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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!

Family, Food & Wine

Life Lately- What Happened to July? {7.25.17}

Happy last full week of July- can you believe it? This month has flown by but we have been enjoying every minute of it. Soon it’ll be stricter school schedules and cold weather, but for now, we’re all about finding ways to keep cool and that usually means squeezing in all the water activities and family time we can!

First, before I get down to business, be sure to check out two fun interviews that went up this month. The first is with Brian, titled Why Limit Happy to an Hour and the second one is with Nicole, titled Hola and Hey Mon! Both interviews are unique and genuine and I just love all the inspiring chiclets of information in these great stories.

Well like I mentioned we sure sought out the best ways to stay cool.

My daughter showed us all how to live the summer dream- eating Doritos poolside in a bathing suit. I mean, I hope she’s always confident enough to indulge while she’s hanging out in her bathing suit.We dusted off our water table and brought it out for an entire evening of fun complete with ice cream on the porch! We threw every bath toy we own in there just in case you’re wondering!A snow cone truck visited my son’s school; I pulled up to this!My husband and I squeezed in a date night. Somehow the only picture I took was of this monstrous margarita- yum! It’s from Frida’s Mexican Restaurante.We dressed up as princesses and ate more cold food items.We also squeezed in a couple of game nights with my oldest. We also found ourselves searching high and low for potted plants.And I made it to a girl’s night at Loflin Yard for Dinner Club. Isn’t this drink (titled Battle of the Greensward) and this cheese plate so pretty! All the cocktails have funny or local names! The food menu is pictured below in case you’re local and want a sneak peak. We had the street corn and the chicken wings in addition to that cheese plate- so yummy!

We rounded out July with a stay-cation in downtown Memphis where we rode the hotel escalator 20.5 million times (complete with serious bedhead), made important phone calls and visited two of our favorite eateries, Rendezvous (for dinner) a famous Memphis BBQ institution and The Arcade (for breakfast) where we sat in the Elvis booth (Elvis was a regular at one time; people kept coming over to the booth while we were eating to get a glimpse). My daughter had her first biscuit and jelly and I think it’s safe to say she was in heaven.

Finally, after church one night, my son and I visited the field of Sunflowers. They’re huge and the sun was setting over them when we arrived.

And that wraps up our July! I hope you’re having a wonderful month. If you’re looking to get organized, be sure to check out this post! And stay tuned for What’s Up Wednesday and Friday Favorites this week.

Food & Wine, Health

8th Annual Girls Weekend

A few weekends ago I spent time with some of my long-time girlfriends, some of whom I’ve know for over thirty years.  We started these trips eight years ago, rotating the hosting responsibility each year; we have now all had an opportunity to host a trip!

The idea started with an article I read and we gleaned from it, coming up with our own version of what our trips should look like. There are eight of us and on these trips we have shared stories, our favorite products, how we stay healthy, what our families are up to, how to make friends in a new city, and how we juggle everyday challenges (like meal planning, cooking, and the removal of popcorn at certain Targets). These girls have answered all my crazy questions about pregnancy, what to buy for my babies and what to wear home from the hospital after delivery (really I had no idea!) We gather insight and tips on hard problems and aging ailments. Over these eight years we have trekked to the following cities:

Charlotte

Miami

Atlanta

Texas

Jacksonville

New Orleans

Tallahassee

Nashville

Our itinerary varies, but most trips include a visit to a spa (with the exception of some of  the busy cities we have been to) and a grocery visit where we all pick out our favorite items to share with each other. We try restaurants, we’ve spent the day at the pool in a couple of cities,  one year we all did a beach body work out video together, and this last year we rented city bikes.

This annual trip allows us to sleep in, take a break from our every day routines and reset ourselves. Here are a few pictures from our trips over the years if you’d like to see.

 How do you celebrate life with friends? 

Be sure to check out the Instagram account where people across the country are sharing a Day in their Life. Thanks to Kenny and Mary Lou who showed us what a typical day looks like for them. Sara will be sharing tomorrow!

Food & Wine

Quick Tips to Starting a Dinner Club

About four years ago my husband and I moved from sunny Miami to season-filled Memphis and so the search for new friends began. Miami’s culture-filled, energetic, cocktail-sharing environment had welcomed us with open arms with martini happy hours, Venezuelan weddings and Colombian surprise birthday parties … sigh.

We felt a little bit out of our element in Memphis.  Meeting people as an adult requires a person to be so energetic and seemingly interesting and persistent and brave, and… listen, it all starts to seem like a whole lot of work. And isn’t this process supposed to be fun and social and energizing?

That’s when I had an epiphany: it’s so easy to get behind an invitation that involves food and drinks and sitting around a table. When I started talking to local Memphians about all the restaurants I wanted to try, their faces lit up.

Enter the birth of Dinner Club.

It’s been about three years and I’m here to tell you I’ve learned so much about my new town and how to be fearless in my quest to meet new people. If you’re intrigued, I’d love to share more about how you can start your own Dinner Club.


Find your people.

I try to remember not everyone I befriend needs to be just like me (duh). But I did narrow my group down to women only and consider personalities for the initial invite list to take into account conversation and common interests. DO encourage the people you invite to invite their people too.

Brunch Dinner Club

Just pick a place!

I know this sounds obvious, but in the beginning I wavered so much on whether or not people would show up based on the place. I polled people, I researched the newest restaurants in the area, and I over-analyzed the location. The thing is, people will migrate towards the food, drinks, people and conversation. Just be sure the place accommodates your group size and the price point doesn’t break the bank for the majority of the group. Most of the girls that come to our dinner club don’t have a difficult time sharing ideas on where to head next. Although we have met at some of the girls houses in special instances, the majority of the time we get out and try new places, which means cleaning and cooking doesn’t have to be a requirement.

Celtic Crossing, Veggie Omelet

 

Dinner Club doesn’t have to be JUST dinner.

Our dinner club has done brunch, a barn party with chili and games, and we’ve even got a coffee meetup and a park pot-luck on the books. We’ve organized exchanges for some of our meet-ups too including books, nail polish, scarves, alcohol, and beauty products, which makes for fund conversation. If your goal is to meet new people and try new places, then almost anything is game. Plus, mixing up the times and days of the week gives everyone a chance to join.

Bonfire Party, (left) Nikkole, (right) Kate

Be adventurous.

Try new things.  Share your food and encourage others to do the same. The beauty of forming a group around food is that people are inspired to try new things, plus bringing the cost down per person by sharing plates makes people want to cartwheel to the cash register.

Be realistic.

If you truly want to meet new people and get a group of individuals together that make for good conversation, then you have to consider you’ll be catering to a wide range of ages, career types, marital and child status’. What I am saying is, interesting people are busy, so consider putting something on the books every 2-3 months  IN ADVANCE and go from there. It does seem to be hard to get our group together once a month, but every 2-3 months is a more reasonable time frame.

Now I’m going to say something to all of you neurotic schedule planners that are appalled that a person would possibly cancel last minute (me, me, me!) – GET OVER IT, things come up. The more understanding you are to cancellations, the more comfortable people feel about being a part of your group.

Stoney River, Blondie Dessert

Be a concierge.

We tried rotating the organization of each meet up (each member scheduling a different restaurant) and it failed miserably. Just assume the role (with input from the group of course) and move on.

Being a concierge can become second nature with these tools and ideas.

  • Google Doodle can provide date options you can send out to the group which makes selecting the most popular date pain-free.
  • Check out Open Table or Yelp to take on the burden of making a reservation
  • Research things like whether there is a corkage fee and share important information you’d want to know like the link to the menu, location address, and parking whenever possible. I say whenever possible because you may be attending these restaurants for the first time too!
  • Start a Facebook group to invite members, set up events, reminders, and privately share pictures with your club. It also allows members the functionality to invite other people. We started with an email chain, but the Facebook group works much better.
  • Be the photographer.
  • Know the general area where your members live. Take this into consideration as much as you can when you set up your meet-ups  and recommend carpooling options for further locations.
  • Make it your own.

Catherine & Mary’s Restaurant, Drink: Sweet Melissa

 

I’ve had so much fun making Memphis home one meal-at-a-time with these crazy, amazing, interesting women I get to meet up with and talk with over food on a regular basis. There are many more fun ideas we’ve yet to plan.

What kind of groups do you participate in with your friends; I’d love to hear!

PS: Check out my Yelp account to see some of the places we’ve visited, pictures of some of our meals, and my reviews.

Barn Party, Bonfire S’mores (left) Ashley, (right) Carrie