From Nashville, With Love

Finally found some time to share some of our trip to Nashville! I had been to Nashville twice before this trip, once for the Blackhawks game with Max, the other for a bff’s bachelorette party (which was just a little bit cray!) but never had I been to the “Not Broadway” Nashville. Four of us flew down to visit our buddy Watty (my group of friends rarely get called by their first name – is this normal in your circle too?), who moved down there for work a year ago. So between him and his girlfriend, Morgen, we were really able to see the REAL Nashville. I guess what I’m saying is, I’ve learned that the strip down Broadway is really just where the tourists hang out, and you’ll be hard pressed to find locals posting up at Tootsies or Big Bang or Honky Tonk Central (we did make a pit stop there on our first night in town though, sue us). So I want to highlight just a couple of the places we had the chance to check out for the first time.

Sugar Dive

Max and I popped into this sweet place in the Greenhills neighborhood while waiting for our table at Noshville (a pretty fantastic brunch spot). I have this terrible habit of walking into every candy store I see. I just can’t figure out how to stop myself, so when I saw this place across the parking lot I was happy there was a short wait. This place was a step up from the smaller shop that is my go-to back home, so I was very impressed. I love a candy store that really brings you back to your childhood, because isn’t that really what it’s all about? This one had no problem delivering in that arena. Sugar Dive had plenty of candy for those who appreciate the present, but they also had loads of nostalgia ridden sweets for those who are down with the time warp. I think they even had one of those friggin “Honey I Blew Up The Kids” machines in back, because they had a few that were just absurdly large. I did manage to walk out without buying anything, Max on the other hand, did not.

Edley’s BBQ

Warning: I forgot my camera, so sad. But – this. place. Nashville is known for it’s BBQ so it was imperative that we go to Edley’s, as it is Watty’s favorite in town. Located in the trendy East Nashville, this place was too cute for words. Super vintage with wood ceilings and brick walls and those big fire station glass doors that slide up when it’s nice out, which it was. I think 5 out of the 6 of us ended up ordering the special, which was called The Kermit. I don’t believe there was any sort of frog on this sandwich, but who knows. But it was amazing. It had pulled pork, a jalepeno ranch and fried pickles on a delicious bun. The mac and cheese was stellar. I’m a sucker for bbq mac and cheese. Or really any mac and cheese, let’s be honest with ourselves here. And to top it off, they serve their drinks in mason jars. If you know me at all, you know that I love me a good mason jar. I don’t care what it’s being used for, I just love ’em. Spoiler alert: whenever i get married, there will be lots of mason jars. But like, you know, classy mason jars.

Greenhouse Bar
Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me here either (I suck, I know), so please make do with these not so great iPhone shots. As the name would suggest, Greenhouse Bar is…a bar inside a greenhouse. It’s the cutest thing I ever did see! It’s situated in a gravel parking lot, so the floor inside is, well, a parking lot. But it’s strung up with adorable twinkle lights AND they had the Hawks game on. So really it was a win win situation. And this place also must have known I was coming because I got my house special vodka lemonade, you guessed it, in a mason jar! Why can’t this become more of a Chicago thing? And the cherry on top? There was trivia going on the whole time too! We weren’t actually playing, but we a few times when we heard a question we’d all (really just me) would yell out the answer.

12th Street
Morgen took us to some super cute boutiques on 12th St while the guys golfed. Everything up and down the street was super adorable. Some places were a little bit more pricey than others. There was a line out the door and down the street at Jeni’s Ice Cream because, it’s damn delicious. We popped into a new restaurant called Josephine for some mimosas after we’d shopped a bit. They were deeelicious. Morgen and I got the blood orange version, Chelsie tried a different one, I wanna say grapefruit but don’t hold me to that.

We discovered a reeeeal vintagey vintage shop called SAVANT. This place looks like your grandparents’ garage sale, except for everything was way out of my budget. So many rotary phones in there, I wonder how many kids could walk in there today and not know what those were.  Picked up some really cute midi rings and a fun bracelet from a boutique called Posh, which also had champagne sitting out to “Sip and Shop”. Um, hello!? Why isn’t this a thing in Chicago either? I’m moving like, 94% sure i’m moving here . I dropped too much money at Francesca’s, but when does that not happen? Chicago, Nashville, online, it doesn’t matter. And we stopped into Kidd Epps Art Shop, which had some really fun art and gifts. Seemed like a lot of the stuff was handmade too, which is always that much cooler. Handmade makes you trendy. I feel like that coulda been a line from Mean Girls.

Centennial Park
We ended our trip with a visit to Centennial Park, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. The sun was shining and the temperature was as good as it gets. There’s actually a to-scale replica for the Parthenon there, which is cool because now I don’t have to go to Greece. Just kidding, I’m still going. But it was pretty cool. There was also some live music happening and a little girl boogying to it which was probably the best part. Why are little kids dancing the best thing ever? The guys and Morgen threw around the frisbee while Chelsie and I laid down to absorb every last drop of sun we could.  Please excuse my lack of neck in the below photo, not sure where she went!

That will not be our last visit to Nashville, I’m already dying to get back. I refuse to take it off my app! There were a lot of places we went that I didn’t feature here, so maybe next time they’ll make the list. Until then, if you’re going to Nashville, and HAD to choose one of the above to MAKE SURE you get to, I’d say it would be a tie between Edley’s and Greenhouse Bar. Just do ’em both, no harm in that! Thanks again Morgen and Watty for having us, prepare to be temporarily evicted from your apartment again soon enough!


(Funny) Mother’s Day Cards for your Mama

Mother’s Day is creeping up this Sunday. I’ve already ordered my mom’s gift, she told me exactly what she wanted, which I love! I think that best gifts that you can give someone are the ones that you know they’ll want. So yes, there isn’t much mystery, but you also know that they’re going to use and love what you give them, and isn’t that the end goal anyway?

What I think adds a bit of your personality to the gift is the card. I’m not great at picking up cards ahead of time and then end up having to sift through all the leftovers at Target and sometimes I can find a good one, but other times I’m stuck with the duds. So this year, I thought maybe I’d be a little bit more proactive and make sure that I found a great card that really seemed like it came from me. In other words, something sassy and sarcastic. My mom knows I love her, but I’m not the real serious type, so I tend to sway towards the funny. Enter, Etsy. There are so many hilarious, hand-drawn or written cards that you can order for not too much more than what you’d pay for a card at your local store. Here are some of my favorites! Remember, Mother’s Day is THIS Sunday, so make sure to check the individual sellers’ shipping policies to ensure you’ll get it in time. Actually, because I’m awesome, I even found a few that are instant downloads, so no snail mail required. Download, print and sign. I take that back, don’t be a bitch, write her something nice inside! 


Cinco de Mayo Celebration at Mercadito

Today marks two years of getting to date my best friend. Fun story for those of you who don’t know, Max and I were best friends in high school. I had a massive crush on him, he knew this. I asked him to a turnabout dance three times and he denied me three times. #failhard But, alas, ten years later I was able to trick him into dating me. And here we are, two years later. He likes to say he was playing hard to get, I like to say he was a dick. Regardless of who was right (me), we’re pretty happy with how things turned out.

Last week, for something fun to celebrate, I got us spots at a cooking demo at the absolutely delicious Mercadito in River North. If you love tacos and guacamole and all things mexican, get over there immediately. What we did last Tuesday was a little bit different than just getting a table and having your run of the mill dinner, so let me explain. This might be long, bare with me here.

Every month for the last three and a half years, Mercadito has been doing cooking demos. Each demo is themed, ours was Cinco de Mayo Fiesta. Turns out, Mexico doesn’t really celebrate this holiday, us dumb Americans just made up the holiday as an excuse for us to drink more. It’s not their independence day or anything. Now, I wasn’t completely listening when it was being explained because I was too busy being annoying and taking pictures of the room. But somehow France was looped in there also, so the menu for this demo was Mexican-French fusion.

When we got there, we were directed downstairs to a cute little room with four big booths (sorry some of the pictures are a little dark, there wasn’t a lot of great light down there).  There was a bar and a table set up at the front of the room.  We were introduced to Patricio, the head chef, Paul, the head bartender and Matt, the Bacardi rep. (Bacardi was sponsoring this demo, so all of the cocktails were made with Bacardi). We were given a menu that had five courses and a drink to pair with each course. Everything on it looked uh-may-zinnnnnng. And five drinks? Yes please. In addition to the menus, we were provided with recipes for each course!

Patricio talked to us and demoed how he made the first course, gave a few pointers on the second and third courses, the fourth he even came around and had us squeeze the scallops to understand how you should be cooking them. Paul talked about how he came up with the different cocktails and why he paired them with the courses. And Matt broke down the different rums they used and why. He also gave us some background on the Bacardi brand and family, which I thought would be lame and boring, but was actually incredibly interesting! He even had giveaways at the end for people that were paying attention, like mojito shakers (Max won one!) and Bacardi brand headphones and shirts.

The first course was CAMARONES A LA NIÇOISE. Which I guess means a niçoise salad with really big shrimp on top, with their heads on! I was actually really nervous about this one because I’m not much into eating heads, but Patricio told me I could cut them off. This is obviously what I did. I don’t think Max did though, real badass that one. The salad is a french staple made up of lettuce, hard boiled egg, potatoes, green beans and tomato. The charred jalapeño béarnaise sauce was stellar, as was the vinaigrette. With this first course we had a drink dubbed BUBBLES THE CHIMP. Why, you ask? That’s a question I don’t have an answer to. Sorry! But I will say it was probably my favorite of the night. Bacardi heritage, blackberry, lemon juice, and ginger root syrup, get on it! 

Second course: FRENCH DIP TORTITAS. Far and away, my favorite course of the night. This was absolutely phenomenal, and I will petition to get it on their regular menu. This guy consisted of herb-marinated slow roasted pulled chicken with crispy skin on a bolillo (fancy word for a small french baguette, there’s that french twist), with pickled onions and cilantro. Then we filled the bowl it was served in with a serrano chicken a jus. You guys, this was out of this world. I wanted like 12 more. I’m not kidding, I would have done some illegal things for another one. If max hadn’t eaten his as fast as me I would have taken some of his.  I actually asked the chef for another, he laughed in my face and then denied me. Womp womp.  The drink with this was a DECONSTRUCTED CUBA LIBRE. Paul informed us that this is what the uninformed (me apparently) refer to as a rum and coke. Paul’s version consisted of Bacardi Heritage, lime juice, mexican coca cola reduction, egg white and bitters. As with the previous libation, this was also delicious. It was a bit on the sweet side, but he called himself out on that, I still liked it! 

You had assume we’d be eating some red meat somewhere in here. For the third course, Patricio prepared us a taco. And not just any taco people, but a TACO CHATEAUBRIAND. It was seared and roasted beef tenderloin on a corn tortilla with roasted potatoes, parsley, chipotle bordelaise sauce and a whole grain mustard emulsion. I think I was finished in three bites. I think my biggest issue with this one was that there wasn’t enough of it. It was damn goooood. Are you noticing a trend here? The drink pairing with this was a VINITO. Made up of Bacardi Gold, red wine syrup, lime juice, velvet falernum, lime zest. I really enjoyed this one too. I mean you could barely detect the alcohol in any of the drinks, and I was definitely toasty by the end, which can only mean one thing, they were good. 

Fourth course was probably my least favorite of the five. But that’s only because I’m not a huge fan of scallops. I know, the only person in the world. It’s mainly just the texture/mouthfeel that I don’t really dig. So the flavors were all fantastic, scallops just aren’t my cup of tea. Max on the other hand loved them. This course was called CALLO SAINT JACQUES. It was pan-seared diver scallop, wild mushrooms with a tequila lobster sauce and manchego bread crumbs. I gobbled up the sauce and mushroom and breadcrumbs because those are all totally my jam. I could have eaten those mushrooms all day, luckily for me, Max was nice enough to share some of his. What a guy! The drink with this one was something completely new for me. It was called THE PROFESSOR AND MARY ANN. I imagine this was a Gilligan’s Island reference, but that was before my time so I don’t really get it. But. it was Bacardi select, pineapple, lime juice, morita syrup in applewood smoked glassware. Like, Paul and Matt got out a smoking gun and filled the glasses with smoke and flipped them upside down and let the the smoke settle inside them. They filled other glasses with the actual drink and we flipped the glass over then poured it in. Very hands on. I liked this one more than Max, it was a little too smokey for him, but I was totally in to it, especially the pineapple. 

Last course, dessert. Oh baby. We were presented with CREPAS SUZETTE. This was house-made crepes with goat’s milk caramel, vanilla ice cream, and an orange section and salty nuts. I was a big fan of this dessert because sometimes I feel like desserts can be overly sweet. But this was the perfect balance of sweet and salty, and the ice cream just smoothed everything out. The drink pairing here was called OCHO-ITO. I’m sure you’ve indulged in what I liked to refer to as breast milk of the gods, you might know it as Rumchata. This was the sophisticated version of that, or horchata. They make the horchata in house and added some Bacardi 8 and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Again, my only issue was that it was only a shot, I’ll take a gallon please. 

Check out the calendar of the upcoming demos here and seriously, sign up for one! It was so fun, so delicious, such a perfect way to celebrate. The next is the Ode to the Avocado, that will be pretty difficult for me to pass up now that I know about it. Anyone wanna go?


Weekend Links | 5.2.14

First of all, I want to say that I reverse jinxed myself. Yesterday I talked about jinxing myself by saying I’d never cracked my phone screen, and by typing it, it would happen. It didn’t happen. I also talked about how crowded the redline is in the morning and how it’s real miserable. But, I got on the redline yesterday and had more room than I’ve ever had riding during morning rush hour. I was pole leaning (I probably could been pole DANCING if I wanted to, which I did not)! Pole leaning is not cool, EXCEPT for when there aren’t enough people on the train to care! It was glorious! I could have been doing jumping jacks or yoga (if I knew any yoga, soon enough)) and wouldn’t have disrupted anyone! I need to learn how to reverse jinx myself more often. Anyway, here are your links! Theres a lot this week, hang in there. See you back here next week! Enjoy the weekend, and GO HAWKS!

First up, a professor that tried to hide her pregnancy from the internet. Not because she’s scared of the internet, but because she wanted to see if it’s even possible!

An important alert about extra strength tylenol. If you’re taking it, stop, and read this.

Check out the cast of Mad Men in the 80’s. So on point.

If you’ve been living under an internet rock all week, it’s the 10 year anniversary of Mean Girls. Take this quiz, see how well you know the movie. I got a 38/50, lemme know if you beat me. It’s hard!

Looking to update the apartment decor? Check out these 50 beautiful pieces to spice up your home.

Read about the app Yik Yak that brought a high school to a screeching halt. Why are kids so mean to each other!? And why do we harbor it with apps that do just that? I’ll never understand.

Um, I’ll be honest – dogs rule and cats drool. Check out these dog/cat relationships. I had so many feelings while watching this. There were points where I was so pissed at the cats, like, SO PISSED. Stupid cats. But they do get better towards the end, or at least the dogs do!

I discovered this awesome, one-of-a-kind home decor site that showed up as a suggested link in my newsfeed. So Facebook is good for something!

An important read about how Instagram sensors boobie pics but doesn’t do a thing about pics of kids with guns. This especially hits home since Chicago has such an epidemic right now when it comes to gun violence.

Miley haters, disregard. Everyone else, take a look at her newest video, but don’t do it at work. That should be common practice for anything Miley these days. I actually love it though, very artsy!

Turn down for what? Have no idea what I’m taking about? This is what it means. I was confused too, but I’ve also established that I’m old, so trends seem to miss me these days.

I love s’mores. I love cookies So I’ll leave you with these delicious specimen.

Killin’ It: May 2014 Goals

In case you missed it, April is already over. It’s May now, go figure. Time is a real bitch like that, when you want it to slow down, it’s over before you know it, and when you want it to speed up, it retires to a crawl. I can’t explain it, I can only accept it. But that does mean it’s a new month, which means I can now make up new blog rules. Like, every other Thursday I’ll get drunk and attempt a new skill and then blog about while still drunk and in turn, you can read about it Friday morning, wouldn’t that be fun!? No? Too bad, I’m the one in charge here. I’m kidding though, that won’t be a rule, merely a suggestion to wine-loving myself.  

What I’m really trying to say here is what my first new rule will be. On the first of every month, unless of course it’s a weekend, I’m going to share my goals for that month with you. I’m great at setting goals, but I’m garbage when it comes to follow through. Which is where you lovely friends come in. Writing down your goals is one thing, but sharing them with the internet is another. If I fail, I fail hard. Like on my face. So by doing this, it seems like a major motivator to get shit done. If I do fail though, there’s always the option of lying my face off or making up elaborate excuses. I’ll try my best not to resort to either of these. 

1. Move C+C From Blogger to WordPress
As I said when I started writing again, changes will be a’comin. I’m working with my dad who, luckily for me, is a human sponge. He can read something and automatically understands it. So because he’s been brushing up on his coding/css/wordpress skills for my mom’s real estate website, he knows everything that needs to be known for getting my blog switched over AND making it pretty – hurray! Thank you Dad! So we’re in the process of getting this bad boy switched over to WordPress together. Which means that the the goal is to be totally moved over by the end of the month. This is one that I cannot lie my face off about, so hold me to it. This includes a re-brand of the blog as well; new logo, new colors, all that jazz. Get excited, I am.

2. Finish Two Books
At the start of this year, I made it a goal to read 24 books over the 12 months. It seemed do-able at the time, but then I started working out more, cooking more, now I’m blogging again, and reading for pleasure has kind of gone by the wayside.  So I want to make this a prerogative again.  I take the train to work, so that’s usually my only reading time, 20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes in the evening. The redline is a terrible place to read though because you have to concentrate on the story while simultaneously focusing on deciding if the man behind/in front of you is dangling his package/hand near your ass/bergine on purpose or by accident. I’ll post about this in depth soon because there is a lot to discuss. Point being, make more time to read. Just do it. The books on tap for May will be Cartwheel by Jennifer deBois, which is loosely based on the Amanda Knox trial and apparently a real page turner, so hopefully I can get through that quick and then have the rest of the month for book number two – Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. (Her name is Rainbow?)

3. Get That Gallery Wall Up
This describes itself. If you read my post on my plan for this, you get it. If you didn’t, read it here. If I don’t have pictures posted of a finished product by the end of the month, I give you permission to come over and finish it for me. See how that works out?

4. Join a Link Up
Step one would be figuring out HOW to join a linkup. Step two would be actually doing it. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s blogger speak. Basically, a blogger will pick some kind of topic and start a linkup so that a bunch of bloggers will blog about the same thing and everyone shares the other blogs. I’m just trying to fit in, it’s scary in the blog world when you’re first starting out! 

5. Start Running Regularly Again
The past few weeks I’ve kind of slacked hard on the fitness portion of my life. The past three and a half months I was so real gung-ho, then I decided to start blogging again and it became less of a priority. I need to stop thinking that because I’m blogging the rest of my life doesn’t need to happen. So if it would just get to and stay at an acceptable temperature (55 or warmer), I will start getting up in the morning to run, freeing up my nights for blog time. And Pinterest, obviously. 

That seems to be a good amount of goals. Some seem relatively simple, others will require some effort, but I feel good about them. I’ll see you tomorrow for Weekend Links 🙂