Sunday, January 31, 2010

Happy Birthday to Jake!

Also known as everyone deserves Muddy's on their birthday. 

Jake's birthday was today. He's officially in a new demographic according to many geographers - he is 26! He's my old man now. The poor guy has a test tomorrow and Wednesday so he spent the day studying but we did manage to go to lunch with my parents at his favorite, the Happy Mexican - he loves the Shane King Burrito. My parents were so sweet and got a box of Muddy's cupcakes for us all and so we retreated back to their house for presents and cupcakes. They got lots of different ones (including my stand-by, the grasshopper). Everyone deserves Muddy's on their birthday. 

We had two left over and got sent home with them - one got a bit smushed on the way but you get the point. The left one is Jake's favorite, Frankly Scarlett, the red velvet, and on the right is a new contender in my eyes, the chocolate with cream cheese icing (which has some quirky name that I can't recall). The thing I love about Muddy's (besides the price) is that their cake to the cup cake is really moist and tasty. I'm not a huge cake person and usually love the icing but not the cake. In this case, they've got me hooked on their cake. 

The other thing about Muddy's is the atmosphere. It is such a cute, local, quaint place where, to quote Cheer's, everybody knows your name. Another cupcakery opened right down the road and despite the piles of icing they have on their cupcakes, you won't find me going there because I love the homegrown feeling of Muddy's. Support local business!

OK - off my soapbox (...stepping down...). Jake's birthday - we've spent the day inside because of studying and snow but honestly I'm glad to have the guy to myself all day even if he's studying. I love being able to go in and see him, nose in the books, studying away. It is really sweet. He's got an interview for med school in a week and I'm hoping big time that they finally see the light and let him in. He wants it so bad! 

Other than studying, Jake spent some time doing his next favorite activity, playing with our boys:
They love him. And a good belly-rub. 

Saturday, January 30, 2010

An Open Letter to IKEA

Dear Ikea, 

I'm a huge fun who resides in Memphis, TN. You guys over in Sweden may think Memphis is a stereotypical hick southern town, but in fact we are a booming metropolis and have many assets that would cause you to look into putting your next stateside IKEA location right here in Memphis, TN. 

Currently, you guys at IKEA have put your closest store 6 hours away from Memphis, in Atlanta, GA. I've been. It is glorious. The thing is, I think you may have something against the South. Other than Atlanta, the only southern IKEA store is in North Carolina. There are a few in Florida, but lets be honest - Florida isn't the south. Maybe you crazy Swedes think that us Southerners sit around in our overalls chewing on hay and sipping lemonade out of mason jars but that is far from the truth. Southerners love great looking household items at good prices just as much as our West Coast and New England counterparts. 

I'm writing to propose that you put your next IKEA store right here in the heart of Memphis - Midtown. There are some great properties at steals of prices. Midtown would be perfect. It is a happening place - the New York Times even thinks so. We've got all sorts of urbanites who could fill our renovated bungalows with Ektorp sofas and Hemnes bedroom furniture. And don't even get me started on your storage features. I've been lusting after a perfectly arranged closet ever since I visited your store three years ago. These Midtown houses have very little storage. 

A Midtown store would be a great asset to your company not just because us Midtowners clearly deserve an IKEA (Target has been teasing us with talks of a store for years now) but also because Memphis is in the heart of the Mid-South and is easily accessible to people from many surrounding places. With I-40, the major US interstate, running straight through Memphis, people could come from all over to visit your store. Think about all those Arkansans, Mississippians, Kentuckyites, and more who would mosey on over to visit the one and only IKEA. 

It is about time you European masterminds at IKEA came on down to the land of the blues, home of Elvis, to see for yourself why IKEA needs to put a store in Memphis. I'd personally shop there every week - it is a sacrifice I'm willing to make. I just can't drive 6 hours any more to get all the picture frames, assembled furniture, and meatballs that my heart desires. 

Personally yours, #1 IKEA fan in Memphis, 

Project Kitchen: Put a cork in it?

As you may recall from this post about my dream kitchen, I have an intense love for painted wood floors in kitchens. They're all the rave right now and we looked at a house with them and I fell in love. 

For a reminder, here's the picture I loved of the painted wood floors as seen in Coastal Living: 

The only problem is that we don't currently have wood floors in our kitchen. I can't fathom actually buying nice wood floors then painting them. It would be one thing if I had nasty ones (like I bet the ones in that house we looked at probably were) and I was trying to hide the fact. But new wood floors? Definitely not going to paint them. The other issue is that wood floors are comparably expensive and with our peasant sized renovation budget, probably not going to happen. 

But then fate intervened. I'd been hearing about cork floors for a while now - on HGTV, in talking to friends, etc. On the phone with our contractor/project manager for the house (and de facto member of the family due to time spent working with our family - I mean, he came to our wedding), he mentioned whether I'd seen any cork floors. They apparently are about the same price as tile and are easier to install. So, in true fashion, I googled cork floors. And look what popped up:

While not as shiny as my painted hardwood, it is the same idea. And it is more resilient for all the messes we'll have in our kitchen. And easier on the budget. And "green" too, I hear. I love it! This is definitely being filed away in my "idea" folder on my desktop for the renovation. 

Another thing that is funny about the picture above (which by the way is from Country Living) is that I was just telling my mom that above the counter with my gas range (so on the wall next to the stainless range hood) I wanted a stainless pot rack. And look what is on that wall - I mean really. Available at IKEA, I hear. Good thing I know some people planning to move to Atlanta for a job in a little bit... I sense a road trip coming on. 

A blustery day

Friday brought snow and ice to Memphis. Around these part we're not used to such foolishness. After hibernating all day inside, we ventured out down the two blocks to my parents' house for dinner. My dad made a cassoulet (french stew, apparently) and we hung around their house for a bit until their power went out. 

I snapped this picture on the way in of the ice coating their trees out front:

Friday, January 29, 2010

Project Kitchen: Inspiration

I love the internet. Why? Because in searching for pictures to inspire our kitchen renovation, all I had to do was google "kitchen galley white cabinet" and got this:

This is a house that is for sale in California - you can see their listing here. I don't own these pictures, clearly. 

While not EXACTLY like my space, it is pretty durn close and provides an excellent idea for me in exploring our renovation plans. We've got painted wood panelling in the kitchen instead of beadboard, but close enough. This wall with the sink is pretty much spot on what our wall there looks like. The banquette seating is where ours will be if we go that route except no bay window and where that door is would be a window. Also, I love the farm sink in the picture with the dark granite counters. Ahh..

From this picture you can see more of the kitchen. Where the door to their den is in the picture is where our pantry is. The fridge is where theirs is, just turned to face towards the kitchen because we've got a door to the dining room where the fridge cabinet is. 

This picture shows well the idea I had of narrower built in cabinets - except ours would be on the opposite wall, in between the kitchen and the banquette. The built ins have to be narrower than actual cabinets because the wall actually comes in a bit at the break in the kitchen. 
Check this out - I've been having issues with what to do with our microwave we don't have yet, since there is no space for it currently. This kitchen has it in their built in cabinet and even has a cool little shelf below it that pulls out. Love it!

I've been struggling with the question of what to do with our cabinets. Just for a reminder, they look like this currently:
Well after toying with the idea of just giving them a shiny gloss and new hardware, I decided that I do want to paint them (and of course give them new hardware). I figured this out because every time I saw a nice kitchen with wood cabinets I was just not as excited as when I'd find a picture of a kitchen with painted cabinets. Our cabinets aren't the square front door type, which bothers me, but I'll live. I thought we'd be able to just buy new doors for them and make them square front but turns out they are all different sizes and that will add up quickly when it comes to having to get them custom. 

(picture from Google shopper- a Frigidaire gas range)
The other thing about the inspiration pictures above is that I don't like the white appliances. We'll do stainless probably. We need new appliances. Washing your dishes before and after they go in the dishwasher isn't the most fun thing ever. For appliances, I'm definitely thinking a gas range is a must. I love this one I've posted above, but not its price tag. I'm a budget shopper and hope to find the appliances at a good price. Any ideas on where to go for that?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

House Tour: Back Bedroom (a glimpse)

So as you may remember from my anniversary post, Jake and I spent a few weekends ago working on our "master" bedroom. Here's the before as a reminder:

Well its not quite time for a true after but what we have gotten done:

- Painted the walls
- Hung a picture wall of Ellen's ginkgo pictures (I'm in love)
- bought a fancy antique four poster bed for a steal (but currently don't have rails for it yet..)
- finally put the dresser mirror on the wall
- started hanging curtains

What we need to do:
- assemble bed (see above comment about rails - currently the bed is leaning against the wall)
- put up two remaining curtains

So in the meantime, I'll share a project I did. Take a look at the picture above. Notice the bedside tables that are clearly a birch color, not the nice cherry that my dresser and newfound bed are? They were computer desks from my parents (so... free!) and just the right height for our bed. Also, see the awkward lamp shade? I tried to take the old lamp shade from a different lamp and spray paint/paint pen it. It was sad. No good. 

So, I did this:

First, the bedside table. I sanded, sprayed it with grey primer spray paint, then spray painted it with red spray paint. Let that dry (and ran to get more red paint...). Oh yeah - played with my new favorite toy, the plastic spray paint gun thing that makes my hands not cramp. Where has that been my whole house owning life?

After a lot of spraying and drying, I took giraffe scrapbook paper (since I love giraffe print and it is the "theme" of the room) and mod podged it to the top of the table (per La's idea - what a great one) and then used the scrap giraffes from the bottom to do an edge on the inside drawer: 

Also, at the same place I bought my awesome antique bed, I found a lamp shade for something like $3 that really dressed up my spray painted lamp (which I think I actually got from that same antique store about 4 years ago - I'll blog about my favorite antique store besides Sheffield's soon). I took the pictures that were stapled on canvas from our engagement party and used the mod podge to seal them on the canvas for a smoother look. 

Now I've just got to tackle the rest of the list and I'll be on my way to having a completed master bedroom!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Go there: Cafe Eclectic

Ever since Cafe Eclectic opened, Jake has said we needed to go there. Yet I have this complex where I really don't like trying new restaurants so I put off going there. We went once for dessert (when I got a King Leo Peppermint Sundae that was amazing) and looked over the menu. The thing is that at Cafe Eclectic when you look over the menu, nothing jumps out as AMAZING. Well at least not to me. So another six months went by and we didn't return (even though Jake has wanted a N'Awlins Dog ever since that dessert trip). 

Well luckily for Jake, Elise suggested Cafe Eclectic the other night for dinner. Deciding it was time to check it out, I agreed and off we were. That night I got the homemade mac and cheese with a "cute little salad" and was hooked. The mac and cheese was....oh goodness. Well lets say it was "amazing" and agree that there are no real words to describe it. I love mac and cheese and consider myself to be a mac and cheese critic so for me, this was it. The "cute little salad" turned out to be a DELICIOUS assorted greens salad with the most delectable vinaigrette dressing. See, I have an obsession with Stirling's coffee house in Sewanee because they have a homemade dressing and I crave it. And here I find that right down the street from me is the identical homemade salad dressing. Oh goodness. 

Anyway back to Cafe Eclectic. It was so good Tuesday night that Elise, Jake and I decided to walk there today. One of the (many) perks of living in Midtown is that there are great neighborhood shops right by. So, with the good weather on our side, we walked over to Cafe Eclectic, our own little neighborhood spot. This time I remembered to take pictures, like a good blogger. 

It was very crowded and we were surprised to find that they don't serve lunch until 1pm on Saturdays. We waited for a table and kinda sat around at the bar for a minute. Luckily the brunch crowd was clearing out (brunch must be good - there were a lot of people eating it) and we got a table. The service was kind of funky. On Tuesday night we'd had this cute waitress who was super friendly and fast. Today we had an older guy who was very nice but not attentive. We knew what we wanted and set down our menus (the universal sign in restaurant land that you're ready) and yet it took probably another ten minutes for him to come by to get our order. But we're nice so we were cool with it. Plus the food is good so it was worth the wait. 

The vibe of Cafe Eclectic is chill - modern yet cozy at the same time. There's a coffee bar where you can sit, there is a display case of baked goods (we're going to get some bread soon, I think), and then two rooms of tables. One thing I like is that even though it was full in there, it never seemed crowded or loud. Those things bug me. It was also clean, which is a good thing always.

Another cool thing about Cafe Eclectic is that they have fun sodas. Jake got a Cheerwine. I discovered that they have Mexican Coke. I love some Mexican Coke. See, in other countries they don't put high fructose corn syrup in their cokes. They put real sugar. So for a place to serve Mexican Coke is really exciting because it means I can have a "real" coke. It is $2.00 so I'd have to really want one, but it is bigger than a typical glass bottle coke. 

After a bit our food came. Jake got his N'Awlins dog (finally - he's waited six months) and I got a grilled cheese. They both came with the "cute little salad" that I love so dearly. I will say that if you choose correctly, lunch can be quite inexpensive there. My grilled cheese and salad was about $4 and Jake's dog and salad was $3 I think. Pair that with water and a slight tip and you're out of there pretty comfortably. 

There are many things on the menu that I need to go back and try (apparently the Chicken Pot Pie is a definite need to try dish) and they usually have a fun soup (Hamburger dill was on the menu one night). With it two blocks away, I'm sure I'll be hitting up Cafe Eclectic quite often in the future. 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A day gone to the dogs.

On Saturday, after a delicious lunch at Cafe Eclectic, we decided to take our doggies to the park. Well and by park, I really mean to the fenced in football field at Snowden Middle School (don't worry, we picked up their poo). 

See, a fenced in football field is advantageous for our dogs since they like to follow scents and wander. Luna Addington and her owner Elise came along as well. 

Beamer, Sebastian, and Luna proceeded to run after balls, chase each other, bark, and find every mud hole possible. 

Here's Luna and Beamer enjoying a good tennis ball...

Elise threw the ball for them, which was very nice. 


At the end, the dogs were just worn out. It was a good day and a good time with friends. 

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I mentioned that Ellen's birthday was Thursday. Friday night we had a ridiculously fun 80's themed skate party at Cordova Skating Rink. Elise hosted the party for Elle and all our favorite people were there. 

I decided to go Risky Business on the theme and took one of Jake's button ups and paired it with black leggings. I accessorized with hot pink sunglasses (at night) and an authentically 80's beaded necklace of my mom's.  

The best part? I used to be quite the avid rollerblader back in the day. And my mom saved these for me:

My blades. I got these in middle school and apparently my feet haven't grown since then. So last night I may have been the only one rolling into a 24 year old's birthday party at the Skate Center with my own blades but I was sure happy when I was whizzing by on the rink. 

What a fun night! Skating, 80's gear.... AND a Muddy's birthday cake. Happy Birthday, Ellen!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Ellen!

Yesterday was my dear friend Ellen's birthday. She got some great presents (read about them here: Ellen's blog

I also made Ellen a little something for her birthday and wanted to share it with you. For those of you that don't know Ellen, she is very artsy and has her own funky style. She is truly her own person and I love her for that. I wanted to make something for her to add to her art collection to hang in her house. 

Lately I've been doing a lot with mog podge and wanted to use it to make something awesome for Ellen. I went by the scrapbook store and got some cool scrapbook pages and an awesome bird sticker. The rest, as they say, is history:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Our next project.

We've hit a bit of a stall on our next project. I'm hoping for some completion in the next week - we'll see. 

Our "next project" is actually our first big project. So far we've painted, taken down doors to open the flow of the rooms, ripped down cabinets, simple things. This is a big thing. 

Currently we do our laundry in our kitchen pantry. It is not ideal for many reasons, some being that 1) you are doing your laundry in a kitchen, which weirds me out, 2) I'd like a pantry, 3) when you're standing in front of the dryer trying to get stuff out of the washer, you have to reach over the hot water tank to get there. 

For all those reasons and more, we've decided to move the laundry to a closet in the hall: 

This was taken standing in the living room, staring straight ahead at the bedroom hallway. Currently this closet (which, interestingly, was the exact right width for both a washer and dryer) is halfway done. Right when we moved in, we were all excited and got a plumber to put in our washer line (which was easy-ish since this backs up to a bathroom). To do so, we've got a big hole in the side of our house where he cut a new crawlspace - which is why we had this happen. We had an electrician come and wire the place. Now all that is left is for our contractor-friend to come and finish it all out. He's got to widen the door so we can have bi-folds, put in the finishing touches like plugs, and put the wall back together. 

We've already got a front-loader washer and dryer from Craig's List that was less than a year old. We'll have to show a picture when it is complete. I have plans..

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What have we been up to?

It's been a bit quiet on the blog front for me lately - one might wonder what we've been up to. 

Jake and I are celebrating our 1-year anniversary this weekend. We have been married a whole year now! It surely doesn't feel like a year and I take that as a good sign of what is to come. We had a big year (as witnessed by this post, our year in review) and know just as much now as we did last year that we are meant for each other. 

So what does a couple do on their one year anniversary? Well who knows what most couples would do, but what we're doing is tackling this:

Our bedroom. Sorry the picture is blurry - I was trying the whole "no flash makes the picture better" thing but I don't have the most steady hand. 

Our bedroom is a hodge podge of furniture - the dresser from my room growing up, my favorite turqouise console table I got in Knoxville at an antique store, our new queen matress (with no bed yet), two computer stands as night stands, and (what you can't see because it is in the corner) my favorite giraffe chair. 

My concept for this room was browns, turquoise, deep reds, and giraffe print. As of Saturday morning, the room was white like the rest of the house was at one point. Not anymore! The room is painted, I'm working on a few projects involving spray paint and scrapbook paper, searching for a good bed at a cheap price, and soon there will be the "after" picture to go with this ho-hum before picture.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Kitchen flooring?

It will be a while before we can begin our much anticipated kitchen renovation. We've got to get our contractor back over here to finish project #1 and also need to get our W2s in so we can do our taxes so that we can get our tax credit. 

Until then, I can do what I do best - plan. I've already posted ideas for the renovation here and here. Today I've been thinking about flooring. Here's what we're working with currently:

My favorite part of this flooring is counting how many people come in and say "this was totally in my grandmother's kitchen when I was growing up." As nostalgic as the floor may be, its seen its better days and there are tears in the floor. We think the floor was probably put in during the '70s when they did an addition to the house, extending the kitchen and adding on our den. 

Thinking about flooring, I've had some different ideas. We have a galley style kitchen, so long and narrow. When it comes to flooring because of that,we don't have much floor to cover which means it will be a bit less expensive. In our last place, we put in ceramic beige tile that we got for less than a $1 a tile at a home liquidator store (the same one where we got our mattress, actually). That is certainly an option because it looked nice. You can see it in this picture from our old kitchen. And yes, sometimes Tyson eats dog food. It is only fair since sometimes Beamer eats his cat food.

While tile is certainly a fine option, it isn't fun... So in exploring some other options, I've been thinking about hardwood flooring for the kitchen. I've read a lot of opinions on forums, especially ones from cooking sites where people actually use their kitchens on a daily basis, and it is about 70/30 as to whether they would recommend hardwood (70 for yes, 30 for no) for your kitchen. We've got oak floors throughout our house and I would love to put them in our kitchen and den when we do the renovation to give it a fluid feel throughout the house. It seems kind of expensive though (Lumber Liquidators is quoting me at 3.49$ a sq ft) for the spice oak, which I think is what we have in our house. 

Here's a picture I found of a kitchen with wood flooring. I really like the look...

photo from barefoot floors
By the way, I also really like the pendent lighting above the bar area in that kitchen as well... something I can think about with our planned little bar area. 

This kitchen picture also brings me to my next post in the future about a decision for the kitchen. We want to save our cabinets because they are in good shape. We'll change out the hardware and I need to decide whether to paint them or put a glossy stain on them. I've been leaning towards painting lately because I love the country look of a cream cabinet but this kitchen makes me want to stain them. Another post for another day. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

Make this: Double the fun - Chili and Pizza

With the cold weather the South has been having, coupled with the fact that Jake and I are seriously stretched with our budget right now, we made two dishes recently that both were economical as well as comforting. 

The first thing we made was chili. My dad's chili is amazing and I never thought I could even begin to make chili like him. This chili mix came first. About a year ago, Rachael and I went to this expo at the Agri Center here in Memphis and bought a whole bunch of soup, dip, and casserole mixes. I blogged about these mixes way back when my blog was a baby here when I made the Cheesy Chicken Enchilada soup mix. The company is called All of Us out of Louisiana.

All we had to do was take the soup mix (which was basically a ton of spices), add tomatoes (we chose two cans of "Chili Fixins" Rotel tomatoes), kidney beans, ground beef, and water and cooked it on low for an hour or so. It made a TON of chili (the package says 14 cups) and we'll be eating on it for some time. Last night we ate the chili "Petro" style with fritos, cheese, and sour cream. We're thinking about eating it with macaroni to have Chili Mac soon as well.

The other comfort food we made was pizza. I can always eat pizza. We try to change it up a bit each time and the one we made tonight was the best I've had in a while. A few months ago we bought a small jar of pesto. It was one of the best buys we've had in a while. We've used it for all sorts of things - Pesto Chicken, Pesto Pasta, Pesto Pizza. The pizza tonight was pretty simple, cheap, and easy but delicious. We used a Pillsbury crust and put pesto as the base, then mozzarella, feta, chicken, and spinach. It turned out well. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Frozen Pipes

Last week, Memphis had temperatures in the teens. In fact, some nights we got down in the single digits! We got out of school Friday due to concerns about the kids waiting on buses, walking to school, and being outside in general. While some laughed at this concept, I felt that the safety of the students was a concern, knowing how many of my kids walk to school. 

We had been keeping our faucets dripping throughout the day and night because of a worry of freezing pipes. Yet even with doing this, our pipes froze... Our bathroom sinks, toilets, and back shower had no cold water. Somehow our front tub was fine and the kitchen/laundry was fine as well. 

I wasn't too surprised because we've got a huge hole in the side of our house where the plumber created a new access point for our crawlspace. It was covered with just plywood. We wrapped some of the pipes prior to the freezing but it didn't help, I guess. We even kept cabinets open. It was just that cold under there. 

So what did we do? Well we were clearly worried about the pipes bursting. So we snaked an extension cord through the hole in our wall (more on why that is there later) and Jake crawled under the house to plug a blow dryer in to the cord. He tried blow drying the pipes - you don't want too much heat or else they'll crack apparently. 

After trying out the blow dryer, Jake borrowed a space heater from his parents. Ultimately that worked and our pipes thawed. Jake made sure to set the space heater on a cinder block for safety and we turned it off when we weren't home. We also turned it off overnight. 

So, for now we're out of the danger zone with our pipes. I sure am glad to have an operable toilet again!!

Jake's new Christmas toy

 For Christmas, Jake's parents got us (him) a smoker. Our friend Ed has one and smoked turkey and sausage for a party we went to and Jake was inspired. Jake's dad has a huge smoker and has always made awesome bbq so he thought it was time he got in on the game. 

The first opportunity he had to smoke something was the Tuesday of Beth and Eric's visit. We got a frozen whole turkey on sale for 39 cents a pound at Kroger - that put our total at about $3 for the turkey. We bought some Cajun Butter inject able marinade (Cajun Injector brand) for about $4. Jake had to stay home and write a paper for school anyway, so he spent the day smoking away. 

While we were out shopping, the turkey was cooking. By the time we got back from the zoo, it was almost done! We mis-timed just a little bit and had to stick it in the oven for about 10 minutes to finish it off. This didn't affect the flavor one bit though. 

I typically do not like turkey very much but this smoked turkey was moist, tender, and had a great flavor. It fed 4 people generously with enough left over for lunch. I'd say it was a good $7 spent for dinner! 
 Jake's next adventure with his smoker was on New Year's Eve when he smoked a pork shoulder and some sausage for our NYE party. Jake has already begun perfecting the art of smoking and really enjoys it. I would definitely recommend getting one!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

House Tour: Front Bathroom update

If you recall from this post, we spent some time painting and decorating our front bathroom. For Christmas we got some cute hand towels to go in the bathroom. One set is monogrammed and is from Jake's mom. The other set are zebra print (!!) and are from Jake's Gran. Now, you may know I have an obsession with giraffe print but I think I may have to add zebra to the list - see how cute they are?!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Make this: Sausage Rotel Dip

Our friend Heather is known for making an amazing dip that we all demand she brings to various occasions. She passed the easy easy recipe on to me and I changed it one tiny bit and now I'm addicted... it sounds gross when you hear the ingredients but believe me, it is amazing. 


2 packages fat free cream cheese (I mean you can use the regular kind... if you want..)
1 can Rotel tomatoes (we use the hot kind, that is our special twist)
1 package sausage (We use Tennessee Pride mild, you want a breakfast sausage)

Brown the sausage, add the rotel and cream cheese to the skillet, let it melt and stir, then serve with fritos. 

(I forgot to get a "done" picture of the dip because we all devoured it too quickly). 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Do this: Memphis visitor tour

As I mentioned before, two of my best friends Eric and Beth came in town over Winter Break. Eric and Beth are both 3Ls at UT Law School. We were all Orientation Leaders together at UT and grew close over the next few years at UT. Leaving Knoxville was hard because I left my two close friends but we've managed to see each other several times a year. 

They've both been to Memphis before, but I still wanted to share some of the treasures of Memphis with them during their 3 day stint in the River City. We had a great visit - ate great food, visited great places. Here's the run down of what we did:

Day One (Sunday): 
Beth and Eric arrived in Memphis around 4pm. I had a baked brie out and we sat around enjoying ourselves and catching up. We took a stroll through the new neighborhood with our dogs (Beth brought her baby basset, Toby) and enjoyed looking at the 1920's architecture of the houses. Jake made the Creamy Chicken Orzo for dinner - delicious. For dessert, we went to Paulette's and got crepes and coffee. It was delightful and sophisticated. 
Day Two (Monday): 
We bummed around all morning (mostly watching episodes of Dexter on Netflix instant streaming, a favorite of ours) and then went to the Midtown Central BBQ for lunch. Of all the BBQ spots in Memphis, this one is my favorite. Jake and I usually get a large order of the BBQ Nachos and split it. It is the perfect amount of food for lunch. Beth got some sauce while we were there. Full from lunch, we debated going home and napping but decided instead to take them on a driving tour of Downtown (it was 35 degrees outside). We drove over to Harbor Town and showed them our favorite parts of the island, including the playground by the river, the stream through the boulevard, and Miss Cordelia's. We then drove over to Front Street and South Main. We parked at the Civil Rights Museum with plans to go at 3pm when it was free. We had 2 hours to kill so we walked from there to the Peabody, had hot drinks and enjoyed the Christmas decor, and then walked over to A. Schwab's on Beale. We then walked back to the Civil Rights Museum right at 3pm to start our tour. 

The Civil Rights Museum is free from 3-5 on Mondays to TN residents (bring a TN ID). We walked through the exhibit, which  includes a lot of reading (I forgot my glasses..) but is impressive nonetheless. My favorite parts is seeing the motel room that MLK Jr. was in before he was shot and going across the street to see where the shots were fired from. Being from Memphis, civil rights and race relations are of interest to me and I was glad to share this slice of history with my friends (and especially for free). 

Photo source: AP file photo, google images

For dinner we went to Flying Saucer for Pint Night. Eric's girlfriend is German and Beth likes German food so we wanted to take them to the Saucer for brats. While Flying Saucer isn't specifically a Memphis thing, it has a great atmosphere and is a great price for food and beer on Monday nights. Brie and Travis met up with us for dinner and we enjoyed hanging out together. 

Day Three (Tuesday): 
Beth had been to Howard's Donuts with us when she was in town last time and had been talking about it ever since. I'm a Howard's fan but really think Gibson's Donuts are better. Because of this, I wanted to share Gibson's with Beth and Eric. We headed out to East Memphis for donuts (which were delicious as usual - and a steal at 5.45 for 6 donuts and three drinks) and then went out to Sheffield's Antique Mall for some antique-ing. You may remember from this post that Sheffields, which is in Collierville, is one of my favorite antique stores in town (the other? Bojo's on Summer). We had fun mulling around and Beth even found a cameo pin for a steal. 

After Sheffields, we went to Macys and hit up the 75% off racks. I got 7 items for under $100, including a Columbia fleece for Jake, my NYE dress, an INC knit summer dress, and several tops. Beth also fared well. Eric got to exchange some belts he got for Christmas since they don't have Macys in Knoxville. 

Post-Macys, we were famished and went to Huey's in Collierville. While I am a Midtown girl through and through, I didn't feel awful about eating at the Huey's in Collierville because we were hungry and all Huey's look exactly the same anyways. The food was exactly as always - perfect. Huey's is known for consistency and is a reliable place for good food. We got fried pickles as an appetizer (Beth and Eric share my love of fried pickles) and then each got a burger. They were very impressed. 

Full from lunch, we high tailed it from Collierville to Midtown to hit up the free admission at the Zoo. Jake and I are members but for non-members the one time price is a bit steep and we were glad to take advantage of Free Tuesday afternoons for TN residents. It was bitterly cold and some of the animals weren't out but we got to see the polar bears (who were enjoying the weather and very active), the sea lions, a sleepy grizzly cub, the wolves, elk, and pandas. Beth, being an AOPi, was especially excited about the pandas. I love showing off our wonderful zoo to visitors. I am very proud of it. 

Tuesday night we were exhausted. Lucky for us, dinner was taken care of. Jake had to stay home and work on a paper for school and decided to play with his new toy from Christmas, a smoker. He smoked a turkey and we had it for dinner. We ended the night by watching way too many episodes of Dexter. 

Day Four (Wednesday):
Wednesday brought the departure of my dear friends. I always try to get in a Bryant's visit when Beth and Eric come in town and so we headed out to Bryant's only to find out that it was (still) closed from Christmas. We had actually scouted this out earlier in the week and there was no closed sign showing their holiday closed dates so we thought we were safe but alas they were off enjoying a much deserved break. We decided on the second best option, Barksdale's and met up with Andrew, Dave, Rob, and Bonnie. Barksdale's was a solid good. I recommend their Greek omelette to anyone. 

After breakfast and showers, we said our goodbyes and my dear friends were on their way. It was a great visit and I can't wait to see them again. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wear this: Plaid Tunic (?)

I hit up the after Christmas sales over the winter break. Among my finds was this plaid tunic with gold stitching 50% off at New York and Company. I've been reading about how plaid is coming back in style and really couldn't wrap my head around wearing the "grunge" fashion for the second time in my life (I mean, I'm too young to have fashions come "back in style", right?). Yet when I found this, I thought I'd try it out...

Hit or miss?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My wish list... Kitchen/Den edition

I've been lusting after a few materialistic things lately. I guess having meager amounts of money and a lot of time will do that to you. Instead of going out and buying all these things with no actual money to back it up, I decided to blog about them so I can stare at them all day in web space (and share them with you!)

1. Great Dane Puppy - hey I know it isn't kitchen/den related but a girl can dream...

Photo from Big Dog Clothing

2. 2 Shallow built in pantry cabinets with plate storage in the center - for our dream kitchen... would look something like this but white:
Photo from McFurniture

3. Fenced in back yard - this one should happen soon...

4. Corner TV unit for our den, like this one from Home Decorators:

5. Spode Baking Days plates - we've already got the bake ware in the red dot pattern and I'd like to have the plate sets in assorted colors to go with it. I love polka dots...

photo from Gift Collector

6. Viking gas range - a huge stretch but if I found a used one on Craig's List I would totally go for it.

7. Corner breakfast banquette seating like this...

8. Birdie plates from Pier One - wouldn't this look cute in my new kitchen?

photo from Pier One

9. Painted wood floors - really I love everything about this kitchen. But the painted wood floors are awesome. We could install some wood floors in the kitchen and get them painted like this:

Photo from Coastal Living


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