Always Aubrey: 2017

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Back to Active with Biofreeze®

I haven't mentioned it much here on the blog, but for the past few weeks I've been on a journey to be more active.  I was into sports from the time I could run, and I even did a couple of years as a college athlete.  And many of you know I'm a military Veteran; it used to be my job to stay in fighting shape.  But a few years ago, I fell off the wagon...  hard.  And every time I tried to get back on, I'd back off because it was hard to overcome the soreness and get back in the habit.


Recently, I've been trying to attend fitness classes at the gym near my apartment, including some pretty intense HIIT and strength training ones.  I'm using muscles I just haven't used before, and to be honest, OTC pain relievers weren't really cutting it.  My soreness even made it hard to sleep.  It's hard enough to get motivated to lose weight and exercise, only to have soreness happen to boot.  So when I had the opportunity to try Biofreeze® for my muscle soreness post-exercise, I say YES PLEASE.


I was able to try three forms of Biofreeze®, the roll-on, spray, and gel.  I was excited, because I knew each bottle could play a different role.  The spray, for example, was perfect for the spots (like my back) that I couldn't reach on my own.  The gel was perfect for rubbing on my sore areas after I showered, so I could apply a little massage and relief to key sore points.

Biofreeze® really is as effective as ice for treating my muscle soreness, but without a dripping towel or bag of melting ice.  I can totally pack it in my bag to take on-the-go!  My favorite for travel?  The roll-on!  It's the perfect TSA-friendly size.  I took it on a business trip earlier this week out-of-state, and I loved having it on-hand after using the hotel gym.  And it's effective; no NSAIDs needed for me, just a little of the menthol in these products for fast-acting relief for my aches.

Oh, and did I mention it's now available without a prescription, at retail stores near you, AND made in the United States?  This used to be something you could only get through a medical professional.  Now it's easily accessible for all of trying to get back into healthier habits.  Biofreeze® is also free of parabens and propylene glycol, never tested on animals, and available in dye-free formats.  All the good, without the bad.

Biofreeze® has been a great helper for me as I try to get back to fitness.  I push myself harder because I am no longer afraid of the painful recovery.  I can treat my sore muscles with a cooling, relieving gel, and move on.  That's definitely something worth sharing with you, to help overcome pain and push forward towards your health and fitness goals!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Holler & Dash: Biscuits and Brews

I'd been meaning to get up to Brentwood to try Holler & Dash, a biscuit house concept from the folks who blessed us with Cracker Barrel.  (Note: I have a childhood nostalgia for Cracker Barrel, and it's one of the few places Dan will eat while we're on road trips.)  So when I got invited to a special happy hour (beer and biscuits, y'all!), I grabbed my friend M and headed up there after work.

First off, Holler & Dash has their interior design on point.  It's not a country general store, it's a modern, subway-tiled, wooden, metal, hipster-friendly but also beautiful space.  I love that they have a merchandise area with locally specific things like sauces, coffee, chocolates, and jams.  It makes every restaurant feel less like a chain (there are currently four Holler & Dash restaurants, with more on the way) and more like a local fast casual spot.

While the restaurant is currently focused on breakfast and lunch hours, I think the happy hour concept worked really well during our visit!  We were able to taste local craft brews (and some regional like from Alabama) and some great craft sodas.  Again, they did a great job of incorporating local elements while creating something accessible and delicious.

We had three mini versions of their signature biscuit sandwiches:

  1. Chicken Set Go, with fried chicken, pimento cheese, jalapeno, sorghum
  2. Pork Rambler, with fried pork tenderloin, blackberry butter, fried onion straws
  3. Kickback Chicken, with fried chicken, goat cheese, green onion, sweet pepper jelly with a kick

Full sized biscuits normally run $6-9 depending on the item, and you can even get them on kale or half a biscuit as a healthier option.  The biscuits themselves were sooooo good, and I loved the different flavor combos.  I don't love goat cheese, but the Kickback Chicken ended up being our favorite.  The cheese was mild, and in combination with everything else it was totally delish.  M and I both agreed that we'd love to come back and try their tater tot bowl, because it sounds right up our alley too.  I also enjoyed the craft soda, especially if you're craving something on the sweet side.

All in all, I'll definitely back for some fast casual biscuits in Brentwood... it's just an easy pick (with free parking) and they're putting in my favorite ice cream across the street.  Gosh, I love Tennessee!

Thank you to Holler & Dash for sponsoring this event and inviting me!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday Lately: Reading, Fancying, Getting, Doubting, Scheduling

Sunday Lately is a weekly linkup hosted by the Blogger Tribe
We e-hangout every Sunday, sharing a small glimpse into the past week of life in our own words.

It's Easter, and Dan's family is in town, so my post is going up later, as most everyone is napping!  We've had a wonderful weekend finally getting to show my brother-in-law and his wife around our town, and my mother-in-law is here for the week.  We went to Leiper's Fork yesterday, including the new distillery out there, and we went out to dinner in downtown Franklin.  Today I cooked brunch, and we took a picnic to a local winery.  Oh, and I bought so much Lacroix water at Costco, it's like embarrassing.

READING...  I just finished Grit by Angela Duckworth.  I tried to listen to it on audiobook, but the author has a rather dull way of reading aloud.  I think she's a better speaker/lecturer (she has a TED Talk) but the audiobook just felt like Siri was reading to me.  I'm listening to Hillbilly Elegy now, and it's fascinating!

FANCYING...  fresh flowers.  I used to hate bouquets of flowers, because they just seemed like a waste.  Now I love getting cut flowers at Kroger and mixing them up into arrangements.  Maybe it's because it's warmer weather now?  I'm starting to also love the fragrance.  But it's such an unnecessary expense, to be honest...  #firstworldproblems

GETTING...  new things I don't need for the apartment, because houseguests always make me what to give the place a little spruce.  I went to the At Home store and got a new doormat, and Kroger for some fresh flowers.  I also bought some new coasters while I was shopping with my MIL and SIL in nearby Leiper's Fork.  I got a new kitchen towel that is so appropriate, because Bear photobombed at the right moment.

DOUBTING...  I doubt myself a lot.  It's this perfectionist issue that I have.  It's something that I'm working past, allowing myself to forgive past decisions and just move on.  Life has to be lived.  I need to just be happy in myself and my choices, and embrace things.  No regrets, no doubts!

SCHEDULING...  Fun things.  I'm super busy this weekend through next, but I'm hoping the following weekend I can convince Dan to take a mini day trip with me.  Tennessee has so many cute festivals and towns to see!  I also just finished up my planner layouts for May, so that month is really getting into the books and planned out at this point.

Also, look at this beautiful photo I took while I was in the lobby of the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville.  It's just so pretty, I had to include it here just because.  I'd love to stay the night there, but it's so pricey!

  • On the Blog:  LOTS of posts this week!  I blogged about my memory planner, a cooking class I took with a friend, and dining out at Tansuo, Maneet Chauhan's new restaurant in town.
  • On Twitter:  I vented about parking.
  • On Pinterest:  I made this recipe I pinned for Blueberry Cinnamon Roll Bake for Easter brunch and it was DELICIOUS.  And so not healthy LOL.
  • On Instagram:  When you're walking around downtown and you discover Brad Paisley is shooting a music video.  This sort of things happens around here!
  • Shopping:  I want a French style rolling pin, and this one on Amazon is beautiful.  I saw one in this sort of gallery store that was $55 and I really wanted it, but it was $55. LOL  I bought marble/wood coasters instead for $18.

How was your week?

Sunday Lately with Blogger Tribe

Friday, April 14, 2017


Dan and I aren't usually at the forefront of getting to new restaurants.  We live south of Nashville, so driving up to the city involves a bit of planning.  But Tànsuŏ, the new restaurant concept from Maneet Chauhan and Chris Cheung, opened just a month ago, and its Chinese-American fusion of cuisine really enticed me.  I snagged a reservation on OpenTable, and we were off!  (Full disclosure: my husband is employed by a brewery that is backed by Maneet, but he has no sway in how I express myself in social media... I'm all about transparency!)

The restaurant exterior is pretty subtle; you'll see the valet before you notice it, probably.  It's right next door to Chauhan Ale & Masala House.  The decor of the place really struck me.  It had Asian lotus and abacus-inspired elements.  A couple of people on Yelp have found this to look cheesy, but honestly I found the overall vibe to be very sexy.  The size of the restaurant struck me too!  We were seated in a big, beautiful blue booth.

Our server recommended that we share two dim sum and an entree, but we didn't listen, and we ended up taking leftovers home!  Two dim sum and an entree is PERFECT for two people.  Everything is made to be shared, so I would listen to the server... they know what's up.

The fire cracker spring rolls were definitely worth ordering!  I loved the sauce that came with them.  They are very small, but packed with flavor and beef short rib meat.  We also had the toishan sui mai, pork dumplings with salted fish and soy sauce.  I was worried it would have a fishy flavor, but it was very tasty.  It's not the greatest dim sum dumpling I've ever had, but definitely yummy.  I would pick the spring rolls over the sui mai if I had to choose.  I wish they had soup dumplings and more dim sum like Din Tai Fung, which I can only get on the West Coast.

Fire Cracker Spring Rolls

Toishan Sui Mai

The two entrees that we ordered were of ample sharing size.  The peking pork chops could have fed three people, I'd say!  We also had the General Tso's chicken.  I was really torn wanted to try some of their rice dishes too, and I found that there were enough things on the menu that I want to try to merit coming back again.  Both dishes were saucy, crunchy, juicy...  my husband detests leftovers, but with this stuff he was asking for a doggy bag to take to work the next day!

Peking Pork Chops

General Tso's Chicken

I really enjoyed our meal at Tànsuŏ.  I left feeling full to the max, and the drinks were good to boot.  The wine list is carefully matched to the cuisine, as most places should do!  Husband enjoyed some Lagavulin too.  I think that people who are seeking "authentic" Chinese or dim sum will be disappointed in this place, the same way those seeking "authentic" Indian cuisine found Chauhan Ale & Masala house to be polarizing.  Same for those who think these types of cuisine should be inexpensive and not high-end experiences.

But as a half-Korean half-American girl, I have a passion for fusion and inspired flavors.  I love seeing people take a riff on flavors that they've come to love or grew up eating.  I think Chef Cheung has brought his NYC Chinatown upbringing to life in an delicious, upscale, sexy way.  There's a place in this world for authentic Chinese food, Panda Express, and Tànsuŏ, without cognitive dissonance.  Disagree with me if you wish, but I think this is what makes America's restaurant scene so tasty.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Chef & I

A couple of former coworkers have been mentioning The Chef & I as a wonderful restaurant.  I'd eaten their food at catered events, but never visited their restaurant in Lenox Village.  Then I found out they have cooking classes for $75 per person, which includes a multi-course meal.  My friend B and I have been looking to bring some more fun to our girls' nights, so we signed up for a Nashville Brunch themed cooking class.

It was a dark and stormy night, no joke.  Brooke and I were the only students on that night, so we got a private lesson from Chef Liz, along with some delicious dinner.  Some of their other classes, especially knife skills, sell out very quickly, FYI!

The first dish we made was a sweet potato and veggie hash, with eggs to boot.  It was a good exercise in dicing!  I loved all of the colors from the veggies, and we definitely learned a thing or two.  I'm planning to make this dish again, when I have houseguests!

Sweet potato and veggie hash

I grated cheese for the next dish, shrimp and grits (cheesy grits!) and we ate some of the veggie hash as a first course.  While we ate, Chef Liz prepped the shrimp and grits, while we watched and took some notes.  I'm not the biggest fan of grits, but these tasted soooooo good with all the grated Havarti in there.  The shrimp had smoked paprika, and they were very flavorful.

Shrimp & Cheesy Grits

Our last dish was Nashville hot chicken and cornbread skillet cakes.  You can also make cornbread waffles with this one, if you have a waffle maker!  I love hot chicken, but I have always been too scared to fry chicken at home.  I guess it's the idea of hot oil that freaks me out.  So Chef Liz helped me season the chicken (we did half hot and half not), bread it, and fry it up like a champ.  (Note the chef's coat I got to wear, like a boss.)  I have to admit, it was a little intimidating, but ultimately we had some great chicken!

I loved the spicy plus sweet flavor once we added the syrup to the pancake.  Yum yum yum.  I was a little rough handling the chicken, so some of the breading came off, but such is life.  Still tasty.

The Chef & I also has a limited number of seats at the kitchen bar open when they serve dinner, so you can watch them make your food.  But I love getting hands-on experience, so the cooking class was absolutely perfect.  I'll go back to eat there someday, but I also want to keep up with their calendar of cooking classes, so I can learn as I indulge.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Purple Trail & Memory Planning

Thank you to Purple Trail for sponsoring this post and providing me with a beautiful planner!
Images (unless noted), text, and opinions expressed are all my own.

I love having a paper planner.  I've been journaling since I was a young teenager, and there's something about putting pen to paper and jotting down your lists, plans, and other things on a page.  I've read that it actually helps commit things to memory.  I feel like it brings you extra satisfaction to cross things off your list, or remember what happened on a particular day.

I have a tiny daily planner that I use, so when Purple Trail reached out to me about a new planner, I knew what I wanted: a memory planner.  A planner is a great tool to use as a diary.  You can add doodles, photos, and jot down daily happenings and memories.  It's way better than a notebook, because you can "micro-journal" in a way.

photo of planner from Purple Trail

Shopping for a planner on Purple Trail was FUN.  There are so many options!  I was touched to find that not only do they have wedding planners, but they even have LGBT-centric wedding planners.  I love the inclusiveness of their site!  I sorted to look at weekly planners, because I wanted a horizontal space to write down daily notes.  I fell in love with the blue handpainted floral of one of the planners, so I opened it up in Personalize/Design mode to make it mine.

It's super easy to design a planner in this mode.  I really liked that you can do so much customization, compared to other planner sellers.  There were also cover material options.  I chose a hard cover, spiral bound, so make the planner sturdy for year-long journaling.

My planner arrived quickly, and I marveled at the blank pages.  What would I do?  Since I was starting this journal in March, I was able to make the journal start on that month too.  Perfect for coming into things mid-year, right?  Also perfect if you want to do a school-centric one, starting in August or September instead of January.

The planner was beautiful!  I was so happy with the sturdiness of the cover, and how it felt.  It also had a folder and notes pages inside, which was really useful for keeping things I need to add in the journaling pages.

I decided to keep my weekly entries to a color scheme.  For the first week, I was pretty busy traveling for work and fun.  I printed a bunch of photos on 4x6 photo paper in my printer, cutting them out to paste into the planner with a gluestick.  I found inspiration on Instagram from others' memory planners.

I also decided that if I didn't have a lot to write on a page, I'd practice my amateur lettering.  I think I'm getting better!  It was also fun to jot down quotes and other things from books I'm reading, so I remember the best of what I've read.

I think that people believe they don't have time for this sort of thing.  After all,  you can stick your appointments and lists in your cell phone.  But for me, writing in a memory planner, or using a weekly paper planner, is a form of daily meditation.  Five minutes a day can bring a little peace, joy, and clarity of mind.  If you're looking for a planner to get organized for a wedding, teaching, school, or just life in general, I highly recommend Purple Trail.  The quality is fantastic, and I love how my memory planner is turning out!

Thank you to Purple Trail for sponsoring this post and providing me with a beautiful planner!
Images (unless noted), text, and opinions expressed are all my own.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sunday Lately: Mending, Beginning, Doodling, Musing, Applauding

Sunday Lately is a weekly linkup hosted by the Blogger Tribe
We e-hangout every Sunday, sharing a small glimpse into the past week of life in our own words.

MENDING...  Last week, I mended a pile of clothes.  This week, I'm trying to mend my heart.  On Tuesday, the world lost Kimmie Jones, one of the first friends I made when I moved to Nashville.  She was a part of a little blogger girl squad that we've formed over time, and an integral part of it.  I'm working on a post about Kimmie, but it's not ready (and I'm not ready) yet.  In the meantime, I would encourage you to get to know her through her writing and unique voice, at her blog That girl in the wheelchair, and at other sites where she wrote...

BEGINNING... a huge closet makeover!  I've just listed a bunch of items on Poshmark, thrown away a bunch of shoes, and have a garbage bag of donations to inventory.  I still have an insane amount of dresses (I can't part with them!) and whatnot, but I'm pulling things slowly out to make room.  That way, I can add new, on-trend things like these new shoes I bought this week.

DOODLING...  on Instagram stories.  I quit Snapchat because I was managing too many social media channels... Blog plus Facebook/Instagram/Twitter is where I'll stay.  Here's a doodle from when we were watching Rogue One last night.

MUSING... about the beauty in unexpected places.  I traveled to Cincinnati for work this week, and I had no idea about the amount of art deco and beautiful architecture they had in the city.  I walked and explored downtown a bit, and it was just building after building of beauty.  I want to take pictures and see even more next time.

APPLAUDING...  my carbon steel skillet.  It's becoming a new favorite of mine in the kitchen, especially since it's so much lighter than my beloved cast iron.


How was your week?

Sunday Lately with Blogger Tribe

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Plum Deluxe Loose Leaf Teas

Plum Deluxe sent me a collection of teas for my thoughts and review. 
All opinions are my own.  Thank you Plum Deluxe for the beautiful collection!

I started drinking tea about seven years ago, when I was deployed to Iraq for the second time.  I don't drink coffee, and at the time, I didn't drink tea.  But I learned quickly that black teas, like chai, are basically the national drink of Iraq!  You just don't sit down with a group of people to discuss  anything without cups of tea passed around.  It definitely got me into the habit of drinking tea, and when I got home I became a super-fan: chai lattes, iced tea, you name it!

Andy, the founder of Plum Deluxe, reached out to me and sent me a collection of his teas.  He started the company is a tribute to his mother, who never forgot to enjoy "the little things" in life, despite battling breast cancer.  His story of building Plum Deluxe, choosing to create a line of premium, loose leaf teas that support local and USA farmers wherever possible.  The teas are also organic, non-GMO, and free of chemicals and sulfites.

I told Andy that loose leaf tea was a bit intimidating to me.  I usually grab my tea at Starbucks, or I make it myself with our pod coffee machine or tea bags.  But once he walked me through it, and I bought the cutest little diffuser ever, I was making both hot and iced teas like a pro.  For iced tea, I did a cold brew overnight in a pitcher, so I could have it in the morning.  For hot, steeping in hot water was my usual method, so I could have a single mug.

TJ Maxx had the cutest little diffusers!

The first thing I noticed about my Plum Deluxe teas?  The aroma!  Even before brewing, they were so fragrant.  I tried the Oregon Breakfast Black Tea, Portland Rose City Chai, A Dark Night Spice Puerh (AMAZING!), and a little sample of Rejuvenation Blend Herbal Tea.  All of them were more flavorful that anything I've gotten from a teabag.  There's something even more satisfying about loose leaf tea.  It's so pretty, and it adds to the ritual of tea in general.

If you're looking to start a monthly tea subscription for as low as $10/month, or simply stock up on some tea for your own collection, Plum Deluxe is a fantastic choice.  The website and booklets are stocked full of information, recipes, inspiration, and more.  Andy has put a lot of time and care into his business, and it shows.  I love supporting small businesses, and this one reminds me to take time to have a cuppa and lean back a little.

Thank you Plum Deluxe for the beautiful collection!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Sunday Lately: Working, Loving, Stressing, Growing, Visiting

Sunday Lately is a weekly linkup hosted by the Blogger Tribe
We e-hangout every Sunday, sharing a small glimpse into the past week of life in our own words.

You guys, I've had such a rich week!  The birthday joy just kept on giving.  Sunday night, I reconnected with an old college friend and indulged in The Melting Pot.  Monday night, I took a cooking class with a friend.  Three times during the week, I had lunch with beloved coworkers, and they even treated me for my birthday.  I guess I'd say that this was a week of friendship.  And that just gives me all the feels.

WORKING... on building my figurative "house."  This poem inspired me so much this week. The part about the roof being a masterpiece of forgiveness?  Slayed me.

LOVING... the S-town podcast!  I'm hooked, so no spoilers. I'll finish it on my work road trip coming up this week.  It's a true-life Southern Gothic, references to Faulkner included.

STRESSING... about work deadlines and house cleaning checklists, not making time for some of the freelance commitments I have... but I'm working on prioritizing.  It's all in the Happy Planner.  Breathe in, breathe out.

GROWING...  some bomb hairs, y'all!  Look at how my girl hooked me up with a cut and some refreshed color yesterday.  Love love love.  I feel pretty.  Confession: having someone else wash my hair is one of my favorite things.

VISITING...  with friends.  As I mentioned at the start, the theme of this week for me, whether I knew it at the time or not, was about the love of my friends.  It felt so good making space to indulge in good conversation, laughter, and trust.  After five years in Tennessee, I just feel like things are in a great place. 

And I mean, look at this food.  This is friendship and fellowship, right?  It's actually what my friend M ate, but I snapped a pic because it's beautiful Korean food.

One thing I did this week was write thank you notes to all of my friends and family who gave me gifts or took me to lunch or something like that for my birthday.  I'm a sucker for handwritten cards and letters, because it seems more personal in this day and age of texting and whatnot.  Old lady Aubrey strikes again.

  • On the Blog:  I posted my recaps of Tucson and Phoenix.  What a wonderful trip!  It made me happy.
  • On Twitter:  Tweeting about how satisfying it is to watch cupcakes being frosted, like some kind of creep.  My friend said visual autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a thing, so I'm totes normal.
  • On Pinterest:  I don't love asparagus, but this dish seems like a nice compromise between unhealthy and healthy pasta dishes.  It has bacon!
  • On Instagram:  This doodle about Target is so true, it hurts.
  • Shopping:  I fell in love with these sandals in light tan, so I impulsed ordered them... hope they're comfy!

How was your week?

Sunday Lately with Blogger Tribe

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