Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lunch Date with Atticus at Stone Soup Cafe

I first heard the story of stone soup in the second grade where it immediately became one of my favorite stories to read. Probably also due to hearing the story of soup making right before lunch, I had an unbreakable association with the word “soup” to “stones” as during recess I eyed every rock around the playground wondering how tasty it would make my bowl of soup. On the other hand, after reading the book to Atticus for the first time last year, there was not the association to stones but he was definitely hungry at the end since he remarked, “One day can we make stone soup? But how about we add cookies. And don't put in the stones.”

When Stone Soup Café opened in our neighborhood Cooper-Young about two months ago and actually served their own version of stone soup, the kid in me filled with excitement, and I discovered that the word association was still rather strong. (I’m not sure if the owners know how brilliant the hunger-inducing name actually is.) Since Atticus and I haven’t gotten around to making our own stone soup, he was the perfect lunch date to try the family friendly restaurant for the first time. We also made sure to bring his copy of Marcia Brown’s Stone Soup to read and induce further hunger while we waited for our order.

As a complimentary starter, our server brought out two cubes of steaming hot cornbread, the best cornbread I’ve ever tasted. Truly. I only had one small bite of mine before I noticed Atticus had quickly devoured his cornbread and was literally an inch from my cornbread about to devour it too. I sadly gave my piece to him knowing a large bowl of stone soup and a stuffed tomato salad was on its way.

The very meaty and chunky stone soup finally came, quite the delicious eye full. The Stone Soup Café version is made from a light tomato base with ground meat, smoked sausage, cabbage, onions, celery, peppers, carrots, and kidney beans topped with sour cream and black olives. With so many vegetables many kids don’t like, I was nervous about Atticus’ reaction to his first taste. Sure enough, he was done after that first bite and wanted just a bowl of grits and bacon which left me with a very hearty meal to finish. I almost regretted ordering the stuffed tomato with chicken salad but I’m glad I got to try it. It was perfect to take home and eat as leftovers.

We later got to meet the manager Troy who showed us the special upstairs dining rooms and even helped with some of the food shots. He was nice enough to answer our questions including Atticus’ one question on his mind the entire time. “Do you really put stones in your stone soup?”

The answer is no but the restaurant did suggest that they do put love in their food stating on their door that “food is love” and that the story of stone soup that inspired the restaurant concept is about community - contributing just a little to the pot makes something wonderful and hearty we can all enjoy.

Stone Soup Cafe
993 S Cooper
Memphis, TN 38104
Ph +1.901.922.5314

Stone Soup Cafe on Urbanspoon

Photos by Sophorn.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Formus Christmas Tree

Tonight, we'll put on some Christmas music and heat up some hot chocolate while we put up our Christmas tree. It's only four days after Thanksgiving, and I already feel like I'm behind on Christmas. Anyone else feeling sucked into that guilt? Well, if the family Christmas cards don't get out this year, I will tell myself no one actually cares anyway. At least, I got the company Christmas card done this year - the architect's drawing compass, an old friend, used back in the pre-computer days repurposed as a Christmas tree.

Illustration/graphics by Sophorn.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Music Monday ~ A Playlist for Thanksgiving

Hope your Thanksgiving holiday means gathering with all your loved ones. For your enjoyment and travel pleasure, my playlist.com friends and I put together a group playlist of songs with/for group singing. I also added in a couple of videos of friends and families getting together to sing two of my favorite songs. Instant mood boosters!

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Photo from Morning Benders video. Graphics by Sophorn.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Breakfast with Boats at The Arcade

After rocking the Hi-Tone Café till late in the night, the Canadian crew of Boats, one of my favorite bands, needed a great Memphis spot to enjoy breakfast the next morning. Although they didn’t sleep in as late as their intense tour-strained bodies might have needed, we did head to breakfast well after the morning rush. I led them to the Arcade restaurant, probably “the perfect breakfast spot for rock stars because they serve breakfast all day!” Seriously, I should suggest that be the Arcade’s new slogan, but the band would humbly disagree on the rock star label especially since they recently signed with the US indie label Kill Rock Stars. I asked what changes exactly when signing with a label. “Nothing,” Boats front man Mat responded cynically then laughed. It did get one of their songs on a Target commercial though*. I thought it was pretty special even though the band joked they sold out.

Rock star or not, they were still very impressed that they played at the Hi-Tone where Elvis learned karate and ate at the Arcade restaurant where Elvis was a regular. The Arcade menu and bio is also scattered with other bragging rights, marking Food Network and Travel Channel favorite dishes and noting that many major movies were filmed inside the ‘50s vintage interior. Even without all the cool advertising fluff that impresses tourists, the heart of the menu, the tasty dishes that end up in front of you is what impresses both tourists and locals.

Among the five band members Mat, Louis, Luke, Ashley, and Rory, the best of the breakfast menu standards were ordered – hash browns, biscuits and gravy, sausage, eggs, and French toast. Ashley confirmed the uniqueness of her French toast with the kitchen. Yes, they were deep fried, making them as delectable as doughnuts or beignets. I ordered the buttermilk pancakes with bacon and grits, which I promised them tasted great with bacon. They politely refused my offer to sample as I rethought my bacon phrase. (Sorry, grits but everything tastes great with bacon.) We soon noticed that no one ordered the Food Network favorite, sweet potato pancakes, which became sort of a detailed topic. At the Arcade, they are pancakes with sweet potato bits/flavor mixed in the normal batter. It seems the term ‘sweet potato pancakes’ may be misleading as Rory and a few others imagined them to be hash browns made with sweet potatoes instead of regular white potatoes. It’s one of my favorite things to make at home, so I guess if we are taking the liberty to make suggestions to the Arcade, I would be quite excited to see if they would add this as a menu item – sweet potato hash browns. Maybe, on the next tour, as Mat said, “when we do become huge rock stars and can spend TWO days in Memphis”, they will find the sweet potato hash browns on the menu.

Thanks Mat, Louis, Luke, Ashley, and Rory for the great company. Thanks for visiting me in Memphis. The show was awesome. (I also remembered the musician that I listened on last.fm to discover you guys. It was Blair. I’m sure you’re relieved to know that.)

The Arcade Restaurant
540 S Main St
Memphis, TN 38103
Ph +1.901.526-5757

Photos by Sophorn. / *Listen to the song that was used in the Target commercial here.

Arcade on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tasted ~ Afters Boutique Persimmon Cookies

Several weeks ago, I brought a basket full of persimmons from my parents' crop in Alabama to Memphis, sharing with our friend Greg who was also a persimmon fan. Having much more than we knew what to do with, we wondered what could be made from this somewhat obscure fruit. Then just a few days ago, Greg surprises me with delicious cookies made from the very batch I gave him. He credited his lovely lady Dayna of Afters Boutique saying, "she can make anything, especially sweet tasty yummy anythings." I'll add one thing to sweet, tasty, and yummy anythings - beautiful. Dayna crafts all her custom sweets almost too gorgeous to eat.

Make sure to check out her standard selections keeping in mind she can make anything special for you. Afters Boutique is currently running a Thanksgiving special - 30% off orders before November 20, Sunday night. Like them on facebook to keep up with more specials. Thanks Greg and Dayna!

Photos and graphics by Sophorn.

Design Tonic Magazine {Craig Brewer Interview}

I'm proud to say that I'm officially a contributor to the new online magazine Design Tonic. They cover all things creative including film which gave me the opportunity to interview local but now internationally known filmmaker Craig Brewer. He was gracious enough to talk to me about his love of film, his creative process, and the challenges of remaking Footloose. Take a read here and go support his movie Footloose still showing at the Malco Studio on the Square.

Special thanks to Autumn, Erin, and Craig. Photo courtesy of Erin Hagee/Craig Brewer.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Shop & Sip ~ Y.E.S. and Turkoyz Fundraiser

This Tuesday November 15th from 6-8pm come Shop & Sip at Turkoyz for a good cause. As part of the re-organized Young Executives for Success, I helped create the graphic for the first fundraising event and membership drive for Y.E.S. The event will be held at a great little jewelry and accessory boutique called Turkoyz. I included a few of their photos of my favorite pieces. Come join us for free Sangria donated by Splash Sangria. A portion of the profits during the event will benefit Dress for Success Memphis. More details below.

Interested in becoming a member of Y.E.S! (Young Executives for Success)- Join us at our first fundraising event and membership drive, a SHOP & SIP, on Tuesday, November 15, at Turkoyz, located at 4548 Poplar Ave. at Laurelwood Shopping Center.

Founded in 2005, Young Executives for Success (Y.E.S!) is a volunteer branch of Dress for Success that provides its members with volunteer, fundraising and networking opportunities to champion the mission of Dress for Success.

Young Executives for Success Y.E.S! members represent a variety of industries, including but not limited to, fashion, beauty, media, healthcare and finance. Membership is non-exclusive and we welcome the interests of passionate and professional women in the Memphis area. Members make an annual tax-deductible donation and have the opportunity to participate in events and activities that raise awareness and funds for Dress for Success. There is also the opportunity to increase involvement by becoming a part of the executive committee or a sub-committee (e.g. membership, events, marketing/communications, community outreach).

Y.E.S! is not only a great way to support the important efforts of Dress for Success, but to also meet and network with a tremendous group of women who are interested in making a difference.

{Logo Design} Men About Change Memphis

///Logo design progress for a new non-profit organization in Memphis. Men About Change Memphis, like Dress for Success helping women, will help provide suits and job readiness for low-income men.

Graphics by Sophorn.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tasted ~ Cafe 4

The majority of my time spent in Knoxville was inside a lecture room learning structures from the deservingly raved about Professor Thaddeus, but I did get to enjoy one local treat with my Memphis group - Cafe 4 in Market Square. Market Square near the University of Tennessee campus was in itself impressive in its urban appeal containing a park bracketed with restaurants, storefronts, and outdoor stage. Cafe 4 continued the lively ambiance with the ultra-cool lighting and architectural details. The Nikon F camera I had handy couldn't capture the food shots that well but it did capture that ambiance that probably kept all the tables filled and helped the long waiting list to form.

We opted not to wait but was immediately offered some open spots in the lounge on the mezzanine level. Expecting a subpar experience from the main dining room, we were almost grateful we got the quiet little table upstairs. I'm suspecting we also got our food a little faster since our server seemed wholly assigned to our area. We could have gotten the food even faster if every single thing on the menu didn't sound so appetizing.

Here's what we finally ordered and tasted:
~Market Square Mini Crab Cakes {Jeanne}
~Low Country Shrimp and Grits {Sophorn}
~Blackened Shrimp on Grilled Romaine {Jason}

My favorite twist to the Shrimp and Grits dish was the addition of goat cheese, one of my favorite cheeses. All in all we were happy to end our long day with a satisfying meal.

Thanks to Jeanne, the UT grad, for showing us her favorite part of Knoxville. Thanks to Jason for helping initiate the seminar trip from Memphis. Special thanks to Professor Thaddeus and Susanne for organizing the seminar. Wish us all good luck on our ARE structures exams. / FYI: I've got a ton of restaurant reviews yet to post. See sneak peeks here. You may notice the ones I post much more quickly are the ones where I can't wait to thank people.

Cafe 4
4 Market Square
Knoxville, TN 37902

Cafe 4 on Urbanspoon

Film Photos by Sophorn. Cafe 4 renovation and design project by Smee + Busby Architecture (where Susanne is a designer). It was the winner of  the 2009 Excellence Award in Historic Renovation.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Meet Super Kitty

We’ve had this cute furry addition to our family for a whole week before Atticus would allow any photographs to be taken of her. He didn’t say exactly why, but I suppose he was being a bit protective since he asked if she’ll be famous now she’s been photographed. I was quick to laugh but then I remembered the name Atticus had given her – Super Kitty, and after hearing her story from the shelter found it very fitting, and I may be in some ways using this post to make Super Kitty the poster “kitten” for the Tunica Humane Society. / Read her story below by Sandy, one of the volunteers thanking our friend James who brought Super Kitty to us.

That little kitty had a really rocky start in life. I went and picked it up several weeks ago when I got a call from a lady that said her children had found the kitten and brought it home. The woman said she was afraid of cats and she wanted to get rid of it.

It was the next morning before I could ride out to her house. The lady wouldn't come to the door but her kids told me that the kitten was in a box at the side of the house. I walked around to the driveway and found this tiny kitten in a plastic container with the lid snapped on tight. It was sitting in the full sunlight. When I opened the container, the precious little cat was so weak; I never really thought it would make it. But I took it straight to our shelter and tried to give it some food and water. It literally dove into a small can of soft cat food. Its little face was completely covered in food.

Beverly volunteers with us at the shelter and she is our go to person on cats in distress. She took "Tiny" home for a few weeks.

This little guy is still fragile but it is truly a miracle that it lived.

Thank you so much, James. For helping us place this little soul.


Please donate to or adopt from the Tunica Humane Society or your local animal shelter today. Thanks again to James and Sandy!

Notice the cat tattoo.

He wanted to introduce you to her backside too.

Film photos by Sophorn.
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