Tag Archives: food

Miss or Mister?

This weekend we held our gender reveal party for Baby G.

Disclaimer: To be completely accurate it would have been called a “sex” reveal since I acknowledge that gender-identity is not synonymous with biological sex; however, hosting a sex reveal party raises some eyebrows as to the family-friendliness of the event. Therefore, we conformed to the PC term “gender” reveal. We did find a few ways to work in the correct terminology. Example #1 below, keep your eye out for #2.

here-for-the-sex

The event was absolutely fantastic. My sister pulled everything together and did an amazing job. We were surrounded by friends, family, good food, and a few games.

After stuffing our faces at the incredible spread, we polled the attendees on which of us was most likely to perform a series of actions related to Baby G. For example, by overwhelming agreement we determined that Brian should under no circumstances sing lullabies (not really, just my opinion), but he should totally serve initial diaper duty, and that I’m more likely to be obsessively Instragramming our bundle of joy. Oh, and after selecting that Brian would be giving more midnight feedings, I realized that he lacks the proper equipment (ahem, the boobs) and so I corrected my answer.

Next up was a series of scientific inquiries intended to predict the sex of Baby G. And by scientific inquiry, I mean totally unproven Old Wives Tales.

genderreveal3

But, were they accurate? A final contest of agility and coordination would ultimately reveal Miss or Mister for our little nugget.

genderreveal5

That blue splatter means that it’s a boy! Brian and I are absolutely thrilled to welcome Campbell James Guild to our family this Spring. I wouldn’t want to begin my son’s social media history with a picture of his junk, but let’s just say it is definitely a boy. No question about it.

genderreveal4

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

I’m not cut out for Vegas (aka a travel guide for someone who hates gambling)

My husband and I recently returned from a trip to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. It was my first visit back to the Strip since I was freshly 21 – so nearly 9 years ago. Let’s just say, it will probably be at least another 9 years for me to forget yet again why I am not cut out for Vegas and decide to make a return trip. That’s the schedule me and Sin City have. We reconnect every 6-9 years, realize it isn’t going to work out, and go our separate ways.

My first trip was when I was about 15. Our family was on a cross-country trek in an RV that was going to last most of the summer. I think it was around 2002 or 2003, and my main concern was making my parents as aware as possible that I was extremely upset they were forcing me on a tour of the US when all I wanted was to spend the summer with my boyfriend. Ah, the stupidity of youth. What I wouldn’t give to go on that trip now that I actually realize how awesome it was to see the Grand Canyon, the California sequoias, Yellowstone, and numerous other national treasures.  One stop on our tour was Vegas, and our first date was a good one. I wandered the Strip, taking in the amazing decadence of each casino and spending my parent’s money at the shops at Caesar’s. We visited Circus Circus and rode the indoor rides. Between the lights, the shopping and the coasters, I was enamored. I couldn’t wait to go back when I was old enough to drink and gamble. It was a typical first date. We were both on our best behavior.

My second date with Vegas was a few months after my 21st birthday. My mom and my three aunts and I decided to take a girls’ weekend. We had high hopes of winning big and living large. My mom won a few hundred bucks on a slot machine. Me – I lost my modest budget of $300. I’d never seen money vanish so fast. And that’s when I learned that I hate gambling. That, and that you really shouldn’t gamble if you aren’t emotionally stable enough to lose. As a poor college student working two jobs, I worked too darn hard for my money. There is nothing worse for my competitive and logic-based brain, and my anxiety-laden psyche, then trying to figure out how to find some semblance of skill and strategy in games of pure and random chance. I did, however, enjoy the shows. We saw Bette Midler and she was absolutely fabulous. We all took a trip up the Eiffel Tower. Nonetheless, Bette & faux Paris weren’t enough for me to continue a love affair with Vegas. When our flight was cancelled and we were forced to spend an unplanned night in a crappy motel room off the Strip, I was cursing Vegas and vowed never to return.

Nine years had passed, and now that I was a fairly successful adult with disposable income and a wonderful husband as a travelling companion, the faults I found with Vegas in the past seemed just a matter of circumstance. I thought that this time I’d be able to set a budget and be okay if I lost the money set aside for gambling. I was wrong. By the time I’d saw my final chip lost to the roulette table, I was near tears. Why, for the love of all that is good, could I not win once?! Slots – lost. Roulette- lost. Blackjack – lost $300 in a blink. I mean, come on! I was losing my money so fast I wasn’t even able to have any fun with it. Finally, after our third date, I learned that Vegas and I just aren’t compatible. I am not one of those types who likes the thrill of trying to win big. I’d rather just keep my money. Should Vegas and I attempt to reconnect again, I’ll stick to dining, shopping and shows. The casinos and I just aren’t meant to be.

vegas-3

It wasn’t all bad. I scored a cute pair of black booties at a steal. I ate the most delicious Spanish tapas in the gorgeous Aria. We laughed (and cringed a bit) during a variety vaudeville and Burlesque act called Absinthe. We got a dose of political satire and incredible slight-of-hand from Penn & Teller. When the soul-sucking casino games drew our final dollar from us, we retreated to our room and paid way too much for a pay-per-view movie, but there is nothing better than curling up with my honey. After all, $20 for nearly two hours of entertainment is quite the bargain in Vegas. Alone and away from it all, Brian and I got a chance to really connect and have a few deep conversations – one while we gazed over a panoramic view of the Strip while dining on Alaskan king crab legs and filet. Oh, and we saw Britney, bitch.

vegas-2

Maybe I’ll give that crafty vixen one more try after all…

If you are looking for a non-gambling centered visit to Vegas, full of food and entertainment, here are my recommendations:

Day 1

  • If you are travelling from the East Coast, reminder that Las Vegas is on virtually the opposite side of the country. It is waaay closer to California than I remembered. We still managed to tough it out and fit in a great dinner and show. To get you in the Vegas mood, and help motivate you through the three hour time difference, do yourself a favor and check out Julian Serrano at Aria for Spanish tapas. The rioja was delicious (I only was able to have a sip because I’m preggers, but it was amazing!), the braised oxtail was the best thing on the menu, the pan con manchego was scrumptious, and there were a number of other dishes I wish I could have fit in. We made reservations, but it wasn’t too crowded on a Friday in January.
  • Next, keep yourself entertained with the fast-pace and raunchy humor of Absinthe at Caesar’s Palace. Be prepared for graphic descriptions you wish you could be unheard, but some of the most incredible acrobatics you will ever see. Not suitable for children.

Day 2

  • Do yourself a favor and contact The Massage Couple for a wonderful in-room massage. They offer a 90-minute massage and take the stress out of reading through a million spa reviews. Prices are much more reasonable than the hotel spas (most of which aren’t that well-rated). If you prefer a spa environment, and price isn’t a concern, then there are a number of great places to check out. Either way – take some time to relax.
  • After a relaxation session, head to Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris casino for a terrific French brunch. The ambiance is really great, and the food was amazing. We recommend the baked goat cheese and mussels. The fresh French baguettes are addicting, and the chocolate mousse is superb. Reservations are a must!
  • For the evening, pick one of the many concerts. We saw Britney, but there are a ton of others to choose from. A Vegas concert is more intimate than you’ll find other places. The Axis at Planet Hollywood, for example, only seats 4,600. Because they are shows with long runs, the stage and props are always spectacular.

Day 3

  • For breakfast, pick a buffet. They are all fairly comparable. We hit up the Spice Market at Planet Hollywood because that’s where we were staying. It was pretty decent and had a range of cuisines. (We don’t recommend the PH as a place to stay, however. Rooms were nicely sized, but our floor reeked of cigarettes, housekeeping was lousy, and they were stingy with towels. There are much nicer places to stay.)
  • Instead of gambling, shop the Miracle Mile shops at Planet Hollywood. There are tons of sales, and your $500 will go much farther! Just be sure you have room to take all your loot home.
  • For your last evening, catch a magic show. We saw Penn & Teller at the Rio. Be prepared for some political comedy and impressive slight-of-hand. If you are more into vanishing airplanes or gimmicks, then there are several other magicians to choose from. If you do wind up at The Rio, which is a little off the strip, then The Voodoo Steakhouse offers a good meal (although a little pricey). The view is pretty impressive and gives you a panoramic of the Strip. We split the Land & Sea so Brian could have his steak and I could have some delicious crab legs. There are certainly better meals- and at better value –  so don’t make the trip unless it’s convenient.

 

 

Tagged , , , , ,

On neighborhoods

Yesterday evening Brian and I scrapped any plans to make dinner or workout and instead opted to explore our ‘hood. We’d made the decision to squeeze into a tiny condo versus our roomier option of an actual house all for the love of a neighborhood, and I figured it was about time we started to enjoy it. We should really get out more, after all. 

As we strolled along the not-so-picturesque (or level for that matter) sidewalk of South Boulevard, I started thinking about what makes a good neighborhood. Why would someone choose to pay an exorbitant price tag simply to live in a certain geography? Or, as in our case, remain in a small space over a larger one. It isn’t always that price equals ‘niceness.’ We clearly weren’t picky on the levelness of our sidewalk, for example. I suppose it may be why people gravitate to large cities such as NYC, LA, San Fran – or – cultural shifts such as a move to Scotland or Costa Rica. I sum it up as a desire to be near what stimulates.

At the surface, it may seem like the residents of South End are quite varied. I like to think of us as multi-faceted. As I gazed around the Common Market courtyard while listening to the soothing notes of a bluesy jazz from an acoustic guitar accompanied by a rough but moving male voice singing of love and belongings lost — or heaved into the front yard and broken into a million pieces — I noticed a diverse crowd. Sure, there were the expected hipsters identified by the dark sunglasses at 7 pm, flowing beards, tight jeans and the usual graphic tee with some deep public message; however, there was also the nurse who’d just come off shift and was still in her blue scrubs, the 9 to fivers loosening their ties or still in their black pumps, the yogis equipped with rolled mat and obligatory high bun, and then there was us. I’m not sure what label we’d be given by an outsider, but to me I seem normal. Perhaps to those hipsters I’m a yuppie. Does anyone even use that word any more? 

But here we were, in all out multi-faceted glory, drawn to the same place at the same time in the same ‘hood. Running with my theory on shared stimulation (which sounds rather dirty actually) I’d say despite our varied appearances that at heart we in the Southend are just a bunch of food lovin’, beer appreciatin’, music enjoyin’, dog ownin’ souls who want to be around other souls just like us. We like our culinary gems like the brick & mortar Nan & Byron’s or our proprietary Food Truck Friday, or maybe even whipping up our own with fresh finds from Atherton Market. We like our craft beer and the convenience of strolling over to Triple C for a pint, a run, or both. We love taking care of soul and body with our quality yoga studios (plug for my fav Arrichion!), running groups, and CrossFit studios. We aren’t all the same, but we love that too. We love being around new, different, changing, beautiful, inspiring, challenging, delicious, fresh, invigorating, nourishing, trendy, historic, melodious and free. We are the Southend, and boy do I love it. 

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

On planning a wedding – Foodie bliss

After a two month hiatus from any sort of wedding planning, this weekend Brian and I jumped back into the game tackling flowers, decorations, entertainment, menu and wedding cake all in one Sunday outing. We are by no means done, but we’ve made pretty considerable progress and the fuzzy mental imaginings of my wedding day are starting to gain clarity. Let me start by absolutely raving over the staff at our venue. For anyone looking for a stress-free, warm, welcoming wedding planning experience, please look up Hidden River Events in Asheville, North Carolina. We absolutely love these people and their big, beautiful, friendly hearts. 

The highlight of our trip was of course the food. I can’t think of one single life activity Brian and I enjoy more than eating. Sometimes this shared love gets us in trouble (oh for the love of ice cream!) but more often than not we find limitless joy in trying a new restaurant or dish. Add in our appreciation for wine and craft beer, and well, let’s just say we wouldn’t be content with a pasta buffet line at our wedding. 

We were able to meet with two caterers on Sunday. For our first tasting we were treated to crab cakes, tomato and basil crostini and a Parmesan artichoke spread. For our second we devoured mini bacon and cheddar beef sliders on a delish pretzel roll, black bean and sweet potato sliders with avocado, mini BLTs, and crunchy tea-brined chicken.

After a first tasting, a BBQ lunch because we were still hungry, a pit stop for ice cream, and a second and markedly more robust tasting, we moved on to cake. I must say I was a bit disappointed I’d gotten so full up to this point, as this is what I’d most been looking forward to from the moment I said ‘Yes.’ I LOVE sweets. I have a second stomach dedicated to dessert. I don’t care if I can’t take one more bite of my delectable filet or my succulent salmon – I’m housing a whole chocolate brownie sundae or slice of key lime pie. When Anne set before us a tray full of cupcakes for tasting, I almost cried with joy. We sampled lemon, strawberry, almond, carrot, chocolate, vanilla, peanut butter, red velvet, salted caramel, cream cheese with marshmallow fluff — it was ten kinds of heaven. I know everyone says their cake is going to be amazing, but then it ends up tasting like cardboard dust wrapped in a beautiful icing with has the texture of frozen Crisco and about the same flavor. In our case;however, our cake is going to be AWESOME. Really and truly.

And, because you know my tendency to completely change direction, we almost totally revamped our menu selections in preparation for our next tasting. So don’t worry, no spoilers here. Nothing about our wedding is traditional, and you can be sure the food most certainly won’t be either. 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday Before Last I Turned 26

I wrote this last week, but was too lazy to post…

On Friday I turned 26. Apparently 26 is the year where I give up starving myself for three weeks to squeeze into a skin-tight black dress and hit up a club so I can give myself the gift of an ego boost via appreciative ogling. Or at least, what I think is ogling but could be everyone else developing the same tendency to squint and overactively blink when their contacts dry out due to dehydration caused by a mix of blasting AC  and too many vodka sodas. Or at least I assume everyone develops the squints. I do.

Instead of the aforementioned excitement, I’ve spent the last week stuffing my face full of delicious food and tossing down scrumptious cocktails which will leave me bloated and in need of some double-duty yoga sessions for oh… the-rest-of-my-life. It’s been awesome.

I may finally give up and admit that I love food too much to ever return to my high school weight. I’m getting used to my pot belly. I believe a gorgeous French girl once mentioned while lying in bed next to Bruce Willis in one of my favorite movies ever (if you don’t know the movie you should stop reading my blog now and never return) that she wanted a ‘pot.’ Well bitch, I got one. Be jealous.

As a matter of fact, all yall should be jealous. You know what goes into making a pot? A whole lot of time and money. I mean, you can’t sample one of everything on a menu without it – and that’s what I’ve basically been doing.

On my birthday proper we went to my favorite summer spot for patio dining. I also worked there during the space “in-between” college and real life – so I’m a bit biased. Sitting outside under the loving shade of an umbrella, sampling savory tapas and sipping red wine sangria made for pretty much the best birthday ever (except for last year when I spent it with my favorite Mexicans who showered me with chocolate, and cupcakes, and actual cakes.) It’s a tie.

Saturday was spent in Asheville. It was less a food day (which is strange because Asheville may be my favorite place in NC to eat) but I still managed to find several tasty brews to fill my belly.

And then there was Sunday. And Boston. And three marathon days of eating. I’ll leave that for my next post. 

Image

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A letter to my colleagues

Dear colleagues,

I want to thank you for your interest in my efforts to strengthen my self-control. Those lemon scones, fresh cinnamon rolls and pumpkin-chocolate muffins you kindly left in the break room were a real test! How did you know I chose this week to embark on a mission to finally lose that ‘freshman fifteen’ I acquired three years ago when I joined a company with Breakfast Monday, Cookie Wednesday, Pizza Friday, and Put-it-in-the-kitchen-so-your-coworkers-make-it-disappear Day?

I almost made it through Monday, but y’all are tough coaches! You must have seen my momentary lapse where I cut a teeny-tiny slice of the pumpkin muffin and tried to up the ante on me — saw a break in my resolve and went for it. When I got back from lunch there were Peeps added to the giant bowl of Easter candy! How did you know I adore those glittering mounds of sugar molded into cute animals? You even left them out and unwrapped so they would be perfectly stale come 6’o’clock. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who likes stale Peeps, so I know you did it just for me.

I have to admit at first I was mad at you, but then I saw your efforts of sabotage in a new light. I realize now that you know I face temptation every day, and need to face it head on and say “No cookie, I will not eat you!” and “Stay back foul chocolate demon, you will not enter!”

So again, I thank you for the encouragement disguised as sadistic plans to undermine my efforts to lose weight.

Yours truly,
Brittany

cake

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,