Sunday, July 31, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Carry on, now....
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
Monday, July 4, 2011
Jonathan cut holes in a pizza box to make cup cake holders. He might just be brilliant, but he's moved to Nashville so I'll never know for sure ;).
Miss Ollie's was okay. It was friendly chatter with strangers for a few hours. Eventually, I was socially drained and ready to go. In terms of celebrating my birthday, eh, they didn't care as they didn't know me. But, it wasn't a big enough bang for it to really be a yeah or neigh on did they fold me in as bday girl. What is true is that it was my first time venturing out to build a social life and that taking that first step is a wonderful birthday present to myself.
The next day, my friend Monica, who I met earlier than Miss Ollie's on Friday, sent me a text inviting me out for a birthday celebration. We went to Century Farms winery, tried all of their wines, then bought a bottle of Peach Lady to split over music. Steve Short & Scott Myatt were the musicians for the night. They were okay. The music was aimed for an older and whiter crowd than myself, but I enjoyed being there. I recognized the Eric Clapton tunes, at least.
Monica and I made the winery trip into a picnic. She made yummy guacamole and surprised me with a fruit-topped birthday cake. I had tortilla chips and hummus. Funny what easy things one can become full from eating. Anyhow, this surprising, meaningful outing has convinced me that Monica just might be one of the best people in the world. She's the first person I've met that I truly look forward to getting to know better and having as a friend friend (as opposed to just a social friend that I see only at organized, group outings).
Thursday, the day of my birthday, Tammy was supposed to come and see me. My dad also mentioned coming, but changed his mind so not to interfere with Tammy & my plans. Tammy didn't come. I was devastated. She gave reasons that made no sense to me. She verbally started back peddling on the plan days before. I shouldn't have been surprised that she wasn't there, but I was, or at least I was crushed. I think my dad was too. He expected her to be with me when he called to send birthday wishes but I was alone. I hated hearing that sadness in his voice, as I knew he wanted to be with me. This situation gave him many dad loving points and raised his standing in my eyes. He really, really tried to give me what I wanted for my birthday (plan wise) and did his part to have those things happen. But Tammy was the other part. My birthday being as it was, I refused to stay home and mope. This incident, though justified in her eyes, has given me the push I needed to really let go this time. Of course, I let go of her in December but landed back in her arms in March. I guess we'll see what happens but I do hope and will it to be a very long break if nothing else. I normally wait at least 3 months after a relationship's end to start being involved with someone else but in this case, I need a date! New date, help me in protecting myself. Lol. Okay, moving along.... I planned to take Tammy to Olive Garden with some gift cards I've received on previous gift giving days. Instead, I took myself. I ate too much, waited an hour, then went to swim class. The kids at the pool all remembered my birthday. That made me feel really good. Plus, over 110 greetings on facebook?! Wow! I don't think I've left that many bday posts in the 4 years I've been on fb. I definitely felt the drab of Tammy not coming to be with me for my birthday, but I made it and tried to party up the day for what it was. After all, I was able to eat dessert at Olive Garden and didn't even have to share it ;).
The Saturday after my birthday, my mom came up to see me. You can get a lot of the details about that trip in my blog detailing the quality of the places we visited. In short, we went to Crown Winery in Humbolt, followed by Century Farms Winery in Jackson for better wine, ate a selection of 8 cheeses, spinach and artichoke cheese dip, homemade salsa by my friends Mandy and Ed in GA, and about five different types of crackers, then followed that with dinner from a self-proclaimed steak house downtown, Dixie Castle.
Sunday was Happy 4th of July Day. My dad came up, I think because he didn't come on my birthday, and we went to a cookout that evening. Two women in Drinking Liberally hosted the cookout and people from multiple groups with which they're involved showed. I enjoyed myself. I think my dad did too. Another social perk: I connected with a book club that evening. I'll meet with them in August, as I'm unavailable for their July meeting. This does work against my goal of reading the books I own this year, since I'm no longer in a book club, but both angles can be worked.I met a person or two at the cookout that I'd like to keep up with, but sadly I wasn't assertive enough to get their number and I can't find one of them on facebook as friends with other people that I've met.
This, my friends, ends my week of celebrating another year of my life.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Humbolt Winery (pictures above) is beautiful. It reminded me of something out of Spain. It was large so I was hoping for quite the winery experience. As seems customary for wineries, there was a dog. A black retriever, perhaps? The dog was kind. It stayed away from you unless you asked for something else. Even then, it was gentle. Old? Tired? Kind. The store in the lobby or whatnot of the winery was nice. The items were cute, the prices okay. I bought a magnet for me and another for a friend. I bought napkins that say, "I cook with wine. Sometimes, I put it in the food." Brilliant! That describes me (almost) to a tee. I like the wine while cooking more than I do with the food. lol. I cook and drink the better of my choices for dining given the night's menu. I bought one package of napkins thinking I'll like to use them if I manage to have that wine tasting pot luck for my 30th bday. The wine and staff of this Crown Winery in Humbolt are all a different story than the rest of my experience there.
Crown Winery features something like 13 wines for tasting. In the beginning, they were BAD. A white, male/female couple began tasting wines just before we arrived. They were on wine 3. The lady pouring put them on pause so mom and I could catch up. We 4 went through 3 red wines liking none of them. Vino Buono was a "maybe" for me, then came another no. In the end, there were 3 wines I considered for purchase and two that got mom's attention (1 overlap). We both agreed that the Solo Mio was okay. We wouldn't buy it for our collections but agreed that it was a good, safe choice when taking a wine to someone's house for dinner. It was safe, not great. The lady that poured took away glasses with haste, something I have not seen at any of the other 3 or 4 wineries I've visited. I realize that's not a lot for comparison's sake but they all had something in common: the employees went with the flow of the customer to try to make a sell. Not the lady at Crown. She took away the glasses then told the couple to meet her at the register once they decided what they wanted to buy. Mom and I compared notes, then decided to browse their delightful store before making our decision. I suggested retesting the 4 I liked and 2 she liked before making our final decision. I asked the lady that poured about a tour-- she gave a half answer and turned to walk away. I asked for clarity. She turned back, turn, run. Once more! Blah. We'll get no tour, mom and I decided. Then I whispered, do you want to go the winery that has good wine? A few of these were okay but the other one's BETTER. "Okay" was her shocking response.
In the car, mom said something that I should have instantly noted: the lady doesn't like blacks. Racist. (Go work somewhere in a hole where we don't come, ma'am). A young, black couple came in after us but a jolly man helped them with their wine tasting. The woman said nothing to them. She interacted with the couple some during our tasting. She spoke to mom and I only when requested. She was rude. I noticed her rudeness and wrote it off to her being one of those people. With mom's statement, I saw the truth. She really wasn't rude or short to the white couple, only us.
Using our (horrible!) "good" directional intuition, mom and I hopped on the road and headed to Jackson's own Century Farms Winery. I love that place. I enjoy it more with each subsequent visit. Today's trip made visit #3. Mom enjoyed their wines as well as the staff. Their strawberry, cayuga, and traminette blow Crown Winery's version of them out of the water. The guy that facilitated our tasting offered us a tour (without us asking!) and showed up the machines they use to make and store wine, the filters to keep out stuff Americans don't like too much, and the vineyards. Mom and I are both inquisitive and I watched him get cut off by her more than once as she asked a new question while he was answering the last. I wouldn't at all be surprised if I did the same thing as I saw how similar she and I are from that interaction. Poor guy. Why not be kind though? He made $125+ from us and making sells is part of why he's there. But, he was kind before he knew we would buy. I mentioned having been there before so yeah, we'd buy something but 4 bottles and things from their store (how much wine stuff can we buy in one day, huh?)?! Sadly, they had some of the same things the other place had and mom and I both agreed we would have preferred to give our money to Century Farms. Apparently, 5 people keep the operation going at Century Farms. We also learned nuggets of information about TN's wine laws. It was a delightful day. I'm glad mom agreed to try that second winery, mostly because it allowed her to leave and say she got a good experience out of our winery trips.
Later that day, we tried Dixie Castle in downtown Jackson. One of my co-workers recommended it for good steak at a good price. First impression? Well, let me forgive their name choice and go to this hole in the wall my work friend recommended. She's white. We're not. Walking towards the dinner, seeing greasy bikers and old white men, I didn't know that this would go well. We entered and waited for part 1. The hostess was taking payments from people done with their meal. Would she address us as soon as she was done or make us wait uncomfortably for a few minutes to ponder if we wanted to stay. We were the only blacks there.
Check point one was good: immediate friendly recognition. We were seated a little short of half-way down this store front restaurant. The ambiance was very casual. It was brightly lit, steak sauce, butter, crackers, ketchup, and silver wear rolled in napkins stuck in a large, plastic cup were all on the table. It looked more like a diner for waffles or sandwiches than a place to find good steak. And, it was a little disconcerting that they kept three types of steak houses on their tables. Most steak houses wait for the customer to request steak sauce, with the goal being to cook a steak so delicious they will not want steak sauce. On we went. The menu was simple, one page long. Five different types of steak, chicken breast, pork chop, or hamburger steak. All meals come with salad and Texas toast. Okay. $11-$16 for steak with a side and salad is not a bad price. It's not especially great in my opinion but it is a little lower than most steak houses would charge.
Course 1: salad. Droopy, iceberg lettece, two onion rings, 2 small cucumbers, 2 tomatoes. Most of you know I don't like vegetables. In the end, I had lettuce with one cucumber and one onion ring. Add cheese. Okay. Not an impressive salad but it is what it is. After all, I was there for the main course.
Course 2: T-Bone steak and baked potato. Loaded is not really extra because a loaded baked potato is not an option. Did you notice how there was no bacon in my salad? Well, they don't have bacon. No bacon, no bacos, keeping it simple. Because I requested cheese, they melted a slice in my potato. Man, I should have photographed that with my camera phone. The sour cream came in a packet like you would get if you ordered a baked potato to go at Back Yard Burger. The butter was in a bowl on the table, nevermind the keep refrigerated label or nasty look it has after sitting out that long. Still moving forward to the steak-- my mom's first reaction was good. She said she didn't need steak sauce for it. I, on the other hand, couldn't have made it through my steak without steak sauce. The meat was oh so tough. It came fast, which we appreciated, but it's possible to get out a fast steak without it being tough as rubber. The steak at Old Hickory Steak House was so much better. On the way to the car, mom said she was glad she wasn't hungry when we got there. I don't think she liked it either. Sometimes, first bites can be deceiving. lol.
The service at Dixie Castle was good. They were friendly and attentive. The menu selection and food itself left more to be desired, however. I give it 2.5 out of 5 stars. In summation, I'd tell you not to bother stopping by. But for me, it was a new experience. Thank God for my mom's willing to put up with me and my new adventures. Neither went so well today but we had a good time nonetheless.