Saturday, July 2, 2011

Savannah: My Beautiful Whrilwind

RWOP Finalists dine at The Olde Pink House in Savannah, GA
First of all, let me just say...WOW.  This trip was everything I expected, and then some.  Every single person involved in the gigantic event that swept an entire American city was incredibly amazing.  And if you're wondering about Paula Deen, she is every bit as funny, genuine, friendly, approachable and beautiful as she appears to be on television.
I know, I know, I didn't win.  But this experience really opened me up in SO many ways.  Perhaps even a little more than I expected.  I'll try to go through each day briefly and give you the details.  Please feel free to email me or comment if you have any other questions.  I'll be posting photos as people share them, so the articles will continually get updated with more photos and memories, so keep checking back.


Noel Poyner of Eqal had managed to arrange the shortest flights out to Savannah for us.  They were perfect.  We had everything arranged, house sitters, parking garage, LOTS of snacks, books and distractions for baby.  The upcoming 6+ hours of travel with 18 month old Baby Bodhi, now in a screaming, teething, and temper tantrum phase, was one of my biggest stress factors for this trip.  He did awesome. 

Blowout at 36,000 feet
About 15 minutes before landing in Houston, our only stop on the way to Savannah, Bodhi needed a diaper change.   I smelled a little stink on his behind, so I quickly whisked him into the lavatory.  False alarm.  It was just a bit wet and he may have had just a little bit of gas.
Baby Bodhi (post blowout)
arriving at the Avia Hotel.
(Photo by RWOP)
We went back to our seat and Gage decided he wanted to get something to eat before we landed.  He began walking to the back of the plane and got stuck in now what was a long line for the last minute bathroom goers and kitchen customers.
About 2 minutes later, Bodhi was standing on the floor facing Gage's seat to stretch his legs.  He looked at me a little strangely, made a strange noise, and about 30 seconds later, I almost gagged from the rotten smell that suddenly emanated my surroundings.  The passengers in the seats around us suddenly began to look at each other, as if the person next to them had just dropped a rotten egg in their lap.  There was a father with three small children seated in the row across from us who quickly grabbed his smallest daughter, a diaper and made a mad dash for the first class restroom.  I giggled a little because I knew it wasn't his kid!  He was a total jerk to his kiddos and we really didn't like his demeanor, so I let him worry a little and change the unsoiled diaper!  As soon as he was gone, I calmly grabbed Baby Bodhi, ANOTHER new diaper and casually sauntered to the back of the plane where daddy was next in line for lavatory and food purchases.  I passed the baby back to him and made my way back to my seat. 
Five minutes passed. Ten minutes passed.  The captain made everyone go back to their seat, as we were making our final approach now into Houston.  The landing gear was coming down and there was no daddy, no baby in sight.  FINALLY, after fifteen minutes, Gage and Bodhi quickly came back to their seats and Gage tossed the baby into my lap with a stunned look on his face.
"That...was the WORST diaper... I have EVER seen my entire life," Gage said calmly and quietly.
Baby Bodhi looked up at me with a sigh of relief, and I then noticed that the stench hadn't gone away.  He still smelled...poopy
"The diaper literally EXPLODED when I opened it," Gage explained.  "It went EVERYWHERE.  All over him, his clothes, the walls of the bathroom, the changing table...EVERYWHERE."
That explained the amount of time it took in the lavatory.  Gage was basically wiping down the walls of an airplane bathroom from top to bottom.
We managed to land and do an emergency wardrobe change on Baby Bodhi before switching planes in Houston.  So, apparently, sometimes the airline authorities have no choice but to allow certain types of bombs onto the airplanes.  Baby Bodhi dropped a "Bodhi Bomb" at 36,000 feet.

The Avia Hotel and The Olde Pink House
Allie was waiting for us at the airport and Adam carted us off to the GORGEOUS Avia Hotel.  We walked in the door and instantly felt like celebrities.  My beautiful Audie Metcalf was there waiting with open arms and I gave her one of the biggest and best hugs I think I've ever felt in my life.  If you don't know who Audie is, we call her "the wizard behind the curtain" in our land of Oz that is The Real Women of Philadelphia website.  She made all of this happen. We are just her munchkins.  It was like meeting my fairy god-mother (or sister in this case) for the very first time.  Tears instantly welled up in my eyes, and I knew that this was going to be a tear-jerker of a week for me.  I had no idea that what was coming was about to kick my butt.
Our room at the Avia was an amazing one bedroom suite with a gorgeous pedestal tub.  Here's a link with a photo slide show of the room:
Carmell Childs and I arriving at
the Olde Pink House for dinner.
(Photo by Paula Musegades)

I had 20 minutes to get ready for dinner at the historical Olde Pink House, one of Savannah's finest and oldest restaurants.  I quickly threw my hair in a side ponytail, got dressed and ran down the hallway in some fabulous Italian heels I hadn't worn since before I was pregnant.  I almost broke my ankle!
We got to the restaurant and were immediately seated in the "purple room" one of their most popular dining spaces.  The Olde Pink House is gorgeous inside and out.  It was built in 1771 by James Habersham, a Revolutionary War hero, who is rumored to still haunt the home today.  Needless to say, I was really reluctant to go to the bathroom alone.
The food was AMAZING!  I started with the She Crab Soup, a delicious bisque that beamed with butter, a hint of lemon and bits of beautiful, local soft-shell crab.  For an entree, I decided to pass on the house specialty, their Crispy Scored Flounder served with an Apricot Shallot Sauce.  I selected the filet mignon. And let me tell was the most incredible filet mignon I've ever eaten.  It melted in my mouth, was a perfect medium rare and I could cut it with my fork!
Filet Mignon at The Olde Pink House 

Dinner at The Olde Pink House
From left to right: Rebecca Regnier, Beth Peterson, Rachel
Collins, Hoopfinity, Josee Lanzi, Monica Staniec
As we were enjoying our wine, Audie sat down to chat with us.  She was so enthusiastic about getting to know each one of us, as we were eager to know her.  We shared our arrival stories and continued to chat. 
A few minutes later, an older woman who slightly resembled Paula Deen walked into the room.  I didn't think much of it at first, other people had wandered into our dining room, as this was one of the most famous rooms in the house.  Tourists and restaurant goers didn't want to miss what used to be the main master bedroom of this historic mansion.  But this woman was different.  She walked right into the center of the dining room, paused for a minute, looked at each one of us and walked out.  My mind started to wonder.  I looked over at Audie to see if she had seen the same woman and suddenly I heard the loudest thought I've ever heard.  Audie's eyes looked off into the corner and I heard her think..."Paula Deen is supposed to show up right now."  The hair on the back of my neck stood up.  I certainly don't consider myself a psychic or a telepath, but sometimes, about once every 2 or 3 years, I go Sookie Stackhouse on everyone (if you're not a True Blood watcher like I am, that one went right over your head).  Two minutes later, the REAL Paula Deen walked in, and the butt kicking began.
Paula Deen and Me!
I had been a little (okay, a lot) stressed out since I had been named a finalist in this competition.  There was a lot of preparation to be done with additional recipe submissions, background checks, legal forms, wardrobe selection, recipe perfection and travel arrangements.  I continually had knots in my stomach and thoughts in my head.  I tried everything I could to move the energy inside me around a bit or even clear it out, but it wouldn't budge.  No rest, no sleep, no relief...until now.
I felt every single thought, worry and fear move from where it was nestling in my stomach.  It jumped right up into my heart and I immediately became very emotional.  Again.  Here came the tears.  I managed to keep from breaking down and to keep tears from streaming down my face, but it left me speechless.  When it came time to hug Paula and introduce myself, Audie had to tell her my name.  I was mute.  She gave me a great hug, we got a good photo and she managed to do the same for EVERY SINGLE person in the room.  She spoke for about 10 minutes, made us laugh, made us feel at home, made us feel loved, and then graciously stepped out to enjoy the rest of her evening.
Almond Praline Basket
I finished my dinner with a gorgeous dessert, an Almond Praline Basket with vanilla ice cream and fresh berries.  It lasted about 2 minutes on my plate.
I got back to the hotel room at about 10pm, Gage had already put the baby down for the night and I went to bed but not to sleep.  The cook-off was coming up tomorrow.  It was the most important day of the week.  I finally fell asleep at about 2:30 AM.  I'm sure the time change didn't help, but that energy had gone right back down into my stomach and the butterflies were kicking up once again.


  1. Hoop, love the article and very descriptive. I'm so glad you had a wonderful time on your first day in Savannah and am looking forward to more of your wonderful journey. Thanks for sharing with us :)

  2. We had the time of our lives chicky miss you so much!! xoxoxo it's me chicky couldn't comment with my google account hmmmm