One Day in Nashville: Culture, Food, and Fun 

Yesterday was so much fun. My cousin Stephanie is in town so we wanted to show her around some of our favorite places! Here is a run down of our day of local eats and fun exploring! 

We started off at Sweet Biscuits, a locally owned, small business that serves breakfast. We bought several different types of gourmet biscuits to share- ham and cheese, three cheese spinach and bacon, cranberry orange, and chocolate chip. 

 

From there we headed down to the Nashville Farmers Market!! It was bustling with families and local vendors. We made our first stop at my dads favorite booth — the farm milk. We bought regular and chocolate milk there. (The chocolate milk is so rich and creamy, it’s more of a dessert. We are obsessed). Then we wandered through the food and local crafts. It was so pretty! The weather was perfect and somehow it instantly felt like Fall. The fresh veggies, hay bales, and corn stalks set the perfect scene! Also, Nolie somehow slept through our entire time there! After wandering the booths and watching some live music we walked along the timeline monument that’s in the nearby Bicentennial Capital Mall State Park! It’s a beautiful area with gorgeous greenery and several different monuments and statues, including a “natural” amphitheater. The sunny skies, slight breeze, and laughing family made my heart so thankful.  

 

Next we jumped in the car so my dad could take us on a new adventure. We watched out the car window as the downtown skyline faded and we ended up on Nolensville road. After a somewhat sketchy stop for gas, we ended up at a place called Plaza Mariachi. (I’m including a link to their website here because I can’t even explain how cool it was!!) Apparently it’s an old Kroger that they renovated to look like a traditional Mexican outdoor market plaza. It has live music, these hanging curtain dancers, and fun vendors with tasty food! We tried the nachos at one place and a unique honey pizza at another. We also tried some fancy smoothie drinks with fresh fruit and then house made ice cream! There was so much to see and do. It was a seriously fun time. I can’t wait for Michael and I to have our next date night there! I’m definitely going to be taking him for the salsa night.  

 

After we watched a show (which happen in the main plaza throughout the day and is free) we took Stephanie to our last stop, the Shoppes on Fatherland. It’s a thriving new area of East Nashville that is dedicated to local business. We love it! We always go to this one store on the block that sells the coolest basalmic vinegars. Dad has become a sort of collector. Then we wandered around a few other stores, including one shop owned by a blogger I love!! It’s called the Shine Project. She employs inner city, first generation college student to make jewelry, of which the profits go into their college fund. Y’all have to check her out! 
After we finished up there we headed back home. We made delicious pasta and half baked cookies with ice cream. Seriously, it was an A+ kind of day.  



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Pasta Salad Recipe 

I am a pretty picky eater. However, I love really simple pasta salads! Last week I decided to make a big batch Sunday evening so that we could have a quick lunch option for the week. Even though it was simple, Michael liked it too! It didn’t take long at all. Here’s what you need: 

  • One box of noodles (I always get farfalle because I think they are the happiest noodle) 
  • One bottle of Italian dressing (I just bought what was on sale) 
  • One snack size bag of carrots 
  • One stem of broccoli (look for a larger stem) 
  • One block of Montaray Jack cheese
  • Optional: any other veggie or meat you want to toss in! 

First, I boiled the noodles.  While they boiled I chopped up the block of cheese.  I used 3/4 of the block, but use as much as you would want.  I also washed the broccoli and carrots. 

Next, I left the carrots and broccoli in  strainer in the sink. When the noodles were done boiling I emptied them into a strainer over the veggies.  The hot water blanched them! So easy.  

While the noodles cooled I took the carrots and broccoli (after they cooled for a minute) and chopped them into small pieces.  When everything is completely cool (you don’t want to melt the cheese) you throw it into a giant Tupperware or mixing bowl.  

Last of all, I then dumped about 3/4 the bottle of dressing over the cooled salad.  You toss it and it’s done! Seriously so easy.  

I hope you enjoy it! We loved it, and it seemed to get better every day.  Let me know what other veggies you think to put in it! 

Bittersweet Coffee Cafe

While on our trip out west Michael and I got to try several new places to eat. One place we ended up loving was a happy little  cafe, Bittersweet. It’s on Main Street in downtown Louisville, Colorado. It was only a few minute walk from the house we were staying. 

It was really cute inside and out.  The staff was also kind. Most importantly, the lemonade was delicious.  I don’t know why, but I have definitely been on a lemonade kick.  Michael said the coffee and breakfast burrito was also wonderful.  Our breakfast only came out to be around ten dollars, so it was also pretty reasonably priced.  


When we came in everyone was smiling and looking at the baby.  It makes me feel so proud when people stop us to tell us how beautiful she is. (Obviously looks aren’t everything … but having a gorgeous baby is also nice). 

Overall, I would totally recommend it.  It was a cute, local spot with tons of variety and pastries.  Plus, how could you not love their sense of humor! 

Day Two Colorado 2017

Day two in Boulder started off early for me.  My little Nolie girl was ready to do life by 6am local time.  We just played together until a more acceptable time to wake up Gia and Michael.  Then we packed up and hit the road.  We grabbed bagels at a place called Moe’s. The bagels were good, but if you order cream cheese be prepared.  They slap it on LITERALLY an inch thick! I scraped a lot of mine off, I’m not a huge cream cheese person. It was really good though. Then we jumped back on the road to start our adventure!
    
The day was so special because we took Michael and Nolie to Idaho Springs, Colorado.  That is where my childhood cabin is! It was a rough ride, mostly because I only knew how to get there by landmarks from ten years ago, not by street names. However, we only made one wrong turn, so I think that’s pretty impressive!
We didn’t go all the way down to our old property because we don’t own it any more. However, we walked around the main dirt road on the mountain. I got to pick wildflowers and reminisce. You could see our cabin and it looked almost the same, now one side is covered in solar panels. It made me so happy- and a little sad. (Above is a picture of the view from my old drive way). 
    
Then we headed down to Colorado Springs for my favorite pizza ever… Beau Jo’s!! They  make killer mountain pies. It is the location of some of my favorite childhood memories. It was so fun to share that special memory with Michael and the baby. 
    Afterwards we headed back to Gia’s house. She took off for work and we decided to take the baby for a walk around a nearby outdoor mall (29th street mall- great shopping options, but we just wanted to walk outside). It was so nice to enjoy the sun without the humidity of Tennessee.
We finished the night with Gia’s family. Her dad made a killer dinner and then we walked to downtown Louisville to get ice cream at Sweet Cow. We both got chocolate chip cookie dough, and it was delicious! I always forget how much fun  Have with that family. It was a seriously great (and late) night!

Day One Colorado 2017 

We got in crazy late from our road trip out West (first stop- Boulder, Colorado). It’s only a sixteen and a half hour drive, but we were in the car for 21 hours straight! We had to stop for Nolie to eat and to change her. However, she did amazing! No blow outs and rarely any crying. I don’t know how, but she slept or played with her toys the entire time. It was amazing! She really only cried for a good thirty minutes while we were in Kansas. There was a crazy rain and lightening storm and she was not amused. Other than that, she was such a trooper. It probably helps though that she LOVES riding in the car and looking out the windows.  
 

 Anyways, so we slept in until about eight local time. Then we got ready and headed out. We walked a block down to the coffee shop Gia took me last May, Alpine Modern Cafe. I ordered a blueberry muffin (and a giant DELICIOUS cookie for later) and Michael ordered a smoked salmon tartine with a six minute egg and cup of coffee. He loved it! Michael seriously talked about it all day. After we finished eating we walked around the neighborhood for a while. Then we headed back to Gia’s for some baby business, aka feeding, changing, and dressing her up for the day.  

// Boba Wrap 

 
Our next adventure was showing Michael downtown Louisville where Virginia grew up! I love it so much. I’ve always wanted to live there or somewhere very similar. The Main Street is quaint and has lots of great places to eat. (They also have a large public library which I was obsessed with when I was younger). We started at a tent sale that I had seen advertised on the Instagram of one of the shops from that area. It was in part for a store called Pitter Patter. We got Nolie a couple of cute presents. Then we walked around enjoying the shops and eventually stopping to eat lunch at LuLu’s . It was a BBQ place Gia wanted to show us. The pulled pork was pretty good, but not as good as some of the places around Nashville! We also ordered the Mac and Cheese which was good, but not my favorite. After lunch we walked around a few more shops and drove by the building where I used to take my summer acting camps! Then we headed down to Pearl Street. 

 

// Shirt: Lizard Ticket // Michael’s Shirt: J.Crew // Michael’s Shorts: J.Crew // Michael’s Watch: Fossil //Stroller: Eddie Bauer 

  
I was so excited to show Michael and Nolie Pearl Street for several reasons. One, it’s a super trendy strip with lots of interesting shops, street performers, and amazing food. But, two, my mom would meet Leslie and they would take us kids to play on the statues and play pads that are scattered down the street when we were all little. It was so cool to take my daughter there! I can’t wait to take her back when she is older and can actually participate in the fun! It was also a blast because everywhere we went people were smiling at Nolie and telling us how gorgeous she is! The momma in me was very proud.  

 

Afterwards, we headed to the Rio for dinner. Gia set up a dinner with a bunch of her friends. It was seriously so fun to get to out a face to the names I’ve been hearing. Her friends were so accepting and fun. I honestly felt like I was already friends with them. We got to sit on the rooftop and eat. The weather was perfect and baby girl loved the little breeze. It was perfect. Dinner was great too. I got a chicken quesadilla and it came with some really yummy guac. It was plain, but not in a bad way. I enjoyed it a lot! Michael got chicken fajitas (no surprise) and he said that he liked them as well. I stole a bite of his food and thought it was good! 

 

Finally, we headed black to Gia’s- with a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up some ice cream on the way. Then we basically fell straight asleep! It was a long day, but totally worth it! I can’t wait to see what today has in store.  

The Southern of Nashville

Last weekend Michael, Steph, Virginia, and I went and had brunch downtown. Michael has been begging try out the brunch at The Southern. I am really not a breakfast girl so i’ve been putting it off. However, with two other breakfast lovers in the house that weekend I decided it was finally time to try it! Michael was of course, beyond happy.

The Southern is located on Third Ave South. I was worried about parking (I really hate parking downtown), but there is complimentary valet for customers! That was so smart of them. It made it so convenient! Another convenience factor is you can make reservations ahead of time, so no wait line. (I seriously would make a reservation if you can! We saw a ton of people waiting for tables).

The atmosphere itself was cute. I loved the decor and the waitstaff was incredibly friendly for 10am. We all ordered a variety of things from the brunch menu so that everyone could try each other’s food. Michael tried the Steak and Biscuit Benedict, I ordered the Hot Cakes, and then we also got an appetizer called S.O.S.- Two buttermilk biscuits with country ham gravy. Steph and Gia ordered Chocolate Chip Hot Cakes to split, then Gia got the Southern Fried Egg Sandwich, and Steph got Crab Cake Hash. Everyone seemed to love everything. I know my Hot Cakes were fabulous… I literally scrapped the plate clean!


The wait wasn’t too bad either. The only less than great thing was the bathrooms. They have the weirdest sinks ever! There is no basin, it’s just like a slightly tilted piece of marble. I understand the concept. The water is just supposed to run to the back of the marble where there is a drain. However, really just water and soap is flying everywhere. Also, I’m so short and my belly is so huge that I was having to press up against the counter to reach the faucet, getting my shirt seriously wet. Stylish in theory, but not the most functional sink i’ve ever seen.

Overall, I would definitely recommend trying it! I’ve had lunch there before and it was fabulous, but I have a feeling Michael will want to go back for brunch soon!

Chocolate Covered Stawberries 

Recently I decided to make chocolate covered strawberries for the first time in years. It was so much simpler than I expected! It literally called for two ingredients. And took me less than 10 minutes to do. They turned out great and were so easy!

 
To start I washed the strawberries. They were on sale at Publix for $2.50 for an entire carton! After washing I dried them and then picked out the prettiest to use. The rest I packed for Michael’s lunch for the next day.  


Next I got the chocolate ready. I ended up using the Ghirardelli white choclate melting chips. (Less than four dollars after tax). I loved them and it was so simple. Literally I poured them into a glass bowl and microwaved it for thirty seconds. Then stirred it. Then microwaved again for another thirty seconds and it was ready! 

 
From there it’s a simple matter of dipping the strawberries in the chocolate. (You just hold the greenery in your fingers and rotate the strawberry for even coating). Then I laid them to dry on a sheet of aluminum foil- I was out of wax paper but the foil worked just fine! 


Lastly, you just leave them to cool so that the chocolate hardens. Literally less than ten dollars and ten minutes to complete. I also had a bunch of leftover chocolate so I made chocolate covered pretzels too. It was so simple.  

 
I was thrilled with how it turned out. Michael was so impressed (he’s about to read how easy it was though!) I also couldn’t help but get excited when I realized this is going to be the perfect activity to do with the baby when she is older! It’s simple and a fun treat!