Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cashing in my Christmas coupon: TopFlr

My equally food obsessed brother Ben gave me the best Christmas present: a dinner out at a place of my choosing — on him. And that's on a college student's budget (Ben's getting his doctorate in mechanical engineering)!

I cashed in my coupon last Monday to coincide with my first day at a new job. My choice was TopFlr (674 Myrtle Street; Atlanta).

Ben picked me up at 7:30 (what a gentleman) and we headed over to midtown. Parking lot spot - score! The space is quaint and modern, though not as high-end looking as I pictured in my head.

We wondered if TopFlr was still running its $15 four-course prix fix menu — and they were. We listed with all ears. First-course: spring salad. Second course: choice of pork belly and pork loin over cheddar grits with porcini mushrooms or four jumbo shrimp on a skewer over a spring salad. Third course: choice of dessert.

We opted to share three things off the menu (an appetizer - tuna tartare, an entree - hanger steak, and a side - creamed brussels sprouts) plus one of the prix fix menus (the pork/grits one, as a salad appetizer followed by a salad entree wasn't enticing). See the regular menu here. I would have been happy with about anything from this menu. I had a tasty malbec who's name I forgot to note.

The spring salad and tartare came out first. The spring salad was straightforward, tossed in a simple vinaigrette. The tartare was served atop crispy flat bread and featured just enough acidity, oil and spices (their own blend of thai pesto). Ben and I were both impressed by the size (and quality of the tuna) in this $13 appetizer.

If the $13 hanger steak and pork belly/pork loin/grits entrees were competing, it would be difficult to name a clear winner. The hanger steak, served sliced and medium rare, tasted more like filet — and the ginger sauce was a benefit, not a distraction. One word to describe the pork entree: yummmm. The mushrooms were just tender enough, the grits creamy and thick without being too thick. And cheese. Mmm. My one complaint is that after a bite of salty and tender pork belly, the bites of pork tenderloin felt dry in comparison.

Oddly enough, Ben and I agreed that the $4 brussels sprouts were likely the best part of the meal. Damn good. "They taste like candy," Ben said at some point. Made with heavy cream, fennel, shallots and bacon, they were possibly less healthy than candy. What the hell — nothing to feel guilty about during this special occasion meal.

Dessert was a no brainer: tiramisu. Ben pointed out that he was relieved to find more coffee flavor compared to tiramisu he's had recently. Then he added, "I better not tell [my girlfriend] that I ate tiramisu because she'll be so jealous!" I found the tiramisu to be moist and not overly sweet (a problem I often have with tiramisu).

I didn't see (or try and calculate in my head) the final bill — but Ben told me it was reasonable considering the amount of food (plus a drink each) we enjoyed. I'd recommend you kick the tires on TopFlr on a Monday night when you can get special pricing on some (or all) of your meal. If not, you may lay down some coin on the a la carte entrees and sides.

Overall experience: A
Service: A
Interesting menu: B
Average price entree and side: $18

Thanks for the awesome meal and the brother/sister time, Benjamin!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Going Away Day: Sassy Sandal Friday

We commemorated my last day at my job (I accepted a new job with a large auto advertising company) with a theme shoe day: Sassy Sandal Friday.

Maria's sandals mix classic polka dots with fun and flirty flowers.

Allison was on the hunt for versatile, comfortable, cute white heels with zero cheesiness factor. I think she found 'em!

I wore some Jessica Simpson patent, t-strap heels gifted to me by my sister-in-law (too big for her, just right for me). 

Party in the back (my sandals).

Rachel added a pop of glam with her in simple, gold sandals.

Susan's sandals mix two colors I love to wear together: black and brown. Love the flower detail, too!

I'm going to miss all my fun and foxy colleagues — and their willingness to participate in my silly style escapades. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Saturday exploration: Myer's carpet

Carpet remnants galore at Myer's Carpet.

Shoppers write down the sample number and price per-square-foot on the back of each sample for easy reference.

Maria is a most beautiful and most helpful shopping companion.

A variety of textures and materials comprise Myer's' offerings. This damask one was about $5 per square foot.

Seeing how our samples look against the hardwoods. The closest one was a favorite.

Since this post is about thrifty shopping and about home improvement, I was torn about whether to post this here or on my other blog.

I've been on the hunt for reasonably priced rugs. In fact, there have been multiple posts dedicated to said search. Thanks to a comment from Naomi on this post, I decided to go check out Myer's Carpet (1500 Northside Drive; Atlanta 30318; (404) 352-8141).

My bestie Maria and I arrived an hour shy of Myer's' 3pm Saturday close time, thinking we would have plenty of time to comb through the store.

I had sorely underestimated how much time one needs to dedicate to a Myer's trip! Myer's sells carpet, hardwood flooring, high end rugs and other floor coverings (think Shaw carpets, Bella Wood, etc. etc.). We, however, were only interested in checking out options when it comes to making rugs from carpet remnants. Even though we made a beeline for the remnant area, there was still much to see.

A salesperson showed us which carpet remnants were fair game for custom rug-making. They were sectioned off by material: polypropylene, wool and seagrass (looks like woven natural fibers). Browsers can take home as many free samples as desired — and it's recommended that you write down the specific carpet's price per square foot and item number on the back of the sample (or else it would be hard to keep up with what's what). From home, you can see how the samples fit with your home's colors and textures then e-mail an account rep with your ordering decision (size, specific carpet, etc.). Note: there are some finished rug remnants available for purchase as well.

Most remnants were about $2.00 to $5.00 per square foot. Binding the edges is $2.50 to $3.50 per linear foot (depending on what binding material you're using). We saw everything from neutral berbers to wool remnants with beautiful flowers or damask patterns on them. Colors ran the gamut from animal prints to safe solids.

I immediately thought, "this is great!" Then I started doing the math...

I was hunting for several rugs (master bedroom, dining area and hallway runner). Take the master bedroom rug I had in mind. I want a rug that's 8 x 11 (to mostly cover the floor). If I found a nice remnant with a $2.50/square foot price tag ($220-ish for the carpet itself) then added the binding costs ($95), that would still be one expensive rug! (If you're a new reader, then I should point out to you that I am a rather cheap chica.)

Sensible Maria reminded me that paying $300 for a nice, custom-made berber rug is smart investment when compared to buying a poorly made one for $125 that may need to be replaced a year later. Hmmm.... I had a lot of thinking to do!

Luckily, Myer's' model really encourages you to "sleep on" the decision to get a rug. We may pull the trigger on one (master bedroom?) in the next few months, but I mostly feel too afraid to commit to three $200 - $300 rugs. I also hear that Excel Carpet on Roswell Road has a similar model and perhaps even more affordable prices, so I may go check them out.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Inspiration

Some coworkers and I co-conspired to wear Easter colors on Friday. 

I realized Thursday night that I actually didn't have ONE pastel-colored blouse or skirt (or any other bright Easter Egg-ish color anything for that matter). Lucky for me, the Decatur Last Chance had a size 6 pale pink oxford that was calling my name! 

Thanks for brightening up your work attire with me, work friends!

(Josh and Michele couldn't make it for the group shot.)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Follow Friday - New Dress a Day

Marisa from "New Dress A Day" started with this blah tuxedo blouse...

And turned blah to fab with a little blue and black Rit dye. (see the post here)

And here she turned a dreary formal dress...

Into something worthy of the Emmys' red carpet. (see the nipping and tucking details here.)

How can you find new life in a periwinkle 80s dress? (I think I saw this one on Will Ferrel ala Janet Reno on SNL)

By changing it into a fashion-forward, asymmetrically hemmed top, of course! (post here)

About a month ago, I posted about the awesomeness that is New Dress A Day.

Have you been following Marisa and her transformationalist blog? She's committed to only spending $365 this year on clothing. On top of being amazingly economical, she's showing the world how one can take a $1 too-big or lackluster thrift store find and turn it into something "wow"-worthy. Her tricks include dying, taking in, embellishing with lace (or sequins!) and hemming. And did I mention that she includes hilarious commentary in every post?

See above for a few recent transformations. I think I have a girl crush!

I, for one, can't wait to pick my sewing machine up from the repair shop so I can try my hand at a New Dress A Day-style makeover on a Goodwill treasure!