groutfits and nelly with Alexis

Alexis came to visit last weekend and I’m only just now catching my breath. I don’t think we stopped talking and laughing the whole time. She’s one of those people who I could sit on the couch with for four hours just chatting and later say, “We had the best time.” We did have the best time.

Alexis pioneered the groutfit back in our CoMo days, so it was only appropriate that she she come to town for the Second Annual Groutfit Pubcrawl. A groutfit is a sweatsuit with gray on top and bottom. Usually it’s an accident, but it’s always maximum comfort. groutfit

I was impressed with the turnout! Last year’s event built some momentum and this go round people brought friends and I brought a flag made from a gray tshirt and a mop pole (pictured above).  Turns out, the flag makes it feel like a parade and creates a scene when you’re trying to get 20 people across the street. There’s nothing I love more than bringing people together and wearing sweats in public.



While Alexis was in Dallas we also brunched with the other Tigers in the area and checked out the Farmer’s Market situation.

farmers market

Saturday afternoon we hit up the Texas State Fair to eat a bunch of friend food and see NELLY. Y’all. I have been dreaming of seeing Nelly live for a long time, this was too perfect. He doesn’t perform a lot these days, but he came to Dallas just for me.

This year the fair is hosting a Taylor Swift costume exhibit. A bunch of her famous outfits from videos, tours and awards shows were on display. I loved seeing it all in person, but was a little sad they wouldn’t let us try anything on.

taylor swift costume

All in all, I only drank two lemon shake ups, so I was pretty proud of my restraint. If it was up to me (and if I had enough tickets to afford it), I would hook that stuff up via IV. We tried the cookie fries, which were underwhelming, but loved the corny dogs, fried cheese curds, friend mac and cheese and fried cookie dough. The State Fair has games and rides, but the weird food and Boris, the biggest pig ever, are the main attractions.


The people of the fair, are an interesting slice of life, and if I can give you some advice, it’s don’t go on a weekend. The crowds were a little crazy, but Alexis and I got a lot of good tattoo inspiration. We were sitting on some steps trying to find our friends at one point and Alexis said, “You know, I don’t really listen to country music on my own, but I love it when you’re outside at the state fair like this.” So true.

For the show, Alexis, Lily and I wore band aids in honor of City Spud. We also shouted along with the lyrics and danced as much as the crowd let us.


All the fans in Cards gear made me feel at home. Nelly played all the hits and then went to bed. The show was over by 9:45. What a day, what a day.


walk & talk

This weekend Josh and I laid low in Dallas. It was nice to have a weekend without big plans on the books. Even Mizzou had a bye week, which was a bummer since we had time to watch the game.

We walked to a sandwich place near us for lunch on Sunday, then we walked to a debate watch party at a bar about a mile and a half away later that night. I also walked to church that morning. We wish we lived in a true pedestrian city, but with our jobs we depend on our cars. When we looked for places to live, we specifically wanted an apartment that had some stuff nearby. Right now we’re close enough to walk to the grocery store, the library, the American Airlines Center, church and some restaurants and bars. Whenever possible, we choose our tennis shoes over driving.

It gives us some quality time together without searching for a radio station or trying to keep up with navigation. We can chat about work (ugh), politics (is there anything else to talk about these days?), which Kardashian got robbed (Kim), the best Eagles song (me: Heartache Tonight/ Josh: Take it Easy), the superior oreo (me: double stuffed/ Josh: regular), practice best man speeches and plan what we are going to eat next (this is 70% of all of our day-to-day conversation).  The walks give us quality time without phones or really doing anything else.

My parents walk the neighborhood every night and do something similar. We’ve done it my whole life for “exercise” and to “get up and move”- yes my mom is the original Michelle Obama. Yes, she has incredible biceps too. But really, it was a ploy to spend quality family time together.

The forward motion of your body gives the impression that the conversation is moving forward and solving problems. When we get where we’re going, even if it’s just back home, my mind and body both got a little exercise.

two types of customers

After almost three and a half years of talking to customers allllll day, I feel like I’m starting to figure out the world. When things go wrong and the universe tests our character, people show their true colors. Never has there been a better snapshot of those raging colors than the sphere of customer service.

I have divided the world into two types of customers. These are not inherent. You can be one or the other at any time, in any situation. You are the only person who is in control of how this goes down.

The first type of customer plays for the love of the game. This customers is what I lovingly term, complaining for blood.

Something went wrong with the service or product they purchased. All be damned though, it’s someone’s fault and they. will. pay.  Not only does someone need to be blamed, but this customer also needs to get to the bottom of whatever happened. He is demanding an explanation, who cares if he will understand it. Who cares if this happens every day? It happened to him and he’s on it like a dog on a bone.

Once someone takes the time to deliver a full explanation, this person is in full finger-pointing mode. Of course, there’s compensation of some form in order, maybe a refund, maybe a full meal next time.There’s nothing that can’t be fixed with rewards, treats, comp or plain cash. Too little- and he’s insulted.

Did I mention the cherry on top… a heart-felt apology- groveling preferred. He has to know the company and the specific person who wronged him is truly sorry. “How will you follow up with me, so I can hear how this is handled?”

After a painting a colorful picture of what happened, receiving a full explanation and appropriate compensation , this customer can settle down with a full apology. Whew.

The juxtaposition of that customer is the constructive criticizer.

This kind of person had a rough time too. He wants to make sure it doesn’t happen to him or anyone else ever again. So he carefully explains what happened and how it made him feel. This guy’s generally more sensitive, but not always.

He has some well-meaning ideas on how your business could make small changes with great impact. Sure, he works in a completely different industry, but he has a MBA and I bet the people you pay to make those choices never thought of XYZ.

Compensation is great, but he always acts surprised when you offer even though he was secretly hoping you’d go down that road. The call finishes with a, “Thanks for listening. I’m still a loyal customer, and I just wanted to let you know this isn’t the usual.”

Things go wrong. I get that.  Everyone has a voice worth hearing. No customer is wrong for complaining and there isn’t a wrong way to do it. I would like to acknowledge that some ways are more constructive than others. Don’t get your self even more worked up just calling/tweeting/emailing a complaint. Ya feel me?

new york and the mcnuttings

Since the great wedding tour of 2016 has eaten up most of our vacation time, Josh and I are trying to sneak in as many long weekends in the exotic places our friends get married. Thank you to Carolyn and Mike for getting hitched in New York.

We flew out early to hang with Natasha and see some sights. It was misting and raining the whole day on Friday, but we made it work. Josh and I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and tried to enjoy the views. We went to the Strand Bookstore and and peeked in the Library. The only thing on our schedule was the NBC Studio Tour, which Julie and I wanted to do last time but tickets sold out. We saw the Nightly News studio, the SNL studio and the Late Night with Seth Meyers studio. The NBC Pages filled us in on the trivia and we did a mock talk show taping.

Of course, we found some pizza and hot chocolate and saw Times Square. By late afternoon, it was poring so we headed back to Brooklyn. The rain was a reminder that city life that involves mostly all walking and public transit goes on, rain or shine.

It was nice to do a little bit of tourist stuff, but have time to wonder around too. There’s so much going on there but keeping our schedule open let us move a little slower and feel like we were actually in the city instead of a museum or a line of tourists. I still want to make it back for the Whitney Museum and the High Line soon. Natasha took us out for Cuban in Williamsburg with all the Southwest kids in town.

The City is buzzing with energy and fast-walkers. I can’t get enough of that place.




On Saturday after a situation at Thrifty Rental car, Courtney, Eric, Josh and I headed west two hours for the wedding. We cut it close, but with the help of the whole team, I navigated NYC traffic. We arrived at the wedding 20 minutes before go time and changed in the parking lot, making a great first impression on all the wedding guests. We tried to tell people it’s a Texas tradition. It’s good luck to rummage through the trunk for your dress and stand in the parking lot in your undies.

The wedding itself was perfectly Carolyn and Mike. The reception was too- they had soft pretzels (and a million other delicious apps) during cocktail hour. Carolyn’s dad plays in the fire department bag pipe and drum corps, so naturally, there was a performance.

Besides that, the dance floor was bumping because both come from party families. I danced so hard I broke both of my wedges, on the same song no less. They played two songs from Les Mis, which seems odd for a wedding, but it really worked. The DJ and I had a special connection, especially after she hooked up my phone to play One Day More. I’m always prepared.

Josh developed a reputation as “the sweaty guy” because his blue shirt looked ombre before the end of the night. Carolyn’s dad told him he needed a shower, which was fair.

So much love and LUV. I didn’t take many pictures because I was too busy trying to be in all the photographer’s pictures.





hey there harry, old friend

This week I finished Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It’s the new Harry Potter play that takes place 20ish years after the end of  the seventh book. They published the script instead of traditional prose, which was a little adjustment at the beginning.

As my friend Victoria mentioned, it reads like fan-fiction. It’s a love letter to the die-hards- one more hurrah in the form of a caper staring all the favorites. If you loved the fourth book, you should read the play (or see it in London!).

While it wasn’t the most beautiful words I’ve read lately, it was FUN. I swept through it in a couple of days. The second half read like a classic Harry Potter book- building action to a final action scene.

Speeding through the pages reminded me of reading late into the night when the original books came out. Thanks to JK’s incredible timing, I grew up with Harry Potter. I found them right around the time the third one was published. As they were released, Harry, Ron, Hermione and I progressed through our teens. They were fighting the dark arts, I was the chorus girl in musicals. They learned spells and I led student council skits. We practically lived parallel lives.

Now, a kid could binge the complete series in a summer. I had to wait a whole year for the next bit of story. Getting it little by little was torture, but it was repaid with midnight release parties and intense discussions with friends who just finished.

Reading the latest installment was a stroll down memory lane. Getting back together with those characters was like getting a hug from an old friend. Hermione was still a know it all. Ron was still a chuckle. They were exactly the same, but we were all older- them a bit more than me. This time they were in their 40s, not my age.  It reminded me of how exciting it was to wait and read the latest volume. I felt the thrill of racing my sister’s bookmark to the end.

I’ve only read the books once all the way through, except for the first one, which I think we read aloud to Will. Going to Harry Potter world with my mom two years ago made me want to reread them, but a part of me doesn’t want to ruin the magic. What if I don’t like them as much? Are they still fun if you know the ending? Reading the play brought back the rush of the wizarding world. Now I’m thinking I may revisit them.

Speaking of rekindling high school memories, Josh bought us tickets for the touring production of Rent for my birthday. I have thanked him this week by singing a TON of Rent songs. I may never get another good present ever again.

When the movie came out in 2005, I was realllllllllly into it. Julie and I knew the soundtrack backwards and forwards. I remember singing it in the car with my friends as we learned to drive. No surprise, I still know all the words. Seeing the show brought back the warm fuzzies the movie gave me ten years ago.

They say you can’t go back, but you can get pretty close.

Liz’s Bachelorette Party

This weekend we celebrated Liz at an Airbnb south of Dallas. We did stuff in Dallas and Ft. Worth, don’t worry. But Patty’s Airbnb was the star of the show.

The house was clearly in the middle of being flipped and we were constantly discovering unfinished projects in every room. It did have a sweet pool, four basketball hoops (excessive, I know) and plenty of room for activities. There’s nothing better than full reign of a stranger’s house and celebrating an impeding wedding to turn a group of almost strangers into friends in a weekend.

I say this after every bachelorette weekend, but I love meeting my friends’ people. In the adult world where it’s sometimes hard to make friends, weekends like these feel pretty effortless.

We brunched, we burlesqued, we swam, we ate and we danced. We also got carried away with the boomerangs. Check it.

Cheers to the #MrsMestaWorldTour! 🍾

A video posted by Shannon Whitney (@shannwhitney) on

Jumping into the #mrsmestaworldtour like…📷 @shannwhitney

A video posted by Katie Doerhoff Kirkenmeier (@katie_ann_kirk_) on

💋#mrsmestaworldtour #burlesque #bacheloretteweekend

A video posted by D A N I E L L A (@daniella_ellla) on

With the soon-to-be Mesta! @lillizb #mrsmestaworldtour #bacheloretteweekend

A video posted by D A N I E L L A (@daniella_ellla) on




hustling for mizzou

This week Josh and I filled in at some college fairs for Brandon. We love taking about Mizzou, actually we both just love talking. I did a couple last year, and it turns out, I still got it.

As you can imagine, the students and parents ask the same couple of questions: hows your X program? What do you need to get in? What’s the cost? What scholarships are available? Where is Missouri? What is fall like? Does Columbia have an airport?

Since Josh and I worked together last night, some of the time we talked to the same student or family and when it got a bit busy, we each chatted with separate students. Overhearing Josh saying the same things as me but in Josh-fashion cracked me up.

Stuff I legit heard him say…

“So classes… They’re good.”

“Columbia is the Goldilocks town, not too big, not too small, just right.”

“We can’t guarantee you’ll get a job, because that’s impossible, but we’ll do our best.”

“I played on the club ultimate team and traveled all over. It’s not like you think. It was intense.”

“We recommend visiting in the fall or the spring, unless you have a winter coat, then the winter is ok too. You’ll just need a good coat.”

“If you visit this year, take a tour and ask for my sister to be your guide.”

“I’m just a volunteer. Ask Brandon, he’s the professional rep. I work for Frito Lay, so I’m the expert in chips. I can answer all your chip questions.”

“I would go back to college forever if I could. Would you, Shannon? I would.”

Things he surprisingly didn’t talk about:

Dining hall food

That time he played in a band and performed at the Blue Fuge.

How his flannel protected him from Missouri winter.

I’m sure I blurted out some weird stuff too. After repeating yourself so often, you forget what you’re saying or try to switch it up. If you know Josh though, you can hear this stuff falling out of his mouth. He had one fan who just wouldn’t leave our table. That guy wanted to come home with us and hang out with Josh around the clock.

Besides laughing at Josh, it gives me the warm fuzzies to talk about MU. Man, I miss that place.

chicago with the erins

We try to plan at least one bestie get away each year, preferably two. We throw a weekend on the calendar, start texting about places to go and then decide if husbands are invited (this time they were not). We mix and match the same trip ingredients for the most part, but when you find what works you do it.

Here’s what we did/always do…

Eat. EJS found us some tacos and then some meatballs and then a quiet dinner place where we met up with Kate. EOE took us to her childhood ice cream parlor. There was also dominoes pizza and donuts in there too. No regrets.

Photo Credit: Michael Nguyen | LazyEight Photography

Photo Credit: Michael Nguyen | LazyEight Photography

Drink. Obviously, when I mentioned tacos I also meant margaritas. Did we need the second pitcher, look I don’t know. On Saturday afternoon we checked out the Revolution Brewery and then caught a show at Improve Olympics.


Talk about celebrities like we know them. I like to think we’re not the only people who do this. We helped EJS clear out some of the episodes of Ellen on her DVR. We got into the nitty gritty of the HiddleSwift break up. Naturally, we caught up on our real lives and our real friends too.

Something new or touristy. On Friday afternoon, we rode the 606 bike trail on divibikes. Saturday meant the brewery tour. We’re all about learning and expanding our horizons.


Cuddles. EOE and I snuggled on the pullout couch overlooking the city of Chicago. EJS tried to join us, but Nick made her go to her bed. Deaton the dog found some room between us. He burrows in like you might leave him behind in the middle of the night.



Fitness.  Both Erins are class passers, and on our last few trips we’ve found classes to go to together. This time we tried a cardio dance class and loved it.

So that’s pretty much all we need for a great weekend. See you ladies in like 6ish months so we can do it again?

Helping Erin get ready using her phone as a mirror…


a case for comfortable footwear

At the beginning of my 27th year, I decided there are certain things I should start buying better. I try to buy food with less packaging. Instead of a lot of plastic, I divide stuff up into my Tupperware. To treat myself like the adult I am, I’m slowly shifting to purchasing quality clothing. This means stuff that isn’t as sheer, isn’t as cheap, fits me well, flatters and, overall, less chincy jersey knit.

Above all, my feet are begging for more sensible shoes.  My knees have been acting up lately and my feet are only really comfortable in sneakers. Ariel, who works across the aisle from me teases about my tennis shoes and jeans look. It’s not the cutest, but I do have smaller, less athletic-looking sneaks at least. Luckily the office dress code is ultra casual.

I’m a busy woman who loves to walk. There’s no time to slow down because my feet hurt. What’s that quote about butt prints in the sands of time?

Most of the summer, I live in sandals. I have quite a few pairs stuffed into our main closet, but I wear the soles out of them only to replace them with other cheapo, cute sandals. To fulfill my new promise to take care of my feet, I spent most of the summer searching for the perfect, supportive sandal.

This involved quite bit of internet research, as well as some shopping. Everything I found was either too senior citizen or too camp counselor. My dream sandal worked for work and stomping around all day on trips. The truly comfortable ones looked more at home on the dock. The dressier ones my grandma wears (No shame in your game, gma. You look great.).

Even ones claiming comfort had a cardboard or skinny foam sole. I need the big guns, I need arches.

It’s like the shoe industry is inkahoots with the knee replacement people and podiatrists. Let’s sell them janky shoes until their parts wear out and then charge them for knee braces and insoles galore! I’m 27; I do what can best be described as moderate exercise. There’s no lingering sports injury or training regiment that’s rough on my body. I’m not chronically overweight, I should not have foot problems.

Finally, I found these leather chacos. The classic chacos are a little too crunchy for my work wear, but these are leather! They look like causal sandals, right? Just tell me I’m right because I already bought them. On sale!

So now I’m part of #chaconation. And my feet are happy! Sorry to everyone who was rooting for me to give up on the great sandal search of 2016 so they would never have to look at my toes again.

Don't zoom in on my toes, trust me.

Don’t zoom in on my toes, trust me.

the deep, deep depths of my reading recommendation list

Books are probably a lot like crystal meth. I say probably because I’ve never tried crystal meth and it’s not on my to do list, if you know what I mean. This analogy is to illustrate how just a little bit makes you a little crazy and then you need more more more. That’s how drugs work, at least that’s what I gathered from DARE in 1998.

I have a GoodReads account where I keep track of what I’ve read, when I finished it and how much I liked it. I highly recommend getting on the site so you can creepily see what your friends and random old acquaintances are reading. Friends are easy to hold close to your heart in the book department. Shoot a text while you’re at the library, “What should I read next?” They respond. People who you shared one class with in college and really admired for their forward thinking on Cross Cultural Communications don’t respond to texts like that, mainly because I don’t have their phone numbers. This is where GoodReads comes in handy. Now I know what they are reading.

Besides spying on other’s libraries, GoodReads allows me to make a to do list for future books. Whenever I run across a review or click on a 58 BOOKS THAT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE kind of list, I just open the app, look up the book and boop, click “Want to Read.” Right now there are 299 waiting patiently for me to request them from the library. By the end of the day, there very well could be 10 more.

Right now, I’m working on The Sport of Kings. It’s not the best book I’ve read, but I haven’t given up hope yet. Josh keeps asking me how I like it, and I shrug him off with a “meh.” Last night he asked who recommended it. Here’s the thing, I read a review in the New Yorker and added it to my list. Then the title popped up somewhere else. I recognized it from the first review and added it to my library request list. I really wish I could remember where I saw it but oh well.

Much like walking around Half Price Books and scrolling through lists of X Books to Read Before You’re 30 and 14 Classics Your High School Teacher Never Assigned (why am I such a sucker for those?), these lists make me feel like a good for nothing shulb. What am I even doing? I’m in no way ready to turn 30 or be a functioning member of society because I never read Pride and Prejudice!

Really, I missed that one, and I’ve always meant to go back and read it. Perhaps it’s not too late.

The other day someone emailed me to join this book club thing where they send me 5-10 books each month and I have to write reviews of them. This is my dream job, by the way. The problem here is, it only pays $50 a month. I know! The first thought that passed through my mind was, “Keep you’re filthy money! I’ll read for free! You can’t start paying me and suck the fun out of this.”

Then I thought about how long it would take for me to read five extra books every month. You can’t expect me to stop reading the ones on my own list. Well, I’d need to quit my job, or at least go part time. While I’m not making a ton, the $50/month compensation doesn’t make up for my salary.

The moral of this story is, I should not quit my job for this reading gig.

On the bright side, I have the rest of my life- which I’m hoping is a sold 60 or so more years to chip away at this growing list. If I don’t get to every last one, it’s not like there’s a comprehensive test to get in to Heaven…But what if there is?