Always Aubrey: February 2017

Monday, February 27, 2017

Chattanooga

When Dan and I started discussing his birthday, we talked about simply going out to dinner.  But then we had the idea for a getaway weekend incorporating his love for aquariums.  It had been a few years since our last trip to Chattanooga for their craft beer festival and a visit to the Tennessee Aquarium.  So we decided to take a short trip (just a couple of hours from Nashville) to enjoy the city.

I booked us a modern Airbnb loft apartment in the Southside neighborhood.  My friends in Chatt told me that it's a great walkable neighborhood, and they were right!  I was in love with the apartment; it was like my dream city apartment in a way, exposed brick and all.  Walking distance to a great number of bars and restaurants too.  Our M.O. for the weekend for the weekend became beer and aquarium, especially given the rainy weather predictions.

Our Airbnb living room


The trip started off a little rough, with insane traffic Friday afternoon due to a semi-truck accident adding an hour to our drive.  So we walked to Terminal Brewhouse for a late dinner, given we also lost an hour with a time zone change from CST to EST.  The area around the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel has really grown up in recent years, so we were pleased to find a ton of options. They're even putting in a Frothy Monkey, which y'all know I adore...  but that means it's crowded on a Friday night!  There was a long wait (most places we found 40-90 minutes!), but we eventually managed to get a table.  Note to self, get a reservation for Friday nights in a college town.

We started with Pizza π Rolls, which were basically pizza egg rolls.  I really liked them!  I definitely would love to make something like that at home.  I indulged in one of their stuffed sandwiches, a calzone-type sandwich with fixin's.  I had the Carnivore, with Italian sausage, pepperoni, ham, provolone, and cheddar, with sweet potato fries.  Yum!  Dan settled on some pizza, which surprisingly wasn't quite up his alley, but he enjoyed the craft beers.  I was very happy with my Friday-night carb bomb of a meal!



The next morning, we wanted to hit up the aquarium... but then we saw the insane lines and decided against it!  We should have known that on a rainy Saturday, everyone would take their kids to the aquarium.  So we decided to grabbed brunch downtown at Maple Street Biscuit Company since we were already in the area.

The line at Maple Street was bananas, basically the entire length of the restaurant, but we only waited about 20 minutes.  You get in line, order biscuit sammies or whatever at the counter, and wait for your meal to be called up.  But there's a catch: they'll ask you a fun question, like what you want to be when you grow up... and that is what they'll call out when your order is ready.  (Dan chose Astronaut.)

Dan had two biscuit sandwiches, The Squawking Goat with fried chicken breast, fried goat cheese medallion, and house made pepper jelly, and The Reinhold with crunchy dill pickles and housemade honey mustard.  He liked the goat cheese the best.  I had The Farmer with bacon, cheddar cheese, and apple butter, plus a side of hash brown cake.  I wasn't a fan of the hash brown cake; it was really soft and not crispy or golden, which I prefer with hash browns.  But my sandwich was awesome, and I'd grab a biscuit sandwich at this place again!



Since it was rainy out, we decided to spend some time indoors at a couple of craft breweries.  I'd run into the guys doing the TN Beer Run the week prior, and they recommended Hutton & Smith and OddStory, which are both on the same street.  Dan had talked to the H&S guys before, so that was our first stop.



It's a tiny taproom, but they have lots of great beers!  We got some tasters and really liked them.  We even took home a crowler of their Scotch ale, which means you definitely enjoyed the beer, right?  That was probably my favorite beer while we were there.  I also love their branding and tap handles.  Very clean and cool!




I totally fell in love with the taproom at OddStory.  Part living room, part bar, part beautiful group hangout space, I felt like I could move in.  I think that women are more likely to stick around a taproom that is inviting like that, which means the guys will stick around for longer, so they nailed it for me.  And the beers were great!



We had the beer munchies when we got there, so I ordered us their pretzel made from their spent grains.  OMG, loved it.  Beer cheese and mustard, one dip for each of us.  (Dan's a mustard man.)  Yum, and it had a great texture that you don't get from a concession stand pretzel.  This one was legit.  We lingered there for a long time, and it's probably one of my favorite taprooms style-wise in Tennessee.




For dinner, I'd called ahead to Feed Table & Tavern back in Southside.  They don't do reservations per se, but you can call ahead for a preferred seating time.  We got a table right away at our designated time, and we were joined by a couple of friends for drinks and a meal.



I indulged in cocktails that evening.  I started with a gin Greyhound, which is my cocktail of choice lately.  Then I decided to indulge in a tasty wine cocktail called the Sloshed Housewife, and by the end of THAT drink I was definitely a bit sloshed.  Thankfully, we'd ordered Smoked Pork Rib Tips as an appetizer (yum!) and I had their steak and fries for dinner.  Everything tasted good but their fries were insane.  Definitely must have been batter-dipped and double-fried if you ask me!  Feed had a cool, young vibe to it.



On our last day in town, we decided to give the aquarium another go in the morning.  We parked in the aquarium lot, then walked up to the Bluff View Art District to grab breakfast at Rembrandt's Coffee House.  It was crowded, but we found a nice table outside to enjoy the sun.  My ice chai latte was perfection, and my bagel sandwich was too! The bacon was awesome, even though it took a bit of time for our food to be ready.  We really just soaked it in, watched birds, and relaxed.  Then we walked back to the aquarium over a pedestrian bridge by the art museum.



We love the Tennessee Aquarium.  There are two buildings, one for oceans and one for fresh water.  We spent a lot of time in the ocean side looking at the seahorses, a giant octopus, and of course the sharks.  We definitely want to go back once their lemur exhibit (yes, mammals!) is ready.



While oceans get a lot of attention, the fresh water side of the aquarium competes to be our favorite.  Tons of turtles, snakes, and gators... even otters!  The fish aren't as pretty on the freshwater side, but they're just as fascinating.  All in all, we had a wonderful weekend in Chattanooga and definitely want to get back sooner than later.



Places still on my Chattanooga wishlist...

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday Lately: Holding, Closing, Going, Watching, Expecting

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.


What a week!  Anyone else just feel behind in EVERYTHING?  It's this darn short month of February.  So I'll just start off with a happy picture of one of my coworkers being adorable and visiting my desk... If you're new around here, yes, we have dogs all over our office!




HOLDING...  my friends close!  I got to see my old friend VG this week for tapas, and I spent last night with my friend SM and her kiddos working on some DAR things and enjoying wine and pizza.  Spending time with people tends to wear me out, but it also makes me feel love!



CLOSING...  2016 taxes!  I got everything ready for the accountant today, so I can tackle other things.  Woohoo for actually checking stuff off the list, right?  Time for a cuppa.



GOING...  to Arizona next Saturday!  I'll be there for about 9 days, 5 of them for work, the others to spend time wedding planning with my little sister.  Traveling for work is both exhausting and rewarding.

WATCHING...  North & South again on Netflix.  It's one of my favorite British TV serials, proving I thought Richard Armitage was dark and handsome well before The Hobbit movies.  I've watched it so many times (even own it on DVD) that I played it while I was cooking.  I baked this chicken alfredo baked ziti while listening to the movie... Oh, and I added chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the recipe and the extra zing of flavor was yummy!  So good that Dan even ate the leftovers, which is not something he enjoys that much.




EXPECTING...  a more tidier kitchen from now on!  We had a mess of tea in a drawer and a nice bag of coffee, so I got canisters at White's Mercantile in Franklin to organize them.  I also reorganized our piles of sparkling water cans in the fridge with a rack.  It's so much more efficient!




THIS PAST WEEK...

How was your week?


Sunday Lately with Blogger Tribe

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Stitch Fix: 13th Fix

Disclosure:  I paid for my own Stitch Fix; all opinions are my own.  If you're interested in trying Stitch Fix, I'd love for you to use my referral link so I can get $25 towards my next Fix!



So I was really tired when I was trying to take screenshots of all my Stitch Fix items while I was in checkout in the app (and possibly tipsy) so I didn't get screenshots of all the items in a pretty way.  Sorry!  But I did take photos of the styling card that hopefully will suffice.

I asked for jackets in my Fix, and my stylist totally delivered.  THREE!  And I loved or liked them all.  But did I keep them?


The Bande Knit Blazer was comfy, but when I buttoned it I didn't like how it fell in the back.  I decided I'd keep it if I kept the whole box, but (spoiler alert) I did not.  I wasn't sure about horizontal striping doing me any favors either.  RETURNED.



I loves the Karlstad Textured Moto Jacket.  It was soft comfortable, and cool.  It looked good both zipped and unzipped, even though I only showed unzipped photos.  Dan even liked how it looked.  But I wasn't sure how often I'd wear it, and with which other items in my closet given the pattern.  I wanted to keep it very much... but I have a white denim jacket that I pretty much wear rarely and didn't want to risk another piece I don't use much.RETURNED.



I loved everything about the Shelle Stretch Moto Jacket.  So soft and comfy, both zipped and unzipped.  I've worn it multiple times already, way more than an olive Army-style jacket I used to have from J. Crew.  Perfect.  KEPT.



Sigh.  This Strut & Bolt top was a fit fail on me.  It was like a tent, and too short for my torso.  Meh.  RETURNED.



This Blu Pepper top was definitely my style, but the fabric was too sheer. I loved the details, softness, and open back.  If it had been opaque, I would have been tempted to keep it!  RETURNED.


In the end, I wanted to keep all the jackets, but I didn't like the blouses enough to keep the whole Fix.  The white jacket was almost kept, but in the end on the frugal side of things I decided to only keep one jacket.  Womp womp.  But the good news is, I've already worn the olive moto jacket multiple times!  Winner winner.  I also moved up my next fix to early March, because I haven't been shopping online that much and like the convenience of the stylist.


Past Stitch Fix Reviews
(all reviews, in reverse order)

Disclosure:  I paid for my own Stitch Fix; all opinions are my own.  If you're interested in trying Stitch Fix, I'd love for you to use my referral link so I can get $25 towards my next Fix!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Lately: Enjoying, Hoping, Forgiving, Delving, Relying

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 worlds.


ENJOYING... my weekend away with Dan!  His birthday was Friday, so we took a little road trip to Chattanooga.  We got a great Airbnb on the Southside, walkable to lots of things, and today we took in the Tennessee Aquarium.  His birthday wishes were craft beer and aquarium, so it was a success!  I'll do a post recap soon with all of the details.  Chattanooga is an awesome, under-appreciated city, at least in the eyes of this Tennessee non-native.


Tennessee Aquarium


HOPING...  for warmer weather!  Please?  I am tired of the dance in between cold and warm.  Until there are more flowers outside, I'm enjoying flowers that I have inside, including some I got for Valentine's Day from my parents!



FORGIVING... my food trespasses.  I'll start tracking points again on Thursday.  It was a crazy week, and I just needed to let go.  Carbs, forgiven.  Sometimes we just need to take a step backwards and not make ourselves miserable with shame about it.



DELVING... into DAR awards and our taxes.  Yikes, so much paper!  Must. Start. Digging.  Blergh.  At least I've got it all sorted into folders?

RELYING... on the little things in life for a chuckle!  Like my silly cat trying to get me to pet him more.  The world is so bizarre and tense right now.  I need fur baby snuggles.


THIS PAST WEEK...
  • On the Blog:  I had some seriously delicious adventures in San Antonio early this week, and somehow I managed to blog about them pretty soon after I got home!
  • On Twitter:  These pictures of people making googly eyes at Justin Trudeau, and then these of Trudeau making googly eyes at President Obama are basically the cutest ever.
  • On Pinterest:  I enjoyed my most recent Stitch Fix so much that I requested to get another one sooner than scheduled.  I've been pinning lots of tops to my Pinterest board for my stylist!
  • On Instagram:  The most INSANE ceviche ever.  Must-see.
  • Shopping:  This magnetic air vent cell phone holder thingy from Wizgear is the bomb.  I used to have this holder that you clipped into, but it was a pain.  I saw my coworker had this one, and now we're ordering more so Dan can have one too.  It even works with his Otterbox case!  No clips, it just sticks up there, and you can change from horizontal to vertical in a snap.  Drive safe!

How was your week?



Sunday Lately with Blogger Tribe


Friday, February 17, 2017

San Antonio, Revisited

I jetted off to San Antonio for a quick overnight for work, and I loved it.  I was last there for work a year ago (read about it here), and once again it included some delicious adventures!  I've found that once your coworkers know that you have a thing for food, they put a lot of care into picking out places to go eat.  I'm fortunate that my boss, also on the trip, is a foodie too, so I had a very happy tummy.

Pretty tiles in San Antonio

The first place I ate is known more for their upscale dinners than lunches, but their lunch is probably the best deal in town!  Bohanan’s Prime Steaks & Seafood is classy to its core.  The restaurant, open for dinner, is upstairs, but the beautiful bar downstairs is open during lunch.  The prices for lunch are very reasonable, and we loved the smaller portion sizes.  I chose one of the house specialties, braised akaushi short ribs over pappardelle noodles.




The food was absolutely delicious.  I would go back and eat the same dish in a heartbeat!  The service was impeccable, both attentive and professional.  The bread they served was hot and wonderful too.  What a beautiful experience!




After our work was done, we headed to the Pearl brewery area as I had last trip, where I made a beeline to Bakery Lorraine for more macarons.  I had pistachio (x2), strawberry, Earl Grey, salted caramel, and raspberry.  LOVE LOVE LOVE!  My Instagram post caption got some chuckles from folks: "If loving macarons is basic, my pH level is like a 14."  If you get it, we can be friends.





For dinner, we had a reservation at Cured next door.  I LOVE MEAT.  (That's what she said.)  Y'all know that.  So to go to a restaurant centered around their meat was right up my alley.  And isn't the old building they chose just stunning?  I was excited to try it, given I'd briefly met the chef a year ago while eating at Bakery Lorraine.




The first thing you see upon entering the restaurant?  Meat curing.  Yep.  So it's no wonder that we started our meal with charcuterie!




We had Apple Jalapeno Pork Rillettes, Bresaola, Smoked Duck Ham, 90 Day Pork Belly, a lamb pick (I'm not a lamb person), and cheese.  I would venture to say you NEED to try charcuterie when you're here.  They can help you make your picks, and it's killer.  For dinner, I was hoping to try their pork chop, but they'd just run out.  I settled for grilled flat iron steak, which came with fries.  OMG.  It has been a long time since I enjoyed such a tender, well-seasoned steak.  Awesome place and concept!




Our last big meal was lunch at El Bucanero, a Mexican seafood restaurant.  I must admit, I was nervous about this one.  The menu has some pictures, but not much description outside of names in Spanish.  The decor is seafood-related and kind of cheesy.  It's casual, loud, and packed with people.  Not to mention, fish and seafood are not my favorite thing in the whole world.  I stayed quiet, wanting to play the part of "super cool foodie" as we ventured in.

We ordered an absolutely enormous Hawaiian-themed ceviche... it was a mix of fruit, seafood, all served up in half a pineapple.  I mean, it was a mountain.  And you know what? I liked it!  I have a personal policy that I'm always going to try something once, food-wise.  I may not love it, but at least I gave it a go.




For my lunch, I chose fried fish tacos.  They were delicious!  I almost detoured and ordered some traditional, non-seafood fare, but after the delight of the ceviche, I had a "when in Rome" moment and decided to get fish!  Definitely a happy surprise.




San Antonio, you're wonderful.  I loved staying on the Riverwalk again, and taking a morning walk along its edge.  I hope to come back again, visit the Missions, eat more food, and absorb the culture of this great city!



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tiny Strawberry Cakes

The Cake Mix Doctor's Fresh Strawberry Cake recipe has been a perennial favorite of my coworkers for years now.  I keep trying to tell them how simple it is to make, but I think they're now convinced that it's "Aubrey's strawberry cake" and not the genius that is Anne Byrn.  Sorry, Anne!  I'm a big fan, and I'm SUPER PUMPED she is speaking at a DAR event this coming April.  I NEED her to sign my books!



It was my friend JL's birthday, and like our other friend MM, strawberry cake is her preferred birthday baked good.  This is an annual tradition now, I'd say!  But now that I can make this cake in my sleep (memorized it, seriously), I wanted to do something a little different with the cake itself.




I used a biscuit cutter to make little mini layer cakes, with piped frosting in between.  I put them in cupcake liners, and people ate them with forks.  They did slide around a little, so next time I'd probably refrigerate them so there's no lopsided cakes sliding around.  I used a gold glitter-like sprinkle, and it felt very feminine and stylish for my friend JL.




These cakes are easy, but I got enough comments about them on my Facebook that I figured I'd share the photos in a post!






Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday Lately: Fighting, Relaxing, Daydreaming, Delivering, Amusing

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 worlds.


FIGHTING... the urge to be lazy!  I definitely have a list of things I need to do and work on, but I haven't really been that into it this weekend.  My parents came to visit, and I had acupuncture and Korean class yesterday, so between appointments and socializing, it was kind of a busy weekend!  So today I'm lucky I got laundry done.  Need to do more DAR work and prep for a work trip.  I have a quick overnight in San Antonio tomorrow.

I did distract myself Friday by making an arrangement (plus some smaller vases) of bulk Kroger flowers.



RELAXING...  Yeah, I guess I did a lot of that today.  I hung out in PJs, showered, and put clean PJs on!  Also enjoyed reorganizing my tote bags in my closet, as I added a few SUPER cheap monogrammed bags from Krafty Chix to the collection.  As in $20 pleather bags with embroidery.  Boom, FTW, they're cute.  I have the perfect monogram, totally symmetrical, which brings me an inordinate amount of joy.



DAYDREAMING... about houses.  My Pinterest is more busy lately, because I keep daydreaming about when we might someday build or buy a house that has all the things that we want.  I'm thinking in a few years, once we know more about our future family and where we want to settle down!

DELIVERING...  nada.  I'm lucky to be hitting deadlines lately!

AMUSING...  I'm amused by television lately.  Some of the SNL stuff has been pretty funny lately.  I keep up with Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, and Jane the Virgin.  Dan and I watch The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones together.  And then I have added This Is Us.  Otherwise, it's series that I Netflix binge.

Here's a cute picture from a girls' lunch with my friends this week.  No reason, it just makes me happy.  Crazy Kondo lady says to keep things in your life that bring you joy, right?  So I guess I get to eat more sandwiches?



THIS PAST WEEK...
  • On the Blog:  Reviewing CourseHorse, which aggregates all kinds of classes near where you live!  Don't forget, Nashville locals can enter to win $100 towards courses!  Check out the post even just to see the cookies I decorating in my class.
  • On Twitter:  Does anyone else watch Jane The Virgin?  I just caught last week's episode and I was CRYING.
  • On Pinterest:  I'm making this gnocchi casserole for dinner later.  I couldn't get my act together to cook this weekend while my parents visited (minus our tradition of Sunday pancakes for breakfast!) but tonight I am throwing something together before I have to go to San Antonio for work.
  • On Instagram:  Cat owners know, this is often the first thing you see when you wake in the morning.
  • Shopping:  My cousin has this Pottery Barn cubby organizer, and I want it.  I just have nowhere to hang it right now.

How was your week?




Sunday Lately with Blogger Tribe


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