Feb 28, 2014

New Music: Superchunk's I Hate Music

As part of my 30 before 30 goal I wanted to spent more time this year immersing myself in music, specifically new to me music. I hope to post a few of my findings here for you. I'm not music reviewer so don't expect any titillating review or anything.

Listed on The Bitter Southerner's Best Albums of 2013 I added Superchunk's latest album to my "to-listen" list. (Spoiler alert: I still have about seven more albums to listen to that were on the best of lists last year. So you'll continue to see the previous sentence a few more times.) 

I'm not overly familiar with Superchunk. I know they've been around for a long time and I have a few songs on my iPod, but other than that I know nothing. You don't have to listen to any of their stuff for long to know they were a college band in the 90s. They'd be the band I'd love if I was in college in the early 90s. I wasn't, so maybe that's why it's not super familiar to me. 

While it's a fine album, it's not my cup of tea. They are still holding fast to the grunge. Proof: there's one song with the chorus of "get me out of the sun."  Not my preferred style of music and the band holds no emotional hold over me. So won't be purchasing anything from it. But I don't regret listening. If anything it was educational. 

Do what you will with that information. 

When to listen: deep cleaning, when reminiscing about college, if you're in your late 30s/early 40s

Feb 27, 2014

Window Treatments!

Since we bought our house five years ago window treatments have been a goal. They weren't an active goal the first year or so, but for the last three years I've said "this is the year I do curtains." It's never panned out until the last few months.

In December I posted this little peek. Pretty much since then the dining room has been a wreck. Between Christmas and some rep projects this room has been filled with boxes and not presentable. Last week we shipped out some old samples and we finally have the room back.

I also moved my Hillary Butler painting to this wall and moved the mirror to the other one. Somehow this room has become the flower painting room. I'm hoping to change that soon... when I find the right thing.

In the last month Mom and I have worked on the window valence for our sitting room.

The fabric was leftover from my grandmother's house. I'm not sure what she used this fabric for in her previous home, but there was enough leftover for me to use to make the valence and a roman shade for the front door.

The roman shade was made professionally. With the addition of the rug this room has really come together!

Next up: curtains for three windows in our living room! Don't hold your breathe that it happens anytime soon.

Feb 26, 2014

New Garden Plan Prep

This year we're ambitiously adding a new garden bed, bucking our professional landscape plan.

Over the years we've lost some of these large plants and to be honest I just never liked them anyways. They were too overgrown. The plan suggested moving them to around the big evergreen. If they were smaller I would consider it, but since they were large and one of them was intangled with a vicious vine we decided to just toss them.

There was also this random clump of monkey grass in the corner behind the tree.

So yesterday, when it was still nice and warm outside - remember that? It was a nice time. Sigh.  - we pulled out the plants and I put down some weedblock to kill the remaining weeds in the next few weeks before we till and plant our first plants.

It's not much to look at right now, but I can almost see it in a few months over grown with beans and tomatoes. At this point I'm not sure what I'm going to do in that right hand corner with the tree. I want the tree to stay, but there's an awkward amount of space between it and the fences.

I do plan on planting a cross vine along the side fence like the original plan dictated. That whole side is just a little sad looking and could use a good plant year round.

Right now my lettuce seeds are sprouting, but not the pepper yet, which is making me nervous. Grow plants, grow!

Feb 25, 2014

Memphis on a Friday Night

After being in town for a full week we were ready to get out a little bit. I feel like I haven't done anything Memphis related in oh about three months - probably because between traveling and Christmas we haven't really. As part of our 11 game pack we had tickets to the Grizz/Clippers game. We decided to head downtown a little early to grab some food and music. 

First stop was BB Kings on Beale. While it's pretty tourist-y they do offer free music starting at 5 pm. 

We ordered a round of beers and their sausage and cheese plate (decent, but not the best). As the set progresses Will Tucker adds to his band. By the end of the night it's a rocking set, but it starts off pretty mellow. 

We stayed about an hour and then headed upstairs for more food. Bryan had never been to Itta Bena before and was blown away by how fancy it felt. The crowd was pretty light for 6 pm on a Friday, but we enjoyed the more mellow atmosphere and ordered a couple of appetizers to share along with a bowl of their She Crab Soup. Because you must must must get their crab soup. We definately want to go back for a full meal sometime. 

When the time came we traveled down Beale towards the Forum. We rarely walk to the Forum this way and it's fun to see the famous street sometimes... when it's not super crowded with drunk people. 

Needless to say it was an awesome game. This happened: 

The Grizz came out with a win and we had a great night. It felt wonderful to be back participating in Memphis. 

What fun things have you been doing in Memphis lately? 

Feb 21, 2014

New Music: Hurray for the Riff Raff's Small Town Heroes

As part of my 30 before 30 goal I wanted to spent more time this year immersing myself in music, specifically new to me music. I hope to post a few of my findings here for you. I'm not music reviewer so don't expect any titillating review or anything.

I forget where I first heard of Hurray for the Riff Raff whether it was on WEVL or a mention in print. Last week I listened through the new album, Small Town Heroes, several times. It fit perfectly with the warmer weather we were having. Slightly twangy, bluesy, folksy. Based in New Orleans I could easily seem them playing on Frenchman - heck, maybe that's where I've heard of them. 

So far this has been my favorite album of this little project. 

When to listen: hanging with friends, outdoor times

Feb 20, 2014

Birmingham - Snow and the Last Trip

Last week we set out for Birmingham. Amid ice and snow predictions and against my weatherman's suggestions we left early in the morning hoping to get ahead of the mess. Memphis was a smidge icy when we left, but by the time we got out of town everything was alright. The best part was that there was zero traffic on the road!

Bryan saw one account late that morning and then we went to lunch at the Little Donkey around the corner.

I over-ordered. As usual.

Bryan attended Samford University in Birmingham so he is much more familiar with the city than I am (who has only ever driven through on the way to the beach). He drove me around a bit and we stopped at his old stomping grounds.

Here he's pointing to his old room in the gym.

After checking into hotel we decided to get pre-dinner drinks at a new brewery, Trim Tab,  we saw when we got lost trying to find the hotel.

Just after we ordered our second beer it started snowing. Hard.

We finished up early to head over to dinner. I had made reservations at a nicer restaurant as our Valentine's meal/present to each other. They had called earlier to tell us they were still open - this was pre-snow. The snow was falling so fast that the roads were covered.

The restaurant was at the top of this hill to the right. We couldn't make it up in the car so I hopped out and ran up the hill. We decided to just get something to go because we worried about getting back to the hotel. Once I got inside and placed an order the restaurant called to let me know that they were closing. So much for my fancy dinner.

Driving in snow is kinda fun in a no-rules-apply kinda way. We were afraid to stop so if a car wasn't coming through an intersection we just went.

We made it back to the hotel and had a little snow ball fight before going inside. I think this might have been the first time we've ever seen this much snow together.

It was a fun adventure.

Thursday Bryan went to see an account and made it back to B'ham in time for us to find a late lunch. Unfortunately nearly every place we wanted to eat/try was closed either due to the weather or no lunch service. Miraculously we found this bar around the corner from where we had parked.

Inside it's a dimly lit bar and you can order a soup or sandwich at the kitchen. I ordered some potato soup that was so good I asked for a second cup. I wasn't sure if it was because I was starving or if it was just that good. The second cup was just as good as the first, so I'm going to go with "just that good."

That night we met up with Bryan's college friend, Ben, and his wife, Liz, so the guys could go for a run. Afterwards they were kind enough to have us over and fix us a feast!

Friday morning we ventured out to find some coffee and breakfast. Downtown Birmingham is so different from Downtown Memphis. There are a ton of buildings and in some ways feels bigger, but it also feels desolate. Nearly everything was closed Saturday morning and for lunch. After a nice Italian breakfast we walked over to the Auditorium where the expo was happening.

This expo was nice because we shipped our shoes in a few weeks early and they had them there for us in our space. All we had to do was provide a tablecloth and any other decorations.

We had the space ready in no time.

Friday night also happened to be Valentine's and we worried about where we could eat without facing a Valentine's rush. We were in no mood for it. What did people do before smart phones and food apps? Seriously.

I found The Collins Bar via UrbanSpoon. The bar tenders are well versed in cocktails to the extent that they don't have cocktail menus. We were asked what kind of liquor we liked followed by another question or two to get a sense of our taste. Then we were presented with tasty beverages. I got the Ward 8 which is my very favorite bourbon cocktail to date. I forget what Bryan got, but he liked it equally as well.

They had a small menu, but everything was wonderful. We ordered homemade tater tots to start. Then Bryan got the chicken and waffles (served with bacon and maple bourbon syrup!) and I had the meatloaf sliders. If you are ever in the Birmingham area and enjoy cocktails, GO THERE!

Sorry to yell at you. It's just how I feel.

Saturday we had another full day at the expo before driving back to Memphis.

This is our last trip together of the season. Bryan has one more overnight for an event, but this is it. The end of the season. I've enjoyed our first season working together. It's exhausting, but great flexibility and schedule. Plus I've gotten to see more of the South than I ever have before.

Hopefully this means more Memphis posts coming up as we dig our roots back into our hometown.

Feb 17, 2014

Planting the First Seeds

It is currently 70 degrees in Memphis. 70 DEGREES!!!!!! I feel like shouting it from the roof tops.

Yesterday and most of this afternoon have been lovely. I spent some time in the yard yesterday afternoon trimming monkey grass, cleaning garden beds, and playing with a potential compost pile.

I say "playing with" because it's just a pile of clippings and leaves right now. I've thought about doing a compost pile for several years now but was never sure if I wanted to commit to it or if we even had a good space for it.

For now I decided to just try it out for a few weeks and see what happens. If it works out I'll probably build something around it to keep it more enclosed. If it doesn't work out then at least I know and can stop spending time pondering compost.

A few weeks ago I ordered my seeds for the garden through SeedSavers.org. I noticed they had a new garden planning software and gave it a try. Through the software you enter your garden dimensions and plot out what and where you'll plant. It tells you how many plants to plant and the spacing. It also tells you when based on your zone.

According to the software it's time to start planting a few things. It actually sent me a reminder email at the first of this month that I could plant my lettuce seeds indoors. Since we were still doing some traveling I decided to wait until I was going to be home for the foreseeable future. So today I took advantage of the nice weather and a loose schedule and played in the dirt!

It was glorious.

After this super cold winter I've been day dreaming of my garden worse than ever. It was so refreshing to be out in the fresh air and get my hands dirty.

So here is the very beginnings of 2014 garden. Lettuce, pepper, and parsley will all start indoors. In the next couple of weeks I'll transplant the lettuce outdoors, start more lettuce, tomatoes, and carrots. I can hardly believe its garden time again!

Feb 14, 2014

New Music: St. Paul and the Broken Bones

As part of my 30 before 30 goal I wanted to spent more time this year immersing myself in music, specifically new to me music. I hope to post a few of my findings here for you. I'm not music reviewer so don't expect any titillating review or anything.

Last weekend I was flipping through the latest issue of Garden and Gun and noticed the article on St. Paul and the Broken Bones. I made a mental note to add them to my "to listen to" list. A couple days later I noticed NPR had their album Half the City as a First Listen and knew it was meant to be. 

The comparison to Alabama Shakes is not far off. The sounds are very similar only St. Paul includes a horn section. And you know I love a good horn section!

So I've got to admit a little failure here. I started listening one day and then the browser experienced some issues and I decided to listen again the next day... only to make it a few songs in again. Blergh! So I haven't listened to the whole album, but I still intend to. 

When to listen: house cleaning when you need a good beat, cooking, drinking wine with your spouse

Feb 7, 2014

New Music: The Blow

As part of my 30 before 30 goal I wanted to spent more time this year immersing myself in music, specifically new to me music. I hope to post a few of my findings here for you. I'm not music reviewer so don't expect any titillating review or anything.

In my previous life of being up to date music-wise I had downloaded and loved a few of The Blow's songs. Parenthesis and True Affection are still favorites. So when I heard that there was a new album I couldn't wait to hear it.

While they still have the same sync-y pop sound, the new album, also called The Blow, doesn't have the catchiness of previous work. A solid album, not one song stood out to me. In fact I listened to the whole album without noting one thing. Whoops. So I listened again. Yeah, nothing. It really is a fine album, just nothing is spectacular. Nothing I want to purchase.

When to listen: multi-tasking

Feb 6, 2014

New Orleans.... again

Last week Bryan and I headed down to New Orleans again. In January we spent nearly 10 days in our second favorite city. This trip we were down to work the Rock and Roll Marathon Expo.

Once we got past Jackson, MS the roads became pretty icy. We traveled in one lane for most of the way and when we got to Hammond we had to detour off the bridges. As we were traveling we became aware that we weren't the only ones who were experience travel issues. Our booth was supposed to arrive early Thursday morning but it wasn't able to be delivered until about 2 or 3. Our merchandise was stuck in Jackson. We were able to have an emergency shipment shipped out from Pearl so we ended up with only 5 boxes arriving Friday morning.

Since we had Thursday afternoon free to were able to enjoy lunch at Dooky Chase's. We'd never been and it's been on my to-eat list. We shared the creole gumbo (which was one of my favorite gumbos to date). I had the fried chicken and Bryan had the shrimp creole. Both dishes were excellent.

We bummed around the rest of the afternoon before going to Southern Runner so Bryan could do the group run. Afterwards we meandered over to Freret Street to find some dinner. Normally I have a list of places I want to go, but with this trip I was a bit looser without any must see's or do's. Bryan was craving pizza so we went to Midway Pizza for some deep dish.

Despite Bryan being from the Chicago area he'd never had deep dish pizza before. I found that hard to believe and question his Chicago Bear's fan-hood.

Friday morning we headed to the convention center. Dan, who travels with the booth, had completed set up and we arrived to help merchandise.

The Pearl Izumi booth is a Skyline product. I had flashbacks.

Since most of the product didn't arrive we had the store bring over some of its merchandise. It ended up working out okay. The expo was Friday afternoon and all day Saturday.

Friday night, exhausted from the day, we mustered up the energy to walk over to the Quarter for some oysters. (Seriously, I can't get enough.) When we walked out of Felix's there was a huge float on the corner of Bourbon playing dance music and tons of people around, many wearing beads. It was fun to get a glimpse of Carnival New Orleans on our busy trip.

Saturday morning we went to a French bakery on Magazine for coffee and pastries. We picked up a king cake for the booth.

Tis the season! It was one of the better king cakes I've ever had.

Our brains were fried Saturday evening so we went to Cochon and ordered all the cured meats and fish we could order.

Donald Link knows the way to my heart.

Sunday morning Bryan got up early. It was race day. While he wasn't really racing, he had promised to pace some friends who were doing the full marathon for the first half. The race course went by twice only 7 blocks from where we were staying, so I promised to get up and go watch.

It was a rough morning.  I don't do well under sleep deprived and no coffee situations.

I saw the guys around mile 8 or so and then hit the pavement for coffee.

After the race Bryan and I wondered around the Quarter for about 20 minutes before meeting the guys for brunch at Mr. B's.

While not the most relaxing or wonderful trip, we had a great expo despite the circumstances.