Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year, New Goals

2015 has been...a lot of things.

I've had a lot of personal and professional triumphs, quite a few setbacks and frustrations, heartbreak and loss, happiness and love.

I think 2016 will be the same, because no year is all good or all bad, but I want to set some goals for the coming year to keep myself on track and stay focused on having the best year yet!
1. Finish my dissertation and graduate and become Dramber.

This is, by far, my biggest goal this year. I have one more chapter to write, and then the editing process begins, so I'm hoping to finish in August or December.

And yes, anyone who talks to me will have to call me Dramber.

2. Have and maintain an emergency savings fund.

When my car needed a new engine (that, thankfully, was paid for under a warranty claim) I realized that I have basically no savings. This year is the year I get that safety net, however small it is, in place.

3. Blog more regularly.

I love the creative outlet that blogging allows me - it's not academic, and it's not life or career changing in any immediate way, so I don't feel any pressure. It's time to stop letting something I love fall through the cracks.

4. Be better to the people I love.

They don't love me because of what I do for them, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't be good to them.

5. Get rid of closet and house clutter.

I've lived in my house for 6 years. Imagine the amount of stuff I've accumulated. Oh lord.

6. Go somewhere I've never been.

There's talk of a New York City trip in the fall, and I would love to travel a little more locally - I just went to Nashville for the first time this year, and would like to explore around Memphis more.

7. Start "popular history" book.

While I love teaching, I don't know that I want to be a full time professor, at least right now. The culture of academia in America is changing pretty dramatically, schools are no longer safe places, and there isn't enough money to pay good teachers in a lot of cases. 

One of the things I know I want to do, however, is write "popular" history books. I HATE that academics only talk to each other - why can't we write good, well-researched, analytical books that don't have Foucault-level jargon that is totally unnecessary. Good, fun, entertaining, informative history books for relatively well-educated but non-history PhD readers. That's what I want to write. It's time to get started.

8. Take better care of my skin.

For real.

9. Take better care of my feet, while I'm at it.

I have TERRIBLE luck with my feet. Just this month, I've dropped a knife on my foot, sprained my ankle in a pothole, gotten a blister, stubbed my toe so hard I was sure it was broken, Regular pedicures and being less clumsy are on my list for things to try. 

10. Drink more coffee.

I just wanted one thing I know I'll accomplish. :) Plus it's good for your skin, right? Two birds with one stone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Memphis Nosh: Germantown Commissary

Memphis is known, throughout the country, and probably the world, for barbecue. 

Wonderful, delicious, barbecue.

I've always been a Central girl. Your favorite barbecue place is a serious talking point around here, and the source of actual arguments. And I still love Central.

But I went to a fantastic place for the first time, thanks to my boyfriend, where I ate so much I spent the rest of the day moaning on the couch wearing stretchy pants.

Very attractive.

Germantown Commissary is where it's at, y'all.

From their website:

We are constantly asked, "What is a Commissary and why are you called this?" Commissary's were small country stores throughout the South. They sold everything from blue jeans to bologna.

The original Commissary, in Germantown, Tennessee was a small country store for over 90 years, until Walker Taylor bought it in 1981 and turned it into one of the best Memphis BBQ joints around. 

The name worked then and still does today. Our world famous Memphis style barbecue and ribs is "so good y'ull slap yo' mama."

We hope you enjoy our hickory-smoked, slow-cooked Memphis BBQ & Ribs the folks around here have enjoyed for over 25 years. We cook the old-time, Memphis-style BBQ way.
It's a cool old building with a fun story and some amazing food.
I'm in.

Their menu is huge, and everything looks great.

In true Memphis tradition they have plastic cups. Basically all of my cups are plastic cups from Memphis restaurants.

We started with the nachos - tortilla chips, pulled pork (some of the most tender I've ever had), sauce, cheese, and jalapenos.

We would have licked the paper if there hadn't been other people there.

Sloan got the pulled pork sandwich with baked beans and potato salad.

And behold, the reason for all the moaning and stretchy pants.

The BBQ potato.

Holy. God.

The BEST baked potato I've ever had.

Clearly it was awful. 

The banana pudding is great, and the building is the right blend of cozy and kitschy.

Definitely check it out if you're in Memphis - better than almost every other place in town and absolutely worth the drive to Germantown. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

The 10 Commandments (Of Leggings)

Are leggings pants?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say one word.


Tights are not pants. Tights are tights.

Skirts are not pants. Skirts are skirts.

Blocks of cheese are not pants. Blocks of cheese are blocks of cheese.

But something that I put on both legs, that isn't see through, that covers my body from approximately my waist to my ankles, and that, again, isn't see through?

That's pants, y'all!

And if you can see through my pants? Well, those aren't pants!

They're probably tights.

Or maybe a swimsuit cover up.

But not leggings

Or jeggings.

Or any other clever name we come up with for stretchy, generally tight-fitting pants.

So - and I hear this question a lot - can you wear leggings to work?


I do, and I work in a pretty conservative industry at both my jobs.

If you can wear something to work, I think you can wear it anytime.

These are just some ground rules, as a follow-up to my previous opinions on leggings.

The Ten Commandments (Of Leggings)

1. Thou shalt wearing leggings. Not tights. Not hose. Not the aforementioned blocks of cheese.

Leggings are stretchy pants that generally have an elastic waist and are not see through, but conform to the curves of one's body in a flattering way.

If you're wearing something I can see a birthmark through, it's not leggings. It's tights. Or *shudder* hose.

2. Thou shalt wear leggings that fit.

If you're uncomfortable in leggings, they are either too big or too small. Get a size up and get over what the tag says, or get a size down and stop looking like you're wearing clothes that are too big.

3. Thou shalt recognize that black leggings are safest, although colors can work. If you're careful.

Black leggings hide a multitude of issues. I have funny shaped knees, for example, but black leggings just kind of smooth that out. Patterned leggings are a bit too close to tights for me to wear to work (and a little juvenile), but darker, more professional colors are fine if they follow Commandment 1. These maroon ones from Loft for example.

Addendum: White leggings are NEVER okay. EVER.

Ask me about my terrible experience seeing white leggings. You'll understand.

4. Thou shalt agree that longer shirts are better.

Do I think you need to cover your whole butt? NO.
Am I concerned with your butt at all? NO.
But I do concede that a really form fitting pant on the bottom needs a little bit looser and longer of a top. Balance, y'all.

For example:

(I was a little dusty from hooking up cables, but you get the idea!)

5. Thou shalt keep the rest of your outfit pretty conservative.

This is not saying you need to button your shirt to your neck or wear long sleeves or anything. And I love patterned tops! But if you're wearing leggings, cover up a little. It's both what people expect (and I like defying expectations but I also love having a job) AND more comfortable. Because offices are cold, and there's nothing more comforting than knowing that when you're crawling around trying to make the damn internet work, your boobs aren't falling out of your top.

6. Thou shalt not wear shiny leggings.

Because those are tights. Or leggings covered in sequins. Save them for a holiday that encourages sequins like New Years or The Tuesday You Finally Talk to the Hot Bartender.

7. Thou shalt wear appropriate undies.

I actually don't know that you *have* to wear undies under leggings, but if you do, wear ones that are black. And seamless.

Because if I can see Hello Kitty stamped on your ass, you're wearing leggings that are too tight and underwear that is for children. Creep.

8. Thou shalt wear shoes that are not found on Jersey Shore.

Flats only with leggings. Unless you want to look like Snooki or the lady from Married with Children.

(If you do want to look like this, and that's fine, pair leggings with a leopard top, big hair, red lips, and heels. See, instant transformation!)

9. Thou shalt have work leggings, and they shalt not be ripped or covered in cheese dip.

Look, my favorite lounging outfit is leggings and giant sweatshirt. But don't wear the leggings you ate cheese dip in and drank a beer in and snuggled with the dog in to work. Lint rollers can only do so much, and if you're going to work you should at least by kind of clean.

The ones for home? Cheese dip away. Hell, throw some salsa on too.

10. Thou shalt act like a goddamn professional, whatever thou wears.

You're at work to do a job. I feel better equipped to do my job when I'm not messing with my clothes and I know I look good. Leggings help me do that.

 Because ultimately, it's what's in my brain, not on my ass, that makes me good at my job.

And here's a handy-dandy list I made - feel free to share!

Ten Commandments of Leggings

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Last Minute Christmas Gifts That Make it Look Like You Didn't Forget

Sorry I haven't posted in so long - I started a new job and have been trying to finish my dissertation and and and!

I am usually the type of person who has all of my Christmas shopping done way ahead of time - partially because I hate going shopping when it's crowded, but also because I like to gloat and dance around my pile of wrapped and labeled gifts like the obnoxious human being I am.

This year that is not what has happened. 

So for anyone else like me who finds themselves going "holy shit the day after the day after tomorrow is Christmas and I'm not even close to done" here is a list of great last minute gifts that aren't gift cards (although gift cards are awesome!) and will make everyone think you're a gift-giving wizard who really has their life together!

1. Paris Faux Fur Throw, $79.95, Soft Surroundings

I LOVE cozy blankets. Chances are most people you know do too. This is one of my favorites, but blankets scream winter and are easily found most anywhere!

2. Tervis Tumblers, $16.99 - $25.99, Bed Bath and Beyond

Tervis tumblers are great. They come in a ton of designs (I have this Simply Southern one in my office and a Green Bay one at home), they keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot, they don't leak, they're really durable, and they stay closed. Hydration perfection.

3. Game of Thrones Coloring Book, $11, Barnes and Noble, Target, Walmart

And probably a pack of red colored pencils. :(

4. Starbucks Mugs and Tumblers, $12.95 - $22.95, Starbucks Stores

Pop into Starbucks, grab a mug, grab yourself some coffee, go on your way. Easy.

5. A nice bottle of wine

Even better if you find a personal connection with the label, vineyard, or name. Here in Memphis, I'm partial to Winery of Germantown, Joe's, and Buster's (in Germantown, Midtown, and East Memphis respectively).

Because books are the best gifts.

Here in Memphis, I like Booksellers at Laurelwood for new (and used!) books, but Barnes and Noble, Target, and a ton of other stores should have all the hot new releases.

7. A classic book - maybe even a used one, because used books need love too!

Again, best gift.

Check out the Memphis Public Library Friends of the Library book store and Book Traders on Quince, two of my favorites.

8. Extra phone and micro-USB cables - because you always need just one more than you actually have!

Go to Target. Buy them. Feel the eternal love coming from your family and friends.

BONUS for Memphians!

I love all these places - check out this even more detailed guide on local Memphis gifts from I Love Memphis!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Memphis Nosh: Pyro's Fire Fresh Pizza

I am all about some pizza.

All day, every day, I could eat pizza.

I don't, because I don't want to have to be cut out of my house.

But I could.

Enter Pyro's.

Pyro's is basically like Subway for pizza. You can choose a standard recipe, or you can customize your toppings, with a huge selection to choose from.

The people are really friendly, the prices are great, they serve beer, and the pizza is fantastic!

Catherine, my roommate, got the "Raging Hawaiian" with Canadian bacon, bacon, pineapple, basil, mozzarella, jalapeƱos, and zesty marinara sauce - and they aren't kidding, the sauce is zesty! It's delicious!

I got "The Spud" - bacon, roasted potatoes, and an olive oil base, with green onions and a sour cream drizzle.

Both pizzas were FANTASTIC, and they have a great loyalty program, so we'll definitely be back!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Men's Fall Fashion: Essentials and Trends

I was recently asked what I liked, fashion-wise, for men, and realized that, while I know what I find attractive, I don't really know what men

Also, men's fashion is a little less accessible - my boyfriend (who has great taste but also values my opinion!) agrees that being "into" fashion is a little less easy for guys than girls.

But, basically, the "rules" are the same!

1. The right foundation is key!

While men don't have to pay $50 for a decent bra (damn you!), they do still need undies.

This infographic, from Tommy John, shows some insights on men's underwear, including a shocking statistic that 59% of men aren't satisfied with their underwear!

2. There are wardrobe basics for men too - quality pieces you can wear all year.

Men's Essentials

There is no "little black dress" for men, but a nice undershirt, a button-up, some darker wash jeans, and a classic leather watch is such a fantastic outfit!

3. But trends can be fun!

Just because there are a lot more basics for men, doesn't mean there aren't trends worth checking out!

Mens Trends

Similar pieces, but on-trend styles. 

A flannel shirt, a grey cardigan, a mechanical watch, and some colorful khakis.

Because colorful khakis are just more fun.


4. Don't forget the accessories!

A great bag, a nice blanket (for when it's cold and those spontaneous picnics!), a nice glass, classic sunglasses, and a fancy shaving kit are awesome fall accessories - and anyone looking for a gift for guys, these are some great ideas!

I'll definitely be posting more about men's fashion - anyone have favorite looks for men?

Thanks to Tommy John for the great images! Check out their fall fashions today!
Although I received images from Tommy John, I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are honest, unbiased, and my own.

Friday, October 16, 2015

My Favorite Fall Dress

I have been looking for a black t-shirt dress for ages.

I found this one at +Old Navy recently and it is PERFECT.

With a cardigan, an open cardigan, a puffer vest, a kimono, or alone.

With almost any shoes - flats, moccasins, sandals, boots.

It's amazing. 

Favorite Dress

The best part?

It's on sale for $10 right now!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fun Fall Decor!

Fall is always a really busy time for me, and this year is no exception - I've got a to-do list a mile long, and no end in sight!

But, just because it's busy, doesn't mean I don't want to decorate for my favorite season. Here are two super easy ways to add some subtle, fun fall decorations on both a time AND money budget!

Autumnal Wreath

(Autumnal is just a fun word, let's face it!)

This wreath is super easy. I bought a plain wreath from Michael's (watch out for coupons - they'll save you a ton!), two small bouquets of fake flowers, and a roll of burlap ribbon. 

Take the burlap ribbon and wrap it around the wreath, securing it between the twigs in the back. 

Cut the flowers off about 2 inches below the bud - you want to be able to securely stick them into the wreath. 

Make a burlap bow and tie/hot clue it to the wreath.

Hang it up!

This whole project cost me about $25 and took about 20 minutes to make and hang.

Fall Centerpiece

This one is even easier!

I took some of the leftover flowers from my wreath, put the paper that Hobby Lobby wrapped them in in the bottom of a small glass, cut the flowers to an even height, and put them in the glass!

I also put one of my favorite candles, Sweater Weather from Bath and Body Works, next to the vase to add a little more color and a great smell.

And the quatrefoil stand was actually a flower stand that had a broken wheel - so I took the wheels off and have used it as a centerpiece ever since! 

Total cost:
Flowers - free, from other project
Paper - free, just the wrapping paper from the flowers
Glass - I mean everyone has a glass, so I'll say free
Candle - $22, but I got it on a sale, so probably $8
Metal Quatrefoil - $10 at a garden supply store a few years ago

(I was also about to paint my nails, and the colors are Essie's "After School Boy Blazer" and "Leggy Legend" - $7 each!) 

These are easy, quick crafts that anyone can do, and that add a ton of fall happiness to your home!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Memphis Nosh: Staks Pancake Kitchen

Last weekend I went to Staks Pancake Kitchen, the new breakfast place in East Memphis at Perkins and Poplar, with Sloan and his daughter - even if I didn't like them, it's pancakes, and I really really love breakfast food, so I was going to go eventually, and with a bunch of people I could steal their food too!


So here's the deal with Staks: you order at the counter, you don't tip (because they actually pay their servers a decent wage *GASP*), and they have the best damn pancakes I've ever eaten in my whole life.

(Even if the food was bad - which it absolutely isn't! - I would support them for this!)

We all got water, Sloan's daughter got milk, and Sloan and I got coffee - great coffee, from J. Brooks.

The pancakes are amazing, but right off the bat I was impressed by the service. My water cup had a tiny leak, and I asked a passing server if she could take it and get me a new one - I said I know this probably isn't your job but it's flooding. She looked at me, smiled, and said "of course it's my job, my job is to take care of you!"

Amazing what happens when you pay servers more than $2.15 an hour. 

Then the food started coming out.

And holy wow.

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes - these were surprisingly not too sweet!

I didn't feel bad snagging a bite of that GIANT pancake!

I got just the regular buttermilk pancakes with a side of crumbled bacon. I wanted to try the foundational pancakes, and I was not disappointed!

I mean, look at how well they stay together! They weren't dry, but they weren't that gross squishy texture either. Absolutely perfect!

Their side of bacon is huge, thick cut bacon from Porcellino's.

I also got the fruit cup. This was the only part I wasn't totally impressed with - mostly because it wasn't very much fruit from $3.25 - but the fruit was really fresh and good.

Sloan got the Shrimp N Grits.

Gouda grits. 


Two poached eggs. 

Oh. My.

It was so good - I'm definitely getting pancakes AND an omelette or this next time!

The menu is pretty extensive, with lots of choices for everyone. It is a little pricier than a lot of breakfast places in town, but they don't accept tips (so if you're a decent human being, you should figure 20% of that price is the tip you should leave anyway) and a lot of the ingredients are local. Plus, I'll always pay a little more for good food and good service.

Staks is a gorgeous, delicious new breakfast (or lunch!) option that y'all should definitely check out soon!