Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Over the Hill

During my day in Chapel Hill I decided to take a quick tour of the University of North Carolina's campus. Being that I went to a small community college in Mississippi, I never really got to experience what it was like to live on such a massive campus of this sort. So after placing a stake at Time Out Restaurant, I decided to swing thru. I didn't have a tour guide, and honestly had no idea where I was going. The only thing I was armed with was the Google Maps app on my phone, and my camera. Here's what came up.

The UNC Tarheel

Sundial outside the planetarium

The Chapel of the Cross

Entering the Coker Arboretum behind the church

Polo Shirt~Hollister, Chino Shorts~Polo Ralph Lauren, Canvas Sneakers~Aldo, Belt~Army Navy Surplus, Watch~Timex, Sunglasses~H&M

Monday, May 28, 2012

Take a Time Out

To me, there are few things more American than a greasy spoon joint. Chances are, it's going to be locally owned which is great because I love supporting small businesses. There will be some history behind it and God knows I love a good story. And lastly the food. It's not called a greasy spoon for nothing. They have good down home cooking. The kind of food that can easily monopolize your entire daily recommended allowance of 2000 calories in one sitting.

Enter "Time Out Restaurant". Founded in the 70's, it's been a mainstay for UNC alum as its located right outside the campus in Chapel Hill. It strikes the right cord on so many levels with campus life. Its inexpensive. Students on campus are fiscally challenge at best. Its home cooked food. Students on campus are away from home for months at a time so its a great place for a homestyle meal. And they're open 24 hours. College kids love a place to wind down after all night cramming sessions, a place to go after games, or more than likely a place to pig out after all night parties where they develope ....ahem...the munchies.

Polo Shirt~Hollister, Watch~Timex
 I learned about the place about a year ago when one of my favorite shows "Man vs Food" documented and endorsed it (skip to 2.24). And they highlighted the house special, an enormously large biscuit with a boneless fried chicken breast and 2 slices of cheese slapped in the middle. According to the sign on the wall, over the years they've sold over 2.8 million of them. Yea, that's clout. Also, the macaroni is smackin, and the cinnamon buns are mouth wateringly soft. So the next time your in the area, swing thru and grab a piece of history.

On Wife:Plaid Button Down~Forever 21, Jersey Vest~Gap, Neclace~Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Bracelet~Wet Seal
On Daughter: Polo Shirt, Polo Ralph Lauren
On Son: Polo Shirt~Polo Ralph Lauren

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The (other) Love of My Life

You all know the name of this website is called Chinos & Cheesecake. But you may not know why. Well after days and days of brainstorming I chose the name because right behind my wife and kids (ok my brother and parents too) those are the 2 things that I absolutely adore. 

There is nothing like a well made, well fitting pair of chinos. Get you a pair in a khaki color and you can literally wear them everyday for the rest of your life and you will be properly dressed for just about everything except a funeral. 

Now as for cheesecake. The love affair started maybe around 15 years ago or so. I was in Ryan's with my parents on a Sunday afternoon like we normally did at those times. I quickly destroyed 2 helpings macaroni, wings, shrimp, and corn (I always got the same thing every time...always). When I made my way to the desert bar I noticed there was something new. They had cheesecake. Up until this point I had never had it before. Only something that I had seen on cooking shows, but always wanted to try it. After all, my favorite food at the time was cheese. So I just automatically assumed that cheesecake must taste awesome. So I made my way back to my seat and took the first bite of cheesecake ever in my life. And. I. Literally. Wet. Myself. It was amazing. I thought to myself "Where have you been all my life?" 

So after that, just about any time I had the opportunity, I got some. However it wasn't until recently when I actually taught myself to cook it. One of the things I love most is that there are so many ways to do it. Different things you can add to get a completely different flavor. Cheesecake is hands down my favorite food. And I would like to share with you guys how I make it. 

The Ingredients.
1.3/4 cup sugar, 2.1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, 3. 2tbsp peanut butter, 4.10 strawberries, 5. 3/4 tsp vanilla extract, 6. 1/4 cup all purpose flour, 7. 3 8oz cream cheese, 8. 2 deep pie shells, 9. 3 eggs, 10. 2 8oz cool whip

Step 1.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees

Step 2.
Take your 3 cream cheeses and pop them in the microwave for about 20 seconds or so just to get them soft. Then scrape them into a large bowl.
Step 3.
Add 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of all purpose flour. The get your mixer and go to town until its thoroughly mixed.

Step 4. 
Add 3 eggs one at at time. Mix well between each one.

Step 5.
Scrape the sides. Add 3/4 tsp of vanilla extract and 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream and mix well.
Step 6.
 Separate equally into 2 bowls..

Step 7. 
If you want to add some thing special to it like strawberries, blueberries, bananas, chocolate, etc. Now is the time to do it. For this one I will keep one plain and I will add peanut butter to the other. Now this isn't just regular Jiffy peanut butter. Its all natural made locally in Summerville by Stella's Gourmet. Its the best $7 you'll ever spend. Seriously.

Step 8.
Place them in the oven in a pan and pour water about halfway up the pan to make sure they cook evenly and they don't dry out.

Step 9.
Set the timer on the oven for 45 minutes. You will know its done when the center is a little jiggly. Take it out and let it cool at room temperature for about an hour. It will look a little puffy at first but that's normal. Then put it in the fridge for another 4 hours. 

This is how they will look after being in the fridge. Notice how they're no longer puffy and have more of a flat surface. That's peanut butter on the left and plain on the right. Occasionally there will be cracks, but that's just the nature of the beast.

Step 10.
Final thing to do is to slice, top, and enjoy! In case you're wondering, I made a quick little strawberries and cream topping for the plain one. All it is is 8oz of cool whip, about 10 strawberries cut into cubes, and 1 cup of powdered sugar.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Let's Get Married

As I was hanging out downtown a few days ago, I spotted this dashing crew. They were on their way to a wedding at a church around the corner. I can totally appreciate a well dressed guest list.
There are few better times to look your absolute best than attending a wedding. Here are a few reasons why.

1. Wedding pictures.
News flash, the wedding party will not be the only ones taking pictures that day. This is one of the events where at least 80% of the room will be armed with a camera. So your chances of being in a picture are pretty high. Make sure you're looking your best because those shots will be passed around many times in the weeks and months to follow. And you want to be remembered as a stud. Not a schmuck.

2. Its like fish in a barrel.
There are lots of hot singles who go to weddings. I know a few who go solely for that reason. And as shallow as it sounds, those who are looking good, have a way better chance at making a connection with someone. So especially if your single and looking, why wouldn't you want to present yourself in the best way possible? You could end up planning your own wedding soon.

3. Respect.
Would you show up to a job interview in a T-shirt and some blue jeans? Then don't wear it to a wedding. Or anything else that would mistake you for being a crasher. If it says "black tie" on the invitation then wear a flippin black tie. If the dress code isn't clearly stated (which it most likely will be) then a simple call to the bride or groom beforehand will ensure that you show up properly dressed. Its that simple. They took the time to invite you when they didn't have to. Its a privilege to be there. I know the divorce rate is high, but for many people they will only get married once. When you show up looking your best, it says to them that you care about their special day. Because you may never get that chance again.

Here are few of the standouts in the photo and what they got right:

Whats the kicker? Madras Tie. Perfect pop of color with the pocket square. He lets the tie do all the talking by keeping the rest of the look simple. Don't overdo it.

Whats the kicker? Beautiful graphic on the dress. Although I couldn't tell if it was an Arctic Ocean scene or of an Asian rain forest. There's nothing wrong with wearing a solid color dress but one with a pattern or some graphic just exudes more personality.

Whats the kicker? Tie and lapel width are perfectly in proprtion to each other. If youre wearing a narrow tie then you should make sure the lapels on you jacket are narrow as well. Slim fitting pants with barely no break. You dont want your pants to form a "puddle" around your shoes. This gentleman is demonstrating perfect form.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Double Duty

Allow me to introduce you to my oldest child Malayjah. She's 7 years old and in the 1st grade. Her hobbies include dancing, loud music, and dancing to loud music.

As a parent, it didn't take long for me to realize that clothing kids can be an expensive thing. For one thing, they're always growing. So you have to keep replenishing when they outgrow something. And the other, they're as clumsy as all get out. Food, juice, mud, the list goes on and on. Because of these reasons, many parents see no need in buying nice things for their kids. But for us, it would look a little off if my wife and I are looking sharp and our kids are looking uh, not so sharp. But those who know us, know that we're not rich....yet that is. So over the years my wife and I have implemented a few key strategies that have helped us get more miles out of our kids clothes, and to buy good quality at a budget.

1. Know when to shop.Very rarely do we buy things at the spur of the moment. All of our shopping is planned. The best time to shop for clothing is during the major holidays. We all know about Black Friday. But what about Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day? Stores mark things down to at least 40% off during these times. That's when you stock up. Places like Gap, Old Navy, and Children's Place are great spots for jeans and shoes. And also a great time is at the end of the season when they're trying to get rid of stuff to make room for new shipments. The golden months are February (end of winter) and September (end of summer). And lastly, don't be afraid to check online because that's where the biggest selection will be. Just be sure to check the sizing section as all brands have different opinions of what "4t" means.

2. Prep them before eating.
If they're wearing something that you would prefer them not get messy, a simple napkin tucked into the collar of their shirt will prevent around 80% of accidents. Its ok if the other 20% falls in their lap. Jeans are much easier to clean than shirts. Also, try to order them meals that aren't messy. Meatballs no, chicken fingers yes.

3. Make those clothes pull double duty.
This last tip only works for girls. Certain types of dresses can be used as tops and you can add pants or a skirt for a different look. The dress has to be slim and it can't be too long for this to work. The ideal time would be when she gets taller and the dress becomes too short to wear alone. So instead of giving it away, it can be used as a top and you can hold on to it much longer. That's how you get those extra miles. Below I've styled a few different looks giving you guys some examples on how to pull it off.

Dress~Tommy Hilfiger, Shawl~Baby Gap, Ballet Flats~Old Navy

Dress(used as top)~Tommy Hilfiger, Chinos~Polo Ralph Lauren, Boat Shoes~Sperry Top-Sider, Ribbon Belt~Polo Ralph Lauren

Chambray Romper~Old Navy, Ribbon Belt~Polo Ralph Lauren, Shoes~Old Navy

Chambray Romper(worn as top)~Old Navy, Madras Skirt~Tommy Hilfiger, Cardigan~Polo Ralph Lauren, Sandals~Baby Gap

Shirt Dress~Polo Ralph Lauren, Ribbon Belt~Polo Ralph Lauren, Sandals~Old Navy

Shirt Dress(worn as top)~Polo Ralph Lauren, Jeans~Old Navy, Ribbon Belt~Polo Ralph Lauren, Boat Shoes~Sperry Top-Sider

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Nantucket Reds

The island of Nantucket (pronounced nan-tuhk-it ) rests about 30 miles southeast of Massachusetts. It is known as one of the ultimate preppy getaways. It is simply gorgeous there (I've never been but I'm planning a trip in the near future). Its roughly only 15 miles long and as you would expect its loaded with million dollar real estate. But I'm not trying to sell you a house there. I want to introduce you to one of my favorite prep staples that was started there many years ago..

Nantucket Reds. They were made widely popular by Murray's Toggery Shop located on the island since 1945. They're claim to fame is "They're Guaranteed to Fade". The more you wear them and the more you wash them they begin to slowly transition from a strawberry red to a salmon pinkish color. These days they're carried by many different brands at every price point so they shouldn't be too hard to acquire. I think the simplest, most classic way to wear them is with a white button down and some boat shoes. But really they're versatile enough that you can wear them with almost anything. Mine are only about a year old and I don't wear em a ton so they're still pretty red. However I do love em. Maybe this year  I'll try to wear em more and by next summer they'll be proudly faded. 

Buttondown Camp Shirt~Gap, Shorts~Polo Ralph Lauren, Belt~Army Navy Surplus, Boat Shoes~Sonoma, Watch~Nautica, Sunglasses~H&M

Saturday, May 12, 2012

White Out

One of the main ingredients to a strong wardrobe is a great pair of dark, well fitting blue jeans. They go with practically everything in your closet. However, there are days when you want to kick things up a notch. So if your tired of feeling ''blue'' (i couldnt help it), then try taking a walk on the white-side...of denim, that is. Just like a pair of dark blue jeans, white jeans are equally versitile. And forget the old saying of Memorial Day to Labor. It's all hogwash! If done right, white denim can be worn at any point during the year. 

Here I took some white denim and styled them 3 different ways just to give you guys some ideas of how to pull it off.

Look 1. Rooftop party.

If your fortunate enough to have a friend with access to a rooftop, you should definitely encourage them to throw a party up there. Its a very unique experience as opposed to your typical house party or cookout. Here you can keep it simple, cool, and breezy with a polo. And dont forget to pop that collar. That sun doesnt mess around.

Polo~Sixteen Seventy, Jeans~Lands End Canvas, Belt~JCrew, Loafers~Bass, Sunglasses~H&M, Watch~Timex

Look 2. Outdoor Wedding.

Its that time of year. Many people are ditching the chapel and opting for an outdoor wedding. Its a great way to take advantage of the awesome weather and the beautiful blooming flowers. Now I know what a lot of you may be thinking. "Only the bride can wear white". Once again I say hogwash! I beleive that rule only applies to the ladies. But as far as the guys, I think its free game. There are nonetheless two things to consider. When trying to pull this off you must keep the rest of the look simple and classic. Navy blazer, icy blue dress shirt, and navy tie. Thats it. Let those whites do all the talking. And remember, weddings are the only time you can dance like crazy and no ones gonna judge you. GO FOR IT!!!

Dress Shirt~Express, Silk Knit Tie~JCrew, Blazer~Max's, Jeans~Lands End Canvas, Loafers~Bass, Tie Bar~Meeting Street, Watch~Tommy Hillfiger

Look 3. At Night.

One of the funnest ways to wear white is at night. Its typically a time when people bring out their darker hues. The grays the blues the blacks. And you can do that too. Just throw in some white denim with it to freshen up the look. Just be sure like I said earlier to keep the rest of the look dark. It will produce the sharpest contrast of colors. And one things for sure, youll have no problem hailing a taxi.

Tartan Plaid Oxford Shirt~Polo Ralph Lauren, Tartan Plaid Tie~JCrew, Tweed Blazer~Gap, Jeans~Lands End Canvas, Shoes~Banana Republic, Belt~Gap, Watch~Timex, Tie Bar~Meeting Street