The Mrs

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how to entertain the in-laws

The Mr’s parents were in town last weekend.  While we love our fair city, we are frequently at loss as to how to entertain people when they come visit.  As evidenced by our food and beer blog, for entertainment we pretty much eat out and support our local beer scene.  While that sounds like lots of fun to us, we aren’t ever sure if visitors will enjoy it as much as we do.  Luckily, The Mr’s parents were game.

Should your in-laws come to town in the near future, consider showing them a good time this way…

First, take them to Food Truck Friday in Southend on Friday night.

The Herban Legend

SCQ Truck

Then take them to Good Bottle Co and really show them what they are missing back home despite the recent improvements in Mississippi’s beer laws.


Make them Challah French Toast for brunch on Saturday morning.


Once that has had time to digest, take them to 10 Park Lanes for a little healthy competition.


After working up a thirst at the bowling lanes, take them out to NoDa for some home grown brews.


For Saturday night dinner, you make them some Korean Short Ribs and baked sweet potatoes with Grilled Asparagus & Portobellos with Shallot Soy Dressing…


and you wash it down with Wicked Weed’s Infidel Porter that the hubs brought home from a recent trip to Asheville.


Sunday afternoon, you introduce your mother-in-law to this…


(after having taken her to actual church that morning) only shortly before realizing that you forgot to buy the Bomba rice from Sur La Table before it closed and therefore can’t make the paella you had planned for Sunday dinner.  Instead you order pizza from The Pizza Peel


and show them how YOUR James Bond kicks THEIR James Bond’s butt.


And I think it goes without saying that on Monday, after they’ve left and Sur La Table has opened again, you buy the Bomba rice that you should have bought two days ago, make the enormous pan of Chicken and Sausage Paella anyway, and eat it yourself…


al fresco, of course.  It makes for fantastic leftovers for the next couple of days.





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gwyneth to the rescue

So we are 15 days into our 30 day real food challenge.  Half-way there!  On the downhill slope!  Other than a couple little snaffoos things have been going pretty well.

After more carefully studying the ingredients in some of our typical foods, I had to rethink some of my breakfast and lunch menus.  For breakfast, I’ve been on an instant oatmeal kick of late.  I know making the oatmeal myself is better for me, but it just takes too long for me to do before work.  (I have a slight problem getting up in the mornings…)

Lisa raved about her homemade granola cereal so frequently on her blog that I decided to give it a try.  But,  along side my oatmeal, I’ve been having two small Jimmy Dean turkey sausage links and an orange.  Well, after giving a hard look to the contents of my fridge, the Jimmy Dean had to go, leaving me in search of a real food alternative as I had serious doubts that a simple bowl of granola would tide me over until lunch time.

Enter Gwyneth Paltrow…

I know what you are thinking.  “Seriously?  Gwyneth Paltrow solved your real food problem?”  And the answer is – yes, she did!  Well, she helped at least. But let me back up…2 yrs ago to be exact.

In April 2011, I entered a giveaway on my friend, Beth’s, blog and won.  The prize was Gwyneth Paltrow’s recently released cookbook, My Father’s Daughter.


I won!  I was super excited because I’d never one a blog giveaway before.   I started a post about winning the cookbook, but because I was a bad, bad blogger for a while I never finished and published it.  I made a couple items out of the cookbook then put it on the shelf amongst the gazillions of other cookbooks I have and kind of forgot about it…until recently.

I remembered that her cookbook contained several options for vegetarian meals as well as some recipes for homemade pantry staples.    So, I grabbed it off the bookshelf, knocked the dust off of it, and started perusing.  Guess what I found…

A RECIPE FOR HOMEMADE TURKEY SAUSAGE PATTIES!  Hazzah!  I don’t have to forego my morning boost of protein after all! The recipe is super simple and tastes the same as much better than those prepackaged Jimmy Dean things I was buying.

Here’s all you will need:


(cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, fennel seed, herbs de provence, salt, sage, ground turkey, Vermont maple syrup)

AAAAAND it’s as easy as 1-2-3.  See…

1. Combine the spices and ground turkey


2.  Form into small meatballs and flatten into patties.  (When forming meatballs, I use a little trick I learned from Martha Stewart.  I use a small spring loaded ice cream scoop so that they are more uniform in size than if I just grabbed a hunk of meat out of the bowl.)


3.  Cook in a skillet


In re-reading this recipe for this post, I realized that Gwyneth’s instructions actually call for you to use a mortar and pestle or mini food processor to “bash” the spices together.  Somehow I missed that bit, as I’ve just been dumping them all in a bowl and stirring them up.  Mine have still turned out tasty, though it would be nice not to bite into a big ole fennel seed every now and then…

The whole process takes maybe 15-20 min.  Gwynnie says that her recipe makes 12 patties…but I’ve only been able to get  8-10 per 1lb of ground turkey and that’s using a ????? ice cream scoop.  Since it’s such a quick and easy process, what I’ve started doing is doubling or tripling the recipe, putting a week’s worth in the fridge, and freezing the rest.  That way I make these once a month and I’m set.

First I let them cool on paper towels to absorb any excess oil from the skillet.


Then I layer them in a freezer appropriate container, placing wax paper between the layers.


Then I label them and pop then in the freezer.


You’ve just gotta love these Martha Stewart food container labels from Staples.

A bowl of Lisa’s homemade granola with local milk, one of these turkey sausage patties, and a piece of fruit is now my favorite breakfast.  And, I’m telling you, it absolutely keeps me satiated!  I usually eat breakfast around 6:30a.  With my previous breakfast, I would always notice the first twinges of hunger around 11:00-11:15a.  With this breakfast I’m good to go until 12:30p.  For me, going 6 HOURS without feeling hungry is a freakin’ miracle!

Prior to publishing this recipe in her cookbook, Gwyneth published it on her website,  You can find this recipe here.  One of the things that I love about My Father’s Daughter is that Gwyneth has coded each recipe to indicate whether it is a recipe that can be prepared ahead of time, it’s quick, it’s vegetarian or vegan or can be adapted as such, whether it is a one-pot meal, or a “dress-up” meal.  Over the last couple weeks, it has proved to be excellent resource for vegetarian meal recipes as well as recipes for homemade pantry staples.  More posts to come on those later!

With my renewed appreciation for this cookbook gem, imagine how excited I was when I spotted this in Target last week.


Gwyneth’s got a NEW cookbook!  You can pick it up at Target or Amazon for around $20.  Or if you so desire, you can order a personalized signed copy for $55 from  I think Gwynnie’s cool and all…but I don’t think I’ll pay an extra $35 for her signature. I’ll get all the fun and 5% off for picking it up at Target with my Target Red Card.  I can’t wait to see what goodies it has in store.


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pomegranate martini

Who is PUMPED about the return of Mad Men this Sunday?  ME!  That’s who!  It’s a good thing too, because I experienced my first real time Walking Dead season finale last Sunday.  No more of that until October.  So Mad Men will just have to keep me entertained, for the next couple months at least.

It’s no secret that The Mr  and I are big craft beer fans.  But, you can not simply drink a beer (even a really good craft beer) while watching Mad Men.  Even a nice glass of wine won’t rise to the occasion.  It simply must be a cocktail.

Am I wrong?

No.  I’m not.  You know it’s true.

Ideally, that cocktail should be a good old fashioned martini. But, I’m going to totally girl out and say that I just don’t like good old fashioned martinis.  Shaken, stirred, dirty, or otherwise.  I just don’t like them.  Never been an olive fan.  Why would I order a drink with one in it? (I know I probably just lost a little “grown-up” credibility there…)  I do, however, enjoy specialty martinis on occasion.  You know, the kind of brightly colored thing with some sort of tongue-in-cheek name that guys roll their eyes at…a girly drink.

And that, my friends, is what I have for you today.  Behold, the Pomegranate Martini!


Doesn’t it look luscious!  My friend Gretchen made these for us at her house one night last fall.  I fell in love with it and made them all throughout the holiday season.  I know the pomegranate makes it seem a little Christmasy but, you know what?  It ‘s April.  It was raining and 39* in Charlotte today, and I was wearing my down jacket.  So,  it kind of felt like Christmas in the South today.

Feels like Christmas?  Drink a Christmasy drink is what I say!

Regardless of the current season or weather, give it try.  It’s appropriate year ’round, really.  Here’s what you’ll need:


Pomegranate juice, Cointreau, Absolut Mandarin, and pomegranate seeds…plus a asecret ingredient that we’ll discuss later.

Well, maybe not SO much later as the “secret ingredient” is actually the first thing you put in the shaker.  Gretchen’s recipe calls for 2 tbsp of frozen lemonade concentrate.  Trader Joe’s carried it the fall, but I couldn’t find it today.  The only lemonade concentrate I could find was at main stream grocery stores.  Regardless of the brand, the first ingredient listed was high fructose corn syrup.   Number one…gross.  Number two…it’s against the rules. So, I found this at Earth Fare and tried it instead:


Mango sorbet!  I’m telling you – this stuff is G.O.O.D.   I had to put it back in the freezer quickly so that I didn’t eat the whole pint…I calls to me from the freezer even now.  But back to the martini…

I loved it last fall with the lemonade concentrate, but I think I love it even more with the mango sorbet.  The sorbet just seems to give it a richer, more complex flavor.  Either way, you are in for a treat.  So whether you choose to use lemonade concentrate or mango sorbet, put a couple tablespoons of it in the martini shaker.


Add 1 whole shot of Absolut Mandarin…


1/2 shot of Cointreau…


3/4 c of pomegranate juice…


and give it a good shake.


Garnish the bottom of your martini glass with pomegranate seeds…


and pour.  The seeds at the bottom are beautiful in the glass and like a tart, vodka soaked little treat at the end. The Mr says they are like the prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.    And, lest you worry this drink might be too girly, The Mr was seen to throw back several throughout the holiday season…although he claimed that it was just to get to the pomegranate seeds at the bottom of the glass…


Now sit back, sip, and enjoy a little Don Draper and company.  You’ll thank me later!


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real food: a confessional

Well we are now on day 8 of our 30-Day real food challenge.  I bet you are wondering how we are doing.  For the most part we are doing really well with it. I’ve altered some shopping habits and been making several menu staples and pantry staples myself (I’ll tell you about those later) but…

I have a confession to make…

We had two instances this week where we ate some processed food.  🙁  The first one was quite minor.  The second…well…

You know those kids who never drank in high school, were always home before curfew, and never broke any rules, then went off to college and went stark, raving mad and partied to be point of nearly flunking out during their first semester.  Let’s just say the second incident fell more along those lines…

Does it help if I clarify that neither instance was intentional?  I think that just illustrates how hard something like this is in our current American food climate.

Since you guys don’t follow us around town and only check in on us here, it would be very easy to skip over the bits where we didn’t follow the rules and only report back on the parts where we succeeded.  But, if we are going to do this, it only works if we are completely honest about it.   (As I sit here writing this on Easter Sunday, I can’t help but consider parallels between my temptation to hide these “real food sins” and our attempts to hide our actual sins…but that is a whole other can of worms. Let’s stick to the “real food sins” for the time being, shall we?)


We host our small group for church every Tuesday and the members of our group take turns providing snacks.  This week the provided snack was a “veggie pizza.”  It looked beautiful with all the raw broccoli, cauliflower, red peppers and tomatoes on top.  Without thinking I grabbed a small piece (~2″ square) and swallowed it down only to realize later that the “pizza” crust was made from pre-packaged crescent rolls.   Not a terrible “real food sin” in severity.  But you’d think on Day 2 I would have been a little more focused and on my guard.  Apparently not.  I’ll have to be more careful next time.

Oh, and, I’m pretty sure The Mr had like 5 pieces…

I also need to figure out a balance here.  If friends will be bringing snacks to our home weekly, then this is something that is going to come up at least 3 more times during our 30 day crusade.  I’m certainly not going to impose these rules on them and make them go to any extra work to bring us snacks.  This is our challenge, not theirs.  So, we’ve got to find ways to politely decline snacks (and eat something from our pantry) if they include processed foods.  Hmmm…


For some reason, at the end of my work day on Friday, I was craving a burger something fierce.  So, I texted The Mr shortly before leaving the office and he was up for burgers as well, even though we had leftovers ready to be reheated in the fridge.  Our usual go to burger joint is Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar on East Blvd but The Mr wanted to try something new so he suggested we check our Kickstand Burgers-n-Bar on Central.  Y’all…it didn’t even cross my mind to worry about what real food options we would have there.

The Mr was hungry and jonesing for an appetizer.  As soon as he grabbed the menu the Shrimp & Fried Grits caught his eye.  (Yes, you read that correctly.  It was Shrimp and Fried Grits, not fried shrimp and grits…there’s a difference.)  It was a cake of deep fried grits with a “shrimp and grits” sauce on the top with andouille sausage.   It tasted like jambalaya.

Our discussion was whether or not we needed an appetizer, not

  • “No refined grains such as white flour or white rice.”  I’m pretty sure that grits fall into a refined grain category.  
  • “No deep fried foods.”  Strike two.
  • “Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (and preferably in moderation).”  Not sure whether or not the sausage in it was local because it did not even dawn on me to ask.

I’ve gotta say, though, it was totally worth it.  Just look at this…


Seriously, The Mr is lucky that I didn’t tackle him to keep him away from it.  It was crazy good!

But wait, our sinful indulgence didn’t stop there.  After all, the whole reason we were eating out was because we wanted burgers.  I had The Kickstand signature burger (which is mixed with onion, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and garlic) topped  with cranberry chutney, caramelized onions, and baked brie.  The Mr had The Fender Bender with chili, mushrooms, slaw, American cheese and bacon.  He asked that they hold the fried onions.  Sides included fries for me and tots for him.  (Sorry, no pics.  I was too busy cramming that burger in my face to remember to take pics.)  So let’s see how many real food rules we broke with these:

  • “No refined grains such as white flour or white rice (items containing wheat must say WHOLE wheat, not just wheat).”  Neither of us had or asked for whole wheat buns.
  •  “Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (and preferably in moderation).”  Again, not sure if the meat was local ‘cuz we didn’t think to ask…
  • “No refined sweeteners such a sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or artificial things like Splenda.”  Not sure what all was in my cranberry chutney, but it tasted very sweet and tangy.  Also, both of us were freely dipping our sides in Heinz ketchup, which every one know is full of sugar…
  • “No deep fried foods.”  Um, yeah…#epicfail.

Well, go big or go home, right?  What upsets me more than the number of rules we broke in one two-hour period, is the fact that it didn’t even dawn on me/us to choose differently.  As soon as I realized I was craving burgers and started down that path, we were both on autopilot.  Back to our typical behaviors and decision making patterns.   It simply didn’t occur to us that this was not in keeping with the goals we set for ourselves for this month.  That’s supposed to be the advantage of doing something like this with someone else.  Your parter is supposed to remind you and help keep you accountable.

Neither one of us flinched.

I’m telling you, though, when we are done with our 30 day challenge, we are definitely going back to Kickstand.  It may have been an complete and total real food failure, but it was DELICIOUS!  My burger was amazing and those fries were some of the best fries I’ve had in a while.  They also had a good beer selection, not the best I’ve seen in our burgeoning beer town, but a good one nonetheless.  I guess we are just a little spoiled on the beer front here…#firstworldproblems.


Let’s see, what else can I do I need to confess to you…

I’m annoyed by the inconvenience of shopping for local produce and meat for my weekly groceries.  I HATE fighting the crowds to do my grocery shopping on the weekend.  I’ve been working 4 10-hour days since October, getting Thursdays off, and doing my grocery shopping then.  Even then, though, I still like to get up and get my shopping out of the way first thing in the morning.  Until this last week or so, I had it down to a science.  Hit Target by 8:30a for things like toilet paper, toothpaste, etc.  Then head across the street to Trader Joe’s for the food. Home by 9:30a (or 10:00a at the latest) with the rest of my day off ahead of me.

Around here Farmer’s Markets are only open on Saturdays.  There are crowds there too and you have to get up at the stinking crack of dawn to get there before everything gets picked over.  The “stinking crack of dawn” is not where I like to start my Saturdays…and did I mention that I HATE fighting crowds?  However, there are two local public markets which sell only goods from local farms and are open on Thursdays – Atherton Mill Market and 7th Street Public Market.  However, one opens at 10:00a and the other opens at 11:00a.  So, if I want to get everything that I can locally, before heading to Trader Joe’s for the rest, I’m not even getting started on this until 10:00a.  I have found that I can consistently get the meat I want from 7th Street and between the two can always get local milk, eggs, and cheese on Thursdays, but neither of these places seem to be as stocked in the produce department on Thursday as they are on Saturdays. (I started researching this part of it before we started our actual 30 days.)  That means I end up running around to 3-4 different places in the middle of the day on Thursday just trying to get local grown food.

I miss the one-stop shopping!  Frankly, though, it’s starting to annoy me that it is more difficult and inconvenient to get the local food.  It should be the other way around. (Markets, if you are reading this, it would be immensely helpful if you would post on your websites the produce you have available each week.)  I am thoroughly pleased with the goods I get from these places, I just think it should be easier to get local stuff than imported stuff.  Ya feel me?

Final real food airing of grievances – I. MISS. MY. HAZELNUT. COFFEE. CREAMER!!!  My morning coffee is just not the same with plain half-and-half.  To say I am not a morning person is the understatement of the century.  Needless to say, taking away my favorite thing about the morning, makes for one unhappy momma (pup momma, that is.)

Despite our Friday night epic failure and my griping here today,  we are enjoying this challenge and have been able to stick to the rules for the remaining 95% of our week.  When we have eaten the food that I’ve prepared we have stuck to the real food rules beautifully.  And I am really glad that we are making a better effort to support our local farmers and economy.  I’m getting some tremendous satisfaction out of making some of our menu and pantry staples myself.  You’ll have to tune in later in the week to read all about that.

Until then, we will keep trucking along and trying to keep it real!





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it’s about to get real around here

Sorry for the lack of posts last week.  Blame The Mr’s travels, me subsequently having a hectic week, and the power being out for two hours because of a storm on the one night I had time to work on posts.  But now, my fella is back in town, the power remains on, and all is right with the world.

So, I’m baffled. I can’t believe that I have lived in Charlotte and been a food blog reader for as long as I have and have only come across the blog 100 Days of Real Food in the last month!  I seriously don’t know how on earth I’ve been missing it.  Oh, well.  Whatevs.

For those three other people in the world who haven’t read it but somehow read this blog, the 100 Days blog is about how a family of four completely cut processed food out of their life for 100 days and the subsequent dietary changes they maintained after the initial 100 days.  I’ve found it to be really interesting…and eye opening.  In fact, it got me wondering…how much processed food do The Mr and I really eat?

Initially, I was all “I buy 97% of our groceries at Trader Joe’s.  We can’t be doing that badly, right?”

Before I can answer that question, I should clarify what Lisa from 100 Days outlined as “real food” for her family’s 100 day challenge.  Pretty much real food is just what it sounds like.  It’s food that either remains or is made from ingredients that have not been processed in any way.  So, for Lisa’s 100 day challenge here were the terms:

What You CAN Eat:

1.  Whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry.

2.  Lots of fruit a vegetables (as many as possible from local farmers).

3.  Dairy products like milk, unsweetened yogurt, eggs, and cheese.

4.  100% whole wheat and whole grains.

5.  Seafood (preferably wild caught over farm-raised).

6.  Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (and preferably in moderation).

7.  Beverages limited to water, milk, all natural juices, naturally sweetened coffee and tea, wine, and beer.  (WHEW!)

8.  Snacks like dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and popcorn.

9.  All natural sweeteners including honey, 100% maple syrup, and fruit juice concentrates in moderation.

What you CAN NOT Eat:

1.  No refined grains such as white flour or white rice (items containing wheat must say WHOLE wheat, not just wheat).

2.  No refined sweeteners such a sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or artificial things like Splenda.

3.  Nothing out of a box, bag, can, bottle, or package that has more than five ingredients listed on the label.

4.  No deep fried foods,

5.  No “fast foods.”


So keeping those in mind, I started looking at the things in my refrigerator.  Here’s what I found:

Exhibit A – My FAVORITE Tru-Moo Chocolate Milk (which I typically use for my late afternoon snack)


Daaammmnnn!  I knew it was too good to be true that chocolate milk could be good for me.  So how many “real food rules” have I broken with this one – 1) sugar as an added ingredient, 2) packaged product with more than 5 ingredients in it, and 3) cornstarch.


Exhibit B – The Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage Links we eat with breakfast each morning. 


This one didn’t surprise me much.  Definitely counting more than 5 ingredients on the back of the package…two of them being added sugar and added salt.


Exhibit C – My FAVORITE Trader Joe’s Hazelnut non-dairy creamer that I put in The Mr puts in my coffee each a.m.


You may ask yourself what exactly I thought “non-dairy creamer” entailed.  Truth is, I didn’t think about it at all really.  I just liked the hazelnut flavor and thought it would be healthier than say Coffee Mate you buy at main stream grocery stores, you know, since it comes from TJs.  I’m betting that the fact “cane sugar” is listed as the second ingredient in it means it has a pretty hefty dose of it.  Again I say – daaaammmnnn!  (FYI, that should be pronounced with at least three syllables…)

And finally…

Exhibit D – The Trader Joe’s Sundried Tomato Chicken Sausage I’ve been putting in my lunchtime quiche.


This one is sneaky.  Conveniently lumped into the category of “seasoning” for this product are added salt and added sugar.  Hey, at least TJs was honest about it.  They could have easily left only the generic “seasoning” in the ingredients list and it would have met the “no packaged items with more than five ingredients rule.”  But…they told the truth and I’m a believer that the truth will set you free.  That’s true of many things, but in this case it’s free from added sugar and salt.

Clearly, not all is as it seems.  For the most part, as long as we eat at home, we do pretty well with these things.  But, as this little experiment illustrated, there are some hidden traps out there.  And, truth be told, I talk a good game about eating local but when it comes to my weekly shopping, I opt for convenience.  I can make a greater effort to get more of our meat, dairy, and produce from local farmers.  We’re much better about drinking local than eating local. 😉  I need to learn to shake the hand that feeds me…not just the one that makes my beer.

On her blog, Lisa encourages readers to go for a 10-day real food challenge to open their eyes about the hidden processed foods they encounter.  I don’t know that I’m ready to sign up for a full 100-day challenge, but I think 10 days might be a little too short for us, especially since we have a pretty good start.  I mean, aside from my Tru-Moo habit, our snacks are mostly things like plain Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, cheese, and raw nuts.   In ten days we could simply avoid eating out and make one run to the farmer’s market.    That’s not enough to really start to impact our habits and the choices we make about our food.

So, The Mr and I have decided to put ourselves on a 30 day challenge to follow the rules listed above and only eat real food.  We started yesterday and we’ve got two weeks to get into a rhythm before he has to go on a business trip.  I can tell you right now, I’m already missing my hazelnut flavored coffee creamer…

I’m also thankful that beer and wine are the products of natural processes which put them in the list of “allowed” foods and beverages.  Otherwise, no deal…or at least only maybe 98% deal.

Anyway, we’ve got one day down and 29 more to go.  Who knows, as we approach the 30-day mark we might call an audible and decide to go the full 100.  You never know!  Wish us luck! We’ll keep you posted as to how we are doing!





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i stole a wall of S’s

Truth be told, I didn’t actually steal the S’s in the strict sense of the word, rather just the IDEA of them.  This blog is supposed to be about The Mr and I traveling about, eating good food, drinking good beer, and learning how to use our fancy camera in the process.  However, the fact of the matter is that, for the time being The Mr will be the one traveling about, not I.  Don’t worry, he’s just going on work trips, not doing anything fun without me.  I am perturbed about said trips because they are keeping us from doing a couple fun things that I really like to do…like say the inaugural Oxford Craft Beer Festival… I’m more than a little annoyed by this.  But I digress…

Don’t worry, though, Charlotte has enough going on in the beer scene these days to keep this blog hopping (ha, ha get it.  Beer.  “Hopping.”  am I the only one that finds that amusing?) for a while.  Anyway, because we’re (mostly I will be) hanging out at the homestead for a bit, I thought I’d feature a couple little projects that we’re doing around the house.  Which leads me back to the “stolen” wall of S’s…

We’ve been in our townhouse for 4 1/2 yrs.  Most of the decorating is done, but it is definitely still a work in progress.  Our downstairs half-bath has been one of these unfinished projects that has plagued me since day one.  It was painted and crowned with moulding within two months of us moving in here but I’ve never been able to check that tiny little room off as “done” from the decorating “to-do” list because I’ve never had an idea about what to do with the wall behind the toilet.  This has irked me every single time I’ve gone into that room for 4 1/2 yrs. And when I say “every single time I’ve gone into that room for 4 1/2 yrs” I literally mean EVERY.  SINGLE.  TIME.

You might be thinking “Dude, it’s a bathroom wall.  Relax.” But, you see, because it’s the only water closet downstairs, someone goes in there every single time we have people over.  The toilet directly faces the sink which, like all bathrooms everywhere, has a mirror hanging over it.  So, whether it’s a female guest who sits or a male guest who stands while answering the call of nature in my home, what they stare at is a big blank green wall. See what I mean…




Call me crazy, but I like to look at something pretty when I potty.  I recently spruced up the back of the bowl with an orchid.  It helped, but it wasn’t enough.




That blank wall plagues me.  It simply won’t do.  It just bothers me.  It’s blah and boring.  Despite it’s constant mocking of me,  I didn’t want to just throw any old thing up there to fill the space.  So, 4 1/2 yrs go by while I remain uninspired about how to remedy the situation.  Enter Emily from Jones Design Company.  I’ve been one of her readers for a while, but had forgotten about this particular project until recently when I came across this post from March of last year while perusing her site in search of something else.  I didn’t even have to re-read the entire post to be inspired.  As soon as I caught a glimpse of the post title I knew – this was the solution to my bathroom dilemma bathroom WALL dilemma.

I took inspiration from Emily and decided to fill our half-bath wall with our monogram like she did with the L’s.




Emily said that she purchased only a couple of her L’s and that she made the rest from things that she had lying around the house.  Not being as much of a DIYer as Emily, I actually had to spend about $50 to gather the necessary supplies, but (for me at least) that’s a pretty low budget decorating project.  Also, I’m not nearly as creative as Emily, so I actually copied a couple of her monograms outright.

I stuck with neutral tones to keep it from looking too busy.  Here’s the individual breakdown (descriptions left to right):


KDT Wall of S's


1.  S sketched and painted onto a small canvas purchased from Michael’s.  I used the font from #6 as my guide.

2.  S printed on parchment paper and framed in a vintage frame purchased at the Habitat for Humanity Restore ($1).  Like, Emily, I drew in the “No. 2” at the bottom to add visual interest.  (It was the second S that I completed.)

3.   layered scrap linen with S cutout of scrapbook paper framed in an ugly frame purchased at the Habitat for Humanity Restore (also $1) that I repainted black.

4.  large S cut out of foam core board and decoupaged with scrapbook paper in vintage frame also purchased from Habitat ($2).

5.   printed/framed photo of an S I took as part of a photo project I’m working on.

6.  plain wooden S purchased from Michael’s and crackle finished using paints that I happened to have around the house.

7.  a combination of two stolen from Emily’s wall… a S cut out of glittered scrapbook paper and glued to scrap linen with metal book plate and label with “est. 1999” handwritten on it.  (We got married in 1999.) The frame was also an ugly $1 purchase from Habitat that I crackle painted using supplies I already had.

8.  toile fabric swatch from Calico Corners (ordered years ago and never used) layered with a printed S framed in a vintage frame purchased at the Habitat for Humanity Restore (also $1).

9.  chalkboard painted piece of scrap wood from our garage with hand drawn S and border.  Stolen straight from Emily’s wall

10.  bronze metal S purchased on clearance at Restoration Hardware for $6.

11.  small S stenciled on a piece of frayed scrap linen, backed with a scrap fabric swatch from another project, and framed in a small frame purchased at Michael’s. MY FAVE!!


I spent an entire Saturday sprawled out on top of a drop cloth in the middle of my kitchen floor painting, cutting, crackling, gluing, and decoupaging then let everything dry overnight.  The next day I enlisted the help of The Mr to mount/hang them.  I then added the bright pink orchid back to the top of the toilet for a pop of color and…VOILA!




I ADORE how it turned out!  In fact, I now believe this to be the most interesting wall in our house.  And, I promise I haven’t been outright asking people that come over if they need to go to the bathroom and following them there to show off/talk about my S’s…I mean, that would be weird right?…honestly, who would do that?…

Moral of this story – crime DOES pay. 😉  Now, if I can just keep from murdering the orchid…



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quickie quiche

Little factoid for  ya – I HATE eggs…but I LOVE a good quiche.  Weird, huh?  That falls along the lines of other food idiosyncrasies such as the fact that I love a good salad, but will not eat lettuce on any kind of sandwich/burger.  I can’t stand how papery the lettuce feels in my teeth between the bread.  Similarly, I love coconut flavor, but will not touch anything with coconut shavings on it. (This quirk is useful when trying to avoid various forms of wedding and German chocolate cake.) Again, it’s a texture thing.  Can’t stand how the coconut shavings feel between my teeth when I chew them.  Oh, and don’t even get me started on water chestnuts!

I’m not really sure what it is about the eggs.  My parents said I’ve hated them since the first time they tried to give them to me as a toddler.  We’re talking total meltdown here.  As in, a reschedule-an-appointment-for-those-Olan-Mills-one-year-old-portraits meltdown.  (If you were born in the 70’s you know the portraits I’m referencing.)   I’m not so sure that it’s a texture thing with the eggs because I’ve tried to eat them pretty much every way they come – scrambled, fried, poached, over easy, omelet.  You name it.  Nope. Nada.  Nothing doing.  Can’t get them down.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at brunch and watched someone order a fabulous omelet, and ask to try a bite, only to end up (discreetly) spitting that bite out into a napkin.  Classy, I know.  But for some reason a quiche works.

This baby is no exception!


Another weird factoid – I HATE cold lunch.  Oh…and I’m the teensiest OCD about being organized.  Not that there is anything wrong with that…especially when your spice cabinet is alphabetized. 🙂 (I’ll have to show you that one later!)

By now, I bet you are thinking – Where is she going with this?  Here it is…

I like to make one big lunch item for the week on Sunday afternoons and divvy it up into daily portions.  That way all my lunches for the week are ready at once and all I have to do each day is replenish my lunch box each evening when I get home from work.  I hate cold lunch.  So this never involves me pre-making five sandwiches or pasta salad.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine posted a quiche recipe on Facebook.  I had never made a quiche before because, for some reason, I assumed it would be this really complicated thing.  But, after looking at my friend’s recipe I realized how easy it actually was.  She posted a basic recipe and commented that you could fill it with anything that struck your fancy.   I knew that one quiche would yield about 6-8 servings, which would give me a hot lunch to take to work for a week.   That got the old wheels a turnin’.  Hmmm….

My for my first try I used broccoli, Trader Joe’s Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage, and whatever cheese I happened to have in my fridge at the time.  I think it was part Parmesan, part Pecorino Romano.  It was okay, but nothing to write home about.  So the next week while perusing the meat/poultry aisle at Trader Joe’s, I found new inspiration – Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Sausage!

And this Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche was born!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c half & half
  • ~6 oz Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Sausage
  • ~6 oz of Sun-Dried Tomatoes in olive oil
  • ~2 oz of goat cheese
  • 2 portabella mushroom caps
  • fresh herbs (to taste)
  • kosher salt and pepper (to taste)
  • pre-made pie crust

Preheat the oven to 375.  Slice the sausage (on the bias) and mushrooms and brown in a little bit of olive oil.



Meanwhile mix the eggs, half & half, salt, pepper, and herbs thoroughly using a hand-held mixer.  (On my first try with this, I tried mixing the goat cheese in at this stage thinking it would blend into the egg mixture.  It didn’t. I was left with a clump of wet eggy goat cheese at the bottom of my mixing bowl. So, I don’t recommend that.)  I have some fresh herbs growing in a window sill.  So I just grabbed a little thyme and rosemary, but you can use what ever you have on hand.


Mix browned sausage and mushrooms in a bowl with the sun-dried tomatoes.



Place your pie crust in pie pan.  Add your sausage, mushroom, tomato mixture.  Crumble goat cheese on top.


Pour egg mixture over the filling.  Bake for 30-60 min until firm and the middle is no longer jiggly.  (My oven takes ~ 45 min.)


Let cool, then cut into 6 even slices.

Out of curiosity, I used this recipe calculator to figure out the nutritional stats on this yumminess.  As best I can figure, each serving is worth the following:

  • Calories 243.5
  • Total Fat 16.3g
  • Total Carbohydrate 5.3g
  • Protein 14.9g

I like to serve mine with a side salad and some fruit.


Now, how’s THAT for brown bagging it!



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3.2 in the rearview

For this week’s “Tuesdays on Tap” post (a tradition we plan to be more consistent with this time around), I’d like to tell you about some interesting Mississippi brews.

You may remember that when we traveled to Mississippi recently we decided to bring along provisions since our previous experience had been that good craft beer was pretty scarce down there.  I have to tell you that we were pleased to discover not one, but two Mississippi breweries with offerings we really enjoyed.

Truth be told, our provisions were gone in about two three days.  Hey…we shared.  It wasn’t all us.  We don’t drink that much.  So, as we still had 9 more days to go in the Magnolia State, we had to go in search of replenishments.  While in Jackson, we found Lazy Magnolia’s Southern Pecan and Timber Beast at the local Kroger.  We had hopes of getting our hands on their Jefferson Stout (a sweet potato cream stout) and Southern Hops’pitality (a traditional IPA) as well, but couldn’t seem to locate those.

The Southern Pecan is a lightly hopped caramelly nut brown ale that, according to Lazy Magnolia’s website is the first beer in the world brewed with pecans.  While in MS, I had it bottled at my in-laws house and on draught at three different locations.  Both delicious, but the draught was obviously my favorite.  It became my go-to Mississippi brew.




The Timber Beast is an Imperial Rye IPA which is the first in Lazy Magnolia’s “Back Porch Series.”  The name of this series sounds special and interesting, but I have yet to find a definition of what all it actually entails.    If I ever get down to the brewery in Kiln, MS I’ll have to ask.  Whatever it is, it got this brew a Beer Advocate rating of 90 (exceptional) and at 9% it was actually illegal to brew, own or distribute in Mississippi until last summer.  Being an Imperial Rye IPA, this one was more The Mr’s style…or so you’d think.  But more on that later!

While out and about in the Brandon area one evening we decided to pop into the local Mellow Mushroom as we were jonesing for a draught and we knew the Mellow Mushroom would have a good selection.  We were pleased to find that a new Mississippi brewery, Lucky Town Brewing Co (from Gluckstadt, MS) had a selection tapped there – their Ballistic Blonde.




It’s a Belgian Style Blonde Ale that clocks in around 5.1% with notes of banana and spice.  It was very refreshing, the kind of beer you want to drink outside on a warm summer evening.  Since February in Mississippi ranges in temps from 40-73 degrees (I was drinking it on a 68 degree February day), you are pretty much good to drink it year round down there.  Lucky Town is apparently a newly opened brewery (so much so that it doesn’t appear to have an open tap room yet) and currently only has two offerings – the Ballistic Blonde and the Flare Incident Oatmeal Stout. (Lucky Town folks, if you read this and I’m wrong, please correct me.  We’d sure love to visit the next time we are down that way.)

Later that week we made the pilgrimage north to God’s country – Oxford, MS.  (Aw, I miss it…)  While in OxVegas, we were pleased to have more opportunities to enjoy these local brews.  I mentioned that I washed down my City Grocery Shrimp and Grits with a Timber Beast.




I’ve stated time and time again that The Mr is the IPA fan in the family.  But, I knew from my Beer and Cheese pairing class at NoDa last October that I can really enjoy an IPA with the right smoky gouda.  I have the recipe for City Grocery’s Shrimp and Grits and, while it doesn’t include gouda, I knew that it included parmesan and extra-sharp white cheddar cheeses and had enough of a smokey quality that I would more than enjoy a hoppy Timber Beast with it.  I was right.  The bite of the Timber Beast beautifully balanced the spice and smoke of the Shrimp and Grits for me.  It was a perfect pairing.

A couple days later I discovered that Oxford’s new-to-me-Cajun-dive, Irie on the Square, had Lucky Town’s Flare Incident tapped.  My research told me that this was an oatmeal stout, which I knew would be right up my alley.  The Mr offered to go start us a tab while I got a table and caught up with old friends.  When I asked him to get me a Flare Incident, I assumed that it wouldn’t be necessary to specify that I only wanted a pint.  I was wrong.  This is what I was brought…




If you haven’t inferred from context, let me clarify.  The vat-o-beer on the right is what he brought me.  Sadly, this was our third stop of the evening, so I didn’t have the capacity for 32 extra ounces of beer. (What was he thinking?!?)  I barely made a dent in this maple syrup laced baby.  But, what I did drink, I very much enjoyed.  I’m looking forward to encountering this Incident again…albeit it in a somewhat smaller delivery vehicle.

The reason that finding these great local craft beers in Mississippi is so amazing is that, until last July, it was illegal to sell or possess beer that contained more than 5% alcohol.  From our experience, though, you were lucky if you could even locate any beers that weighed in over 3.2%, much less find a 5%-er.  That also meant that Lazy Magnolia (the only Mississippi brewery that existed until recently) couldn’t even make higher gravity beers to distribute in other states.    Thanks to the hard work of grass roots organizations like Raise Your Pints Mississippi the governor signed the craft beer bill into law on April 9, 2012 making “brews that are up to 8 percent alcohol by weight, or 10 percent by volume” legal in Mississippi as of July 1, 2012.  This was our first trip back since the law changed and, boy, did it make going home that much better.

(Side note – the grass roots efforts are now working on initiatives to legalize home brewing the  Magnolia State.)

So, Mississippi, let’s raise you pints!  Here’s to keeping those 3.2’s in the rearview mirror!



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Oxford by Instagram

The reason behind our recent trip back to Oxford was for me to attend a reunion.  Being the kind of girl that takes more pictures of food than anything else on vacation I, of course, had a list of places that I wanted to hit while there.  Here’s a brief little recap of the food, beverages, and fun.

Instagram Oxford


1.  Abner’s sauce = BEST.  DIPPING. SAUCE.  EVER.  Abner’s is a chicken place that originated in Oxford, but has recently franchised a bit.  This is the secret sauce that used to come standard with every order.  Now they ask you what kind of sauce you want (Abner’s, BBQ, honey mustard, etc).  That annoys me…It’s ABNER’S.  Your ONLY choice should be ABNER’S SAUCE.  If you want BBQ or honey mustard, go to Chick-fil-A.

2.  City Grocery’s Shrimp and Grits – first on my list of things to eat while in Oxford.  I’ve got the recipe and occasionally I make it myself at home, but it’s just never as good as when The Grocery makes it.

3.  Saw these posted all around the Square.  Like I need another reason to want to go back to Oxford…

4.  The Timber Beast IPA from Mississippi’s own Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company that I used to wash down my Shrimp and Grits.

5.  Courthouse on the Oxford Square.  When I see this I know I’m home.

6.  Beautiful latte from Bottletree Bakery.

7.  No trip to Oxford is complete without Chicken on a Stick.  SO YUMMY!  It ain’t fancy.  It’s fried.  It’s chicken.  It’s on a stick…Did I mention that you get it at a gas station?  Also, it’s really only appropriate to eat it after midnight and partaking of  several adult beverages.

8.  Sipping yet another Mississippi brew at Irie on the Square.  This place is new to Oxford for me, but it was good for a post-banquet brew.  Guess which one was mine…

9.  Fun artwork in my director’s home that represents most of my time at Ole Miss and in Oxford this weekend.

10.  Breakfast of champions on the way home.  Technically, I didn’t get or take this in Oxford.  It was taken in Atlanta on the way home from Mississippi, but I needed a 10th picture to make the collage work.  So sue me…

Not pictured are:

  • late Thursday night brews at Ajax Diner (I had a Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan which you’ll read about in a later post)
  • Friday night dinner banquet at the University Club
  • Saturday morning breakfast at Big Bad Breakfast (wasn’t in Oxford when I was there and that’s probably a good thing.  The headline on their website says “Lard Have Mercy,” need I say more?)
  • Saturday lunch at Proud Larry’s (was very excited to see that my previous favorite Southwestern Pasta had made its way back on to the menu)
  • and Saturday night dinner at Two Stick Sushi (I wasn’t a sushi fan when I was at Ole Miss, so I was a Two Stick virgin until last weekend…but I’ll definitely be going back for more)


And that, ladies and gentleman is how I ate my way around Oxford for 5 days!



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We are headed to MS for a few days to help out with some family things and then go to a reunion for me.  We are both native Mississipians, and as much as we love it, compared to NC it is a craft beer wasteland.  That isn’t to say that Mississippi is completely void of craft beer.  It’s just that, when compared to NC, it’s slim pickings way down South in Mississippi.  We know that Mississippi now has the Lazy Magnolia Brewery, but it’s on the coast which is not where we are headed.  So, just in case are are unable to get our hands on some of Lazy Magnolia’s offerings, we had to pack provisions.

Travel Provisions

Hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to continue to drink in the manner to which she has become accustomed, even while traveling.

The Mr is a hophead. I’m more of a stout and porter kind of girl.  Since NoDa wouldn’t let us growler a Ménage a Quàd to take with us, we couldn’t decide on one happy medium.  So, he chose a Midnight Madness (a Cascadian Dark Ale made with five hop varieties: Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, Chinook, and Warrior hops.)  I chose a Coco Loco (a Robust Porter made with chocolate and brown malts and toasted organic coconut).

That ought to keep us set…for a few days at least!


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