free parking

free parking

I got to meet one of my favorite people last week.

I met Montserrat, of Chocolate On My Cranium. She graciously spent a few minutes out of her packed schedule to say “hi” and let me squeeze her cute little baby. It was wonderful to hug her, too.

She was just as I imagined she would be. Did you know she can make homemade lip balm with cute little labels that look professional and darling? Did you know that she has spearheaded this wonderful celebration of the family event online for years now that has really brought a lot of light to the internet world? Did you know she epitomizes grace, but also has a fantastic sense of humor? Did you know she does all this with humility and a kind of sassy sweetness that I love?

So, I felt a little dorky as I opened my mouth and inserted foot about the entire time I visited with her. Why did I do that? I don’t know. I was just flustered. Maybe I can blame it on the SMeE. Or maybe on the parking garage. Or my van.

Okay, so I drove my fifteen passenger van to Maggiano’s, which requires parking in a parking garage. That would have been fine, except for the fact that I forgot my handicapped placard.

Artist's Representation of Me Parking My Van...

Artist’s Representation of Me Parking My Van…

I almost didn’t meet her because I couldn’t park it. I am serious, it was like parking a 747. In fact, I think I probably could park a 747 now that I’ve had this experience. So, I was practically almost going to cry because I couldn’t park the blasted thing.

Anyway, I just said, “Heavenly Father, please? I really want to meet her.”

And then, there was a space next to a space. It was a miracle. So, in the spirit of gratitude and November, I was really thankful.

By the time I met her, I was a bit flustered. You know, from parking the 747.

I felt like I do whenever I am in public. Like there must be something in my teeth, or toilet paper stuck to my shoe. I felt so silly.

I don’t even remember really what I said, because I just started talking as if we had known each other forever, because I feel like we do, but we only had a few minutes, so I didn’t get to the good stuff.

Meeting My Bloggy Friend. Who Is Cool.

My Cool Bloggy Friend’s Blog Button

Like telling her she is beautiful.

Like telling her she has said some things that have literally changed the course of my life.

Like telling her that she has cheered me up on dark days and made me smile during some sleepless nights.

Like how I am so thankful that I get to know her and be part of her life, even in my awkward, weird way.

I wish I could have been eloquent. Honestly, seeing her cute little baby distracted me. He was so chubby and perfect.

I wanted to squish him. So instead of being eloquent, I was somewhat incoherent.

We took a picture and hugged and I left and got to the parking lot. Angels helped me back out of my space without crunching into another car (another miracle!). Then I needed to pay for the parking. The little parking thing wouldn’t take my credit card. It didn’t like it for whatever reason. Maybe my magnetic strip has issues. I don’t know. It just didn’t work.

Where All My Change Went

Where All My Change Went

So, I had to call the parking attendant person and I explained to her that I don’t get out much, and most certainly not in parking garages, and I really had spent the majority of the time just trying to get out of the parking lot, and I was scrounging around for change, and of course, the kids had taken it all to do pressed pennies at DisneyWorld (of course–why would we keep change in the van when we could be making pressed pennies?).

The lady smiled and laughed and then let me out for free.


Like in Monopoly.


Free Parking!

It was like a random act of kindness toward me. It was lovely. It made my day. (Well, meeting my friend made my day, but this double-made my day.)

I felt like I was just being watched out for today. Like there was a conversation in Heaven:

“Did anyone notice that Misty is going out today–and it’s not to DisneyWorld?”

“How will she find her way around? How will she park her van?”

“Exactly. And she will also be nervous and forgetful because she is meeting a special person today.”

“Oh, dear. Well, let’s call out the elite forces. We’re going in. Let’s hope we’re not too late!”

So, I am thankful. I am thankful that Montserrat made me feel not awkward and pretty and intelligent, even though I felt dorky, and I am thankful for parking spaces and kind people and also for Italian food because it really smells good.

In honor of these events, I have made Penne Rustica, like at Romano’s Macaroni Grill, only better, because it was homemade and also because Maggiano’s (where I visited Montserrat), is way yummier than Macaroni Grill could ever hope to be. I mean, ever.  So, my family is thankful, too! (We, of course, tripled this recipe.)




  1. Penne Rustica is my FAVORITE!!!!!!!! :)

    • Sooooo jealous!!! But I am also smiling from ear to ear. I can just picture you both in my mind, meeting in real life for the first time, and having a wonderful visit. I’m sooo happy for you both! :-)

      Lots of love,

  2. You got to meet Cocoa! YAY! Now if only I had been there, I would have been able to meet two of MY favorite bloggers! HUGS!

  3. Fun! And, I love that I’m not the only one driving a giant van . . . although mine is only 12 passenger, so totally only like a private jet to park ;)

  4. I smiled the whole time I read this. First, because you got to meet her–awesome. Second, because of your entertaining write-up–also awesome.

  5. this sounds just like how i felt when i met you! glad you got some fun and meet Mrs. Chocolate. Was she in Florida or were you in Nevada?

  6. I was wondering if you two met up. Now I can sleep. You see, I follow your blogs and I put Florida living + Florida wedding might mean a Misty/Cocoa meeting. Florida’s not that big, right? I am so smrt.

    I bet you weren’t nearly as dorky as you thought you were. Maybe she was nervous to be in your awesome presence too.

    Squishy babies are the best. We just had our fourth almost five months ago and she is by far our chubbiest. Love those thighs!!! Rolls galore is a wonderful thing.

  7. Oh, Misty, way to make me cry! You are totally beautiful and amazing and I am SO GLAD we got to meet! I was just as nervous and felt flustered too so there. :P It was really great to read this because now I can hear your voice when doing so. Glad you were able to experience the free parking and that your van fit in the garage to begin with! As we drove in I was telling my sister about Jen’s van experience

    I’m definitely making this recipe. Yay for good Italian food! With shrimp!

    • Aye-aye-aye sorry I left to go find a link to Jen’s post about her van experience and realized she only posted it on facebook not her blog ( and then I clicked back here and thought “Silly me, I didn’t hit the submit button” and after it published I realized why. Anyway she got a new 12 passenger van and drove it into a parking garage thinking that it would fit. Only it didn’t. It got stuck under one of the cement headers. It would have fit if all her tires hadn’t been fully aired. So, I’m glad your van fit in the parking garage!

  8. Ha ha ha! Those van stories are hilarious. I’ve got a good one I should share with my parent’s van. I’ll have to put that on my blog soon. (Yes, I’m still doing my blog on occasion even though I keep saying I quit! Wishy washy and all that.)

    I’m so glad you two got to meet! Someday I’m going to meet you. I don’t know how, but I’ll figure out a way. ( : I’m sure I’d not only feel dorky, I’d BE dorky! Ha ha! Sounds like it was fun. I’ll have to try that recipe. I’ve never done anything with shrimp before.

  9. Hi, Misty!

    I discovered your blog a few weeks ago and have been devouring it ever since! (And yes, I’m just now finally getting around to commenting!)

    I’m actually a friend of your dear friend, J. H.! I met you and your sweet family one year–very briefly–at a Christmas sing-along at their house. I still remember the beautiful song you and your family sang a Capella that night (something like “Come dear Jesus to the Temple…). Lovely!

    Anyhow, your blog has provided marvelous reading for me in the wee hours of the night, both at the end of my pregnancy, and now that I’m up nursing my new baby (our fifth) every few hours in the night. You are my new hero and I love the way you write and the insights you share. Thank you so much for letting even virtual strangers partake of your spirit and talents!

    Oh–and I live in Southwest Florida! Naples, to be exact. Welcome to the state! We’ve been here 3 1/2 years and are still trying to get used to the seasons (or lack thereof) in this part of the country. I relate, though, to desperately missing the mountains. And autumn. ;-)

    • I remember, you, Stephanie! So glad you found my blog, because I really thought you were an amazing lady. :) It’s nice to know I have friends in Florida!

  10. Super happy!
    I don’t know if I’m happier for Cocoa getting to meet you, or for you getting to meet Cocoa!

    Now I’m going to fantasize for a minute about the both of you coming to Hawaii to visit me.
    First the dream of the play date without the kids — Shortly followed by the even better dream of the play date WITH all -yes, all- of the kids. Goodness, how many would that be?! Like, 30? Good thing there’s a full park in my backyard.

  11. coveting a little. I am so thankful for great blogging ladies and the tales they tell. Life is better knowing of you and maybe someday, knowing each of you.

  12. This reminds me of the day I got to meet you at the Blue Lemon. I had a crazy parking experience too and felt silly for being so late and was praying for help because I just really wanted to meet you. I’m glad you got to meet her.


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