Monday, May 2, 2016

The Purple Pig

It was a Friday night in Chicago, I was hanging with these girls:


And we were hooooongry!

We decided to stick close to our hotel for dinner so headed across the street to The Purple Pig for tapas. Share plates? Yasss! One of my favorite things ever!

The restaurant was on the small side but, even though it was a cold night, they had the patio open. It was enclosed and they had heat lamps ablaze so it was perfectly comfortable ... maybe even a little too warm at times!

The place had a young/ hipster-y vibe which always makes me kinda roll my eyes and also be thankful than I lived out my 20's in the early 2000's even though the early 2000's meant super low rise jeans. Still better than men in skinny jeans, amIright? Anyway, total hipster vibe to this place and I felt every bit of my 35 years, every bit of my "lives in the 'burbs" self. 

Our waiter was pretty awesome, though maybe slightly harried. He was friendly and gave good advice on the menu. He gets four and a half stars, as does the beer, the rest of the experience though ...

Here's the deal: 

I love tapas and share plates. I understand that they're smaller portions. However. Smaller portions should be smaller prices. If I'm paying $15 for a pork belly share plate, there needs to be more than three small pieces of pork on that plate! Obviously, I took issue with the quantity of food verses the price. 

Now let's talk quality. We each ordered two plates for a grand total of six dishes to share. Our "side" type dishes (smashed potatoes, cauliflower, and I can't even remember the other one!) were ... they were not good. Everything had a vinegar-y, lemon-y taste to it. When we questioned the waiter, he explained it was because everything was heavy on Mediterranean flavor. Yeah, I don't mind Mediterranean food but that was all too much. 

As far as the "entrees," everything we ordered was very good. We had the octopus, pork belly, and pork shoulder. And all were delicious. However, they were very overpriced. Honestly, the food we got just wasn't worth how much we paid. AND we were all still a touch hungry when we left. 

Chicago is an AMAZING food city. The Purple Pig can't even compete. Skip it when you're in the city. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Favorites: April

So can I be all cliché for a minute here and say, "WHERE THE HECK DID APRIL GO?!?"  I love the month of May but it also makes me anxious.  So.much.going.on.  We had a pretty packed April too, though, par for the course in the spring.  Here's a look at some favorites

Favorite Moments:
 
There have been SO MANY this month! Karis turning six, my trip to Chicago, just all the FUN we had. But, easily, hands down, the very best moment was this:

Realizing we were going to be homeowners!

Favorite Book:
I'm not going to lie, reading has taken a complete backseat this month. I've started two books and finished neither of them. 

Favorite movie/ TV show:
I realize I'm the lamest lame whoever lamed but again ... nada. I didn't see any movies this month and I'm really just not a TV person anymore. 

Favorite New Recipe:
I think I only tried one new recipe this month!  I made this bundt cake. 

Decorator I am not!

It was just a standard cake recipe (with an added package of pudding) but the frosting ... soooo good! I just added two tablespoons of vanilla to store brought frosting. Who would've thought that could make so much difference?!?

Favorite Song:

I totally have a girl crush on Maren Morris and have to turn it up when "80's Mercedes" comes on. I'm telling y'all, this girl is going to be HUGE.

Favorite Kid Moments:
J: A couple weeks ago at their schools' International Night, looking over and seeing him sitting with his "girlfriend" and her family.  He's growing up!  It's bittersweet but it's . . . life.
K1: This kid . . . he is too funny and he wants what he wants.  We've been discussing birthday cakes (his birthday party is next weekend!) and he doesn't want his cake to say, "Happy Birthday Kyan!"  Oh no.  It needs to say, "Denver Broncos, Super Bowl Champions."  I'll keep you posted . . .
K2: Her birthday!  She was so excited and happy both at her party and then on her actual day when I joined her for lunch at school.  She loved having a party to celebrate her and a day dedicated just to her coming into the world.  She's at that age where birthdays are just so magical and I love it.

Favorite Meme/ Picture/ Time Waster from Social Media:
Not a meme or picture and I don't necessarily agree with all her wording but this article.
It's amazing! I wish more Christians would walk THIS walk!

Favorite Pictures:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thursday Things

1) I went through a (rather unfortunate, in hindsight) "beret phase" in late junior high. I wore one to church once and the boy I had a crush on began singing, "I was working part-time at the five and dime ... My boss was Mr. McGhee ..." and, hence, my love for the song "Raspberry Beret" was born. I can't believe Prince is gone. Prince ... Michael Jackson ... Whitney Houston ... all icons from my childhood, all gone way too soon.

2) I get dizzy (and excited!) thinking about the month of May. Kyan's birthday, my birthday, Mother's Day, field trips, field days, end of school year celebrations and picnics. All that and Mark has a business trip. And, oh yeah, we decided to move too! 

3) Favorite shirt I saw in Chicago last weekend: "My cup size is Stanley." If I cared at all about hockey, I'd have swooped one up!

4) Driving a total of sixteen hours all alone in the car means I can tell you all the songs that are currently wayyyy over-played. I was thankful for the Prince tribute channel but that also got very repetitive. 

5) I picked up some Garrett's popcorn while in Chicago ... the Garrett's mix (caramel and cheddar.) I was too tired to really enjoy it Monday evening but tried it on Tuesday. The cheddar had gone stale but, mannnnn, that popcorn is GOOD. Now I know why there was always a line down the sidewalk for it!

6) Jaidan had a European country project due Wednesday ... that he told me about on Tuesday. Fun. I think we did pretty good for the limited work time!


7) A friend recently gave me the Elin Hilderbrand book, "The Rumor." I'm dying to read it NOW but also want to wait until we move into our house and indulge in it poolside. We'll see if I make it!

8) Tonight is a night I happen to love ... NFL draft night! It will be interesting to see how soon Paxton Lynch (Memphis QB) is snapped up. Some predictions have him going as early as #7. We'll see ...

9) One last thing about Chicago. On our last night, we stopped at Pizano's because a certain boyfriend wanted a Chicago style thin crust (yes, thin crust!) pizza. We sat at the bar while waiting and the bartender was awesome. She gave us these cute little glasses:


And when something was mentioned about Jay Cutler she said, "I hate that guy! He's a douche and his wife is a whore!" If Mark had been there, he probably would've married her. 

10) Yup. 









Wednesday, April 27, 2016

NOLA Moves North

My girls' trip this year was planned for New Orleans, the weekend of April 22. When we picked the date, we didn't realize that was Jazz Fest weekend. Meaning: zero affordable hotels or VRBO's or AirBnB's. Nada. No place to stay. Sooooo. We moved our trip up a little north and spent the weekend in Chicago!

I loaded my car up and dropped my kids with their dad early Friday morning. Put the radio on the Prince tribute station and  got on my way. The thing with driving to Chicago? I had to drive IN Chicago. I was getting their around 2 in the afternoon so I didn't think I would run into that much traffic. 

Wrong. 

It was kinda awful and my nerves were wrecked. But, hey, at least I had a nice view when stuck in traffic?!?


I finally made it to Mo's house ... D was already there. We ordered up an Uber and headed downtown to our hotel. (I didn't take my car to the hotel because NO WAY was I driving in that traffic again but also because parking at the hotel was $67 a night. SIXTY SEVEN. DOLLARS. A NIGHT.)

What is UP with my face?

This pic was taken Sunday, not Friday, and I need to mention that because Friday was COLD. There were no flip flops that day!

Anyway, we stayed at the Intercontinental on the Magnificent Mile and it was an amazing hotel. Very affordable, especially given the location, and the entire staff was extremely friendly. I would definitely recommend the hotel to anyone!


We were all pretty tired Friday so it was a low-key, chill night. We had drinks at the Michael Jordan steakhouse bar then made our way across the street to a tapas restaurant. I'll write more about the restaurants we ate at individually. We were in bed by around midnight. 


Saturday we started the day with brunch which means ... bottomless mimosas!


After brunch, we made our way over to Trader Joe's. I don't have one in Memphis so I had to stock up on cookie butter.  Our brunch was heavy (and yummy!) and we're old so we were all tired and headed back to the room for some rest. 

That night, we made our way to the IO Theater for an amazing comedy improv show called Whirrled News Tonight. I'm going to go so far as to say this show is a MUST if you're visiting the second city! The ensemble had been together for 13 years and they had amazing chemistry and we're just hilarious. It was such a highlight of the trip. Seriously, go see it if you're in Chicago. After the show, we had a late dinner then decided to walk the three-ish miles back to the hotel. 

Our view from the hotel 

Sunday was GORGEOUS and in the 70's! Perfect for brunch on a patio then a water tour. 


We did brunch (more bottomless mimosas, please!), bought some Garrett's popcorn, then made our way over to take an architectural tour of the city ... by boat. 


I think Chicago is one of the most beautiful cities in the country ... mostly due to the architecture. So, obviously, I thought this was an awesome tour. Our guide was funny and entertaining, kept it very interesting. And we got to see the beauty of Chicago by boat!




A shot of the new Navy Pier Ferris wheel ...


After the tour, we walked around a little more and might have even meandered into a bar just to use their bathroom ... then ended up having a couple beers. Oops!



Our fundal downtown stop was ...


We bought banana pudding and, I can assure you, it was southern grandmama good. 

We picked up pizza on the way to Mo's house then stayed up wayyyy too late talking and laughing on her deck. It's always such a good time with these girls! We had a blast. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Life

Sometimes life goes at a steady pace. Sometimes it dulls down and sometimes it speeds up. This is totally a "sped up" week because ... how the heck is it already Thursday?!?

Though, buhhhleeee me, that's a good thing. Because tomorrow I'll be heading out for my first girls' trip since I went to Nashville back in August of 2014. I KNOW, RIGHT? I haven't had a girls' trip in over a year and half ... how does that even happen?!? 

Anyway. I've spent the week stretching my 30 minute lunch break into 35, 45 minutes to get.stuff.done. In addition to that, here's what we've been up to:

* International Night at the kids' school


They started this last year and I love it! We live in a very ethnically diverse area and this is a celebration of that. Families and teachers set up booths spotlighting various countries and areas of the US. They provide educational materials, crafts, and FOOD. One word, y'all, TAMALES. When I lived in Texas, it was easy to get good authentic tamales. Not so much here. But the ones on International Night are slap yo' Mama good. Also, last year, I discovered that I actually love food from Kurdistan. Still true. 

Now, for the "sad" part ... As soon as we got to the school, my boys ditched us. Completely ditched us to hang with their friends. One even sat with his "girlfriend" (and her family!!!!) the entire evening. Karis, on the other hand, led me from booth to booth to introduce me to her favorite teacher aides -- and even tried red beans and rice because her "best teacher friend" was manning the Louisiana booth!

* Tuesday night, I made it to the Y (hadn't been since Friday!) then tackled Karis's homework for the week, did some housework, and we ended up not finishing up from dinner until after 8:30. Oops. Mark grilled three large pork chops (as in, I only half of one), half a leftover sirloin, and several chicken thighs. The kids KILLED the dinner then asked for leftover crawfish (which we steamed.) The heck are we gonna do when they're teens?!?

* Last night we had dinner at a friend's house that ended with kids playing in the rain. 


This friend doesn't have children and I think she was a little horrified we let them play. But I'm a big supporter of playing in the (warm) rain. Just dry off and wipe your feet when you come inside!

* We've been discussing house stuff a lot lately. Our inspection is tomorrow so please cross fingers that it's not covered in mold or anything icky. The house was built in 1983 so it's a little dated. You'll see when I post pictures of the master bathroom! Everything seems to be functional, though, so I think our first major project is going to be the back deck. It's in good shape but we really want to convert it into a four season room. We're most definitely "outside people" and love the idea of an indoor/ outdoor room we can use all year long. We'd like to also put a bathroom out there to keep people from traipsing through the house to the potty from the pool. 

* We're getting ready for the end of the school year! Can you believe it? The kids only have a little over a month left. Which means the next few weeks are going to be cuhhh-razy. We have a zoo field trip and one to Pink Palace and a possible one to see The Jungle Book (the bare necessities ... the simple bare necessities ...) There's a kindergarten celebration, teacher appreciation week, field days, picnics. We also have Kyan's birthday, Mother's Day, BBQ Fest, my birthday. And, oh yeah, CLOSING ON OUR HOUSE! The month of May is exciting but it's soooo much stuff. 

Anyway, life lately has been exciting (house! My upcoming trip!) but also just in that steady rhythm that is ... life. Busy but not overwhelmingly so and not much to write about. Until I get back from my trip next week!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Crawfish and Casinos

We had one of those weekends that makes me so thankful to live in Memphis, Tennessee! This is the best time of year in Memphis -- weather is nice, festivals galore, always something going on.

Friday night, we decided to give Pyro's Pizza a try. They put in a location close to us a while back and we've been meaning to try it out and just never got around to it. It's pizza but a Chipotle/ Subway type concept. You pick your toppings and they make it right there in front of you. I went with pepperoni, bacon, Italian sausage, roasted pepper, onion, banana pepper, and jalapeño. I also did the spicy marinara and a blend of pepper jack, cheddar, and mozza cheeses. It was YUM! The service was a little meh but the pizza was great. 

Saturday was busy, busy. We began the day with a birthday party at the Maria Montessori school in Harbortown. The kids played games, we built cardboard boats for the regatta (the one I helped with sank ... womp womp.)


After the regatta, we made our way down to the Harbortown Square for ...


MUDBUGS!!!

The people sitting across from us had never eaten crawfish before so we had to teach them how. They were amazed at the kids chowing down on them. 

Earlier in the week, we got a coupon in the mail for two free buffets at Bally's casino in Tunica. So we got a babysitter Saturday night and made our way down to the casino. It was so nice to have some kid-free time. 


Sunday was one of my favorite festivals of the year ... Rajun Cajun!


This one is down on the river. They have, like, 16,000 pounds of crawfish. Three live bands play, all kinds of booths set up, people everywhere. 


It was HOT (I got a little burned) and the crawfish line was loooooong. But we had such a great time. 



We even managed to score these Grizzlies glasses (#believeMemphis), a free pair for everyone of us! 



What a great day, great weekend! I told Mark Monday morning that we needed another day in the weekend. "Yeah, but we'd end up just finding another festival or something to go to." Accurate!










Friday, April 15, 2016

House Hunters: Break Out the Champagne


We are homeowners! 

It's funny how fast the whole process went. We first looked at a house (the foreclosure in which our offer was rejected) March 25th. By April 12, we had accepted a counter offer on a completely different property. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, we'll close on our house May 27th. Two months from, "hey, maybe we do want to buy" to homeowners!

And, man, do we love our house -- and the neighborhood. Honestly, the neighborhood is what sold me on this particular house (even though the neighbors have Trump signs in their yard ...) It's shady and beautiful, backs up to a horse farm, and there's very little traffic. Perfect for kids on bikes. 

The house was built in 1983 and will eventually need some updating. The master bathroom, for instance, has a rather ugly brown tub and counters. The "bones" of the house are great, though, and it's far from a cookie cutter. 

We have four bedrooms and a huge bonus room. The three boys will be in a bedroom and the bonus, with part of the bonus also being used as a game room. Mark's daughter will take the other upstairs bedroom -- it has a huge closet that's a teenage girl's dream. The other two bedrooms are downstairs. Mark and I will obviously take the master and Karis will have the other. It's the smallest room but, then, she's the smallest child. 

The house has three FULL bathrooms. Awesome! The eat-in portion of the kitchen is large. We also have a separate dining room but, let's be real, that's not likely to be used for dining! 

The outside pool area of the house is AMAZING! A true "backyard oasis." I can't wait to spend the summer out there. And our calendar is already filling up with people planning to visit. 

Another plus with this house is the school district. Right now, our kids are in Shelby County schools and they are a mess. I read an article the other day about how budget problems mean they're cutting back on special education, eliminating the gifted program, things like that. In the new house, our kids will be in a completely different school district. And a much, much better school district. 

We're so very excited! I can't wait to share more in the coming months as we actually move in and make it our home!






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