Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Happy Holidays: Gift Guide 2016

It's holiday season, and that means it's gift season.

No matter how your family does the holidays, there are bound to be a few stressful moments - buying stuff for others is fun and gratifying, but it's also hard to think of something for everyone.

Here is my list, but these categories are good for everyone! I subscribe to the "something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read" theory for kids, but hey, adults like that too!

Christmas 2016

This bag from Lilly Pulitzer is awesome - it's a pretty large tote, but if you unzip the bottom, it's a huge travel tote!

Really versatile necklace from Kendra Scott? Perfect piece with any outfit, and I ALWAYS love getting jewelry!

Little makeup pieces are great stocking stuffers, and these lip glosses from Clinique are so cute!

A cozy throw? Perfect to cuddle up with a new Kindle, a couple of cookbooks, a book of mysteries, or a giant puzzle (because I like torture, clearly). 

Finally, because I just finished the revival, a Rory Gilmore Pop Figure. I was Rory at 16-22, and I can absolutely say that I'm not too far off from Rory at 32.

Happy holidays to everyone, and don't get too stressed about gift buying - think about the person, how they make you feel, what they like, and then avoid the mall and shop small or online! :)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Memphis Nosh: Gourmade Food Truck

Have you ever been in love?

I have.

I am.

With a food truck.

(Image from The Memphis Daily News, because it's hard to take a picture and juggle all the food.)

Gourmade is an amazing local food truck run by Jared Richmond that serves the most delicious food - fantastic sandwiches, burgers, tacos, fries, bbq, mac 'n cheese, and dear sweet baby Jesus the desserts.

For example, this is the "Appetite for Destruction." It's fries, covered in mac 'n cheese, covered in pulled pork, covered in bbq sauce. In the corner there is the burger Catherine ordered.

I seriously think I died a little that day.

(Also pictured - two awesome beers from Memphis Made. We were there for one of their events.)

Here it is again. With a beer from Wiseacre. I like beer.

They have great specials, like the "Blinking Pig" - fries, pulled pork, blue cheese slaw, and spicy aioli.

And here is that beautiful burger. Be warned - it's two patties. Two patties of happiness. 

And you know, those fries don't look like anything real special but they're delicious and we ate every single one.

There's also a spicy burger sometimes, with jalapenos and pepper jack cheese and spicy aioli.

Also, side note - I HATE bread and butter pickles but these are soaked in magic or something because they're so good. I may have stolen everyone's for myself.

Seriously, this thing is intense.

Like, knife and fork intense.

But so worth it.

They even made me a kid's burger this weekend when I took Aiya - clearly, she was also in love.

And then. 

And then. 

There's these.

Fried avocado tacos with roasted poblano and chipotle aioli. 



Oh, but this ride isn't over yet, buttercup.

Gourmade also has the best banana pudding I've ever had. It's thicker than normal banana puddings, almost like a gelato consistency, and the wafers are soft but not mushy and it tastes like bananas but like...bananas from God.

Gourmade goes all over town, and they do a lot of private events. We actually worked with them for a work event at High Cotton a few weeks ago and not only is the food insanely good, but everyone who works there is really nice and they are, by far, the easiest food vendor I have ever worked with, in any job, ever. 

Check out Gourmade on Facebook, Instagram (but get ready to drool all over your phone), and Twitter, or on their website.

Seriously. You'll hate yourself if you don't.

I mean, you'll hate yourself after you eat the Appetite for Destruction too, but it'll be the happy kind of hate, like "oh I hate myself but oh I don't care, hand me another beer." 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fall Style: Mulberry

This, my friends, is a mulberry.

It tastes kind of like a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry. It starts off this kind of bright pink and turns a pretty wine color towards the end. My parents have a giant mulberry tree, and it's cool to watch them change over the season.

Also, mulberry happens to be a really "in" color this fall, which is fantastic - it looks good on everyone, goes with a ton of other colors, and is great for early fall, late fall, winter, and even spring, so mulberry pieces can really carry your wardrobe this year.

Some great cardigans, colorful pants, comfy shoes, a top that says what we're all thinking about this election year, new nail polish, and a purse I bought at TJMaxx last week on total (amazing) impulse - here are some of my favorite mulberry pieces for fall!

Fall Style: Mulberry

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Memphis Nosh: Strano! Sicilian Kitchen & Bar

I don't think anyone is shocked when I say that I love eating out.

I love cooking too, but there's something so fun about going out, trying new foods, and spending time with friends.

Luckily for me, most of my friends love eating out too, or, even better, work at amazing restaurants and can tell you, repeatedly, that you should come eat at their place and describe, in excruciating detail, how good the food is.

Even MORE luckily for me, my friend Matt happens to be one of those friends and he works at Strano! Sicilian Kitchen & Bar. He finally got me to come out last week to Strano, which is in the heart of Cooper Young and you know what?

I'm so mad at him for not making me visit sooner.

(Just kidding Matt. Sort of.)

Strano opened a couple of years ago under owner and head chef Josh Steiner, who, according to his bio, grew up surrounded by Sicilian cooking and who later lived and studied in Sicily, and who worked at several other Cooper Young restaurants before opening Strano. He's also a really nice guy who is clearly passionate about food, quality ingredients, and being a part of the Cooper Young community. 

For example, Strano has gardens where they grow basil, mint, parsley, and other herbs for the restaurant. And you can tell!

I started with some wine while I looked over the menu - Strano has a large selection, and, maybe most impressively, they have a great variety of glasses to go with it. I got my Zolo Malbec, Cupcake Riesling, and rosé (that I will never remember the name of even though I've had it 20 times) all in glasses that matched the wines I was drinking (thinner, thicker, smaller, larger, etc). Matt knows his stuff, and it's great to find a place, especially one that's not super fancy, that takes wine seriously.

I asked Matt what was good and he made a few suggestions, but first he brought this amazing bread and olive oil situation out.

The bread is baked fresh daily, and they make their own house blend olive oil - seriously, it's in a big wine bottle and they shake it up and pour it into a bowl and let you live all your dreams. It's got a ton of herbs, and the bread is warm and squishy on the inside but with a firm crust. 

 For an appetizer, I chose Grandma's Meatballs - "family recipe of meatballs in house made tomato sauce with melted mozzarella cheese and topped with shaved Parmesan" - and holy cow. They were the perfect blend of herbs (lots of rosemary, my favorite) and cheesy tomato goodness.

It's really dark in the restaurant, so I brightened this up a little so you could see that amazing texture on the sauce and bread - seriously, this is some of the best sauce I've ever had. I wanted a little more heat on the meatballs, but I want everything I eat to be spicier. You definitely can add some crushed red pepper for zing!

And, I found out, you can ADD MEATBALLS TO A PIZZA.

Do it.

Matt also wanted me to try a piece of bruschetta - it was also Taste of Cooper Young the night I was there, and they were carrying trays of bruschetta past me all night, so I didn't hesitate!

The kicker here? It's on that same bread, just toasted, but seriously, those are the freshest tomatoes and basil I've ever had in a restaurant. And the cheese?


Aka the love of my life.

For my entree I got the most life-changing pasta I think I've ever eaten. Seriously, here are my notes from while I was eating (yes, I am that person):


So this is the Chicken Florentine - prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, lemon, garlic, angel hair, and charred broccoli.

I mean, I may have swooned a little.

My number one pet peeve with pasta is when it's overcooked, but this was perfectly al dente, with an amazing sauce (see above notes...), and some of the best prosciutto and chicken I've ever had.

But let's take a second to talk about the charred broccoli. I (of course) couldn't eat all this, so I took some home. Sloan took a bit and got some of the broccoli and said, swear to god, "I could eat this every day. What is this magical broccoli?"

So there you go.

Magical broccoli.

So there I am, eating my amazing pasta and my magical broccoli, getting fuller by the second, and Matt asks if I want dessert.

It's like he doesn't even know me.

This is...dear lord.

Have you ever had a perfect bit of food? My first bite of the dessert on the right (caramel bourbon pana cotta with a fudge sauce underneath and that gorgeous drizzle of hot caramel sauce on the right of the plate) was absolutely perfect. The amaretto tiramisu with almonds and strawberry on top wasn't far behind. And those little dollops at the bottom? Chocolate chip cannoli filling, and some of the best I've ever had at that.

I was sending pictures to a couple people while I was eating, and this is the convo my friend Kerry and I had about this dessert after I sent her the photo:

Sorry Sloan.

So basically Strano's food is amazing.

But more than that...it's just...nice.

Knowing the bartender (especially a bartender who won the Memphis Flyer Best Bartender 2 years ago!) certainly doesn't hurt, but from the chef down to the waitress who brought me that magical dessert to the people who came in for Taste of Cooper Young, everyone was just pleasant. And it's a cozy spot, with lots of great art and kind of a wine cellar - if your wine cellar was on a corner in a great neighborhood - kind of vibe.

(It wasn't hot that night, but I have mad respect for Memphis restaurants that have fans. #summerhater4eva)

Strano would be a great date night spot, a great bar to sit and read at (or watch sports - they do have a couple of tvs), or, and this is what I want to do, an awesome spot to get a group of friends together for a fun night of eating and drinking wine and people watching. The prices are reasonable, the portions are huge and delicious, the wine selection is impressive, and it's comfortable and welcoming.

Go see Matt and Chef Josh at Strano soon.

And send me pictures.

Or just invite me.

Actually, yeah, just invite me.

*I did receive discounted food since I was writing a review, but all opinions are mine and in no way influenced by an discounts, comps, or gifts.*

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Style: Transitioning into Fall

It's finally happening. I woke up this morning and I was chilly, I needed a cardigan when I drove to work, and I'm not miserable outside. 

It's fall, y'all.

While I love decorative gourd season, crisp nights, fall festivals, baking, and basically being cozy all the time, it's sometimes hard to transition a summer wardrobe into a fall one, especially if, like me, you love color. I wear a lot of black and grey too, but I have a weakness for colorful dresses, in particular Lilly Pulitzer dresses. They're perfect for work, going out, or a casual shopping day or lunch. 

But they're...bright.

So how do you tone down the bright neon for fall, especially in a place where it's still sort of warm?

Here are some of my essentials!

Fall Transition

This dress is one of my favorites, the Lilly Pulitzer Marlowe Dress in Swept by the Tides. It's gorgeous, and perfect for basically every occasion, but it is NEON. And wearing a hot pink dress in October just feels...wrong.

One of my favorite ways to tone down color and make an outfit more "fall" is to add a cardigan - the Brookside Cardigan, also by Lilly, is a good choice, as is this 3/4 length sleeve navy cardigan from Maurices.

For a more casual look, adding a navy (or any color, I just love navy) vest is perfect. This one is from Crown & Ivy at Belk, and is so comfy.

I also love adding a men's pullover sweater for a look that straddles that line between comfy and preppy - it's a little oversized, but put it on and you've got a perfect sweater and "skirt" combo! Plus, H&M makes the best men's sweaters - so soft!

One of my favorite color combos is navy with cognac, and these Tommy Hilfiger boots (which I actually just got, ON SALE, at Rack Room) are so comfortable and perfect for a casual day or, with nice accessories, the office. This Fossil purse is currently on my "lusting" list - look at that beautiful color!

Finally, gold is absolutely my favorite neutral right now. How about a great gold flat - perfect for the office or errands - with a dress and cardigan? And this Phara necklace from Kendra Scott can be worn so many ways, it's definitely on my wish list!

Anyone else have any good tips for transitioning a wardrobe - especially a colorful one - to fall?