Square Life Round World

I'm navigating through this round world while living a square life, and it fits exactly as it should.

Disney’s Hoop Dee Doo Revue Review

Back in January when I was at Walt Disney World for Marathon Weekend, some of my friends and I shared an evening of fun, food, and laughter at Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue. 

Program

Program

Hoop Dee Doo is the nation’s longest running dinner show and is held up to 3 times nightly at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.  

This was the second time I’ve gotten to experience this show.  The first time was when I was somewhere around the age of 16 so I was so excited to see it again. 

Getting there takes a little bit of planning.  We spent the day in the Magic Kingdom so when it was time for dinner, we took the boat from the Magic Kingdom to Fort Wilderness. 

Fort Wilderness

Fort Wilderness

Once we arrived at Fort Wilderness, the show, held in Pioneer Hall, was a short walk from the boat dock.  If we had not been at the Magic Kingdom already, we likely still would have taken transportation to the Magic Kingdom first anyway.  The other alternative is to take transportation from any other park to Fort Wilderness then take an internal bus to Pioneer Hall. 

Once we arrived, we checked in with the hostess, and pretty soon they called our party to be seated.  One tip about seating, you are assigned your table according to when you make your reservation, not when you check in with the hostess.  There are 3 seating categories, and the earlier you book, the better your table will be within the category you booked.  We booked Category 1, and I highly recommend it, if you can swing the few extra bucks for it.  There’s only about a $5 per person difference between the categories, so, really, it doesn’t add much to the cost.

The menu

The menu

A big silver bucket of salad was already waiting for us at our table once we sat down.  Pretty soon a warm loaf of sweet cornbread with butter made its way to us.  Our server took our drink orders (soda, coffee, tea, wine, beer, and sangria are included in the price of the event) and explained that the meal would be served family style, meaning platters and buckets of food would be brought out for our table to share.  In addition to the salad and cornbread, dinner was barbecue ribs, fried chicken, baked beans, corn, and mashed potatoes. 

Plate of food minus the fried chicken

Plate of food minus the fried chicken

We saw some tables being served mac and cheese so we asked our server about it.  He said that was for the tables with kids but he happily brought us some.  Everything was all-you-care-to-eat so if we wanted more of something, even adult beverages, our server would have brought it.

Beverages were served in mason jars.  How cute!

Beverages were served in mason jars. How cute!

 

By the time we had all our food and began chowing down, it was time for the show to start. 

Hoop Dee Doo

Hoop Dee Doo

The show was seriously hilarious!  They started by picking a few people out of the audience and singing a cute little song about where they were from. 

Great audience interaction!

Great audience interaction!

They also did a little diddy for people celebrating birthdays and anniversaries.  Since earlier that day we ran the 10k and still had our medals on, they acknowledged us, too. 

They performed right at our table!

They performed right at our table!

Fun, fun!  I won’t give away any more of the show but we could.  Not.  Stop.  Laughing.  The unlimited sangria had nothing to do with this, either.  I promise.  Towards the end of the show, it was dessert time.  Each table was presented with its own whole strawberry shortcake.  Yum!  I was so full by then that I could barely hold any of it but I did manage a few bites.  I would have been thrilled to take the rest back to our room for breakfast the next day.  Sadly, as with any all-you-care-to-eat meal, that was not an option.

After the show, they directed us to a row of buses waiting to take us back to our resorts, which was so nice since getting there is not super easy.

I highly recommend this experience and would love to do it every trip if it weren’t for the pricy tag.  Tax and all came to just under $75 each, making this a special splurge.

Have you been?  What were your thoughts?  Tell me in the comments.

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That One Time I Went to New York City on a Whim

Do you have a really cool friend?  I think we all do.  You know, the one who lives a pretty awesome life and seems to always be doing really cool things.  I actually have several like that but one in particular goes to NYC every six weeks to get her hair done.  If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is!  She would say it’s really no big deal, cheap direct flights, good hotel deals, fly in one day, out the next, etc.  Still, I say it’s pretty cool!

Back in December, I was ogling her pics on Facebook, ooooing and ahhhhing over them.  She told me she was going back in January (about 4 weeks later) and asked if I wanted to tag along.  She was planning on seeing Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden, too, and even had an extra ticket.  Of course she did!  Because that’s how she rolls!  So I checked my airline miles balance and with little hesitation, a short while later my flight was booked.  I had never been to New York before.  It was on my top 10 places I wanted to visit so to say I was excited was an understatement.

The time passed quickly, and before I knew it, I was on the plane headed for the bright lights of the Big Apple.  New York in January is cold, people!  It was even snowing when I landed and snowed off and on for the next 2 days.  Did I mind?  Not one bit!  Being in NYC after wanting to go for so long was surreal!  

Arriving at the hotel was so exciting!  We stayed at the Hilton Midtown. 

Hilton Midtown NYC

Hilton Midtown NYC

She had already checked us in and snagged us a great corner room with 2 windows!  We could even see Radio City Music Hall from one of them! 

Room with a view

Room with a view

As soon as I dropped my bags off at the hotel, we headed straight for Rockefeller Center, then to Times Square. 

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center

Times Square

Times Square

Doesn’t everyone?  Pretty soon it was time to get ready for dinner and a night out.  We ate at Capital Grille.  I’m still craving the lobster mac and cheese!  Then we had tickets to see Pippin, which was fabulous! 

Pippin

Pippin

We capped the evening off with, what else?  Cheesecake!  We were going to go for Junior’s but it was totally packed, so we opted for Lindy’s instead. 

Strawberry cheesecake from Lindy's

Strawberry cheesecake from Lindy’s

It was so creamy and delicious!  It was also much lighter than I was expecting but the slices were HUGE!

The next day began by meeting some of my Princess Posse friends who live in the area for breakfast at Maison.  

Breakfast with Princess Posse friends at Maison

Breakfast with Princess Posse friends at Maison

I loved being able to introduce some of my BRFs (best running friends) to one of my oldest childhood friends (old as in number of years we’ve known each other, not old in age, obviously).  Then, it was off to the Top of the Rock.  The city was so pretty from way up there! 

View from the Top of the Rock

View from the Top of the Rock

The elevator ride was pretty cool, too. 

The Top of the Rock elevator had a glass top so you could see it going up.

The Top of the Rock elevator had a glass top so you could see it going up.

After that, a shopping trip to Macy’s was in order, followed by a trip to the 9/11 Memorial.

Macy's

Macy’s

 

9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial

It was so cold that one of the fountains was frozen so it was turned off.  The other fountain looked like it was just before freezing, too.  Being there was a very somber experience.  We then headed to Little Italy for dinner at La Mela. 

Little Italy

Little Italy

I had the largest piece of Chicken Parm I’ve ever seen in my life! 

Chicken Parm from La Mela in Little Italy

Chicken Parm from La Mela in Little Italy

It was one of the best, too!  After that, we really wanted Junior’s Cheesecake still, so we got some to go and headed back to the hotel for an early turn-in.

Junior's Red Velvet cheesecake

Junior’s Red Velvet cheesecake

We had a really early wake up the next day because we were heading to the Today show. 

Us at the Today Show

Us at the Today Show

It was still pretty cold so there weren’t that many people on the Plaza.  We were part of the opening shot of the show and one of her friends was able to get a pic of her TV with us on it! 

Us on TV

Us on TV

How fun is that?  Two other highlights were Matt Lauer waving to me and Al Roker posing for a pic just for me. 

Al Roker!  I know him!

Al Roker! I know him!

After a few hours of standing in the Plaza, we found a tiny diner for breakfast.  Then it was time for her hair appointment so we said our goodbyes for a few hours.  I headed back to Times Square to do some shopping at, where else?  The Disney Store! 

Times Square Disney Store

Times Square Disney Store

My people!  Then I set out to find the famous Serendipity 3 Frozen Hot Chocolate. 

Serendipity 3 Frozen Hot Chocolate

Serendipity 3 Frozen Hot Chocolate

On the way, I got a little lost and walked by Bryant Park, which I totally didn’t mind at all. 

Bryant Park, getting ready for Fashion Week

Bryant Park, getting ready for Fashion Week

I also stopped in Dylan’s Candy Bar and tried to find Bloomingdale’s. 

Dylan's Candy Bar

Dylan’s Candy Bar

I know I was in the area but I never saw it.  Strange!  I also meandered through Central Park for quite a while.  

I heart Central Park

I heart Central Park

Ahhhh, I heart Central Park!  There was still snow covering the ground and it was so gorgeous!  I headed toward 5th Avenue and saw the famous Plaza Hotel. 

Plaza Hotel

Plaza Hotel

Afternoon tea there or maybe even just a cocktail is definitely in order next time!  Then I found Trump Tower and walked around there a bit. 

Trump Tower

Trump Tower

It was then time to meet up with my friend again.  I must say she looked fabulous!  We were both starving, so she suggested we go get burgers.  I kid you not, this girl knows all the cool places!  She led us to Le Parker Meridien Hotel where there’s this red curtain in the lobby.  It looks pretty non-descript, and you would never know unless you know, which she did, that there’s a burger joint behind the red curtain.  Who knew?!  After that, we went back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner and Billy Joel.  Dinner was at Max Brenner, a restaurant famous for all the chocolate.  All.  The.  Chocolate. 

Max Brenner

Max Brenner

Dinner turned into more like a shared appetizer and desserts.  Yes, plural.  I had a chocolate martini, hot chocolate, and a plate full of chocolate desserts. 

All the Chocolate

All the chocolate

Then it was off to Madison Square Garden. 

Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden

Her excited face

Her excited face

Billy Joel was fabulous!  The man’s voice is amazing, and he sang for about 3 hours straight. 

The next morning we headed out to Battery Park.  Since we weren’t doing a harbor tour to the Statue of Liberty, this was the only way I was going to get close enough to her to see her at all.  

Lady Liberty from Battery Park

Lady Liberty from Battery Park

There was so much ice in the harbor, I really don’t think they were doing tours out there anyway.  Then we went to the Empire State Building. 

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

It was intensely cold that far up!  I actually liked the Empire State Building better than the Top of the Rock.  I liked being higher than anything else around me. 

View from the top of the Empire State Building

View from the top of the Empire State Building

It wasn’t too terribly crowded, either.  After that, we headed back to Rockefeller Center for lunch at Rock Center Cafe.  There was one, lone, ice skater out on the rink. 

Ice skater, Tara Lapinski, maybe?

Ice skater, Tara Lapinski, maybe?

It was obvious that she was someone who knew what she was doing.  She was being photographed, too.  Another one of my friends later identified her as former Olympic Gold Medalist, Tara Lapinsky.  He said she was rehearsing for her Jimmy Kimmel appearance being filmed later that day.  He showed me video evidence that she was, in fact, on Jimmy Kimmel, so we’ll go with that.  We had just a little bit of time for some shopping in Rockefeller Center before I had to collect my belongings from the hotel and head back to the airport to come home.

Rockefeller Center Christmas tree marker

Rockefeller Center Christmas tree marker

Sadly, all good things must come to an end.  It was a trip I will never forget!

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Whole Foods Market Salud Blackberry Farm Dinner

This past Saturday night, I attended a special benefit for the Cooper Young Farmers Market here in Memphis. Whole Foods in Memphis celebrated the grand opening of their new Salud cooking school with this event presented by Blackberry Farm.

Blackberry Farm cookbooks

Blackberry Farm cookbooks

Salud at Whole Foods

Salud at Whole Foods

If you’ve never heard of Blackberry Farm, it is one of the nation’s best luxury hotels and is a working farm in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. I had the pleasure of staying there several years ago and found it to be the most glorious place on earth I’ve ever experienced.

The dinner was done as a demonstration where the chefs prepare the meal in front of you and you eat what they have prepared. I knew because it was Blackberry Farm it was going to be special so I was so excited to attend. I arrived about 15 minutes early since I really didn’t know what to expect. I saw chefs in the room making lots of preparations for us but we weren’t allowed in just yet.

Let me in!

Let me in!

After most people had arrived, they invited us over to a section they had blocked off with tables for a sort of cocktail party type experience. We had our choice of Chardonnay or Merlot, which they explained were available at the store. Wait! What? Wine available at a grocery store? In Tennessee? Yep! They sell it through their Cork and Carry program, a loophole to the Tennessee liquor laws making wine sales in grocery stores illegal. Because they have the BBQ Shack restaurant in the store, they can sell wine by the bottle, but you have to drink some of it before you can take it home with you. Sounds logical! (insert sarcasm)

Wine at Whole Foods

Wine at Whole Foods

Along with the wine, passed appetizers were available. My favorite was the grilled cheese made with Benton’s bacon, Blackberry Farm Magnolia cheese, and Blackberry Farm apple and onion jam.

It may not look like much but this Blackberry Farm Grilled Cheese was a fave!

It may not look like much but this Blackberry Farm Grilled Cheese was a fave!

It was delish! I was also happy to know many of the Blackberry Farm products are available at Whole Foods so I can make this sandwich at home if I want.

Blackberry Farm's line of products is available at Whole Foods.

Blackberry Farm’s line of products is available at Whole Foods.

I also enjoyed the Blackberry Farm deep-fried bread and butter pickles with their J & S sauce as well as their buckwheat pancake with fried sunny side up quail egg and their own salami.

Deep fried bread and butter pickles with J & S Sauce

Deep fried bread and butter pickles with J & S Sauce

Buckwheat pancake with sunny side up quail egg and salami

Buckwheat pancake with sunny side up quail egg and salami

After we had all had our fill of the appetizers, we were invited into Salud for the remainder of the meal. At each place setting was a nice take-away for us, a jar of one of Blackberry Farm’s delectable spreads and a measuring spoon from Salud.

Gift for me

Gift for me

Our chefs for the evening were Josh Feathers, one of the head chefs at the farm, Ryan Burger, the cheesemaker at the farm, and Cameron Roszkowski, also a chef at the farm.

Cameron Roszkowski, Josh Feathers, and Ryan Burger, all chefs at Blackberry Farm

Cameron Roszkowski, Josh Feathers, and Ryan Burger, all chefs at Blackberry Farm

Most of the cooking demos I’ve been to involve the presenter showing a few steps of the dish while servers bring out pre-made and pre-plated versions of the dish. So, you are never really sure who made it. Not here! The chefs actually cooked and plated the courses right in front of us so we knew we were eating their food.

Chefs plating one of our courses

Chefs plating one of our courses

These were highly talented, well-educated, well established chefs, and they were right in front of me, cooking for ME! The food geek in me was elated!

The first course was a vegetable “pasta”, in quotes because the “noodles” were actually strips of veggies.

Vegetable "pasta" in cheese broth with mushroom spread on toast

Vegetable “pasta” in cheese broth with mushroom spread on toast

They were presented with a cheese broth, which was surprisingly not cheesy at all, just very flavorful, and a toast with their mushroom spread. It was so delicious! This course was paired with a Pinot Grigio. Next was the fish course. Baked salmon rubbed with kale pesto, raw kale mixed with a lemon olive oil, carrot puree, and salmon caviar was presented.

Kale pesto rubbed salmon

Kale pesto rubbed salmon

As you can see, I hated it!

What was left of the salmon

What was left of the salmon. All of my plates looked like this.

The salmon was paired with the Chardonnay. Up next was braised short ribs with a fried fingerling potato, tomato relish, sautéed kale and a balsamic reduction.

Beef Short Rib

Beef Short Rib

The chef spent a great deal of time explaining how the tomato relish is made. Their treatment of the most simple foods, their respect for food, and their passion for it really turns it into something special. It was insanely delicious! This was paired with a red blend. Finally, dessert was presented. A ball of their own soft brebis cheese rolled in candied pecans, served with a berry consomme and figs ended the meal perfectly.

A perfect fruit and cheese dessert

A perfect fruit and cheese dessert

The candied pecans were the star! They prepared them by boiling raw pecans first, then mixing one part powdered sugar with 2 parts pecans, THEN deep-frying them for about 5 minutes. I could have eaten an entire bowl of the pecans themselves.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end and with that, the night was over. But not before I snagged a few pics with the chefs!

Me with the chefs

Me with the chefs

The women in their lives are some lucky ladies!

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Disney Parks Blog Food Truck Meet Up

This past Thursday I had the opportunity to attend the Disney Parks Blog Food Truck Meet Up at Downtown Disney at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.  Several times throughout the year, the Disney Parks Blog hosts special experiences that are open on a first come, first served basis.  This is how it works.  They publish a blog post about the upcoming event and when it is along with a few general rules and an email address to RSVP.  The first however many people who send an email get in.  If you are fast enough, you will get an email back later that same day confirming your acceptance.  These events fill up in minutes so if you aren’t looking at the blog at the exact right time you will likely miss out.  I actually have Twitter alerts set up from Disney Parks so if they tweet about it, I usually know pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, I’m rarely there during one of these events so I usually have to live vicariously through others.

This time, however, I was planning to be there for Marathon Weekend and was hoping to get into another runDisney meet up.  I already had about a half an eye on the blog anyway, and it just happened to work out that when they updated the blog with the post about the Food Truck Meet Up, I saw it before the tweet even happened.  So I sent my email right away and about an hour later I got an email back confirming my attendance.  I was so excited!  Fifty people were selected and we were each able to bring a guest.  I invited my friend Heather, whom I was rooming with for Marathon Weekend.  I was also very excited to find out that several more of our friends got in, and I knew we were going to have so much fun!

Princess Posse friends at the Food Truck Meet Up

Princess Posse friends at the Food Truck Meet Up

The email instructed us to be at Downtown Disney West Side between House of Blues and Cirque Du Soleil for a 3 pm check in.  When we got there, it was pouring down rain, and I was thrilled to see that the event was set up under the Cirque Du Soleil awnings to keep us dry. 

They set us up under the Cirque Du Soleil Awnings to keep us dry.

They set us up under the Cirque Du Soleil Awnings to keep us dry.

Upon check in, we were given lanyards in one of four colors and a poncho. 

We were all given lanyards in one of four colors and a poncho to help keep us dry.

We were all given lanyards in one of four colors and a poncho to help keep us dry.

I love that Disney thinks of everything.  The purpose of the different lanyard colors was so each color would start at a different truck to balance out visitors to each truck.  So after everyone was checked in, we were given a brief introduction and description of each of the four trucks.  Each truck is themed after a different Disney park, and there are three different offerings per truck. 

Downtown Disney Food Trucks

Downtown Disney Food Trucks

Going into the event, we thought we would get to try one item from each truck so we were shocked when they told us we were getting one of EVERYTHING.  Score!

Our first stop was World Showcase of Flavors, the truck representing Epcot.  We were given a lobster roll with homemade potato chips, a grass-fed beef slider with homemade potato chips, and a potato perogie with sausage and carmelized onions on the side. 

World Showcase of Flavors Menu

World Showcase of Flavors Menu

World Showcase of Flavors Offerings

This was by far my favorite truck so I was thrilled to get to try it first.  I am a long-time fan of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival held each fall, and these are some of the most popular offerings from the festival.  The lobster roll was my favorite!

Up next was Superstar Catering, the truck representing Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Meatballs were the star here.  We were given turkey sausage and golden raisin meatballs served on creamy polenta, a lamb meatball flatbread sandwich, and a spinach and feta beef meatball sandwich.

Superstar Catering Menu

Superstar Catering Menu

Superstar Catering Offerings

They were all good but I liked the beef meatball sandwich the best. 

Next was Fantasy Fare, representing Magic Kingdoms from all over the world.  We tried the famous hand-dipped corn dog with homemade potato chips from California, a croque monsieur ham and cheese sandwich from France (and Be Our Guest in Florida) and glass noodle salad from Japan. 

Fantasy Fare Menu

Fantasy Fare Menu

Fantasy Fare Offerings

I have to say I was not a fan of the glass noodle salad.  The hand-dipped corn dog was a definite hit!  I liked the sandwich but it did not hold a candle to my favorite croque monsieur sandwich at Les Chefs De France in Epcot. 

A girl and her corndog!

A girl and her corndog!

Finally, we tried the Namaste truck, representing Animal Kingdom.  This was set up a little differently.  The other three trucks put each item on a separate tray, but Namaste put all three on one big tray and even covered it in aluminum foil to help keep the rain out.  I liked that.  The food, however, was probably my least favorite of the four.  We were given tandoori spiced shrimp, butter chicken, and beef short ribs.  The tray also had jasmine rice and naan bread. 

Namaste Menu

Namaste Menu

Namaste Offerings

I loved the naan bread!  I also enjoyed the beef short ribs.  I think I would have enjoyed all of it more had I not been so incredibly full by the time I got to this truck.  Plus, the food here was a bit spicy.  While I normally love spicy food, we were all running a 10k bright and early the next morning and were a little afraid of the spicy food.

In addition to the food, we were also served wine, beer, sodas and bottled water. 

Wine, beer, sodas and bottled water were also offered.

Wine, beer, sodas and bottled water were also offered.

Door prizes were also given out throughout the event, and we learned that each of us could stop by Pop Gallery on our way out and get a free print and glass of champagne, which we took full advantage of.  Our friend Jenn won a $25 gift card to Splitsville.  Also on the way out, we chatted up Thomas Smith, the Social Media Director for Disney Parks, and got some insight on an upcoming meet up opportunity.  He also gave us an exclusive Disney Parks Blog pin.

Disney Parks Blog Pin

Disney Parks Blog Pin

It was a great event and a wonderful way to start the weekend!  I’ve already been asked by several people who have seen my food pics what it is and where they can get it.  My family has even added this to our to-do list for our fall trip.  We were also stopped by several people who saw our lanyards as we were walking back and asked us where the food trucks are.  I predict they are going to be a huge success!

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Godiva Chocolate Truffle Flight

Thursday I had the opportunity to do something fun and free.  I participated in a complimentary Godiva Truffle Flight tasting.  Earlier in the week I got an email saying my local Godiva store would be offering this experience for one night only.  The email instructed me to call and schedule my appointment.  When I called, they were very clear that if you were not on time for your appointment, you would not be able to participate.  My parents were in town to take me out to dinner for my birthday, and I thought it would be a delicious way to end the evening.  So, after dinner, the three of us headed over to the Godiva store, not really knowing what to expect.

There were about 10 people participating in the flight at the same time we were.  Each station was set up with its own gold box of six truffles, a tasting chart, an ink pen for taking tasting notes, and a cup of water.

Each station was set up like this.

Each station was set up like this.

It was set up very similar to a wine tasting if you’ve ever done one of those.  Godiva offers six different truffle flights, and we got to experience the Milk Chocolate Lovers Truffle Flight.

6 Delicious Truffles

6 Delicious Truffles

The six truffles offered were Chocolate Éclair, Milk Chocolate Mousse, Milk Chocolate, Butterscotch Walnut, Salted Almond, and Hazelnut Crunch.

Truffle tasting chart

Truffle tasting chart

My favorites were Chocolate Éclair, and Butterscotch Walnut.  The interesting thing about Butterscotch Walnut is that it was created for Godiva by Duff Goldman, of Food Network’s Ace of Cakes fame.

The experience only lasted about 20 minutes, and I was only able to have a little bite of each, being full from dinner.  We were able to take the rest of our chocolates home with us, though.

My leftovers

My leftovers

All three of us really enjoyed it.  Each flight box sells for $16 in the stores, so to be able to experience this for free was very generous of Godiva.

Have you tried Godiva’s truffle flights?

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How To Avoid (Or At Least Postpone) The Post Vacation Blues

I don’t know about you but I always seem to come down with a serious case of the post vacation blues (PVB) after returning from a big trip. I was expecting my most recent case to be really bad since it was such an awesome vacation. However, my first week back was so incredibly busy and fun-filled that I didn’t have time to suffer. Here’s what I did.

First off, we usually have to stop for the night on the way back from Disney, and this normally means a business-travel-type hotel. That’s usually my first slap-in-the-face from the real world and is a stark contrast to the magical accommodations I’ve been accustomed to for the previous week. This time, however, we made a detour to Biloxi, MS to spend the night at the Beau Rivage Hotel and Casino. Even though it’s still not quite the fairy tale of a Disney cruise ship, it has a very vacationy feel to it. Everyone is still happy, and there’s no real world slap. The $43 I won within 10 minutes of playing the slots helped as well.

Our view from the Beau Rivage Tower--I'm not complaining!

Our view from the Beau Rivage Tower–I’m not complaining!

The first few days back from work were relatively event-free, which always helps. I didn’t have a mess to return to, and nothing earth-shattering happened while I was away, so no PVB-inducing work needed to be done to fix anything.

Then on Wednesday after returning, I went to an outdoor concert at Levitt Shell, which is an amphitheater in Overton Park, located in Midtown Memphis. Levitt Shell is a free venue, and people simply bring their chairs or blankets, coolers filled with their favorite libations and noshes, and maybe a few dollars for food trucks and an optional donation to the band. Most of the time these concerts are held on the weekends but this one was a make-up date from a previously rained-out show. The band was mediocre but the vibe was cool and it turned out to be a very relaxing evening.

Free outdoor concert at Levitt Shell

Free outdoor concert at Levitt Shell

The very next night, on Thursday, I got to volunteer with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at Target House Bingo. In case you missed it, read all about it here.

On Friday, I got to play hooky from work for the afternoon and attended the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic, an annual PGA golf tournament in Memphis.

Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Tickets

Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Tickets

Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Entrance

This year, the biggest player in the tournament was Phil Mickelson, winner of 4 majors, including the Masters. It was funny because almost the entire grounds crowd, including me, was following Phil from hole to hole.

Almost everyone was following Phil Mickelson.

Almost everyone was following Phil Mickelson.

Apparently, cameras were not allowed, and I got reprimanded when I took this shot.

Phil Mickelson at the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic

Phil Mickelson at the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic

They didn’t kick me out or confiscate my phone, though, so it’s all good. The Golf Channel was there filming, being super-serious.

The Golf Channel Camera Man

The Golf Channel Camera Man

Unfortunately, I can’t recall who won the tournament, but I know it wasn’t Phil. It made for a relaxing, PVB-avoiding afternoon, though.

Then that night I was invited to the opening of The Crossroads of Memory: Carroll Cloar and the American South, a new art exhibit at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

Faculty and Honor Roll Students, Lewis School by Carroll Cloar

Faculty and Honor Roll Students, Lewis School by Carroll Cloar

I’m a member of the Brooks, and this was a perk of membership. The wine was freely flowing, and there were tables practically overflowing with cheese, crackers, and fruit. The exhibit itself was beautifully curated and seemed to go on forever. Room after room was filled with his art depicting the rural American South of days gone by. It was all so gorgeous and detailed. I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of time it took him to create each piece.

After that, I capped my evening and first week back from vacation at Chiwawa, a new bar in Midtown Memphis’s Overton Square that serves Mexican influenced bar food and drinks. This is definitely not your typical Tex-Mex, pick-a-number-from-one-to-twenty-three type places. I wouldn’t exactly call it upscale, either, though. It’s more of a hip, modern place with a Mexican flare. I started off with a Strawberry Watermelon Sno Cone topped with vodka and some guacamole with chips. The “drink” was so refreshing! It appears as though there was a lot of ice, but it was plenty strong. The guacamole was chunky and flavorful, and the chips were house made. I followed that up with a brisket taco and a pulled pork taco (pastor style). Both had the most inventive and delicious house made toppings and were so good! I also had their version of Mexican street corn, which is slathered with mayo, cheese and other spices. I’m pretty sure they also soak it in milk or something because every kernel popped and exploded with juiciness with each bite. I would say it was the best corn I’ve ever had, and I’m not really a corn fan.

Chiwawa Memphis

Chiwawa Memphis

It was the perfect ending to a week of avoiding PVB!

How do you recover from PVB?

If you haven’t figured out by now, St. Jude is my favorite charity. I’m running in the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon in December, and I’m trying to raise $500 for the kids of St. Jude. Please visit my fundraising page here, and I would love it if you can make a donation. Any amount helps.

Also, follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

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