Rick Erwin’s Deli: To Die For

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I’m a lucky girl. Lucky and blessed in many ways, I get the opportunity to take a mother-daughter trip in early October to Quebec for a week. Being the youngest of three, and being the only girl definitely has its bonuses. A week with my lovely mom shopping, touring, and strolling through the streets of Quebec in the dawning stages of fall is a dream come true.

In a family dominated by men, it’s pretty appropriate that I get to spend quality time with my mom, and in a place as picturesque as Quebec, I am going to steep myself in its culture and scenery like a bag of green tea. Marinate in its beauty like some summer barbeque.

Quebec is pretty much a smaller, more accessible version of Paris and I am so eager to break out my infinity scarves and my pea-coat and make an adventure of it. Not to mention I will have total anonymity, something so refreshing and very much welcomed. I can be whoever I want to be. Yes, Quebec is Canada and not anywhere near Europe but its roots remain deeply entrenched in France. So my European flair may just take over. Chi Chi.

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What I am most looking forward to about our girls’ getaway is all of the patisseries I will get to behold. I think my eyes might just glaze over. I am a lover of  carbs and desserts and the thought of endless croissants and nutella banana crepes gets my mouth salivating.

Inspired by my upcoming trip, I decided to have a relaxing lunch at Rick Erwin’s Deli, a French deli and market located on Camperdown, with enough character to make you feel like you were actually in a French bakery. They also have the best macaroons I have ever tasted and my friend, Sarah, and I made a date to try as many flavors as we could. I don Rick Erwin’s Deli as one of the best lunch spots in Greenville and the pictures will most certainly confirm why.

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Piece of advice- don’t go at noon because the place is packed with young professionals on their breaks. A late lunch may be more suitable to really sit back and take it all in.

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Sarah was brave enough to try the “green olive” macaroon which doesn’t necessarily tickle my fancy but the amount of sugar in these babies makes the flavor subtle enough to enjoy, regardless of if it is savory or sweet. She also ordered the strawberry and chocolate macaroon while I opted for the pastel palate, choosing pistachio, rose, and lemon. Choices coincidentally indicative of our wardrobe colors…and our purse colors.

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But as any good mother instructs, you must eat dinner before dessert. Sarah ordered a pastrami, bleu cheese something something on marble rye and I fixed my sights on a salad with bleu cheese, almonds, dried cranberries, and a healthy smattering of thick, creamy, balsamic vinaigrette. Oh, and a side of Gazpacho to round it out- make a balanced meal.

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The croissants that they serve with most salads here are the flakiest, airiest I have ever tried. Let’s only hope that Quebec can top these.

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Scrumptious!

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Do yourself a f(l)avor and give this place a shot. You will not be disappointed. In fact, you will be pleasantly surprised with how sophisticated and urban our little Greenville can be.

Mutt Strut: Struttin’ for Love

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Having a passion in life, multiple passions preferably,  is something that everyone should strive for.

I am always asking myself and those around me this question, “What are five things you can say you love without hesitation?” I think if you struggle to name at least three then you need to do some rearranging and prioritizing in how you are carrying out your day to day schedule. You only get one chance here and if you go through life like a zombie trudging through peanut butter, void of anything that makes you feverish with excitement or that tenderizes that tough heart you have, then what will they have to say for you after you are gone?

It wouldn’t be fair to draft this post if I didn’t provide my five so in random order five things that I am passionate about are the fall season, running, fashion, dogs, and organization. Maybe fashion and organization don’t tickle your fancy but there’s something about making a to-do list, color-coding my closet, or analyzing the latest In Style that makes me feel utterly happy and complete. Don’t judge.

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When two of those passions are married, like this past weekend at the second annual Greenville Humane Society’s Mutt Strut, a 5k with your pooch, which gave me both my running fix and my puppy fix, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I could have asked for a little bit less though- maybe less dog poo.

My mom and my one-year-old viszla, Ruby, came up from Columbia to participate in the antics with me. Although Ruby is technically my parents’ dog because she lives with them in Columbia, I was the one who contacted the breeder, sorted out all of the details to pick her up in Alabama, and who finally selected the puppy with the pink pipe cleaner collar. Whenever my parents make a comment about how sweet she is or what a good dog she is, I never cease to chime in with, “I picked her out!”

Last year at the Mutt Strut, I ran without a dog and by myself. I felt a little embarrassed not to have a canine with me but it just so happened that on that exact day, after I finished the race, I drove home to Columbia to meet sweet, six week old Ruby for the first time. So now that Ruby is old enough, dogs have to be over six months and friendly, I knew I had to have her as my sidekick and running partner.

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This year was for sure better than the last. I had friends to run with and the race was probably twice as big, and not to mention I’m in way better shape. There were over 1,000 dogs and over 1,500 people who signed up. Can you just imagine 1,000 dogs huddled at an entrance to Cleveland Park before the race started? It was canine mania, with mellifluous background music of dogs barking and dogs whining, tails wagging every which way. You literally saw joy everywhere you looked. And to think of all the money that was raised for the Humane Society. Running for a cause is the best way to run.

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There were big dogs and little dogs and dogs in strollers (eye roll) and old dogs and rescue dogs. One 150 pound Great Dane tried to make friends with 40 pound Ruby but Ruby referred her people to the other dogs. She’s really just a person in a dog suit anyway. Or that’s how she’s treated at the Chillag household.

She was hesitant about meeting other dogs but once the race started and we were underway, she thoroughly enjoyed the running part, sniffing at dogs as we weaved our way through the park. Although Ruby preferred to run, and run fast, you are always allowed to walk. There were a few people I passed where the dogs were lying on the ground, refusing to run with their owner. Too comical. But here went Ruby and me, Ruby taking me on a run instead of the other way around. My run is her trot and my sprint is her run.

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After you finished the race, you had a chance to take photos of your dog at the photo booth, which I did, and walk around to all of the vendors and collect some free swag for your dog, like shiny new tennis balls or plastic Frisbees. Ruby’s Frisbee lasted about five minutes. That girl can chew. That girl can destroy. For example..look what I woke up to at 7am on Saturday before the race. A hurricane hit my apartment.

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Ruby had killed her toy that I bought her the night before and ran around the apartment with its entrails. It was OK though- Mom said she was just warming up for her big race.

I encourage everyone to do this next year. You don’t have to be a runner or even a dog owner to do so. It’s just a good time where the atmosphere is light-hearted and the fur is flying, slobber optional. It is probably one of the events I will miss the most when I leave Greenville. But who knows? I may come back to participate because it just that fantastic.

#Struttinforlove

Girls’ Weekend: Lake Norris

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For as long as I can remember, I have been a homebody. A homebody that likes the comfort of her own wire-framed bed, who watches her TiVo’d reality shows in her sweaty lululemon tanks regardless of the hour, and who prefers the water pressure of her own shower and the suds her chosen shampoo creates.

I was never a big supporter of the slumber party, opting out or suggesting my own home as the setting, and although I like traveling and visiting friends and places near and far, I never like to stay away for more than a few days. A solid, long weekend is all I need before I start pining for my own address and before I’m missing the security and coziness of my own digs. I’m not sure what it is. I try to seize the day but I seem to only be able to relax with my own coffee cup in hand. Thank goodness I was denied acceptance into the college of my dreams, because being 10 hours away from home would have caused more than a few mental breakdowns.

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Thankfully I live in a city, a beautiful city no less, that is situated in close proximity to just about every place I want to be. Yes, I’d still have to fly (worst fear) to Napa to stomp grapes or to New York to visit my best friend, Jenny, but for the most part, Greenville is central to every destination I aspire to visit. Two hours from home, three hours from my brothers, two hours from Atlanta, and four hours from Lake Norris, the backdrop for my latest escapade- a girls’ weekend in Tennessee. Much gratitude to Greenville for allowing me to arrive in time and style. A big “Yes Sir!” to wearing yoga pants and XL sorority t-shirts all weekend with your girlfriends and not caring an ounce.

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Lake Norris is located in La Follette, Tennessee, just North of Knoxville, and where six college buds and I decided it would be a picturesque place to have a reunion.  All it took was one zippy drive through the mountainous terrain of Asheville and a few wrong turns here and there to be back together again with a bouquet of girls that will always have my heart.

What a blessing it was that lovely, sweet Lauren, her sister, Molly, and their furry companion, Crosley, just happened to have a lake house on the water front, complete with a new boat and some serious monster tubes. What obliging hostesses we had.

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Liz, Claire, Jenny, Kristen, Lauren, Evalyn, Molly, me, and more specifically, Atlanta, Nashville, New York, Greensboro, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Greenville all rendezvoused here for a weekend filled with reminiscing of college days gone by, giggles, and mini cupcakes. It was a dream weekend, spending hours soaking up the sun, wading in the reflecting emerald water, and getting in to some pretty serious water sports. You know I love them water sports….We took a leap of faith {pun} and jumped off the infamous bridge which is probably the highest structure I have ever jumped off of. Frightening, most definitely, but doable with friends by your side who are just as crazy as you are. An adrenaline rush shared by those closest to you is probably the best kind of rush you can get.

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Here’s testimony of us being the daredevils that we are. We are the CrAzY KiDs!!! (Our Kesha theme song for the weekend.)

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And a snapshot of three little biddies, Claire, Evie, and Liz sporting the summer favorite PFG shirt.

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And one more picture of my girls, Lauren and Jenny, rockin’ out on the water.

Not only was the weekend one that will swirl around in my brain for weeks to come because of the happiness that it elicited but one that reaffirmed my belief that life will turn out ok. There was one point when we were cruisin’ on the lake, late Saturday afternoon, after we had had our fill of girl talk and sheer jubilation out on the open water, when I just knew that whatever troubles this group of twenty three year old girls, scratch that, women, faced would come to pass.

I’m not being philosophical, only factual, in saying that we can overcome anything that is set before us. The strength of friendship and the support and spirit we have among each other, the boundless opportunity we have before us, and the refreshment of this weekend with the breeze in our hair left me feeling lighter than ever before. Cheers to the freakin’ weekend!

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I give the wondrous weather and scenery of the South some credit for this.

So while this post may not be specific to Greenville, it is dedicated to Greenville, a place where I met these amazing and silly ladies almost six years ago on that fateful day at Furman….

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Don’t you love how many pictures in which the dog makes an appearance? Photo bombing at its doggone finest!!

 

Little Known Obscurities #6

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1. I use kids toothpaste. Currently wacky watermelon. I’m also adamant about brushing and flossing. There’s nothing worse than a popcorn kernel between the teeth.

2. I have restless leg syndrome. An odd disorder that is hard to define. I occasionally have to get up in the middle of the night to do a little jig.  Makes the tingle subside.

3. I prefer vanilla over chocolate. And in keeping with the sweets theme, when people ask me to describe my personality I say it’s  “funfetti,” filled with lots of tiny bright surprises.

4. I’ve had my heart broken once. And I promise myself it will never happen again. (I felt it necessary to include one sobering thought.)

5. Parallel parking happens to be my most distrusted enemy. I’d up and pay 5 dollars for a parking garage before I even attempt to parallel park. The one misfortune of living downtown.

Bubbly Blow Dry Bar: Let Your Hair Down

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For all those that aren’t familiarly acquainted, or who haven’t spent more than a few hours with me, you must know that I am an extreme girly girl and a helpless sucker for novelty. Take a turn with me through the grocery store and I’ll pick up anything with a flashy label or anything that has “NEW” written in bold, whether or not it looks edible.

I am one of those people that is attracted to anything sparkly, bright, and avant-garde. I’m a baby fascinated by a set of keys. Those apples that were supposed to be infused to taste like bubble gum, I bought ’em. The Reebok leggings that were heralded to tone and lift as you wore them, I bought ’em. So it should come as no surprise that as soon as the new blow dry bar opened, where they wash and style your hair without a cut, I had to experience it.

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There’s Becca in the window!!

It’s not a place I would necessarily go on a whim, because you’re getting your hair styled and I don’t have the money to shell out to do that if I don’t have an occasion or an event. But seeing that it was my lovely friend Becca’s 21st birthday and that I scooped up a living social deal for Bubbly, I was more than willing to accompany her for this visit and to soak up some mid-week pampering. Having someone else wash your hair and massage your scalp is probably one of the most blissful experiences known to (wo)man-kind.

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After entering and being greeted by my stylist and sitting down at the table to enjoy a glass of complimentary champagne (Becca’s first legal drink!!) we flipped through a selection of hair styles to choose from on the iPads in front of us. The iPads added an air of sophistication, not that this little venue needed any with their relaxing white, grey, and orange hues and their awesome bubble-inspired light fixtures.

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I went for the “Tattinger,” lots of soft, loose curls while Becca opted for the “Chandon,” which was beachy hair with lots of carefree waves. Our hair ended up looking pretty similar, but it was more about the venture as a whole, and less about the results. I’d rather DIY my hair anyway because I’m particular about my locks.

The Bubbly Dry Bar is a spin off from the original “Dry Bar” which I’ve only heard of being in big cities. Some of my friends have done it for a girls night out in New York City so I was familiar with the concept but have never done it myself. The process went as follows: choose your style, get your hair washed and conditioned, get your hair blown out while sipping (or gulping) down some champagne, have the stylist add the waves or the curls, and then come out looking like a diva.

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They had the movie, “Crazy, Stupid, Love” playing on a big screen so it was a nice perk watching some Ryan Gosling while being beautified. I always feel really uncomfortable looking at myself in the mirror as the stylist is working her magic, because I either look like a wet dog or I awkwardly make eye contact with the hair dresser, so having the TV was a pleasant diversion.

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Did I enjoy this experience? Wholeheartedly. Would I do it again? Absolutely. Did I think my hair came out looking phenomenal? Ehhhhh, it needed a little tweaking here and there but that’s personal preference. I sincerely hope they stay in business though because I would love to come in again and have them try an up-do.  You know, for those moments I’m feeling particularly chichi. I’m not sure how many of the Greenville ladies would frequent a dry bar but it would be loads of fun for a bridal shower or a girls night out. More fun in groups for sure because then you can giggle and ooh and aahhh at each other.

It is located next to The Cazbah, which just happens to be my favorite Tapas restaurant in Greenville, on McBee right off of Main. It’s a little hidden since it is off of Main but a must try for anyone who’s bold and wants to try something lavish. It is an indulgence but one that may take you from a plain jane to fancy nancy and have you walking with your head held a little bit higher. A result of the poof and your teased crown or just better self-esteem? You tell me.

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Saturday Farmer’s Market, Greenville Style

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Saturdays trump any other of the day of the week. Better than a Friday because you haven’t spent the whole day working, more peaceful than a Sunday because your to-do list isn’t piling up, more wicked than a Wednesday because you don’t have to wait three more days for freedom…Saturday is the blooming hydrangea amidst a smattering of weeds.

Speaking of hydrangeas, I desperately wanted to go to Greenville’s Farmer’s Market to find a mason jar full of fresh flowers to add a touch of hominess to my apartment and to spruce up my coffee table. There’s something about an intricate flower arrangement that makes you appreciate life, life in general. Rain doesn’t seem so bad, waking up early is a blessing, and the sirens of police cars driving by become a part of a natural melody instead of a bothersome bleating.

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Sadly, the market is always on a Saturday and I normally work weekends.  I have been barricaded inside, watching the people pass by with their recyclable bags filled with juicy summer peaches and sugar snap peas instead of jumping in on the action. But this past Saturday I was off, so Noelle and I got up early and walked downtown to peruse the endless street vendors. Word to the wise: get to Main Street early. You will beat the heat and get the pick of the crop in terms of produce selection. It also is always very crowded, so the earlier your feet hit the floor, the more successful your shopping trip.

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This is the best possible place to find your fruits and veggies for the coming week. All local and mostly organic, there are about thirty or so booths set up along the heart of Main where you can stop and sample or try and buy. One of my purchases was a pepper berry chevre, the perfect accompaniment to the buttery cracker, and because I am a dork and keep my Invisalign retainers in 24/7, I had Noelle perform the test taste and give me her seal of approval. The flavor sounded enticing, but I needed it confirmed before I bought it. The station also featured other interesting flavor combinations that I am more than willing to try next time I visit.

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While I tend to be drawn towards the booths that feature sun-ripened fruit or sweet things like Blueberry pies or iced java, Noelle is more attracted to the booths that house fresh herbs and veggies, and there are multiples ones like this so no need to stop at the first one you spy. I suggest walking all the way up the street market and soaking it all in and then walking back to select your purchases.

Noelle picked up some swiss chard and some spicy peppers from a booth that donates some of their profits to the impoverished, which I thought was probably the best booth to purchase from and we both picked up some spicy artichoke salsa in a jar. It is hard not to stop and gaze upon the produce when the colors are so vibrant and possibilities for spicing them up are so endless.

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What I honed in on the most though while zig-zagging around were the three or so flower shops. I normally buy my fresh flowers at grocery stores, and although Trader’s Joes and Whole Foods showcase some beautiful flowers in their displays, they don’t compare in the least to the ones found downtown. And I am not into roses or carnations, flowers that appear so often on desks at work. Note to the guys out there- don’t skimp on the flowers. Buying dyed carnations is a relationship killer if I’ve ever heard of one.

The flowers downtown are so incredibly unique and I am always fascinated by seeing ones I’ve never seen before. You can create your own bouquets at these places too, another reason why I prefer them over the supermarkets. So naturally, I ended up coming home with two arrangements. One for my side table and one for my coffee table. Check out their gloriousness…..

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I wish that the market was all year round because the changing seasons would bring about such a wide selection of produce. It would be awesome if they sold fall apples or winter lettuce but the market only lasts for the summer months and then disappears. It’s like a bear hibernating for the winter, only to pop its head out at the first sign of sunshine. So all of those Greenvillians out there, I urge you to take true advantage of this weekly street festival while it lasts. Buy local, eat clean.

Little Known Obscurities #5

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1. I’ve been asked before if I’m albino………uhhhh. I can’t help I’m a fair-skinned blonde with Scandinavian ancestral ties.

2.  You know how there are crazy cat ladies? Well I’m a crazy dog lady. I watch YouTube videos of them for hours. Soldier reunited with dog and baby meets dog are my favorite genres. I also have a dog blanket, dog t-shirt, dog necklace, dog mug, dog calendar, dog picture frame, dog statue, dog stuffed animal, dog tote bag, dog book, pair of dog slippers, dog poster, dog hat, dog cardigan…..

3. I will be running my first full marathon in November. I’m hoping to make it to mile 20 before passing out.

4. I’m probably the only person in the world who picks the chocolate chips out of her chocolate chip cookies.

5. I have six piercings in one ear, two in the other, and one in my nose, much to the chagrin of my loving parents.

*** The nose ring was removed as this post went to print.