Friday, September 30, 2011

Caribou Coffee - Grown-up Grilled Cheese

There is a Caribou Coffee in the food court in my office building.  I'm a frequent visitor.  Basically everyday close to 3:00 I head downstairs with one or two girls from the office.  There is nothing like a mid-afternoon coffee break to get you though the last 3 hours of the day.

We participated in their summer 'buy 7 get one free' deal and got two free drinks.  The ladies behind the counter are beginning to know my name and what I want.  And they know when to expect us to show up.  There is also a Starbucks in the building but they don't participate in the fun promotions that all other Starbucks Coffees do and their people aren't as nice.  Take that Starbucks, I'm drinking my coffee from Caribou.

The new offering at Caribou is their Grown-up Grilled Cheese sandwiches.  Who doesn't love a grilled cheese sandwich?  NOBODY.  They are the 2nd easiest sandwich to make, behind a PB&J, and far more satisfying.  Well Caribou has taken it to another level.

There are 4 options of grilled cheese

  1. Three Cheese Classic with cheddar, Monterey Jack and fontina cheese
  2. Gouda Turkey Pesto
  3. Italian Chicken Melt
  4. Aged Cheddar Roast
I went with the Gouda Turkey Pesto.  Carrying it back to the office in the bag was torture, it smelled so good.  I wasn't disappointed with the sandwich in any way.  It could have been a disaster, being made at a coffee counter, but it was the opposite of a disaster, it was a grilled cheese masterpiece.  The perfect amount of each ingredient and no secret additions.  Just goodness all around.

On Fridays they have a 1/2 off deal at our location.  You know where to find me.  

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Braves' Season Has Come to an End

Stephen and I made it through our first baseball season as a couple.  We met at a tailgate for the home opener and last night the Braves ended their season in the 13th inning against the Phillies.  The Braves have been a very important part of our relationship so far, and I plan on them being there every year to come.  We are both big fans, we pass Turner Field every day to and from work and we can hear the large crowds from the house during a big game.  I can't even count the number of games that we attended together this year - but I know that each one has been special, we were there together, watching a team we both love.

A few weeks ago it looked like the Braves were on their way to the Post-Season.  We were 12 games up in the Wild Card race, we were on a winning streak, Uggla was hitting well, our pitching staff looked great - nothing could stop us.  Then we lost something like 17 of the last 25 games.  The Cardinals passed us to clinch a spot in the play offs last night with our loss and their complete domination in their game.  Braves fans seem to be in shock today.  How did we really let that go?  The Braves started selling Play-off tickets weeks ago.  I wonder how all of those people feel this morning after a 13-inning loss.

The season is over, but that doesn't mean doom and gloom until next April.  Stephen and I talked about all the good things that come out of the end of the season:

  • We don't have to keep track of baseball scores every night!
  • We can now devote all of our focus to football (Go Gators!)
  • No more game day traffic after work
  • We can work out in the evenings and not miss the game
  • The young, Braves pitchers can use this as a learning experience.  How we look in August doesn't matter if you drop the ball in September
  • Our new coaching staff can learn from this an hopefully have a new way of motivating the team after 125+ games next season
But I am sad the season is over - I'll miss sitting in the stadium on a perfect evening, under the stadium lights, cheering for every hit, with my love.  Let the countdown begin for the start of the 2012 season.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Baked Potato Pizza

Now that my after work life is beginning to slow down and I'm not living between two houses (the move is almost done!) I have time again to make a dinner menu for the week.  It was perfect timing because my Food Network Magazine arrived that day and it was full of new recipes that I want to try.  I'll be writing about those in the next few days.

One of my all-time favorite things about the magazine is the tear-out booklet in each issues.  Each month it focuses on one ingredient, eggs, spaghetti sauce, baked potatoes or Christmas cookies, and it provides 50 recipes for that one ingredient.  Some are pretty basic, some pretty outrageous and some just perfect for me to try.  Let's be serious, that means they don't scare me.

This month the booklet focuses on Baked Potatoes and it provides 50 different ways to stuff a potato.  I chose to make a Pizza Baked Potato.

The first step is always the same - bake your potato in the oven until cooked, about 60 min at 400 degrees.  I used two pretty big potatoes and we had to add 10 minutes to the cook time.  I learned that the internal temperature should be 210 degrees if you have a nice thermometer.

Once the potato is cooked, let it cool for a few minutes until you can handle it.  Slice it open and scoop out all of the insides and place in a bowl.  Mix the potato with tomato sauce.  No real measurement here, add to taste, but you want the potato to be red.  I didn't have tomato sauce because it was used in something else being cooked in the kitchen (Stephen's delicious chili - so much cooking at one time!) so I used regular marinara sauce and didn't taste a difference.

Stir in 2 tsp of dried oregano.

Spoon the mixture back into the potato skins.  Top with Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese and sliced Pepperoni.  You could also add any of your other favorite pizza toppings at this point.  Put the Pizza Potatoes back in the oven under the broiler until the cheese melts and begins to brown, like the top of a pizza.

Enjoy!  Our large potatoes were enough for each of us to have a half a potato at dinner and another at lunch the next day.  Because the Pizza Potatoes worked so well I'll be buying potatoes all the time now and topping with new things or left over ingredients in the fridge.

I also learned a new trick to make the skins crisp and delicious.  Before you bake the potato, clean the skin of course and then rub down with some EVOO and then roll in corse salt.  Then stab with the fork before placing in the oven.  The skins of our Pizza Potatoes was one of my favorite parts.

I'm not sure why I didn't take pictures... I'm sorry.  But trust me, it's delicious!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Le Giverny - Restaurant Review

We surprised Stephen's grandma the other night when we showed up at dinner.  For the big event we dined at the French restaurant, Le Giverny Bistro.  The restaurant is actually in a hotel, The Emory Inn, for those of you who go looking for it.

The website is pretty informative and we were excited, as always, to try someplace new.  Being in a hotel threw me because I tend to stay away from hotel restaurants, I get enough of those when I travel.  The dining room was packed, but I must say, our table was the youngest table in the room.  Stephen and I had to be the youngest people in the room, next to his mom.

Our server was knowledgeable when it came to the menu, but I learned later that she didn't know anything about the wine menu when first asked.  A little unexpected for such a nice and expensive restaurant.  We ordered a few appetizers, the favorite being the warm brie in a honey glaze with grilled flat bread.  (I looked on the online menu and it's not listed for the official, French name.)  It was absolutely delicious.  We've had baked brie with bread and apples before, we'll be adding honey next time.

For our entrees we each went with something a little different and everyone enjoyed their meal.  I had the Truite Grenobloise, fresh rainbow trout with almonds, capers and asparagus.  It was my first time with trout and I enjoyed it.  I also love anything with capers.  The asparagus wasn't good however, it was very twig-like and over cooked.  I prefer mine to be green and crisp with a crunch to them.  Stephen had the salmon and was pleased with his choice.  The plate was clean at the end of the meal.

The desserts were split between the four of us with some coffee.  A great way to end the meal.  Le Giverny has fantastic food, but in terms of atmosphere, there are plenty of other great restaurants in Atlanta with a better atmosphere.  It also annoyed me that before 10:00, what I'm pretty sure was closing time, a waiter came out of the kitchen into the dining room, untucked his shirt in front of the tables (showing skin, not in a good way) and then walked around to all of the tables collecting the candles and blowing them out.  Now I worked in a restaurant for years in college and I understand the urgency one might feel to begin closing duties - but I'd never do them as blatantly as this gentleman did BEFORE the dining room was closed.  And just because the dining room is closed doesn't mean the tables still eating should have to see some guy cleaning up the room.  It made me feel very rushed.

If you're looking for good food and don't care about the atmosphere, it's delicious.  If you're looking for a place to take your grandmother or grandfather, it's perfect!  Would I recommend to any of my friends, not likely.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wicked at the Fox Theater

Four years ago my sister moved up to NYC for a job in fashion.  I went up for her birthday week and bought us tickets to see Wicked.  It was the hot show at the time and we were both dying to see it.  Then there was the strike and all of the shows shut down for a week during negotiations.  That was the week I was in town to see the show.  I was refunded my money and my sister got to go shopping, but we didn't get to see the show.

Fast forward to early 2011.  Wicked was coming back to Atlanta in the Fall.  I asked all my friends who might be interested and we booked tickets the first day they were available.

The show has been in town for a little over a week and all of the posts on facebook of people going to the show were driving me nuts.  When would it be our turn!?!  Last night our date had finally arrived.  Four of us met for dinner at Top Flr (still, after a 2nd trip, it's one of my favorite places in Atlanta) for a quick dinner then we were off to The Fox Theater to see Wicked.  I was a little worried that I had built up the show so much in my head that it wouldn't deliver, I'm so glad I was wrong.

We were sitting in row DD of the Orchestra section, not bad seats.  Elphaba was played by Dee Roscioli, the actress who has played the character more times than anyone else.  She was unbelievable.  Defying Gravity was everything I hoped it would be.  It brought tears to the eyes of the 5 of us ladies in the group.

Glinda was played by Amanda Jane Cooper.  I kept picturing Kristin Chenoweth.  Not that she wasn't good, she was fantastic, but I really wanted to see Kristin.  Fiyero, played by Colin Hanlon wasn't as strong as I wanted him to be, but he's forgiven because of how great the other two characters were.  I wanted a strong male voice, like the Phantom, and he wasn't that.

The story follows Elphaba and Glinda, both witches, as young girls, before Dorothy's house came crashing down in Oz.  Wicked is the story of friendship between the two girls and raises the question, are people born evil, or is it something that happens to them?  The story also answers the questions as to how some of the characters in the Wizard of Oz happen to be and gives us a background story to why the wizard would leave with Dorothy at the end of the movie.  It's fascinating to see someone else's take on the story.

If you haven't seen the show, please pick up tickets the next time it's in your city.  It was well worth 4 years of waiting, I only wish I had seen it earlier.

After the show the cast was collecting donations for charity.  Of course we were going to donate.  I just didn't know how much and the surprise Stephen had up his sleeve.  For a $60 donation you got a Wicked poster signed by the cast.  With out discussion Stephen was buying it for me.  Apparently he had been planning on buying me one all along.  I'm one lucky girl.

Sheena's New Home

If you know me, you know that I have the tendency to stress out quickly in some situations.  If I feel like I've lost control, I stress out.  We had a 2nd dog in the house for a week.  We've had a 2nd dog a few times, but this was different because we had to keep her separate from Mabel.  I was stressed.  But not only did we have to take care of Sheena, we had to find her a home.

Through the wonders of social networking we were able to find a couple who wanted to adopt Sheena in Auburn, AL.  We spent most of the week emailing and on phone calls to make sure they were the right home for the adorable puppy.  Stephen and I decided that they passed all of our questions and concerns so I was driving out there Saturday morning to see their house and introduce them and their dog to Sheena.

The drive was fine, she slept the entire way and as soon as we got to the house she was playing in the backyard with their dog.  The couple was great and it was obvious they love their pets and take good care of them.  Sheena will have a playmate and a big, fenced in backyard to run.  Leaving was very difficult for me.  I knew I liked her, but I didn't know how much until I had to say goodbye to her.  I started crying immediately and had to quickly leave the house.  I cried a lot of the 90 min drive home, happy tears and sad tears.  She's in a better place with a home that is perfect for her.

During this process it was shocking to me how many dog rescue groups are out there and how little they can do to help someone in our situation.  They want to save the animals, yet when someone is in need of a foster family, not a single one from Atlanta to Memphis could help.  If we were in a situation where we absolutely couldn't have kept Sheena in the house, we would have had to take her to Animal Control where she would have been put down in 5 days.  Some of the shelters or rescue groups I called didn't even respond or I got an automatic email response to my requests for help or informaiton.  I understand that there are a lot of stray and unwanted dogs out there and I don't have the solution, but it seems to me the current system is flawed.  And there needs to be some awareness on the issue - if you find a dog, shelters can't help, the Humane Society can't help, don't even bother calling.  The websites where you should be able to post that you found a dog, don't help.  It's one of the most frustrating situations.  I'm just glad that we were able to give her a home for a week.

Stephen and I with miss that silly little face around the house.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I've been slacking

Here is the problem with moving: it consumes every single non-working moment until it's done.  Weekends are split between packing boxes, unpacking boxes, trying to rearrange the house to fit the unpacked belongings and trying to fit some fun into the days.  Work nights are no different.  As my dad says, "When you move, you end up touching everything you own, twice."

I haven't had much time to try anything new, unless you count slowly moving in with my wonderful boyfriend AND taking care of two dogs that can't play together.  I haven't had much time to research and try new things.

Tomorrow I'm taking Sheena, the pit bull, to Auburn, AL to meet and introduce her to a potential family.   Hopefully I'll be driving back from Alabama down one dog.  Please say some prayers.

If I can get all of the stuff that's in my apartment that fits into my car from the apartment to the house this weekend - next week I'll get back to doing more exciting things.  Thanks for staying tuned!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Found: Sweet, Grey Pit Bull

Friday morning our friend, Richard, was going to work and this little lady was lounging on his back patio like it was her home.

She had a collar and leash attached, but none of the numbers listed for her work.  She is even microchipped and there is no information listed for her owners.  We've put up signs all over the neighborhood, a listing on Craigslist and with the Fulton County Animal Control.  Nothing yet.

Because she's a pit bull we're scared to take her to AC.  All stray dogs have to go through AC in Georgia before they can be placed with a rescue group or with the Humane Society.  If they are with AC past 5 days the other groups can pick up the dogs.  Every rescue group we've called is full or won't take her breed.

She's absolutely adorable.  She love to cuddle more than I do - if you can believe that.  She's housebroken and crate trained (note: she isn't happy about it, but she knows it's her home.)  She hasn't chewed anything in the house and we even let her out of the crate for one night.  We took her to the vet to be looked at and she's in perfect health.  She's fixed and no more than 2 years old.

If there is anyone out there who recognizes this little girl or who would love to give her a loving, forever home, please email me or comment on this post.  We can't keep her.

Weekend Projects

Our weekend wasn't only dedicated to the new addition to the house, we hosted a BBQ and tackled some projects around the house.

We had two successful projects, one failure.  Not bad for our first weekend working together.  We tried to strip the paint from the gold mirror I found at a yard sale - well, stripping the paint also melted the plastic of the mirror.  Fail.  Oh well.  I'm sure that's one of many project we'll try over the years that doesn't go according to plan.

Because I'm moving in and bringing the ton of stuff that I own, we needed to add storage to the bathroom and reinforce the closets.  We added a cabinet that goes behind the toilet to the master bath - it's amazing!  We even had an issue with it tipping forward, we fixed that and it's more stable than I ever thought it would be.

The closet was a success too!  We put really nice hardware into the studs and that shelf and pole aren't coming down unless the house comes down.  Bring on the clothes!

While we were at Lowes we also picked up some paint samples for the master bedroom and bath and the living room.  More on that as we paint.  I'll take more pictures.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Last night after date night at the gun range (more on that later) I headed over to a restaurant in the Highlands that I've been wanting to try for a long time, Rosebud, with Stephen, Jessica and Richard.  It is located across the street from the Yoforia that Stephen and I hit up about once a week and I've been asking to go forever.

We arrived around 8:00 and the place was pretty packed.  We were lucky there was a table for us, in the future we'll make a reservation to make sure.  It feels a little bit like Parish in Inman Park, but more country vs Cajun. There are walls of exposed brick, a big iron pig at the front window (we named it Rosebud), a pretty big bar and tons of little rooms.  I was surprised at how big the place was.  I'm pretty sure there is a patio too, but it was the first chilly night last night so we didn't venture that way.

The beer, wine and cocktail list is impressive, we each ordered a drink and then we ordered our food.   The menu isn't extensive but each of us found several entrees that we wanted.  They have set specials for every night of the week and that's what I focused on.  Last night's special was Spaghetti with Lobster Meatballs.  YES PLEASE!  To hold the meatballs together they used some sort of scallop paste.  It was delicious.  Stephen went with the shrimp and grits and almost licked the casserole dish clean.  Yep, his meal came out in a full casserole dish.  Speaking of presentation, everything was beautiful.  Richard and Jessica both got a chicken sandwich and there wasn't much left of either of those when the check came.

Rosebud isn't a cheap date, and it's not overly priced at all, but well worth the cost of the food.  My meal had lobster meatballs and was less than $20.

I can't wait for an official date night so I can ask to head back to Rosebud :)

Are you still wondering about date night at the gun range?  Here's the deal:

QuickShot Indoor Range near Emory has date night on Thursday night where two people shoot for the price of one.  Shooting can be expensive if you have to buy the range's ammo, so this is a deal!  Gun rental and your eyes and ears are included in the cost.  They get ya with the ammo cost.  The four of us went to shoot, Jess and I shot my .38 special and the boys shot their guns.  I liked sharing with another girl - less pressure.  My accuracy is getting better.  Practice makes perfect!

QuickShot is also the only indoor range inside the perimeter - bonus!  Bonus 2x - homemade cookies.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Driving down I-20 to South Carolina

This past weekend was my first trip with Stephen.  It went perfectly!  I've had more stress and awkward moments traveling with some of my girlfriends, with Stephen there was none of that.  AND we even took Mabel with us.

I know Mabel isn't officially my dog.  She'll always be Stephen's dog.  But I love her like she was my own.  (Except for 4am bathroom breaks - then she's all Stephen's.)  I never thought I'd be one of those dog owners who loves to talk about his or her dog.  Well I am, so here we go.  This post is dedicated to Sweet Mabel.  Traveling with Stephen for my first trip only seemed natural to have Mabel in the back seat.  Off we went to South Carolina - the 3 of us.

We had to bring Mabel's crate with us and it spend the first 90 min in the back seat with Mabes.  She wasn't happy.  She couldn't do her full circle before laying down so there was a lot of whining and trying to get into the front seat to my lap.  When we stopped for lunch we moved it to the trunk and Mabel could finally get some rest.

Our first stop of the weekend was Columbia, SC to visit a friend who had recently moved.  We went out to watch the USC in their game against UGA in Athens followed by the UF game.  It was a nice quiet evening with friends.  We didn't spend much time in Columbia, but I will say, I heard and read the word "cocks" more than I have in my lifetime up to that point - and we were there less than 24 hours.  They really take the word Gamecocks to a new level.

USC's stadium.  Stephen said it was big.  Looks pretty small to me :)

After breakfast we were back on the road to Charleston, SC to visit Stephen's cousin, Chrissy.  Mabel slept the entire way there.  What a good girl!  When we arrived Mabel met Chrissy's dog, Molly.  Let's just say they don't get a long.  There was a little blood, some loud yelling from one dog to another and some stressed out dog owners.  Molly is fine.  Mabel will never meet another small, female dog again.  

Once we were sure Molly was okay, the three of us adults headed to Folly Beach for some lunch at The Crab Shack (the best seafood in SC!).  If you've ever driven to Folly Beach, there is one road from the main land.  Off to the side of the road is a beached boat that has become somewhat of a landmark.  Anyone is welcome to paint the boat at any time.  I can't even imagine how much paint is on this boat.  Sunday was the 10 year anniversary of 9/11/01.  

That pretty much speaks for itself.  It's a day I'll never forget.  

After lunch/dinner we headed home, said our goodbyes and drove back to the beach with Mabel.  If we were in Folly Beach, we were going to let Mabel play in the ocean for the first time.  

She LOVED it.  She wasn't too sure of the waves coming at her, she probably thought they were solid, but once the wave passed she was back to leaping through the water.  What a happy puppy.  I wish I had a video of her jumping over the waves. 

Stephen and I were both clothed so we couldn't go deep into the water but Mabel had a blast.  The water wasn't cold and the weather was perfect.  One wave went over her head and she got salt water in her eyes for the first time.  She wasn't too happy about that but got over it quickly.  I can't wait to take her back to the beach for a longer trip.

Our wet little puppy, happy as can be. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Heads up!

Stephen and I went to watch the Braves play the Dodgers and we had great seats in the second level behind home plate.  We were just in front of the 3rd level's balcony and we were never in the sun.  I love those seats.  We took our friends, Ryan and Amanda, who are also huge Braves fans.  We go to so many games it's nice to go with people who actually want to watch the game.  The Chop House is fun, but not when the Braves are doing so good on top of the Wild Card.

During the game, foul balls were flying all over the place, several pretty close to us.  Stephen brought his glove with him, just in case.  I'm pretty sure it was in the 8th inning, Freddie Freeman was up to bad.  Foul Ball right over our heads.  It hit the section above us and Stephen was ready for it to bounce back to us.  AND IT DID!  Definitely my first time being with someone who caught a foul ball.

How exciting!

Me with the foul ball.  You may wonder why I'm wearing a Star Wars shirt.  Well, Dragon*Con was in town.  If you don't know anything about Dragon*Con, look it up.  Google pictures - it's amazing.  One of my dearest friends works on the Cartoon Network show, The Clone Wars.  When she started working on the show she developed a sci-fi clothing line for girls and women, most of the shirts have a Star Wars focus.  I saw her earlier in the day at her booth and picked up a shirt.  Check out her website - Her Universe.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

All Fired Up Pottery

Last week a friend and I used a Groupon for pottery studio, All Fired Up.  Similar to the painting class that we attended together, you can bring your own wine to the studio... there is a trend, I know.

It goes like this.  You pick out your blank piece of pottery from an entire wall of options from salt and pepper shakers to Disney characters to picture frames and serving dishes.  Kristen and I both chose serving platters to decorate.  The time in the studio is free so you can really take your time painting.  Where they get you is in the cost of the pottery.  My dish was $50.  I wouldn't pay that much for most stuff in my kitchen, but I'm happy with my end result, so it's okay.

We chose a smilar theme, you'll notice below.  And we each spend some time at work researching for ideas.

Here is how it began.

Then I had to pencil in what I wanted to do.   Interesting note - pencil marks will burn off in the firing process.  Thank goodness!

Not sure why it's sideways, but you get the idea.  Not only did I have to draw it all in pencil, then I had to paint it all then draw it again with the black paint pen.  My hands shook the whole time.

Kristen's "work of art".  I use the quotes because our plates don't like each other.  But it looks great.

The finished product!!  Stephen agreed to throw a party at the house for the UF vs UT game on Sept 17 so I can use my dish.  Perfectly acceptable reason for a party.

Another fun note - it's dishwasher safe!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Movie Review: Crazy Heart

Again, I seem to be about a year behind on last year's big winners at the Oscars.  But it makes managing a Netflix queue easier when you spread out all the really good movies.

Crazy Heart is the story of old, washed up country singer Bad Blake.  He's in his late 50s and he's driving his beat up truck all around New Mexico, Texas and Arizona playing sets in bowling alleys and run down bars.  He's an alcoholic and slowly, his life seems to be killing him.  He meets a young beauty played by Maggie Gyllenhaal and she changes his life.

The movie is fantastically acted - when has Jeff or Maggie ever disappointed? - the singing by Jeff is unreal and the story, while familiar, is fresh.  It's painful to watch what Bad Blake does to himself everyday and my heart ached for him several times during the film.  Part of me wanted to jump through the screen and slap him and tell him to shape up!

It's a movie about real life and how the paths of two people can intertwine and change their futures.  Definitely worth watching.  4 out of 5 starts from Katie.

On to other news:

Today is September 1.  In one month, just 30 days, I'll be officially moved into Stephen's house.  I've already moved close to 7 or 8 boxes and unpacked most of them.  I like that I'm slowly moving in so it doesn't feel like I'm taking over the house like it would if I moved all of my stuff in in just one day.  With things already unpacked and up on the walls in some rooms it's already beginning to feel like my place as well.

We have a jam packed weekend ahead of us, our favorite kind of weekend, but no plans for Monday yet. I want to start moving in some clothes, even if just my winter clothes.  Moving clothes is always such a pain in the butt.  It feels so good to be moving in.  How's that for something I've never done!