Melissa Runs

Sometimes, Melissa runs her legs. Sometimes, she runs her mouth.

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Social Media Pow Wow

My friend Stephanie is a connector. She is the person who knows everybody. She also wants all her friends to become better people by learning from each other. She has turned her house into a salon by having these casual parties where we learn something. I went to a book club discussion of Lean In. Last week, I went to learn about social media.

The talk was titled “How to market your business, self, cause in the digital age.” Emily Reeves works at Stone Ward, an advertising agency in Little Rock, gave a presentation. She helps companies implement social media for a living. I took notes like I was in school. I learned that the shelf life of a tweet is 3 minutes. I learned about websites and messaging. It was an honor to have someone take time out of their day and provide their expertise for free. I was also inspired to start posting here more often and get other projects off the ground.

I was also inspired by the other women who attended. It was a community of dreamers and doers. I met a woman who is helping Arkansans get more energy efficient homes. I met a woman who is going to change the law involving heir property. I met a woman who is part of a start up making 3-D printers. It was a place full of intelligence and passion. The people wanted to learn but they also wanted to support each other in their endeavors. I was honored to be a part of it.

oh Emily was wearing a fabulous outfit.

Thanksgiving Gratitude

The turkeys are thankful to not be dinner

The turkeys are thankful to not be dinner

Tomorrow is the day of the Turkey. The day to give Thanks for all your blessings and a time to spend with friends or family. For the most part, I have spent Thanksgiving with my family. When my Dad’s parents were alive, I would spend Thanksgiving on their farm with many of my Dad’s five brothers and sisters and their kids. It was a large event with at least twenty people in attendance. The food cooking duties were shared among the various family members and we would come together to eat and play. In many ways, this was the only time of the year we would all be together.

Time marched on. My Mamaw died and my Papaw got Altzheimer’s. For a couple of years, we would go to the farm but it wasn’t the same. Mamaw was the glue that held us together and without her big heart, we scattered across the State. One of my Aunts had five kids of her own and when her kids got to having their own kids, she started having her own Thanksgiving at her house.

Now we have Thanksgiving at my Mom’s Mom’s house and the best dog in the world. It’s a tiny intimate affair and my Grandma cooks way too much food. I could probably eke out leftovers until Christmas if I really wanted to do so. She is my last living grandparents and she is getting older. She is noticing her aging and it frustrates her. She goes to many medical appointments but she, at 82, is still able to live alone and tell me a good tale. I am grateful that she is still with me, body and spirit. She is pure love.

50 things about me

Yeah yeah. well I noticed that Foodie Esq. did this. I also haven’t blogged in a while. Obviously I love lists.

  1. I am named after a soap opera character but my Mom doesn’t remember much about the actual character now.
  2. I don’t look my age. (or so other people tell me. They always guess younger)
  3. I started getting gray hair in my late twenties
  4. I used to be an investigator — like Veronica Mars
  5. Veronica Mars is one of my favorite TV shows of all time.
  6. Yes I sent some kickstarter money to get the Veronica Mars movie made
  7. I am tall for a woman
  8. I used to be thin but now I am obese
  9. My grandparents have a family farm/deer camp with no electricity, no running water, and an outhouse
  10. I am from Arkansas
  11. I live in Arkansas now
  12. I spent a little over 5 years in the DC with a summer in NYC.
  13. I still miss the East Coast
  14. I miss the diversity of big cities, especially one chock full of embassies
  15. I was a legal observer (think poll watcher for protests) at the 2000 IMF/World Bank protest in DC. It was huge
  16. I play piano
  17. As a kid, I wanted to grow up and become a concert pianist.
  18. I was inspired by a cartoon of Bugs Bunny playing Listz’s Hungarian Rhapsody #2.
  19. I made it pretty far. I got to college with a music scholarship but ultimately didn’t desire to be music faculty at a college
  20. I have a box of piano trophies in my closet.
  21. I have seen every episode of Six Feet Under
  22. I have also seen every episode of Dawson’s Creek
  23. My two favorite books of all time are Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov and The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  24. Strangely enough, they are both studies about how a person’s views and personality alters his perception of the world.
  25. I think cell phone typing has totally fucked by ability to write grammatically correct sentences. I have to edit like a Mother fucker now.
  26. I curse like a sailor
  27. I like the idea of cooking but I don’t cook that much.
  28. i am a twitter fool
  29. I am a crime magnet
  30. I’ve been mugged
  31. I have had my car stolen
  32. I have had another car broken into
  33. Someone burglarized my apartment
  34. My apartment was broken into on the date of my first law school exam as a 1L.
  35. Seriously that was fucked up.
  36. I was so wired about exams that I was more upset that the burglars had ransacked my notes and outlines in the process of going through my stuff than the actual taking of my stuff.
  37. They did take my alarm clock
  38. I almost missed my second law school exam as a 1L because I set the clock wrong.
  39. I woke up 40 minutes before the exam was to start.
  40. How I managed to wake up, put on clothes, get my papers together, get a cab, and make that cab take me from Adams Morgan to the law school in that short period of time, I WILL NEVER KNOW!!!!!
  41. I like to run.
  42. I have completed the Little Rock half marathon four times
  43. I, unfortunately, due to a cranky calf a little bit of laziness, have fallen off the running wagon and am hopping back on.. like now.
  44. I think Capital Hotel pens are the best pens in America.
  45. I think boiled okra is the grossest food ever.
  46. If dinosaurs had boogers, they would look like boiled okra.
  47. When I was a kid, I would “tromp cotton” with my cousins.
  48. I am fascinated by the Allen House
  49. I have raging insomnia.
  50. I am extremely critical of myself

My big fat BBQ weekend

The House of Gee

The House of Gee

Several months ago, Kelly Gee and his lovely wife Erica started a Kickstarter campaign to procure a super duper mega BBQ smoker. The real name of the super duper mega BBQ smoker is the “Boca Roto” smoker. It is a BBQ machine. It has platforms that rotate above the flame. It is large enough to smoke a human body. Not that I advocate that sort of thing but it is feasible. I am pretty sure that is illegal so don’t point to this blog as permission. Leave human bodies alone.

Ahem..

So as a “Thank you” for all kickstarter donators who donated $25.00 or over, the Gees threw a celebratory BBQ at their house and provided a jar of the Super awesome Gee spice rub for your own BBQ needs. So this weekend. I took a trip to the House of Gee. Look it even has a plaque on the door. Is that charming or what?

Kelly didn’t hold back. He rubbed and smoked all the meats. There were ribs. There was chicken. There was pulled pork. It all had been rubbed down and smoked until it was JUST RIGHT. There was also a choice of 3 sauces: Tipsy Sauce (A bourbon sauce), Mustard Sauce, and the East Arkansas Red (a vinegar based hot sauce). This was tasty food. The ribs were tender and flavorful. The rub on the ribs was enough flavor that a sauce wasn’t necessary. The chicken was smoky. The bourbon sauce was sweet with a kick. The pork was also tender and made a dang fine sandwich.

Of course, there were sides. There was blue cheese slaw. There was potato salad. There were bacon wrapped jalapenos. There was deserts: cupcakes, brownies, diet coke cake (?)

As you can tell it was a feast.

Kelly Gee knows how to smoke a rib.  Potato salad is at the bottom and to the right is the bourbon sauce

Kelly Gee knows how to smoke a rib. Potato salad is at the bottom and to the right is the bourbon sauce

And there were friends. All the foodie friends I have met at different foodie functions were there. Kevin of the Mighty Rib and Red Lobster Biscuit coma fame was there. So was Dan the writer over at Eat Arkansas. Greg of Rock City Times. Thanh of Red Kitchen Recipes. Joel from Southern Ash and his wife Amanda. It was a good time.

Sweet Love fall cupcake extravanganza

On Tuesday, Kelli, ninja baker and owner of Sweet Love had a “fall flavors tasting” on Tuesday. All the new fall flavors in mini cupcake form for free. It was a tasty treat-o-rama. I got to see many of my twitter friends like Erin, Paul Strack of CustomXM, Kelli the baker, Micca… A BUNCH OF PEOPLE OKAY!..
Here are the pictures.

New fall flavors in mini cupcake form

New fall flavors in mini cupcake form

From left to right: Snicker Doodle, Caramel Apple, Bananas Foster, and Pumpkin Pie

The snicker doodle was based on the flavors of the popular cinnamon covered cookies. The cake is a vanilla base with a cinnamon buttercream icing. It was my favorite.

I didn’t have the caramel apple but I was told there was real apple chunks in the cake.

The Bananas foster was a banana cupcake with what I think was a vanilla cream cheese frosting. My talent of distinguishing between butter cream and cream cheese frosting is non existent. A banana cupcake is very similar to banana bread. The frosting did not overpower the cupcake.

Pumpkin pie. (Sorry I didn’t eat this one)

More fall flavors from Sweet Love

More fall flavors from Sweet Love

From Left to right: Spiced Rum, Pumpkin Latte, Italian Cream, and Some Like it Hot (dark chocolate with a dash of Cayenne)

Spiced rum was with a cream cheese frosting.

Pumpkin Latte was a pumpkin cupcake base. It was moist and had a consistency similar to the banana foster cupcake but with the cinnamon and nutmeg associated with a pumpkin pie. The frosting was a cream cheese frosting covered in a dusting of cinnamon.

Italian Cream

Some like it Hot is a dark chocolate cupcake with dark chocolate frosting with a dash of cayenne. What can I say but pure deliciousness. The cayenne is not overpowering and merely enhances the dark chocolate.

Grand Prix run run

The Arkansas chapter of the Road Runners Club of America has announced its Grand Prix calendar for 2014.

January 26, One Hour Track Run, Danville, championship race
February 1, River Trail 15k, North Little Rock, championship race
February 8, Valentine’s Day 5k, Russellville
February 16, Run the Line Half Marathon, Texarkana
March 8, Chase Race 2 Mile, Conway, championship race
March 22, Spring Fling 5k, Cabot
April 5, Capital City Classic 10k, Little Rock, championship race
May 3, Toad Suck Daze 10k, Conway
May 24, Rock Run 8k, Little Rock
June 14, Go! Mile, championship race, also national RRCA 1 mile championship
June 21, Arkansas Runner 2 Mile, Benton
August 2, White River 4 Mile, Batesville, championship race
August 9, Watermelon 5k, Hope
August 30, ARK 5k, North Little Rock, championship race
September 20, Arkansas 20k, Benton, championship race
October 4, Chile Pepper XC 10k, Fayetteville, championship race
October 18, Survivors’ Challenge 10k, Fort Smith
November 1, Midsouth Marathon, Wynne, championship race
November 22, Spa 10k, Hot Springs
December 13, CASA Half Marathon, Pine Bluff

It’s a great way to meet people and run races. Also, you get the opportunity to see the four corners of Arkansas. I had a lot of fun starting this out but then cranky calf and other life things got in the way. I am starting over with my mileage and doing the Little Rock half training program with the small miles (I am at the build up stage) with yoga and weights as cross training.

So for now, I am just working up on building up mileage and figuring out how to not make my calves cranky. Those are my two goals, which ultimately are subgoals to my 101 in 1001 goal of completing a Grand Prix.

101 in 1001 list

I am a compulsive list maker. Part of the reasoning behind the compulsive listmaker is that I have a tendency to get overwhelmed and I have found taking big tasks and dividing them into the manageable small task chunks makes me less frazzled and more productive. Also, my job means I have more to do than I could possibly store to memory so I have to write it down anyway.

I also have been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I believe that the combination of self reflection and goal setting is a good way to keep a girl grounded. I find that I am more focused with clearly defined goals. As far as self help books, I am a big fan of David Allen’s Getting Things Done. It provides a system to execute your goals — right down to scheduling day to day activities. I might say it changed my life.

I found 101 in 1001 on blogs several years ago. I have thought about trying it out and I am in a place where I

Starting Tuesday, the deadline is Tuesday, June 21, 2016.

  1. Complete this list of 101 things
  2. Make a list of 101 things that makes Melissa happy
  3. Make cinnamon rolls from Scratch
  4. Learn to cook a dinner party worthy meal (or something that won’t embarrass me in front of the foodie friends)
  5. Get a bona fide cooking knife (Wustoff)
  6. Complete the Little Rock half marathon three times
  7. Complete the Arkansas Road Runner Clubs of America Grand Prix (You only have to complete 6 races, I think) I tried it this year and failed. 2013 has not been a good year for me
  8. Complete on marathon
  9. Do the Mississippi River half marathon It is near my grandma’s house
  10. Do yoga two days a week for a month
  11. Drink green monsters every day for a week
  12. Keep AGS Alumni afloat and turn it into a bonafide nonprofit with a speaker every year.
  13. To read all the books listed on the Modern Library 100 best novels list.
  14. To read all the books on the Radcliffe Best 100 novels list
  15. To attempt to learn to speak Spanish Fluently. (yeah we’ll see how this one goes)
  16. To call my Grandma once a week
  17. Go to Kenya
  18. Get a bicycle
  19. Incorporate a bicycle into my exercise routine
  20. Visit Washington DC
  21. See the Dandy Warhols in Concert
  22. Paint my adirondack chairs
  23. Grill something using the Kelly Gee grill seasonings I am getting in October 2013.
  24. Go Sky diving
  25. Make Homemade pop tarts with Nutella
  26. Do the William Faulkner tour in Oxford Mississippi
  27. Visit the Crystal Bridges Museum
  28. Try poutine
  29. Get a professional massage
  30. Get a facial
  31. Buy a classic handbag
  32. Watch 10 classic films
  33. Go to 10 concerts
  34. Donate to random business on Kickstarter
  35. Watch Veronica Mars Movie
  36. Get a crockpot
  37. Get three pieces of Fiestaware to add to my collection.
  38. Host a dinner party
  39. write more often on my blog. (at least one post per week)
  40. Put my day of the dead skeleton set up in my apartment. (yee haww)
  41. Get a cat
  42. Advertise for Bowen 5K every year

Wordless Wednesday: Chair

chair

My Dad made me two adirondack chairs for my new patio.

September Burger Caucus: Mugs Cafe

1/2 pound beef burger with avocado, cheese, and a spicy sauce

1/2 pound beef burger

September 18th was National Cheeseburger day and the Little Rock burger caucus celebrated it at Mugs Cafe in the Argenta neighborhood of North Little Rock. I arrived a little late so the burgers were being delivered to some as I ordered. It was a nice mix of politicos, media hounds, and other random folk. I am “other random folk”.

Mugs is a coffee shop that also serves food. As a result, it doesn’t serve fountain drinks such as Coke or Pepsi. You can buy bottled sodas such as ginger ale, grape soda, and similar bubbly drinks. The decor and layout is definitely a coffee shop vibe with tables spread out for socializing. There is a couch and comfy chairs in the back of the place.

The burger itself was a very generous half pound of beef with “bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, pepper jack cheese, and a spicy mayo on an onion roll. Served with sweet potato and apple hash.” (quoting the menu on the website) The pepper jack and spicy mayo means this burger has a kick but it complements not overpowers the beef. It still taste like a hamburger. The sweet potato/apple hash was interesting. I ended up smashing the sweet potatoes with my fork and eating them like mashed potatoes. I wouldn’t characterize the sweet potatoes as mushy though. This was, in my opinion, one of the better burgers in Little Rock and I advise that you make the trek to North Little Rock and check it out.

The best hog is the one in a smoker

Here is a confession. I am pretty apathetic about football. I don’t hate it. I think some schools spend way too much money on it but as far as an extracurricular activity goes, you could do a lot worse. I was in high school marching band so I do understand football. I do manage to have a good time when I go.

One of the fascinating and fun things about football is the tailgating. Tailgating is the practice of people setting up a larger than life picnic style feast in the parking lot of the stadium before the game starts. The particulars of tailgating differ depending on the school. The University of Arkansas plays football games at both the stadium on the main campus in Fayetteville and War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. For people not familiar with Arkansas, Fayetteville is in the northwest corner of the state and Little Rock is centrally located. For many years, Arkansas has tried to make the U of A to be “THE SCHOOL” of Arkansas complete with the Razorbacks being the state team. (Yes there is Arkansas State University and it is a division I school. Another story for another day). The purpose of having the games in central located Little Rock allowed people from all over the state to enjoy the Razorbacks. War Memorial Stadium is located in the middle of War Memorial Park, which includes a golf course. On game day, the entire span of land is filled with trucks, tents, BBQ grills, generators, and televisions.

About a month ago, I was invited to participate in a Kickstarter campaign to raise money so that foodie extraordinaire and hellraiser Kelly Gee could get a BIG ASS Smoker. He plans on competing in BBQ competitions. His first trial run was tailgating at the first Razorback game on Saturday. Now considering that his twelve year old kid kicked my butt in a pie baking competition, I was all about this BBQ.

Oh did I mention that people set up tailgating at like…. 9 in the morning.

I wasn’t having any of that. The game started at 6. I didn’t arrive until 4.

I saw a lot of my food loving friends including the real life urban legend Kevin, Arkansas’s biggest snark master Greg, Dan the Man who has a pair of jorts for every occasion (no really I bet he has a “wedding pair” and a “funeral pair” in his closet) and Kelly Gee, the owner of the Beastmaster and Grand Imp of central Arkansas.

By the time I got there, I got to taste some pork loin and some pulled pork. It was gosh darn tasty and better than some BBQ I have paid money to eat. I heard fawning praise over some wings and ribs. I guess next time I need to make fashionably late a little earlier. I bought some soda and other people had brought food. Dan bought some tasty meatballs. Erin made a plethora of Jello shots. The Cherry Coke one was my favorite.

Oh and the Beastmaster was huge. It would be the official smoker of Fried Green Tomatoes. — if that sort of thing wasn’t illegal and all.

Another friend had a tent further up the way. I visited him for a while and saw a bunch of people I knew.

That’s the thing about tailgating. It’s more about meeting up with people you know: it’s a class reunion, street festival, and happy hour all rolled up into one. If I had made an effort, I could have visited with over fifty people I knew personally and introduced myself to another fifty. But i was all about the relaxing.

Oh the game. Yeah. we won.

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