Dinner in the ATL

One of my highlights of visiting Atlanta for Market is the variety of incredible restaurants within a stone’s throw.  Being in West Texas, I don’t have many opportunities for interesting cuisine, so I rely on my travels to get adventurous – especially with seafood.  On this trip, I was bound and determined to try The Optimist (and I’m really glad I did).


I started with the oysters (of course).  I’ve had great oysters on the East Coast (New York and such), but these were unbelievably fresh and delicious.  Anyone who says they don’t like oysters hasn’t had them like this (or they would).  The Optimist makes their own hot sauce in-house too, and I couldn’t get enough of it.  I tried the Tatamagouche, Cotuit and Barnstable and they were all delicious (in fact, they were so good I ordered another round).


After that I wanted to try to the She Crap Soup and Shrimp toast, but I knew the appetizer portion would be too much – so the waitress kindly suggested that I order a cup of the soup (not on the menu).  It was deliciously creamy, but the Shrimp toast stole the show – brioche battered in breadcrumbs with a shrimp mousse-like filling on the inside. Wow.

For my entree, I ordered grouper with celery root, roasted mushroom, and truffle vinaigrette.


Even though I really didn’t need more food, I wanted to try the bok choy with pickled shallots and ginger (on Natalie Chang’s recommendation) – and it was delightful!  Very fresh and light.  I definitely have to figure out how to copycat that dish at home.


{ I love how they recycle past menus  – isn’t that clever?}

No room for dessert, so I just Ubered it back to the hotel and crashed into a food coma.


One of my other favorite dinners on this trip was at Poor Calvin’s.  It’s a teeny, tiny place, and even with a reservation, I ended up eating at the bar.  As it turns out, that made the experience even more fun!  I sat next to a girl named Pebbles (yes, for real, I saw her credit card) who insisted that I try her Lobster Fried Rice (it was as good as it sounds), so I shared my Steamed Chicken and Pork Dumplings.  Then I ordered Duck Dynasty (seared maple duck breast, tiger shrimp, kale mashed potato, seasonal greens).


The vibe in the restaurant was really cool – great music and a very playful staff – so that made for a fun dining experience.


Oh Atlanta, keep up the good food for me, will ya?  See you next Market!

My Happy Place

I’ll admit, I don’t get much vacation time anymore. In fact, it’s been years since I had an honest-to-goodness vacay (sigh). Everyone says that running a business gives you more freedom, but they don’t really understand that it’s actually the opposite. In theory, it seems that “more free time” would be the case, but EEEEHHHH, wrong, the boss doesn’t get to “take off” if there’s no one else to “man the fort”.

One getaway that I’ve really tried to make an annual affair is fly fishing with my grandparents in the fall. Every August (or so), my grandparents pack up the RV and make their way to Roaring River State Park in Missouri (near Cassville). It’s very remote, and just beautiful! In fact, it’s so remote that there’s  “no service” on my phone… for someone who’s usually very connected, that’s pretty freaking scary. But it’s also strangely liberating. Knowing that “it’s not my problem because no one can reach me” is the kind of nice!

photo(74)I can never stay as long as I’d like to- usually it’s some variation of two or three days… but I just LOVE this place. It’s so peaceful, and serene, and QUIET. With all the daily noise of the store – the cash register ringing a transaction (always a good thing), the beep of the door alarm, conversations between customers, music from the iPod – I’ve learned to cherish silence. (Most of the time, I even drive with the radio off in my car.) When I come home, sometimes I turn on the television, but it’s mostly for something to tune out while I veg. Quiet time means EVERYTHING to me these days. So this little place, this tiny park in the middle of a gorgeous valley, next to nowhere, is my happy place. My quiet place.

photo(90)I may not be a stellar fisherwoman (yet), but I so enjoy fly fishing over any other kind (except maybe deep sea fishing). It’s constant movement, motion… and it includes making fun flies (arguably  my favorite part- but more to come on that later).

What makes it even more fun is that my grandfather is an amazing fly fisherman – and self taught. He doesn’t cast like other men  I’ve ever seen on the riverbank- in fact, it’s not unusual for bystanders to pull up a chair and watch him for awhile! It’s so graceful and effortless how he casts his line- but I know he’s only made it SEEM that way. Belive me, it’s NOT as easy as he makes it look.

I hope that one day I can be as skilled as he is, and that I have the opportunity to “unplug” for a few months at a time like he and my grandmother do. It’s so beautiful. And renewing.  And such a treat to connect with nature. When I’m there, I constantly find myself in awe of the beauty God has put before me.

So there it is- My Happy Place. Where’s yours?photo(91)

Back from the ATL

Well, as usual, Atlanta Market this past weekend was a whirlwind! To start my day off right, American Airlines randomly canceled my flight (at 5:45 am for a 9:30 departure), so I was forced to snag another flight and scramble to the airport in less than an hour… (Seriously, American? Try not to suck so much next time!)
After a few more hours of traveling, I FINALLY made it to Atlanta… Three days later, after walking approximately 10 hrs a day, it was time to head back home. Although it was a short (but thankfully productive) trip, I think it was a success! I also had the pleasure of eating at Two Urban Licks and The Spence, so that made it even more fun.
Soon I’ll be posting some of my favorite finds from shopping Market… But for now,
I think I’ll just… REST ( cause Lord knows I need it)!


Off to Market Must-Haves

 As I prepare to head to Atlanta Market this weekend, I thought it might be fun to share a few  “buyer secrets”.  I’m certainly no pro, but in the past few years I’ve been able to establish a little system that works well for me.  Since I’m usually short on time  {hey, someone has to be at the store to set up those orders!}, I usually try to pack a LOT of shopping into very little time.  I’m all about being as efficient as possible, and that means… being as ORGANIZED as possible!

When I mention that I’m headed off to Market, most people reply with, “Oh, how fun!” and “Man, I wish I could go!”…  The truth is, it’s not as fun as you might think.  Market is HARD WORK.  It’s a “walk-til-you-just-can’t-move-anymore” kind of thing.  For several days in a row.  Some aspects of it ARE fun – finding a great new product or seeing other store owners/sales reps that you enjoy hanging out with – but buy and large (har har, no pun intended), it’s also a beating {on your body, mind and pocketbook}.  The real fun is when we actually get the products in the store and get to hear how much you love them too!  🙂marketnecessities

I’ve created a list of “Off to Market Must-Haves” for anyone who is a new buyer (or if you’re just curious):

So here is my list of “Market Must-Haves”:

A “Hit List”  – a list of vendors that you want to make sure you see at Market.  I usually get this list by combing through the Market catalog accordionand mailings I receive before the show.  I use it as a starting point and can be added to as you go of course.  I start with a Hit List on paper but then transfer it to an excel file {column 1:  location/building/floor/suite, column 2:  vendor name, column 3: notes about the type of product I’m interested in}.  Once it’s in excel, I email it myself and open it up in the Numbers app on my iPad.  This just keeps everything nice and neat (and it’s easy to add to/delete from/re-sort by location or vendor)

Accordion file with month tabs – Mine is a 6-tab file, so it’s perfect for each month.  For January Market, I have the tabs read for Jan – June.  For Summer Market, I turn the tabs around to read Jul – Dec.

Pre-printed labels – with your store info {name, address, phone, fax and email}.  This makes ordering much faster if the vendor is filling out a carbon copy order form by hand.  They’ll LOVE you for this time-saver!

A copy of your Sales Tax Permit – for opening lines with new vendors who need a copy of file.

Shipping calendar – I use the iPhone app Calendars+ to schedule shipping orders.  It syncs with my google calendars so I can check it anytime on my iPhone, iPad, laptop or desktop computer.  By putting the ship dates on a calendar, I can easily see what items are coming soon, etc.

Copies of your credit sheet – if you want to apply for net 30 terms with vendors, this will be a time-saver as well.

Comfy shoes – Like really comfy.  I opt for Toms with a thin Dr.Scholl’s insert for maximum support.  I’d really like to wear tennis shoes, but I try to look at least semi-professional (ha)

Band Aids – for any blisters brought on by the serious walking I mentioned.shoesandlabels

Phone charger – you’d be surprised how terrible reception is in most Market buildings, so your phone’s battery will just get sucked down to nothing trying to find a signal all day.

Protein bars/snacks – Because shopping on an empty stomach just kills your buying power.  No food = cranky = no product looks appealing

A good pen – my fave is the uni-ball vision elite

A legal pad for good old-fashioned note taking.  I like the pink ones.  I know it doesn’t matter, but I go out of my way to stock up on the pink ones before Market.


So there you have it!  A few of my buyer’s secrets REVEALED!  Are you a seasoned shopper at Market?  I’d love to know your tips and tricks for plowing through the sea of available products!



Top 5 Spring Break iPhone Apps

Top 5 Spring Break iPhone Apps

Happy Spring Break, friends!  My facebook timeline is filled with families on vacation, and although I’m not, I thought you happy Spring Breakers might enjoy my “Top 5 Spring Break iPhone Apps”!

Whether you’re hitting the slopes, lounging on the beach, or cruising with the top down on a road trip, you can put these to use!  They also don’t require much pre-planning (as opposed to a hotel or flight booking app), so even if you’re on vacation at this very second, you could download and use them today!

Top 5 Spring Break iPhone Apps

1.  Waze (free) – This app combines navigationwaze with convenience – perfect for a road trip!  Other users can report accidents, traffic, and road conditions that might help you on your way across town or across the country.  It also has a search feature for gas prices, restaurants, and other landmarks near you, which is nice if you just need to stretch your legs.  One of my favorite features is the “Pick Up” option.  You don’t need an actual address to find your way to a friend.  Simply send a “location request” by text (or email)  to the contact of your choice.  If they accept, it will automatically send you directions to their location.  This feature might be handy if you were in a ski town for instance – you could  meet up with your friends at a bar or restaurant, even if they don’t know exactly where they are!

2.  Weather Channel (free) – No matter where you’re traveling, it’s always good to know what the weather forecast is!  You can scroll through the hourly forecast for the day, so you know when that next wave of snowfall is supposed to hit, or when the wind is expected to pick up.  Wouldn’t you just hate to be headed to the beach an hour before the rain storm?

shootit3.  Shoot It (free) – This has been one of my favorite vacation apps in the past few years!  Shoot It basically turns your phone into a post office.  Take a photo (or choose one from your library), add a message, select the recipient from your contacts, and instantly your digital postcard is printed and mailed like a real one – straight from your phone to their mailbox!  Pretty cool, huh?  Each postcard is only  $1.29, so you couldn’t even buy a postcard and mail it for that.  Plus, it’s completely personalized with your vacation photos WHILE you’re still on vacation!

4.  Food Network On the Road (free) – I’m a big fan of Food Network, so I love that this app has all of the featured restaurants from shows on the Food Network Channel.  You can search by location, show (such as Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives), or upcoming featured events (like a St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl).  If you’re a foodie, this is a great last-minute app for a road trip!  On the other hand, if you’re more into planning your  fine dining a few days ahead, you might try the Open Table app to snag a great reservation in your destination city.

5. Sleep Machine ($1.99) – When I’m away from home, I usually have a hard time falling asleep, so for me, this app is worth the $1.99!  You can choose from a long list of ambient sounds (or use your own playlist), create a mix of sounds, and set a timer or alarm.  My favorite noises are the fireplace crackle, Beach 3 (lapping waves) and light rain.  As someone who always sleeps with a fan going, I can also customize a symphony of fan noise combined with rain.  If you try it, I’d love to hear what combinations you enjoy! sleepmachine

So there’s my top five iPhone apps  for all you Spring Breakers.  Do you have any must-have travel apps for vacay?