Friday, December 31, 2010

Hello Austin

I'll be welcoming in the new year with new friends, along with family we don't see often, in a new-to-us city ~ Austin, Texas. We'll see my friend James Robinson, a talented singer/songwriter originally from Memphis, perform at the Scoot Inn tonight, and during our stay, hopefully, he'll let me get a preview of the major new album he's putting together. I am also extremely excited that we'll get to stay at the Hotel San Jose, a designer/photographer's dream. I'll report back with photos, all film this time. Hope you have a wonderful and safe new year's celebration. See you in the new year.

Photo from Hotel San Jose website. Thanks to Juan for introducing me to this hotel. Thanks James for the invite.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Backbeat Tours Memphis

If anyone is vacationing or have family visiting Memphis over the Christmas weekend, I would highly recommend the Backbeat Memphis Mojo Tour. There is a tour scheduled today {call the numbers at the bottom of the post to check schedule because of the weather} and ones scheduled through this week and New Year's weekend. They call themselves the coolest tour in Memphis only because it's true. What better way to experience a music city than through a music history tour accompanied by a local musician playing songs key to the city and the entire world of music.

Below are photos from a few weekends ago that owner Bill Patton and musician Memphis Jones gave as an early Christmas gift to local Memphians. It was our third music tour, and it was just as entertaining as the first time. You can also see that the audience gets to participate by singing and playing instruments. Of course that is optional. You can sit back and enjoy. /// Last photo is of Memphis Jones' cool shoes. It has a pocket! Thanks Bill and Memphis Jones!

Backbeat Tours
Ticketbooth at 140 Beale St.
ph 1.901.527.9415 or the ticket agent Zerve 1.800.979.3370

Photos by Sophorn. Sorry I remotely added jpgs instead of pngs for crisper photos.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Wish to You from Atticus {& Violet}

It's often said friends and family are a gift, but we believe the laughter and love that adds warmth to a season like Christmas is the true gift. We hope you are not only spending time with your friends and family but also having a truly great time with them. Merry Christmas!

Photo Details ~ Atticus' good friend Violet {since they were 3 months old} spent some quality time with us a few weeks ago. Since Atticus is notorious in our house for attacking us with kisses, we wondered if he would do a Christmas photo under the mistletoe with anyone. Violet was his immediate choice as she was the only girl at school he accepted kisses from. Violet just adores Atticus and psyched him out a bit when she interpreted kissing for the photo as "getting married." When it came time for them to kiss for the photo, Atticus went into a hysterical nervous laugh as Violet moved in to give him a warm kiss. I guess you can say he accepted it and even kissed back a little.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Film Camera Test #1 {Yashica MG-1}

Out of the many antique film cameras we have in our collection, I have no idea which ones work. Starting with the Yashica MG-1 {pictured in the only digital shot above}, I discovered that maybe they'll be put to more use than just for decoration. The other 3 shots are from the De Novo Style fashion shoot last week.

Photos by Sophorn.

Monday, December 20, 2010

"An Opportunity of a Lifetime"

It's official. I just applied for Pei Wei's "Opportunity of a Lifetime" as their international blogger for 2 weeks in five Asian countries including Japan, Korea, China, Vietnam and Thailand. The contest just ended and they'll pick a finalist in 3 weeks. They are looking for a photographer {me} and writer {me also, haha, my ode to Bill Murray} to travel and eat Asian food with one of the Pei Wei chefs, so wish me luck! Above are photos from my last visit to Pei Wei in midtown Memphis with the archimania folks. // Thanks Chloe for sending this my way. Below is one of the reviews I submitted. {Although I admit I rushed through writing and didn't get to edit better.}

Rarely do I find my downtown lunch groups wanting to travel to a midtown restaurant, but with the two last occasions where our group reached over 5 or 6 people, Pei Wei was an easy choice. In addition to offering the selection of cuisine from five different Asian countries, Pei Wei’s order-first system moved us through the long line efficiently from its large electronic panels displaying its extensive menu to the long table they assembled as we ordered. Their expressed concept of traveling the world through food made for an exciting experience as we couldn’t stop thinking about those countries we had traveled or longed to see. Seeing that each dish’s history and origin were valued as I read the menu earned my instant respect.

Once we arrived near the front of the line, we caught the activity of the bustling kitchen open to view from the bar and main seating. Even this clearly intentional design move added to experience of the urban Asian restaurant or street vendor. Unlike the others at our table who ordered dishes they always relied on, I ordered the newly offered Thai River noodles also known as Pad See Yew. After a short conversation at the table, the orders started finding our way to us so that I could start enjoying the very generous portion of the Thai River noodles, presented beautifully with vibrant red chilies on top. The overall flavor was good, especially the beef which worked well with the dark sweet sauce. Watching tables fill up several times throughout our stay made me wonder how Pei Wei or its restaurant concept would be much more fitted downtown ~ a perfect, urban fit.

Pei Wei Asian Diner
1680 Union Ave.
ph 1.901.722.3780

Stylish Kids {Mini Rocker}

Love this kid's rocker style ~ tough yet sensitive, hangs with the boys but is sweet to the ladies. I have a feeling Atticus could pull off this look. He's already got that certain swagger and cool confidence to match. All that's left to complete the authenticity are the drum lessons he asked for.

Images via AllSaints.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

De Novo Style Fashion Shoot {Sneak Peek}

From today's fun photo shoot with local designer Elizabeth of De Novo Style and model Cortney Viglietti. I really want one of her fabulous coats. Shoot Location ~ Central Station Downtown Memphis. Hair/Make-up ~ Jennifer Ralada.

Photos by Sophorn

Friday, December 17, 2010

Party on a Budget {Christmas Ideas by Kelsey Taylor}

Today, I'd like to welcome local event planner and blogger Kelsey Taylor to share her ideas on Christmas party decor that are not only beautiful but budget-friendly. See her introduction to three great ideas below.


With Christmas right around the corner, we’re not only looking for last minute gifts but last minute decorations for our holiday parties and family gatherings. {Hello, in-laws! So nice to see you! See, my house isn’t a wreck!”} So here’s my gift to you ~ a few last-minute, money-saving d├ęcor ideas to make your house or holiday party merry & bright.

Pine Bough Taper Centerpiece
You only need a few materials for this project – 5 taper candles (cut to varying heights), floral foam disc, pine boughs, jute string, and a hot glue gun.

Directions ~ Push the tapers into the floral foam disc and hot glue in place; make sure the tallest taper is in the center. Once you have all the tapers in place, start filling in with the pine boughs. Make sure that none of the pine boughs are tall enough to reach the wicks of the candles. {Let’s try and not craft a complete fire hazard here!} Once you have filled in the main part of the centerpiece sufficiently, cut short pieces of pine bough and glue around the edge of the disc to cover it. For the finishing touch, take the jute string and gently wrap it around the middle of the centerpiece 4-5 times and tie the ends together to hold in place. One of these at either end of a dining room or buffet table would look great…not to mention, they also smell pretty darn good. I had a few of the materials already, but this project only cost me about $6 total. A burlap runner is also a nice and completely inexpensive touch too!


Magnolia Wreath
The materials you will need for this project – magnolia leaves, a quilter’s hoop, and a glue gun.

Directions ~ Begin by grouping the leaves in clusters of three and gluing together. Then proceed to glue each cluster onto the quilter’s hoop, working your way around and layering the clusters to overlap one another. You can finish by adorning your wreath with ribbon and berries like I did or anything else your little heart desires. This project cost me about $2, which was the cost of the quilter’s hoop. Everything else I had or rustled up in my backyard! {You could pretend you are helping your neighbor clean up their yard by picking up those magnolia leaves!}


Hot Chocolate Station
Have plenty of mugs and spoons on hand! Set up a hot chocolate station for party guests - this idea can work great for both kids and adults. {For adults, have Bailey’s and Kahlua on hand!} Fill containers with various mix-ins, toppings, and stir sticks. The possibilities for all the hot chocolatey goodness are endless!

Here are some of my suggestions:

whipped cream
crushed peppermint
chocolate shavings
chopped Andes mints
cinnamon sticks
candy canes
chocolate syrup

I hope everyone enjoys these easy, affordable holiday ideas. Now if we could only get some snow on Christmas in Memphis this year!


-Kelsey Taylor / email kelsey.w.taylor [at] / ph 1.901.515.7622 / web / twitter

///Thanks so much Kelsey and have a great weekend everyone!

Photos by Kelsey Taylor

Urban Arts Commission Year End Party {Sneak}

Two nights ago, I was the photographer for Memphis' Urban Art Commission Year End Party at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens' Hughes Pavilion. Here are a few introductory shots. The far left photos of the light art we thought would be especially appropriate for this group to participate in were photographed by my friend Joe who I invited as a second shooter to get the experience of event photography.

Special thanks to John Weeden, Whitney Washington, and Joe Yester.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Architecture Updates

I have just finished submitting my professional design work to Auburn's school of architecture CADC alumni exhibit
shown as a board layout above. I only wish the latest architecture project I mentioned on the blog before and shown at the top was complete and well photographed to include in the exhibit, but it is slated to finish construction sometime in February of 2011. Look for the upcoming AIA Memphis Hard Hat tour for this LRK project on January 28, 2011, the moment I'll finally say on the blog what the project use is.

Top photos by Juan Sanford, LRK. Bottom four from left via LRK. Top right by Melissa Sweazy with graphic by Sophorn.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Foodie Memphis at Alex's Tavern

Thanks to a recent article in the Commercial Appeal, the Foodie Memphis group gathering last night at one of Memphis' favorite late night bar Alex's Tavern had an enthusiastic group of newcomers. The photos above are just the highlights to why Alex's is so great ~ the table top shuffle board game, beer, an amazing burger among other great entrees, and multiple large screens and tv's. The summary of the group's review of Alex's will soon go on the Foodie Memphis page here. Thanks Rocky for a good meal and to Christopher for putting it all together. // Next month: the Trolley Stop Market. Go to the facebook page to keep up with the latest news.

Photo/graphics by Sophorn.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Card Outtakes

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Here are a few outtakes from the Christmas card photo shoot this past weekend showing the awkward moment before Atticus and Violet's first kiss under the mistletoe. Atticus was adorably nervous. I'll show the final shot for the Christmas card next week. /// Atticus has many good friends that are girls including his long time friend Violet who is the only one he'll accept kisses from. I had to document this before he starts thinking kissing and girls are "gross." ///Violet, thanks for hanging out with us in the cold for the pictures. I hope Atticus never stops inviting you over.

The 90/10 rule of the first kiss via, you know, the movie Hitch. Click here to get a lesson.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fave Finds { hoot + louise }

I have visited hoot + louise several times since they opened and have my eye on several things as gifts for others {and for myself. } They carry both select fashionable vintage clothes and accessories and modern lines that all focus on eco-conscious ideas such as organic or recycled fabric. They also have home decor items as well. Some of the dresses shown above are from the latest line they carry ~ Synergy. Other lines include Little Ocean, Snoozer and Loser, Dace, Quail, Dear Creatures, Zebi, and twiddleANDdeet. Check them out during this Christmas season to take advantage of their special discount where spending over $50 gets a pick from the tree with varying discounts up to 50% off.

hoot + louise
Downtown Historic Arts District
109 G.E. Patterson
Memphis, TN 38103
ph 1.901.746.8683

Open Mon-Sat 10-6 / Sun 12-5

Photos by Sophorn.

2011 Calendar { J Press Designs }

After I went gaga over this desk calendar set from local designer Susan McCanless of J Press Designs, I received them in the mail a few days later as a thank you gift, and I was certainly thrilled. See more calendar styles on her blog. They make great gifts, and if you hurry you can win one by following her blog or becoming a facebook fan.

Thanks so much Susan! I don't think I'm one you should ask for photography advice, but I hope you like your new camera.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

City Market Now Open

After much anticipation, the City Market is now open. We headed there the second night they were open, and I was completely impressed with the vibrance it added to the downtown scene. I'm convinced that the great stock of ethnic food brought in the diverse mix of customers. (For once, I wasn't the only Asian person around.)

We grabbed items for dinner including a mango from the produce section, crackers from dry goods, a specialty bottled juice smoothie near the deli, and items from the deli ~ meatloaf, chicken salad, pasta salad and potato salad. Favorites from our deli picks were the meatloaf and chicken salad with lots of grapes, just the way I like it. They only offered the hot or cold sandwiches during lunch, but they did have soup available that we were able to get a free tasting. I will definitely be back often as they are just a block from my office AND that they will have more ethnic offerings at the deli station.
Go on their Facebook page to give any suggestions on what you may want them to offer.

City Market
Corner of Union and Main at Radio City Flats
66 S. Main St.
Memphis, TN 38103
ph 1.901.729.6152
Open Monday to Saturday 7am to 10pm/ Sunday 9am to 4pm

Photos by Sophorn

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday Party Outfit { Stylings by Andrea of Style Junkie }

Today, I'd like to welcome owner of the Memphis boutique Style Junkie and personal stylist Andrea Fenise for today's post. I'll be attending this year's American Institute of Architects Memphis chapter holiday party as an upcoming board member, so I'm looking for an outfit that is both professional and creative. I found some cute party dresses, but finding ones that don't make me look like I'm 16 is pretty challenging. I had to get outside professional help.

Andrea was so kind to pull this bold look for me. See her description and item list below.


Dresses are typical at holiday parties so I chose a classy sequin halter jumper to keep Sophorn in the holiday spirit but give an unexpected look. Accessories are key in making a look your own so the oversized cocktail ring was definitely a great choice. Of course, nail polish is also an accessory to me as well because it adds a bold pop of color like red.

{1} Sequin jumper, $60/{2} Jeweled cocktail ring, Style Junkie $10 / {3} Leopard Clutch, Kohl's $18.99 / {4} Black bow pump, Style Junkie $28.90 / {5} OPI red polish $8.99

Thanks Andrea! Great tips.

Style Junkie
639 Marshall Ave {Think west of Sun Studio}
Memphis, TN 38103

Online Shop /Blog / Twitter

Church Health Center Holiday Cards 2010

Today's Motivational Monday is in the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of giving. Donate to the Church Health Center and those you honor will receive this special Christmas card with cover art by Memphis artist Elizabeth Alley.

Elizabeth Alley is a native Memphian. Her paintings reflect the philosophy that body language reveals what is in the heart. By focusing on the details of interaction made indefinite by cropping, the viewer is free to fill in the blanks with details from his or her own life. Ms. Alley has been a supporter of the Church Health Center since assisting in the installation of the art at Church Health Center Wellness in 2000.

Last year Christmas Card donations helped the Church Health Center:
• Provide medical care for 15,630 people
• Cover the cost of $39,250 per day for Program Services
• Welcome 115,991 Member visits to Church Health Center Wellness
• Give 128 children a solid educational foundation at Perea Preschool
• Host 952 volunteers to serve 22,144 hours
• Be involved with 450 churches and church groups through Faith Community Outreach

Rejoice in the Season by remembering your loved ones and supporting the ministries that help
thousands of people every year. Those you honor will receive a personalized Christmas Card
acknowledging your kindness.

A tax-deductible minimum gift of $10 per card is suggested.

Go to for the order form.
Church Health Center / 901.272.7170

Sunday, December 5, 2010

My Sexy New Boots from Style Junkie

I love my sexy new boots from Memphis boutique Style Junkie. The owner and personal stylist Andrea Fenise is my upcoming guest blogger suggesting an outfit for me to wear to the AIA Memphis Holiday Party. Stay tuned.

Style Junkie
639 Marshall Ave {Think west of Sun Studio}
Memphis, TN 38103

Polaroid film photo by Christopher with art direction by Sophorn.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tasted ~ Itta Bena

Although Itta Bena is not open for lunch, getting this review out during the beginning of rumbly tummies will hopefully motivate your choice for a downtown dinner tonight. Today, I'm welcoming one of the guest bloggers for this month my hubby Christopher and coordinator of the Foodie Memphis dinner group that supports great local eateries. The Foodie Memphis dinner group will soon have a blog reviewing the restaurants we visit every month. This month on December 14 join us at Alex's Tavern. RSVP here.

Find Christopher's review below after scrolling through my photos, some challenged with the low, ultra-romantic lighting. Thanks Christopher!


We almost missed downtown dining week, just slipping in on the last Sunday for dinner at Itta Bena. I was especially pleased with their accommodating our early reservation. Knowing that an excitable four year old and a large crowd may not mix, we made our reservation for 5:30.

Even though Itta Bena is above BB Kings on Beale Street, the entrance is around the corner on 2nd, just before the alley. Having driven past it every day going to work, I had often wondered where the cool exterior stair led. Seeing the valet posted out there I assumed somewhere interesting.

Atticus was especially excited about the stairway. I don’t know why a stairway would have an effect on the dining experience, but something about it really did raise the excitement level for the meal.

We were quickly seated and got our orders in rather easily, once Atticus stopped flirting with the server. They had 2 specials on the menu, which we planned to share, so Sophorn ordered one, and I the other. I had the Caesar salad, the hand cut rib eye, and the warm brownie a la mode. Sophorn had the Signature She crab soup, the shrimp and grits, and the mango sorbet.

Unfortunately there are no photos of the mango sorbet. A certain 4 year old couldn’t wait for photos to be taken. Mango is one of Atticus’ favorite fruits, so he was ecstatic when they brought it out. I have to admit, after tasting it, I was pretty happy myself.

All the food was delicious, but if I had to name a favorite or two, I would have to vote for the Signature She Crab soup, the rib eye steak, and of course the mango sorbet. The sorbet alone was worth another visit.

After dinner we wandered around the restaurant. It is dark but comfortable. The lounge area overlooking Beale is quite the man cave, with plush leather couches and a large screen TV. Right next to the lounge is a little performance area where one can watch Queen Ruby Wilson and Lady Di Anne Price every Thursday night. They usually start around 7.

Atticus really enjoyed looking out at the world through the blue tinted windows. While Sophorn was taking a few more photos, Atticus and I said goodbye to our wonderful server, thrice, and then went outside to see what everything really looked like from the blue windows.

P.S. The secret to taking a 4 year old to a fancy restaurant ~ the portable dvd player. "Dinner and a movie!"

Itta Bena Restaurant

145 Second Ave.
Memphis, TN 38103
ph +1.901.578.3031
Open for dinner at 5pm.

Photos by Sophorn.

Itta Bena on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Welcome to December / Christmas Card Sneak


Yesterday, as I was designing the Christmas card for Formus Architects, snow was actually falling in downtown Memphis, so I decided to create a snowflake from the elements of the Formus logo. Here is the front of the card we'll be sending out. //December will be busy for me so I've lined up several guest bloggers this month. Let me know if you have any ideas to post.

Happy Holidays! Discover beauty in all things big & small.
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