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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Special Sponsor!

Ok.. so I was a little hasty with my sponsor post and missed one truly lovely lady. Please meet...
Hey y'all! My name is Mo and I'm a New Orleanian, vegetarian , animal lover, chai tea addict, bicycle commuter, women's college graduate who currently works in the film industry. 

I kind of agree with her on the goat thing. Ever since going to the Wilson County Fair this summer I'm pretty obsessed with goats!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Nashville Food Friday: The Yellow Porch

A review of The Yellow Porch restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
There are always a few restaurants that you hear good things about. They don't get recommended to you all that often. You know they are there and in the back of your mind you make a note to try it out someday. And then you are totally blown away by the food and you think: WHY THE #*&! HAVE I NOT BEEN HERE BEFORE? Such is the Yellow Porch. They were running a restaurant week special and Steve and I decided to try it because we both had never been. This was the best decision ever. What our restaurant week experience lacked at Puckett's Downtown, The Yellow Porch more than made up for it!
A review of The Yellow Porch restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
The restaurant itself is located off of Thompson Lane, tucked behind other restaurants. The parking situation is tight, with most people parking along the highway next to a very morally-ambiguous motel. But the Yellow Porch itself is lovely. As per their name, they have a very nice outdoor seating area with benches and cushions that is truly romantic! The inside is painted with vibrant colors and the decor is modern. The one thing that I didn't like was the art on the walls. I think it was for sale so maybe they rotate that stuff around. Anyway, it was like the early 90s vomited on a canvas and they hung it up. Cosby-sweater-esque, if that is a art genre.

Back to the deal. It was $20.12 for an entree and an appetizer or dessert. Since I was with Steve, we agreed to get one appetizer and split it, order our own entrees, and then split dessert. This worked out really well because by the end of the dinner I was stuffed and I couldn't have possibly put away a full appetizer and a full dessert. Ok, maybe I could, but I shouldn't.
Cheese fritters at The Yellow Porch restaurant in Nashville Tennessee

So for the appetizers we ordered the Tennessee Sharp Cheddar Fritters with spicy aioli and chow-chow. Steve would later refer to this dish as "heaven in the mouth." Rightfully so! These were basically hush puppies with cheese in the center. This was far and away the fanciest state fair food I ever had. The cheese was melted to perfection and the fritter crisp, not greasy. I'm also a sucker for chow-chow and The Yellow Porch made some good stuff. I highly recommend this appetizer. You are a fool if you go to the Yellow Porch and don't try these out. A FOOL.
Shrimp and grits at The Yellow Porch restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
For dinner I decided on the blackened shrimp with grits and a Napa cabbage slaw. I'm a sucker for shrimp and grits and I really liked this non-traditional take on the dish. The shrimp were expertly cooked, buttery, and full of flavor and spice. The grits had an interesting texture and flavor. I couldn't put my finger on exactly what made it different than regular grits, but who cares. It went well with the shrimp and the cabbage creating a perfectly balanced dish.
Salmon at The Yellow Porch restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
Steve had the seared salmon that was served on a salad of fresh heirloom tomatoes and crusty bread. This was an immense plate of food for one person.  The piece of salmon was large, the tomato salad ample and there were two huge pieces of nice crusty bread soaking up the dressing. Also, I'm just going to insert that I'm a big fan of micro-greens. They added a freshness to the salmon that brought out its flavor. And those huge yellow tomatoes? Perfection!
Passion fruit tart at The Yellow Porch restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
For dessert I originally wanted the banana's foster bread pudding. But then I thought about it. I've had bananas foster and bread pudding, and I can make both. We decided to order the Passion Fruit Tart since we both had never had anything like that. This was heavenly! It was more like a cheesecake with passion fruit flavor. The tart was thick and tasted like rich custard. Add the whipped cream and the raspberry and white chocolate sauces, and you get one really rich dessert.
Overall, we had a great time at The Yellow Porch. This is the type of place that I want to take my parents to next time they are in town. The menu is varied and has a lot to offer those with particular tastes. The dishes are expertly crafted and the quality so good that I can't wait to come back and try the paella!
Yellow Porch on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 27, 2012

September Sponsors!

This is my first group sponsor feature! I am lucky to have a great group of women with me for September. Please, take a moment and learn about them!

I'm Avé, an art major, DJ, and bride to be among many other things! I blog about style, art, DIY, music, and any other happenings in my life. I enjoy stuff like Adventure time, my pup named Moose, and crocheting. I hope you'll stop by!

Hi!  I'm Jennifer...just a simply complex tattooed lady who is finding my way in the world of books, blogging and a fiscally challenged but creative life in Athens, GA.   My musician husband and our rescue animals - 4 dogs, 3 cats and 2 fish - are also along for the ride.  Join us, won't you?

Hello!  My name is Karen and I blog over at The Quiet Owl.  I also have a vintage clothing store on Etsy call Quiet Owl Vintage.  I blog thrifting, nature, photography, food, anime, and much more!  I'd love for you to visit my little corner of the internet!

Sabrosa Vintage is a one-woman labor of love, dedicated to saving quality and savoring the flavor of bygone times.  A vintage shop on etsy - a pop-up shop - a traveling wardrobe. Available locally by appointment, at Carpe Diem in Franklin, TN and with Erabellum Artisan Co-op at 8th and Argyle in Nashville, TN.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Farmer's Market #13

Fall is officially here. Last week I lamented about the end of my little garden. This week, I feel that our fresh veggies are almost over. Our share is a little bit smaller and a little bit repetitive this week. Unfortunately, due to a lot of life stuff happening this past week I didn't have a chance to cook up as much of these goodies as I wanted to. Lucky for me, peppers and squash seem to have an indefinite shelf life. I'm still pretty sick of getting potatoes. The entire left side of my fridge is full of tiny bags of potatoes. I think I need to have a potato party where I make every dish with potatoes just so I can clear up some space.

Thank goodness for the eggplant this week. Before I ran my race I needed to load up on carbs. I found a really good recipe from the Smitten Kitchen for an eggplant and orzo bake. It was exactly what I was craving. I edited it a bit for personal taste, removing the celery and adding olives. I perhaps added too much cheese, but that is hardly a problem.

**A special note of thanks to everyone who said something lovely about my race post yesterday. It really means a lot to me. Thank you for your kind words and support!****

Monday, September 24, 2012

On Personal Motivation: 1/2 Marathon Story

I'm getting older. It is just a fact that I cannot deny. In the next couple of months I will turn thirty. I will not have the youthful exhuberence of my twenties to fall back on anymore. I am no longer in a protected state. I am no longer in the phase of figuring myself out. I should know everything by now. I am an adult, without any question.

As this deadline has been ticking down, I knew that I only had a certain amount of time to do things before I turned thirty. Age is just a number, but for some reason turning 30 is a milestone for me. About two years a go I decided that I wanted to be in the best shape of my life by my 30th birthday. I am the setereotypical indoor child. I did a smattering of high school sports, none very well. During college I took the required PE course (tae kwon do- where I immediately broke my toe) and nothing more. After college, I was a depressive bump on a log for a year or so. After moving to Nashville, finishing grad school, and buying my first house, I knew it was time to start focusing on me.
I started going to the gym. I took hula hooping, dance, burlesque and belly dance classes. I tried to do yoga at least once a week. Then because of the coaxing of a great group of women I signed up to hula-hoop the Music City 1/2 Marathon in 2011. It was a great experience and I knew what my body was capable of. I wanted more for myself. I signed up with the East Nasty Running Group for their Couch to 5K program during the summer of 2011. I went from not being able to run a quarter of a mile to finishing a 5k in under 32 minutes. I kept up with the running and finished a 5 mile race on Thanksgiving day. By January, it was time to train again for the 1/2 marathon with the hoopers. You can read a bit about that experience here. When the race was over, the pink hoop packed away and the medal hanging on my wall, I didn't know what to do. I needed something else to pour myself into.
Enter the Women's Half Marathon and a group of lovely friends who wanted to train for it with me. It made sense that the next thing I did would be to run a half marathon. I thought I was ready. We had months to train. I was excited. I was ready.

Training started off well. We followed a run-walk program with long runs on the weekend and two days of short running during the week with built in cross-training on non-running days. I stuck with this for a while. I was running 5-6 miles by the end. But summer happened and the heat became unbearable. By July I moved my training to the gym and the luxuries of air conditioning. Life got in the way and the training sessions became shorter. My friends were also busy with life, and we trained together less and less. By the end of August I wasn't really training for the half marathon at all any more.
I was disappointed with myself. I promised myself I would run this. I even paid the registration fee so there was no going back. So why did I slack off? Why was I banking on letting myself down? I have no good answer for that. I'm not a great runner and it really isn't something I love to do. I know running is something I need to do for my body and for my spirit. But I slacked, and I let myself down.
I told Steve that I wasn't going to run the race. I was just going to eat the $80 and sleep in that morning. Even though I did a 5k just a month ago, I didn't feel that I could touch a half marathon. I contacted my original training buddy Rebecca and we agreed just to take it easy and walk it. We were going to try not to beat ourselves up about letting our training slide, but to enjoy a nice day out and walk the 13.1 miles. We started up again with our training, only this time it was more like what we did for hooping the half. We went for long walks between 10-6 miles in the weeks leading up to it. We timed ourselves. We figured we would finish anywhere between 3:15 and 3:30. Since hooping takes about 4 hours, anything short of that would feel like a victory, and on paper would be a personal record. But, it was hollow. I didn't seem like a real victory. I wanted to run the race, but I let myself down.
But, leave it to adrenaline, competition and motivation to show you what you can do. Rebecca and I were in our corrals waiting for the start of the race. We decided if we felt good, we would run a bit. If not, no big deal. But before I knew it everyone around us was running. So no big deal, right? We ran for a bit too. We found a nice pace and we jogged. Before I knew it, we basically had run 3 miles straight. We figured we could keep it up. We ran the flats and the downhills and we walked the uphills. I felt great. By the time we got to six miles I was getting a little bit tired, so we decided to do the run for 3 minutes walk for 1 minute plan that we did during our initial trianing. It worked well, because I made it to mile 10 using this plan.
Mile 10 was a bummer. I was trudging. I had a cramp the size of a baseball in my left leg that hurt but I didn't want to stop. I'd never ran 10 miles before and I was only 3.1 from the end. I could do it! It was only one 5k away. The last few miles were rough. I ran where I could and then speed walked the rest. When I turned and saw the finish line I sprinted. I still had a little bit left in me! I finished the race in exactly 2:45. That was the pace I wanted to finish when I first decided to do the training. I STILL DID IT. I have no idea how. I slacked at the training and spent weeks worried and upset that I let myself down. But I didn't. I'm so proud of myself. I will not beat myself up over things like this anymore. I have learned, even as I approach 30, that I can still surprise myself.
A special thanks to the lovely Rebecca for being the best training partner, coach, cheerleader and friend a girl could possibly have. Her positivity is what kept me running and her sense of humor is what kept me sane.

And to my lovely Steve, who believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself. Who got up so early to take me to the race and showed up along the way with a big sign to cheer me on. Who told me how proud he was of me and even rubbed my busted feet. I have nothing but immense love and thanks.

Pink Flamingos and Flowers

I got this dress back when Modcloth had their crazy sale. Since then, it's quickly become one of my favorites. The dress is comfortable, easy to throw on and can match almost anything. Look at how Rachel The Hat styled this dress up. Really, I'm surprised that a pink flamingo dress can be so versatile.  Now that I think of it, I have at least three articles of clothing that have flamingos on them. A dress, a skirt, and some tights. I sense a theme round-up happening soon!

Dress: Modcloth (sale!)
Belt: Same belt I wear all the time. Jeeze, I need a new belt.
Shoes: Old Brown Boots
Earrings: Betsey Johnson. From my Little Black Bag
Necklace: Betsey Johnson. Gift.
Hair bow: Made by me

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sponosor Old Red Boots in October!

Do you have a blog or an etsy shop? Do you like style and food? Do you like petting the kitties as much as I do?  Then please consider sponsoring this little blog in October. You can find out some good information on my sponsor page. Please join me!

xoxo Lauren

Friday, September 21, 2012

Nashville Food Friday: Puckett's Grocery Downtown

A review of Puckett's Grocery Restaurant in Downtown Nashville Tennessee
Last week was Restaurant Week here in Nashville. That meant that a lot of really good local restaurants had a special deal and menu for $20.12. Did I mention that I'm a sucker for a bargain? I usually use restaurant week to try out places that I haven't been before. The price is right and I figure that the establishments are putting their best foot forward trying to woo new customers. Steve and I decided to do two nights of restaurant dining, the first of which was Puckett's Downtown. I have been to the Puckett's in Franklin before, but only for breakfast. This location and meal were new to me.
A review of Puckett's Grocery Restaurant in Downtown Nashville Tennessee
 A review of Puckett's Grocery Restaurant in Downtown Nashville Tennessee
Puckett's is a very small local chain with about 3 restaurant locations and a new "Boathouse" branch in Franklin that focuses on seafood. It is pretty much a regular southern-style meat and three. The menu is traditional and the decor is sparse but homey. There is live music every night. While I wasn't personally blown away by the band they had the night we were there (I'm not much of a country music fan) you could tell the the rest of the restaurant was digging it. Its central downtown location means it attracts tourists, and tourists come to Nashville to see live (usually country) music. I'm happy they are giving the people what they want.
A review of Puckett's Grocery Restaurant in Downtown Nashville Tennessee
The restaurant week menu usually consists of an appetizer, entree and dessert. Puckett's replaced the appetizer with a salad and added a soft drink. The entree choices were pretty good and there were a few options I was interested in.
A review of Puckett's Grocery Restaurant in Downtown Nashville Tennessee
For the drink, I saw lemonade on the menu. GREAT! I love lemonade. I was very disappointed when it turns out to be just Minute Maid that tasted like it was right out of a can. Totally over-sweet and gross. I expected a southern restaurant to serve real handmade lemonade. Poops to this. I ordered a water and stuck with that.
Salad at Puckett's Grocery Restaurant in Downtown Nashville Tennessee
The salad was also very non-impressive. It was just regular greens, Kroger quality tomatoes, onions and processed cheese. The salad dressing choices were the norm and I opted for the raspberry vinaigrette. Everything was fresh, but rather boring. I wish Puckett's put an actual appetizer as an option instead of the boring salad.
Steak at Puckett's Grocery Restaurant in Downtown Nashville Tennessee
What the lemonade and salad lacked, the steak made up for. I asked for it medium rare- and boy did I get it. The inside was red and bloody, just the way I like it. The moonshine glaze was delicious and didn't overpower the meat. It added just a little bit of sweetness and nothing more. The portion was massive and I had to take half of the steak home. Oh, and the fat? This piece of meat was fatty and perfect. The sweet potatoes were also really good. Steve kept raving about them. I agree. I was disappointed that the vegetable side dish wasn't what the menu said. It was supposed to be bacon-wrapped green beans. Instead, it was just beans and red peppers. Ung. All I could think of was that the restaurant was cutting corners-promise one thing, serve a cheaper option. The beans and peppers were good, but come on, anything with bacon is automatically better.
Chicken at Puckett's Grocery Restaurant in Downtown Nashville Tennessee
Steve had the Chicken Cordon Que. It was a heart attack on a plate. Fried chicken, pulled pork, cheese and a cream sauce?! I can feel my arteries closing. Steve loved this dish and I believed him. He ate the whole thing and I only got one bite.
Peach Cobbler at Puckett's Grocery Restaurant in Downtown Nashville Tennessee
The dessert was Peach Cobbler. The waitress asked us if we wanted ice cream on it. Restaurants ALWAYS try to up-sell without telling you the additional cost during Restaurant week. Because I've been through that before, I asked how much- $2 a scoop. $2 a scoop for vanilla ice cream that should be included anyway? We declined. Hey Puckett's-always serve cobbler with ice cream include!. The cobbler was stickier they any I have had before. Almost like if semi-cooked dough and bread pudding had a baby. Despite the strange consistency, it was delicious. I was licking the bowl hoping more would magically appear.
Overall, it was a pretty good date night. While I think Puckett's would be great most of the year, I would not recommend going for the Restaurant Week specials. The deals weren't so great and you can probably get exactly what you want on the menu for the same price.

And the best part? Looking at this handsome mustachioed man all night.
Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lurking the Interwebs

This might be the best picture I have ever seen. My love for kittens and hula hoops knows no bounds.
These adorable ghost world prints from the lovely Midge at Modern Girl Blitz.  You can get these lovelies at her Etsy shop.
This sweater from Modcloth! I'm really ready for fall and this is the perfect amount of cute! I cannot say no to forest animals.

No fear of wonder Halloween vintage inspired tattooed lady 8x10 print by Amanda Atkins 
 This print from Amanda Adkins.  Jen from Jen Love Kev posted a tour of her daughter's room, and this sweet piece was hanging up. I know I'm not a toddler, but I like it!

 This slight break in the weather has me thinking about sweaters. My favorite types are large cardigans with southwest prints. I have something similar to this in brown and orange, but red and black are different enough, right? 

I've also decided to take part in the lovely letters exchange by Modern Buttercup and Kitty&Buck. Want some sweet snail mail love? Sign up!

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