It's been a busy couple of months and I haven't found the time or energy to write. With the holiday season just around the corner, I don't anticipate my post will increase. Actually, I've been truly debating whether to keep this up; asking myself why I write at all. Although this a public website, for me it is just a personal outlet for me to free my mind. I'm happy for those of you who read some of the mundane stories, and I love that my distant family can check in for updates in my life since sometimes those phone calls can be few and far between. One day this site will become something more when I'm ready to take that leap and cultivate a following. I hope to improve my photography skills and start posting pictures and stories of others titled "Life with Your Animal Companion." I'm intrigued by others who are equally as obsessed with their furry friends as I am with my golden retriever. I feel you can learn a lot about an individuals personality based on their relationship with their four-legged companion. But for now I'm just going to write and if you happen upon this blog, I hope you'll take pleasure in the rants of day-to-day goings on in a Tennessee woman's life with her most beloved Jack whose aging gracefully.
There's nothing more satisfying than when you can sit back, kick your feet up, and take in an exceptional film. It's one of my favorite past-times ---- watching a good movie. And I enjoy all types of films, from foreign dramas whether they are in Danish or Spanish, to independent quirky movies with lesser known actors. As long as there is a good storyline, incredible cinematography, and believable actors, I'll watch it. To me movies allow me to step into another world and experience moments I may not have encountered in my own life and perhaps never will. For example, in two of my favorite films, Incendies and After the Wedding, I walked away wondering how would it feel if I learned of a family secret that shattered my world. Both of these movies made me think about what decisions I would have made had I been in that persons shoes. I realize I'm not disclosing much information regarding these two films so you'll have to look them up if you're interested (I promise they're both filled with twist and turns that you may just enjoy if you don't mind reading subtitles). But I simply wanted to convey that movies have the power to make you THINK....put life into perspective. At least, that's how I feel. On the other hand, movies can be a great way to escape everyday life when you just need a break from day-to day stresses. And I tell you, a good comedy that can make me laugh so hard til' my stomach hurts is often times the best medicine. Right now my Netflix queue is filled with a variety of comedies, indie flicks, and dramas I'm looking forward to watching with some friends on what is going to become movie night at the mill this fall.
As you can see from my love of movies, I am absolutely thrilled Knoxville is hosting the Film Festival for the 2nd year in a row September 11th-14th. Unfortunately I won't get to take in all the films and festivities since I have a trip planned the same weekend, but luckily I do get to attend opening night and I'm super excited for two reasons. One being that the feature film on opening night was shot right here in my home town. Of course, I'll probably be sitting in the theater trying to determine if I know what part of Knoxville they are in in each scene. So cool!! The other reason I'm looking forward to going is I'll be joining one of my dearest friends who is in the movie. Although it's a small role as an extra, I'm sure we'll get all giddy when she's on the big screen:-). Anyway, the film is called Something, Anything, a drama romance written and directed by local filmmaker Paul Harrell and I can't wait to see it!!!! We're going to have a blast and I'll be sure to write about it and post pictures as well. In the meantime here's a short film with Jack titled Let's Share....or NOT.
So on my "about" page I mention how there are a few hobbies Jack doesn't necessarily like that we have because they do not include him; concerts being one of them. Well this year I've endeavored to be in the know about amazing artists playing right here in Knoxville. I've been able to attend a few, sometimes with my man and other times it's all about a girls night out. No dogs allowed in the beautiful Bijou or Tennessee Theater so Jack has not been very thrilled with the days I come straight home from work only to get gussied up to head back out. But you know my life does not revolve around him. Although he'd like to think it should....:-). So let me recap a few of these wonderful music shows.
Above in this not-so-great picture taken from the front row balcony is bluegrass band, Steep Canyon Rangers; my first concert of the year at the Bijou. I'd never heard of them before, but that's what makes attending these shows so entertaining. You get to experience an artist for the first time. I must say I loved all the solos from the fiddle player to the banjo. I'd give them 4 stars just for pure entertainment.
Now if I'm 100% honest, I'll opt to stay home with Jack even if the tickets are free again to this show. It was so sweet of my mother-in-law to plan a family outing for us all, but I was done after about the 3rd song by Irish band, Gaelic Storm. They all sounded the same and I got tired of having to clap along. And there was a lot of clapping and singing along.
In April my best friend and I went on a date with John Legend. Well, not actually a date. That sounds kind of weird, but we jokingly referred to it as date with John since we left our husbands at home to gush over him for a night especially when he sang "All of Me." This was my first time at the Tennessee Theater and I had a blast!!!!
In that same week my husband and I, along with another couple enjoyed secondhand smoke (no kidding someone lit up a joint or two) as we watched one of the most talented girls I've come to love; Rising Appalachia. This was one concert I didn't want to end. The energy at the Bijou that night was electrifying. I was so glad we sat in the balcony though because no one in orchestra seating ever sat down. They came ready to dance and no one was going to tell them otherwise. I had on my dancing shoes too, but I find that if I'm too busy trying to get down I miss out on the performance and I'm too in awe of these women that I didn't want to miss one thing.
A few months later and I was ready for another concert with my girl pal, and Ray Lamontagne it was at the Tennessee Theater. His new sound was very upbeat compared to his earlier records and I must say, I liked it. We were glad that he played some of his old music although he struggled to get through some of the songs. For a shy artist who doesn't say much in between songs except 'thank you," I was most surprised when he took time to explain that singing some of his more "delicate" pieces after belting out his new tunes night after night has been a little more challenging. I could care less that he lost his voice a bit during one of his songs; his performance was great!!! I appreciate when an artists takes risks and tries something new. Well done Ray!!! (I say that as if I know the guy....Ha!!!)
Well, there you have it. Jacks been upset quite a bit this year wondering when I'm going to slow down on going to shows. I don't see that happening anytime soon. I can't pass up a good live music show. For August there's The Steeldrivers, a bluegrass band, we saw last year and had to jump on those tickets again. Next month it's Marc Broussard, a soulful artist from Louisiana. What's on the calendar for the last quarter of the year? Hmmmm.....??? If I can get tickets to Hozier, an indie rock artists from Ireland with a voice and lyrics that makes the hairs stand up on your neck, I'm going to head to Nashville. (Jack it'll only be for one night so don't go pulling your hair out).
Ahhh, music ----- so POWERFUL and most enjoyed LIVE!!! Find out what shows are coming your way and don't be afraid to take a chance on an unknown artists. Some of those shows are the best!!! Get your tickets!
So I recently booked a stay through Airbnb for my NYC trip with my little sister this September. What's Airbnb you may ask. Well it's one of the most amazing websites where residents sublet a room in there home or even rent out their entire home/apt to guests traveling to their city, for sometimes a much more reasonable price than a traditional hotel or B & B. Listings include tons of pictures by the homeowner and even better yet, several reviews by past guests to help you make your decision. My favorite part of each listing are the descriptions that detail anything from "if you're allergic to cats, this is not an option for you" to "there's a 5 floor walk up to the apartment," maybe as a warning to someone with a physical disability. Reading the descriptions had me thinking of what my listing would look like if indeed we were ever to become Hosts on AirBnB. It would start out something like this...
"If you love goldens and all the hair that comes with them, we'd be happy to host you at our Grist Mill built in the mid-1800s. Located just minutes from downtown and easy access to the Smoky Mountains, you're centrally located to everything the Knoxville and surrounding area has to offer. Again, we want to reiterate, you must LOVE goldens. Ours is extremely affectionate and will most likely become your new best friend. If you have allergies, don't care to play Frisbee, and would prefer not to be followed around by the lovely golden, then you may want to pass on this place. Now that's out of the way, let's tell you about the place.... "
You think anyone would want to book our home after reading that initial description? LOL!!! Honestly, if we ever did list our home on AirBnB, I certainly don't think I would offer it as a shared space. Our home is like a loft and there is no partition between the guest room and our bedroom, so not a lot of privacy. Awkward.
So guests may meet handsome Jack, but we'd most likely haul ourselves over to the parent-in-laws. But whose to say I'll ever get the chance to host any AirBnB guests. We're thinking about putting the mill on the market which makes me a little sad. This place was my first home since moving to East TN. It's where Jack spent those puppy years chewing up furniture, including a part of the original grindstones that are some 150 years old. I'll never forget being so pissed off at him for that little mishap. Anyway, in a future posts I'll have to share more about this historic place and you'll understand why I can't imagine not being here; however, I'm anxious to find a bungalow closer to downtown where I spend a lot of my time. Secretly, I wish we could keep this place and purchase something else, but my husband says I need some lottery money for that. And that's not happening because I don't play the lottery. Maybe I should start. It's Wednesday, isn't it? Oh gotta run and pick up a ticket. Ha!!!! Til' next time!!!!
I haven't posted a recipe in a while which has to a lot to do with the fact that I've spent less time in the kitchen this summer. I simply haven't been inspired, and quite frankly, I need some knew recipes. Anyone have a good cookbook recommendation? I know there's a million blogs and links I could probably go to, but sometimes just a good old-fashion cookbook positioned on my cookbook holder makes me feel like a chef:). Anyway, armed with only my arsenal of oldies but goodies, I decided on chicken fajita quesadillas. Plus, I needed a meal that would last a few days since a crazy retail weekend called Tax Free was coming up. I just knew my poor feet couldn't bear standing all day at work and then standing in the kitchen.
I love making these because they are quick and easy. And the colors are beautiful!!!
Let's get started with ingredients....
The only thing missing in this picture is grapeseed oil, or which ever oil you prefer to sauté with. Once you've gathered all your ingredients it's time to get to chopping.
I always like to cook my veggies first for some reason. Sometimes I don't even want to transfer from the plate to the skillet because they just look so darn pretty raw. But, have to move on to the next step so pour some oil into a non-stick skillet and let's get ready to sizzle these veggies and marinated chicken. By the way, I rarely use packaged seasoning, but for this dish McCormick fajita mix is the way to go. Simply follow instructions on the packet. I do try to marinate it up to 5 hours or even overnight.
Ok, so I know I didn't show images of raw chicken marinated, but remember this really isn't really a food blog, and for once I'm just proud that I actually even took the time to capture some images of the steps in this quesadilla journey. Ha!!! So, yes, you simply sauté it all on high heat. One thing I NEVER do is cook my mushrooms with the rest of the veggies; I feel like I lose the earthy taste of the mushrooms so they ALWAYS go in a separate pan no matter what meal I'm preparing.
Gather all the fixings above and get ready for a little party in your mouth. Oops!!! I totally forgot to tell you all about the creamy black beans in that third picture. But wait a minute, the fajitas aren't the same without them so I'll throw in the ingredients for that too.
My sister bought me these cute Crate & Barrel animated appetizer plates. I had to capture an image of this particular one because this dish is SPICY. You can add as much or as little of the cayenne pepper and my husbands all-time favorite salsa, Jack's Special HOT salsa. To prepare these beans follow these simple steps;
*Chop white onions and garlic and sauté in a tablespoon of oil until transparent
*Poor half the beans into a mixer to make them a bit creamy. The other half can get tossed in the pot of onions and garlic until you're ready to add the mixed beans.
*Add a teaspoon of cumin and chili powder
*1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
*2 tablespoons of Jack's Special Sauce, or your favorite salsa
*Simmer for roughly 8 minutes
*Top it off with some chopped cilantro and salt and pepper to taste and WALLAH, there you have it!!! Add these beans to your quesadillas or enjoy them over jasmine rice.
I can't actually end a blog post without the STAR. So this is Jack when he's sad about things like the following:
*No table scraps because the dish is too spicy and I'll probably throw up. (No fajita quesadillas for the pooch).
*Watching as mommy leaves for the day and has forgotten to give me a treat.
*The T.V. is too loud and I'm trying to get my 14 hour nap in today. Goldens need their beauty rest y'all.
*I can't cuddle with mom because she's wearing black
*It's raining and I can't go for a walk downtown
*I've thrown up on mom's rug and she's a bit perturbed with me.