Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Favorites, v. 14

I haven't done one of these posts since March, so there's a LOT I want to call out that I've been consuming on the interwebz!

Kate T. Parker's "Strong is the New Pretty" photo series is exactly the kind of stuff young girls need to be seeing.  So much life in these photos, and tough little girls!

As a kid, I thought the fantasy library in Beauty & the Beast was the most beautiful in the world.  Now I realize, thanks to the internet, that there are REAL places like this library in Prague that bring that dream to life... plus 19 other beautiful libraries to gawk at.

I think sassy workout tanks that talk about how I'm really lazy might be my new exercise statement pieces.  (This one's from Etsy.)

I love how this photographer used a tin-type method to take these old-school looking pics of celebs at Sundance.  Kind of taking hipster to a new level, right?

Pinup Girl Clothing's "Coming Soon" section now gives you a look at Laura Byrnes' Junebugs and Georgia Peaches collection... and I want a BUNCH of the dresses.  One of the bloggers of Junebugs and Georgia Peaches, Amanda, is part of our local Nashville blogger group.  I love her style and super-sweet nature and personality, and that she's a fellow grad school victim student like me.

The "Singles Ladies" video, set to the "Duck Tales" theme song.  BEST THING THIS WEEK.

+  Visiting nursing homes makes me sad, because many residents don't get many people coming to see them.  I love how this Dutch nursing home is allowing students to live there rent-free to help for 30 hours per month being "good neighbors" and warding off isolation and loneliness for the elderly residents.  LOVE.

+  19 things only truly awkward people understand... because it proves I'm not alone!

+  Eat what you want, people... but I did find it interested what academics think a real "Paleo" diet for cavemen consisted of: bugs, bark, and even dead animals.  Blech!  (Pass me some gluten.)

+  This was all over the internet, but this seriously scary statue of Lucille Ball has to go.   And the artist has offered to do a new one for free... hopefully not so creepy this time.

+  We watched the Kurt Cobain doc "Montage of Heck", but I'm way more fascinated by the story of Jason Everman, a one-time guitarist for both Nirvana and Soundgarden who walked away from rock 'n' roll and became an elite Special Forces soldier.  Holy cow!

+  Flashback:  Three years ago, I wrote this post about being in Los Angeles spending time with family, and in a few weeks I'm headed back there for more Korean family quality time!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Budgeting Bloggers: May 2015

I didn't shop hardly at all last month, and then this month I spent ALL THE MONEY!  I sold quite a bit too, so it stings a *little* bit less, but it was still a crazy month for my spending.  Wowza.  I am not quite sure how it happened... but I know part of it was a really big Stitch Fix investment, so that definitely factored in.

  1. HUMAN Tank Tops ($23 each on sale, $69 total): I have dedicated myself to being more active, and I've signed up as a member at my local Orange Theory fitness location.  To reward myself, I ordered this hilariously sassy tank tops for my workouts.  They had like a zillion that I wanted...  I want ALL OF THEM!  I will say I probably won't order from this site again, because the quality of the printing isn't super great; the green tank washed poorly and discolored but Look Human was quick to refund me my money for that one.
  2. Franco Sarto Sharp Wedge Sandal in Beige (originally $89, paid $60 via DSW):  I've been looking for a new wedge sandal in a nude color for summer, and the minute I tried these on I was hooked.  I will wear them mostly with dresses this summer on days I don't want to wear flats or gladiator sandals.  I've already been wearing these and my new sandals every day.
  3. Mix No. 6 Avesa Flat Sandal in Black (originally $40, paid $30 via DSW):  I love the brown/black leather combo of my Madewell bag, because it matches every outfit.  These sandals are in the style I live in during the summer, and I feel like the color combo lends them to matching quite a bit more.  These and the Franco Sarto wedges are my new warm-weather uniform.
  4. Marc by Marc Jacobs Crosby Commuter Computer Case in Black Multi (originally $118, paid $71 via Nordstrom):  Impulse purchase, but I needed a sleeve/case for my laptop.  I sold a few handbags this month, so while I feel a little guilt added two new bags to the mix, this one is the only bag I have that specifically protects my MacBook, other than a bulky backpack.  At least that makes it functional, I suppose.  I almost pull the trigger on a $130 Kate Spade outlet bag, but this one was a better deal and it's MARC, hello.
  5. Stitch Fix (originally $330, paid $215):  I got a dress, a jacket, and three blouses, and I kept them all.  I was not completely sold on one of the tops, but I kept it because you get a significant discount for keeping all the items.  I'll be recapping my Fix in the coming days.

I also bought a formal gown and a white faux leather tote for June's DAR Continental Congress at JCPenney; I do not count my DAR wardrobe against my budget, because I really only get to wear those items a couple times per year and it's for non-profit work.  If it's something that doubles for DAR and regular wardrobe, I count it!

$445 spent - $185 sold = $260 total spent
$218 savings

Total 2015 Net Spending: Q1 $616 + $260 = $876

Don't forget to check out the rest of Franish's budgeting bloggers!

I'm always trying to continue my own wardrobe cleanout, so feel free to shop my Poshmark closet in case something strikes your fancy!  I've added a lot of items since last month, as I'm contemplating some sort of year-round, all-seasons capsule wardrobe of sorts, or *some* kind of limit to it all.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Kitchen Notes

Dan and I were headed downtown for a show, and since I hadn't tried Kitchen Notes at the Omni yet, we decided to eat there for dinner.  Kitchen Notes is another farm-to-table nod, located inside the beautiful Omni Hotel downtown.  It's walking distance to all the best that downtown Nashville has to offer, including Broadway.  You can access the restaurant from the Omni's lobby.

The decor is modern and pleasing, but we noticed the smaller tables like our had a cheap wood-like laminate look.  In keeping with the Southern theme, it would have been nice to see it with a more authentic look, while many other tables had marble or granite tops that looked nice.  You can also see the kitchen from where you dine, and the "biscuit bar" they bring you samples from.

The biscuits were really tasty.  We had traditional ones (my favorite), plus others, including bacon and blue cheese.  The traditional ones were spot-on and my preference.  The jams included were tasty too.  I also indulged in some bubbly!

To start, I had the daily soup, a really delicious chicken & rice soup.  I have zero complaints, as it was perfect!

For my meal, I was stuffed on biscuits and soup, so I decided to order the macaroni...which is usually a side dish.  Well, it was certainly too big for me to finish, perfect for two people to share!  It was really good, not your typical restaurant macaroni.  I'd definitely recommend it as my favorite dish of the night.

Dan ordered the special for the evening, which was steak medallions and pork belly.  It also came with potatoes, served on an aioli.  I had some of it, and it was really good.  I love pork belly!  It was large in size and really reasonably priced.

Overall, Kitchen Notes was solidly delicious.  It was pricey when you added up everything we ate, but not more so than other higher-end downtown places.  I've heard their brunch is one of the best in town, so I'd love to come back for that!  We wrapped up dinner with full tummies and headed to the Ryman to see a couple of our favorite funny people: Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally.

Oh, and a bonus?  Kitchen Notes validates your valet parking for the day/night (before 2am) so that's a $14 savings right there.  We went to the show after dinner, walked back, then picked up our car to head home.

Kitchen Notes on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 21, 2015

No, I'm not changing my name.

My wedding is less than a few months out, and people are asking about the plans and whatnot... and I love talking about it!  But one topic of conversation that has frequently come up has been surprisingly uncomfortable for other people: I'm not changing my name.

image source

You would think, this being the year 2015, that people would be accepting of this decision, or at least act less surprised.  Instead, everyone wants to know WHY I wouldn't change my name, which is kind of a personal question.  This frequency could be because I come from a conservative family, or because I live in the South.  I find myself being asked to explain my decision.  Men raise their eyebrows, giving me looks that say, "Wow, your future husband has just been castrated."  Women act like my children will be psychologically scarred from my decision.  "Don't you want your children to have the same name as you?" I've been asked a dozen times.

So here, on my personal internet real estate, I'm laying out the reasons I have decided not to change my name with marriage.
  1. I really like my name.  I've traced my W line all the way back to the American Revolution and beyond... I'm proud of our heritage as soldiers and farmers and patriots.  I love my father and his family.  I'm a proud W and I really like my name.  Period.  My initials are nice too, especially in a three-initial monogram: a perfectly symmetrical AWA.  Seriously, lovely Lilly-Pulitzer-clad people of the South, would you mess with such a beautiful monogram?!
  2. I've got major accomplishments under this name, and I've got the papers to prove it.  My West Point diploma, my future Master's Degree diplomas, all of it has/will have my maiden name, and I like it that way.  It's on my permanent DD214 military service record.  I have a large network on LinkedIn that knows me by this name, and I want people to be able to find me.  I want it all to match up for the long haul.  I also don't want to have to get new e-mail addresses, business cards, and more.  I've built my career with this name.
  3. I don't need to have the same name as my kids to know they're mine.  I mean, if your kids mistakenly wore a nametag with a different last name, you wouldn't suddenly think they aren't yours, would you?  We've decided our children will take his last name, with my maiden name as a middle name, and that's good enough.  And it won't bother me if people/teachers/whoever assume I'm Mrs. D, or call me that.  I won't correct people or ignore them; I am going to be his Mrs. and that's cool.  Send us mail to Mr. and Mrs. D and it'll get into the right hands, graciously and happily.  In fact, our veterinarian and apartment office both call Dan "Mr. W" so it happily goes both ways, we've totally received mail for Mr. and Mrs. W to boot.
  4. Dan doesn't care.  If he felt strongly that I ought to change my name to his, maybe I'd be inclined to consider it.  But the truth is, his mother uses her maiden name, and he barely knows the father that gave him his last name.  Why should I give up mine?  (Sidenote: If I asked him to change his name to W, people would think I'm ridiculous... so why is it different the other way around?)
  5. ABOVE ALL ELSE, name changes are a colossal pain in the neck.  Anyone who has ever changed their name knows this.  Being previously married/divorced, I've done it TWICE, and it took me FOUR YEARS to get everything back to my current name.  Blergh!  It's an insane amount of legwork and paperwork, and it's just a big waste of time (and some money!) to me. And to be fair, I told Dan that I would consider changing my name if he filled out 100% of the paperwork, made all the phone calls, and waited in every line/attended every appointment with me.  To this, he laughed and said, "Hell no!"  So you see, above all else, the one person that really matters in this decision other than myself supports my line of reasoning.

You know, I could launch into a diatribe about how the tradition of changing your last name with marriage hearkens back to a day when a woman's name changed to mark her as her husband's property, after having been her father's property.  In which case I'd argue I'm no one's property and you can all just call me "Aubrey" like Beyoncé or Madonna or something because I AIN'T NO ONE'S CHATTEL!

But the bottom line is, I have a lot of personal, valid reasons for not changing my name.  If you're curious, that's fine, but then don't judge or give me shocked expressions.  I don't mind/care that you changed your name, it's just not for me.  And if it gets awkward, I'll happily change the topic to go back to discussing cake and flowers and dresses.  Because that's what matters, right?  :)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Things I'd Been Meaning to Do

A couple of weekends ago, I had a day with nothing planned...  so I did things that I've been "meaning to do"!  Firstly, I wanted to clean up our porch and recover the cushions on our rocker.  Now that Dan has quit smoking (and polluting the porch), it's finally worth the effort to get the space in shape for us to use now that the weather is nice.

Yes, you're looking at an old nursery glider.  They come on Craiglist for very cheap!  But as I told my Facebook friends, don't get excited that this means there's a baby on the way.  I've had this thing on the porch for years, and it's too dirty to ever bring indoors again really.  I simply took some outdoor fabric I got at JoAnn's, traced the old fabric pieces, and sewed them up (rather quickly) making this a fast project with nice results!  Dan helped me tack the fabric onto the ottoman, and I think the overall improvement is really nice!

I also promised Dan that I would attempt to make ice cream.  It's been years since I made any, and I had the Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams cookbook to guide me.  I made my favorite, the Brown Butter Almond Brittle.  I made the brittle first, and it was seriously tasty.  Hard not to eat it before adding to the ice cream!  The ice cream itself turned out a bit darker in color than the store version, because I think I browned the butter a little longer than I should have, but Dan loved it.  Per the instructions, we put it into a container to freeze for a long while, as Jeni's ice creams don't get eaten right out of the machine.

This post may seem a little dull or trivial, but looking back at these photos brings me some joy.  It reminds me of a weekend where I had nothing planned, and I got to do the things I'd been meaning to do... and that made it worthwhile and happy work!

What have you been meaning to do?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Back to Huntsville

The last time I'd taken a day trip to Huntsville was October 2013, and I'd assumed I'd be making more frequent trips down to visit my friends EM and CM.  Well, life sure gets hectic, and while we've seen each other in TN since then, they now have a baby girl who is over a year old!  Yikes!  So when Dan and I had a free Saturday last weekend, we headed down to visit that adorable family for the day.

Our first stop, however was lunch... Korean food!  We stopped at Shinsegae Restaurant, a casual little hole in the wall.  The food was tasty (the japchae bulgogi dish was my favorite) and the prices were reasonable.  There was only one waiter so you have to be patient with service, but the food was solidly good.  It wasn't upscale or LA/NY-quality Korean, but not bad.  There are more Korean restaurants in Huntsville due to the defense industry, so I want to try more every time I'm in town.

Shinsegae on Urbanspoon

After meeting up with EM and CM (and their little Bee!) we headed out to enjoy some of the local craft beer.  It was a hot and sunny day.  We did tastings at Straight to Ale and Yellowhammer.  I loved the outdoor space and beer at Yellowhammer the best.  Their Belgian White was perfect for the hot weather!  Both breweries are relocating to a new "old" space, a reclaimed old middle school that is being fixed into a community gathering place and venue.

Back Alley Bistro's food truck was at Yellowhammer, serving up some tasty sandwiches.  It wasn't as good as our Grilled Cheeserie truck, but the sandwich creations were unique.  I had a white cheddar pimento grilled cheese with bacon chutney, and we split some loaded waffle fries.  Again, perfectly suited to the day with cold beers!

I have no idea where the time went, because before we knew it, it was time to depart Huntsville for the 90-minute drive home that evening.  I leave you with my most favorite picture of the day, celebrating a connection that social media made seven years ago this July, now a real-life friendship!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Gabby's Burgers & Fries

As you may have figured out by now, I'm a big fan of burgers.  So when I noticed my friend Kimmie kept posting on Instagram and Facebook about Gabby's Burgers & Fries, I added it to my list.  Starving after a long day of travel, I suggested we stop there for dinner when Dan picked me up from the airport.  I'm so glad we did!

Gabby's is certainly one of the most unpretentious restaurants in Nashville.  You would think it's been around for 50 years by the look of it, and I mean that in a classic/nostalgic way!  It's open daily for lunch except Sundays, and on Fridays it is open until 7:30pm.  Be prepared for a line, as people venture out to this fairly middle-of-nowhere location to feast.

Gabby's is no-nonsense, get to the counter and order kind of joint.  It's very much got a wonderful diner decor and feeling.  To top it all off, Gabby's serves one grass-fed beef.  Yes, you read that right.  Gabby's is all about a classic burger with really great meat, serving it medium to medium-well unless you ask for it more well-done.  You can seriously tell in the meat that something magical is happening.  I ordered the Seamus (single-patty) burger with a fried egg; you can choose the cheese and fixings for your burger, completely custom at the register.  Then you get a number and you wait.  Grab a seat, as it's first-come first-served!

Seamus with Fried Egg

YUM YUM  YUM.  I've got to say, even though it wasn't a "gourmet burger" like some of the hipster joints tend to serve, this diner-style, fast food burger was tops.  Juicy, full of flavor, cooked well, and tasty.  It's better than an In-N-Out Burger (which I LOVE), because you can taste the quality in the ingredients in a way I can't adequately articulate.  It's delightfully messy to eat too, and you can see why people frequent the place.  I think if I had to put Gabby's into my ranking, it would be my favorite fast-food style burger in Nashville, but a little behind a couple of the gourmet spots in town.  The fries were really tasty too, so that upped the ante.  I can imagine myself getting a hankering for Gabby's.

Dan ordered a Gabby (double-patty) with bacon, so I wanted to show a pic of his delicious burger too.  YUM AGAIN.  He had trouble finishing his, it was so big!

Dan's Gabby with bacon

Check out my list of Favorite Nashville Burgers on Yelp, as I'm always adding new ones to the list!  I'm hoping sometime to try ML Rose, Rotier's, and Bobbie's Dairy Dip for burgers in the future.  Am I missing any?

Gabby's Burgers & Fries on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 11, 2015

South Korea (retrospective)

I've been a lot of amazing places in my life, but since many of these trips occurred before the inception of this blog, I haven't shared them here before!  This post is part of a series I plan to write about some of the destinations I've visited that have not been published on Adventures in Aubreyland.

One place that has a special place in my heart and heritage is South Korea.  My mother was born and raised there, and I lived there for five years as a young child.  My father was stationed there with the Army, so we spent time in both Daegu and Seoul in the '90s.  When I graduated college in 2007, my mother and I went back for a week or so to tour the country and visit family.

Detail of roof at Changdeokgung Palace

I do not speak Korean, but I can read the alphabet and understand some.  My mother and I took a bus tour (with hotel overnights) of the eastern and southern coasts of the country, visiting temples, "heritage" villages, eating Korean food, and more.  We visited Mokpo, Buan, Boseong Green Tea Plantation, Seomjingang TrainJeju-do, and more.

Boseong Green Tea Plantation  (I was a skinny mini Army girl back then!)

Kimchi Pots

Friday, May 8, 2015

Stitch Fix Review: 3rd 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!

I did NOT do a good job of photographing my Stitch Fix this month, because I got back from a work trip the day before I had to return items!  So I didn't write down prices on things, with the exception of the item I kept.  Here's the scoop...

1. Sweet Rose Isaac Split Neck Blouse - Returned

I returned this blouse as it was too sheer, too tight in the upper arm area, and I wasn't in love (no pun intended) with the print.  I know, I usually LOVE a novelty print, but it just wasn't for me this round!

2. Pixley Hanneli Polka Dot Swing Skirt - Returned

At some point, I think I had a skirt similar to this!  I loved the print and the shape, but it was too tight for me.  If it came a little longer and a little bigger in the waist, I'd have kept it.

3. Jaclynn 3/4 Sleeve Button-Up Cardigan - Returned

I prefer crew-neck cardigans to V-necks, and this one was too sheer.  I like to wear solid cardigans with my printed tops and dresses, so sheer doesn't work.

4. Papermoon Mensier Spaghetti Strap Top - Returned

LOVED the fabric, print, and back view, but not the front.  I think if the neckline was different I'd have kept it.  Fit well too.

5. Pixley Bixby Dot Print 3/4 Tab Sleeve Blouse - Kept

This blouse, the only keeper in the bunch this round, is the same blouse as I previously kept from another fix, but in a different print.  Adorable!  It was $48, and I had two referral credits so the whole thing ended up being a freebie.  Woohoo!  Thanks for using my links to sign up!

After keeping only 1-2 items each fix, I decided to give May a try as well as switch to every other month for fixes.  If I still only end up with 1-2 items per fix, I'll probably stop ordering.  I'm not bad at finding things for a good value on my own, I just don't always have the time!

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!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Roy's in Chandler

My friend Lindsey came to AZ to enjoy the resort while I was working, but we had one free night to get together to celebrate 10 years of friendship!  We wanted something delicious, so we went to Roy's, a high-end Pacific Rim restaurant that is sort of a Hawaiian and Asian fusion cuisine.  It's one of my uncle's favorite restaurants in Hawaii (there are about 20 total in the now-high end chain), and since he has good taste I knew it was worth a go... especially since Lindsey and I have been to Hawaii together before!

We kicked off with champagne, and we were given edamame as a house starter.  It was salty and delicious, as edamame tends to be!

When I was introduced to the available tasting menu, I was super pumped.  For $39.95, they featured a multi-course Korean-inspired menu... like it was made for me!  This is definitely a bargain for a high-end restaurant chain like Roy's.  So, I indulged!

My first course was Wagyu Beef Mandoo, a Korean dumpling with shoyu sesame dipping sauce.  I prefer steam dumplings, and these were pan-fried, but the wrappers were still tasty.  The dipping soy sauce made it all a little salty, so I didn't let the dumplings swim in the juices for too long.

For my main dish, I had the Loco Moco.  I love Hawaii, and loco moco is a variety of dish there that typically features rice, some kind of meat (like Spam or hamburger), gravy, and a fried egg.  This version was wonderful, featuring Red Dragon charred short rib as the meat, rice in an onigiri shape, a fried whole egg (crazy cool!), and kimchi.  It was all perfectly a combo of casual Hawaiian flavor, Korean fusion, and well-made food.  This was my favorite dish of the night!

For dessert, I had a tasty peanut butter mousse.  I was pretty full at that point, so while I liked it, it didn't blow my socks off enough to gorge on.  Still, I feel like I had a really excellent meal with some unique flavor combos, for a great price.  It was better than expected, in a few different ways!   I won't hesitate to eat at Roy's again, whenever I'm near one.  I know they won't always have the Korean fusion special menu, but I love Hawaiian flavors and it gave me a little tastebud trip back to the islands.

Roy's on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Week in Arizona

I spent a week in Arizona last month, mainly for a work trip, and I arrived early to spend a weekend with my Sissy in Phoenix.  She spoiled me rotten, especially the foodie side of me.

To start, she took me to Short Leash, a food truck that still operates and now has a brick-and-mortar location downtown.  We started with the beer-battered fried pickles and the corn dog bites.  The corn dog bites were HUGE!  Some had jalapeño and some didn't, with a really great cornbread batter on the outside.  Amazing.  For my main dish, I had the Polka Dot Casserole, which was hot dog and mac 'n' cheese in a bowl.  I think I meant to order something with the naan bread around the dog, but this was delicious nonetheless!

Short Leash Sit...Stay on Urbanspoon

For dinner that night, we headed to Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana, which served up true and approved Napoletana pizza.  We had bruschetta, pizza, and a few types of dessert.  The bruschetta was amazing because you could tell they bake their own bread, and the tomatoes and cheese were on par.  My favorite pizza was the Toto Sapore, with pancetta, salame, and prosciutto.  Seriously so good!

Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana on Urbanspoon

As another treat, Amy took me to a local chain of artisan ice cream stores that have really made waves: Sweet Republic.  I had a scoop of the Salted Butter Caramel, and it was wonderful.  Not as good as Jeni's (I think she uses more butter!) but really wonderful.

Sweet Republic on Urbanspoon

For one of our lunches, we hit up dark and dive-y Dick's Hideaway, and the photos do not do it justice.  The food here is so good, it's truly a hidden and unassuming gem.  My breakfast burrito was the size of my head.  It's seriously dark inside, which is strange when it's bright and sunny outside so much in Arizona, but I highly recommend it.

Dick's Hideaway on Urbanspoon

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