Sunday, January 22, 2012

How to fake drink when you’re pregs & fool your co-workers – my 5 best tips

During my first pregnancy, when I was hyper-sensitive about being outed before I was ready, I masterminded all kinds of ways to fake drink during social events with co-workers and friends. This time around, I haven’t had to rely on any of those acquired skills, and I kinda miss the challenge.

My favorite story, which I haven’t even told yet to my dear friends whom I fooled (SURPRISE Michelle, Allison and Alexa!), was when I was meeting up with some friends at a restaurant in Tremont that I had been looking forward to trying, Ty Fun.

When I arrived, I realized in a panic that one of my best tricks up till that time (tip #3: pay off the bartender) was dead in the water. If you haven’t been to Ty Fun, it’s one giant room and my friends had already been seated with a clear view of me when I walked in. What to do?!!! I said hello, left my coat on my chair and said I needed to visit the ladies’ room.

From my bathroom stall, I Googled the restaurant’s phone number, called them up and asked if whoever was assigned as our server would bring me an alcohol-free version of whatever drink I asked for. The ridiculous, yet effective, convo went something like this.

Restaurant: “So what table are you at?”

Me: “My three friends are seated in the back. I have red hair.”

Restaurant: “I don’t see you.”

Me: “I know. I’m calling you from the bathroom.”

Restaurant: “Why are you calling from the bathroom?”

Me: “Because I don’t want my friends to know I’m pregnant so I can’t actually order a non-alcoholic drink. Can you please help me?!”

Restaurant: “Uh, okay.”

Of course all of my friends were drinking red wine, which is hard to fake (I have faked white before though), so I ordered the house mixed drink special…WHICH CAME OUT WITH A GIANT PINEAPPLY FRUIT ACCOUTREMENT. I don’t know how I didn’t get outed right then and there because it looked so ridiculous, but I made it!

So, without further adieu, here are my top five tips:

1. Be selective with outings – yes, it sucks to be a homebody before you even birth your little ball and chain…errr bundle of joy, but pick your battles.

2. Arrive with a co-conspirator – if you can, find a friend you can trust who can be your wingman in case your plan goes to hell.

3. Go early – if you’re on your own, get there first so you can order a non-alcoholic drink that looks legit.

4. Make friends/pay off your server/bartender – briefly explain your situation and ask them to not make a big deal about bringing you your fake drink. Tip big.

5. White wine or mixed drinks are the easiest to fake – if a friend wants to try yours, say you’re not feeling well and don’t want to give them germs.

BONUS: If you’re put on the spot, order a drink, take a sip and then fake a headache. Someone did this to me, and it totally fooled me.

What has worked for you guys? Any massive fails?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

We survived! Deets on our kiddy bag of tricks

We're home! Dylan is still sick, but he toughed it out during the flight. We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare, and since our gate was right next to a kids' play area, he got to climb through tunnels before being couped up on the plane.

Thankfully, our flight came in 40 minutes early. Phil and I juggled D between our laps since he just wanted to cuddle as he slept all three hours or so. My stomach was in knots before that flight because we weren't sure how he would do. In hindsight, planning a cross-country trip with an 18-month-year-old was a bit ambitious, no? I do think, though, that we were pretty prepared for travel. Here's some intel on my strategy for smooth-as-possible travel:

1. Booked Dylan his own seat on our flights -- we got our own row and that was great
2. Premade four bottles before each flight so he had as much milk as he wanted
3. Bought a bunch of new mini toys and books plus some of his faves to introduce at various times during the flight to keep him occupied. I was really excited about this Fisher-Price iPhone case, but he still wanted the phone outside of the case
4. Brought a lot of little snacks
5. Used a lightweight car seat (we borrowed it from a friend) on the flight -- we debated between a seat and CARES but I felt that he would sleep better in a car seat
6. Made him his own playlist for the flight -- it's no coincidence that the kid's initials are DJK: this kid loves music. His fave songs definitely comforted him when he got upset or restless on the plane

Our next fam trip is slated for April to Florida. Thankfully, a shorter flight. :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cable cars, Musee Mecanique & puke

As soon as we bought a one-day pass for the cable and street cars (literally), Dylan threw up in his stroller. Thankfully I carry a mess of bibs and wipes in the diaper bag so we could clean him up and then head back to our hotel nearby. He took a long nap and we knew we needed to leave the hotel at some point to get our room cleaned, so we crossed our fingers and took a cable car ride. Dylan seemed to be doing OK, so we rode it to the wharf and visited the quirky Musee Mecanique, which I liked from my last trip.

Dylan got to run around and Phil watched an old XXX reel. I watched the same one last time, and it featured a woman beating the crap out of a guy. Ha!

I bought a crab cake on the pier and we rode the cable car back to the hotel. Once we got back, Dylan started running a fever. I have never been more aware of how far we are from home and how long the flight is to get there. :(

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Food trucks in Marin, Muir Woods (almost) and Golden Gate Park

So, I'll venture to say that most people who visit San Francisco rent a car to visit wine country. Our clan rented one on a whim to go to a food truck meet-up in Marin, which I heard was beautiful and just across the Golden Gate Bridge by Sausalito.

It was a nice day in the Bay, but as soon as we crossed the bridge, we got rocked with sunshine. The Pickle napped while Phil and I sampled fare from five! food trucks. My fave food I tried was a deconstructed samosa with paneer from an Indian food truck called Curry It Up. There was a fun band playing, and once he woke up, Dylan got a kick after chasing after all the little dogs.

We swung by Corena's again in the morning and she suggested we visit Muir Woods to see the redwoods (and so Dylan could run around). It was on the back to San Fran from Marin, so we tackled the super steep, curvy and narrow road to get there. I enjoyed the chorus of "whoas" from the peanut gallery in his car seat. Unfortunately, lots of other families wanted to visit during the holiday weekend, so while our Jeep's tires touched the soil of Muir Woods, our feet never did.

On the way back, I somehow missed the turnoff to the Golden Gate Bridge overlook, and I am still kicking myself. I was really hoping for a fun family photo with San Fran and the bridge in the background like the one of Sarah and me from 2008.

I wanted to get back to Golden Gate Park since I enjoyed my visit so much last time. Once we got there, it was early evening and a bit chilly, so we didn't stay long. I did get to try something new though, since the de Young Museum wasn't open when Sarah and I visited. We went up into the tower for great views of the city.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Prego bellies reunited in San Francisco

Phil and I love to get out of the Cleveland cold in the winter and head west or south. Although we haven't had much of a winter yet in Cleveland, it still was great to get some California sunshine. Today we scored a 66-degree day!

We kept things low-key today after our LONG flight. We grabbed lunch and then lounged at our hotel before meeting up with a newly transported friend, Corena, to San Francisco. She's due in a couple weeks, so you can see a big difference between our bellies. So fun watching our boys play together at her place! How she navigates the giant hill she lives on while being nine months prego, I have no idea.

The Pickle did really well on the flight. He cried a little during the last 20 minutes since his ears were bothering him. I have never been more thankful for no flight delays in my life since the five-hour-plus flight is long enough! We've been really fortunate to avoid weather disasters during our trips, with the exception of our 2008 Vegas trip (at least we were stuck where it was warm).

Even though the last time I came to San Francisco, I traveled with my friend Sarah and her mini, I still wasn't quite prepared mentally for how different it is to travel with a child. Usually I'm a turbo trip planner, but this time I prepped like crazy for the flights (you should have seen my bag of tricks for the Pickle) and left our itinerary up in the air. I have to remind myself that realistically, we can only tackle one or two things a day. It was a giant pain today trying to find elevators to accommodate the stroller for access to public transporation. Phil and I carried the Pickle up LOTS of steps. Sarah has made it all look so easy!

Ohsh, our Hotel Monaco room guardian

Meet Ohsh, our fish in our room at Hotel Monaco. Why did we name him Ohsh, you might be wondering. Well, the Pickle has been saying "Ohsh" a million times a day. I fear it's because I say "Oh shit!" so often. Phil is in denial.

Love, love, love our room! The front desk sweetees upgraded us to an awesome suite since it's our first family vacay. We have a separate bedroom with sliding doors and a living room with a Queen sleeper. We'll see which bed the Pickle sleeps in.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Last Hurrah

Today and tomorrow, I’m in Troy, Michigan, for client meetings. Normally for these types of fly-by trips when I barely step outside the walls of a conference room, I won’t bother writing a post. But, this trip is significant because it will be my last biz trip with D&E.  My last day is next week. I start at Rosetta later this month to help build a social media department, and I couldn’t be more excited! 

I know what you might be thinking: new baby and a new job = crazy. Maybe I am, but I feel ready for the challenge, and Rosetta could not have been more accommodating so far for me and my bun. I know pretty well the people I’ll be working with on my core team, and that makes this new venture (at Ad Age's 2011 Top Agency to Watch, no less) much less daunting. Plus, I have an incredible partner in my hubs, who has been relentlessly supportive.

But, back to Troy.  I’ve been lucky enough to travel with one of my favorite co-workers, and after a long day of driving and meetings, we hit the nail salon and Morton’s for fab nails and a big, beefy meal. Our meetings were in a glass-windowed conference room across the street from the restaurant, and I kept staring at the sign ALL DAY. A girl can’t go wrong with filet and sautéed spinach. Mmmm!

San Fran is soon, so stay tuned for recaps of our first family vacay.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Shabu shabu in Cleveland! Finally!

It’s been nearly three years since my trip to Japan, and I finally found and sampled shabu shabu in Cleveland! In case you’re not familiar, shabu shabu is a Japanese version of hot pot and translates to “swish swish” from the sound of the razor-thin meat and veggies you stir briefly in the pot. 

In late December, my Japan trip companion, Gina, and I went to Ginko in Tremont, one of Dante Boccuzzi’s newest restaurants. It’s actually housed below Dante (love that place). In addition to my excitement for a shabu shabu reunion, from what I had heard from friends’ reviews, I couldn’t wait to try the restaurant. I’ve loved every encounter with Dante’s restaurants, and I really like the chef. (During the Taste of Tremont this summer, I happily chatted with him about Ginko’s upcoming opening.) 

Ginko’s space is cozy with a fun circular sushi bar, very similar to the restaurant Gina and I visited in Tokyo where we first tried shabu shabu. There are two tables for shabu-shabu cooking – the top center of the table lifts up to reveal an electric burner to heat the broth, meat and veggies. Shabu shabu is so fun because it’s interactive. You dunk your meat and veggies in the broth for 10 seconds to two minutes and then dip them in two types of sauces. While we were eating, I could almost hear the "arigatou gozaimasu" from all the servers we encountered in Japan. :)

While our meal was delish, unfortunately, I think we visited on an off-night for service. The two shabu-shabu tables are the only seating for which Ginko accepts reservations, so I made sure to request a table more than a month before our visit. However, when we arrived, the hostess had no record of our reservation and was rather combative about it. Instead of apologizing, she said we could have a table, but she needed it back by 8. We also had a snafu with our server, but she did apologize and take a sushi roll off of our bill. 

Based on advice from Chef’s Widow about how to handle a less thanstellar restaurant experience, I emailed the chef that night to let him know about our experience, but I never heard back from him. 

Regarding the sushi and shabu shabu, they were great! There are two beef options for shabu shabu: Angus for $25 or Kobe for $50. We both went with Angus and weren’t disappointed. Since I’m pregs (SURPRISE!), we stuck to veggie sushi rolls: avocado/cucumber. Mmmm!

The shabu shabu is definitely worth trying, but make sure to make a reservation before you go because of the longer dining experience. When you call, specifically request a shabu-shabu table.