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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Labor Day Weekend Getaway 

This past weekend we traveled the 414 miles (one way) down to my cousins Stephanie & Joey’s house! It was so much fun to see my cousins, aunt, and uncle. We took the baby and my sister, Makayla, along and had a total blast.  

We got there late Thursday night and basically went straight to sleep. Friday was the perfect lazy day to just hang around the house.  We also made an exciting trip to a nearby shopping center with a Super Target … inside we found actual gold- a pink teepee with a matching teepee for dolls by the doll company, Our Generation. We immediately got it! (And a $4 clearance swimsuit that will hopefully fit Nolie next year). We were so pumped! That night we ate out at a place called the Afton Tavern. It was delicious! Seriously, next time we visit we’re going back. I had a quesadilla and Michael had a burger.  Both were awesome, however, the best part was the giant cookie skillet! Then when we got home we set up our teepee!! Steph and I had a serious blast. It was so fun. 


(Low quality pic, high quality family bonding) 

Saturday we slept in. I needed it after staying up late giggling and talking with Stephanie.  Michael and Joey started our day when they went and picked up some doughnuts. Then we slowly got ready and then headed out to do a low key walk around the greenway at the University of North Carolina. It was gorgeous outside and that made the day incredibly fun. 

 Afterwards, Michael headed off with my sister, uncle, and Joey to a local comic book store! The rest of us headed home for naps. (Man, I can’t believe I’m old enough to be in the group that has to go home and sleep to funaction hahah). Then we all helped to make dinner! Michael grilled chicken and shrimp while I prepped the veggie. Stephanie and my uncle Jon put together an amazing alfredo sauce from scratch.  It turned out nothing short of delicious.  That night we ate a few too many desserts while watching the BYU game- they were destroyed. 

// Aunt Stephanie 

Matching outfits! // shirt & shorts: Old Navy // shoes: Birkenstock // Nolie’s shirt & bow: Carter’s // Nolie’s shorts: Cat and Jack by Target 


Sunday we headed off to church (Nolie screamed every time I tried to sit down, so that was fun.  We spent the rest of the day laughing, telling stories, and just enjoying each other! We grilled dinner, walked the neighborhood, and settled in with the most mouth watering lemon dessert to watch movies. 


(that stank face, goodness child) //dress: Old Navy // cardigan: New York & Company // shoes: Old Navy // Nolie’s dress: Janie & Jack // Nolie’s bow: Carter’s

Labor Day started slow- (are you noticing a common trend)? We packed and then headed out with the cousins to IKEA.  Michael has a serious love for that store – and I can’t help but feel like it’s a lot of fun too!  We picked up a cute play table and chairs that I’m going to DIY for Nolie’s playroom.  We ate in their funky cafeteria too. It was seriously so much fun! It was hard to say goodbye, but we headed home that afternoon.  

It was such a great, relaxing trip.  I’m so thankful that I’m so close to my family! It was an awesome weekend. Shout out to my darling husband for taking us! 

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! 

Timber Moose Lodge Reunion 2017

This past week Michael and I got to take baby Nolie to her first Nanto family reunion (my dads side of the family) in Heber, Utah. It’s so crazy that when they planned this reunion years ago I wasn’t even engaged. My great uncle rented this amazing cabin, the Timber Moose Lodge, to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary! It was a total blast. 
The cabin itself was amazing. “With over 26,000 square feet of living space, Timber Moose is the largest private log cabin in the United States. Timber Moose sits on 12 private acres in the Utah mountains with commanding 360° views, visible from its 9,000 square feet of outdoor decks and balconies. The lodge has a large indoor swimming pool, a sauna, 13 bedrooms, 16 bathrooms including a men’s room and women’s room, a Crows Nest viewing room 50 feet above ground, and a 2200 square foot Grand Room with high vaulted ceilings that can accommodate 96 in banquet or presentations.” (Website
Every night we had a huge family dinner, followed by a program. The programs included picture slideshows from past reunions, a family ancestry “history lesson,” and performances from our many a talented family members. We played board games, told stories, went swimming, stargazed, and stayed up way too late laughing.  
One of the days we went over to Sundance to hike. My dad promised that it would be a short, easy trail. So we strapped on the baby and headed up for her first hiking adventure. We also rode Nolie’s first ski lift up the mountain. It was a great time, but also stressful. Long story short… I ended up lost with my aunt and two year old cousin on one of the advanced trails. Two hours later my sweet husband came jogging up the mountain (after going down every other path possible) to get us back to the lift! He is such a good man! 
The trip ended with a night of games and family stories. We also took Nolie to the pool for the first time. I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful it was – and special to introduce our sparkling new baby to everyone- Including her great grandparents. I’m so thankful Michael used his vacation to take us! 

 

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(View from ski lift) 

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(View from Cabin) 

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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.  

Michael’s Birthday Surprise: A Paris Recap

Life has been so so crazy. I am just now getting to write about our amazing 48 hours in Paris!! This trip was a total surprise for Michael’s birthday. He had zero idea that we were going.  I had “accidentally spilled the beans” about a restaurant in London that was supposedly his birthday surprise. So when I woke him up on his birthday at 5am he had no idea we were off to the train station! We loaded up on the Eurostar around 7am and arrived around 9am! (The train was surprisingly comfortable. It was such an easy way to travel and security took almost no time).

Once we got out of the station we grabbed a cab and headed to a hotel I had booked using (almost all) of our hotel points! It was the Intercontinental Paris.  Honestly, for such an expensive hotel, I was very disappointed.  However, the location was absolutely prime! It took us less than five minutes to walk over to the Arch de Triumph. We walked around the outside and then paid the fee to go to the top. First of all, I was not expecting to be so winded from those stairs! However, I was gasping for breath.  That walk is steep!! Secondly, the view was absolutely gorgeous.  You could see everything! It was a relatively clear day and we could see what felt like all of Paris. I could barely believe it was real!

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//Scarf: Target // Sweater: Lucky

Next we walked a few minutes over to the Av. des Champs Elysees. This is where some serious shopping was located. It was fun to see all the glamorous, giant stores. We stopped at a gorgeous Laduree tea room. It was so beautiful inside and the pastries were to die for! Of course, I ordered vanilla macarons. They were beyond fabulous, obviously the best I have ever had! (Also, they had the option to get a GIANT macaron, pictured below… seriously like triple the size I usually buy). Then we headed to the store I was the most excited to see- Tiffany & Co! The Champs Elysees location is the Flagship of Europe. It is so beautiful. As per tradition, we added another country to my collection of Tiffany & Co jewelry. Since Paris is so classic I went with an iconic Return To Tiffany charm bracelet.

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As we were leaving the sales woman recommended this fabulous Italian place round the corner. I wish I could remember the name of it, but the day is such a blur! After that we went back to our hotel, I was so tired. I took a quick nap and then we headed off to Michael’s surprise dinner… I had made reservations to eat dinner inside the Eiffel Tower!

Michael absolutely loved his dinner. I have the taste buds of a three year old, so I can admit I was a little overwhelmed. However, the dinner was fabulous.  I’m going to have to do a blog post exclusively on dinner to give it justice!!

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After eating we climbed halfway up the Eiffel Tower! Then I gave up and we bought lift tickets to get to the very very top! (There were A TON of stairs and it was FREEZING cold). The top was breathtaking. In more than one way too! The view was spectacular. You could see everything and by this point it was dark so everything was lit up. Also, breathtaking in the fact that it was slightly terrifying! From the top you could feel the entire structure swaying! It definitely was thrilling, if not nauseating. It was a windy night, but that high up it felt like a storm! After we got our fill we rode the lift down and grabbed a taxi back to the hotel.

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//Dress: Kate Spade // Necklace: Kate Spade // Shoes: Steve Maden

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The entire night was magical, but possibly the best part of all was once we got back to the hotel. We got a FaceTime call from Sophie… She had just found out that she was also pregnant!! What!?!? It took me hours to fall asleep I was so excited.

We slept in super late because I didn’t go to sleep until the early hours of the morning.  We packed up our duffle and headed over to Notre Dame. It was absolutely gorgeous!! From there we actually decided to split up. This was my first official day of morning sickness and I was definitely feeling it. I actually went to a nice restaurant for breakfast and then walked around for maybe fifteen minutes before settling into a cafe. Meanwhile I told Michael to go explore! He couldn’t waste a whole day in Paris just because I felt awful. He explored what he said felt like the whole city. He got to see the Louvre, eat street food, the works. Later that afternoon we met back up and walked round a different shopping district.  The stores were numerous and huge! This one department store was five stories tall and endless.  That night we took the last train back to London and then took the line back to Joey & Amy’s house.  Even though Paris was fun, it felt great to be back somewhere familiar. Overall, I feel comfortable saying I am the queen of birthday surprises this year!

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