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Moving On

So obviously it’s been a while since we posted… over a year. Yikes. We’re still alive and still friends! Life just got busy and we decided to put this project to rest and start some new independent projects.

You can find Rachel at http://rachelmb.blogspot.com/, where she talks about life in Memphis, her awesome garden, and lots of other fun bits and pieces!

I just recently started my new project at http://girlnamedallyn.wordpress.com/, where I focus on food(!) and life in New York City, where we moved last fall.

Thanks for all your support in this little spot! It was such a fun time for us both.

 

Happy New Year!

It’s that time of year. When we think about the past year and how we want to improve or what we want to accomplish in the coming year. I’m a big goal person. I usually have goals for the year and goals for seasons. I’m a big dork like that. But I enjoy accomplishing things, challenging myself, and seeing what I’ve done in retrospect.
This year instead of having New Year’s goals I decided to align them with my birthday. I turned 28 a few weeks ago and these are my goals for the year:
- Drink more champagne. This may sound a little silly and frivolous and it is, truthfully. The past year has been heavy and difficult. This year I want to have more fun and stop taking things so seriously. Drinking champagne is just fun, its frivolous  and you can’t be too serious. So far I’m doing marvelously. I’ve decided that I’m going to try all the champagne that my local liquor store carries. I’m starting on the bottom shelf and working my way up. I gotta say that I’m really loving the $4.99 spumante.
- Host 12 gatherings. When Bryan and I first bought our house we had people over every few weeks. This helped us keep the house relatively clean at all times. In the last couple of years we haven’t done as well. This year I want to stretch myself to host at least 12 gatherings. And family doesn’t count. So far I’ve had my old co-workers over for champagne and snacks. I also hosted a birthday party for Bryan when he turned 30. Two down in less than one month!
- Wear Sequins. See: drink more champagne. It’s fun and silly.
- Visit 5 breweries or distilleries. One of my life goals is to visit 50 breweries or distilleries. This year I’d like to visit at least five. We are planning a trip to bourbon country this spring so I have no doubt that I can accomplish this one.
- Read 15 books (3 of which must be non-fiction). So far I’ve read one fiction and have started a non-fiction.
For the last two years I’ve done a photo-a-day or Project365. I always miss a couple days a year, but the point was to capture the little things of each day. I made a book for 2011 and will have one made for 2012 as well. I love being able to look back and remember those little moments. The first Korean meal I’ve had or the time Bryan did something stupid or just snuggling with the dog in bed.
With two years under my belt I feel a little more comfortable to stretch myself this year. The vast majority of photos from the past two years were taken with my smartphone. 2013 I plan on using my DSLR. I inherited one from my father a year and a half ago. I have enjoyed trying to learn to use it, but I rarely cart it with me unless I’m out of town. And if I do I’m pretty shy about taking it out and using it. I’m camera shy behind the camera if that makes any sense. I’m also by no means a good photographer. I have a ton to learn about using that big camera. The purpose of doing this, though, is to 1) take my camera with me, 2) stop being camera shy, and 3) improve my photography skills. I’m pretty excited about it, but also a little nervous.
Do you make goals for the new year or for your birthday? What are you doing to stretch yourself?

Sandy Hook

candle

I stayed glued to my computer screen on Friday, as so many did, trying to find updates on the shooting and hoping beyond hope that it wasn’t as bad as everyone feared. It was.

I received a phone call early Sunday morning from my mom with the news that my 17 year old cousin was in a serious car crash and is now in a coma.

Josh turned to me as I cried and said “If we have kids, they will not drive. We will keep them locked in the basement and home school them.”

While this is obviously not what we’d do, it’s what part of me will want to do. We live in a big scary world. A beautiful world, but a scary one.

When Josh took me to China to meet his dad before we got engaged, I knew several people who warned me to be careful because it’s so “dangerous” in China.

I tell Josh to be careful every day because it’s dangerous here.

We can’t live in fear, no matter how much of a struggle it is to choose to hope. I know that the only thing that I can do is try to be better and love more.

This prayer of St. Francis is one to live by, especially in times like this:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Our hearts and prayers are with all the lives touched by the tragedy at Sandy Hook, and with my cousin and his family.

Roux

For the last couple of years Bryan and I have been a family of 6. Bryan, me, one dog, two cats, and one turtle. We liked our little family. This summer, however, we had a set back. Our beloved dog, Bosco, died. It was heartbreaking. Literally. I think it broke both mine and Bryan’s hearts. We cried and moped around for weeks. Even the cats were sad and missed their sister. (Yes, I’m one of those weirdos that counts their pets as children. Don’t judge me.)  People asked us when we thought we’d get another dog or if we’d get another dog. I knew that we’d get one at some point, but Bryan wasn’t certain he’d want one for a long long time. It was a sensitive matter and I decided to leave well enough alone.
In the past month or so my heart had healed a bit and I found myself longing for a dog. You know how some women, you may be one, long for a baby. Like their body actually craves a baby? I’m not one of those women, but I felt that way about a dog. We’d be out and I’d see one and I’d ache. Bryan had to stop telling me about encounters with dogs in his daily dealings because I always followed his story saying “I WANT A DOG!”
One day, not so long ago, we were both out in a suburban area of town at a random time of day. He mentioned that maybe while we were in the area go by the Humane Society. This was the first we discussed it and I was over the moon. It turned out we couldn’t go by that particular day, but it got us started on the path.
We visited the local Humane Society on a Saturday. We had spent the days preceeding looking online at pictures of dogs at both the Humane Society and other local foundations. I didn’t give it much weight. I knew that I couldn’t make a decision until I saw a dog personally. My only requirement was that it wanted to snuggle with me. Bryan had a few more specific criteria.
We walked around the building and saw all the dogs and then discussed which ones were our favorites. We asked to meet two of them.  After playing with them both separately, we knew we were hooked on one of them.
Meet Presley Roux Baddorf.
She’s about 3 years old and is a hound/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. A park ranger saw her previous owners ditch her in one of our local parks.
I can not figure out why they would get rid of this sweet baby. All she wants to do is cuddle. You don’t even have to play with her. Let her in the backyard and she will literally play with herself.
The cats haven’t totally accepted her into our fold, but we’re closer than we were a week ago.

Lolling Reno: Bathroom Renovation

Bryan and I own a bungalow built in 1920. We’ve lived here for nearly 4 years and have been blessed to not have to do too much work to it. Besides replacing an appliance and doing some work in the backyard this past summer, we haven’t done anything other than paint a couple of rooms.

I’ve never liked the tile in the shower, but it was at the bottom of our to-do list. From the moment I first saw the house I had a minor kitchen reno in mind for about 3-5 years down the road. Unfortunately for me the grout in the shower has decided it didn’t like being there anymore and we had some serious concerns about water damage. So as of yesterday we started with a major bathroom renovation. I guess its not too major as we’re keeping the flooring, the sink, and the toilet. But it is major in the fact that we’ll be living without a shower (in a one bathroom house, no less) for nearly 2 weeks. Weeeeeeeeeee!

I’ll have a full report for you afterwards, but I thought you might like to see our before’s and some of my inspiration. Just humor me, okay?

Here’s what we’re working with:

This is from the doorway looking in. We have a shower, sink, radiator, toilet, and built ins surrounding the toilet.
We actually had the shower curtain made a few months after we moved in. This bathroom was also eggplant purple when we moved in and we painted it the blue that first year as well.

Here’s our sink area. There is a small cabinet/cubby type thing to the left of it beside the shower.


Here’s the toilet area. Not too much will change here.


Here’s another angle of the shower. It’s positioned a little weird, so we had to have a custom shower curtain made to accomodate that back end.

I can’t believe I’m about to show you this, but here goes…

The reason for this whole mess. Yeah, that towel rack in the middle of the shower is not at all functional. And the grout is some of the nastiest I’ve ever seen.


Here’s a look at the far end of the shower. I have to say, I kind of like having that shelf there. It comes in handy for all my woman shower products.

Now onto some inspiration! We wanted to keep the bathroom consistent with the age and the feel of the house.

Source: houzz.com via Rachel on Pinterest

 

I liked the light and openness of this bathroom. The tile is period correct and we were really thinking about going with the glass shower.

Source: houzz.com via Rachel on Pinterest

 

I’m not going to lie. When I first saw this one I simply said “meow!” The marble, the flooring, and the glass. It just does it for me.

Source: jwkstyle.blogspot.com via Rachel on Pinterest

 

This one is most true to the direction we’re heading. We are going with white subway tiles and are having marble added to the top and surrounding the tub and adding some wood treatment to the front of it to make it more built in.

I’m so excited to see progress happening. In a way I feel like we’re making this house just a little bit more ours.

I’ll keep you posted.

Busy Weekends

It’s inevitable that every year, around this time, our life starts to kick up a notch. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that fall in TN makes everyone want to party (which is completely understandable), or if it’s kind of pre-gaming for holiday madness, but I find that every weekend starts to have multiple events.

We just had a wonderful, crazy, so very full weekend, and now I need a few days off. Too bad I have to wait until Friday.

As if normal fall insanity isn’t enough, this happened last Thursday:

Our poor Minerva got fixed. This led to a weekend of keeping her locked up in our temporarily dismantled office. Funny how cats completely don’t understand the concept of not jumping and climbing on everything. So much whining and crying, and I was only responsible for about half of the crying. It was rough. However, apparently the male cats in the neighborhood were starting to get a little too interested in her. Hussy.

In good news, I successfully made a dairy free, gluten free, delicious cornbread for a party over the weekend. That recipe will be coming soon! We have a lots of allergies in our group of friends, and a great longing for cornbread, so I decided to rise to the challenge.

Anyone else feeling the fall craziness? Or are you just bracing yourself for next month?

The Rant: Election Weariness

It’s not even November, hell it’s barely mid-October, and I’m totally over the election season. I’ve gotten to the point where I give my husband the evil eye should he mention either one of the candidates or worse, a debate.

Is it too much to ask to be able to keep your political opinions to yourself?

A friend of mine posted on Facebook last week that election season is like a magic sorting hat of who to “unfriend” or “mute”. Which is totally true. I find the same true for American Idol and other reality contests. If you post about it, there will be consequences. Granted the poster may not know about it, but I sure enjoy that moment of satisfaction on my end.

The Pioneer Woman’s website has been one of Allyn and my favorites for a very long time. Last week after a political debate she posted about her hair. I loved that. Yes there are bigger issues in life, but that doesn’t mean we all need to talk about it.

So, on that note, what’s your favorite superficial subject?

Perspective

It’s a disgusting morning here in TN, the kind of morning when you just want to curl up at home and whine. As I drove into work, I was grumbling in my head about the fact that it’s a rainy Monday, and all I really want to do is go back to bed.

Then I got to work, and had an email waiting for me. This email included an update on a woman I know who is doing what very few else will do. She has moved out to Los Angeles, and is devoting her life to rescuing women (and very young girls) from the terrifying and heartbreaking world of human trafficking.

Her latest update is here, and I think everyone, regardless of religion or lack thereof, can agree that compared to the women she rescues, we have so much to be thankful for.

We don’t normally post things of a serious nature on this blog, but I encourage everyone to read through her blog and regain some perspective on this Monday morning. I know that I needed it today.

Cochon Heritage Festival

Alternate Title: Best Weekend of my Life

This past weekend was the first annual Cochon Heritage BBQ Festival & National Bourbon Month kickoff in Memphis.

A three day festival bringing nationally recognized chefs to come together to learn, eat, and compete focusing on the heritage pig and some awesome bourbon.

There was a Cochon weekend competition earlier in the year in Memphis, but Bryan and I missed it as we were out of town. I heard it was incredible and when they announced this event I knew I would not miss it for the world.

We purchased tickets to two events. Even though they were normally out of our budget, I knew it was something worth saving for.

Friday night was the kick off event on the rooftop of the Peabody. For $50 a person it was all you can eat appetizer portions from 8 different restaurants and all you can drink specialty cocktails mixed by the best local bartenders featuring bourbon. The weather was amazingly cooperative giving Isaac was in the area. It was a beautiful night on the rooftop overlooking the Mississippi River.

And the cocktails! Amazing. Allyn and I have been planning a spring bourbon country tour and this whole event really made Bryan and I super excited for the spring. I can’t even describe some of the cocktails as they are totally out of our beer-loving realm.

Saturday morning Bryan took a group on a 5.55k run around the neighborhood before the bloody mary/oytster/bacon brunch. Attendees could also do a BBQ tour of Memphis and had some seminars set up. That evening a few of the chefs collaborated on a “pop up” dinner. We didn’t go, but heard it was amazing.

The second event that we attended was Sunday afternoon and was the culmination of the whole weekends activities. Eight chef driven teams competed against one another. They had to cook 4 pork dishes with separate requirements and 2 side dishes (one mayo based and one mustard based). We started off the afternoon at a local restaurant across the street from the main venue. We had more bourbon cocktails: Bourbon with bacon bitters and bourbon, orange bitters, and Proseco topped off with a bourbon cherry. We also enjoyed fresh oysters and a build your own BLT bar with three different types of bacon. Le sigh…

After about an hour of mingling and bourbon drinking it was time to go over and do some tasting. Attendees can sample everything at every one of the teams tables. Below is just some of the stuff available at one of the team’s tables.

There was a lot of food to try. I don’t think we even hit up half of the teams it was so much food.

In conclusion, I will be singing the praises of this event for at least the next six months and then I will be switching to gearing up for the next years event.

For more information visit the Heritage BBQ site.

Happy Birthday, Julia!

Happy 100th Birthday to one of the most inspiring chefs, Julia Child!

If you haven’t read My Life in France, please add it to your Amazon Wish List immediately.

Bon Appetite!

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