all, what are angels if not messengers from God, and who was Granny if not an angel?

Now, Michael and I are married, and the Guardian Angel hangs above my daughter’s bed.  Every time I see it, I still think of my wonderful Granny and thank her for the message and for continuing to watch over me.


50 Shades of Brown Thursday, Aug 2 2012 

50 Shades of Brown.

50 Shades of Brown Tuesday, Jul 31 2012 

Women everywhere are abuzz over the erotic novel 50 Shades of Grey by British author E.L. James.  I’m dealing with mania of a different hue at my house.  Namely, my husband Michael is obsessed with the color brown. Before we got married, Michael had a great house in the suburbs.  He meticulously restored and remodeled the home into a warm and comfortable place for him to raise his son.  Michael’s home was manly — and really brown.   There were couches upholstered in dark brown, a brown leather recliner, beige carpets, mocha walls, and a lot of brown wood.  So much wood, in fact, that I’m sure Michael’s fantasy must have been to live in a log cabin in the forest rather than the outskirts of Orlando.  Michael’s home had a maple kitchen, walnut dining room, oak living room, mahogany guest room, cherry wood office suite, and a behemoth master bedroom set made of birch, ash, and cedar.  Pine French doors led out to his back patio — all in varying shades of brown.

Wood ceiling fans, bookcases, and picture frames adorned nearly every room of Michael’s house.  His love of brown did not end there, however.  Towels?  Brown.  Countertops?  Brown.  Place mats and napkins?  Brown.  Rugs?  Brown.  Salt and pepper shakers?  Brown.  Shower curtain?  Brown.  Bedding?  Take a wild guess.  Well, it was more of an ecru, actually, but that’s still considered a light shade of brown.  Even Michael’s closet was chock full of brown … brown t-shirts, polo shirts, work shirts, dress shirts, slacks, shorts, shoes, belts, socks.  Ah, the humanity!

In the haze of being in love, I found Michael’s proclivity for all-things-brown adorable.  What a guy.  A real man.  The embodiment of the educated lumberjack I’d been looking for my whole life.  Like the Brawny man, except with dark-rimmed glasses and brown hair (of course) instead of a blond mop, a nice brown button-down instead of a red and black checkered shirt, and wielding a calculator instead of an ax.

I guess the cloud of new love descended on Michael as well because he agreed to leave his Temple of Umber and move into my townhome after we were married.  For making such a grand sacrifice, I agreed to transform the first floor office and family room into Michael’s man cave and gave him veto power over decorating decisions.  For the last two months, I’ve excitedly shared my Pinterest boards with Michael and shown him a variety of different paint samples, fabrics, and furnishings.   Michael’s response is always the same:  “As long as it’s brown.”

Maybe Michael is onto something.  Maybe I should give brown the respect it deserves.  After all, what other color can match brown?  (That’s a rhetorical question.  Everything matches brown, which is a combination of the primary colors red, yellow, and blue.)  Brown conjures up images of the desert (camel, sand, and rust), as well as dessert (caramel, chocolate, hazelnut, and cinnamon).  Brown is earthy (clay), energetic (espresso), and risky (tobacco).  Brown is ubiquitous … everywhere you look there’s tan, tawny, and taupe; fallow, fawn and fulvous; sienna and sinopia.

Last weekend, Michael and I finally made it to the furniture store to pick out the new sofa for the man cave.  As fortune would have it, we both liked the same L-shaped sectional!  It was plush and comfortable with a large ottoman.  Michael sat patiently as I flipped through the dozen or so fabric choices and carefully weighed the pros and cons of each.  I chose the color granite – a beautiful steel-grey that would exude just the right balance of masculinity and elegance.

Our new sectional will be delivered in six to eight weeks.  It is a lovely shade of brown.

Michael staining a wood ledge in his former home.

Fine Dining in Paris, or How I Dropped a Grand on Dinner Wednesday, Jul 18 2012 

Recently, while on our honeymoon in Paris, my husband Michael and I dropped over a grand on dinner … not just any dinner, mind you, but dinner at Les Ambassadeurs Restaurant in the famed Hotel de Crillon.  Mere words cannot describe the evening we had in the finest restaurant in all of France, but I will seek to do it justice here. We took a black Mercedes taxi to the hotel (of course, all the taxis in Paris are black Mercedes but it was still tres chic), and we looked like dignitaries in our finest formal wear and my glittering (costume) jewels that I wore for our wedding.   The beautiful dining room overlooked the Place de la Concorde which was incredible for a French history buff like me.  I could just imagine poor Louis XVI trembling on the scaffold before Monsieur Guillotine as I gazed outside the gilded arched windows.
  Dining room

There were four or five different servers assigned to wait on us during our dinner, and we were pleased to personally meet the talented (and young!) chef and sommelier. We began our culinary marathon with a glass of pink champagne and decided to throw caution (and cash) to the wind and “go for it” with the six-course tasting menu.  Each course was paired with a fine wine, and it took nearly four hours to complete our meal. We had lobster, asparagus, duck liver, chicken glazed with morel mushrooms, a panoply of stinky cheeses that my husband adored, a praline dessert with chocolate mousse and banana and lime ice cream, and because our wonderful server knew we were on our honeymoon, an extra course of strawberry sorbet served on a plate that read “Congratulations” in chocolate sauce.


A delightful surprise from our server Nicolas.


I was droning on and on about the historical significance of the venue and happened to mention my minor obsession with Marie Antoinette — et voila! — our server arranged for us to be escorted to the Salon de Marie Antoinette toute de suite.  The salon was a magnificent ballroom with a balcony overlooking the illuminated and sparkling Tour Eiffel, the American Embassy, and all of Paris. The adjacent ballroom was teeming with cameras, lights, and shoes galore for the next day’s photo-shoot with the mannequins (or what we call models). We left the Hotel de Crillon much poorer but thrilled over the once-in-a-lifetime dining experience we just shared.  Thankfully, the cash our friends and family members generously provided as wedding gifts tempered our sticker-shock upon receiving the 900 Euro l’addition.  We had a hearty laugh while perusing the bill back in our hotel room and noting the 75 Euro-per-glass wine we had consumed like water.   Alas, when in France, …



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