Archive of ‘Home + Entertainment’ category

Adventures in Lawyering: The Porn Star

Funny stories about being an attorney | The Champagne Supernova

I’ve got some crazy lawyer stories. This is the first in a series of installments called “Adventures in Lawyering.” 

Being an attorney ain’t all glitz and glamour.

In fact, it usually isn’t.

I’ve been practicing for almost a decade and can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sloshed through mud and debris at a construction site.

Or the times I’ve had to sift through gory crime scene photographs and then get on an unrelated conference call five minutes later hoping the person on the other end didn’t know I had been crying (or dry heaving).

The times I’ve received a plaintiff’s gynecology records in response to a subpoena and literally read their handwritten answer of “occasionally” when asked for their sex in an initial patient intake sheet.

Or the time I went to a junk yard to examine a vehicle that had been involved in a fatal accident the night before. The junk yard worker, through his toothless mouth, looked at me and said:

Smell that smell? 

Yes, sir. (Gagging.) It’s putrid.

That’s brain. Smell it once and you never forget. 

Trust me, I’ll never forget.

Autopsy photos.


Stucco density reports.


Laboratory results.


Dealing with irrational south Florida Rambo lawyers.


Spending time in courthouses where the other individuals walking through the security line made “The People of Wal-Mart” seem like the Rockefellers.


One of the more noteworthy “lawyer stories” occurred rather recently. This, ladies and gents, is the true tale of The Porn Star.

I once had a case where I represented a major trucking company that was sued by a young man who alleged he was rear-ended (pun intended) on an interstate near Miami. As a result of the accident, he claimed to have debilitating neck and back injuries that precluded him from maintaining gainful employment and warranted surgery in the future.

He wanted my client to pay him several hundred thousand dollars in damages.

So the investigation and discovery process began.

Before I go further, what many lay people don’t realize when initiating a lawsuit is that when you claim you are injured as a result of another person’s negligence, you are opening up your entire medical history to the other side.

You aren’t required to disclose only the doctors who treated you in connection with the accident at issue in the lawsuit. You have to disclose the names of all medical providers you have seen in the past, and courts usually agree that a ten-year timeframe is reasonable.

Why is the prior medical history relevant? Let’s say a plaintiff is seeking damages for headaches he or she claims began after an accident and adamantly denies they existed before. A defendant is entitled to assess the truth of this contention by reviewing other unrelated records to ensure the plaintiff didn’t report to his dentist, for instance, that he was suffering from a ten-year history of migraines.

Believe me, it happens all the time.

What does this mean?

The wart you complained about that you had “down there” to your OB?

Other side will know about it.

Your history of abortions?

Other side will know about it.

Your third nipple?

Other side will know about it.

You and your spouse have an open marriage and now you’re concerned about a funky odor?

Other side will know about it.

[These are all things I’ve seen in peoples’ medical records.]

Accordingly, any decent defense attorney will send subpoenas to all of a plaintiff’s medical providers- as well as pharmacies, car and health insurance companies, and employers- for a plaintiff’s chart or file. The attorney will then go through these records with a fine-tooth comb to determine whether the plaintiff is indeed injured and whether the injuries were truly related to the subject accident or to something else.

Back to the porn star. 

As I was wading through this particular man’s medical records, I noticed he wrote on an initial patient intake sheet at his chiropractor’s office that he was employed as an “entertainer” for a company called Reality Kings.

This is weird, I thought. He reported in his Answers to Interrogatories that he worked as a clerk at an auto parts store. 

So I googled “Reality Kings” and up popped a blocker on my work computer telling me that I couldn’t access the site.


After discussing the issue with the partner assigned to the case (e.g. The Bossman), I called my firm’s computer HelpDesk and awkwardly asked that they remove the block from my computer, and explained that I needed to watch some videos of one of my plaintiffs before his upcoming deposition.

The guy on the other end of the phone said this has happened before (!!!) and they would remove the restriction with an agreement that I would watch any videos with my office door closed.

Good lord.

Let’s just say that after a few minutes, I found this plaintiff when I recognized him from the photo on his driver’s license, discovered that he had a “stage name,” and was featured in multiple pornographic videos that were uploaded after the date of his accident. These videos clearly and absolutely undermined his assertions that he had neck and back problems.

The dude was doing things with women that would be impossible if one truly had neck and back pain. And maybe he can chock it up to good acting, but he absolutely appeared to be enjoying himself and was not wincing or grimacing in pain.

(And while I refer to this guy as a Porn Star, you can be certain he was a Z-lister.)

The videos were filthy.



After a few minutes of watching the videos, I felt like I needed to go to church, eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and then watch some Disney movies to clean up my troubled mind.

So I did what any rational person in this situation would do. I called my assistant and another attorney into the office to watch the videos and confirm the guy in the videos was the same guy on the driver’s license.

We giggled like children. We blushed. We talked about it for days afterward. We couldn’t believe watching porn was part of our “billable hours.” (Note: this was approved by the client, who was unamused by this plaintiff’s shenanigans.)

Fast forward a week later. I had to travel to south Florida to take this guy’s deposition.

I knew he was in the porn industry. He thought I thought he was a clerk in an auto parts store.

When he came into the room, it was hard for me to look him in the eye.

After all, I’d seen him naked.

Clothed, he was just a scrawny guy with a buzzed haircut and a pierced eyebrow.

But man, was he slick. He tried to be manipulative and it was clear his attorney coached him about what to say in case his job came up.

He was evasive enough without lying. The deposition went something like this:

Are you employed?



A company called Reality Kings.

What’s Reality Kings?

It’s an entertainment business that does everything from advertising, to marketing, to SEO on the web… things like that.

What is your job title and what do you do for them?

I don’t really have a title. I just show up for work and do whatever my boss tells me to do, which can range from promoting movies, to handing out flyers, to attending special events, things like that.

Do you appear in any movies?

Sometimes, yes.

What are these movies about?

Really anything. They can be about anything. Home improvement, travel, neighbors.

Are these movies cartoons or suitable for kids?

[Nervous laughter] No, no definitely not for kids.

What are they rated?

Ma’am, I don’t know- I’m not involved in the rating system.

[Eew. He called me “Ma’am”]

At this point, I realized I was going nowhere and needed to cut right to the chase.

[Leaning forward] Are the movies pornography?

[Beads of sweat pouring off his head] Some of them are, yes.

[Feeling like a grandmother with this next question because I didn’t know a more direct way to say it] Do you have intercourse with other people in these videos?

Sometimes, yes.

His lawyer asked for a break and called his client outside of the room. I was secretly disappointed that the plaintiff told the truth because I wanted him to blatantly lie about his involvement in the porn industry and then be able to file a Motion to Dismiss attaching video clips of the plaintiff in “all his glory” doing things that contradicted his reports of neck and back pain.

I wanted him to testify that he worked as an auto parts clerk and that he lived a life of such agonizing pain that all he does is go to work and sit home in a couch unable to walk around or fend for himself because of all the pain.

To no avail.

I don’t know what became of this guy.  A few months after the deposition, he fired his own lawyer. I subsequently accepted a part-time position at another firm and was never able to see the case through, but it is my understanding the case was dismissed after the plaintiff failed to obtain a new lawyer and never responded to overdue discovery.

Cheers to an adventure in lawyering!

Have any crazy stories of your own? Love to read them in the comments.

    Guest Bedroom Makeover featuring Establishment Home

    How to give your bedroom an easy and cheap makeover | The Champagne Supernova

    It was the red-headed step-child of the house.

    No offense to red heads.

    Our guest bedroom was an ugly hodgepodge of things we accumulated over the years.

    A rug and chair I found at a garage sale in 2008.

    A Pottery Barn dresser and sleigh bed I purchased from a college student on Craigslist when I moved to Tampa a decade ago. (For a total of $350, this was a steal, even back then.)

    A metal decoration above the bed that a neighbor had given to us before her husband was deployed to Germany.

    A comforter and sheets that were hand-me-downs from my mother.

    A nightstand that I bought at TJ Maxx when I was in law school.

    Guest bedroom makeover before and after | The Champagne Supernova

    Guest bedroom before.

    Guest bedroom makeover | The Champagne Supernova

    Guest bedroom before.

    None of the items went well together, but it didn’t matter because they did the job. As my husband and I toyed with the idea of putting our home on the market, we didn’t want to invest time or money redecorating a room in a house we would ultimately move out of.

    This attitude changed when we decided to stay put in our home.

    I was never going to walk past that room again and cringe.

    With the help of Alexis Simpson and Stacie Morrison, the masterminded ladies behind Establishment Home, I was able to easily refresh the guest room without going crazy or breaking the bank.

    Alexis, Stacie, and I were college sorority sisters at the University of Florida in Gainesville. We were in the same pledge class and lived in the sorority house with 60 of our other closest friends for two years in a row. Alexis and Stacie always had an eye for fashion and interior decor. Their rooms were among the best decorated in the house and they were always on top of the latest fashion trends and styles.

    How to inexpensively redecorate a bedroom | The Champagne Supernova

    How to redecorate your guest bedroom | The Champagne Supernova

    Guest bedroom after. Love these prints!

    Ideas for how to redecorate a guest bedroom | The Champagne Supernova

    Guest bedroom after.

    How to redecorate an ugly bedroom | The Champagne Supernova

    Guest bedroom after.

    How to redecorate your guest room | The Champagne Supernova

    How to inexpensively redecorate a bedroom | The Champagne Supernova

    Guest bedroom after.

    How to redecorate an ugly guest room in your house | The Champagne Supernova

    Vintage chair purchased at Summerhouse Marketplace in South Tampa.

    As background, Establishment Home is an online store that offers one-of-a-kind and specially curated home decor, art, and gifts for a well-layered home. Inspired both by growing up on the coast of Florida and raising a family in the South, Alexis and Stacie share a love of contemporary and vintage decor.

    They understand that design is a journey and continuing work in progress and believe a home should evolve with a person’s family and lifestyle. They strive to curate a hand-selected assortment of beautifully crafted and personalized items ideal for layering, mixing, and matching. Your home should feel comfortable, livable, and stylish- but most of all, it should feel like you.

    After considering my home style, Alexis and Stacie thought the Dorothy Draper Brazilliance and Ann pillows from Establishment Home’s online Pillow Shoppe would look great in the room and represent my family’s Florida lifestyle of spending time at the beach and being outdoors.

    More about Establishment’s Pillow Shoppe: They personally chose the 25 fabrics you see in the shop and carry designers like Duralee, John Robshaw, Lisa Fine, Robert Allen, and Carolina Irving. Some of these are found by meticulously searching through rolls at some of their secret go-to fabric shops, but most are available only to the interior design trade.

    Not sure how to style your room? Establishment Home offers e-design pillow pairing assistance. If pairing isn’t your strong suit (don’t worry- it’s not mine!) you can contact Alexis and Stacie and send them pictures of your space and any colors you have in mind for them to make suggestions. You can also request fabric swatches.

    To tie the pillows into the rest of the room, I purchased this neutral patterned rug here and the wall prints at Summerhouse Marketplace of Tampa Bay.  The white bedspread is lightweight and was purchased at Macy’s.

    Good luck with redecorating your own room. Because life is too short for an eye sore!



      Unlock Your Financial Future with PurePoint Financial

      Unlock your financial future with PurePoint Financial | The Champagne SupernovaThis post was proudly sponsored by PurePoint Financial. I think this bank is pretty groovy and all opinions are my own. 

      We all have savings goals.

      However, to successfully meet your savings goals, you need to have a WHY.

      WHY are you doing this?

      My and my husband’s WHY is our two children.

      We save money to give them experiences and opportunities that will provide the best possible chance of success in the future and so when they are adults, they fondly remember their childhood.





      Making memories.

      What is YOUR why? (There’s no wrong answer, but you do need a WHY if you want to succeed.)

      And whether its for big dreams or unexpected unknowns, we are all saving for one thing: the future.

      Right now, PurePoint Financial, a new hybrid digital bank, is surprising Tampa Bay residents by letting them literally open the door to the possibilities ahead with the “Unlock Your Future” red door art installations at their banks and an opportunity to win $10,000 toward their saving goals.

      What is “Unlock Your Future”?

      Lemme tell ya.

      This past week, PurePoint Financial placed red doors across Tampa at the International Mall, Channelside, and at PurePoint Financial’s Westshore location. These red doors unlocked murals by local artist Carlos Culbertson, which are inspired by what Tampanians are saving for.

      Put your money in a savings bank at Purepoint Financial | The Champagne Supernova

      Did you know that 47% of Tampanians stated a dream vacation was their inspiration for saving?

      Nearly 50% of Tampanians are saving for a down payment on a home or to make improvements on their existing home.

      Not all the savings goals are fun. 28% of Tampanians are saving for family health and wellness expenses.

      Never heard of PurePoint Financial? It is a bank that facilitates the modern way to save- online, over the phone, and in person. PurePoint offers market-leading CD and savings rates, no monthly fees, and all the flexibility and convenience of online banking with 24/7 access from your computer, tablet, or mobile devices. PurePoint has financial centers at select locations staffed by knowledgeable team members who are committed to providing exceptional customer service.

      Save money for your future at PurePoint Financial bank | The Champagne Supernova

      Each PurePoint Financial center has a modern and cashless experience with a smaller footprint than traditional banks, with each facility averaging only 2,000 square feet. The financial centers have beautiful decor, a relaxed setting, and hospitality area. Sixteen PurePoint Financial centers are open in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Miami, and Tampa areas, with others, including New York, scheduled to open later this year.

      If you can’t make it to see the doors this week, don’t fret. Between now and June 30, 2017, you can still enter the sweepstakes for the chance to win $10,000 at any of PurePoint Financial’s three Tampa Bay financial centers, which are located at:

      • 1510 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa, FL;
      • 2421 4th St. North, Suite 102, St. Petersburg, FL; and
      • 30541 US Hwy 19 North, Palm Harbor, FL.

      Cheers to PurePoint Financial and good luck in meeting your savings goals.

        Divorce: The Unobvious, Dirty Truth

        Things people need to expect when they are divorcing with children that most people won't tell you | The Champagne Supernova

        First comes love, then comes marriage… and sometimes comes divorce.

        I was recently reminded of this unfortunate truth when one of my favorite bloggers publicly and bravely announced that she and her husband were divorcing. They were high school sweethearts and share two young children.

        I have several friends and acquaintances who are either separated or divorced from their spouses. My own parents got divorced when I was in law school and while their maturity and religious faith enabled them to be good friends who get along well (thanks, Mom and Dad!), I witnessed the more difficult parts of their post-marriage journey as it was happening and while the wound was fresh.

        Divorce should be a judgment free zone, although it doesn’t usually happen that way. Nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors or truly understands the complexities of a relationship. Nobody appreciates how the intricate details of a childhood, career, and the very nature of our own idiosyncrasies play into a marriage.

        These divorce issues got me wondering about the aspects of divorce that most people don’t think about before they file? Sure, everyone anticipates that it will be really hard to share custody of their children, but what are the things that happen “in the dark” that people don’t realize until they are sitting in it?

        While I am an attorney, my forte is not family law. So with the help of Tampa family lawyer, Christina Anton Garcia, and two of my divorced friends, John and Rachel, I got the good, the bad, and the ugly about the things people don’t realize about divorce until long after everything is signed and sealed.

        While all three of them had different insight about divorce, there was a common denominator: make the marriage work if you can. Go to counseling. Ask other people to support and pray for you. Be honest about your struggles. Do not get a divorce unless it is truly a last resort. “While it may not be ideal for business, Garcia says, I consider it a victory when a couple reconciles or if they reach an agreement that everyone is happy with and productively move on with their lives.”

        Hopefully these tips from people who have seen the trenches can help others who are considering or going through a divorce. And while all divorces are different, these tips focus primarily on those where children are involved.

        If You Have Kids, The Divorce is Never Really Over. Your former spouse will always be in the picture, whether it is during holidays, birthdays, weddings, custody pick-ups/ drop-offs, and even having to communicate with them if your child has a bad report card or gets in trouble at school. You will always have to contend with your former spouse, so you better make sure for you kids’ sake and for your own that you get along. Fighting with your former spouse and speaking poorly about them to others and to your children only makes the kids more stressed out and will not make you feel better. Absent something truly egregious, you should be civil with your former spouse and treat other with respect. “You have to get used to the flavor of your own tongue by “biting it” when considering an argument,” advises John. “You have to ask yourself how the argument will affect your children and if its really worth it.”

        The Silence Can be Crippling. “The Sunday nights my daughter goes to her mom’s house can be lonely and quiet,” said John. “This was especially true immediately after the divorce. While the loneliness has waned over the years, without fail I always recognize the silence when I walk through the door after I drop her off. It can be tough looking at her books or toys knowing she will be living ‘her other life’ for the next week.” John deals with the silence by setting up dates, meetings with friends, and working out on Sunday nights in an effort to productively deal with the loneliness. Rachel also recommends working out. “I was in the best shape of my life right after the divorce because I worked out all the time to avoid going back to my apartment and succumbing to the loneliness. At least you will have a rocking body and it’s healthy compared to other bad habits,” she said.

        Life Goes On. It is strange that weddings can involve years of planning and plenty of celebratory fanfare, but a divorce is over with the stroke of a pen. John recalled the day of his divorce, a Tuesday, went on as normal for the world around him but seemed surreal at the time for him personally. While he is happy to be divorced and knows it was ultimately the best choice, he was faced with a complex array of taxing emotions that he would not wish on anyone. Rachel described her divorce as a “permanent wound that never goes away, you just have to heal to the best of your ability. When it flares up and eats away at you, you have to put the Band-Aid back on and keep moving.”

        The Dating World Has Drastically Changed Since You Were Single. Couples dating for a decade or longer likely did not have to deal with the complexities of social media, text messaging rules, or “Netflix and chill” style dates. When I met my husband in 2005, dating websites like were considered taboo. Now they are common and accepted. (Popular dating apps like Tinder and Bumble did not exist.)  I didn’t have to adhere to rules about posting my husband’s picture on Facebook, whether it was too soon to be “checking-in” with him at a specific location, or worrying about how soon I should respond to a text message. John warns, “these are all very real issues in today’s dating world and you must learn the ropes.”

        There Will Be Lifestyle Changes. Rachel and her former spouse were both professionals who earned six-figure incomes. However, she said it took her 6 months to a year after her divorce to learn how to budget without her spouse’s financial contribution. Even though Rachel earned a nice income, she was making poor financial decisions and spending money on unnecessary things. “I was still living as if I had a partner who could contribute to a fancy vacation or a shopping spree. Everything started adding up and I watched my savings as it dwindled,” she said. Rachel now tells those on the verge of divorce to start living like they are single and stop expecting the other spouse’s help. She advises those without high earning capacities to retain a good attorney who will help obtain adequate support and to be prudent with money. Realize that life may never be the same. You may not get to stay at the Ritz anymore. You may not get to play tennis at the country club. You may not be dining at Michelin-rated restaurants. You may have to sell your 3,000 square foot home and move into a tiny rental. While these luxuries are not the “important” things in life, they are things Rachel wishes she would have kept in mind post-divorce.

        You Will Have to Find Other Ways to Fill Your Time. Life after divorce can be drastically different. Friends you and your spouse hung out with as a couple are no longer there. People can feel awkward and change around you. You will not always want to go places as the single person and be the fifth wheel. The divorce itself can be all-encompassing but once it’s over, you will have to find new ways to fill your time and there will be a void. It can be easy to fill this void with drugs, alcohol, or other people and relationships. “The last thing you want to do is jump into dysfunctional activities or relationships without giving yourself sufficient time to heal from your marriage just because it’s easy and temporarily fills the void. You will only be more damaged in the long run,” advises John. You can productively fill the void by exercising, getting involved in professional and civic organizations, and putting energy into developing your talents and hobbies.

        You Can Become Engulfed in Emotions. Even in situations where the divorce is a positive thing, you can become engulfed in emotions. Rachel chose to end her marriage and while she doesn’t regret that decision, she has a difficult time remembering her painful post-divorce emotions. “After the divorce, I tried to act strong in public but sitting in my tiny apartment I was a complete and utter emotional wreck. I couldn’t look at my child without crying that I had done this to her. I would sit on the porch at my apartment at all hours of the night smoking cigarettes, crying, and staring off into space. Inside the apartment I felt a loneliness I had never felt before. I was scared of the future. I was scared of the present. I was just flat out scared and alone. Sure I had friends who came over all the time. They would listen and ask questions but they always left and the loneliness would engulf me. These feelings lasted nearly a year.”

        You Will Need to Seek Professional Help. Everyone agreed that weekly therapy from a professional counselor is necessary to productively survive a divorce. Counselors specialize in helping people get through the process and you can talk to them about things you will not or cannot talk about with your friends or family. You also need to understand that you will likely get depressed or anxious. There is nothing wrong with temporarily taking medications if you need to do so. It is also acceptable to succumb to the sadness. While nobody died, the end of a marriage feels pretty close to it.

        You Will Need to Focus on Creating a Safe and Loving Environment for Your Children. You will need to put your own emotions aside and work hard on creating a home environment where your children will feel safe and loved. Forget about all the “things” you no longer have like the big kitchen, large master bath, the pool, and the two-car garage. None of those things matter. What matters is that your kids feel like they are loved and like they are safe. Rachel advises, “your children will get through the divorce experience substantially better if they come out with good memories of their new living arrangements rather than remembering their parent constantly complain about how inadequate it is.”

        You Will Need to Stop Being Petty. Deal with child custody arrangements first and then move onto the financial aspects. “My spouse and I had a brief war over who got what skymiles and hotel points… it’s not worth it,” warns Rachel. “Kids should come first. Stop being petty.” Further, unless you agreed to a lump-sum divorce fee, family lawyers bill by the hour. Arguing with your spouse over trivial things will cost you.

        You Will Need to Be Positively Comfortable With the Custody Plan. Be sure before you sign off on a parenting plan that you think it’s the best option for you. Once the judge approves the parenting plan, it is very difficult and a very hard burden to get changed. Think about the logistics of the proposed plan before you agree to anything.

        You Will Need to Be Prepared to Be Judged. Post divorce, friends, family members, and acquaintances will judge you for everything, so be emotionally ready for it. People will take sides even if they only heard one side of the story. They will judge you if you date and they will judge you if you don’t. They will judge you if you continue working and they will judge you if you take some time off. They will judge you if you take on new hobbies and they will judge you if you become a recluse. You can’t win and you won’t win. While it will hurt, you need to be prepared to shake if off.  The good news is you will learn who your true friends are.

        You Will Need to Be Ready to Co-Parent. Gwyneth Paltrow famously used the term “conscious uncoupling” to describe her divorce from Chris Martin. Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck famously take their kids on family vacations together. “My ex and I took our daughter to Disney for her birthday because she wanted both of us to be there. While I had anxiety leading up to it and my friends thought we were crazy, we both put on a happy face so our daughter could have her birthday wish of all of us being there together,” recalls Rachel.

        You Will Need to Realize Life May Never Be the Way You Thought it Would Be. Accepting this is the final step toward recovery in a divorce.

        Feel free to reach out to Christina Garcia if you have questions about divorce or need recommendations for marriage counselors.


          How to Prevent a Hangover

          Foolproof way to prevent a hangover | The Champagne Supernova

          I recently attended a wedding just north of Atlanta the Saturday before Mother’s Day.

          The bride is a close friend and I was excited to get outta dodge for 36 hours to see her get hitched. I had plans of waking up early on Sunday to get the first flight back to Tampa so I could spend Mother’s Day with my family.

          My Mother-in-Law, Leslie, has a house near the wedding venue and was my “date” for the event, as my husband was also out of town on a marketing trip for business. (I know many reading this are shocked, but I hit the MIL jackpot. She’s young, not annoying, and doesn’t tell me how to raise my kids. We good.)

          As Leslie and I were getting ready for the wedding, I told her I was going to limit my alcohol intake to two glasses of wine the entire night.

          Famous last words.

          The wedding was truly spectacular. Gorgeous flowers. Beautiful scenery. Good company. A great song playlist. Delicious food.

          The party was rocking and the wine was flowing.

          And flowing.

          And flowing.

          I was over-served somewhere between Sweet Child O’ Mine and Summer of 69.

          (I also need to add this was a Jewish wedding. Which is relevant because anyone who’s ever attended a Jewish wedding knows there ain’t no such thing as a bad Jewish wedding. The tribe knows how to throw down.)

          Me with the handsome bride and groom.

          I ended up passing out in my dress and a full face of make-up.

          The latter, for me, is a cardinal sin.

          I woke up in the morning feeling terrible and not knowing how I was going to muster up the strength to get to the airport, which is an hour drive from Leslie’s house.

          I felt so horrible that I couldn’t eat or drink anything all morning.

          Not water.

          Not Gatorade.

          Not Advil.

          Not alka-seltzer.

          Not even crackers.

          In fetal position on Leslie’s bathroom floor. Sweating. Shivering. Whimpering. Dizzy. Bargaining with God.

          How on earth am I going to make it through the car ride to the airport? How will I get on a plane and make it through the entire flight back to Tampa?

          I wanted to die.

          Through tears, I found the strength to get dressed, get myself and my suitcase down stairs, and into Leslie’s car.

          Leslie subsequently told me she knew it was time for me to go home when she looked out on the dance floor and saw me whipping my ponytail around like a helicopter propeller.

          At the airport, I looked like someone beat me up. Sweaty hair slicked back in a bun. Zero makeup. Red, swollen face.

          No bueno.

          When I arrived at my gate, I heard an attendant announce the flight would be full so “everyone get cozy.”

          When I got on the plane, I bolted straight for the nearest window seat. Probably not the best choice given my situation, but I am terrified of flying and need to be able to see what’s happening outside.

          I found a vacant seat near an older man wearing a Marines t-shirt. The middle seat was empty until “teen mom” came along (she couldn’t have been older than 19) with her 18-month old son, who remained on her lap the entire time. He kept touching my leg, kicking the seat in front of him, and screaming, but I couldn’t hear him over the sound of my beating head.

          Midway through the flight, I started feeling sick.

          Oh no!

          I grabbed the bag that was inside the seat pocket in front of me, wedged myself between the back of the seat and the window, and threw up as quietly and classily as possible.

          (And I will say, it was pretty darn quiet. Nobody turned around or gave me any strange looks and I couldn’t hear anyone talking about it.)

          When I was finished, I sat back in my chair and awkwardly made eye contact with Teen Mom next to me.

          She looked confused and disgusted. Like “is this really happening?”

          So I said the first thing that came to mind.

          And I’m not proud.

          Sorry…. I’m pregnant and have morning sickness.

          (Look, I know pregnancy is nothing to joke about and is absolutely a non-P.C. thing to say but, in my mind, lying about being pregnant was better than having this stranger think I was a 35 year-old irresponsible lush who can’t hold her alcohol and was trying to get back to Tampa to be with her kids for Mother’s Day.)

          Teen Mom looked at me with sympathetic eyes, likely because she remembered feeling sick when she was pregnant with the tyke on her lap.

          She then glanced at my stomach and said:

          Awwww…. I can see your baby belly!

          I was mortified.

          No honey, I thought, what you’re seeing is a combination of last night’s beef tenderloin, brussels sprouts, and challah bread. 

          I deserved the comment. And it was hilarious. And proof there’s a God and He’s got a sense of humor.

          I had it coming.

          I didn’t feel sick again the rest of the way home.

          My flight arrived back in Tampa at noon and I spent the rest of the day with my husband and kids at our neighborhood pool.

          I couldn’t eat any food until 3 p.m.

          Then I got to thinking. At my age and life circumstances, nothing is worth a hangover. Nothing. Sure, the wedding was a blast, but I should really have cooled it after the second glass of wine.

          The only real way to completely prevent a hangover is to not drink a dang thing.

          Mazel Tov and Cheers to the happy couple. I’ll never forget their wedding or the crazy story that came from it.

          And I never want to see a glass of red wine ever again.

            Saving Money: Why Ting Mobile Makes Perfect Sense

            How Ting Mobile is a great way to save on your cell phone bill | The Champagne Supernova

            This blog post is proudly sponsored by Ting Mobile. However, all opinions are the real deal. 

            I like saving money.

            As a working parent, I work hard for my earnings and see them dwindle away so quickly each month.

            Dance recitals. Tennis lessons. Gymnastics. Birthday parties. School uniforms. Doctor co-pays.

            Sometimes I feel like The Bank of Mom.

            As my monthly cell phone bill with my current provider is $150.00, I was excited about the opportunity to work with Ting Mobile and learn about their (extremely) low cost cellular services.

            Low. Very low.

            In fact, the base cost for Ting is $6 per month (you read that correctly!) for a phone line. Usage is shared across all devices. The more phones on a Ting account, the less you pay per phone.

            Ting is pay-per-use, so you don’t have to sign up for any type of plan. Your usage during the month (phone minutes, text messages, and data) is what you pay for at the end of the month. What’s great is that minutes, messages, and data are all billed separately.

            There are no contracts, overage fees, or other hidden B.S. (Pardon-a my French). You can try Ting for one month and leave the next month if you aren’t happy.

            The vast majority (80%) of all phones manufactured in the last few years will work with Ting, so it’s likely the phone you already own is one of them. All you need is a Ting SIM card to get started. You can buy the phone from the Ting shop here (they are a verified seller of Apple iPhones!) or bring your own phone, based on your preference.

            Ting has an easy-to-use phone compatibility checker you can use here so you can check RIGHT THIS MOMENT whether your phone will work with Ting.

            Another great quality of Ting is that you don’t have to worry about having bad service. This is because Ting uses both Sprint and T-Mobile towers- you can choose the network that has better coverage in your area. In other words, Ting clients have identical network experience as people who are signed up directly with these carriers.

            I can vouch firsthand this is completely accurate, as I used my Ting phone in a rural area of Georgia (along the Appalachian trial) earlier this month with zero coverage issues and complete service. High five, Ting!

            How to save money using Ting Mobile | The Champagne Supernova

            My littlest homey loves Ting!

            Ting has also created an eBook on how to lower your data usage, which helps Ting customers save money on their monthly bills. Read it here.

            One of my favorite things about Ting is their customer support involves calls that are actually answered by real, live people. No more having to press a series of numbers to get to the right department. Gone are the days of waiting on hold for twenty minutes to have your questions answered. Say adios to fruitlessly having to communicate with a computer.

            I witnessed this personally when I called Ting last week after I was having (minor) issues setting up the Wifi on the iPhone 6 they sent to me. I was greeted by a friendly woman named Melissa on the second ring (!!) Melissa walked me through a couple steps to help troubleshoot the issue. She even called me back five minutes later to ensure there were still no issues.

            You read that correctly. She called me back.

            How is that amazing customer support for you? 

            (Check out Ting Mobile’s Youtube channel highlighting their bar-none customer service here.)

            Another thing I love about trying Ting? When switching over from your carrier, you can keep your existing phone number.

            You don’t need permission from your provider to keep the number. You just keep it.

            That means you don’t have to waste precious time sending mass texts to all of your contacts notifying them that you have a new number.

            (And nobody wants to be held hostage on a mass text, anyway.)

            Setting up my Ting took five minutes. I got the new iPhone directly from Ting, activated the SIM card online, and set up the iPhone. Boom. Done.

            Give it a try and find out why Ting is the mobile that makes sense.

            Use the promotion code of and receive $25 off your bill. So you’re getting a month for free as the average bill is just $23 a month per phone.

            Cheers to saving money! Cheers to Ting!

              Educators Weigh In: How to Raise Successful Children

              Teachers give advice on how to raise successful children | The Champagne Supernova

              Is there a magic formula for how to raise successful children?

              What are the common denominators for children who flourish versus those who fail?

              In my life, I’ve witnessed some children grow into successful, contributing adults and others  fall into the trenches and never seem to recover.

              In this post here, I wrote about an adolescent friend who came from a background of abuse, neglect, and poverty. While unfortunate, it was no surprise she grew into an adult who couldn’t overcome her rough upbringing and has already taken steps to repeat the sad cycle with her own children.

              On the other hand, we also know children who seemingly came from loving and supportive homes (while not knowing what goes on behind closed doors) who also managed to fall off track.

              We’ve also heard of the kids who, despite terrible upbringings, beat the odds and manage to become adults who are financially secure leaders.

              As the working mother of two very young girls, I often wonder “what gives?”

              And while my children will ultimately make their own decisions, I want to arm them with the best resources and emotional support possible to ensure those decisions are good ones.

              Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do?

              Although there is no such thing as a parenting expert, which I wrote about here, and no absolute way to prevent parenting screw-ups, there must be some commonalities in parenting styles that pushes children toward success.

              To learn these denominators, I enlisted the help of four longtime educators.

              These educators have taught a range of age groups between preschool and high school and have a combined total of one hundred fifty years of experience.


              150 years.


              150 years > My five years of experience in winging it with raising my children.

              150 years > My observations of the 18 years my parents raised me.

              150 years > My own 35 years of life experience.

              These educators have taught children with special needs, troubled youth, and teen moms.

              They have also taught children who were go-getters and natural born leaders.

              They have students who have been murdered during violent acts and other students who became CEOs.

              Most importantly, these educators have been around long enough to see which students have failed and which have succeeded.

              What gives?

              We already know that kids whose parents read to them are more likely to succeed.

              I wanted something more than that.

              I wanted to dig deeper.

              Based on their observations, I have compiled these denominators of success that are not always included in lists from parenting magazines, the Internet, and Dr. Phil.

              If you want your child to have a better chance at succeeding…

              1. Let them Fail. Children will never learn important life lessons when their parents constantly fix grades, do their homework (e.g. “Daddy-Did-It-Science-Fair-Projects”), meddle in their social problems (absent bullying or safety issues), have a fit about not making a sports team, and pout about not being elected to student government office. Children need to learn from their own failures. While it can be hard for parents to watch this happen, sometimes it’s the only way.

              2. Encourage them to Self-Advocate. If your child gets a poor score on an exam or project, encourage them to ask the teacher why. If your child is shy, have them read the assignment back to you and explain where they may have gone wrong. Then ask what the teacher’s exact feedback was. Often, these discussions are eye-opening for both the parent and student. The worst thing a parent can do is contact a teacher and accuse the teacher of being unfair or demanding a complete explanation the second the grade appears. Let your child take ownership of the problem and figure out a solution. Of course, if both of you look at the assignment and honestly do not understand, a calmly written email that is non-accusatory works best.

              3. Let Teenagers be Teenagers. They do stupid things. They date the “wrong” people. They forget things. Their brains have not fully developed and they do not think clearly. As long as being stupid doesn’t cause bodily injury or trouble with the law, accept that it happens. When it does happen, give appropriate consequences, but not with a life-long label.

              4. Limit Social Media and Electronics. Things like social media and texting have hurt the way children interact with each other and with adults. Encourage your children to have emotional intelligence. This means picking up the phone or sending a good “old fashioned” card to a friend for their birthday instead of a text. Teach them to resolve problems in person and not over email or publicly through Facebook. For those who do have social media, know all of their passwords and continuously monitor their profiles. Set firm times on when to unplug electronics in the evenings before bed.

              5. Show an Interest in their School, Education, and Interests. Make the time to attend Open House, parent-teacher meetings, school plays, science fairs, field trips, and sporting events. Consider joining the PTA. While this can be more difficult for working parents, make it a priority to show your children that their education and interests are important.

              6. Do Not Live Vicariously Through Your Children. Just because you dreamed of being a star quarterback does not mean your son wants to sweat and hang out in the locker room. If your son wants to take theater, so be it. If your daughter wants to play football, make sure she has a chance to do so. Their dreams are theirs; your dreams are yours. See also:

              7. Do Not Push Them into Classes. No matter how intelligent your child is, if they say they are not ready for high school classes in middle school or college classes in high school, then let it go. Research is now showing that neither really help and many of these students burn out before they get to college. No matter how ready younger students are academically, very few are ready emotionally. More colleges are saying, “That’s nice you had Spanish I and II in middle school, we still want two years in high school.” Instead of pushing college courses to save money, encourage children to take something that interests them that they will never again get the chance to explore.

              8. Have Clear, Concise Rules. Stick to these rules with clear, fair punishment. Children need consistent boundaries.

              9. Provide the Presence of Caring Adults. In the age of the Modern Family, this looks like different things. It can be caring parents, grandparents, friends’ parents, coaches, teachers, or church leaders. These adults need to be there to listen, provide guidance, and set developmentally-appropriate expectations. Notably, children who have supportive adults in their lives often have better vocabularies and increased senses of trust.

              10. Be Open with Them. Talk about sex, alcohol, drugs, and other difficult subjects. Talk about this some more. If you don’t, their friends will.

              11. Exhibit Mutual Respect. While parents need to remember that they are not their children’s friends, they need to give them respect and dignity. Children who feel a sense of respect from their parents will often have respect for themselves.

              12. Teach Them Compassion for Others. Successful children are emotionally intelligent. They had adults who taught them that their actions can impact other people and life isn’t “all about them.” They are able to verbally express themselves well to both adults and peers. They are considerate of other peoples’ feelings and do not put others down to make themselves feel better (we know this doesn’t work anyway.)

              13. Let Them Decide Where to go to College. You are a third generation Gator, but the fashion marketing program at FSU is better; get over it and let the child go to FSU.

              14. Do Not Involve Them in your Divorce. It is not their fault your relationship failed, but they blame themselves. You must love your children more than you dislike your former spouse. Keep them out of the drama. Show respect to the other parent. Be an adult.

              15. Provide Them with Coping Skills. Many adults and family members do not like children. A child must learn to cope with that person and when a child knows they matter to somebody, they cope in spite of the negative vibe. This can lead to success because they learn positive ways to cope at an early age. You don’t want them turning to things like alcohol, drugs, and sexual promiscuity to cope with life’s trials.

              16. Give Them Access to Experiences. Successful children often have access to experiences beyond the classroom. They are involved in sporting teams, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, 4-H, vacations, and cultural experiences. This does not always require tons of money. Young kids can learn as much exploring the beaches of free, local parks as they can on lavish vacations.

              There you have it. Common factors of success that have been observed by educators with 150 years of experience. 

              Cheers to you for wanting to raise children that will succeed. Cheers to their success.


                There are No Parenting Experts

                There's no such thing as a parenting expert | The Champagne Supernova

                Last year, I met an older man while I was on a layover at the Fort Lauderdale airport.

                Shook my hand.

                Asked me what I did for a living and what I was returning to in Tampa.

                I explained I was an attorney who blogged and did freelance writing on the side.

                He handed me his business card.

                Below his name was the title Parenting Expert.

                At the time, my then four-year-old daughter was in the throes of having inconsolable tantrums and I wanted his advice.

                Running into this guy was like hitting the lottery.

                Wide eyed, I asked, How old are your kids?

                I don’t have children.

                Bear hunting, I thought, He must have said bear hunting expert. Or patenting. He’s a patenting expert.

                Oh, I must have misunderstood. I thought you told me you were a parenting expert. What did you say you did for work?

                You heard right, I’m a parenting expert.

                But you don’t have children?

                He looked at his watch, said he needed to use the restroom, and walked away.

                Excuse me for assuming that one had to be a parent to be considered an expert in the arena!

                I know a secret.

                You know the people who consider themselves parenting “experts”?

                They don’t exist.

                The internet articles that profess the “Do’s and Don’ts” of child rearing?

                While offering useful advice, they’re mostly garbage.

                The people who sit on panels giving other people advice about how they should raise their kids because they are well-studied “experts” and, therefore, know much better than you do?

                They’re full of it.

                So are the people who don’t have children who hold themselves out to the public as parenting experts.

                There is no such thing as a parenting expert. Everyone is trying to determine how to nurture mother nature. Everyone is just trying to figure it out.

                I’ll tell you a personal story.

                My oldest daughter, now five, has a lot of grit. She says what’s on her mind and likes to do what she wants to do, when she wants to do it. It can be difficult for her to control her emotions (She get it from her Mama…) and raising her has been challenging.

                (Another personal sub-story: when I was pregnant with her, I prayed that God would give me a spitfire instead of a wallflower. I absolutely got what I wished for.)

                When my daughter was two, she started having inconsolable tantrums.

                Some of them lasted for hours.

                She would frequently wake up in the morning and hysterically sob without any known reasons. Her teachers often complained the tantrums disrupted the entire class and would be triggered for silly reasons, one of them being that a classmate simply made eye contact with her. Sometimes during the tantrums, my daughter would become so enraged that she would bang her head on the ground. The tantrums were making her sick and sometimes she would get so worked up that she would vomit.

                There was once a time where my daughter was having such a bad tantrum at daycare during drop off that I had to toss her over my shoulder and carry her all the way back to my car kicking and screaming. In the two-minute trek between the classroom and the parking lot, I received text messages from three different friends who witnessed the ordeal and were offering their compassion.

                Stay strong! Been there and it’s the pits. 

                I sat in my car and sobbed to myself.

                Why is she doing this? Where have I failed along the way?

                My husband and I fruitlessly tried everything we could imagine to stop the tantrums.

                Google searches. Appointments with her pediatrician. Meetings with teachers and guidance counselors. Asking other parents. Calling my mom and grandmother. Reaching out to nannies and caregivers with extensive childcare experience. Reading parenting books.

                We heard and read the same piece of advice from the “experts” over and over again.

                She’s a smart girl who is trying to control the family with the tantrums. You must completely ignore them and they will go away. If you coddle her and give attention to the tantrums, they will indefinitely continue. It is critical that you pay them no mind and be patient. She’ll eventually grow out of it. 

                So that’s what we did.

                We ignored the tantrums.

                But they got worse.

                One day, during an hour-long tantrum that was triggered by something ridiculous, I defeatedly got down on my daughter’s level, looked her in the face, told her I loved her, and gave her a hug.

                The tantrum stopped almost immediately.

                We did a few more modifications, such as an earlier bedtime and implementing a strict “time-out” policy but, in sum, the major catalyst for the tantrums ending involved simply getting down on her physical level (e.g., my hands and knees) and hugging her.

                This was exactly what all the “experts” told us not to do.

                Here’s the deal.

                Nobody really knows what they are doing.

                All children are different. Just because something works for 99.9% of the population doesn’t mean it is a perfect fit for your child.

                Unless you have a rule-following “kid in a box,” you have to do everything you can do until you solve the problem.

                Even if it means doing what the “experts” tell you not to do.

                One of my friends compared parenting to a scratch-off ticket. You just have to keep trying different options until you hit the jackpot.

                And here’s another thing.

                Don’t feel like you are a bad parent just because your kid’s behavior stinks.

                Keep doing your best and it will probably stop.

                Speaking from experience, I felt like a failure that my husband and I couldn’t quickly get a handle on my daughter’s emotions.

                My negative thoughts began snowballing into irrational catastrophes.

                What if she’s nuts? What if this continues and she gets kicked out of school? What if this behavior rubs off on her little sister? What if, what if, what if?


                I was going crazy.

                For nothing.

                The tantrums eventually subsided. Don’t get me wrong, she still occasionally has them, but they are age appropriate we are usually able to stop it and notice a correlation to lack of sleep the night before.

                Girl needs her beauty rest.

                Thank God we didn’t rely on the “experts.”

                You know your child better than anyone else. Go with what feels right in your gut.



                  Sprouts Farmers Market: Open for Business in Tampa

                  Sprouts Farmers Market open in Tampa Bay | The Champagne Supernova

                  Holy Cow! Me and Ole Bessie from Dakin Dairy Farms, a featured dairy product available at Sprouts Farmers Market.

                  Sprouts Farmers Market proudly sponsored this post. 

                  I gotta tell you.

                  I routinely work for large and small brands promoting their products in exchange for compensation.

                  Hey, the blog ain’t gonna pay for itself. Either will my ombre.

                  Sure, I would never push a product or service that I didn’t legitimately like.

                  Then, I was introduced to Sprouts Farmers Market and fell in love.

                  Never heard of them until two months ago when someone from their public relations team asked me to use my mom blogger skillz to help generate enthusiasm about them coming to Tampa and, specifically, their grand opening in Carrollwood.

                  (The Carrollwood Store enjoyed it’s grand opening today, February 22, 2017, and a location will open in South Tampa in May of 2017.)

                  I researched the company, felt their mission to make healthy, organic foods more affordable for families using local farmers and businesses, was in line with my own values and agreed. But I had never been to a Sprouts Farmers Market until yesterday when I attended a sneak peek for bloggers.

                  And I fell in love.

                  In case you missed my other posts, Sprouts Farmers Market is an organic niche grocery store chain that is based in Phoenix. It opened it’s very first Florida store in Carrollwood located at 15110 N. Dale Mabry Highway.

                  When I arrived, the store was immaculate and each department was easy to find, so I didn’t have to try to figure out where to go. (The interior is around half the size of a Publix or Sweetbay).

                  I took a tour and learned that Sprouts’ fresh produce department made up a quarter of Sprouts‘ total business, with the store carrying nearly 200 organic varieties. Best of all, the prices are roughly 25% less than conventional grocery stores because of the strong relationship Sprouts has with local farmers. For instance, I noticed customers can grab a carton of strawberries for $1 each and a pound of ground beef for $1.99 this week.

                  Pretty incredible.

                  My favorite area of the store was the cosmetics, wellness, and vitamin department. Most of the products were cruelty-free, vegan, and did not contain toxins like sulfates, parabens, mineral oil, and artificial fragrances. (I’m all into safer skincare.) Even Sprouts’ brand products smelled delicious and were reasonably priced.

                  Sprouts open for business in Florida | The Champagne Supernova

                  Collection of soaps and other natural beauty products in Sprouts’ cosmetics department

                  I purchased Sprouts’ brand shampoo for the girls’ and enjoyed bath time tonight when they got to use it for the first time. Smelled amazing.

                  Other features that I love about Sprouts is the fresh juice bar, the delicious salad bar (that even contains pre-made wedge salads, certainly unique), and the enormous selection of craft beer, many of it coming from breweries local to Tampa Bay.

                  Sprouts Farmers Market is now in Florida | The Champagne Supernova

                  Ready-to-go wedge salad in Sprouts’ fresh salad bar.

                  Sprouts Farmers Market makes fresh juices that are healthy | The Champagne Supernova

                  Collection of fresh juices made fresh daily.

                  Sprouts Farmers Market has a large collection of local beers | The Champagne Supernova

                  I’ll take all of them. Along with an IV to pump it directly into my blood stream after this crazy week at work.

                  If I didn’t have to pick up my kids from school, I easily could have spent a couple hours in the store checking out all of their delicious foods and unique brands.

                  I’m so excited to support this business and hope you’ll feel the same way. Check it out this weekend.

                  For additional savings, check out Sprouts’ Mobile Coupon program, which makes it even easier to save on Sprouts’ already low prices. All you have to do is download the Sprouts app for Android or iPhone, create an account, digitally clip your coupons, then scan the barcode when you checkout. Easy, peasy. Here is the link.


                    Healthy Living: How to Save Money

                    How to save money by shopping at Sprouts | The Champagne Supernova

                    This post is sponsored with pride by Sprouts Farmers Market.

                    Eating healthy, wholesome foods can be expensive.

                    With the low price of value meals at popular fast food chains, it’s no wonder so many Americans are out of shape and not feeling their best.

                    Fortunately, Sprouts Farmers Market makes it possible to save money while eating well.

                    After all, “you work hard for the money… so hard for it, honey!”

                    Saving money is easy, and here’s how to do it:

                    Join Opening Day Fun. The brand-spanking new Carrollwood location of Sprouts Farmers Market will open to the general public on Wednesday, February 22, 2017, bright and early at 7 a.m. 

                    The first 200 shoppers in line (yes, there will likely be a line!) will receive a coupon for 20% off their entire purchase. Don’t worry, the line won’t be that bad because everyone waiting in line before the doors open will receive muffins and coffee samples. Further, every 15th customer at checkout will receive a coupon book of Sprouts savings.

                    Deals of the Month. Each month, Sprouts puts out a “Deals of the Month” flyer with additional promotions and coupons. These deals are often seasonally themed and have interesting recipes and tips. You can get these flyers near the entrance of your local Sprouts.

                    Subscribe to the Email List.  Stay up to date on Sprouts’ weekly specials by joining their email list, which you can do here. When signing up for their email list, don’t forget to register to win a cool new bike.

                    Tips for how to save money by shopping at Sprouts Farmers Market | The Champagne Supernova

                    Sprouts Brand Items. (These are my absolute favorite). Sprouts offers a private label brand which provides an easy, more clearly labeled and affordable way to purchase organic and healthy products. This private label brand offers a great selection of organic and natural products, as well as vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO varieties.

                    Bulk Bins. Fortunately for your wallet, bulk items don’t have the marketing or expensive packaging costs built into the pricing like your conventional brand items. There are tons of available bulk items including several varieties of nuts, beans, fruit, and dried rice… even chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth. Sprouts also carries 100 assortments of bulk spices for the baking enthusiast.

                    Read the Weekly Circular. Every week, Sprouts shares details regarding promotional items in a weekly advertising circular. The circular contains clear images, prices, and product descriptions to assist customers in creating their shopping lists. These ads run for eight days, so when they “double up” on Wednesday, the week of distribution, it’s called “Double Ad Wednesday.”

                    How to save money by shopping at Sprouts Farmers Market | The Champagne Supernova

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