Jack N’ Diane’s, Dueling Pianos

Saturday night P & I celebrated a friend’s birthday with a large group reservation at the official grand opening night for the new dueling piano bar downtown, Jack N’ Diane’s.  (I’ve never understood the apostrophe after the N; shouldn’t it replace the missing “i”?)  J&D’s has replaced the old Brown Street club on Brown Street downtown.  We loved Brown Street which had great jazz and blues performances and heavy wine pours.  I hear it also had great food.

View from my seat

View from my seat

We arrived shortly after 7pm for our 7pm reservation – we had two tables reserved for our large group right beside the stage.  In fact, our area was elevated to stage level.  We had no idea that it was the official opening night but some of our friends did.  I wish we had known this or had been able to see the menu online (it’s not currently available) before we got there because we would have just eaten before.  As you can expect, service was pretty bad.  And I don’t think it was just opening night; it was a server who should not be a server.  I felt bad for the girl except I also wanted to tell her to just suck it up (not in a mean way!) and at least try to fake a smile.  She looked pained and on the verge of tears the whole night.  You could tell she was just extremely overwhelmed even before it got crowded, which it did around 8:30.  But, the other servers looked much more at ease and even helped to check on us through the night so I think we just had a very new girl.  I hope she gets the hang of it.  Serving can be hard but I always enjoyed it and in a place like that it should be fun.  This is where P always clues in with his own personal experience of being an awful server haha, it’s not for everyone!photo 2

We waited for drinks, we definitely waited for food and by the time we got it, after 9, some people were in desperate need of it.  We probably waited a little too long to order.  We should have done it while the place was half empty.  I had originally had my eye on the fish and steak tacos but another couple at our table had them and weren’t impressed.  Even looking at them it looked like the flour tortilla had not even been warmed.  It put a damper on the menu for us which was small to begin with:  sliders, tacos, mini calzones, and salads.  No one really screamed over anything eaten there but we did get a taste of the quesadilla and if we had to eat there again, I would order it.  It’s hard to mess with cheesy goodness.  I ordered the Diane salad: spinach, dried cranberries, goat cheese with house dressing.  It was good but then again, they didn’t have to cook anything.  I could have made it at home.  P ended up eating a Greek salad and a mini Italian calzone.  I did not taste his meal and he ate all of it but he was pretty much starving by the time it came.

So it would seem from my description thus far that it was a lackluster evening but it wasn’t.  The show was great.  It started at 8.  The premise is that the audience requests songs on little sheets of paper provided.  When you request a song, you’re supposed to leave a little tip and the highest tipped request gets played first.  There was a $5 cover to get in, by the way, and then you have to tip to request songs, and you can pay to get sayings written on the board by outbidding the previous phrase (lots of back and forths of “Go Cocks!” and “Go Tigers!” – Univ. of South Carolina and Clemson for all you non-SC people out there) – the point being, the evening can get expensive.  But it was really fun.  We were there until 10:30ish, so over 3 hours.photo 5

my favorite performer

my favorite performer

There were 5 musicians that rotated on the piano and even occasionally jumped in on the guitar, drums, and bass.  It seems like all of them could play at least 3 instruments.  Some were better singers than others and some were definitely more fun and better at getting the audience to participate.  I was impressed by there respective talents, for sure.  There was one of the guys who tried a little too hard to be funny and perverted and it kind of fell flat but oh well.  He was the last guy to switch in so most people were probably too drunk to care.  I was driving so only had a couple of drinks early on.

One thing that really bothered me about the menu is that they had a list of about 10 specialty cocktails but there was no description on them.  So, we had to ask our nervous server who could not remember all of them (it was a lot of drinks) and we had to yell over the music.  I would definitely recommend the manager/owner put their descriptions on the menu.  I ended up with the Santagria (no, not sangria) because it seemed the safest bet.  It was a blend of Blue Moon, red wine, and I guess fruit.  Pretty tasty and at $7 not too bad for a mixed cocktail.

Santagria

Santagria

Back to the show.  People requested everything from Billy Joel to Imagine Dragons.  They even pulled out the Thong Song at one point as well as the 80′s classic, Pour Some Sugar On Me.  I really found the evening to be greatly entertaining.  I found myself clapping and singing along. I was surprised when we left there was actually a line out of the door for people to come in.  Surprising for a place with a cover.  I know $5 doesn’t seem like much but Greenville doesn’t do covers.  (And I was already annoyed we had to pay for parking – we almost never have to here.)  But, I would definitely recommend anyone who enjoys some good entertainment to check this place out.  Just eat before you go.

Green Lettuce

I think my dream job or the perfect second job would be food critic.  Basically, I want to get paid to eat and try new places.  Wouldn’t that be amazing?

We don’t often eat out but when we do, I am going to try to write about my experience here.  I was fortunate enough to eat out with an old friend of mine today – we were long overdue a catch up session – at a fairly new restaurant open in downtown Greenville (Augusta St.), Green Lettuce.

Source: Green Lettuce's Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Green-Lettuce-USA/101002013422426

 

Green Lettuce was almost open months ago as Tender Greens but it never got to open its doors until recently.  I am not sure of the details but I do know there was an issue with the name already being used by another company.  I am glad they finally were able to open after months of peeking into their windows and seeing a fully put together and really cute seating area.  The restaurant itself is in a great place right off Main Street in the West End of downtown.  There are lots of shops nearby as well as the park and baseball stadium.  Inside it cute, simple, and kind of rustic with warm colors, live plants, and nice wood tables.  524734_125661597623134_431252709_n

A place called Green Lettuce obviously is going to have salads on their menu but I did not realize it is actually a Middle Eastern restaurant with hummus, tabouli, grape leaves, pita platters, etc. on the menu.  There were even a few items I had never heard of and asked about.  Our server was a very nice, subdued gentlemen who took great care of us.

The menu is two pages, front and back.  The front is pretty much all salads.  I was really intrigued by several of them, especially the fresh date salad.  Dates are not a typical ingredient around here!  But, I was really craving something warm and heartier with protein.  I needed protein.  My friend, who had eaten there before, recommended the roasted turkey sandwich and once I realized it came with soup and  salad, I was sold.

I thought we would get a mini taste of soup but we were started with a fairly large cup.  We both chose veggie soup out the three options; the others were chicken and tomato.  It was so good.  Most vegetable soups I have eaten are tomato based, have potatoes and carrots, etc.  This one was a delicious broth based with broccoli, onions, and other green veggies.  We squeezed the lime it was served with on top and it really sent the flavors overboard.  It was so good.1005323_750526811374_1275753777_n

They also surprised us with a serving of freshly made, warm pita bread.  I’m not sure what they put on this bread but I believe it was some sort of olive oil and garlic spread.  It was so good.  Having bread as an appetizer I originally planned to just eat soup and salad with pita and save the sandwich for another day since it was more bread but once it was brought out, I could not stop myself.1016443_750531372234_2030013252_n

The salad was fresh and crunchy with a great house dressing.  Again, I believe it was an olive oil base.  One of the reasons I had to eat half my sandwich was so that I could dip it into the left behind dressing.  The sandwich (roasted turkey, lettuce, tomato, avocado) did not need any help though.  The ingredients were fresh – did I mention that only use organiz ingredients and try to source as much as possible locally? – and the bread was incredible. I’m not a big sandwich fan, never have been but this was so good.  They put something on the bread, probably what was on the pita bread, that really pulled all of the flavors together.  I ordered it without any mayo or mustard and often without a wet condiment, sandwiches can be dry and boring but this was definitely not the case here.  I saved the last half of the sandwich for another lunch this week (or snack later!).

Friday – Open House

Friday was an open house of sorts at our place.  We really wanted to show off the house and knew that most of our extended family might not have the opportunity to visit again. MIL made barbeque and we had drinks ready.  My mom and sister came in early and with my bridesmaids’ help we were able to get all of the centerpieces done for the reception.  I was also able to pack all of the bridesmaids gifts and cross everything off my short list, almost.  It took a lot less time to get our centerpieces all done than I thought – thanks to my ladies who helped and Mom for organizing.

I did not get all of my packing done that I should have.  I had started my honeymoon bag but didn’t finish it – bad idea.  P and I both should have packed all of our bags before Friday.  Instead I was in a rush packing my two overnight bags (Friday & Saturday – wedding night!) and my day bag for Saturday (getting ready for wedding!).  I needed two different bags because I was staying in two different hotel rooms and also needed a different bag for the museum Saturday because I wasn’t sure of the logistics of getting everything where it needed to go.  This is one aspect I should have really spent more time thinking of and coordinating.  I actually made lists but then didn’t refer to them – anyone else do that?  I ended up Sunday morning not having underwear or shoes, except for my wedding heels.  I just went to brunch barefoot in the hotel.  And, both P and I forgot a lot of stuff for the honeymoon because we hurriedly finished packing Sunday on our way out of town.  Who needs shampoo or sunscreen at the beach?  I probably should have figured out these logistics earlier or asked someone else to handle it but I realize now that I didn’t ask for help nearly as often as I should have.

I wish we got a practice wedding so these little last minute details wouldn’t be a surprise!

We had about 30 people over at the house on Friday – that’s a guess because I didn’t think to count.  I was surprised so many people actually came but it was great to show off our house.  It was kind of a crazy day because I wanted to see and speak with everyone but also had a lot to still get accomplished.  Good thing is I think everyone enjoyed themselves and liked the house.  I hit a wall in the afternoon and just went downstairs to see if I could take a little nap after trying to clean up a bit.  I wasn’t able to nap but laying down with my eyes closed was still good.

P came downstairs where I was trying to nap and cuddled up to me.  As soon as his arms went around me I broke down in tears.  It really freaked him out but I was so overwhelmed with everything.  Nothing was wrong, I was just overwhelmed.  It’s so different with guys, or at least him, he wasn’t worried about all the details or coordinating all the people like I was.   This was actually the only time I cried all weekend.  Of course with my attempted nap and subsequent breakdown, then trying to clean and pack all my overnight bags while getting ready, we were late for our rehearsal.  Ironically, I had asked everyone to be there early because the museum was supposed to have a wedding that evening (which was cancelled but no one told me!) and we were the ones that were late.  And there were several other extenuating circumstances that made other people late, like unfortunately two of the groomsmen were in a car accident (thankfully they were ok!).  At the end of the day, we did what needed to be done and that was that.  It didn’t matter that we were late, the pastor was late, etc. Take my advice and just don’t worry about that stuff – it won’t matter in the end.  I wish I had been better at taking my own advice through some of the weekend!

I have several friends getting married soon and I want them to know that I felt a lot of emotions, not just good ones, that I did break down and cry and that it was okay.  I wish someone had warned me about all of this so I could have been better prepared.  Then again, I could have heard it over and over again and would not have understood until I lived it.  And I know it’s different for everyone depending on personalities and circumstances but I think every bride gets overwhelmed somewhat before the big day – it is absolutely the biggest day of your life and is worth of all the emotion you thrown at it.

Recommendation to brides:  relax and try not to sweat the stuff that is out of your control and take it easy on Friday even if your day is planned to the max.  And, it’s okay to cry, let it out!

Twitter and Goat Cheese

Twitter is such an amazing tool.  People tell me all the time how they don’t understand it and I immediately want to jump onto my soapbox on how cool Twitter is when it comes to networking.  It is a totally different animal than Facebook which it gets lumped with all the time.  Facebook I connect with people I know, Twitter doesn’t have those boundaries.  I just connect with people who are interesting.  It’s short and sweet and illustrates a totally different side to a person’s, or a company’s, character.  Facebook is a complete picture of someone’s life, Twitter is snippets.  From a professional perspective, it is a great way to share blog posts, informational resources, and use as a modified search engine.  You are a organic/vegan restaurant and want to know about what conversations people are having about vegan food, search #vegan.  You are a sales person selling a product, do a search for people talking about your product.  You will find potential clients, reviews, a way to start a dialogue with someone like-minded.  There are so many uses.  I’ve connected with some really amazing people via this particular social platform that I call friends, even if I’ve never met them in person.  (Yes, social media has forever changed the definition of a “friend.”) Something about that dialogue establishes trust, it’s different than with your best friend, but a circle of peers and resources.  And the point is to establish those relationships, to interact.  If you don’t participate in the conversation then I imagine it would be difficult to understand.

I am one of those random Twitter users, at least on my my personal handle.  Not random in quantity but in content.  I post about anything I want… with a filter.  Sometimes it’s about what I’m eating- I follow quite a bit of people in the health and fitness world.  Sometimes it’s about what I am doing out and about in Greenville- the majority of my followers are involved in the Greenville community like myself.  And other times it is just random commentary about life like how I had to superglue half of my big toenail back on yesterday afternoon.  I think some people take that silly commentary to an extreme that is superfluous and boring so beware of that line.  If people want to know everything you’re doing throughout their day, they’ll follow you on Facebook or read your blog.   A lot of times, I ask for advice or questions.   Case in point, today:  ”I bought goat cheese with no real plan in mind of how to use it, need some inspiration.”  It is amazing that a simple question about goat cheese of all things inspired probably more comments than any other, 9 in total.  This makes me laugh and also be grateful that people care enough to respond.  It’s very strange, yet very cool.

Any other random Twitter stories?

 

Bovinova: Not for Vegetarians

Warning: If you are a vegetarian or have a weak stomach you may want to skip the pictures!

P and I just got home from an event called Bovinova 2.0.  2.0 because it’s the second year for the event and our second year attending.  If you’ve ever been to a pig-pickin’, imagine it on crack.  This is a 24 hour cookout; the guys started around 5 pm last night cooking over a very hot and large fire pit.  1 cow, 1 llama, 3 pigs, 10 chickens, 3 goats, 3 lambs, and 3 turkeys.  That’s a lot of meat.  There is a live feed of video on the website and they filmed throughout the night.  And it’s not always pretty.  P saw a whole pig get removed from the fire and get butchered.  He lost his appetite.  We’re taking the concept of farm to table to another level of much higher visibility.  It’s different when you know that the meat you are eating is locally and organically sourced, another to see it’s progress from the pastures to the picnic.  I tasted the beef, turkey, and the llama.  I thought it was all pretty delicious but it’s not like ordering a steak at a restaurant medium rare.  Think higher class of barbeque.  The sauces were especially good.  A friend of mine simply ate a bun with sauce.  There was potato salad, slaw, baked beans, chips, hot dogs (for the kids, although P ate one), and cake pops as well.  Although I missed having something green with my meal, it was pretty fulfilling.  I’m not sure if I ate enough to cause me to skip dinner like last year, but maybe some restraint is better.

One of the best parts of an event like Bovinova, which doubled in size from last year to about 400-500 attendees, is the hanging out.  A live band playing, TimTV and his side kicks    performing with their hoola-hoops, and lots of old and new friends about.  The Cooking Channel was there filming a show!  It was great to say hey, mingle, and just enjoy a beautiful day.  This year all the ticket proceeds went to the Wounded Warrior Project so I even feel good about supporting a good cause.  I didn’t eat any pork so I guess that makes the following pig pictures ok…

Socially Awkward Consulting

Awkward is an awkward word to type, something about those two w’s.  It’s just kind of a weird word.  But I have been typing it over and over again the last couple of days.  I’ve basically started my own little side business, Socially Awkward Consulting (proud of myself for spelling it correctly the first time this go round).  P has been encouraging me for years to do more contract/freelance social media work on the side.  I love social media, especially Twitter and Facebook.  They have helped me create my own little niche and group of friends here in Greenville and I don’t mean internet friends I never meet in person. I’m still working on it but I have met the majority of my close twitter friends face to face and I pretty much won’t accept your friendship on Facebook if I don’t know who you are.  My social network is large and amazing and I’m looking forward to using them (yes, using) as I continue to learn and develop my business.  I’ve successfully utilized social media as part of my sales responsibilities at my last job to gain new leads and business contacts and I’m using it now to find a job.  Networking is always the best way to gain new contacts, the internet has provided us all with a whole other level of networking.

My goal is pretty simple, help small business owners (although I’ll accept large!) get started on social media platforms, understand them better, and help learn to manage them efficiently.  I think this is a two fold client base, those that get social media and want to get involved but just don’t have the time, and those that cannot avoid it anymore and simply don’t understand its uses or effectiveness.  I think it will depend upon the client and their needs.  So, I have a basic mission, now it’s time to figure out the technicalities and make some plans.

Yesterday was one of those crazy productive days which tends to happen when I have tons to do and also tons I want to do.  I created an email account (sociallyawkwardconsult@gmail.com), a twitter account (@socia11yawkward), and a Facebook page. Today I have been wading the waters of building them up and learning to manage multiple accounts.  I’ve been an admin on several Facebook pages for a while but they were already up and running at that point.  Facebook has changed so much in the last 8 years since I originally launched my profile.  (whoa, 8 years.)   The part about social media I love and have a deep understanding of is the networking and interaction component and I’m ready to focus on that part now instead of filling out “about me” sections.  And, I think I may have my first official client (I’m talking to a couple of others) but it is definitely worth a separate post.

There is obviously a lot more to do and more to come, like order business cards, design a logo (although thanks to my friend Allison M I have a cool monogram for now), develop a business plan, market myself, etc…  I’m really thankful I have P, who has a great career in sales, on my side.  What I lack on the business end, he has in droves so we make a pretty good team.