Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Treat Yo Self Day: Thrifty Finds in Athens, GA

If you watch "Parks and Recreation" you know Treat Yo Self Day is a day in which you can treat yourself to absolutely whatever your heart desires.  There is no need to justify any actions taken on Treat Yo Self Day.  A couple of weeks ago, I was on fall break and going to be home alone all day, conditions were perfect for doing whatever I wanted.  I decided to spend the day downtown visiting a few of my favorite shops.


I started in Minx, a store best described as a "Blast from the Past."  Always filled with treasures, I find this a pleasant place to shop because of their organization and awesome deals (I've bought Lilly Pulitzer skirts here for $30 before).  Today I honed right in on their three large wooden crates filled with 60's Harlequin novels.  I chose to read an excerpt from The Emerald Cuckoo and quickly decided it must come home with me.  I'm already fully engulfed in Tracy and Lester's forbidden love affair.

From here I went to Agora Vintage.  This was my first time in the store, recently opened by Agora's Airee Edwards, and it did not disappoint.  You walk in to find a wall of beautiful jewelry on one side of you and a wall of gorgeous purses on the other.  Walking in further, you will find racks of clothes in wonderful condition.  This store, filled with brands such as Gucci, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton, is a great addition to downtown Athens.  Seriously, if you've got some money burning a whole in your pocket, you should at least go see the beautiful tan Hermes Birkin bag they are currently housing.

Community is really like no store I've ever been in.  As their name suggests, they have a focus on local artists and craftsmen.  This is wonderful to have in a town, like Athens, that is filled with so much talent.  As well as jewelry, paper goods, art, and chocolates, all made locally, Community sells vintage and pre worn clothing, including their own line of clothing created in store.  They also offer sewing classes and alterations, making this the ultimate one stop shop for handmade goods.

Speaking of one stop shops, Junkman's Daughter's Brother is a mecca of gifts, home goods, costumes, and really just about anything.  The sister location of Junkman's Brother in Atlanta brings a taste of Little Five Points right into downtown Athens.  Junkman's has been around as long as I can remember and was one of my favorite places downtown to visit as a kid, though I know my mom cringed at my presence among some of their goods.  (She later took me on my 18th birthday so I could finally enter the infamous "Adults Only" section.)

Every time I walk into Dynamite I find something I need.  Not only is this a great place to find both men and women's vintage clothes and accessories.  It is one of the only places in Athens which carries American Apparel.  I often find myself shopping here for costume pieces, as well as great thrifty finds.

For lunch, I stopped at one of my favorite eateries for what has to be one of the least nutritious meals I have eaten recently.  Trappeze has the greatest pub atmosphere complete with a three page menu of draught beers.  Today I enjoyed a cheese plate with red dragon cheese and a side of fries with their divine garlic aoli dressing.  Remember, its Treat Yo Self Day and cheese and french fries are the nutritious equivalent of a dressingless Kale salad.  To drink, I had Red Hare Forbidden Fruit.  Because Trappeze has such a selection I like to try new things while I'm there.  I now know Red Hare is brewed in Georgia and they make awesome beers.  This is one of their seasonal brews and I predict I will spend the rest of the season finding somewhere that carries it.

After lunch, I went over to Hendershot's to get some work done.  This was my first time in their new location in Bottleworks and I really loved it.  They now have much more space and a full bar.  I hope to get their for a show sometime soon.  Wishing them luck in their new home!

Treat Yo Self Day ended with the grand finale that was Jimmy Fallon's Clean Cut Comedy Tour.  Stay tuned for more on this laugh filled night.

60's Harlequin Novel//Minx
Vintage Matchbooks and Double Dutch Tea Towel//Community
Mickey and Minnie Denim Shirt//Dynamite

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Butch Walker at the 40 Watt 9/7/13

Last month, I found myself back in the 40 Watt, a venue I don't think I'd been in since high school.  The 40 Watt was originally opened in 1978 by Curtis Crowe who often joked the club was lit by a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling.  Since, the space has become a staple for Athens bands as well as more well known acts.  In high school, I saw The Whigs, The Modern Skirts, Fun., Band of Skulls, and Motion City Soundtrack play here, just to name a few.  Needless to say, I was very excited to be back there to add Butch Walker to this roster of acts.

Butch opened the show, just him and a keyboard, playing "Joan" and a couple of his heavier songs.  I was taken aback by this, that is sad material to start the night with.  But I quickly saw what he was doing.  By the time his band joined him on stage for "Mixtape," he had the whole crowd in the palm of his hand.  It stayed this way all night, people daring themselves to look away long enough to go to the bar. Granted, half of the crowd was before the social networking generation, but I felt like there was a minimal amount of cell phone use that night.  He played a wonderful high energy "Synthesizers" with pieces of "Come on Eileen" through out.  He covered bits of other songs including "Teenage Wasteland" and "The Ocean," joking that his younger band had never heard them before.  At the end of the night, he came into the crowd.  Everyone gathered around him waiting to see what he would do next.  The show ended with an amazing energy, everyone in the room experiencing a major endorphin release.  All-in-all it was an amazing show.  Now that I've seen Butch Walker once, I can't wait to see him perform again.  There's something about a group of people belting out songs like "Mixtape" and "She Likes Hair Bands" that warms my heart.  It is something everyone must experiences.

You can view the 40 Watt's full calendar here.
You can follow Butch Walker at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Birthday Weekend

My twenty-second birthday was about a month ago and it turned out to be a wonderful long weekend of celebration.  It started Friday at the Buckhead Pub Crawl.  This particular pub crawl was in anticipation of the SEC/ACC football kick-off weekend.  We paid $15 for access to seven bars and a mixed drink at each.  I had never been out in Buckhead before and this was an awesome way to get a taste of most the bars in the area.

The next day I arrived back in Athens for lunch at one of my favorite spots, Last Resort.  I had crab cakes with a side salad drenched in their divine vidalia bacon dressing.  Of course, a trip downtown would not be complete without a stop at King of Pops.  Today I choose to with a new choice and had the coconut lemongrass, which did not disappoint.

We had people over to watch the first University of Georgia game of the season.  We may have just been tailgating at home, but we had a spread fit for kings: pimento cheese and curry chicken salad from Marti's at Midday, a Chick-Fil-A nugget tray, pizza dip, Mom's corn and pea salsa, and a heavenly red velvet cake.

One of my favorite gifts from my parents was my Mary Blair inspired Lesportsac weekender.  I have always loved Mary Blair's whimsical art and illustrations and this bag is the perfect tribute to her work.

We had a delicious seafood lunch at Marker 7.  If you haven't been yet, you must go.  You will feel as though you have been transported to the seaside by their Beach Boys heavy soundtrack and brightly colored decor.  The evening's activities included going to the new movie theatre to see "The Spectacular Now."  The movie was recently filmed in Athens, so we were very excited to see our home on the silver screen.  The movie was incredible.  I don't remember the last time one film caused me to feel so many different emotions.  People who have seen James Pondsolt's film, "Smashed," are familiar with his beautiful use of raw emotion, seen many times throughout "The Spectacular Now."  As a lover of young adult literature, I am now hoping to read Tim Tharp's novel which the movie is based on.

After the movie, we went downtown to Five Bar for dinner.  We started our meal with their delicious baked avocado, topped with baby shrimp and tempura flakes.  For my entree, I had the stuffed shrimp.  These shrimp come stuffed with crabmeat and wrapped in bacon.  They are served with a fresh greens salad topped with fruit, goat cheese and basalmic vinaigrette and their ever-changing risotto, tonight's being parmesan and eggplant.  Five is currently running a special on Sundays and serving their burger for $5.  This burger is topped with a mayo-based spread of tomatoes, onions, and bacon and served with french fries and their very own Five Sauce, a sort of wasabi honey mustard that I could happily eat on everything.

We came home to one of my favorite cakes in the world--Cecilia Villaveces' key lime cake.  My family has been ordering cakes from her bakery for years and they never disappoint.

Monday began leisurely by enjoying the "Arrested Development" marathon on IFC and a late sushi lunch at Sakura.  After lunch, we were craving something sweet so we went downtown to Always Baked.  Their homemade cookies come in a variety of Georgia themed flavors like Gregg Almond and, my personal favorite, the On My Mind.  Today we had ice cream sandwiches, two on my minds surrounding two scoops of cinnamon ice cream .  This is seriously the perfect sweet treat.

Upon the return to school, we began a celebration the Milledgeville way--with margaritas at El Tequila. I woke up on Tuesday (my actual birthday) to find a package from a package which contained what has quickly become my favorite item to wear around the house--Freudian Slippers!  They are the perfect mate to my "Freudian Sips" mug and I can't get over how thin my legs look in them.  If only I was the type of person who wears slippers outside of the house.

Celebration on Tuesday continued in usual Milledgeville fashion, with brunch at the Local Yolkal, dinner at Amici and karaoke at Buffington's.  Taylor Swift karaoke on your 22nd birthday may be one of the biggest cliches ever, but if just felt right.  My little sister even got to come and play for the night!

I don't know about you, but I actually am 22

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sprinkles Cupcakes and Ice Cream

One reason we were excited to travel to California was to be reunited with one of our all time favorite sweet treats, Sprinkles cupcakes.  Candance Nelson opened the first Sprinkles on Santa Monica Boulevard after having visited Magnolia Bakery on a trip to New York. Since their opening in 2005, Sprinkles has opened twelve locations nationwide, they have a Sprinklesmobile designed by "Pimp My Ride's" West Coast Customs, a line of mixes sold at Williams-Sonoma, an iPhone app, a cupcake ATM, and most recently two shops selling Sprinkles own ice cream counterpart.  Sprinkles' list of ever changing flavors is highly drool inducing, but we each have our favorites we keep coming back to (Dad/Lemon, Mom/Coconut, Morgan/Cinnamon Sugar, and me/Black and White).  Luckily we were able to try several flavors, my new favorites being Pumpkin and Triple Cinnamon.  We were also able to try Sprinkles Ice Cream for the first time and it was equally as delicious.  The decided favorite was the Sprinkles Sundae, a scoop of ice cream sandwiched between two cupcake halves.  Have no fear, Georgia friends, Sprinkles will soon be opening a location (with cupcakes and ice cream) in Lenox Square Mall.

Cupcake ATM

Sprinkles Sundae

Red Velvet Waffle Cone of Butter Pecan

Special cupcakes for the birth of the Royal Baby!

Attending a Taping of Chelsea Lately

While in California, my family attended a taping of "Chelsea Lately."  Having never been in any sort of studio audience, I scoured the internet for recounts of similar experiences to see what we had in store.  Now that it is all said and done, I thought I would share my own experience.

In line for the taping
We arrived at Universal Studios around thirty minutes before the time listed on our ticket.  We were immediately put into a line where we were to wait to go onto the lot.  People with priority tickets were taken in first and we waited about thirty to forty more minutes before going in.  Upon entering the lot, you are lead to the studio where you go through security before entering.  At this point, if you have a book to be signed by Chelsea the security guards will collect them to be returned to you after the show. Many signs around the studio state that there are no phones allowed inside, but they will let you keep them as long as they stay turned off.  After going through security, you are given the opportunity to use the restroom and then find a seat in the studio.

A quick photo of the set I snapped after the taping
Once everyone is seated the self-described "Chelsea Lately Fluffer" comes out to tell a few jokes and go over how the audience should applaud at different points in the show.  During this time they throw Chuy Balls into the audience as a sort-of incentive for audience participation.  We quickly ended up with a full "set."

They show a blooper reel and video of funny clips from the show to get everyone in the mood, and then quickly move into the show.  They introduce the round table guests, Chuy, and then Chelsea, who immediately begins her opening monologue.  Tonight her monologue featured her dog Chunk, one of the most adorable dogs I've ever seen.
From @chelseahandler's Instagram

From here they move onto the round table segment.  Today's round table comedians were John Caparulo, Sarah Colonna, and Ben Gleib, all of who were very entertaining.  This is all very similar to how the segment plays out on TV, they discuss a couple of news stories each giving their own colorful commentary.
From @johncaparulo's Instagram

After the round table segment there is a two minute break where the crew changes the set over for the interview part of the show.  Tonight's guest was the hilarious Jason Biggs.  It was a lot of fun to watch him and Chelsea banter back and forth.

From @chelseahandler's Instagram

After the interview, they record a short promo and then the closing of the show.  And as quickly as it began, it is over.  The whole process was a lot of fun and it was awesome getting to be a part of that.  If you are a fan of "Chelsea Lately," "After Lately," Chelsea's writing, or just looking for the studio audience experience this one was a lot of fun and very easy to get into.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Amoeba Music Hollywood

"And remember, if you ever get lonely just go to the record store and visit your friends."

It's not everyday you see so many great albums an movies together under one roof. This is why I'm so happy one of our many adventures yesterday was to Amoeba Music, the world's largest independent record store. Upon walking in you feel as though you have been transported to Empire Records. The store hosts many concerts and signings (David Lynch was there just a couple days ago) and buys and sells used CD's and movies, as well as new. I was ecstatic to find a copy of Natalie Merchant's Tigerlily for just three dollars. 

For more Amoeba visit any of their three California locations or check out Paul McCartney's EP Amoeba's Secret which was recorded at the Hollywood store in 2007.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mae's Bakery and XK Macarons

Recently the Free People store in White Provisions held an event at which they served XK Macarons.  Though I could not attend the event, I gushed over all of their pictures on Instagram and quickly started following XK Macaron's own profile.  I became mesmerized by the pastel treats and other goods sold at Mae's Bakery (who I found through XK's Instagram).  Mae's just recently started carrying XK Macarons, a company started by Xana Kidd earlier this year.
The macarons have a rapidly growing following in the Atlanta area, and for good reason.  Last Saturday, we stopped into Mae's Bakery to sample some of their offerings and they were delicious.  I had the Earl Grey Lavender macaron and chocolate cupcake with buttercream icing.  Another of my favorites was the Almond Joy cupcake which has an almond crust at the bottom of the cake.  Located just down the street from Lenox Mall, Mae's Bakery is in a wonderful location.  I know if I lived in the area I would stop in often to enjoy some of their beautiful sweets and a cup of tea.

You too can follow Mae's Bakery at @maesbakeryatl and XK Macarons at @xkmacarons

I was so pleased with how well my manicure matched my treats

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando Summer 2013

Two Saturdays ago, we departed for Fort Lauderdale.  We spent most of the day driving during which I occupied myself with The Anthropology of an American Girl, a Rolling stone article on upcoming author Tao Lin (I couldn't resist someone who could give Brett Easton Ellis a run for his money), and "Frasier" streaming on Netflix.

We spent our first day at the beach, conveniently located across the street from our hotel.  We lounged and played in the waves until it was time for lunch.  We went to this wonderful beachside eatery, The Oasis Cafe, famed for being "home of the swings."  All of the booths and tables were built on gliders which swayed back and forth as we ate.  I had a mussels dish which was to die for.

We spent our evening doing dinner and a movie at the Aventura Mall.  Our film for the evening was "The Bling Ring" which we were all kind of disappointed by.  The story is interesting and the direction is beautiful but the acting was a little subpar.

Monday we dedicated to shopping and came across a couple of really interesting malls.  The first, the Oasis at Sawgrass Mills, is home to a life size replica of the Barbie Dream House, one of only two in the world.  All four of us were very enamored by what went on inside, and well there was only one way to find out.  We went on a tour of the pink palace.  There is really no way to describe it, except fun.  Morgan and I were the oldest "kids" there, the rest were between four and ten and accompanied by their moms.  I don't think there was one person in the tour who was not enjoying themselves.

We spent the latter portion of our day back at the Aventura Mall.  And this was a really great mall with some awesome stores, but their real crowning achievement was their all eats.  This wasn't just Sbarro, Great American Cookie, and soft pretzels.  Morgan had a crepe at Crepe Maker and there was a stand dedicated entirely to caviar, but my favorite was The Cheese Course.  This is a shop that sells cheese by the pound but also a restaurant which specializes in custom cheese boards.  We got a three cheese board which featured three cheeses of your choosing, two accompaniments (nuts, fruits, etc to compliment the cheese), and French bread.  We had Roquefort Blue Cheese, Beecher's Reserve Cheddar, and Red Dragon and for our accompaniments we had candied walnuts and mixed olives.  I paired it with a glass of Chardonnay and immediately was in heaven.

Tuesday was spent having a Miami adventure.  Caroline was there for the day so we met for lunch at Havana 1957 for some cuban food.  The stars of the meal had to be the red sangria and fried plantains.

We walked down the street some and wandered into Momo Cha Teahouse.  I had an awesome Taro Bubble Tea.  I had only ever had Taro frozen yogurt, but I really enjoyed the tea variety.  I think I have finally learned to love the tapioca bubbles.

We spent the rest of the night traveling to Orlando and slept in the next morning.  Our first order of business was to find somewhere to get fresh gel nails since mine and Mom's were both looking a little shabby.  We found Image Nails and they did not disappoint.  I fell in love with the OPI color You're Such a Budapest.

From there we went to Whole Foods.  Living over an hour away from one, this is always a fun adventure.  We got a build your own six pack, I mixed my own granola, and we left with many treats from the bakery.  We got this really great beer, Key West Sunset, which was brewed locally by the Florida Beer Company.

We spent our evening at Downtown Disney seeing "Monster's University."  We all loved it.  It is just as delightful as the original and with some great new voice actors including Charlie Day and Beth Behrs.

The next morning Dad, Morgan, and I got up and went to the Magic Kingdom when they opened.  We went to Ariel's Grotto for the first time since they opened new Fantasyland and we enjoyed a cinnamon role in Gaston's Tavern.  It still amazes me how much the tavern looks like the movie.

We got our picture with the kookiest of Peter and Wendy's and played the new interactive pirate game in Adventureland.

For lunch we ate at Burger 21.  My family had eaten there before and I had heard much talk about how good it was.  I had the ahi tuna burger and the milkshake of the month, this month's flavor being chai tea.

Tonight for dinner we ate at the Palm.  We started the meal with calamari and lobster bisque.  Then we feasted upon steak, half & half (Half onion rings, Half potato chips), brussels sprouts, and potatoes au gratin.  Mom and I split a bottle of Erocia Riesling, which we both agreed was the best wine we'd ever had.

We spent the next morning in Hollywood Studies, the highlight of which was meeting Ralph and Vanellope from "Wreck-It Ralph."  They have an adorable permanent venue in The Magic of Animation made to look like you're in the Sugar Rush video game.  The queue to meet them looks like you are in Game Central Station looking out of games and into the arcade.

We stayed in on Saturday morning and watched a delightful episode of "Barefoot in the City" in which Ina learned how to prepare the perfect bagel and sent Jeffery to a spice store to pick up the perfect seasoning mix for her sweet potato fries.  I could not find any videos to attach from this particular episode so I have left you with one of my favorites, Ina's Fresh Whiskey Sours.

Dad, Morgan, and I went to Universal to ride the new Transformers ride.  It was a lot of fun, very similar to Spiderman but more Michael Bay with car chases and explosions.  While in Universal, we also walked through the new Springfield expansion.  The highlight of this expansion had to be Moe's Tavern.  It is an exact replica of the bar where Homer and the gang hang out.  They even serve Duff beer brewed exclusively for the parks.

We ate dinner at what has quickly become one of our Orlando favorites, Hot N Juicy Crawfish.  We ate there last summer after having purchased a Resturant.com coupon and could not wait to go back.  You pick your seasoning and spice level and then can get all sorts of seafood boiled--shrimp, crawfish, crab legs, etc.  We got shrimp, crawfish, sausage, potatoes, and corn in the medium level Hot N Juicy Special Seasoning and it was wonderful.  The perfect meal to pair with an ice cold Budlight.

We headed over to EPCOT to spend our last day at Disney.  I started the day right by having my picture taken with my favorite princess, Belle.

We stopped in Italy for lunch at Via Napoli.  We enjoyed delicious calamari and pizza and had the two most adorable waiters.  It was great getting to talk to them about their homes in Italy and experience working with Disney.

Of course we stopped in Japan for some of our favorite shopping and Morgan and I came home with new friends, Chococat and Rilakkuma.

Before leaving, we stopped in the new ice cream shop in France.  I had some of the best pistachio ice cream.  It was really almost too pretty to eat.

For our last dinner in Orlando, we decided to try something new.  We had a Resturant.com coupon for the House of Blues and they had great review son Urbanspoon and Yelp! so we decided this was our place.  Honestly, after walking past the House of Blues dozens of times and even having gone to a show there, I had no idea there was a restaurant.  The decor was great.  Folk art covers every inch of the walls and we even found some works from our personal favorites, Sam the Dot Man and Georgia's very own Howard Finster.  The beautiful bar in the back of the main dining room was completely "Blues Brothers" themed (John Belushi and Dan Akroyd were two of the founders of the original House of Blues).  The food was just as great as our surroundings.  We started the meal with divine BBQ Chicken Flatbread.  I had grilled Mahi Mahi with what had to be the best mashed potatoes I've ever eaten.  We closed the meal (and our trip) with scrumptious key lime pie and bread pudding.