A Visit

A few weekends ago, my sweet friend made the trek west to come and visit me. We have such a lovely weekend together–I’m still having a hard time accepting the fact that not all weekends can be quite as wonderful as that one.

We ate so much delicious food (so.much.) and pranced all over Nashville visiting old favorites and some new cool places I’ve been wanting to try. Throw in there a night on the town that had us dancing until the wee hours of the morning, and lots of good conversation, and it was pretty much the greatest three days ever.

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Adventures in East Nashville began at the Barista Parlor which was just a cool place. The coffee was amazing (yes, I’m looking at you Bourbon Vanilla Latte) and the people watching was spot on.

After grabbings some locally made raviolli from Porter Road Butcher, we walked down to five points jus to remind ourselves just how far from hipster cool we really are.

Naturally, I could let Jenny leave without trying my favorite place, Jenis! Between us, we sampled a million flavors (thank you Jeni’s staff for being so kind and gracious with those tester spoons…) and we were smitten with our final choices.

Honey-Pistachio and my favorite, Sweet Potato with Torched Marshmallows.

walking along my favorite spot downtown.

So full after a delicious restaurant week meal at Holland House.

As avid brunch goers, I had to take her to one of the best brunch spots in town:  Tavern. Its conveniently located across the street from my house, and their sangria and just about every entree on the menu makes my heart skip a beat.

I miss you already, friend. Please come back and visit again soon.

Snapshots

Snapshots of fall & winter:

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my favorite place ever, Jenis, gave out free ice cream in 12 south as a thank you for winning Best of Nashville awards. The most delicious ice cream (Brown Butter Almond Brittle & Bramble Berry Crisp were sampled & savored) coupled with a burger from Burger Up made for the greatest afternoon ever.

also…as an aside, for those near a Jeni’s, or who order from Jeni’s, don’t miss out on the deliciousness that is their Sweet Potato & Toasted Marshmallow holiday flavor. I feel the need to defend weird ice cream flavors, but this one is so delicious, you will wonder why you ever doubted the presence of sweet potatoes in ice cream

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gameday football brought down to the field by a skydiver.

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school owned me this semester, and breakfast was often had at a cubicle in the library at 6am. At least I got to see pretty sunrises while I got dressed.

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my amazing mom sends the best care packages to get me through studying–my favorite european chocolate treats, the best granola ever, and sweet words of encouragement.

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I’m pretty obsessed with how gorgeous campus is. Fall was so beautiful that I had lunch on a bench in the above courtyard almost everyday.


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speaking of gorgeous fall…I definitely abandoned the tedium that is memo editing one weekend to go run in centennial park instead. I hate that guilty feeling of leaving work behind to go do something for yourself, but sometimes its just necessary to be outside, in the sun, with fresh air, and no computer in front of you.


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My new favorite running path takes me from my apartment to the pedestrian bridge in downtown Nashville. Even though the entire jog back is uphill (cue screaming calves and a mental dialogue where I have convince myself that  running is good for me), I love that bridge enough to put up with it.

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Richland Park Farmers Market root vegetables were out of control delicious. Crunchy kale, jewel colored carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes…be still my heart.

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My precious kitten, Chloe, helping me with my summer job applications.

2013


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2013 has arrived!  I spent the evening with my closest friends from high school and college, enjoying the crowds in our old college town for a few hours before walking home in the freezing cold and eating cinnamon rolls while watching house hunters. Clearly, we know how to rage.

I had a somewhat awkward encounter with an old high school acquaintance while we were out–someone who was once a close friend but who inexplicably drifted and became quite cold and mean. I had been pondering a resolution and running into her solidified it–I don’t ever want to become the person who is mean for no reason, and who has only negative things to say. I think 2013 is my year to look inward: I want to find more patience, kindness, and continue being conscious of how I treat others. I want to leave them feeling better about themselves, not worse.

In retrospect, 2012 was an exciting year.

I graduated college, moved to a new state, began graduate school, and had the most academically challenging four months of my life.

I spent countless precious nights with friends enjoying our last few months together and was separated from the people I had gone to school with for over a decade. However, I also met amazing people in Nashville who are already dear to me, and I can’t wait to see what those friendships grow into over the next few months.

Its been a year of change and growth, with some high highs and a couple of real lows, but I’m a lucky girl: I have a family that is supportive and loving, friends who are hilarious and kind, and I am at an amazing school that is pushing me to new places intellectually and academically.

I’m so excited for what 2013 has in store. Here’s hoping for lots of love, luck, happiness, delicious meals, wonderful conversations, new relationships beginning, old relationships strengthening, and peace and serenity  to carry us through the tough parts!

 burst

for that tech-savvy guy with super awesome headphones and an even cooler itunes library

Wireless Outdoor Speakers

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to show off all of those perfect party mixes

USB Cuff Links

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because they’re kitschy and sleek at the same time, and he’ll totally feel like james bond when he busts them out.

Virtual DJ

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to mix up his own tunes

(bonus–its free w/the mail in rebate at Frye!)
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with pages of staffed music paper and a place to document your favorite shows and artists, its the perfect way to store all his musical inspirations. If you’ve gone to a show together, or have a special artist or song you love, fill out the first page for him as a keepsake!
Books
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for the hip hop lover (with a penchant for southern rap)
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to the guy who wishes he could teleport back in time to the 60s
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a true keepsake for any music lover
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to take macro and wide angle high quality pictures with his favorite gadget

for your best friends who make sitting on a porch and chatting while sipping wine feel like the greatest thing ever.

Wine Goodies: Fancy New Glasses anda fruity Red everyone will love


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because while they’re not essential for bonding, they’re certainly preferred.

Pretty Knit Scarf and Cute Earrings 

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To help them look adorable all winter long

Feminist Ryan Gosling

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to empower them while also giving them the greatest gift of all: an entire book full of Ryan Gosling.

Monogrammed Flasks

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because these classy ladies deserve something sleeker than a sorority style monogram. and because it may be time to leave the reusable plastic flasks behind.

Card Cases

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to hold their IDs and other essentials for nights out on the town

A picture frame with a sweet photo of you all in it

the perfect thing for them to put into their new homes. especially when they come with a note about how much they all mean to you.

more gift guides this-a-way

NEWTOWN

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I’ve had Newtown Connecticut and Sandy Hook Elementary School on my mind since Friday afternoon.

I feel completely shaken by the loss of these innocent lives, the way in which this event unfolded. I’m horrified at the world we live in and inspired by the courage and compassion I’ve seen broadcasted nonstop over the news networks. It breaks my heart that we so often need these stark reminders to bring us all together.

I wish we could be so loving and giving all the time. I feel profound sadness whenever I look at my family’s Christmas tree because I know that some families will have to face this holiday season with a terrible loss on their shoulders. I feel immense respect and sympathy for the first responders who walked into a first grade classroom and saw the worst imaginable scenario come to life. Its been a lot for me to take in, and I’m still struggling with how to make sense of it all.

I don’t want to step into treacherous territory and spew opinions without a better understanding of the circumstances, but I am hopeful that this event will begin a dialogue about guns, violence and mental illness in this country. We still have such a long way to go. I don’t want the names of these kids or their teachers fade as quickly as those from Virginia Tech did, or even those lost in Aurora.  We owe them a lot more than a few days of attention–they deserve to have change realized on their behalf. I hope that we can make this possible, whether its through laws, reform, or how we raise our children as a community.

We still have a long way to go.

for the self proclaimed foodie who likes shopping for measuring spoons and knows about every restaurant in town*

*99% of this is off of my own christmas list. hopefully Santa will be kind to me this year!

Beer & Food Calendar

Could there be a better way to keep track of the passing days than with beer & snack combinations? I think not. Especially when they’re this beautifully illustrated.

Chemex Coffee Maker

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The cool way to make coffee. Package it with a blend from your favorite local coffee company for the perfect present

Cookbooks

 The Art of French Baking, What Katie Ate, Smitten Kitchen

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All three of these are on my list this year. Two come from my favorite bloggers and one is a classic for every aspiring patissier. With gorgeous photography and delicious recipes, you can’t go wrong. Make sure you write a little note on the inside cover so they’ll always be reminded of you when they open it. Make it extra special with a pretty apron from Anthropologie.

Monogrammed Forged Steak Brand

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Because there isn’t a grill loving man or woman alive who wouldn’t want to serve guests personalized steaks during a cookout. Seriously–have you met grill lovers? They mean business.

Pretty Plates

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I am smitten with this dinnerware set from Anthropologie. They would be the perfect way to throw a garden themed dinner party.

Hot Chocolate & Mug Set

Kebaya Mug-2

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Because everyone loves hot chocolate & marshmallows, especially when you can sip it out of a beautiful mug.

At Home Brewery Kit

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Because the pride they will have in their brew will be worth a million bucks.

Foodie Night Out

If the Whole Foods in your town has a Salud Cooking School (or find something similar at places like William Sonoma or local supper clubs) sign you two up for a cooking class or tasting! One of my favorite nights this year was a chocolate and wine tasting at Salud with my roommate–not only is it my ideal date location, but its such a fun way to spend time together and it makes a perfect present for your foodie friend!

see more gift guides here

Miniature Apple Pie

One of the challenges in pie crust making (by challenge I mean blessing) is that it usually makes enough for 2 pies. And sometimes, you can use the other half for the crust/topping/deep dish-ifying of the pie, but other times, you’re stuck with extra crust. If I had a big family or other mouths to feed, I wouldn’t even hesitate about whipping that baby into a second pie, but when its just me, another pie just for myself seems a bit excessive. I mean, lets be real…finishing it isn’t the problem (ha, I laugh at the idea of not being able to finish a pie!). Its what the finishing of said pie will do to my hips.

So instead, I figured I would challenge myself to be creative with my left over crust. First though, I had to the get the thought of that second pie out of my head. Enter: Mini Apple Pie!

I have these precious Le Creuset  mini baking dishes–they are about 5 x 5 and the best size to bake anything for one person when you don’t want lots of left overs. They’re probably not intended for pie baking, but my pie baked perfectly in it. And it was delicious.

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Apple Pie for one

adapted from Ina Garten

Pie Dough

I used this recipe for my Pecan Pie and wasn’t a huge fan of it in that, but it was awesome for this apple pie.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

2 sticks of cold unsalted butter, cut up

1/4 – 1/2 cups ice water

Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt in your food processor until mixed up.

Add your butter and pulse until the mixture is in pea size crumbles

add 1/4 cups of water and check your dough: it should be crumbly, but hold together if you pinch it with your fingers. If it doesn’t add the other 1/4 cup, 1 tbsp at a time, until it does.

Separate into two discs and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using

I used just under 1/4 of this recipe for the mini apple pie

Apple Pie Filling

1 apple, peeled and chopped

zest & juice of 1/4 lemon

zest & juice of 1/4 orange

1/2 – 1 tbsp water

2 tbsp granulated sugar + a little more for sprinkling

heaping 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp pumpkin spice mix

(that was all I had…but apple pie spice mix would obviously be good too)

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roll out your pie dough until its fairy thin (1/4 inch or so) and fit it into your mini dish, trimming off the excess. Refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.

dump your chopped apple into a bowl and mix in the zest and juice of both the lemon and orange, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and pumpkin/apple spice mix–stir it up.

If it seems super sticky and dry, add in the tbsp of water. You want everything to stick to the apples, but not in a clumpy way.

Pour your mixture into your crust

(hello gorgeous spicy sweet apple chunks. I adore you)

Use the rest of your dough to make a mini lattice, or cover up the entire pie to make a mini deep-dish pie (Like Ina’s!)

If you made a crust or lattice, sprinkle a bit of the sugar on top of it

Bake for about 30min, until your crust is golden and the apples are bubbling.

Take out and cover with aluminum foil and let it cool before digging in.

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Thats it! Its super easy and a yummy way to treat yourself without creating dangerous amounts of leftover pie.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream for heaven in a bowl.

for your little sister who is a total hipster and way cooler than you could ever hope to be

Its almost December!! I’m a sucker for the holidays and bursting with excitement over tree decorations, christmas cookies, christmas music, wrapping paper, and yes, even gift buying. I love picking out the perfect little somethings for all my favorite people, and this year, I’m putting together a gift ideas series. Look out for the posts over the next few weeks–hopefully something in there will be the perfect match for someone on your list!

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Anthropologie Fox Tights

[because if anyone can pull off tights with woodland critters on them, she can]

Marc Jacobs Shorty iPad Case

[why shouldn’t her iPad case have a personality as big as hers?]

OPI Nailpolishes

[because she loves having painted fingernails, and navy blue polish is the perfect hipster alternative to black.]

Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman

[so that she has something to read at the local coffee shop.]

An Alice in Wonderland Print 

[a neat print for her room, since Alice is her favorite.]

Dangly Earrings

[because she requested earrings, and these are the perfect mix of edgy and versatile.]

Holga Camera

[for her never ending photography projects and ever expanding camera collection.]

Movie Night

Go to a sweet shop and load up on goodies, sneak them into the movie theater, and go see a late night showing of Les Miserable together, because all she really wants anyways is to spend time with you.