Food is often the best gift you can give when friends have a baby, a coworker has a family emergency or a friend has a death in the family.
Food Tidings is a great (free) resource for managing meals for the family in need of some grub. This way a couple celebrating a new baby or a family mourning a loss aren't inundated with many meals one night and struggling to figure out what to eat later that week. Freezer/fridge space can be a concern, too. Lastly, how could I not love an opportunity to be organized, automated and thoughtful all in one?
Here's how it works. In the week's leading up to a friend's baby's due date, you can set up a Food Tidings site. As the administrator, you create a date range that meals will be needed for (e.g., January 15 to March 15, 2011). After you've created the meal schedule, Food Tidings generates a link you can send to others so they can sign up for shifts.
(Example of food shift sign-up page)
Food Tidings allows you to list out any food allergies and food aversions (like if the family you're cooking for doesn't like mushrooms or tomatoes).
Also awesome – those who sign up for a meal shift get an automatic reminder from Food Tidings two days out from the committed date.
(Hat tip to friend James for introducing me to this helpful tool. James has a blog but hasn't updated it in like a year.)
She got me food for my birthday, specifically fun, tasty, Buford Highway food. (For you non-Atlantans, Buford Highway* is a long stretch of road chock full of interesting restaurants and shops. Many of the restaurants are rather holes-in-the-wall and represent countries/regions around the globe. It's always an adventure on Bu-Hi).
Moeko let me pick where we would dine. She's mentioned extensively a restaurant called Chateau Saigon, and since I love Vietnamese, I felt compelled to give it a try myself.
The location. Some people have visions of Buford Highway restaurants all having dirty, worn carpet, dim lighting and questionable cleanliness. Such is not the case. Chateau Saigon, for example, had sparkling tile floors, a tidy dining room and well-attended tabletops. (Disclaimer: I am not above going to a dive like the aforementioned…). The restaurant is right by Peachtree Dekalb Airport (a few miles inside 285 on Buford Highway – just west of I-85).
The menu is sprawling. Not quite Ru San's or Marietta Diner sprawling, but hefty nonetheless. (Thank goodness we had experienced guides on this adventure). Pho, Bún, fried rice dishes, clay pots and more.
To start, Moeko and her hilarious husband Matt (seriously, one of the funniest people I know) insisted we get the green papaya jerk salad to share. Served with flash fried lotus root chips, this salad featured a bed of julienned green papaya with jerked/dried beef, garlic, fish sauce, basil and lime juice. Delicious. This could be my entree next time. I kept going in for more helpings (sorry, friends).
With the exception of the prego, we all enjoyed "33" Export, a Vietnamese beer that's similar to Asahi, Tiger and Sapporo.
Ordering my entree was such a tough decision! I love Bún (a traditional Vietnamese dish of julienned zuchinni and carrots with fresh grilled meat, garlic, basil, mint, vermicelli noodles, crush peanuts, lime and lettuce with a sweet/tangy fish sauce you pour over the whole dish. I order Bún when I go to C'om as well). Chateau Saigon's menu offers about 20 different types of bun (from beef to beef and lamb to beef, tofu AND chicken. You get the picture. Having difficulty deciding, I opted for the pork, tofu and eggroll Bún ($8.50 for a heaping bowl). The pork had a light char but remained tender. The shrimp (three or four?) were fresh and good-sized. The tofu I could leave (I can enjoy tofu but this particular dish's tofu wasn't anything to write home about. I'll stick with the animals next time).
Moeko ordered something I'd been eyeing as well: the japanese eggplant. Her eggplant and pork clay pot was served with steamed rice. Tons of food. Moeko probably had leftovers for a week. If I had one complaint about this dish, it's that the sauce seemed a little heavy handed with oil.
On Moeko's husband Matt's recommendation, Dan ordered the "shaken beef." I'm still wondering where the dish name originated… This filet minion dish is cooked with scallions and white onions and was very rich and tasty. My culinary adjectives are not very profound today. Note: the menu has both a $20 and a $9.50 "shaken beef" option. I believe (strike that, I hope for Moeko and Matt's sake!) Dan ordered the $9.50 size… and it was plenty big. As evidenced, Dan was a fan. I didn't even get to photograph before he devoured.
Matt ordered beef with gravy, noodles, bok choy and carrots. This dish seemed to be beef comfort food dish of sorts. The bite I had was tasty but not especially memorable. See above for photo.
Our service was attentive but not overbearing. You know how restaurants can sometimes be too attentive, bordering on pushy to get your order? I didn't get that vibe at Chateau Saigon.
Moeko and Matt picked up the tab (thank you!), so I can't speak to the affordability of the total bill… but I can say the entree prices all seemed very reasonable. I would guess we got out of there for about $80ish, which is very good for a shared appetizer, entrees and beers.
I plan to revisit Chateau Saigon in the near future.
This weekend was much celebrated in Atlanta… the arrival of spring weather. Saturday was in the mid-80s, Sunday in the low-to-mid 70s.
While I do enjoy a pretty day, I'll be honest… I kind of dread the clothing that comes with the spring and summer. You see, I'm more of a jeans/jacket/scarf kind of girl than a sundress fiend. I've been racking my brain the past few weeks to choose my last few "cool weather" outfits before I have to put them away again for another year. Bye bye booties. Sayonara sleeves. Sad face.
A quick trip to Target snapped me out of my warming-up-weather blues. Super cute summer dresses, fun sandals, colorful prints. I feel like you can always count on Target to deliver the goods when it comes to spring/summer seasonal attire — and at a price point I'm comfortable with.
Here's what I scooped up:
Merona floppy hat. I bought this same hat for a friend last weekend, and I've been thinking about it ever since. Had. to. have. it.
Xhilaration Ruffle Neck Tank Dress. I'll probably need to wear a slip under this one (fabric is rather lightweight). Dress didn't come with a belt (that's my old standard $2 Salvation Army-find stretch belt).
And Gran Earrings (in Black and White), fun and flirty danglies of sterling silver, Chinese crystal and rice pearls (listed for $39.00 but SOLD OUT).
And the winner is… comment #7 (as picked by www.random.org)! That's Miz Lee Ann! I'll be reaching out to you shortly to get your mailing address. Congratulations!
If you haven't gone to check out dolma's reasonable prices and gorgeous jewelry, I recommend you do! Great gift ideas (bridesmaids gifts, teachers gifts, wife gifts, just-because gifts, Valentine's Day, etc.). Nice jewelry works for all occasions, or no occasion at all.
For Atlanta area gals who like the jewelry but didn't win the giveaway, there's good news! Ashley does private parties (find out more info here) and can often accommodate a private shopping appointment. E-mail dolma here.
I received a social media preview invite* to (Atlanta) Fernbank Museum's Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids limited-time exhibit. Being that my brother Paul was in town and he's obsessed with mermaids, we just HAD to make time in our weekend to check out the exhibit.
Here we go!
Entrance/exterior of museum. Shout out to our girl Cynthia from Real Housewives of Atlanta (who got married here last season of the Bravo show).
This is a replica of the gigantopithecus blacki, a real gorilla/ape that became extinct about 30,000 years ago. That's a big A ape!
We saw dragons, apes, griffins (gryphons), mermaids and squid galore. Many of the "mythic" creatures we read about have real-life cousins. For example, the Kraken is fictional (think 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea) but squid have been found that near a school bus size in length. Wouldn't want to run into one of those while out in the water in Panama City!
PT Barnum hoaxed American (in the late 1800s) into thinking mermaids really existed when he put this creature on display. (Faux mermaid made from the tail of a fish and the head of a monkey – yikes!).
Paul, I've known you so long and never realized you were hiding a unicorn tusk!
Huh. Have enjoyed Kirin (beer) at local Asian restaurants but never knew "Kirin" was Japanese for unicorn.
The exhibit featured models of all kinds of creatures (apes, griffins, sphinx, unicorns, mermaids and more) and also explained how many myths entered circulation. For example, it's suspected that many sailors who saw "mermaids" actually saw manatees somewhere off in the distance. While the traveling exhibit (visiting from the Museum of Natural history in New York) was fun, I must admit the installation felt more teenager of adult than kid-geared. That's not a complaint, just an observation. The "fun" (in my mind) was in the written history and story-telling of each item displayed, which probably takes at least a 12 or 14-year-old to appreciate.
Paul checks out the mermaid gear in the gift shop. Paul said, "I'm so glad there's lots of mermaid stuff!"
Fernbank Museum of Natural History's "Mythic Creatures" exhibit runs February 19 through August 14.