Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Out on the Town

This past weekend Sean and I went out with friends 2 nights in a row – that’s T-W-O – which is way a bit out of the ordinary for us. We enjoyed ourselves, but boy did we feel old! Maybe I shouldn’t speak for Sean…ok, I felt old. Going out with friends isn’t quite what it used to be. Come midnight, I’m ready to crash. I was proud of us, though – we hung in there with the young folk.

Sean’s good friend Price was driving through town and stopped to stay with us Friday night. I was so excited – “A house guest is coming! A house guest is coming!” It was the perfect excuse for a nice steak dinner. Afterwards we decided that Price, being the cool and casual California man, needed a real taste of Nashville. We headed to town with one destination in mind - Lonnie’s Western Room…there’s no place like it on earth. Just a step above Hole-in-the-Wall status, Lonnie’s is a small, crowded, smoky karaoke bar on Printer’s Alley. And y’all, people in Nashville take their karaoke seriously. Lonnie’s only takes cash, and their beer is served by the bucket. Don’t even think about getting the munchies here because they don’t serve food. No fear, though – you can order up a super-delicious hot dog or BBQ sammich from Joe just outside the entrance. Lonnie would probably let you order a pizza, but I’ve never tried…at least not yet. Scoring a seat in the VIP lounge is a treat. With mirror-clad walls, torn vinyl seats and a big skull on the wall what more could you want? Plus, there’s room for dancing up there, and a girl’s gotta dance when some drunken redneck starts singing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing’.” Unfortunately for us, Lonnie’s wasn’t all the white-trash glory we had hoped for. Lonnie recently opened another lounge on the other side of town, and I’m guessing he took all of his regulars and staff over there.

Here's a shot of Printer's Alley

Here I am at Lonnie's (June '07)
Emily and Sherri enjoying the VIP lounge
See, I told you the hot dogs were good!

Since Lonnie’s was somewhat of a bust, we decided to check out Paradise Park on Broadway. It’s a relatively new concept bar. The concept? Trailer Trash. But unlike Lonnie’s, this redneck vibe is not original. Still, it was a pretty neat place, and I’m definitely looking forward to going back. These people went to great lengths to recreate the glory of the All-American White Trash Trailer Park. It may not be authentic, but it’s pretty darn close: green Astroturf, broken lawn chairs, a beat-up Dodge Charger, plastic cups, patty melts, and a Wall of Mullets!

Price left Saturday morning to continue his trip up to West Virginia. (Why do I always say “West Virginny” in my head when I think of that state?) Sean and I laid around in our PJ’s until 5 p.m. It was the laziest Saturday I’ve had in years! And it was wonderful. The only reason we got showers and cleaned up was because we had plans to meet friends at Big Bang. I may have mentioned Big Bang before…I can’t remember. It’s the dueling piano bar, and it’s a lot of fun if you like singing along to pop music with a bunch of strangers….which I do. My throat usually hurts after leaving Big Bang because I scream sing along to the music.

So, that’s our weekend in a nutshell. Everything is back to normal – work, gym, dinner, sleep, work gym, dinner sleep….

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's and Lost

Love was definitely in the air yesterday. Valentine’s Day is just another day for some people, but for me it was a chance to gush over Sean even more than I usually do. I received a beautiful arrangement of violet-colored orchids (it pays to have your mother-in-law be a florist!). As my co-workers passed my cubicle they would stop and ask, “Are those for Valentine’s Day?” Well, Dummy, why else would I have flowers at my desk on February 14TH? The orchids are so cool…much sassier than red roses, which is probably why there was so much confusion surrounding them. Yes, my husband sends me orchids on Valentine’s because he’s thoughtful, creative, and because he thinks roses are just too boring. I love him.

After work and a quick stop at the gym, I met Sean at the house and we freshened up for dinner. He had reservations for 7:15 at The Yellow Porch which is right down the street from our house. The fact that we were dining in our neighborhood gave me a little sense of pride. Once a house itself, The Yellow Porch is now a notable restaurant tucked away in a small lot off Thompson Lane. Even after dining there on several occasions, I still have trouble spotting it. Oh, and by the way, the porch is not yellow.

The atmosphere at The Yellow Porch is difficult to describe. From the menu to the décor, everything is an eclectic blend coolness. It’s one of those places where you feel comfortable wearing your “going out” jeans and a black turtleneck while sitting next to a man in a suit. Because it’s an old house, the dining room is much smaller than a traditional restaurant so you have to enjoy being a cozy diner….a really cozy diner. The lighting is low, the walls and curtains are velvet red, and original artwork and stained glass give it some flare.

The Valentines Day menu offered some fanciful new dishes, but when it came to the starters we went straight for the classic muscles. There’s no way we could pass on the warm, garlicky, buttery white wine dippin’ sauce. For the entrée I chose Lamb in Chianti au jus with Cranberry Beans. I know what you’re thinking – cranberry beans? I’m right there with you. I was a little hesitant to order the dish based on the beans alone, and I even consulted our server who assured me they were tasty. I was worried they would be too sweet or fruity, and I just didn’t want sweet beans. Who does, really? The beans were basically a jazzed up version of kidney beans (I think) that had some little bits of i-don’t-know-what (cranberries?) floating around in them. But the beans were more savory than they were sweet, which made my belly happy. The lamb was spot-on and the au jus was perfectly thick and rich. Sean decided on the Abodo Marinated Port Porterhouse with Sweet Potato, Sage and Parmesan Hash, Haricot Vert and Whole Grain Mustard Thyme Sauce. (Thank you, Website, for providing such a detailed description.) FYI: Haricot Vert = French Green Beans. I’d be perfectly fine with the menu reading “Green Beans,” but I understand they need to keep up appearances. We wouldn’t want any straggling tasteless diners from Applebee’s wandering over from next door, would we? I’d say the prices and Haricot Vert are enough to keep them at bay.

Sean and I thoroughly enjoyed our meal and each other’s company. It was the perfect dinner date with my Valentine, and there was no need to rush home to watch LOST because Sean set the VCR. (Yes, you heard me…VCR!) There was only one small problem…we set the VCR to start taping at 9:00 p.m. which is exactly when LOST ends!!! We realized our mistake at approximately 8:10 just after the show had started. What to do!? Do we rush home to catch the last half? It was decided that we would order dessert to make up for our devastating error. The Chocolate Espresso Torte was enough to make me forget about the island. Oooey gooey rich and creamy…it was heavenly. The slice we split was like the luscious filling of a chocolate truffle, and it disappeared from the plate in about 30 seconds flat.

So what does a couple of D.I.N.Ks like us do after a lovely Valentine’s dinner? Candles and wine? Not quite. We came home, changed into PJ’s and pulled out the guitar. Sean played a rendition of Rocky Top that sounded much like a Coldplay song. (Give him a break – he’s still learning.) We then busted into a jam session – Sean playing melodramatic chords while I sang along. “Lost, we missed you tonight….we missed you tonight…we missed you tonight. Who will get off the island? We still do not know…we still do not know…we still do not know….” It. Was. AWESOME.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pictures from New Years Eve 2007

I promised these pictures almost a month ago and they're finally here!
Adrienne, Me and Jolene
(I'm making a weird smile, and that's a 2008 stick-on tattoo you see on my chest.)

You can't do New Year's Eve without having a dance party!

Just mingling...

Richard and Tiffany chillin' and keeping away from the dance party.

Canned wine? Ok! It's bubbly!

Sean enjoys some of Sarah Anne's homemade vanilla mousse - De-freakin-licious!

Gather 'round the table for some grub

I really wish I could remember who Cole was insulting in this shot...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Knit This

This is the old pair of socks from 5 years ago. I'm using 2 circular needles to create these.
This is the new pair of socks from the Threaded Bliss class. I'm using multiple double poited needles to get the same circular effect.

There's been a knitting revival in the Carroll household, folks! I spent the past 3 Saturdays at Threaded Bliss in Brentwood participating in a sock class. Yes, socks. No more boring scarves for me. I'm on to bigger and better knits...

The last time I attempted socks was in college about 5 years ago. I suffered from "Second Sock Syndrome" which means after knitting the first sock, I never finished the second one. And five years later, I couldn't even begin to interpret the pattern. Lucky for me, I visited Threaded Bliss during their first session of Socks 101, and I signed up on the spot.

The class is from 9:00-10:30 a.m., but I rarely make it home before 1:00 in the afternoon. At first I felt guilty for abandoning Sean...but I do think he enjoys his alone time on lazy Saturdays. I'm not at home asking him to pitch in with chores. He gets to drink a full pot of coffee, lay around in PJs, play computer games, and read the paper...all in silence.

So what exactly do I do at the knit shop for 4 hours? Well, in addition to the new pair of socks from the class, I dug out the old pair from 5 years ago! The instructor Emily is a knitting genius and has helped me bring the dead pair back to life. Sitting in the store for so long gets me inspiried to work on other projects. I picked up a skein of gorgeous yellow for a hat that I hope to make after the socks are done. And just yesterday I bought a book called Itty Bitty Hats so I can give baby gifts to all my pregnant friends. Yes, people, I said MY FRIENDS. (Don't even go there...)

The knit shop is a lot like a beauty salon. Women of all kinds sitting around a big table, gossping, sharing stories...except they're all knitting instead of cutting hair. Those of you who know me probably think I'm one of the ring leaders of girl talk, but that's not so...I take my knitting seriously. I get into the "kntting zone," and I don't do a whole lot of talking. Instead, I enjoy watching, listening, and soaking in the environment. It's much like the mood I get in when I'm at the airport. Being in a public place like that is like watching television. I get lost in other people's stories, and I fill in the missing details on my own. Before I know it, hours and hours have passed, and I literally have to pull myself away from the knit shop.

I would love to have a knit shop of my own one day. Obviously, it wouldn't be for financial gain, but rather a chance to share my own cozy space with the community. You never know...