Thursday, March 31, 2011

Make this: Black Bean and Avocado Salad

Our church has a college ministry at Rhodes called CORE (community of Rhodes Episcopalians). They ask families to sign up to make dinner for them and it is something my mom and I like to do - a good bonding opportunity for us, I suppose. 

On Sunday it was our turn for the semester. We made Leslie's Mac and Cheese with a black bean salad from Real Simple as the side:
 We followed the recipe from the magazine, so I'd recommend going here to check it out. The recipe is for a pork loin as well but we just ignored that part. 

While the picture may not show its deliciousness, I think you are going to have to take my word for it because I'm already craving it. It is just a bit spicy, has cilantro and lime, and is almost healthy. Can't beat that!

In mastering the cutting of the avocado,
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Go there: Trolley Stop - Get Pizza.

I have mentioned several times how much I love Trolley Stop. I love the feel, I love that it is a Midtown/Downtown establishment, I love that they use fresh, local products, I love (mostly?) the market with goodies to peruse (can get dangerous...), I LOVE the pizza. 

Most recently, Jake picked up a large pepperoni pizza for us one night:
Absolutely delicious. I also had the Margherita recently and really recommend that as well - check out the picture of it in their pizza case on their facebook page. Ridiculous. So yes, Go there. Really.

In a never-ending love of pizza, 
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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Fro-Yo War.

Unless you've been living under a hypothetical rock, you probably know that the new hot trend (that isn't so new or hot anymore) is to open a Self Serve Frozen Yogurt store. In fact, I have blogged about it in the past! Well, considering my love of the frozen stuff, I have had my fair share of FroYo. It has, of course, all been in the name of blogging and was a burden I just had to bear. 

Mostly I hit up YoLo or Sweet Cici's but recently I went to the newest FroYo establishment, Yogurt Mountain:
The inside was dark (purposefully) with bright purple and green decor. It was very small and narrow. I didn't so much care for the vibe. The fro-yo was ok - the flavors would probably be ones that kids would like (blue cotton candy was the newest when I was there) but I liked my birthday cake flavor as much as the next place. 

Honestly, though - I prefer Sweet Cici's birthday cake flavor. I went there recently with my friend Hilly:

 I do like Sweet Cici's but here's the bottom line... having meticulously tested the froyo at each of the three Memphis establishments (YoLo, Sweet Cicis, and Yogurt Mountain), I really feel that the froyo itself is pretty standard. What makes a difference for me is the atmosphere. 

Atmosphere wise, for me YoLo wins that war. Especially being closer (Midtown YoLo!) but just in general the layout, colors, and feel is my favorite. I love that they reach out to local vendors, I love that they moved to Midtown. 

And now, I love YoLo even more because they have gelato. Now don't get me wrong - I love the froyo but I love love love gelato even more. And now I have a place down the street to get it!
 I got the mint because I was craving it but my mom got the Marscapone and it was very good. I'll probably get that next time (the mint was great too). 

I'm just going to go ahead and say you should get some gelato at YoLo Midtown...
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Monday, March 28, 2011

Lemme kill your weeds.

I guess I'm growing up. When we bought our house, I knew it would be expensive... mortgage, insurance, cute things from antique stores.... but I was not prepared for the "usual" things that I didn't consider to be "usual." The termite coverage, the roof repairs, the (endless) supply of light bulbs. Now - I'm not complaining. I love my house. BUT. Boy do I feel more grown up. 

A few weeks ago I posted a picture of my front yard on fb because as I snapped a picture of the lovely day, I realized our weeds were outta' control. The former owner had a lawn service and so we inherited a pretty nice lawn. Yet, here we are two years later with an embarrassing amount of weeds:

  So, I posted a question - lawn service? And got an answer from Martha - to call the company they use, Best Lawn. I called, they came and gave a quote, and we were impressed with their professionalism and low costs. The sprayed last Friday and now (until we mow...) I keep saying "lemme kill your weeds" every time I walk by:

We've got ourselves a weed graveyard. I'm looking forward to perhaps being less embarrassed by our yard in coming months... our neighbors seem to have much greener thumbs than we do (and maybe a bit more time/money?). 

If you're looking for a lawn service, call Best Lawn. If you do, mention me as a referral! I was so surprised to find that the same amount of money we'd have spent on supplies at Home Depot or Lowe's is how much a treatment is. 

In cracking myself up with corny jokes on a daily basis,
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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ty loves TV.

Ever since Tyson was a kitty, he's loved watching TV, particularly sports. I really don't know how to explain it other than I guess the movement intrigues him. I caught him watching March Madness earlier today:

In loving my guys for all their oddities,
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Friday, March 25, 2011

My Memphis "Best of..." Part One

Many places and people create "Best of" lists - the Commercial Appeal and Memphis Flyer specifically. But let's just be serious - a best of list posted by a lowly blogger who has not taken votes and opinions is SO much more reliable. 

With that being said, I want to share some of my Memphis Best - 

Best Pizza:
1) Trolley Stop
2) Little Italy
3) Garabaldi's 

Best Date Night Destination:
1) Cafe Society
2) McEwan's on Monroe
3) Paulettes (although I haven't gone since it moved)

Best Obscure Sandwich Shops:
1) Chinese Sub Shop (on Highland, real name Super Sub Shop)
2) Kwik Check on Madison
3) My house. For Real. My parents make a mean panini

Best Mexican:
1) Las Delicias on Park 
2) Happy Mexican (downtown location)
3) El Mezcal (get the Pollo Adobe)

*This is a totally unscientific, opinion based list that is completely subject to my whims and cravings. It could change within the hour. But for now. It is official. 

Until next time,
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring Break was too short.

I will be the first to admit that Spring Break was not as productive as I had planned. I bought pillows for the living room and rearranged, found a club chair for the den and rearranged in there too, got the AT&T people to fix our internet, watched GLEE with Brie, got to see my bff Elise, went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned, ate sushi for the first time, had a girls afternoon with Robyn, ate at Cafe Eclectic, hung out with some fun church people at Movie and Pizza Co on the Island, went BACK to the dentist (cavities SUCK), got some Muddy's, ran around with dear ole' Hilly, and more. 

So perhaps although my Spring Break to-do list was not checked off, I maybe WAS quite productive. Productive at doing things that made me happy, including driving around with the windows down with this guy:

 After a wacky winter, it might actually finally be spring around these parts and we couldn't be more excited. 

In daffodils and ensuing sneezes,
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lenten Promise: Make my Marinara Sauce

In conjunction with this whole eat-at-home-as-a-discipline-and-cleansing-lifestyle thing, last night I made a homemade marinara sauce, adapting several recipes I came across and sort of just going with the flow. I got some fresh angel hair pasta (fresh is the way to go, peeps) and threw some pepperoncinis on top with some fresh grated romano cheese (no cool grater a la Carrabba's though) for the total effect:

If you're looking for an easy dinner, this may be right up your alley - just make sure you plan well because the way I did it involved little prep but a lot of cooking time. 

You need:
pasta (your choice but go ahead and get fresh angel hair)
2 cans (big cans, the 28 ouncers) of crushed tomatoes
carrots (I bought a bag of the pre-peeled baby kind), chopped (about 15 baby carrots)
garlic (three cloves, chopped)
onion (2 onions but I totally bought the pre-chopped kind because my eyes don't do onion)
Salt and Peppa'
bay leaf (or dried bay leaves)
butter (unsalted stick is best, in my scientific experiments)

1) heat EVOO in large pot, add in about 4 pads of butter
2) put garlic and onion in heated oil/butter mix, let onion get translucent (don't burn garlic!)
3) add carrots, let cook for about 5 minutes so carrots get tender
4) add crushed tomatoes, some salt and pepper, and two bay leaves (or some shakes of the dried stuff), reduce to simmer and let sit for one hour

meanwhile, make your pasta - you know how to do that, right?

And then - ENJOY!
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lenten Promise: Still going strong.

Just in case you were thinking we fell off the proverbial Lenten wagon, after a few hiccups in the form of some Spring Break plans, Jake and I are back to creating our own dinners. Last night we made our favorite spiced (chicken) with green beans and lime:

Loving the weather and dining al fresco (said as southern as possible), 
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Monday, March 21, 2011

Eat this: Nachos at Cafe Eclectic

Last Wednesday night we decided to ditch our Lenten promise of eating home-made meals just for one night because Jake needed to study and we had nothing to make. Tsk. Tsk. I know. But it was worth it because we decided to go to Cafe Eclectic (a neighborhood favorite) and ended up getting the best waitress we've had (shout out to Crystal because usually our waitresses are slow and aloof and she was neither!) AND trying a new menu item that I think I may make my regular order:

The Diablo Nachos - 
These guys have the diablo chicken (= spicy) on a bed of chips, fresh pico de gallo, cheese, and other goodies. We gobbled them down in record time because they were just so good. 

You need to go to Cafe Eclectic and get these. End of story.
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Saturday, March 19, 2011

A first.

It all started Tuesday night.... I was at Elise's and she had gotten sushi for dinner. We were hanging out and she offered a piece. I explained that I don't eat sushi, that I had never had any. 

See... I have this thing about fish. I don't like fish. Especially raw fish. And the black paper thing (what is that, anyway?) freaks me out. And I just don't eat sushi. 

So Elise offered a roll that was cooked and was crab, not fish. I figured it was worth a shot, since Jake loves sushi and I always hold him back from going to sushi places. She dipped it in the soy sauce, I put it in my mouth and WOW. Loved it. 

Immediately I declared that I was going to Sekisui for lunch the next day to get more of this roll - the Redbirds roll. Jake and I made plans to go and my dear friend Rachael met us for this momentous occasion:

A set of rolls that were mine, all mine. I took the shrimp off the top, which Jake gladly ate - I don't do shrimp. I ate all the rolls but one. And while I'm not a sushi fanatic yet, I did enjoy it quite a bit. 

Here's to branching out and trying new things (slowly...let's not get ahead of ourselves),
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Friday, March 18, 2011

A Girl's Afternoon.

What is Spring Break for if it isn't for having fun with your friends and doing things on a whim? After posting a picture of some new shoes I was particularly excited about on facebook, I declared I needed a pedi. Stat. Robyn came to the rescue and before I knew it, I was booking two pedi appointments for Wednesday at 4. 

We went to a favorite, Nail Bar on the Island. I highly recommend it - the price is moderate (not too high, not cheap), everyone speaks English (this may seem like a stupid thing to say but I've gotten the wrong thing before at the nail shop because they didn't understand me), it is very clean and relaxing, and they have movies playing on TVs all around!

Robyn and I had a great time - it was good to catch up with such a sweet friend. I'm so proud of her progress with her ankle - here's to the first pedi post surgery!

I went with a moody dark purple to be different than my typical bright pink:
 (cute toes, cute shoes, cute floor.)

And after a wonderful relaxing time at the Nail Bar, we were on our way back to the car and had an impromptu snack at Little Eclectic - after Robyn gasped that I had never had their cheddar bacon scone. 

We split one said c-b-scone - insider's tip from Robyn is that you can ask them to heat it up on the grill. Do it. This scone changed my life. It was divine. I dream about this scone now. 
 Even after the crumbles of scone were gone, we continued on with good conversation. After all, isn't that what a girl's afternoon is all about? Thanks for the great time, Robyn!

In not being sure whether Cafe Eclectic being so close is a good or bad thing,
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For my birthday I got this great sideboard/small buffet piece from an estate sale here in town:
 I love it - in the new kitchen it is sitting along the back wall. I got some baskets that are on the lower shelf and I'm putting our outdoor entertaining things in them. 

As you can tell, the knobs need some love. I actually really like the plain look of the black painted knobs but one is super scratched up and I can't replicate that old of a paint job. Anthropologie knobs are all the rage, so I decided to head out to Germantown to check out what the buzz was all about. I was overwhelmed for two reasons - the options and the PRICES! So here are some options - I need help.

1) Red with gold - I like these because they are fancy and have the gold like the small detail on the buffet. I don't like that they are almost too fancy.

 2) I love that these have maps, which is a nod to my profession, but I don't like the price tag at 10$/knob. They are also the largest and might be too big?
 3) I love these yellow ones since our floor is that color. I love the flower look that makes the buffet feminine. The only thing I'm scared of is making the buffet look too bumble-bee with the black and yellow.
 4) I like the idea of these coral knobs because we have a lot of red in the kitchen.
And, after hearing that Hobby Lobby has knobs for cheaper that are Anthro knock-offs, I checked out their website and found these I like too:
 I love the price ($3 instead of $8-$10) and I think the vibe is right for our kitchen... but is it as cute as the Anthro ones?

Comment away - I need your help!

In knowing that a lot of choices is a good thing,
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!! As my friends and I established last night, almost every American can find an ounce of Irish in their blood somewhere! (Our Swedish friend, however, cannot - those Swedes aren't mutts like us Americans). Surely I have SOME Irish, so here I am, wishing you a Happy St. Patrick's Day - here's to the guy that rid Ireland of snakes and brought Christianity. Did you know I did a paper in my Medieval History class in college comparing the children storybooks myth of St. Patrick to the real historical documents? Surprises about me abound. 

And for you, on this green holiday - a virtual trip to Muddy's Cupcakes, which is only THE BEST cupcakery/bakery in town:
  For you, a virtual four-pack:
 A Tomboy, Strawberry Fields Forever, Frankly Scarlett, and - for St. P, a Creme de Menthe!

Better believe I'll be enjoying these! I guess Jake might get some too...

In eating these cupcakes as soon as my mouth isn't numb from the dentist,
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House Tour: Den up-do

As I mentioned, we got a new sectional (Manny) for the den. With the new sectional, the new media center, and the new kitchen, we had some changes going on. 

With these changes, I had a plan: I had sold my slipper chairs from the living room and Craig's List and we got a refund for part of the money from the counters (Lowe's overcharged us) and so of course that money was burning the hypothetical hole. I started thinking about a club chair for the den to add more seating. I wasn't expecting to find anything. I just was thinking. 

Then.... I walked into T.J. Maxx with my mom. I was on a mission - a pillow mission. As I walked back to the pillow section, there it was. It? It was a club chair. Lane brand. RECLINED. Best part? Right at what we had budgeted for - mind you, we budgeted thinking we could buy a Big Lots club chair. And here this one was - perfect. Real. Legit. Comfy. Substantial. 
 Tyson models the chair once it is home. The chair announces "I recline!"

I told my mom to sit in the chair and ninja chop anyone who tried to steal it from me while I ran up front to ask them what to do - see, we still had plenty of shopping to do but I needed this chair to be mine. The lovely lady at the front told me not to fret, that they would put it up front for me while we shopped. And so we shopped some more - like two baskets more. 

After much trying on and such, we went up front and paid for this sucker (I did have to beat a few people away that were checking it out sitting up there while we shopped, no lie). Thanks to the wonderful manager who loaded it in my car (T.J. Maxx on Summer is where its at!), we got him home (him? he looks masculine, right?) and in the den:
He's now in his new spot, right next to the new media center. I moved the shelf over to the other side with the new arrangement - oh and a first glimpse at the view from the den now that the wall is gone! Used to be a wall there where the media cabinet is. 

Also, got two of our photo session pictures made into canvases with a Living Social deal. Love it! If you ever need pictures done, I really recommend Amy Dale!

In saving up so we can get rid of the paneling in the den,
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

House Tour: New Pillows and Arrangement for the LR

After buying Manny the sectional with our Craig's List money, we needed to move the couch into the living room to reunite it with the matching loveseat. We had two slipper chairs in there that we bought for the space - I blogged about them back here (and I was so proud to get them but now they are just not working for me) and the living room looked like this before the ole' switcheroo:
 We posted those chairs on Craig's List and got about 20 calls within two days. We ended up selling them for about half of what we paid, which in furniture speak is pretty good after two years, two dogs, and some fading. That money, added to some we made off some barstools for the kitchen project that we didn't use, meant I had some spending money. 

 Once we put the new couch in, I knew I needed new pillows - I only had two for the room (which aren't even pictured in the picture above) and needed more. So my mom and I went on the Great Pillow Hunt of 2011 (ironically, about a year after the Great Pillow Hunt of 2010, in which I ventured to Pier One with Hilly). 

We started at T. J. Maxx where we found something else exciting but no good pillows. On the way out (where we had so much loot the manager had to help us load it into our car), I mentioned we should stop at Ross, which was just down the street. I hadn't been in a Ross since college and had never visited this particular location, but it was worth a shot. 

Well I'm darn glad we did! First of all - ladies. The dresses. I got supppper cute dresses for suuupppperrr cheap. You have to dig but isn't that a part of the fun? After browsing the dresses aisle, I made my way to the pillow section. And wouldn't you know they had just the thing? For $7.99 a piece. No lie. Down inserts. Perfect colors. 

The pillows:
 The back one is sort of a mossy/minty green like the carpet although the picture doesn't reflect that.
 The back one in this picture is one of the two that I already had - I like that these are the same color but different textures/patterns. Similar but different. 

And now the room, with the new layout and pillows:
A bit different - I miss the simplicity of the before but I like the complete feel of the after. The room actually feels larger and we'll use it more. 

And of course, an obligatory picture of my puppy:
In cleaning this house bit by bit,
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring Breakin'

Thank goodness for spring break. I sure did need it! I've got some projects goin' on this week, including:
- cleaning/organizing the den
- finishing the kitchen unpack
- decluttering the dining table from the kitchen reno
- taking some "after" pics of the kitchen and blogging about it
- getting some major work done for camp

and of course, lounging around on Manny the sectional and hanging out with my guys:
In getting off my butt and getting stuff done,
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