Friday, October 31, 2014

Dinner Lab: Nashtoberfest

Dinner Lab is a members-only social dining experiment & experience.  I'd love if you would use my referral link to sign up/learn more about Dinner Lab, so I can earn $ towards future events!

Dan and I had our second Dinner Lab meal recently, themed Nashtoberfest and featuring the amazing guys behind Porter Road Butcher, James Peisker and Chris Carter.  While they're known in town for their delicious, sustainable, locally-sourced meats, they really have a lot of culinary experience between them... which is one reason we signed up for this meal!  The space for this meal was Impact Hub Nashville.

Dinner Lab kicks off with a welcome drink, and that night's cocktail was a Pumpkin Old-Fashioned.  Meh.  Despite my love for pumpkin pie, I'm not a fan of everything being pumpkin-ized.  Dan had the drink and wasn't a fan, as he really prefers a traditional Old Fashioned.  There was good, imported German beer available though, which was appropriate (and paired) with the meal!

The idea behind Nashtoberfest as a theme was taking traditional and familiar Oktoberfest flavors and gussying them up (chefs' words).  All the meats are "sourced with thought", and several courses had beer pairings from Weihenstephaner, one of the world's oldest breweries.

We kicked off the meal with a Pretzel Consomme, garlic & parmesan panna cotta, mustard greens & vinaigrette, and bacon lardons.  The panna cotta was a bit bland, but the consomme was flavorful.  The broth itself was Dan's favorite part.  We both loved the crunchy bacon lardons!  Our second course was Roasted Brussels Sprouts with brusselkraut, carrot puree, caraway crackers, and chives.  I'm not a fan of green stuff, so Dan helped me finish mine, and it got his approval.  (Wasn't I just saying in a recent restaurant recap that everyone in Nashville is all over Brussels Sprouts lately?)

The third course was a palette cleaners, an Apple Cider Vinegar & Celery Sorbet.  Wowza!  While I don't like celery, this sorbet was perfectly cold, had a great consistency, and zinged your palette clean.  It was really good!  But our fourth course, the main course, was my absolute favorite.  There was Seared Duck Breast, smoked duck bratwurst, spaetzle, braised red cabbage, and hunter sauce.  I loved the crispy outside of the tender duck breast, though Dan preferred the bratwurst.  I also ate every little bit of spaetzle that I could!  Yum yum yum.

The fifth course had a pastry theme: Cloth Bound Cheddar Gougeres, which were topped with pickled apple and beer mustard.  I would have preferred the gougere be served warm, though it still had a great cheesy flavor.  It was kind of like an amazing grown-up Goldfish cracker turned into a pastry.  In a good way!

For our sixth and final course, we had dessert.  Flourless Chocolate Cake, buttermilk pecan anglaise, beer glazed coconut, and pickled spiced cherry.  EVERYTHING was good about this.  It was scrape-the-plate-clean good.  The cherry too!  I don't even like coconut, but this was a perfect combo without an overpowering coconut flavor.  They NAILED it on dessert.

Much like our previous Dinner Lab experience, we didn't leave feeling overly stuffed.  While the price can be steep for these meals, when you factor in how much you are able to taste (and the fact that you don't get to experience these chefs very often), it works out.  Plus the bar is always open.

Dinner Lab is currently available in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, DC, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, and St. Louis.

Dinner Lab is a members-only social dining experiment & experience.  I'd love if you would use my referral link to sign up/learn more about Dinner Lab, so I can earn $ towards future events!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Budgeting Bloggers: October 2014

If I had to pick a shopping theme for October, it would have to be BASICS.  Everything I got could fall into that category!  This was also the first month of the quarter, with a lower-than-ever total budget, so I was hoping to pace myself well given the big sales coming in November/December.  I spent a little more than I'd hoped to, but I love everything I got.  I even returned some things that didn't work out, which is something I used to be really bad about.

  1. Old Navy Plaid Flannel Boyfriend Shirt in Blue/Green Plaid (originally $27, paid $19):  This reminded me of a J. Crew shirt that I missed out on buying.  I am thinking fall now, so I wanted a great layering piece that also kept me warm!  I love how soft it is, and that the Old Navy tops I bought were an additional 30% off!
  2. Old Navy Quilted Zip-Front Vest in Blackjack (originally $35, paid $25):  I wanted to jump on board the vest wagon, but in a safe way... black is very safe!  This fit well, and I see it as a great layering piece.  I like some of the herringbone vests out there, but I don't think I'd wear them as much as a black basic for now.  This vest was worn twice in one weekend already!
  3. Old Navy Sweetheart Boot-Cut Jeans in New Rinse (originally $30, paid $22):  The only jeans in my closet are skinny jeans, because I've gotten rid of pairs that didn't fit anymore.  Since I am in between sizes, I prefer to pay for a cheaper (but good!) pair of in-between jeans like these.  I love the dark rinse and thick denim.  They'll be well-worn this fall.
  4. eShakti Retro Poplin Shirtdress in Loden green  (originally $70, paid $35 including shipping):  I know... eShakti.  And this dress that I already have in chambray.  But the chambray is my favorite everyday dress that yields tons of compliments, perfect for work and play, and this green color felt like another way I could wear it frequently.  I had $30 in eShakti gift coupons/codes, then received a 25% off code from them to boot.  I'd considered a more unique dress, but given I want to be able to wear it more as a classic piece, I opted for this instead.
  5. Payless Flats (originally $85 total for three pairs, paid $45 w/tax):  All my flats come from Payless.  Period.  I wear them for about a year or so, until they smell bad and I want to toss them.  So every year I get some new basic flats and toss the old ones.  I just can't justify spending more money on flats when the American Eagle line there is so comfy and I know every pair will fit well without issue.  This round, I got the Bayley Twist flat in cognac, Cent Penny flat in black, and the Boulevard Brogue in black.  I'll wear them all to bits!  They were on sale plus 20% off and free shipping.
  6. MICHAEL Michael Kors Jet Set Travel Saffiano Leather Crossbody in Luggage (originally $148, paid $70 with tax):  I've been looking for a brown cross-body bag, but I wasn't finding one in the price range I liked.  I randomly was searching, and this bag popped up on the MK site listed at $64... what?!  I thought it might have been an error, but I snatched it up anyways because it was perfect and a STEAL!  There are card pockets on the inside too.
$216 spent - $40 sold = $176 total
$179 savings

Quarterly Budget: $400 - $176 October= $224 remaining

Overall, the piece I wear the most is the black quilted vest.  Who'd have thought?  The last vest I had that I wore much was one of those Old Navy Performance Fleece vests from back in the day.  I'm tempted to get another, because it's like wearing a warm hug in the cooler weather!  I also really love the Old Navy jeans I got.  I may get a pair of skinnies too, as I had to get rid of some jeans recently due to wear & tear.

While I spent more than I intended to this month, I'm happy with what I got.  I don't feel like there are any NEEDS in my closet right now, only WANTS.

Check out the rest of this month's Budget Bloggers at the linkup at Franish!

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pumpkinfest 2014

I love living in Franklin, Tennessee.  It's like living in Stars Hollow on Gilmore Girls.  There are wonderful festivals and events year-round, adorable shops, delicious restaurants, and an overall quaint feel that I love.

This year, I was asked to take over Heritage Foundation Franklin's Instagram and Twitter during Pumpkinfest, our local fall festival.  Here's a peek at the day's happenings.  It was a GORGEOUS day!

A photo posted by aubreyland325 (@aubreyland325) on

My favorite booths at the festival were SignNiche (I bought one of their barnwood signs!), Ellie's Old-Fashioned Doughnuts (mini pumpkin goodness), and Eli Mason (local-made cocktail mixers; I got some for Dan!).  Shoutout to the amazing vendors!!!

Thanks to the Heritage Foundation for putting on such an awesome event, and allowing me to be a part of it.

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Disclosure:  I was a social media volunteer for the Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization, and I did not accept compensation for my service.
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