Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Movie Review: The Secret Life Of Pets

We were able to get our hands on some sneak peek tickets again, so this weekend we were able to see The Secret Life of Pets nearly 2 weeks early.

The Secret Life of Pets starts off telling the story of how Max, the main pet, and his owner Katie found each other. They had the perfect life together, until Katie brings home a new, much bigger, dog Duke. Max immediately doesn't like this move, and runs to Katie's side to tell her all of the reasons he doesn't like Duke. When Duke overhears this conversation, it creates a feud.

The feud gets Max and Duke into trouble, and their friends Gidget, Tiberius, Chloe, Buddy, and Mel have to join together and save their friends.

I've seen other reviews that aren't that positive. They talk about how the story doesn't have enough filler, or that there's too many characters, or that someone wasn't rubbing their shoulders while they watched it (the last one I made up). I guess that's where I differ. When they go to a movie, it's their job. When I go to a movie, I go to escape and to be entertained.

I thought The Secret Life of Pets was a great movie. There were multiple times that the entire audience busted out laughing at the old hound stepping on his big floppy ears, or as the tatted up pig comes crashing through the roof.

As a dog person, I thought they were dead on with a lot of the characteristics and antics for the dogs, and blended them perfectly to create an English speaking pet. Basically, you don't hear a voice talking and it's just the body of an animal. The character is acting exactly how you would expect that animal is be acting, but can talk (kind of like what I do with Rhett in my head).

3D movies are usually either really great, or super cheesy and you can tell that they just added this explosion or whatever so they could have a 3D effect, but it doesn't belong. I enjoyed the 3D work here, and really thought it was one of the better ones I've seen. There were a few moments that I could see coming, but when they happened they still surprised me.

I absolutely loved the movie, and if you're a pet person, have kids, don't have kids, or just like fun movies, I think you will too. As long as you're not a movie critic, you're probably going to enjoy The Secret Life of Pets. We'll more than likely be buying this the day it comes out, so we can watch it at home with Rhett.

He's even already made friends with Max and Buddy, and holding Max's paw.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Review: Tin Lizzy's Cantina, Greenville, SC

Greenville has a new taqueria in Tin Lizzys Cantina, and we tried it out for the first time over the weekend.

We don't usually go for appetizers, but we were both starving and are suckers for a good chips and salsa ... plus, we had to try the for research purposes, right?

I usually add salt to the chips wherever we go. Not a whole lot, but a little sprinkle for a little flavor. Well, immediately I noticed these chips came with seasoning already added to them. To go with the chips, we ordered the hot salsa. It's always a tricky choice when ordering at a new place. Is the hot going to shoot steam out of my ears? Is the mild going to be red water? Well, the hot is exactly how I like it. Hot enough to get the nose opened up, but not make you want to cry. A good salsa mixed with delicious chips, and we'll be getting apps again in the future.

There were a few hiccups with Dawn's order. She ordered one beef taco, and one chicken taco with black beans and rice, but got 2 beef tacos and just black beans. It ended up being ok, because she really liked the beef tacos, and the black beans were really good just the way they were. I even heard some "mmmm's" between bites, so lets not start shedding any tears for her over the little confusion.

I ordered the Three Little Pigs Nachos. I mean where can you go wrong with pulled pork, bacon, and chorizo with cheese, jalapenos, lettuce (which I left off), and their honey chipotle BBQ sauce.

I just wanted you to be able to take that in before I went any further.

I admit, I'm not a big nacho guy, so it's not like I have a plethora of nachos to compare these too. What I'm saying is, I'm not a nacho snob like I am a BBQ snob (as the wifey likes to call me). With that said, these are by far the best nachos I've ever eaten. You get a good smokey flavor from all of pork, heat from the jalapenos, and some sweetness from the honey in the BBQ sauce.

I do also need to note, this is probably big enough for 2. I did put a pretty good dent into it, but I was miserably full.

This is a diet crushing dish, and it's worth every single calorie.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Negril Village, Atlanta GA

For our dinner before Alton Brown's show, I made us reservations for Negril Village. It looked like a really nice place, and thought it'd be a little flash back to our honeymoon in Negril, Jamaica.

I was leaning towards the Jerk Chicken and Waffles, but that's what she ordered, so I went for the Curry Shrimp.

The shrimp and Jasmine rice was delicious, but a little on the light side (as in not enough) for me. I finished my plate, and after she tapped out ... I finished her plate (2 legs and a waffle). Now, the jerk chicken and waffles was absolutely amazing. Some of the best jerk chicken I've ever had.

If you're ever in Atlanta, and want a taste of Jamaica, make sure to stop in.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Review: Home Grown, Atlanta GA

I was looking for a new breakfast spot for us, and on nearly every top 10 list was Home Grown. The one that I was more interested in was that it was very high on the Top 10 Best Biscuits list.

We got there at just the right time. There was about a 20-30 minute wait, but it wasn't completely lined out the door ... yet.

I can't remember what it was called on the menu, but Dawn got scrambled eggs, sausage, cheese grits, and a biscuit. I always say it's hard to mess up eggs, so what's there to really say about the rest of the plate? She did say that the cheese grits were the best grits she's ever gotten at a restaurant. There was no need in adding salt, pepper, butter, anything. They came out seasoned and ready to be delicious.

From the moment I found them on the Top Biscuits list, there was no question what I would be ordering ... Biscuits and Gravy (with a side of sausage).

They didn't disappoint. One of my biscuits was a little over cooked and hard, but whatever, it was still really good and the size of the biscuits made it easy for me to just slide the harder pieces over and enjoy the goody (what my sister and I called the soft fluff center of biscuits when we were growing up).

When you make a run through Atlanta, make sure to stop by Home Grown and try their biscuits. They really are that good.

Friday, April 22, 2016

I'm Dyin' For Daddy D'z BBQ, Atlanta GA

With the number of times we've been to Atlanta, I can't tell you how many times we've passed Daddy D'z and I've wondered why we never stop in. Before this last trip, I was looking for new places to eat and found Daddy D'z on multiple "Best BBQ in Atlanta" lists. I decided that before we did anything else on this trip, we were going to Daddy D'z to eat.

We pulled in at 1, and the parking lot was packed and filled with the smell of deliciousness and smoke.

I went with the sampler plate (we should have split), which comes with 6 Que Wraps, 2 Ribs, Beef, and Pork with 1 side and cornbread or roll.

The Que Wraps are pulled pork wrapped in wonton wrappers and deep fried that you take a dip into BBQ sauce. If that sounded amazing, it's because they were. It's like bite size BBQ crack. I could have eaten a plate of just those.

The beef and pork were both pulled in long strands hiding under the ribs soaking up all of yummy goodness dripping off of them. The ribs were absolutely delicious and sloppy messy like ribs should be.

The ribs, pork, and beef were all very good, the Que Wraps were absolutely killer, but the macaroni and cheese absolutely blew my mind. It was like a mixture of that country meat and 3 restaurant with black pepper and it seemed like a little smoke. This is top 5 best mac n cheeses that I've ever had in a restaurant. 

Their motto is, "We Ain't Pretty But We're Good" ... that is not a lie.

Their sauce was a little heavier on the vinegar sauce than I prefer, but the food was on point.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Our New Backyard

Back before Dirt Mountain happened, I wanted to put a cover over the cooking area and build out a deck/patio with a dinning area and fire pit. Well, to stay in the political world, I didn't have enough delegates and my idea was vetoed.

As the new year came around, we started talking about the patio idea again. The original idea was that we would do the project in parts. First would be the cooking area, then we'd do the dinning area, and finish up with the fire pit section. After some discussion we decided to bite the bullet and complete the project in whole so we can actually enjoy it this year.

Day 1 - Post holes cut and footers installed for the cover's posts.

Day 2 - Met with the guy doing the stone patio portion to finalize the layout and all of the details.

Day 3 through 13 - No progress due to finishing other jobs, weather, and sick kids (see, no project goes smoothly for us)

Day 14 - Patio guys bring tools over, mark off new patio area, and remove 3 quarters of the original patio.

Photos courtesy of our security cameras.

Day 15 - Old patio is completely removed and space graded.

Dirt Mountain just won't leave us alone.

Day 16 - The first block is laid down, and ultimately turns into our future step (top not completely). They also laid down and compacted most of the gravel.

Day 17 - No progress due to rain.

Day 18-19 - Weekend off

Day 20 - The rest of the foundation has been laid out and compacted.

Day 21 - They're leveling the area, and hopefully will be putting some pavers out.

Day 22 - They start where they left off. Pavers should be finished up today.

The patio is nearly laid out, and fire pit has be put in place.

Day 23 - The patio is basically completely laid out with step and fire pit in place. Just waiting to be set into place and caps for the step and fire pit. 

Day 29 - Things have been a little crazy this week, so I haven't been able to get any pictures of the progress. The patio is set and the barrier concrete is poured to hold it all in place, and the step out of the house is finish. Earlier in the week they dug the trenches and rebuilt our irrigation in the backyard (that was destroyed when we put up the back fence ourselves, and when we did the wall last year). Currently, our backyard is a solid dirt field being leveled out to have the new sod placed down.

Spoke with the roof builder earlier, and we will be going over final plans tonight to have that portion begun tomorrow.

Day 33 - We were surprised when we came on Thursday that we had GRASS!!!! Since dirt mountain nearly 9 months ago, we haven't had an entire yard of grass (there is a small patch at the side gate still missing grass, but that's so they can finish a few things in that area). The sprinklers in the backyard work, the sod is down (but not flattened completely), patio is 99% finished (mostly just have to put the cap on the fire pit), and the work on the roof over the cooking area will begin today. 

***In case you were wondering why there weren't any updates last week. It's because there weren't any updates. The roofer got there on Monday and put the poles up. Then one of our lovely neighbors decided to call the city on us and have an inspector come out and learn that we didn't get whatever proper permits we needed. So now a week and a few hundred dollars in permits later, he will return tomorrow for the inspector and to continue work.***

Between a week of delays and then a week of rain, I lost track of what day number we're on, so I'll just keep the highlights coming.

He had a few helpers, and nearly knocked out the frame work. It's starting to come alive.

The remainder of the framing is finished (check out the bird flying).

So I stopped doing updates on the progress, so I could just take final pictures of the project. Since then it was a bit of a task to get our yard guy back out to put the finishing touches on the fire pit, sod, and gate. Well, he came out yesterday, and our backyard is FINISHED!

So, after 77 days from the first holes being cut ... we have a backyard again.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Bourbon & Cherry Giant Pigs In A Blanket

A few weeks back we made a trip down to Charleston to see Garth Brooks, and while we were there we visited the local Farmers Market. We're lucky enough that during warm weather seasons it's just outside of our hotel ... literally, you walk out of the side door and within 15 feet, you're in the back of someone's tent.

The last few times we've been, we've said that we should bring a cooler, but of course, we forget every time. Well, not this time my friends (although I did didn't get the size cooler I wanted). We were originally looking for Rio Bertolini, who makes the best pasta you can find, but I demanded that while we were there we had to look for Meathouse Butcher too. We first fell in love with Rio Bertolini when we picked up a few boxes of ravioli when they came up to Greenville's farmers market. Meathouse Butcher has been at the Charleston farmers market every time we go, but again ... never had a cooler to bring it home in.

We pulled up to the farmers market and the very first 2 booths were Meathouse Butcher and Rio Bertolini. I'm 99% sure that as we pulled into the drive we each heard angels sing AAAAHHHHHHHHH!

We walked away with 3 boxes of ravioli from Rio Bertolini, a pack of Jalapeno-Hickory Bacon, a pack of Boudin Sausage, and a pack of their Bourbon & Cherry Pork Sausage.

We had been debating on what to actually do with the sausages, but then we were watching American Diner Revival one night and Amanda Freitag made a pig in the blanket with a full sausage link for one of the diners. As were were watching it, we both turned and looked at each other and said, "oooh that's what we can do with the Bourbon & Cherry sausage!"

So here we are ... a Bourbon & Cherry Giant Pig in a Blanket.

We took the 2 full sausage links.

Seared them in a cast iron pan.

Kind of use the technique of doing a wellington, and put them in the fridge for a few minutes. Once they were out, we rolled them up in puff pastries. We cut the excess off and pressed the extra pieces together for pig #2. No need in using 2 sheets and wasting the excess.

Rolled them up and placed them on a baking pan.

Rubbed the top with some melted butter, then added onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, basil, chives, and smoked pepper. Then put it in a preheated over at 400 for 20 minutes (we originally did 15, but then put them back in for another 5 to finish up).

Once they came out ... pure amazingness ...

I'm so good, I actually made my cut right on one of the real cherries.

We're debating if we can talk Rio Bertonlini's people into bringing up some Meathouse sausage when they visit the Greenville fresh market this Summer. I will DEFINITELY be taking a larger cooler when we visit Charleston again, and we will DEFINITELY be making these again.