Friday, May 31, 2013

Five on Friday

Well I've done it.  My first link up.  Here goes nothin'!

A lot of things are making me happy this beautiful Friday, but here are the top 5 that are really putting a smile on my face:

#1 T's Birthday-  Today is T's birthday, and I get to celebrate with him!   I love it when I'm the birthday girl, but it's just as much fun to make someone else feel great on their special day.  We started celebrating yesterday at Downtown Alive, an outside concert in downtown Greenville, and had dinner at our favorite sushi place.  Tonight we'll continue the celebrations at the Greenville Drive baseball game, and Saturday we're going to Brew in the Zoo, an event at the Greenville Zoo put on by RJ Rockers Brewery.

#2 Warm Weather- The weather this weekend is going to be perfect.  It's been such a cool spring, and I am so ready for the temperatures to rise.

#3 Nashville-  Our anniversary is coming up in September, and we've been throwing around the idea of taking an anniversary trip.  We wanted to go somewhere that we've both never been, but we also wanted it to be driving distance.  So, come September we're going to Nashville!  I cannot wait.  The hotel is booked, and now all we need to do is plan what we'll do while we're there!  Let the vacation research and planning begin. Music City, here we come!


#4 Spill About Your L-O-V-E guest post series- April of A. Liz Adventures {my big sister} has kicked off a great guest post series in celebration of her wedding anniversary.   I've loved checking in on her blog every day to read the love stories of other bloggers.  It's been a great way to discover new blogs, too.

#5 It's time to go shopping!- Now that I have a vacation to plan, I also have a wardrobe to coordinate while I'm  there.  Cowboy boots are a must, and I've got my eye on a few things to wear with them.  Vacation is always better when you have new clothes, isn't it?.  This week I bought this maxi dress from ideeli.  The fabric is great for travel because its very resistant to wrinkling.  The top consists of two long panels that can be worn in several different ways.  I bought a similar dress earlier this spring and loved it so much I had to get another. 

Happy Friday everyone!  Hope you have a great weekend.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Southern Shrimp and Grits

When you ask any southerner what the most important element is of shrimp and grits, the majority will probably tell you the quality of the shrimp.  While I do believe that is important, I think the most important element is the quality of the grits.  I grew up eating the "just add water" instant grits, and always loved them. But little did I know that they could be so much better than that.  After college, I worked in restaurants for a few years, and took advantage of that time to learn some tricks of the trade.  One valuable lesson that I learned was that you never make grits with just water.   Here is my recipe for Shrimp and Grits.

The Grits: 

3 cups water

1 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 lb butter
S & P to taste
1 cup grits

Bring the 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add the heavy cream, butter, salt, and pepper.  Just as the water starts to come  back to a boil, add the grits.  Stir, and then reduce heat to simmer for about 25 or 30 minutes, stirring often.  These will be the fluffiest most decadent grits you've ever tasted, I promise you. (Serves 2-4)

The Shrimp: 

1/2 lb shrimp, peeled
2 TB lemon juice
cayenne pepper
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper finely chopped
2 TB all purpose flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken stock
2-3 strips bacon

In a bowl, sprinkle the shrimp with lemon juice, salt, and cayenne and set aside.  Cook the bacon until crisp, remove from skillet and save the bacon juice. (or as my mother calls it, the bacon essence) In this essence saute the onion and bell pepper until onions are transparent. Sprinkle the flour over vegetables and stir constantly until the flour begins to brown. Add the shrimp and stock, stirring constantly and turning shrimp so they cook evenly. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes until shrimp are done and the gravy is uniformly smooth, thinning with more stock if necessary. Crumble the bacon and sprinkle it on top. Serve over grits. (Serves 2-4)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Most people decide to take their first summer vacation over memorial day weekend; not us. Last weekend marked the end of our over two month stint of traveling on the weekends.  T and I have not had a weekend at home since March 8th.  This weekend we have nothing to do and I couldn't be more excited.  There's so much that I want to do, so I have decided to make a list to make sure that everything gets done. So much for a carefree relaxing weekend, right? 

#1. Go on a date with just the two of us 
It has been too long since this has happened.

#2. Go see Great Gatsby
I feel like everyone I know has seen it and I want to, too!

#3. Lunch at the Swamp Rabbit Cafe
Fresh local fare, walking distance from our apartment, and I have a Groupon.  Enough said.

#4. Afternoon hike at Paris Mountain
I've lived here for almost three years and have yet to do this.  Its about darn time.

#5. Relax by the pool 
Our building has a great pool area that we don't take advantage of enough.

#6. Go to church on Sunday morning
I'm embarrassed to say we have only been to church once in over two months.  I'm looking forward to getting back to our typical Sunday schedule.

I'm hoping that making a list will hold me accountable for doing everything I want to get done.  Its just so tempting to sit in front of the TV curled up on the couch and watch movies all weekend long, but I always regret it when I do that.  Stay tuned to see how my weekend went!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Weekend Recap

This weekend T and I hosted 12 of our college friends at my family's lake house.  We typically try to get together for a mountain weekend or beach weekend every year, and this year we decided to change it up with a weekend at the lake.  T and I took Friday off so we could have time to get down there before everyone else.  We spent Friday morning doing yard and housework, and then relaxed in the afternoon with margaritas and a pontoon cruise.

 Friday night was a blast. We stayed up way too late drinking, eating, and catching up on missed time.  We woke up early on Saturday morning and went outside as soon as we could.  We tried to get the most out of Saturday since we were leaving the next day.  Although the water was chilly, the boys decided to jump in.  It looks like they don't like each other int his picture.  Why are they all so far apart?

That afternoon we all hopped on the boat for a booze cruise.  Girls in the front of the boat, boys in the  back.


The guys found  a new way to funnel a beer while we were on the boat, too; through a noodle.  Its amazing how these guys just revert back to their college selves once they get back together.  I love it.

Although we tried to act like were college kids again this weekend, one thing was very different.  There have been several additions to our group.  No babies yet, but lots of fur babies.  We had four dogs come along with us.  Here's one of them, Lola the pug. 

We had such an amazing time with everyone and cannot wait to do it again.  Hope everyone is having a great week!

Friday, May 17, 2013


Happy Friday everyone! Springtime Friday afternoons always make me want to go eat lunch outdoors.  Luckily since I work in the heart of downtown, there are always several options. A few weeks ago I caught word that Greenville had a new restaurant opening with a great upstairs patio; naturally, I made it a point to go opening day with my girlfriend Maggie.

Before Gringo's, Greenville had two types of Mexican restaurants.  The #10 and #13 kind of places where their margaritas resemble put-put pool water, and the specialty taco places where they only serve top shelf tequila and you can't get out of there spending under 50 bucks.  I think Gringo's is right in the middle.

They serve complimentary chips and salsa.  Definitely a plus.  Its evident that their salsa is homemade, too. Its nice and chunky, not homogenized like the stuff that comes in a big plastic vat.  You can actually see that there are herbs and veggies in the salsa.  It wasn't as spicy as I would have wanted, but that was my only complaint.

Maggie opted for two of their Fat Tacos.  The one pictured below is the Seasoned Beef Taco, its a pretty traditional taco with ground beef, lettuce, and salsa but then its got melted queso on top. She loved this one.  She also got the Roasted Chicken which she wasn't as much of a fan of. 

I typically try to eat pretty healthily during the week, but I must have been having a weak moment that day.  I ordered the nachos and added choriso.  Holy moly were they good.  There must have been a little voice of reason in my brain that talked me into getting the half portion rather than the whole, and it was plenty. 

Since then I've been back and ordered the Carnitas Taco (shredded pork, mild fiesta salsa cheese, pickled onions, cilantro and shredded cabbage) and the Baja Fish (citrus battered fish with cilantro, shredded cabbage, cheese, pickled onions, and homemade jalapeno blanco sauce).  Both were very tasty.  

I'm also very curious about their Chicken 'N Waffles Taco.  Its got fried chicken strips and waffle strips in a taco, and is served with maple syrup on the side.  I don't know what to think about this one.  I do love chicken and waffles, but this could be a little too odd for me.

Gringos Cantina on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pendelton Street Art Crawl

T and I recently did an art crawl in the Pendleton Street Arts District.  The art crawl was put on by the Greenville United Way YP 20's group.  T and I aren't members, but its something we're considering doing for next year.  The YP 20's are a group of young professionals in their twenties that want to give to United Way, but aren't financially ready for the $1000/year donation.  Instead, you give $500/year with the pledge to grow your contribution to $1000 once you reach 30.  They have several networking events throughout the year, and T and I were thrilled to attend this one.

The Pendleton Street area, also known as Greenville's Far West End,  is an arts district located west of downtown.  The area is going through a lot of rebuilding at this point, and these art galleries are one of it's catalysts.  Once a booming industrial part of town, the Pendleton Street suffered greatly once many of the textile mills in the area shut down. In the last 10 or so years, west Greenville has started the rejuvination process, and these galleries have helped to attract many people from the city's more eastern parts.

These are the galleries we went to:
#1. Midtown Artery@ Village Studios & Gallery

#2. Les Beaux Arts Gallery

#3. Dabney Mahanes Studios

#4. The Flatiron Building 
(includes the Joseph Bradley Studio, Grushovenko Gallery, Patricia Kilburg and Janina Tukarski Ellis)

I really like Joseph Bradley's style.  He uses a lot of metallics which I am always weirdly drawn to. I also like the wildlife that is in a lot of his paintings, like deer and koi fish. There's something about a deer that is so beautiful and mystical to me.  Check him out here

Were you wondering why they called it the flatiron building?  I was too until I saw it.  Its obvious that it resembles New York's iconic flatiron building; its just a mini version. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Day, Mimosas, and Freebies

This Mother's Day was our first as a married couple.  T and I are very lucky that both of our families live relatively close by.  We're usually able to split holidays between the two families.  While it is a lot of driving, its so nice to have this option because I know so many couples do not.  Friday night T and I went to my parents' lake house at Lake Wateree.  We had dinner on the screened porch on Friday night and stayed up past 1:00 am just chatting with each other.

We spent Saturday morning helping them with some home improvements inside and outside, and they rewarded our hard work with a free lunch.  We took the boat over to the Riverdeck to get burgers, tater tots, and beer.  T went for a tallboy which they served in this brown bag.  Gotta love it!

Since we've gotten so much rain recently the lake was up several feet higher than it should be.  Our dock is almost completely submerged, the only thing you can see are the handrails. Since we couldn't spent time down on the dock, Mom and I spent the rest of the afternoon on the screened porch playing around on our iPads while the boys watched golf inside.

That evening we hopped in the car and drove to Irmo to meet T's family for dinner and drinks. Sunday morning we went to church and came home to make brunch and sip on mimosas.  We also helped T's parent's with some housework; cleaning out their unfinished basement area.  We hauled a large load of stuff to the dump, and actually came back with a treasure!  T and I have been in dire need of bikes, but just can't justify forking out the money for them.  When I saw T wheeling this thing over to me I got super excited!  All it needs is a good washing and two new tires and it will be good to go!  I just love a freebie.

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Lovelies

Today started out a little shaky.  A few too many glasses of bubbly last night with T's coworkers left me feeling a little under the weather this morning.  Luckily it has turned into quite a wonderful day!  Its so funny how little things that happen can instantly bring you out of your funk. 

Lovely #1:

The scrumptious sandwich I had for lunch.   I typically pack my lunch every day to save money and calories, but I let myself splurge on Fridays sometimes.  Today I walked up to Soby's On The Side.  They are featuring a Chicken and Waffles Sandwich this month that I was really curious about.  Fried chicken, fontina cheese, smoked bacon, shredded lettuce, and espresso-infused maple aioli served between two toasted Belgian waffles.  And it tasted just as good as it sounds. 

Lovely #2:

I'm a sucker for gifts, especially the ones that you're least expecting.  This afternoon my boss gave me a lip gloss duo just for the heck of it.  She's got much better taste in make up than I do, and it surely beats the 5 year old drugstore stuff I've been wearing recently.  I'm excited to try these colors out this weekend!  I've been wanting a bolder lip color, and I'm loving that hot pink.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Cheap Seats Will Never Feel The Same

One of my favorite things about springtime in the upstate is Greenville Drive games. Its cheap to get in, the food and beer are reasonably priced, and it always a good time.  A few weeks ago we scored box seats with some friends for a Friday night game.  We usually just buy the cheapest general admission tickets, so box seats were quite a treat.

On Friday nights after the game they always end the night with an incredible fireworks show.  Even thought the Drive lost that night, they still had a beautiful show, and seeing the Greenville skyline in the background made it even better.  We're looking forward to going back for a game soon, but the cheap seats just won't feel the same anymore. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Beacon Drive-In

A few weeks ago I tried the Beacon Drive-In in Spartanburg for the first time.  The Beacon is iconic to the upstate area.  They are known for their Beacon Iced Tea (which they claim to sell more of than any other single restaurant in the USA) and their burgers served "a-plenty" which means they come with a heaping pile of onion rings and french fries.

The ordering process can be a bit intimidating if it is your first time. You have to know exactly what you want when you go up and place your order. And you don't just go up to a cashier and tell that what you want either. There's a guy standing at the end of the counter, you tell him what you want, and he shouts out some rendition of that back to the kitchen. They have their own language that they use.  Its quite interesting to hear them "call it".

I decided on the Pimiento Cheese Burger A-Plenty.  When I got my plate I could barely even see my burger because it was covered with so many fries and onion rings. 

The burger was great, and the pimiento cheese was a tasty addition.  The breading on the onion rings is very light, just the way I like it.  To me there's nothing worse than biting into an onion ring with thick breading and ending up with the entire onion part in your mouth and the breading still in your hand.  We've all experienced it and you know it's terrible.  The fries were good too, nothing to write home about though.  I wouldn't be surprised if they came frozen.  They just looked a little too perfect in shape to be cut in-house.

Overall I was very pleased with everything.  We definitely got our dose of vitamin G, which is great on a Sunday when you're still recovering from Saturday night.  Next time I go back, T and I may share a plate.  That is just too much food for one person!

Beacon Drive In on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 6, 2013

Life Update/Photo Dump

What a crazy couple of weeks it has been!  I have not had time to update you all on what has been going on with me, so I thought I'd do a quick photo dump to catch you up on what I've been doing.  Here goes....

Surprised Dad at the lake for his 60th Birthday

Spent a weekend in Atlanta with my sister April for the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibit at the High Museum.

The Artmore Hotel
April and I at the hotel bar
BYOB dinner at Antico Pizza

Our Yummy Pizza: Buffalo Mozz, Artichokes, and Prosciutto

Pizza Ovens at Antico Pizza.  You actually eat IN the kitchen.
April and one of her favorite Frida Kahlo pieces of art, La Columna Rota
She made me be Diego, of course

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