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Family, Food & Wine

If Fall Weekends Could Only Last Longer

We are getting pretty good at soaking up sunshine over the weekend. I think we might be trying to squeeze the last little bit out before we hit the dreary mid-South winter months. Here’s a look at some fun things we’ve been doing around town in Memphis.

We scheduled a date during the day which is rare for us. We headed to brunch at the Shelby Farms Kitchen restaurant and then parked ourselves in these bright orange chairs with mimosas in hand and gazed out at the water for a bit before we took a little walk around the lake. I just love dates with this guy. We even got in a little Christmas shopping.

 

The whole morning was relaxing and delightful and the food was perfect. It was just what we needed.

Later we scooped up the kids and decided to head back outside to the same park, but near the other end of the property. The fall foliage was on point and we got to catch the sunset at the end of our visit so it turned out to be just the perfect day.

Three cheers for lazy Sundays! We attended evening church Saturday so we could do this on Sunday morning.  Sometimes we just need a late start to our Sunday.

We read one of our favorite books… we just love it. It’s about a little girl that embraces her differences by “standing tall”.

And guess what, we hit up another park Sunday! We played hard and just appreciated the crunchy leaves and the people watching and being active in the fall weather. We just love all of our local parks so much. And my son loves tree stumps! They are nature’s best playground.

I don’t know why he didn’t want to sit in this hammock longer. I could’ve sat there all day!

We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then we continued playing at a different spot, Railgarten. They have food and cocktails for adults and a playground and fun games out back for kids. Our littlest one just couldn’t time her eyes open in sync with the flash in this picture.

How do you get outside with kids? Even us adults played hard this past weekend. We must have needed the fresh air and sunshine. Have a fun week!

 

Family, Food & Wine, Health

Weekend Baby Fix & Fun Pensacola, FL Hot Spots

This weekend I took a little trip to visit my sister and her new baby. She has to be the most beautiful infant you ever did see, but hey I might be partial.

Little Sloane turned a month old about a week ago and I was just so excited to meet her. We won’t be bringing my kiddos around to see her until November. I guess we’ll let her get a little more durable before these toddler kids  of mine try to start handling her. I know both my kids can hardly wait, and when I told my son I was going to see baby Sloane he told me, “But I NEEEED to see her!” I just think we all can’t wait for our little munchkins to hang out together.

We FaceTimed my kiddos one morning and little Sloane had a lot to say.

She’s just the most laid back baby. Here are a few pictures of my visit if you’d like to see.

Every morning I had a lovely decaf coffee. Most mornings my mom brought it to me in this beautiful guest room of hers that I stayed in. Doesn’t that sound amazing? My mom spoils me!

My mom also made me smoothies almost every day (which I saved for the afternoons) with a concoction of all of these little goodies.

On Saturday we made a trip to the Farmer’s Market (pit stop at this downtown coffee spot) and then the Pensacola Wine Bar for lunch for $3 mimosas.

The coffee bar (with my sister in front) had these beautiful mini cheesecakes (below)- I ordered a cashew caramel coconut cheesecake to split (AMAZING) and a yummy decaf honey latte with almond milk (I’m still craving another one).

My sister is indulging me in a photo, but doesn’t she look amazing postpartum???

The Farmer’s Market boasted BBQ Sauce, flavored popcorn, meats, produce, and even homemade crepes.

The Pensacola Wine Bar is one of my favorite stops when I make it to town. They have wine (of course), but very economical food, a huge variety, and an indoor and outdoor space (in a brick alley) that makes for the perfect lounging atmosphere. Plus, $3 mimosas!!! And this is the avocado toast- YUM!

On Saturday night, Sloane had her fist sleepover with me and my mom (her Gigi). We had to steal her away, and had the best time taking her out for dinner to this family and kid-friendly restaurant and rocking her in her favorite chair. But her soft velvety hair though!

We made a trip to the most talked about George’s for brunch on Sunday and squeezed in a visit with my grandmother, Sloane’s great grandmother. My sister and I took Sloane for a long walk in the afternoon on their walking path by the beach to CB. There was a cross-fit competition going on in the main section of the beach and we had fun eyeing all the ultra-fit competitors.

Snuggles with Great Grams!

 

Doesn’t my brother-in-law’s “coffee Sunday” from George’s look amazing. They also have Popsicle champagne sparklers.

And on Monday I indulged in some much needed relaxation, headed for a run, enjoyed a book. Finally the girls took sweet Sloane out shopping at one of our favorite stores- TJ Maxx! Pensacola has one of the nicest stores I have ever seen (even compared to Miami and Memphis).

It was a sweet and short trip and I’ll be missing my family, especially our newest member sweet little Sloane. So long Pensacola!

Here’s a recap of all the restaurants and places I visited (and recommend) in case you’re in the area.

Red Fish Blue Fish

Fosko’s Coffee Barre

George’s Artisan Bakery and Bistro

Wine Bar on Palafox

Casino Beach Bar overlooking the beach (they also have brunch!)

Rotolo’s

Palafox Market (Farmer’s Market)

TJ Maxx in Pensacola

Pensacola Beach Walking and Biking Trail

 

~Ashley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family, Food & Wine

Favorites {9.30.17}

This weekend is a fun one. I am traveling to hit up a few fun cities over the next week. I’ll be sure to post my adventures on Instagram.

It’s been about a year since I’ve traveled by plane and  I’m all about allocating all my travel free time to books and just relaxing a little. Lately it’s been tough to stay awake long enough to crack open a fun read.

My favorites are a little all over the place this week, but I’m excited to share some oldies and fun fall picks to boost your spirits. Enjoy.

This Cutting Board

 

First up, this favorite is perfect as we approach the holiday season. It would be pretty for entertaining and displaying cheese plus how joyful would you feel cutting on this while prepping a holiday feast. This would also be a fun gift!

This cheese plate from Living with Landyn would be the perfect vision for placing cheese and snacks on this cutting board!

These Marshmallows!

These candy corn fall marshmallows are so yummy! My son has been begging for them ever since we bought them to decorate my daughter’s birthday cake this month. I also packaged them up in baggies with some Halloween stickers to give to all the kids as party favors (I wish they made individual bags of these, they would be great for trick-or-treaters).

This Art

These painted boards are just so fun and I particularly love this one- it’s a Llama. My daughter loves the Llama Llama books. Wouldn’t this be fun to use in a kids room?

This Snack Plate

I always have trouble with lunch during the week. I get hungry for a snack mid-morning, but then if I over snack, I’m full by lunch. Here’s one of my snack plates from last week. The two pieces of candy aren’t so healthy, but the pistachios are already shelled (made for easy snacking) and the wasabi peas give me a little kick which I love.

These Booties

These or these booties are perfect for transitioning to fall, especially if you live in a city that is still stuck in a summer heat wave. I love the side ankle cut, and I bought a size and a half up. I usually wear an 8 and I bought a 9 ½.

These Cheese Sticks

For all my Memphis readers, this favorite is for you. We tried these cheese sticks at Old Venice this month and my husband proclaimed them to be the best cheese sticks he’s ever had. Ever. I don’t know why we’ve never ordered them before. Last week he also mentioned that he can’t stop thinking about them. So I had to tell all of the local Memphis readers how fantastic they are so you can snatch them up and try them for yourself.

These Car Kit Essentials

I try to stock my car with essential items that really get me through the week. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the things I am sure to keep handy. I try to drive through a car wash every Friday after I pick up the kids to dump all the junk from the school week and wipe down the dash. Our car wash also boasts free vacuums, so I’m always sure to get in a good cleaning. I also keep a spray bottle with water and lavender oil and a brush handy (not shown) because I’m forever forgetting to brush my son’s hair until we arrive in the parking lot of school. The wipes and brush and spray help me keeping these kiddos looking a little more polished, even if I’m the mom wiping faces and brushing hair in the school parking lot.

Well friends, that wraps up my favorites lately. This weekend I’ll be missing my kiddos like crazy while I’m traveling, but I’m also looking forward to sleeping in past five! I sure am hoping to get in some much needed exercise and relax a bit. Have the best weekend! Be sure to comment below to let me know your favorites, what are you loving lately.

Family, Food & Wine

Exploring Our City {#2}

Last week we made it out to a new restaurant in Germantown, TN, Farm and Fries.

It’s a restaurant in the heart of Germantown and it’s renovation had us wondering just whether or not the food matched the airy and chic décor it’s been boasting from the curb. I pass it almost every day on my way to work, so when we were in the area, almost happening to pass it again, we figured it was time to head over for lunch.

The restaurant is order at the counter and take a number style of wait service. The menu is displayed when you walk in so it’s easy to start checking out the selections while you’re waiting in line.

Seating options include inside (which is where they were playing football on 3 televisions) and outside, along with a side screened- in porch with fans.

We each ordered a burger, which is what the majority of the menu boasts, and for the kids we ordered one of each of the kids options (hot dog and chicken tenders) and split them between both kids. They have healthy sides, like apples, or your more traditional French fry side for kids meals, although adult sides are an additional cost (they have 3 adult-size options of French fries). The French fries tasted a little bit like In and Out (the famous burger chain). The burgers were delicious, but not really photo op material.

 You can also find local beer on tap, which we were sure to order to go along with our view of the Memphis/UCLA football game.

PS: My burger was the Brussels burger- why in the world have I never considered putting Brussels sprouts with bacon on a burger- it was fantastic!

My son gave this place a solid smile and my daughter hit the hay the second we made it into the car. The only downfall of Farm and Fries was that they did not have a changing table for kids in the restroom.

I hope you enjoyed our quick trip to the new Farm and Fries restaurant. I do recommend giving it a try, especially if you’re in the Germantown area.  I hope our trip inspires you to get out and try new places in your city (even if it means brining kiddos along for the ride).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food & Wine, Health

Why My Second Cup of Coffee Is Decaf

This month I had this major health bummer. I have been waking up with a tight and painful jaw. I have been in so much pain and been scratching my head trying to figure out why. And why now? What exactly changed over the last month that has made me clench so hard. My jaw was doing an ultimate work-out regimen that was enough to make my face muscles sore every single morning.

I started drinking tea at night before bed, reached for the Calm Down potion that I talked about here, and vowed to go to bed early and grab some extra rest. Nothing worked. Nothing.

So I did what all the smart people do when they have a health question, I headed to the ‘ole internet for advice and counsel.  And the internet said all the things I already knew. Stress causes jaw clenching, let go of negative thoughts, consider wearing a night guard (eek)… but none of it helped. Other tips included: stop chewing gum, write a journal to relieve stress, increase physical activity and water intake. Low and behold I found this article with some of these common causes and tips, but it also said to avoid certain beverages: caffeine and alcohol.

So while I’m not cutting out all of the caffeine (what do you think I am some kind of maniac?) I did start limiting myself to one cup, and now I switch to decaf when I’m craving a second one. And it worked! I have been sleeping better and my jaw is back to normal.

While you may not have the whole jaw clenching problem, it could be beneficial to check out some of the research on decaf coffee I discovered on my path to self-diagnosis.

Melissa Hartwig, co-creator of the Whole30, and certified sports nutritionist, has made several statements about her deviation from caffeine. In this interview with Root and Revel, she explains why. “I drink decaf Americanos (I don’t drink caffeine, ever), and a huge variety of herbal teas. I switched to decaf only about seven years ago. I’m really sensitive to caffeine, and after a few Whole30-ish eliminations and re-introductions, decided my energy, sleep, mood, and general happiness would be better if I successfully gave it up. The transition was tough, but now I’m really happy I did it, and my energy and sleep have never been better.”

Livestrong.com also boasts benefit for drinking decaf, including reduced chances of getting Gout, Cardiovascular disease and even Type 2 Diabetes.

Healthline breaks down decaf coffee benefits in their explanation. “One cup of brewed decaf coffee provides 2.4% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium, 4.8% of potassium and 2.5% of niacin, or vitamin B3. This may not seem like a lot of nutrients, but the amounts add up quickly if you drink 2-3 (or more) cups of coffee a day.”

So there you go, decaf is on the upward trend for getting your coffee fix, sustaining jaw grinding, preventing disease, and filling up on magnesium, potassium and vitamin B3!

Do you drink decaf?

 

Family, Food & Wine

Friday Favorites {8.11.17}

Hello and welcome to Friday! So Friday is always the day that I think things will start slowing down for the weekend, but it ends up being one of the busiest days of the week for me each and every week. It’s like everything I haven’t had a chance to wrap up all comes together on Friday and there’s an energy to complete all the things.

This Friday I thought I’d share a few favorites I’m loving for fall season (I know say it isn’t so!), a few fun things we love to do as a family, and food I thought was worth mentioning. I hope you’re settled in for a great weekend, how are you spending your Saturday and Sunday? We are running the Elvis 5K that I talked about in this post– wish us luck! We’re also headed to an adoption meeting our church- more on that journey (if you’re just tuning in) here. I also just posted about the baby shower my mom and I threw for my sister if you’re interested to see how we planned it.

If you’re new and want to read more feel free to click around and/or follow along: FacebookInstagram

And now, on to the favorites…

Family Fun

Earlier in the week I posted about one of our city adventures, a visit to Crosstown Concourse, located in Memphis, TN. Here’s a snapshot of some of the fun we had. Be sure to take a look at the full post.

I also loved this origami décor in one section of the lobby.

We are die-hard fans of our city so you will be seeing more content on how we explore and get out into our town.

Our family also partied hard at a friend’s birthday last weekend and this shot is one of my favorites. I mean that little girl of mine sure knows how to have a good time!

 

Beautiful Things

I have been scanning Etsy and look at these finds! I ordered this wall hang below. I posted it outside on my brick for better lighting so you can see all the colors, but I’ll be displaying it inside on a more neutral, tan wall.

I found this simple fall wreath on Etsy and I’m contemplating buying it…

And at Dinner Club we visited a fun new Colombian place; I just loved their décor. It makes me want to go visit Colombia wearing all of the below.

Eats

Finally, I am loving this zucchini “pasta” salad recipe I found on another Memphis blogger’s site…

And I’m snacking on these bars for a healthier option when I’m on the go and I’m forced to have a late lunches.

In other news, my sweet neighbor dropped by all these tomatoes because she was leaving town and couldn’t possibly eat them all.

And that brings my short list of favorites to a close…

(Sorry, this song is on a constant loop in my head- eek!)

I’m so happy you stopped by. Thanks for letting me share all the favorites I’m loving these days. I hope you have a fantastic weekend!

~Ashley

Linking up with Erika | Friday Favorites, and Katie | High Five for Friday

Family, Food & Wine

A Summer Shower- Baby Shower!

This summer, my sister will be having her first baby, making me an aunt. Actually, any day now, so I thought maybe I should update you all on how we showered her earlier this summer.

The celebration was in my hometown, Pensacola, Florida. The weather was expected to be incredibly hot and my mom’s sweet friend opened her new home for the festivities; it was the perfect space to celebrate.

Planning a shower from another city requires a bit of conscience coordinating. It’s also not easy co-planning with a highly engaged, and highly active partner, ahem, my mother. So, I’ll share the pics, but I do have to confess, I turned over the reigns to her early on regarding the intricate details for most of the decorations because well, she loves this stuff. And frankly interfering in her vision is like waving a red cape at an active bull in an open field. Kidding. Kind of. Eeek!

I’d love to share some of the plans with you if you’d like to see, but most of the credit goes to my mom!

Party planners selfie!

We knew we wanted the shower to be women only and my sister requested that it be a forum for celebration and a way for her to converse with her friends and allow her time to connect with the tribe of women who support her most in life.

To collaborate with that mission our main staples were food, champagne, and these mini petifores from J’s Bakery (love them so much)! My mom got the little bottles to scatter on top. We also had a white cake version with pink frosting for variety. My mom already had these cake stands- aren’t they lovely!

We had a hard time settling on food. In the end we chose catering from Moe’s Grill because I wasn’t sure when I was going to arrive to town and I didn’t want my mom handling the burden of cooking or heading to multiple places for pick-up on her own. They deliver for a small fee and do the complete set-up. Overall I was really thankful we decided to use them. Guests made a variety of entrees using the ingredients including tacos, nachos, and burritos.

My brother made a fun drink for this drink pitcher and we popped champagne to extend a welcome glass to each guest as they arrived. This is something simple that I’ve done at some work events for customers. Greeting people with a drink helps make them feel part of the party faster and people are generally pleasantly surprised to be welcomed this way. We also walked around to fill up drinks so people could continue mingling without putting a hault to their conversations.

My brother made this homemade salsa below- so sweet! Especially since he didn’t get to stay for the shower.

My brother and my mom settled on the name, the “skinny stork” for this special drink.

In order to stick to our original objective, we decided (with my sister’s blessing) not to have her open gifts at the shower. We also avoided planning a lot of games; we organized just one fun activity to join everyone together, a “gift pass around game” with cute little sayings regarding which direction to pass the gift- it ended up being the perfect game! The person it landed on in the end got to keep the gift. We also gave gifts away as favors for the mom with the oldest child, mom with the youngest child and mom with the youngest girl, since my sister’s having a sweet baby girl. It did take a while to gather the troops to pull people away from conversations and join together for the game and gift give-away. We entrusted one of the guests with the largest personality, and voice, to demand attention!

I’m orchestrating the directions to the fun game!

Here are some other fun photos and little details from the shower if you’d like to see…

The guest book was a children’s book; each guest left little notes throughout the white space of the pages.

These sweet friends all came together to celebrate this new little girl that we are all patiently waiting for! We were so thankful for their company and the sweet gifts that are preparing my sister and her husband for their new little bundle. This wagon though- I can’t wait until my niece is old enough to ride in it and she’s not even born yet!

At the end of the shower, my son stopped by with my brother and my brother-in-law to enjoy one of those fun little cakes. It wasn’t until the afternoon when we all compared notes that we realized none of us had fed my son lunch- ooops! His entire day consisted of jelly beans, donuts, fruit loops, and cake- he had enough sugar for one whole entire month! #minorparentingfail

I got increasingly sick and ended up having to lay down after the shower and my brother, his girlfriend, and my mom and brother-in-law all rallied together to break everything down- throwing this shower required a true mini village. And then after he helped clean everything up, my sweet brother brought me medicine and made me take it- love him!

I sure was so glad to have been able to bring my little side kick along to town to attend this shower though. We had a bash together that weekend playing at the beach and getting in some extra family time.

Thanks for hanging in there to see all the little details of our gathering for this new baby girl we are so excited to meet. At the end of the shower I advertised my mom’s services for anyone looking for a good party planner!

~Ashley

 

Food & Wine

Exploring Our City {#1}

This weekend we made it out to one of the most anticipated builds in Memphis, Crosstown Concourse.

It’s a historical building re-imaged into a mixed-use space accommodating living environments such as apartments, medical and fitness businesses, retail, restaurants, entertainment, education facilities (like an entire school will be inside there), a FedEx Office, a YMCA, banking services and even a nail bar (coming soon) to name a few. Basically you could essentially live and work in the structure without ever having to leave. The architecture is modern, mixed with historical materials including open brick and concrete, exposed beams, and lots of natural light.

Although we won’t be moving in anytime soon (believe me I’ve tried to convince the husband it would be a great plan for us to move in for a year) we do live close and the businesses add an extra element of convenience to our surrounding neighborhood. The building is also supplying new jobs to surrounding residents. Here are a few pictures of the space if you’d like to see.

I was especially drawn to the openness, and the sprinkled greenery throughout.

This center section had to be cut out to provide the open atrium look.

I loved the shared open library where books from residents were scattered about.

My kids appreciated the library mostly for the large platforms, perfect for climbing…

Old carts, originally found in the building prior to the renovation, decorate the hallways throughout.

The onsite grocery, named Curb Market, provides cheese, grocery, produce, a local craft beer section, a large dessert display and butcher services along with a small salad bar (among other regular staples).

I’ll be coming back to buy some of this to pair with wine, cheese and crackers!

And I’ll be sure to scoop up some of this on my next visit- local-made Memphis ice cream- look at that beautiful Nutella blend!

This space even features a recording studio and a lounge-worthy coffee spot (also serving a wide variety of local craft beers on tap).

You can see posters throughout the space announcing upcoming gatherings planned for residents of the community including diabetes meet-ups and crafts which really energized me most about this place- the promotion of gathering people. They even had a pop-up shop planned for later that morning featuring local merchandise (Memphis mugs, t-shirts, and other fun 901 goodies).

This gathering space in the lobby area showcased a container and streamer of colorful origami!

We sure enjoyed our visit and we’ll be back to take part in this mixed-use space.  The architecture and details along with the touches of local flair sure make it place we were immediately drawn to.

I hope you enjoyed our mini tour of our adventure in Memphis this past weekend. I’ll be sure to feature more of our local adventures in the upcoming months; I hope it inspires you to get out and find out more about your city. If you live close-by I recommend a visit to Crosstown Concourse. They’re having an official grand opening on 8/19! Here’s a quick guide map to get you acclimated to the space.

Food & Wine

How to Try a New Restaurant

Hi my name is Ashley and I’m a restaurant junkie. I love everything about trying out a new restaurant, experiencing food from different cultures and dining with friends. Last week I headed to a new Colombian restaurant with a few pals, otherwise known as Arepas Deliciosas.

I really do believe that food is an experience. It’s something that crosses cultural borders between individuals and it can not only serve as a topic of conversation, but a method for bringing people together.

I’d love to share some tips on things to consider when trying a food joint if you’d like to see.

If you’re already a restaurant junkie and this post doesn’t apply to you, stay tuned for a few new posts coming later in the week. BUT, if you’re like my husband and I were before we moved to Miami, picky, and regular restaurant chain goers (Chili’s and Olive Garden), read on!

Read the Reviews

Really, this isn’t rocket science, but Yelp is your friend. Read reviews, but not too closely. For example, I don’t pay too much attention to the star rating for 3 stars and above. I usually click around the reviews and read the comments. Is the place expensive, what do the pictures look like, and do people mention that they plan to come back? Is it a chain or is it a small business? That’s my criteria for choosing a place. I look for 3, 4, and 5 star ⭐️ restaurants. Our Colombian place has 4 1/2 stars and it’s locally owned.

Arepas Deliciosas has a 4 1/2 star rating

Call Ahead

If you’re visiting with a group I highly recommend calling ahead. I ask questions about seating, do they have enough space for my group (some places have very limited seating). I ask if they serve alcohol, and if they don’t I ask whether they have a corkage fee or allow people to bring their own wine. I also inquire about reservations, parking, and when they’re busy along with any specials they may be having. Finally, don’t forget to ask if they split the check and if there’s an enforced gratuity. You can really learn more about a place by having a quick phone call with someone who works there. Count on gaining additional information you may not have thought to inquire about.

For example, when I called the Colombian place they mentioned that they closed at 8 pm, which was important because we planned to arrive at 6:30 pm, which didn’t leave us much time. I was able to plan ahead and arrive a little early and order a few appetizers to get us started.

Little coffee truck replica in front of the colorful Colombian place we visited.

Your Waiter Usually Knows Best

When I arrive in the restaurant and the waiter comes by the table I almost always ask these two questions:

  1. What are the most popular items
  2. What do they recommend; what’s the server’s favorite item?

These two things can vary so I recommend asking both questions. I usually also do research and scan through Yelp reviews for images of the food just in case the server responds to my question with “everything is good!” which is never helpful!

Try New Things

I cannot stress this enough! Be sure to order something off the menu that you wouldn’t normally go for. And when you split food with friends, grab an appetizer size plate and dig into an assortment and start trying them! You’ll be amazed at how many things may become new favorites.

These tostones are twice-friend plantain slices and great with salt and homemade guac.

 

I’ll be back to visit Arepas Deliciosas to try their assortment of juices!

Split Food with Friends

Splitting food allows you to try a good depth of the menu; if you decide to come back you’ll have a lots of options to choose from. Friends also tend to help encourage other friends to try new things, since most everyone’s palate is different. Hearing other orders can also persuade you to be more daring. At our Colombian restaurant we ordered lots of appetizers for sharing and trying and then we also each ordered a variety of entrees which gave us a wide perspective of almost the entire menu.

Talk to People

Talk to people at the bar, your waiter, people at the restaurant. If you’re on a wait, talk to the people waiting. It’s a great way to hear from people who may have visited the restaurant before and I’ve never met a person who hates sharing their favorite foods. Talking to people also enhances your overall restaurant experience- go ahead, be social in the community!

Investigate the Staff and Facilities

I love a good bathroom. I pay attention to whether the facilities have a diaper changing station and high chairs in case I plan to come back with my family. Is the bathroom clean, is the staff attentive, is the seating comfortable, and does the staff accommodate special requests? Who is dining there, do they look like they’re local or tourists? Can they accommodate larger groups in case I like it enough to plan a special event in their space (birthday party, special dinner, anniversiary). Finally, décor can be a big draw and I always pay special attention to the little details.

Arepas Deliciosas had some great restaurant decor, but it wasn’t too busy. I loved the vibrant colors and the wooden ornaments.

 

Their purse/bag display makes me want to put together an arrangement of all of my bags at home.

One last tip: Open table allows you to make a reservation (which I highly recommend), but they also sometimes have reservation slots that the restaurant gives up. If you call the restaurant and they don’t have any reservations available, check Open Table, you might find a slot there. I also make notes in the Open Table reservation specifying if I’m celebrating a special occasion, if I’d like a booth vs. a table, and if I’d prefer a window or to be by the kitchen (if it’s an open-viewing kitchen). Most restaurants try to accommodate these requests and specifying can definitely enhance your overall dining experience.

Those are my go-to tips for trying new places. Be open, seek adventure, and remember, it’s an experience. It’s like a first date, you’re interviewing a first-time restaurant to see if it’s a place you’d enjoy going back to, find new foods, and ultimately widen your palate. If you want to read more about how food serves as an agent for connecting people you can start with this book, it’s an excellent depiction of how food can connect people. Also, don’t forget to be a Yelp contributor and give back to the community- leave a short review or pictures for all the new places you get out to try!

What tips do you have for trying new restaurants? I’d love to know.

 

Food & Wine, Health

Friday Favorites {7.28.17}

Hello Friday- it’s been a while… well I guess it’s been 7 days… anyway, it’s great to see you! We sure are ready for the weekend. We have a fun play date planned this weekend and otherwise, we’ll be trying to plan for relatively no plans! This will actually be our goal until school starts at the end of the month. Also, we watched Pete’s Dragon last night and it was a huge hit so I’m sure we will have that movie on repeat that about 2.5 million times over the weekend. And I’m sure I will be balling my ever-living eyes out (an orphan loses his family, is raised by a dragon and then who is basically adopted- ugh- insert ugly cry here- why do you do it Disney- WHY???).

I thought I’d share some of my favorite products (not endorsed) this Friday. Some of these were recommended to me and others I’ve recently stumbled upon. I guess you could consider most of these summer favorites! But first, this… do you follow letterfolk on instagram? I just love this one…

Anyhow, on to the favorites.

Ice Cream. You Scream| We usually spend many evenings enjoying a summer treat on our front porch. My husband found these: they’re mini drum sticks. Less calories and sugar but just a little bit of heaven so we don’t feel as guilty indulging more often.


Bugs and Burns Be Gone!| Summer seems to bring all the bugs to Memphis. My husband also found this awesome, highly rated bug lotion. The sunscreen was recommended by one of my sister’s friends who is a dermatologist- it gives great coverage and even though it says “kids” my husband and use it too.


Drink Your Garden| My friend used to work for this company and I actually got a free sample of their chocolate protein powder the other day. I mixed it with a bit of almond milk and a few blended berries for lunch and it tasted great! Buy it straight from the company or at Whole Foods. Amazon also sells the large container of another flavor.


Necklace Junkie| I talked about Noonday in another one of my posts- I bought this necklace from an adoption fundraiser and it finally came in. I love it! Here it is pictured in person.


Calm Down| I’ve had this calm drink in my cabinet on standby for a while, but this Sunday I dragged it out- drinking magnesium is better than alcohol right? It definitely does the trick to calm nerves and I notice a difference in my system the morning after I’ve had it. Another friend of mine said she notices she sleeps better when she takes it.


Bath Bombs Don’t Bluff| A friend of mine brought this beautiful gift box of soaps and bath bombs that she was shipping to a friend from Buff City Soaps, a local place in Memphis. Isn’t the gift box of this assortment beautiful? And everything smelled amazing.


A School Lunch Sanity Saver| Finally, for those of you ramping up for school next month, we’ve been making lunches at our house all summer. I have a simple one pictured, but here’s a list of a few easy ideas for toddlers listed below just to get your brain kickin’. I swear I start to blank out and go comatose when it comes to thinking up a school lunch. Sometimes I just. can’t. do. it. anymore!

Lunch Ideas: Roasted sweet potatoes, turkey pepperoni, grapes, raspberries, blueberries, string cheese, hard-boiled eggs, elbow macaroni noodles (plain), brown rice, black beans, homemade chicken fingers (we use coconut flour and a little salt- but the one linked is a little more elaborate). You can make a lot of these ahead of time and store them in the fridge for easy access and mixing and matching (roasted potatoes and chicken nuggets go on a sheet in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes). We use re-usable silicone cupcake liners to separate food in regular plastic containers.

Do you have any summer favorites? We’re holding on to summer tight; it’ll be gone before long. Enjoy your weekend. Thanks for stopping by!