August Wrap-Up

I know it’s not August anymore- and trust me, I couldn’t be more happy about that- but I never got to post about what I’ve been reading over the past month, or any of the events that went down, so here goes.

August was a hectic, terrible month. Justin’s grandma passed away, then my cat passed away shortly after. The highlight of the month was an unexpected trip to St. Louis, when we got to see Justin’s family and visit a few of our favorite places.

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We hit up Sweet Art St. Louis, which has a fantastic gluten free cake, and Soulard Coffee Garden, which we had never been to before but loved. Gluten free diner style food? Perfect.

To offset the horribleness of the month, I started reading The Happiness Project. I’m in the process of starting my own Happiness Project and I highly recommend this book. I also spent the month looking forward to Heir of Fire, which came out yesterday. I’ll be posting a full review once I finish it, but suffice to say, I’m excited! I’ve read a lot of books about female assassins this year, but I haven’t fallen in love with them the way I fell in love with Throne of Glass. Seriously guys, these books are good. Celaena is smart, funny, feminine, and more than a little conceited. She’s a compelling heroine, with well-developed secondary characters to hang out with. I can’t wait to finish Heir of Fire and find out what happens next!

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Next on my list is Bright Young Things, which was advertised to me as “a Great Gatsby YA rewrite, but with lesbians.” I’ve been in and out of this book, just because I’ve been having trouble reading thanks to stress. However, from what I’ve read, the writing is solid and the characters are fully-fleshed and sympathetic. I definitely want to see where it goes and read the sequel.

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The next book I’m excited for is Winter in the Cinder series, but I still have to wait a while for it. I’m hoping that my a Oyster subscription and Kindle Unlimited subscription will keep me reading in the downtime between series.

Ted Drewe’s Frozen Custard, STL

One of my favorite things about St. Louis is the abundance of awesome chain restaurants. I’m not really into chains, but pre-celiac, I could really go to town on some Imo’s or Lion’s Choice. Although I’ll never see another Imo’s bacon pizza (unless they come out with a celiac medication. Can someone hurry up with that?), there is still one chain that I can enjoy…as long as I ask for a clean spindle.

Can you guess where it is? You should, because it’s up there in the title! Ted Drewe’s Frozen Custard, a St. Louis tradition, is gluten free. Obviously a lot of their toppings aren’t gluten free, but asking for a clean spindle isn’t too weird, because plenty of people not only ask for gluten reasons- you also need a clean spindle to take part in Ted Drewe’s if you’re kosher. This is apparently a big deal at some locations, because they have a huge list of kosher ingredients and combinations right on the window. Remember to tip well and be nice to employees for using a clean spindle! It is their job, but a little kindness goes a long way when you come back for yet another delicious concrete.

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Also remember, Ted Drewe’s is better enjoyed if you’re with a large group of friends. Nothing makes a concrete taste better than sharing it with friends and family. (Except maybe making them order their own and having one all to yourself.)

Meskerem, St. Louis

If there’s one thing that I love, it’s trying new food. I love finding new restaurants, dishes, and cuisines to taste. When on a trip to St. Louis this week, my husband and I could not think of anywhere to eat. We’d tried the tourist attractions, restaurants off the beaten path, and St. Louis traditions. But nothing looked good.

So while we were driving around near Tower Grove Park, we spotted an Ethiopian restaurant. Neither of us had tried Ethiopian food before, and the place we had planned to go was closed on Mondays. (Is everything in St. Louis closed on Mondays? It always seemed that way when I went to college there.)

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When we walked into Meskerem, there were about three other families there. The waitress took our drink order almost immediately, and brought out our waters quickly. I noticed that the menu (which was listed as gluten free friendly on Urbanspoon) offered gluten free injera, made entirely of teff. Much of the food is gluten free as well, but be sure to ask. We ordered a platter for two and it was out, hot and fresh, in only a few minutes.

Ethiopian cuisine is eaten with the hands and pieces of injera, which was a new experience for us. The food was flavorful, slightly spicy, and definitely interesting. The platter we ordered contained two beef dishes, a chicken dish, and two vegetarian dishes made with lentils. I really enjoyed all of it, but was especially fond of the lentil dishes. My husband preferred the chicken dish, but we finished all the food, which is pretty unusual for us.

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After the meal, I checked out the drink menu and ordered a glass of “Ethiopian Honey Wine.” The waitress said most people can’t drink more than one glass of it, and I can see why. It tastes nothing like any other wine I have ever tried. It’s very sweet, with a bitter aftertaste, which was really interesting. The wine was almost “earthy.” I probably won’t order it again, but I’m glad I tried it.

Next time we are in St. Louis, we plan to try the Somalian restaurant we saw down the street, but when we get a chance we will definitely check out Meskerem again.

Sweet Art, St. Louis.

We’re on a surprise trip to St. Louis for a family emergency. Although the reason for our trip is sad, we are trying to find joy in being with family and close friends. We have also taken this opportunity to share a few of our favorite places and their food with the family.

In an effort to cheer everyone up, we picked up some miniature gluten free cupcakes from Sweet Art St. Louis. It worked- as much as possible anyway.

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Sweet Art is one of the only places I’ve ever had gluten free cupcakes from that I have actually enjoyed. Today’s flavor was “Tickled Pink,” which appears to be vanilla cake with a pink icing.

No one could tell it’s not a normal cupcake, which was a great thing in the family’s book.

Sadly, we didn’t get to try any of the entrees from Sweet Art, although my husband tried a scone and said it was delicious.

All in all, if you’re gluten free in St. Louis, this place is worth checking out!

Centennial Park and CNN

While we were in Atlanta, we had the chance to visit the World of Coca-Cola. The World of Coca-Cola is incredibly cool, especially the room that has flavors of Coca-Cola from around the world. The only problem is, everyone else thinks World of Coca-Cola is just as cool as I do. So, the first time we tried to visit, there was a thirty minute wait to get tickets, and a two hour wait to get in the door.

I’m not good at standing in line, especially in the heat. In fact, I tend to get dizzy after just a few minutes in the heat. I tend to pass out after a few more minutes, and face-planting in the middle of a crowd of people is not really on my to-do list. Luckily, my family is great about taking my limitations in stride, and we decided to explore the area we were in and come back to the World of Coca-Cola the next day, at opening time.

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There are a lot of cool things to see near the Coca-Cola museum, including Centennial Park, which was designed as (basically) a tourist attraction and ode to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The coolest thing about Centennial Park- well, other than all the events that are held there- is seeing all the bricks with people’s names on them. When the park was being built, people had the chance to put their names or the names of loved ones onto bricks, that would then be displayed forever as the pavement.

I have a brick. I would not have a brick if my dad hadn’t won a contest, allowing him one brick with up to a certain number of characters. I was born then, and my brother wasn’t. So, guess who has their own personal brick? That’s right, little Brittany Nicole, who was too little for this to matter to at the time. Now, I always visit my brick when I’m in Atlanta, but back then, I couldn’t have cared less. I was like, three.

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After visiting my brick, I was overheating, so we decided to walk a cross the street and visit the CNN building. My mom has been on a tour there, and got to ride the world’s tallest escalator. I haven’t yet, so no big news about any of their tours, shows, or reporters. I did, however, get to pose with a lot of weird props and characters in the CNN lobby.

The lobby is a huge food court and marketplace, selling many different types of fast food and all the CNN apparel you could ever need. Here, you can see CNN interns coming and going with their Subway sandwiches, along with plenty of tourists, like us.

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Next time we go back, I want to take the CNN tour instead of just posing beside a news Humvee, but there wasn’t time on this trip. (Side note: see how far back my knees go? I really should be wearing my knee braces, but they just don’t GO with the dress.)

If you do decide to visit Centennial Park, there’s a lot going on besides just CNN and my brick (which is pretty much a tourist attraction in its own right, especially if I ever get famous). Nearby, there’s a giant Ferris wheel, a Civil and Humans right museum, the Georgia Aquarium, and plenty of dining options. You can park nearby for just $8, which is a real bargain in downtown Atlanta. Use the $8 all day parking to check out several of the exhibits and grab dinner before heading back to your hotel! As long as you bring plenty of water and wear walking shoes, you should be good!

Can’t or don’t want to walk far? No problem! World of Coca-Cola has a parking garage immediately across from the entrance, which is also near the entrances of The Civil Rights museum and the Georgia Aquarium. The parking here is $10, but sometimes paying $2 extra is a small price to pay for not having to drag yourself around in the Atlanta heat.

 

High Museum of Art, Atlanta

Recently, we had a chance to go to the High Museum of Art and see the “Dream Cars” special exhibit. The Dream Cars exhibit was really cool, featuring some of the best- and weirdest- concept cars ever created. We got to see a French car with a name that translates to “The Electric Egg,” which was the prototype of the modern Smart Car. Even for a non-car-buff person like myself, seeing a car made of a fabric, a car that looked like a missile, and a Buick that actually looked like something that someone who wasn’t old would drive- that was a pretty cool experience.

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However, the Dream Cars exhibit wasn’t the only cool thing at The High. My mom, a traditional art fan, was excited to see some famous works she had only ever seen in Art History books. She spent a good fifteen minutes admiring a Monet, while I snuck off into the Modern and Folk art section of the museum.

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Mom and I don’t make a good art museum pair, because she scoffs at modern art and I think traditional art is boring. However, at the High, there’s enough of both types of art that neither of us get bored. We can spend time checking out whatever we want, then meet up back in the lobby to see what’s going on out on the courtyard.

When we visited the High (and until November, if you want to check it out!) there was a really cool, interactive, free exhibit happening in the courtyard in front of the museum. It’s called “Mi Casa, Your Casa,” and is based on houses and the home. The courtyard is filled with red house frames, from which hammocks, swings, and other things dangle. Doors to nowhere stand in the middle of some houses. Some stand empty, beckoning to the performance artists and musicians who play for the kids and parents playing in the exhibit. At night, Mi Casa, Your Casa becomes a venue for artists and performers sponsored by the High. The High Museum of Art takes pride in helping Atlanta continue to be seen as the cultural capital of the Southeast.

I’m a big kid at heart, so Mi Casa, Your Casa was the highlight of my art museum trip. I joined the kids (and kids at heart) who were taking a break from city life in the brilliant red hammocks poised in front of the museum entrance.

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As you can see, I wasn’t about to leave my perch. Unless, of course, someone else wanted to use it. After all, one of the “house rules” at Mi Casa, Your Casa is to share!

Unfortunately, I didn’t wind up ceding my prime position because a little kid wanted their own turn. It wasn’t crowded, but it was raining. Sprinkles turned into a downpour, and we raced for the car. Mom and the husband were happy to have an excuse to get me to leave, I’m sure, because we had a two hour drive home.

I plan to visit the High again before the Mi Casa, Your Casa exhibit ends. I’ll probably also check out the Dream Cars exhibit again, if it’s still there when I go. Maybe I’ll even take time to look at that Monet I had to write a paper about in my sophomore year of high school. Or maybe not.

 

Sinoia, Georgia

If I had to describe myself visually, it would probably be a collage of cute desserts and nautical motifs. Luckily, no one has ever asked me to make an autobiographical artwork that was anything other than a self portrait, so this has never been an issue. However, sometimes I manage to capture a photograph that so perfectly describes my personality that I have to share it. Here’s a shot from this weekend, while I was visiting Sinoia, Georgia. There are several French markets and a bakery in town, which is where I procured the macarons! (They were delicious, by the way.)

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Cute, gluten-free desserts and an anchor skirt- what more could you ask for? Well, you could probably ask about a lot, especially since I was visiting the filming location of many famous movies and TV shows. One of the shows you might know of is The Walking Dead.

I’ll be honest here- I’m not a zombie fan. I have only seen one episode of the show, and it was gory enough to give me some weird nightmares. That’s why I had no clue why it was important to sit in this cell, below, which is one of the actual cells used on the set of whichever season of The Walking Dead was set in a prison.

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I guess that’s cool, right? Am I cultured yet?

If, like me, you’re not into the whole zombie aesthetic, the town was also known for it’s visibility in Fried Green Tomatoes, one of my favorite movies. Unfortunately our tour bus was moving rather fast so I didn’t get any pictures of the famous bride and railroad tracks from the movie! Did you know the same bridge and railroad tracks that were used in Fried Green Tomatoes were used in the tunnel fight scenes in The Walking Dead? I certainly didn’t!

The whole trip was part of my Mom’s blogging stuff- she has to write about the trip for Wyndham hotels, who planned and paid for it. I was just lucky enough to tag along so I could take pictures, tweet, and Instagram for her while she was taking notes or what have you.