Sep 30, 2013

31 Days to an Organized Home

For a few years now I've watched bloggers participate in the 31 Day Challenge. I'm always up for a good challenge, but haven't really had the time, energy, or conviction to participate myself.

The last month or so I've been thinking about my love for organizing and how I want to make that a bigger part of my life, both personally and professionally. So this year I decided to give the 31 Day Challenge a try with 31 Days to an Organized Home... mainly mine. Ha! Here's my reasoning (broken down into a list, naturally):

1) Practice writing and posting regularly
2) Get myself organized before the holidays (Christmas is just around the corner!)
3) Become more knowledgeable and expertly in the topic of home organization and organization in general
4) Personal growth!

Now that I've totally geeked out here's my plan of action.

There are five weeks in October (two being five days), I'm breaking those down into larger categories:
Week 1: Closet
Week 2: Laundry room
Week 3: Kitchen
Week 4: Living Areas
Week 5: Life

I'll link my posts back to this post over the month.

Wish me luck!

Day1: Closet Overview... or how I get dressed in the morning... or in which I show you my un-staged messy cloest
Day 2: Out in the Open ... or in which I spent about 15 minutes straightening up
Day 3: Hidden Storage ... or in which I open all the drawers... or in which I ponder how drawers become dusty ... or in which I find jewelry I never knew I owned but had been pining for for years.
Day 4: Changing of the Seasons
Day 5: Knowing what to keep or what to toss
Day 6: The Laundry room the highest functioning room in the house
Day 7: Laundry Room: Out in the Open
Day 8: The Organized Pet Owner
Day 9: Laundry Room cabinet and fall mantel!
Day 10: Laundry Room upper cabinets
Day 11: The Instruction Book Book
Day 12: Impromptu Organization - Ribbon storage
Day 13: Kitchen Organization - Gotta Start Somewhere... or in which my kitchen is a disaster
Day 14: Kitchen Organization - Spices
Day 15: Kitchen Organization - Freezer
Day 16: Kitchen Organization - Fridge
Day 17: Kitchen Organization - Under the Sink
Day 18: Kitchen Organization - The Pantry
Day 19: Kitchen Organization - Meal Planning and Recipe Wrangling
Day 21: Cookbook Organization
Day 22: Paperwork Organization
Day 23: Office Organization - Part I
Day 24: Office Organization - Part II
Day 25: Office Organization - Part III
Day 26: Bar Organization
Day 27: Bookcase Organization
Day 28: Hostess Organization
Day 29: Linen Closet er Trunk Organization
Day 30: Mail Organization
Day 31: Wrap up

Sep 26, 2013

Off the Hoof Burgers

Ever since BMB gave Off the Hoof the first 5 star burger of the Memphis area I've been dying to go. Jenna and I had talked about going on numerous occasions. But a trip out to Arlington isn't just something we're up for on a regular weeknight or even weekend night. So when we were pondering what to do with ourselves on Saturday morning it became perfectly obvious that Saturday lunch would be the perfect time to make the drive out to Arlington. That and I'd been craving a cheeseburger all week. (Just ask Bryan. I'd been randomly saying cheeseburger all week like I had touret's.)

Arlington is about a 35 minute drive from Midtown. It's not a terrible drive, mostly interstate. We arrived about 11:30 am and were the first customers of the day.

They offer many different kinds of burgers, but I wanted to go with the classic. I ordered the Pat LaFrieda Chopped Burger, just as BMB did.

But first we started off with frickles.

Besides the cutesy name, they were probably the best fried pickles I've ever had. Served with ranch they were crispy and delicious.

The burgers arrived. Heck yes.

The Pat LaFrieda Chopped Burger comes with a croissant type bun. It was layer-y like a crossant but I didn't taste it much.

The burger was probably the juiciest I've ever eaten. So moist! However I was a little disappointed in the taste. It was fine, but a little bland. Certainly an excellent burger, but not my favorite.

Jenna ordered the Elk Burger (which I failed to take a picture of). It was juicy and flavorful. If I were to go back I'd probably order that instead of the regular burger.

So? Was it worth it? Yes, for the fried pickles (I won't type frickles again out of self respect). The burgers deserve some respect, but Alex's still remains my favorite burger. I should also mention they have a mean sweet tea in big go-cups.

Sep 23, 2013

Fall Check List

It's not really a secret that I'm a to-do list, task oriented person. I love lists and I love checking things off lists.

Last holiday season I made a check-list of all the holiday things I wanted to do to make sure that we didn't leave anything off. It's so easy to come home from work and forget about all the fun holiday things to do. Like drinking a toddy and watching a favorite movie.

In the spirit of that I'm composing a fall check list. Fall things to do so that we don't let the season slip by without fully embracing it.

- Make a spiced cider - pulled the recipe from the new Garden and Gun. Apple cider and bourbon is just a must in our house.

- Deck out the front porch in mums and pumpkins

- Make hearty soups and stews

- Make chilli. Technically a soup I guess, but I consider it it's own thing.

-Create a fall tablescape. Because I'm a dork.

- Drink all the pumpkin beers! We kicked off the first day of fall yesterday with a Blackstone Brewery Pumpkin beer. It was delicious. New tradition? I think yes. 

Sep 20, 2013

BBQ Road Trip

A couple weekends ago we did a somewhat crazy thing. It's not really that crazy, especially if you know us. We, specifically Mitchums, will drive for food.  It's not unheard of for us to take a day trip to Mississippi for tamales or out to Mason, TN for bbq.

So when I saw the "I Am the Pitmaster" short film at the AM event I knew we needed to go. That weekend.  Dad, Mom and Trey were in too.

We piled into the backseat and headed towards Brownsville down I-40.  Once off the highway we wound our way through the small town of Brownsville. It actually has a cute little town square and lovely older homes. Helen's is just on the edge of those cute older home area.

Inside there are two tables and a small window to place your order. We all ordered the BBQ plate and sat down.

The meat was moist and tender. The sauce, of which I got both sweet and spicy, was a bit on the spicy side for me, but delicious. My absolute favorite thing though was the potato salad. Besides my Mimi's potato salad, it was the best I've ever had. The potatoes were almost mashed with some small chunks of boiled egg and pickles. We ordered an extra side of these to share. Although I think I ate the majority of it.

We got to talking to Helen's husband, who makes the fire for her every morning, and he invited us to come around back and see the smoke house.

It was indeed really smokey once inside. Almost instantly my eyes closed up and started watering.

My eyes are watering again just looking at it. On the right is the fire. She takes the embers and coals from the fire and moves them to the pit on the left hand side of the door.  I didn't get a picture of this side because my eyes had nearly shut and I didn't want to expose my camera to the smoke. On the pit she can put up to 12 aluminum foil raped pork shoulders.

It was a neat experience to see the video and then get to meet the people. The Turners are good people who do it the old way. We really enjoyed speaking with them and having some bbq.

We decided to take the highway back to Memphis. I think it was 70. A small two lane country road.

A ways out of Brownsville we passed Bozo's and decided to turn around and go in for some fried pies.

None of us were really hungry, but it's not every day that you go to Bozo's and it's not every day you get a fried pie.

We were all stuffed and happy afterwards and made the trek back to Memphis. All-in-all it was a fun Saturday afternoon. 

Sep 9, 2013

Asheville 2013

We had heard that Asheville was a cool town and a beer town from several different people over the last couple of years. When we got a wedding invitation to attend a wedding outside of Asheville we decided to make the trip and see the town.

I left work early and we headed out on our longest car trip in a few years. We hit some traffic outside of Nashville which was a bummer, but we made it to town around 9:30. After checking into our AirBnB basement apartment we went out in search of food. We had decided on the way into town that we would try Ben's Tune Up, which had good Urbanspoon reviews and was mentioned in a Garden and Gun article before it had even opened.

Ben's Tune Up is in an old car shop and has an open air courtyard with such a cool electic vibe. Unfortunately the kitchen closes at 10 and we arrived at 10:10. After begging the waitress we were able to get a plate of sticky rice with swordfish and we were very much grateful. We also both enjoyed two first pints of beer on the trip. We were both impressed, but I think the long trip combined with our hunger/thirst helped.

The next morning Bryan got up early for a run and I slept in a bit. We ventured into town for coffee and breakfast. We didn't have time for a full breakfast as we had tickets to the Biltmore.

The Biltmore. We had been told it was a must. After seeing how expensive tickets were I was a bit hesitant and also a bit resentful. But we purchased our tickets online in advance to save some money. It was quite the operation. Bryan and I were both impressed with the amount of staff and organization to the whole enterprise.

We parked and were shuttled to the front of the house. After going to the bathroom and drinking some water we entered the house a little after our ticket time. I think we avoided a line by being a little be late. The inside is grand and amazing. But there are people everywhere. With these annoying little ear/phone devices. We had opted out of the audio ($10/person... no thanks) and read the information on the guide, looked at the rooms at our own pace and scooted past the audio people.

The whole time we pretended it was Downton Abbey, comparing rooms and imagining the characters there. Dorky, yes.

The grounds were incredible. I had heard that there were gardens and being a garden dork now, I was excited to see them. They were impressive to say the least. I love the grounds of Monticello, but this is totally different. Olmstead was a genius.

We opted out of additional tours in favor of heading back into town for beer. If we were staying longer I think we could have spent an entire day on the grounds, but alas, our focus for this trip was beer.

We had a list of places we wanted to try and we started ticking them off.

First up, Wicked Weed which has an incredible tap list of house made beer along with some really delicious food. We stopped here first for lunch and brews.

Next stop was LAB where we got a sampler flight.

Next up the Thirsty Monk basement which features a Belgium bar. Bryan wasn't a huge fan.

Then we walked down the hill to Asheville Brewing Company where we split some garlic knots and had a pint each. We sat outside and watch kids play games and families eat.

We went back to our apartment to change and rest up before dinner. We drop to West Asheville for dinner at The Admiral. We sat at the bar and got to watch the bar staff and the kitchen which was highly amusing. Dinner was great but we were feeling full and funky from all the beer that day.

Street art outside of the Admiral

Sunday morning we got up and went to breakfast at Early Girl. It was incredible. Beer is not allowed to be served until noon in NC so we changed into our wedding clothes and then went to Hi Wire Brewery before we went out of town to the wedding. Like many of the breweries in Asheville they did not serve food, but had a food truck outside. We snacked on some fries to hold us over to the reception.

Hi Wire Tap Room

Ben and Elizabeth got married at a Christian conference center in Flat Rock, NC. It was about a 30 minute drive outside of Asheville. We enjoyed seeing Ben, meeting his new wife, and catching up with old friends, Ricky and Starr and seeing their baby.

A moment on the patio of the conference center before we left.

Once back in Asheville it was time to hit a few more breweries. We started outside the city in Black Mountain at Pisgah Brewery. They are highly awarded and are all organic. They had a surprisingly nice little outdoor area for the industrial building they were in.

Our next stop was Wedge in the River Arts district. It was sadly raining when we arrived. I would have loved to see (and also enjoy) their eclectic outdoor area. We enjoyed a pint inside with a bowl of peanuts. They also had a food truck outside.

For dinner we wanted to go back to Ben's Tune Up for a real meal. We enjoyed our last dinner and another pint.

Monday morning we packed up and went back over to West Asheville for our last meal at Sunny Point. The wait was kind of ridiculous, but the weather was nice and they had a nice outdoor area for waiting. They also had their own impressive garden which I enjoyed perusing during the wait.

Their heuvos rancheros was amazing. Best meal of the trip. We stopped at a grocery store to buy some beer before hitting the road.

Overall it was a great weekend away. It was so refreshing to be in a totally new environment. The weather didn't hurt either!

Sep 5, 2013

Collards and Carbonara

A week or so ago I saw an event mentioned on Facebook (I think) to celebrate the upcoming release of Andrew and Michael's (of Andrew Michael's Italian Kitchen) new cookbook, Collards and Carbonara. The event featured some of the best (and my favorite) chefs of the region, bourbon, wine, and signed books. Given the scope of the event I didn't think the price was terrible at $125/each, but with the Asheville trip the weekend before I didn't think it would be feasible. I emailed Bryan the link with a note saying "I want to go to there!" He responded that it was too much. But then immediately responded back that he was kidding he called and made our reservation. I just about freaked out.We both eagerly looked forward to the event. And it definitely delivered. 

I left work a little early so we could arrive nearly in time for the 5:30 start. We gathered on Andrew Michael's back patio to sip Pappy Van Winkle Manhattans and snack on fancy appetizers.

Bryan is now spoiled forever after having tasted the Pappy Van Winkle goodness. We shall be in financial ruin.

We visited with some friends and acquaintances and smiled for the society pages photographer before heading across the street to Hog and Hominy.

We were told the meal would be served family style, but we weren't sure how they were going to execute it. They had set up several long tables and assigned seats. It was kind of a relief because trying to figure out who you want to sit by is too much pressure and feelings get hurt.

Before they served the food John T. Edge with the Southern Foodways Alliance got up to speak for a few minutes. The event was to benefit the Alliance. He showed a short film on Helen's BBQ in Brownsville. She's my hero. Seriously, watch this video. We are planning a road trip on Saturday.

The menu.

So there were four courses. At each course the guest chef would prepare a dish and Andrew and Michael would prepare a dish.

Course 1: the best oyster of my life.

I sort of cut it up before I remembered to take a picture, so forgive how un-pretty it looks. Fried green tomato with pulled pork and coleslaw on top. Heavenly.

Course 2: The best shrimp of my life. This was served over butter bean puree with pickled celery. Bryan was flipping out over the pickled celery and I'm trying to figure out how I can pull off butter bean purees.

Seared brocoli with the most moist and tender tofu I've ever had.

The remains of my short rib. It was served with an avocado puree and watermelon chunks. So tasty.

The best collard greens of my life. I got seconds.

Kelly English's lamb belly. Amazing. It was served with a sweet tomato marmalade that I need to find.

After the meal the chefs thanked everyone and introduced the guest chefs. It was an incredible night and Bryan and I both feel so lucky to have been able to attend.

Sep 4, 2013

Fall Goals 2013

On the way back from Asheville the other day I had some time to think about my fall goals. For the next three months before the holiday season sets in what do I want to accomplish? Here's what I came up with:

- Find, buy, and read a book on prayer. Last week our pastor mentioned several books on prayer and I want to purchase at least one of them and read it. He mentioned that we'll be focusing on prayer within the next year and I'd like to get a jumpstart. Also, Bryan mentioned wanting to better our prayer life a week or so ago. So we agreed that I'd read the book and report back with my findings.

- Finish the bible study book my mom gave me last fall. Whoops.

- Don't buy anything new for myself - unless it's skinny jeans. It's really time I find some... if I make time to go shopping. And I can't make promises like that.

- Buy/make/hang curtains in the dining room. Seriously. I need to get on that. My goal is to have them done before Thanksgiving. Because I can just picture us having the perfect Thanksgiving meal in our dining room and if  I don't have the most perfect curtains it won't be the most perfect Thanksgiving. Obviously.

- Finish reading my camera manual. This was a goal for the year and the year is rapidly ending. Time to get on it.

- Make a major dent in December gift shopping. So far I have one present. Ideally I like to have all my December gifts purchased before December. It makes the month so much less stressful without having the pressure of finding the perfect gift hanging over my head.

- Work up to completing 1 1/2 hours of yoga per week. Currently I'm doing about 45 minutes and I know I need to do better.

- Write somewhere (whether here or a journal or even a post it note) something to be thankful for each day in November. I kinda tried to do this the last year or two, but only half-assed it.

- Food goal: No theme but I do want to make the following:
Banana bread
vegetable lasanga
one last sangria
chili (I'm craving it today, along with cold weather)