Tag: Personal

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!





Permanent link to this article: https://kitchendoesnttravel.com/archives/1144

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…



Permanent link to this article: https://kitchendoesnttravel.com/archives/1049

MY Independence Day

I woke up today with definitive plans.  We’ve done a lot of socializing in the last couple of weeks so, last weekend, I announced to The Mr.  that I would not be attending any July 4th Festivities this year.  You see, in my old age, I’ve come to realize that I am actually an introvert who has been masquerading as an extrovert her entire life.  If I’m too sociable and don’t get enough down/quiet/home time, then I start to get…well…let’s just say I start to get twitchy.  Knowing that I had a day off from work in the middle of the week, I preemptively declared my independence from social obligation.

Ever a slave to my to “To Do” list, I saw the free day in the middle of the week as an opportunity to get a few things done.  I awoke with plans to ride my bike, cook/prep dinners for the rest of the week, work on my Bible Study homework, write/outline blog posts for the next week or so, do a little midweek house keeping, start working on my “To Pack” list for my upcoming trip to Virginia and spend some time practicing my photography.

Instead, I sipped coffee in bed until about 8:45a while begrudgingly watching the Today Show (I’m still mad at NBC for what they did to Ann Curry, but can’t bare to watch GMA.  So, I’m still watching the Today Show, but I’m NOT happy about it.)  I eventually wandered downstairs where I mustered the energy to put some Trader Joe’s frozen waffles in the toaster oven and water the flowers in my kitchen window box.  After that…well…um….

You see…

I…well…I sort of…

It’s just that…

Ok, you got me!  The rest of the day didn’t go exactly as planned…

My subsequent activities basically boiled down to me tooling around on the internet.  As in ALL DAY.  Seriously.  ALL.  STINKING.  DAY.  Doing what, you ask? Do seriously important stuff – you know, reading blogs, reading about how to grow your blog (chief among the suggestions here are actually WRITING posts rather than just tooling around reading what other people have posted), looking for wallets (unfortunately, I’m currently in love with this one), reading more blogs, window shopping for organizational paraphernalia at See Jane Work, Franklin Covey, and The Container Store, and playing rousing games of Words With Friends with my sister and my mother-in-law.  Oh, and reading about 7 chapters of my book club selection…sometimes in the bed…sometimes on the loveseat.

I basically never made it out of my yoga pants.

I DID manage to do one lesson of my Bible Study homework for this week and prep some simple filets for The Mr. to grill.  In all honesty, I also whipped up some small salads and baked two sweet potatoes while The Mr. did the man cooking.  (But who’s counting?) Oh! AAAAAND I can scratch the accomplishment of drizzling melted herb butter over the grilled filets before plating them.

I grew the herbs myself.  That has to count for something, right?

It may not have been the Independence Day our forefathers intended, but today was apparently the day that I declared MY independence…from my “To Do” list, that is.

Cheers y’all,

The Mrs. Signature

Permanent link to this article: https://kitchendoesnttravel.com/archives/972


So, my birthday was a couple weeks ago.  And yes, that number in the title corresponds to the number of birthdays I’ve had.  And, no, I’m none to pleased about the proximity of the number that the aforementioned number rounds up too.  But, I guess it’s better than the alternative, right?

I honor of this grand occasion, I’ve decided to take a cue from Xanthe. She’s a photographer in the UK.  I discovered her blog and photography through the Shutter Sisters blog.  On the 38th anniversary of her birth, Xanthe posted a list of things she like to do or accomplish in her 38th year – a.k.a her Birthday List.

That got me to thinking.  Maybe it’s just the beginnings of the midlife crisis I will inevitably have in 4 yrs, but there are things I want to do in life and I don’t want to put them off any longer.  So, without further adieu, in no particular order, here is My Birthday List.

My 36 Things:

  1. Learn to take really beautiful photographs.
  2. Actually complete a 365 Project…the daily photography practice should help achieve #1.
  3. Exercise regularly enough that it becomes part of my regular routine (like eating, going to work, brushing my teeth), not just be a project that I work on intently for a couple months and lose interest.
  4. Have more dinner parties.
  5. Enjoy my weekends, not just spend every Saturday simply running errands and cleaning my house.
  6. Hire a housekeeper. (Should help achieve #5).
  7. Plan a trip to the Oregon Wine Country/Willamette Valley.
  8. Make a budget and stick to it so as to boost general savings AND savings to pay for said Oregon trip.
  9. Call my grandmothers more often.
  10. Have intentional monthly dates with The Mr. …not just eating out because we didn’t have time or were too tired to cook at home.
  11. Explore Charlotte more.
  12. Explore NC more…I really wanna go to the Outer Banks.  We’ve been North Carolinians for 7 yrs. It’s time.
  13. Finish buying furniture for and decorating our bedroom.
  14. Decorate, organize, and actually use my guest room/office space for something other than storing things that have no designated home.
  15. Actually complete the Couch to 5K app I downloaded to my iPhone a couple years ago.  (I never seem to get past week 3…see #3).
  16. Make plans to stay at Blackberry Farm for some special occasion…or at least drop enough hints that The Mr.  surprises me and whisks me away to there.
  17. Learn to maximize the potential of my photo editing software.
  18. Participate in more local cooking classes, wine, and beer tastings.
  19. Make a habit of going to bed on time and at the same time every day.
  20. Make getting as much local food as I can from the famer’s market that is literally 1 mi from my house a priority.
  21. Stick with and grow this blog.
  22. Use my car less and my bike more.  (Should also help achieve #3)
  23. Live daily in the freedom of Grace, showing others the Grace that I’ve been shown.
  24. Have the guts to do something like this.
  25. Be intentional about cultivating my friendships.
  26. Go TO the movies more.  It’s so much more fun than watching Netflix on my couch.
  27. Get a primary care physician.  I have a couple specialists, but (ugh, as I get older) I need someone helping me look at the whole picture.
  28. Take more weekend trips.
  29. Sing more.
  30. Get a new haircut.  (I’ve had the same one for 5 yrs now.  It’s really cute…but I need something new).
  31. Memorize more Scripture.
  32. Make daily quiet time a priority and let that quiet time take many forms.
  33. Start going to the opera again.
  34. Start flossing daily.  (I got through spurts where I’m really good about it, then I won’t do it for weeks months on end.  Just keeping it real…)
  35. Eat at my dining room table daily, not just when we have people over.
  36. Stop being bothered by having just turned 36.

A lot of these things aren’t major world or life changing things.  Most of them aren’t sexy.  Many aren’t deep.  Some are.  On some level, most are unmet goals that show a pattern of non-completion in my life.  I want to be someone who finishes what I start, someone who sees things through to the end.   What do you say?  Wanna help keep me accountable?

Cheers y’all,

The Mrs. Signature

Permanent link to this article: https://kitchendoesnttravel.com/archives/893


Memorial Day weekend – the official start of summer.  I’m sure, per American tradition, that the rest of you munched on burgers and other outdoor grilled fare this weekend.  Not me.  I nibbled on something a little more delicate…

They belong to our new niece, Abigail.  I assure you, they were delicious…

Cheers y’all,

The Mrs. Signature

Permanent link to this article: https://kitchendoesnttravel.com/archives/895