Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The More You Know

That girl had no clue
And she apparently wore white pants
Colleges and universities in this part of the country got back into the swing of things this week.  It makes me a little reminiscent of sixteen years ago (WHAT?!?) when I was heading off to college for the first time.  Man . . . I can't believe how different I am from that 18-year-old girl. I can't believe how many things have happened in my life, how many things have changed, how many things I've learned.

If I could go back in time, here are just a few things I would tell that 18-year-old girl:

1) Wear sunscreen on your face. Always. Don't ever skip it. And maybe even carry a sunscreen stick in your purse. Seriously.
I never EVER thought time would be marching across my forehead so viciously at the age of thirty-four.  A lot of my wrinkles are hereditary (thanks, Dad!) but I also know that if I'd bee a little more indulgent with the sunscreen back in the day then maybe there wouldn't be quite so many.  Teenagers and twenty-somethings: START TAKING CARE OF YOUR FACE NOW!
 
2) Nice guys are hot.
That hottie that's also a douchebag? Yeah, when he's middle aged he's still going to be a douchebag -- just with a beer belly and receding hairline. The guy who is nice will - hopefully - always be nice.  If he's 18 and not a douchebag, then his mama probably raised him right.

3) It's possible to grow to be physically attracted to someone.
Because, again, nice guys? They're hot. Don't ever immediately discount someone just because you don't think you're attracted to them.  An attractive personality is SO MUCH HOTTER than a nice body.

4) Your only "type" should be the guy who makes you laugh.
Having a "type" of person you date is a great way to end up constantly crying into a pint of Ben and Jerry's. 

5) The whole opposites attract thing is overrated.
 You very well may end up attracted to someone completely opposite from you.  But, believe me, things are easier when your partner shares common interests, beliefs, and even if they grew up similarly to you.

6) It really is very possible that many of your beliefs will change so much in the years between 20 and 30.
So watch how closely you defend something you think you believe in -- especially if that belief is bigoted or puts others down. 

7) EXERCISE!
OMG. Freaking work out, okay? 

8) Appreciate your body
I can remember being 19/20 and going to the pool at my apartment complex in SHORTS that covered my bathing suit bottoms.  Why?  Because thunder thighs.  Because stretch marks.  My legs looked better at that age than they ever, ever have.  I would do almost ANYTHING to have those 19-year-old legs back. 
 
9) And also your metabolism.
Look, you're coming up on the years where do much as looking at a piece of chocolate will instantly make you gain five pounds. Eat the food now! While you still can!  (But still work out!)

10) Don't spend your 20's thinking you have to be in a relationship or looking for "The One" and don't ever, ever, EVER settle.
Who CARES if everyone else is getting married? You know what's worse than being in your 30's and never being married? Being in your 30's and trudging through divorce. Spend that decade finding yourself, exploring your interests, TRAVELING, having fun, and figuring our what you really want in "The One."  It will make life at 30 and beyond so much sweeter . . .

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Elena's Taco Shop

I love fish tacos.

Love.

There's a good chance I would choose them for my last meal.  Because, yeah, love.

You know what you can't find in Memphis?  Good fish tacos.  Let's be real . . . you pretty much cannot find any good tacos . . . any good Mexican food . . . in Memphis at all.  I'm just sayin'.

I heard that Elena's Taco Shop in Bartlett had good "southern California" style tacos so I knew I had to give it a try.  I may have a whole lot of Texas in my heart but, I can't lie, I'm more fond of Cali-style when it comes to my Mexican food.  (Don't give up on me, TexMex!  I still love you too!  A fat girl can have two loves!)

A friend and I checked out Elena's on a Tuesday evening.  We were the only people dining in, though several others came in and got their orders to go.  The credit card machine was down which kinda sucked but what can you do?

I ordered the two taco plate and elected to go with fish and carne asada.  My friend chose the same, going with fish and shrimp (also -- it was his first time trying fish tacos.  Whaaaaa?)  The plates also came with rice and beans.

The food was . . . it was good.  It wasn't great. And while they may bill it as "southern California style," I'll be honest in that anything I had in California KICKED THE ASS of the tacos I had at Elena's.  THAT SAID.  The "secret sauce" on the fish taco was finger licking good and the tacos were better than anything I've ever had in Memphis.  For Memphis?  Elena's is the bomb (dot) com.  I didn't eat the rice (not a big rice fan) and the beans were standard for anything you find in a mid-south area "Mexican" restaurant.

My biggest "complaint" is that the only diet drink they had was Diet Coke.  B-yuck.  And, hello, it was a Mexican restaurant!  Where for art thou, Corona?  Dos Equis?

There is no ambiance at all.  None.  The restaurant is located next to a gas station, they take your order at the counter and bring it out to you.  No wait staff was to be seen.  You don't go to a place like this for the atmosphere. 

It wasn't the best CaliMex food I've ever had, that's for sure.  But it was good.  And I'll definitely be trying it again.  Next time I'll check out the carne asada fries!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Nashvegas: The Food

Just so we're clear, you're not going to find any great Nashville culinary discoveries in this post. That's because we ate BAR FOOD the entire time. I love me some bar food but I'm still kinda shaking my head that we didn't really branch out at all! I blame the beer.

Here's a look at what we ate:
 

We waited two hours Thursday night (yes! On a Thursday!) and were starving once we were seated. We ordered appetizers to split -- baked cheese, fried green tomatoes, a ton of fried shit (totally said that on the menu) (no it didn't) (would've been cool if it did), and duck fat tator tots. 

The cheese was amazing. The fried green tomatoes were not the best I've ever had. The ton of fried shit was ... well, it was a ton of fried shit. Obvs it was good. The duck fat tator tots were a mystery to me. Why were they called DUCK FAT? There was nothing duck fat about them!  They were aight though.

All in all - the food was good. I'd even classify it as really good. It was not, however, two hour wait on a Thursday good.

Friday we were in search of a Bloody Mary and a restaurant we didn't have in our hometowns. We ended up at Bar Louie ... and ALL of us have a Bar Louie in town! I had the best Bloody Mary I've ever had in my life so I'm thinking the midtown Memphis Bar Louie location and I may need to get more acquainted. 

As far as food -- we ordered the tempura shrimp, chicken quesadillas, and loaded fries. Once again, to split. The shrimp was good, the sauces that came along with were great. The chicken quesadilla was good but nothing to write home about. The loaded fries were much better than I thought they'd be! I was initially unimpressed when they were brought to our table but they tasted delish. 


That Place We Went Friday Night

I have no idea where exactly we ate Friday night but we sat on the top floor and had views like this:
Nashville party barge, y'all!
We ordered wings and fried shit and I would love to tell you it was delicious but, um, beer. I also spent the entire meal having a textversation in hashtags. 

Yeah. 

In addition to eating, we also did some drinking. Thursday night, we couldn't find a single bar with Blue Moon. They all served Yazoo, a Nashville brewed beer, and while it's good, it's not THAT comparable to Blue Moon. 


I tried Hoegaarden for the first time on Friday at The Pub. They brought me a huge glass of it and it was really good! 
 

I bought these at Kroger but they deserve a mention in this post. I'm a fan of Shiner anyway and the Ruby Redbird? Sooooo good. A great summer beer. Try it.
 
And, on a final Nashville note, we stayed at the Homewood Suites at the airport.  Initially, we wanted to stay downtown but those prices?  Yeah, no, wasn't happening, not if we also wanted to be able to feed our children for the remainder of the month.  The Homewood was very reasonably priced and they offered a shuttle to downtown for just $10 per person round trip (so much cheaper than a cab!)  They also had a meal WITH FREE WINE Monday through Thursday nights.  Um, hello?  In LOVE.  The staff was friendly, the hotel was clean, and it was reasonably priced.  I would definitely recommend if you're ever in Nashvegas!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Nashvegas: The Fun

This was my first trip to Nashville without kids since I was a teenager.

Total lie. I went a few years ago sans kids but the trip consisted of dinner at Applebee's and a Titans game. Totally doesn't count, amiright?

This time I rolled into Nashville Thursday afternoon, left Saturday morning, and that just was not enough time. 

At all. 

Nashville is amazing and fun and I wish I'd had at least a few more days to spend there!

I pinned a lot of stuff I wanted to do while in Nash but, other than hitting up Broadway, I did none of it. 

Pics (and some words) of what we did do:

Shots in Dixie Cups!  #becauseREDNECK
 


We went to dinner (food post coming soon, obviously) Thursday night then to wander around Broadway ... in the rain. 


We found a gift shop and Luke Bryan, spent a few minutes in the Wild Horse Saloon, then headed back to the hotel. 

Before midnight. 

What?!?

It was raining and we'd all traveled earlier in the day.

Also?  That's what your thirties will do to you, mah friends.



Friday morning we were in search of a Bloody Mary. We made our way over to Bar Louie where we started day drinking around 11 am. Hello, Best Friday Ever!
 
Like, for real, I could write a love sonnet about this Bloody Mary
After Bar Louie, we checked out The Pub (I wish we'd waited to eat there because their menu looked amazing!) We were only about a mile from Broadway and had cheap parking so we took off on foot in search of Tootsie's
 

I hear about Tootsie's all the time on the radio and was looking forward to going. The waitress was rude and the beer was warm but I'm going to chalk it up to not being there at the right time. Especially since the lead singer of the downstairs band was a total Hottie McHotterson AND he was singing George Strait. 


We spent the afternoon wandering around Broadway until we found a bar with a Happy Hour and Shiner on tap. Best bar ever!


Friday night we decided to drink all the beer in Tennessee. I mean, I THINK that's what we decided ... 
 
It's definitely what we did . . .

There's a 99% chance that I posted this pic to Facebook and, when asked by a friend later, I told him this guy was a backup singer for Brantley Gilbert.  But only a 99% chance . . .
 
 
 

We had such a great time! We wandered around, made new friends, I talked to everybody, scored some free beers.

 
Totally edited out an obscene gesture That One Guy is making.
Judging from the gesture, I'm sure he likes to cuddle.  I'm jus' sayin'

Seriously, such a fun night.

Even though I (apparently) told some older couple on the shuttle back to the hotel that another couple wanted to have a ménage a trois with them ...

And even though it made Saturday - and the drive home - really REALLY hard ...

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Beale Street Landing and Riverfront Bar & Grill


Beyond Mud Island and catching a Redbirds game, there just is not a whole lot for kids to do in downtown Memphis. My kids love going downtown, though, and so we were all excited when the new Beale Street Landing finally opened up. 

The Landing is pretty controversial here in Memphis -- it took much longer to build than anticipated and cost millions in a time when benefits for public servants are being cut. Obviously, it's kind of sore subject for many at this point. But I wasn't going to let that stand in the way of the kids and I checking it out. We've been twice now and really enjoyed it both times!



I was initially unimpressed. I was expecting a much larger playground/ spray park area. There are two areas of fountains (and one had a slide! The kids loved that) and a large catfish for kids to climb on. Like I said, I was just expecting ... More. Bigger. My main issue is that the fountains are great during the hot and humid months that Memphis is infamous for. But what about the rest of the year? A conventional playground would be perfect in the space for months when it's too cool to play in fountains. 
 

The kids, however, LOVED everything about it. They climbed on Big John the catfish and played in the fountains. Karis especially loved the slide. The kids may have enjoyed it so much because it's something new and different ... Or maybe because it's downtown and they love being downtown ... But, still, they loved it.



Here's a little downside to it:

It's in downtown Memphis. 
Yeah, downtown, woo hoo that's great and fun and all that. But anyone who lives in Memphis will tell you there are reasons we can't have nice things. 
 
The biggest reason? The entitled asswipes who make up a portion of the population of the Bluff City. 

I'm talking about the GROWN ASS ADULTS who come and lay down in Big John the Catfish so that children can't play on him. 

I'm talking about the kind of adults that won't stop their children from acting up, shoving other kids, running and acting wild all over the place. And, yes, these type of people were at Beale Street Landing. The crowd seemed to be a 33/33/33 split -- tourists, "cool" locals, and Memphis asshole locals. I realize all cities probably have assholes but ... just ... if you know Memphis then you know. 

Anyway.

There is also a restaurant -- Riverside Bar and Grill which is located inside a {very cool looking} building with the gift shop -- at the Landing. I obviously had to check it out. 
 

Initially, I was only going to order ice cream (kids) and a beer (me) but I asked the waiter for a menu. They are a newer restaurant so there isn't much on the menu at this point but the Tennessee Caviar caught my eye. I knew we had to try it. 
 

Tennessee caviar is a sort of salsa with black eyed peas and cilantro. It.was.awesome. J and I both loved it.  It was served with a small side of pimento cheese -- easily the best pimento cheese I've ever had in my life. So good! They also had Ghost River (a local beer) on tap. Good stuff.

I wasn't all that impressed with the menu -- it's very, very limited -- but the food I ate was absolutely delicious. I'll definitely be trying it again sometime. 
 

I've only been twice but, at this point, I have to give the Landing two thumbs up. It's nice, fun for the kids, and y'all, that pimento cheese!