Dear Foodie Events

I've been to my fair share of foodie events in St. Louis - Taste, Sauce Magazine's Saucy Soiree, and last night's Iron Fork event by RFT. In my excursions, I've learned a few things.... that I feel compelled to share with organizers of said events and ones similar.

1. More trash cans please. Seriously.
2. Bigger signs! Uh, hi. You want your event to be crowded, right? So how the hell do you expect me to see that little sign on their table saying what restaurant it is when there is a crowd of people in front of it? Big signs on the walls/above the booth would be awesome. Or better yet.....
3. Maps of where the restaurants are. Print them out. Hand them out. Then I know which side to hit first, which lines I want to stand, where the drinks are....
4. And let me drink what I want! Little did I know, my 'three complimentary drinks' last night were not for my choosing. I had to have one beer, one glass of wine and one mixed drink. Uh, no. I don't like mixed drinks. I understand it gets people trying stuff from all three vendors. I get that it makes it easier for you to estimate quantities. But this event isn't about you and making your life easier. It's about me. And me getting to have fun and stuff my face and get drunk tipsy a few casual drinks with my friends.
5. Is this a line? This is always a conundrum. Are we walking in a big circle here? Is there a line for each table? Is it just a free-for-all fight to the front?
6. Vendors are a good idea. I'm a sucker and buy stuff. Especially if it is from local print shops... just sayin.
7. Entry fees work if the portions are small and free. And I get free drinks (but please see #4).
8. Encourage/Require the restaurants have info like what they are serving, where they are located, how to connect with them on social media (please see my Atomicdust blog post on what a great job Sauce did for reference). Having full menus on the tables are nice too, so I can look to see if I want to check it out in real life.

I'm not saying I don't have a good time at these events... I do. But I have the same complaints every time. And felt compelled to share.

I'll go have my coffee now and stop being so crabby.


I'm Dying. (NCAA Cuteness Edition)

Missouri is out of the tournament, so I pretty much lost all interest. But I'm always interested in little kids being stupid/funny/adorable.

And now, for my ultimate favorites. Be prepared to LOL. I am warning you:


The Vine

I love South Grand. 

I'm not sure what took me so long to realize it, given that I've lived down the block in Dutchtown for almost two years now. But South Grand is awesome. In the last month, I've fallen in love with Basil Spice, walked around the corner to Bahn Mi So #1 and this past Sunday, had late lunch/early dinner at The Vine.

They had a nice little patio and it was a beautiful day, so I was already happy.... and then I opened my menu and saw they had chicken shawarma!! Just like I had in Agadir! I was psyched.

We ordered falafels for an app... ummmm delicious. I didn't think I liked falafel until now. Fried chickpea goodness. And it came with pickles and freakin' gorgeous pickled turnips (which I think are gross, but were so pretty!)
Then came my entree - chicken shawarma and (a giant plate of) fries. So good! I think what I had in Morocco had more fresh veggies- lettuce and tomato - whereas this one was more pickled veggies, but it was till good. And really big! I probably didn't need the fries or the app!
We also had the carrot juice and mango juice (yum!), and Joe had a delicious little cucumber, tomato and onion salad that I'm so ordering for myself next time!

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Bailey's Buttercream Icing

What do you do on St. Patrick's day once you've finished your errands, installed a new showerhead and caught up on Desperate Housewives?

Make cupcakes!
I went a little crazy and decided to try making these Guinness Chocolate cupcakes with Bailey's buttercream icing on Saturday night. I mean, seriously, who starts making cupcakes at 9pm? They were actually fairly easy and turned out pretty okay... I'm not crazy about the icing, but I've yet to find an icing recipe that I am crazy about. The cakes are really moist, really rich... it would make a great whole cake or adapted for brownie batter though!
For once, I didn't really stray from a recipe (except adding way more Bailey's than the icing called for). Click here to check it out.


Home Shopping... at West Elm Philadelphia

It's like Pinterest in real life!

I went to Philadelphia for work back in February and took a little detour into the West Elm store.... I didn't buy anything. But saw a bunch of stuff I wanted to. Here's a taste.


Happy St. Pat's!

St. Louis loves St. Pat's (in fact, I'm pretty sure we love any drinking holiday). Most people I know are convening in Dogtown today for the annual celebration... and while I might make it down there eventually, I'm planning to spend my Saturday running errands, tanning, taking Maverick to the park, drinking coffee, cathing up on my DVR, doing laundry, cleaning and rearranging furniture. Taking productive laziness to a whole new level. Happy St. Pat's!


This Week in Pictures (3.16.12)

{stir fry for Sunday dinner}
{working from couch}
{fro yo}
{Tuesday patio weather}
{good beer, good friends}
{lunch at Bogart's}


The Great Closet Purge of 2012

It's a fact: I have too many clothes.

My entire life, my dad has told me that. He would wonder how it was possible that I had anything to wear when all of my clothes were on the floor in my room. Wonder why I bothered - oh, who am I kidding? - why HE bothered to buy me clothes when I didn't take care of them.

And now, here I am wondering the same thing.

Truth (horrible, terrible, embarrassing truth): I have two closest upstairs, a walk-in storage closet downstairs, five overflowing baskets of clean/dirty clothes and a load in the dryer. And a full dresser and set of drawers. Oh, and I'm sure a bunch of random, misplaced clothing items in my car.

This is no longer acceptable.

I am 25. I'm spending money investing on nice clothes (as in JCrew final sale nice). I'm thinking about someday, maybe, possibly, oh I don't know, loving with another human being and sharing his space. And unless we move into Mariah Carey's apartment, I doubt it will have to closet space (or paid laundry service) to accommodate me.

So... The Great Closet Purge of 2012 is born. It's not gonna be pretty.

Step #1: No more hangers. I told myself last time I picked up more hangers at Target that I was an enabler. That that would be the last time I bought hangers. Let's stick to it. If I can't fit all my clothes on the hangers I currently own.... Then I have too many clothes.

Step #2: Start the purge by pulling clothes that just aren't that cute. Thinking of it as a 'he's just not that into you' for clothes. Ive tried getting rid of stuff before and always get hung up on 'well that might be cute if' or 'when I am skinnier'. I get overwhelmed and give up. This (first) time around, I'm just asking myself, "Do I really like that? Even if I was a size zero, would that be cute? Do I look at it and think 'it could work'? Or do I look at it and think it works'?"

So far, I've made a little progress. I've got a few items moved over into the banishment closet, where I'll then decide if they are Plato's Closet-, Goodwill-, or offer to friends-worthy.

I've got a long way to go.... One, or in this case, two steps at a time.

The Vatican: Pope Benedict and the Vatican Museum

On our second full day in Rome, we got up bright and early to go see the Pope... yes, the POPE. Cara was smart enough to reserve us tickets ahead of time, so we got to see him (along with a couple thousand of our closest friends). He said prayers in about a million different languages.... by the time he got to the good ole US of A, even English sounded foreign to me. It was a long morning, but at least I'll get to say I saw him! And it gave me time to read up in Rick Steve's.... (am I going to hell for saying that?)
The walls surrounding Vatican City are massive. They remind me of the flood walls down by the Arch... (again, is it blasphemous to compare the Vatican to the flood walls along the Mississippi?) We also lucked out in that the day we decided to spend all day indoors was the ickiest of all three we were there! Perhaps a higher power was one our side? Eh, eh?

A tip on the Vatican Museum: get Rick Steve's book. Or some kind of book pointing out the highlights. This place is massive and you will get overwhelmed fast. We browsed through all the rooms, but only stopped in detail at the ones Rick pointed out specifically. It kept us on our toes so we weren't tired by the time we made it to the Sistine Chapel.

And now, for the museum:

This statue of the god of sun and music was thought to be perfect - his anatomy, his smooth, youthful features, his lightness on his feet. It was hailed as the greatest work of art in the world during the Renaissance. That is, until...

This is supposed to be the high priest of Troy, who planned to warn his fellow Trojans about the 'gift' the Greeks would bring to destroy them. But the Gods wanted the Greeks to win, so they sent these snakes to kill Laocoon and his sons. The figures are powerful, strong, you can see the terror in their eyes, the strain in their muscles as they fight for their lives. When it was unearthed in 1506, they paraded it through the streets - having grown up seeing the 'pretty boy' Apollo. Michelangelo was one of those who saw it, just two years before he begin work on the Sistine Chapel.

Belvedere Torso
This statue was once Hercules... and now it is just a tummy. Sad face. But an incredibly awesome tummy! Another inspiration for Michelangelo, this one is echoed on the belly of Jesus on the Sistine Chapel (which you won't be able to see because you can't take pictures. But check out this 3D rendering!). Like Laocoon, it is gritty, raw, real.

Roman Basin & Mosaic
This Roman basin and the floor around it are from Ancient Rome. The basin,  from Nero's palace, is made from a single block of purple marble imported from Egypt. A single block! All the way from Egypt! Can you imagine. And all this tone is gone now! All used up by emperors and early popes. Talk about exclusive. The floor is mosaic and once decorated an Ancient Roman bath. Pretty neat.

The ceiling of the Constantine Room
This whole room, painted by Raphael, is amazing. It is the story of Constantine legalizing Christianity and ends with this pretty epic ceiling. The cross towering over the crumbled marble statue is supposed to represent Christianity's triumph over Rome. Pretty powerful stuff.

The School of Athens
This is an awesome one. These pictures are tiny, but these paintings are entire walls. Huge. Raphael painted this to pay respect for the great minds of Ancient Greece. Plato and Aristotle in the middle, Socrates to the left in green, a bald Euclid in the right foreground. And in this painting, the ancient thinkers were portrayed by Renaissance royalty. da Vinci as Plato, the guy who designed St. Peter's as Euclid. Raphael himself is in the black beret on the far right. And the 'school' is set in the under-construction-at-the-time St. Peter's. The best thing about this painting though, is Michelangelo - the man in purple in the front. When Raphael was painting this, he got a sneak peek at Mike's Sistine Chapel down the hall and knew right then it would blow everyone away. So he added him here.

(Note: This is where we lost Socorro. Yep, lost her. She went to the bathroom.... and we didn't see her for at least another hour.  Turns out she took the wrong turn and went ahead into the Sistine Chapel without us and then circled the entire Vatican Museum again.)

After this, you head through the modern art museum (which we pretty much ran though since we were frantically looking for Socorro) and then into the Sistine Chapel. A couple of notes on the Sistine Chapel...

  • It is smaller than I imagined. I'm glad we saw it before we saw St. Peter's, because that, to me, was just magnificent and nothing can compare (blog post coming soon!)
  • God reaching out to touch Adam with his finger is the most famous panel from the Chapel, and I always thought it was probably the biggest, most important.... but it is not. In fact, it kind of gets lost in everything else. You see, the Chapel depicts the history of Christianity before Christ. There are panels all around you on the walls, depicting prophets. And the ceiling starts at creation and ends with Noah's sons seeing him drunk (not sure I even remember hearing that story). There are about a million different scenes painted around you. 
  • The real focal point, though, is the Last Judgement wall. Painted 23 years after the rest, it covers one entire side of the Chapel. Jesus is in the center (in form inspired by the Belvedere Torso) with his arm raised to smite the wicked. Hell is below him and Heaven above him, though no one really looks happy. No one is smiling. There is a sense of terror. When this wall was unveiled in 1541, nothing like it had been seen before. The pope dropped to his knees and cried out, asking God for forgiveness come Judgement Day. 
Another, perhaps most important note about the Vatican - That's where Old Bridge Gelato is! Go there. If you're ever in Rome, of course.

Click here for links to all my Rome and Morocco travels!

Pinning is Winning at SXSTL

Last week, I got to do something super duper cool - sit on a panel about Pinterest at SXSTL.

Yes, SXSTL. Not SXSW. We hosted our own little shindig here in the Mound City, complete with panel discussions, networking and a bit too much weeknight partying. I was on the 'Why Pinning is Winning' panel with my good friends Lisa, Jenna, Maddie & Jess. Here we all are, looking quite pretty:
Josh Kocurek - friend and unofficial male Pinterest ambassador - served as the moderator and he asked some really great questions. I'm flattered that some people RTed and mentioned me throughout the night, and even came up to me to talk Pinterest later in the evening. Erin from SMCSTL posted a pretty amazing recap of the discussion, so make sure you head over there an check it out!

(Oh, and look! Ad Age Agrees with me on the whole image thing! I said it first.)

Ides of March

For your computer, phone or tablet background. Download here. 

A Little Sparkle with Your Polka?

red polka dot blouse from Walmart. favorite nacklace from Spike the Punch.

I considered wearing giant rhinestone earrings, too, but hey... gotta keep it simple for work, right? Happy Thursday.


Pinterest Project #1 (Fail)

To be honest, this isn't the first idea I've gotten from Pinterest. I've attempted to cook a number of items from my treats board and depend on my getting dressed board almost every morning as I pick out something to wear, but for the sake of the blog.... we're just going to call this #1.

And it failed. 

The back story: My shower sucks. When I moved into my apartment (almost 2 years ago), it was awesome. In fact, the pressure was so good it almost hurt to shower. Over the last six months or so though, it has just sucked. I swear sometimes only like three little holes have water coming out. The rest is just midst. It's tolerable, but annoying. First world problems, I know.

I got some CLR and soaked it in there for a weekend when I was out of town. When I came back, it worked awesome.... for about a week, then back to the midst. I still spray it with CLR almost everyday when I get out of the shower. That keeps it working okay. But if I forget for a few days... it's back to the midst.

I was about to give in and just buy a new shower head when I saw this trick on Pinterest: Fill a plastic bag with vinegar and tie on to your shower head to clean off any grime or build-up.

So I tried it. 

I let it soak like that for 24 hours, hoping that the Pinterest gods would bless me with a good-as-new-shower head.... Too bad that wasn't the case. 

It worked about as good as the daily CLR does, and I used up a quarter of my bottle of vinegar. Fail

I'm adding 'showerhead' back on my shopping list. 


Fish Fry Season! The Beginning.

Three fish fries have come and gone and I'm just now getting around to reviews. Sorry! Here's my first two (very brief) recollections of the fish fries visited in 2012:

#1 Ash Wednesday at St. Stephen Protomartyr
The fish tacos got me. I love fish tacos. I order them at every Mexican restaurant I go to. I couldn't resist. But they were too spicy for me (be warned: I think Taco Bell is spicy). I'm glad I ordered an extra piece of cod, just in case! Sides were fantastic. Service was beyond excellent. Beer was a little warm. :(
St Stephen Protomartyr
St Stephen Protomartyr
St Stephen Protomartyr

#2 St. Gabriel
The line was really long.... like all the way up the stairs to the top floor. But they gave out free beer. And everyone was super friendly. And they sell T-shirts.

And we're not even to the food yet.

Huge portions piled high on your real plate that you eat with real silverware. Fish and sides were both so delicious... I wanted seconds. Desserts selection was kind of sad and different depending on when you went. Lots of cold AB products.

Too many screaming children. But I'm a just a snotty twentysomething.
St Gabes
St Gabes
St Gabes
St Gabes

Coming soon: St. Agatha and St. Pius....


Morning Musings (4th Ed.)

Nothing beats the smell of the brewery in Soulard. Absolutely nothing.

Everytime I hear Nicki Minaj, I wish it was Sophia Grace instead.

I always wondered what the speed limit on Gravois was. I know I should know that, since I drive it everyday, but I had never seen a sign! This morning, I noticed not one, but two 35mph signs! I was going about 50. Oops.

In my professional life, I can point to a few specific instances that reaffirmed what I do and why I do it. This was one of them last night. Omg. Blushing.
You've probably heard of the Dad who shot his daughter's laptop after an inappropriate Facebook posting. You probably think he is nuts. I thought so at first, too. Then I watched the whole video. And to be honest, I agree 100% with what he did. His daughter was posting things she shouldn't online. They tried talking to her about it, tried grounding her and it didn't work. So they took it to the next level. They took away her computer and guaranteed that she wouldn't get it back. Do I like guns? No. Do I like shooting things at close range in fields? No. But I like responsible parenting and holding your kids accountable for their actions. Anyway, this morning, the family was on the Today Show and I like the guy even more now. He's smart, well spoken and seems to have a great relationship with his family - yes, even his daughter. And you know what? He saved the girl's hard drive! He made sure he backed up all her data - her pictures, her files, everything. He saved it and gave it to her so that when she did have a computer, she would still have all that stuff. I think that's pretty awesome. And I think that girl is actually kind of lucky to have parents that are trying to show her that what you put online matters. 


Ancient Rome: Colosseum

The Colosseum is actually the first site we saw in Rome. We were walking down there streets, trying to read the map, thinking we needed to go another block and then turn left, when we looked up and there it was right in front of us. The Colosseum is literally right in the middle of the city. One block is tall, modern (or as modern as Italy gets...) buildings and the next block, you are transported back thousands of years. It's nuts.

The Colosseum is one of those places that you have to stop yourself and think about where you are. You are standing where emperors walked. You are looking down where gladiators fought. It is unbelievable. And hard to describe. It's surreal.
These are the entrances to the Colosseum. They are massive. We learned that the hallways were called the 'vomitorium' and that the stadium would 'vomit' out 50,000 fans in 15 minutes. Whoa.
Here, you see where the floor would have been. Underneath is an intricate maze of hallways where animals and prisoners were kept and then raised up through elevators onto the floor (next picture shows these underground hallways better).
This is the floor of the Colosseum. Can you believe the detail? Why not just keep it dirt? Or throw huge slabs of stone down?
This cross was added at the '50 yard line' by 16th century popes who 'saved' the Colosseum as a tribute to all the Christians who were murdered there. Interesting though, most of the prisoners and gladiators actually weren't Christians. Wimp womp.
The Colosseum is just awesome. The walls aren't even as high today as they once were. AND there was a retractable roof. Can you believe that?

Games took place in the Colosseum for nearly 500 years.  That is longer that the U.S. has existed! Years of neglect, earthquakes and stealing has almost ruined the structure (yes, stealing- people took the stone to build other buildings around Rome, maybe even St. Peter's! It's just like the brick stealing in North St. Louis!) but hopefully it will stand as it is now for many more years. I don't want my kids to only know the Colosseum from Gladiator...

Click here for links to all my Rome and Morocco travels!

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