Friday, August 25, 2017

The Ultimate Key to Scrapbooking Success

Like most families this past summer break, yours also probably spent at least a week at some resort, vacation spot, cruise ship, or a city you've always wanted to visit, in order to spend quality time. You want to make memories with your children, I get it. 

But now that the break is over and the kids are back in school, you find yourself with thousands of pictures. Kudos to you if you've actually uploaded those photos from your device to a computer and ordered prints! You can pat yourself on the back now 'cos you're on your way to being a scrapbooking Jedi!

If you're one who orders photo books, good job! You can live your life now. 

But if you're one who prefers to create your own scrapbook, with every sheet, sticker and caption your heart desires, then this post is definitely for you. You need to hear from me, the wanna-be-scrapbooking-mom who has unlocked the ultimate secret to making sure you finish—yes, you heard meFINISH your scrapbook project once and for all.

I have one word: Procrastinate.

I know it's counterintuitive but hear me out...

Delay your scrapbooking. Take your time. Don't rush to do it. I speak from a place of expertise. I am now finally close to finishing our family scrapbook showcasing our Disney World photos from 2012! I let five years go by and I am now finally almost done. I never knew this day would come and I feel like crying, shedding Mickey Mouse-shaped tears in one eye, and Buzz Lightyear ones in the other. I'm not necessarily advising you to wait as long as I did but putting the project aside does have its merits. 

Somewhere along procrastination road, the realization hit me that I did the right thing. After all, wise people do say that good things come to those who wait...and wait some more.

Here are my top reasons why procrastination leads to scrapbooking success: 

1. You will be more selective with your photos. When I first had our photos printed, the pile measured over 3 inches. I sorted them chronologically and thought I was set. Wrong. If I include all of our photos, nothing becomes remarkable anymore. Besides, there were clear duplicates and images that were plain insignificant and would be a waste of scrapbook space. Choosing to wait gives you better perspective in choosing which images deserve to make the cut. You'll be more honest that not every smile, group hug or mascot needs to be memorialized. The less photos you're left with, the less overwhelming the process becomes, which increases your chances of finishing your project. 

2. The focus moves from perfection to completion. Five years have gone by. The face of my child in real life has changed from what I see on my five-year-old photos. I don't think focusing on the 'pretty' and 'fancy' embellishments would be wise for me at this point and I see that now. As I worked on my long overdue scrapbook, I was less obsessive about making everything Pinterest-worthy, or finding the cutest sticker that can go with a photo. I just worked with what I had, forgave myself for not being a scrapbooking goddess, and focused on finishing. A mediocre scrapbook is still better than an imaginary one. 

3. You'll save more money by choosing to wait. By not rushing to finish your scrapbook, you're more likely to encounter sales and be able to compare prices when you buy your materials. Trust me, those cute stickers do add up if you're not careful. If you take your time, you can shop around and come up with more creative, cheaper ways of jazzing up your scrapbook. If you wait as long as I have, you'll find that most anything will do for decorations and you'll force yourself to just make it work. You'll be the MacGyver of the scrapbooking world!

4. Self-love will be an unintended consequence of the process. And who in their right mind would say no to that? Here's what I mean...If you wait long enough, you may notice that you looked differently in your old photos. Maybe you're skinnier now compared to your photos from years ago, and you'll feel happy about your weight-loss journey. Or maybe you're heavier now so then you'll end up appreciating how skinny you were before and simultaneously realize that if you've done it before, you can do it again! Hooray for motivation! 

No matter what you looked like, celebrate the fact that you survived that vacation without losing your mind, or having anyone strangle another, and for that you are a superhero!

5. You will have a greater appreciation for the profound nature of time and of memories. In getting reacquainted with your photos after putting them aside for several months or even years, you will realize how time passes so subtly and quietly, and yet carries so much with it. Nothing ever stays the same, and as you glue or tape each photograph on your book, you whisper a quiet pledge to not take any moment for granted from here on. Of course you will fail, but you will try harder, knowing that memories fade and that what's more important than capturing a photo is just being present in each moment.

Whether you follow my advice or not, just remember that you're not there to create the prettiest scrapbook, but the most personal one. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Do All Loves Deserve a Second Chance?: A Review of Biscuit Love

After hearing all the hype about this breakfast / brunch place in Nashville, our family finally decided to try it out and hoped for the best. And when I say 'hope for the best', I not only mean praying for impressive food but also to be spared a long wait which, we also read, is not unusual for this place. Thankfully, it was a weekday and we had also heard of a second, less-crowded location in Hillsboro Village. 

I'm referring to Biscuit Love, a Nashville restaurant that has its roots from a food truck business, and which has quickly become a destination place for both locals and tourists. They boast of made-from-scratch creative takes on some popular breakfast and lunch dishes, and of course, as their name implies, biscuits you can fall in love with. 

Here's what we tried:

The Gertie -- biscuits with chocolate sauce, HUGE dollops of peanut butter, caramelized banana jam and pretzel bits.

Bonuts -- fried biscuit balls (hybrid between biscuit & donut) sitting on blueberry compote and topped with lemon mascarpone

Bananas Foster Oatmeal -- with fresh bananas and pecans

Chronic Bacon --- thick cut and described as sweet and spicy on the menu

Southern Benny -- biscuit served with country ham, eggs and sausage gravy

For our drinks, my husband had hot coffee, I ordered iced coffee, and my son  had sweet tea. 

I'll go directly to my main point. In our family, we've established a rating system for the restaurants we go to. We have 'Bad' (there-is-no-chance-in-hell-we're-going-back-there); 'Meh' (it's-ok-nothing-special); 'Good' (we-enjoyed-that-and-wouldn't-mind-going-back); 'OMG Yes!' (we-are-absolutely-going-back-and-I'm-already-craving-it!)

For this particular Biscuit Love visit, I went in expecting an 'OMG Yes' but walked out with a 'half Meh-half Good'.

Service was good. The staff was friendly, knowledgeable and efficient. When you enter this restaurant, you are handed the menu right by the door and you place your order and pay even before you are seated. We visited on a Wednesday morning, arrived at 11 a.m. and the place was wide open. That was a very pleasant surprise. 

I would agree with every single comment and write-up out there that the Bonuts were good. I'd say that was the highlight of our meal. But even then, my husband found it too greasy. I argued that all donuts are greasy since they're fried. He didn't buy it. He just didn't particularly enjoy the oily feeling when he bit into them. I didn't mind it. I enjoyed the mascarpone and blueberry combination in each bite, but again, I wouldn't say it was mind blowing, nor life-changing. I've had dishes before where it was 'OMG, I just forgot my name' with one bite, but this wasn't like that. 

Now let's talk about the Gertie. On paper, this is amazing. Who wouldn't love chocolate and peanut butter?? I was really excited about this and it was actually my son's idea to order this. After several bites though, we all quickly realized that we didn't like the execution of this dish. The peanut butter component was just too much. You put this in your mouth and you wouldn't be able to speak, nor taste anything else, other than the gummy peanut butter. If they had toned down a bit on the peanut butter, this might have worked. The other thing that didn't work for us was the fact that the biscuits were not strong enough vessels to accommodate the other sweet components. They just crumbled on the plate every time we would cut into them. I'm not sure if some people like that sort of biscuit texture, but we were not fans of it. 

The picture below shows you the aftermath. And as you can see, there's just way too much peanut butter, even for a peanut butter lover like me. When I ordered the Gertie, the server informed us that this was a creation of the owner's child. A+ for playfulness, but there was much to be desired in terms of finesse and restraint in this dish. 

I ate the Gertie with a side of their Chronic Bacon. Again, this one was better on paper. It said sweet and spicy, but it just tasted like regular thick bacon for me. I also realized that I'm more of a thin, crispy gal than a thick cut one. (In case you're confused, I'm clearly not referring to my body type).

My husband had the Southern Benny. Again, he wasn't impressed with the flavors. There was nothing disgusting about it, the flavors were okay. But again, it just had to do with what he expected vs. what he got. He said he's used to biscuits being flaky, not cakey or fluffy. I'm not sure if Biscuit Love does both, but for all the dishes we ordered, the biscuits were fluffy. Some people say REAL biscuits are meant to be fluffy and crumbly. Others say they should be flaky. It doesn't matter to me, as long as I see that the texture goes well with the intention of the dish or how you're supposed to consume it. I prefer my bread to be a strong enough element in my dish such that it doesn't just crumble on my plate and be swallowed by all the sauce. 

Finally, the Bananas Foster Oatmeal. My son and husband both said they found it too sweet. I disagreed with them. But could it be because I moved from the Gertie to the oatmeal? Maybe. But sweetness aside, I thought this was one dish that was very well executed! The creaminess was spot on and I think that's an achievement. Oatmeal can easily turn gloopy but this wasn't anything like that. This one exceeded my expectations.

In sum, Biscuit Love isn't bad at all, but we didn't think it was ahhmazing either. This place didn't wow us and we were left wondering about all the hype. Maybe we didn't order the right things from the menu? Yes, I've considered that possibility. But then again, I walked in there thinking that after all the raving reviews, I couldn't go wrong with any dish off of their menu. Clearly, that wasn't the case. For the price we paid just for breakfast food, we wish we stepped out impressed and not just half Meh-half Good.  

All food reviews depend on the reviewer's preferences and expectations. I'd even say there are so many extraneous variables that can affect one's assessment like mood, weather, parking situation, etc. That said, all I can say is that my husband gave it a Meh and I gave it a Good. Would we go back?...Let's just say I'm more forgiving than my husband.

Have you been here? Share your thoughts!