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Archive for December 2014

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It’s been a while since I’ve picks up my sketch journal! I’ve been spending most of my time with water colors this fall, and it was really fun today to doodle a little with my Micron and Moleskine!

go . Sugarplums from The Peanut Shoppe

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The holiday season isn’t complete without a few visions of sugarplums, right? It was drizzling on our last morning in Memphis during the recent Nutcracker trip, but we didn’t let that stop us from ducking into what’s become one of our favorite candy, nut and snack-attack spots! The Peanut Shoppe on Main Street — under the big “Peanuts” sign — has been around since 1949 when it was an official “Planters Peanuts” store. Mr. Peanut still graces the sidewalk sign out front and sits atop the 1929 antique peanut roaster, but the owner for nearly the last 25 years, we learned, has been Mr. Ridda and his wife. That’s his first name, and when he introduced himself, he explained it was pronounced, “Ree – DAH.” I was so thankful for the time Mr. Ridda gave us that morning and the wonderful Memphis experience he shared with us.

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The shop is only the width of one long aisle next to a series of display cases filled with nuts and candies, and what seems like barely enough room for popcorn makers and the nut roaster. The walls are filled with old photos, posters from various Memphis events, “Go Tigers” memorabilia and tins. You would think that a tiny spot like this would be more conducive to a quick pop in and out, but it usually seems like folks want to linger.  We did!  I guess it’s the warm smell of roasting peanuts and buttered popcorn, or maybe the wonder of so many spice-sprinkled or chocolate swirled nuts and shiny, sugary candy varieties.

Mr. Ridda was engaged with another family when we came in, which gave us a little time to narrow down some of our candy favorites (ha! narrow down was a bit unrealistic). When they left, he turned his attention to us. He learned each of the children’s names and promised to get their help with some roasting before we left. Our first selections were buttered and cheddar popcorn, so he demonstrated how to work the popcorn maker and showed us how he dripped the butter in. While that finished up, he showed us the antique roaster.

Mr. Ridda brought out a tall narrow black metal bucket filled to the top with peanuts in their shells. He let each of the kids grab a handful and then opened the peanut hatch on the front of the roaster and poured the rest of the bucket in. When he closed the hatch again, he showed us a small circle opening where he let each of the kids drop their peanuts in one at a time. We left them to roast, and he told us we had helped him make the peanuts that another customer later that day would enjoy! Mr. Ridda’s reward for peanut roasting… suckers for each, of course! We went on to finish out our selections, and Mr. Ridda — who I think will now forever be known as the Peanut Man in our family — made us promise not to eat any of the treats until after breakfast.

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We left The Peanut Shoppe with a near ridiculous variety of popcorn, nuts and candy, candy, candy. Our purchases? A bag of buttered popcorn, boxes of cheesy popcorn, ring pops, and carefully measured pouches of gummy bears, sugared fruit slices, jelly beans, yogurt covered pretzels, cinnamon pecans, sugared pecans, spicy pecans, and of course, peanuts! And, we left feeling that a unique part of historic downtown Memphis had become our very own! Sorry, Mr. Ridda… we didn’t keep our promise. We sampled some of these “sugarplums” right away!

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see . Our First Nutcracker in Memphis

We were so excited to spend a three-day weekend in Memphis, Tennessee last week, and I thought I would share some of my favorite wonders from the trip! I’ve shared glimpses of our Memphis visits before, but we’ve never traveled there during the Christmas season. We were there mainly to see Ballet Memphis’ performance of The Nutcracker, accompanied by the Memphis Symphony. It was our first time to see the Nutcracker, and we had been planning the trip since we were in Memphis for another ballet last April. The ballet is a must-see experience of such wonderful costumes, sets, sounds and, of course, stellar ballet for all ages, and the 20’s gilt of The Orpheum makes it more special. Baby Girl (my own budding ballerina) was enthralled, but my boys had just as much fun! They all had their favorite parts… the death of the Mouse King, Godfather Drosselmeyer’s magic, the way the christmas tree grew for the soldier/mice battle, the snowflake scene, and my personal favorite, the amazing dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier!

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Our fave rides on the Main Street trolley were cancelled this trip because the lines are shut down for about another year for repairs, but we were fortunate to find some horse and carriage rides to take us to the Orpheum. In addition to an amazing performance of the ballet, a trip to the zoo (twice) and the Children’s Museum of Memphis, we also enjoyed some fun walks Downtown, a few games of hide-and-seek in Court Square across from our hotel, some personal attention from Mr. Ridda — owner of the renown Peanut Shoppe on Main (more on that later), and we even found two new restaurants that we’ll add to our list of favorites. Here are some of my favorite photos from the trip…

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[ restored lobby of the Kress building on Main — I have an ongoing love affair with this old Art Deco building. I’ll share some of my photo collection in another post! ]

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[ Blue Plate Cafe at Court Square — a mean french toast ]

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[ Memphis Pizza Cafe at Overton Square on Madison Ave — now tied with our beloved Aldo’s for the Montgomery “Best Pizza in Memphis” cred with a yummy blackened chicken sandwich as well! ]

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[ blue lights replacing the water in the Court Square fountain — why am I hearing Elvis sing “Blue Christmas”? ]

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