Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Weekend Events

Hello Everyone!  I know you all probably have a ton of stuff to do this weekend (family meals, Easter egg hunts, etc.) but I wanted to let you know about two fun things that are happening tomorrow.

First the Bunny Run.  The Bunny Run is a 5K that benefits Special Kids and Families, INC, which provides "therapy services, developmental training, inclusive preschool program, and parent and child classes" for kids with special needs. I'll be there!  I've never run any kind of marathon in my life, so I might be crawling on all fours by the end of it, but I'm doing it!  There are also going to be music, games, and an Easter egg hunt, so it should be a lot of fun.  To sign up, go to bunnyrun.racesonline.com


Then later that night, there is a free concert at the Levitt Shell.  Andrew Peterson, a Nashville based artist, will be performing.  Bring lawn chairs, a picnic blanket and a picnic!  It's going to be a great time.  The concert starts at 6:00.  I'll be there as well, so come and chill on my picnic blanket!

Have a Happy Easter!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hello Spring!





Floral Kimono: Forever 21, Pink Top: Forever 21, Scarf: Wal-Mart, Jeans: Levi's, Shoes: Urban Outfitters, Purse: Aldo, Watch: Thrifted, Assorted Jewels

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hump Day Artist: Chuck Johnson

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This week's Hump Day Artist is a local Memphis artist, Chuck Johnson.  He is also a former professor of mine and a good friend.  His work is mostly made using encaustics, a technique using hot wax and colored pigments.  His work has been extremely influential on mine, mainly in the way that he merges abstraction and nature.  His paintings are incredibly beautiful but also slightly eerie and hard to pin down: they are sometimes flat, sometimes spacial, sometimes realistic, sometimes abstract.  Here is a quote from his artist statement:

"My work is an ongoing effort to reconcile disparate elements; painting and drawing, structure and chance, dimensional space and flatness, personal information and an aesthetic connection to the viewer."

Check out more of Chuck Johnson's work at lrossgallery.com.  You can also see some of Chuck's Johnson's pieces at the Dixon Museum's current show: Present Tense: The Art of Memphis from 2001- Now.  All images from lrossgallery.com.



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Against the Wind





I wore this to church on Sunday.  I don't wear heals very often, they make me feel really dressed up.  And I feel like a giant that could topple over at any second.  But I liked them with this.  They made a casual outfit church appropriate.  Sorry about the wrinkled pants.  I had been wearing these all day before I took these pictures.  I hate wrinkles.  When are they going to invent a steamer that fits into your purse?  Cuz I want that.

Chambray Shirt: Gap, Pants: Forever 21, Scarf: Vintage, Shoes: Payless, Watch: Fossil, Assorted Jewels

Monday, March 25, 2013

Chicken Stock

So remember the chicken I roasted in the crock pot?  By the way, if you haven't done that yet, you are a crazy person.  Best chicken ever.  Anyway, I took the bones and made chicken stock.  I normally use that powdery chicken bouillon stuff (I don't know why, that stuff is gross), so this has made a HUGE difference in my rice, black-eyed peas, lima beans, etc.  Stuff we eat a lot.  I found a ton of different recipes for chicken stock online, but I ended up kind of making it up using the vegetables and spices I already had.

So here is what I did.  First, fill a soup pot up with water.  Then throw in your bones, your vegetables, and spices.  I used celery, onion, carrots, lemon, jalepeno (we like spicy food around here), garlic (not pictured because I forgot about it and added it about halfway through the cooking process), peppercorns, a nutmeg, and a few bay leaves.  Then you just simmer that for 2 hours. Try to scrape some of the foam off as it cooks.   

Once it's done cooking strain out all of the solids and let the stock cool in individual containers.  Once it is cooled you can scrape the fat off the top.  I put some in the freezer and left a little bit in the fridge for me to use right away.

Super simple.  Very rewarding.  This will put the fake stuff to shame.  Be sure and throw the lemon in, that is the best part.  It really adds a brightness to the deep, mellow flavor.  I haven't seen a chicken stock recipe with a lemon in it, I just threw it in there because I had it but I put it in there because I am a culinary genius and I knew that my chicken stock needed lemon.

I used this to make some Mexican rice the other day and it was amazing.  Get ready for that recipe (coming soon).  It has changed my life.

Do you make stock at home?  What do you put in it?



Friday, March 22, 2013

A Busy Week

This has been the craziest/best week.  I'm still reeling from a lot of big news and I'm preparing for a crazy weekend.  This week has also been full of fun little things that aren't as important, but are still really exciting.  Here's what's been going down in the Olinger household.

1.  We finally know where Olie will be a resident come July.  WHAT UP, UT MEMPHIS!  This is a huge relief, to say the least.
2.  We found the perfect house to rent and we officially move April 15th, which is our 7 year anniversary (dating, not married!).  Gotta start packing!
3.  I learned how to make perfect Mexican rice at home.  I think this may be the best thing that happened this week.  I can't wait to share this recipe with you.  This is pretty much what I've eaten all week.  That and ham and cheese sandwiches (#hamandcheese).

4.  I've been preparing for 10 months for my church choir's Palm Sunday concert (that's this Sunday).  The week before is always a bit tense.  I'm still a bit shaky on some of the music, so I still have a little work to do.  If you're in the area and are free Sunday night you should come.  This music is incredible.


5.  Olie bought me some flowers and I decided to try my hand at a cute little arrangement.  For some reason, I'm a bit intimidated by floral arranging.  I usually just throw them in a vase and hope for the best.  But I decided to try something simple, and I was very excited by the outcome.  Much better than how I had them displayed.  I'm hoping to have flowers more often in the new house, so I need to start figuring out how to arrange them (hello, Pinterest).  These coffee mugs are from Anthropologie (they still have them, and they are pretty cheap).


7.  Also, if you haven't noticed, I've given my blog a little makeover.  I must say, I'm pretty pleased with the results.  If you haven't already, use the links on the side to follow me on twitter, facebook, pinterest, bloglovin', and to check out my website.

8.  I went to a yoga class for the first time in over a year.  I love yoga, but the classes always seem to be at the worst time.  Or I make up some excuse not to go.  Not this week!  I'm still very sore, but I can't wait to go again.

9.  Not only did I get a ton of painting done this week, I've also started drawing on my iPad.  I'm completely obsessed.  I'm just using Brushes right now (which is a free program), but if anyone knows any good programs, pass the info along.  Here is one of my favorite drawings I've done so far.


10.  And last, but not least, I am in an art show this weekend.  It's a show that my friend puts on every year for students (I'm not a student anymore, but she asked me to participate).  It's not juried, it's just a group of students showing awesome work.  If you are interested, it is this Saturday from 4-6 p.m. at Self Tucker Architectural Firm, 505 Tennessee St.

All in all, a great week.  How did your week go?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Zow!



Sweater: J. Crew (men's), Dress: J. Crew, Scarf: World Market, Shoes: Journey's, Assorted Jewels

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hump Day Artist: Mark Bradford

This week's Hump Day Artist is Mark Bradford.  Mark Bradford's works are mostly large in scale (many as large as 8'x12'), and are a mixture of collage and paint.  The collaged aspects are materials that Bradford finds in the streets of Los Angeles, where he lives and works.  They are then painted over, scraped out, carved into, and burned away to produce overwhelming, map-like structures.  His paintings are incredibly intricate, often including text that alludes to class and racial structures.  Here's a quote by the artist:

"I like to walk through the city and find details and then abstract them and make them my own.  I'm not speaking for a community or trying to make a sociopolitical point.  In the end it's my mapping.  My subjectivity." (mcachicago.org)

Check out more of his work at sikkemajensinsco.com

First 3 images from mcachicago.org
Last 3 from sikkemajenkinsco.com




Tuesday, March 19, 2013

¡Chiwawa!


To celebrate St. Patrick's Day, Olie and I decided to try the newest addition to Midtown: ¡Chiwawa!  For those of you who don't live in Memphis, over the past year Midtown has been getting a facelift.  All of the buildings have been redone and more and more businesses keep opening up.  As of recently, the saddest part of Midtown was an old, run down building that still retained its awesome patio and old funky Chicago Pizza Company sign.  That building is now ¡Chiwawa!, a restaurant specializing in hot dogs, tacos, and mixed drinks.  The patio has been returned to its former glory and the sign now triumphantly reads "Midtown is Memphis."

Ok, so let's talk about the food.  The menu is small, which I like.  I tend to get overwhelmed in restaurants with too many choices.  Despite the small menu, I still had the hardest time choosing what I wanted.  It all sounded amazing and every dish a waiter brought out looked better than the last.  We started with an order of chips and salsa, just to keep it simple.  The chips were honestly the best I had ever tasted.  They were flaky but sturdy.  The waitress disclosed that there is a man who works in the kitchen and all he does is make tortillas, both for tacos and chips.  That guy needs a medal, because these chips are awesome.  The salsa is more of a pico de gallo than a salsa, very fresh, lots of lime.  Not as mind blowing as the chips, but still very good.  They have tons of different cheese dips and a very tasty looking guacamole, which are all on my list for next time.

After much deliberation, I finally decided to go with the tacos.  Disclaimer: the tacos are a bit pricy.  They are $4 a piece, so I got two (when I wanted three) and they weren't very filling.  I got an egg, chorizo, and potato taco and a tilapia taco.  They were very fresh and delicious.  These are really great if you aren't really that hungry, or if you are out late and need a little snack.



However, if you need a real meal, skip the tacos and hit up the hot dogs.  Not that I was disappointed with my tacos, but Olie ordered the ¡Chiwawa! Dog and it blew my tacos away.  An all beef hot dog, wrapped in bacon (yes, I said wrapped in bacon), covered in salsa, grilled pineapple, a sort of chipotle red sauce, and avocado.  Olie was kind enough to let me try a bite.  It was so good that when we had finished eating, we ordered another ¡Chiwawa! Dog to split.  This is the best hot dog I have ever eaten, hands down.  The other hot dogs look just as good.  They have a homemade corn dog and a hot dog covered in pulled pork that I'm dying to try.

Maybe the best part of ¡Chiwawa! is the atmosphere.  The whole decor is wood and brushed steel, very utilitarian and very cool.  Their patio is up there on the list of best Memphis patios; I foresee many summer nights spent on it.  There were tons of people there (we got there fifteen minutes after they opened and there was already a wait), everyone was drinking and having a great time.

If you go to ¡Chiwawa!, which you should do, I suggest going with a group of close friends and ordering a little of everything.  The beer selection is a bit limited.  They only have their liquor license at the moment, so they can only have high gravity beers.  But once they get their beer license (they just opened on Friday), they will have lots of options, the most exciting being $2 PBR's.  A great patio and $2 PBR's!?  Yes, please.  And on Cinco de Mayo they are debuting their sno cone mixed drinks.  Get ready ¡Chiwawa!, you're going to see a lot of me.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Going Green




This was my St. Patrick's Day outfit.  I tried to wear as much green as possible.  I do have green shoes, but I thought that would be overkill.  I think the leopard print is a nice touch.

I hope everyone had a fun and safe St. Patrick's Day!  Anyone do anything interesting?  I tried a great new restaurant and I can't wait to tell you all about it.    

Color Blocked Shirt: Forever 21, Paisly Shirt: Vintage Calvin Klein, Gray Sweater: American Eagle, Pants: Target (men's), Shoes: Journey's, Assorted Jewels

Friday, March 15, 2013

Trying Something New: Lion's Mane Mushrooms

The best part about cooking/eating is trying something new.  I love trying a new technique, a new genre, or a new fruit/vegetable/etc.  I was at my local farmer's market the other day, and I was immediately drawn to the mushroom vender.  This guy had the most beautiful mushrooms I've ever seen.  Even though I have a slight fear of home-grown mushrooms, I decided to purchase these fluffy, furry beauties: lion's mane mushrooms.  The mushrooms grower dude (I don't know the correct term for a guy who grows mushrooms) said that they tasted like lobster cooked in butter.  Ummm............sold.  Olie isn't a big mushroom fan, so I took them to my parent's house and cooked them for my mom.
I decided to keep it simple and make them into a pasta dish.  I cut up a little garlic and some onion and sautéed them with the mushrooms.  Always a good combo, right?  I was a little disappointed with how much the mushrooms shrunk.  I guess I should have expected it, mushrooms do shrink when cooked, but they were so big and fluffy before they were cooked that it definitely took me by surprise.

I added the sautéed vegetables to some fettucini noodles (definitely my favorite pasta shape), and topped that with a little Greek yogurt, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
So what do I think of lion's mane mushrooms?  They do have a slight seafood-y taste, but it's very subtle.  The flavor of the onion and garlic really overpowered it.  Next time, I would choose milder ingredients so that the mushrooms can really shine.  Honestly, they would be delicious on their own, as a side dish.  Also, if you're not a huge mushroom fan, you should give these a try.  The texture is really soft, the flavor is really mild, and they don't have that funky, mushroomy taste that people hate/love.

Have you tried anything new lately?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

More is More






Still having some cold days.  Perfect for throwing on every item of clothing that I own.  I really love wearing two dresses together, it's a great way to mix up your wardrobe.

Scarf: Vintage, Vest: Gap, Printed Dress: Thrifted, Blue Dress: American Apparel, Shoes: Urban Outfitters, Hat: Target (men's), Necklace: Zara, Assorted Jewels