Need-to-Knows for the Nashville Novice

Statistics show just under 100 people move to Nashville each day, and with all the place has to offer, this comes as no surprise. The city has everything – rich culture, diverse cuisine and more musical talent per square capita than any other place in the world. Whether you prefer hopping from honky tonk to honky tonk down Broadway or immersing yourself into history, Nashville promises to keep you satisfied and planning out your return as soon as you depart.

Where to Eat

Brunch is a must and my top pick for starting your day off on a high note is The Southern.  The portions aren’t huge but that’s just fine because it saves room for more indulgences later in the day like ice cream from Jeni’s. If you’re in the mood for more of a grab and go meal, check out the Frothy Monkey.  With a few locations around town, this is the perfect spot for a morning pick-me-up minus all of the frills (and lines).

Nashville might be known for its country music connections, but there’s another thing synonymous with the city that’s gaining popularity: hot chicken. For those of you brave enough to try it, this now basic food group of Nashville can be found in restaurants across the city but there are a few recipes that stand out above the rest: Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack and Hattie B’s.

It’s probably hard to go wrong when it comes to dinner options, but here are a few places to consider. If you’re craving a casual vibe, give South a try (along with their Lavender Lemonade). For a slight step-up, sip from mason jars while enjoying slow-cooked BBQ and local talent at Puckett’s Grocery. If you want something a tad more upscale, look no further than Husk, brought to you by award-winning chef Sean Brock. The Crispy Chicken Skins, though perhaps not the most appealing by name, are truly phenomenal.

IMG_1148

Where to Drink

There are 51 bars along Broadway that keep the beer flowing and the music bellowing. A few of the staples along the route include Tootsie’s and ACME Feed & Seed (both with rooftop views), Honky Tonk and Rippy’s.  Another favorite of mine is Big Shotz on 2nd Ave., right off of Broadway and a little less crowded during the day with awesome drink specials and incredible entertainment.

Nashville’s burgeoning brewery scene is also worth exploration with the likes of Tennessee Brew  Works, Yazoo, Czann, Fat Bottom, Jackalope and Tailgate – just to name a few.  For those of you who prefer the lighter drafts, I’d highly recommend Tailgate’s Watermelon Wheat.

If you’re bold enough to stand in line for anywhere from 30 minutes up to two hours, The Patterson House speakeasy is well worth the wait. The low-key environment transfers you back to the prohibition era as soon as you pass through the curtain.

IMG_1156

pucketJackalope

Where to Shop

The 12th South neighborhood offers a blend of chic, yet electric shops and eateries – plus plenty of Instagram backdrops. Ranging from Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James to holistic pet shop Wags & Whiskers, this up-and-coming neighborhood has something for everyone (four-legged friends included).

Venturing back to the heart of downtown, you’ll find a plethora of shops and an endless selection of boot stores like Boots & More and French’s. Muse Inspired Fashion is an adorable and somewhat affordable boutique on 2nd Ave. that is also worth a gander.

IMG_1118.JPG

What to do

If music is your thing, then you’re definitely in the right place. Rewind through musical history with a tour of Studio B – you may even get a chance to play Elvis’ piano. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Jonny Cash museums are also a must. No trip to Nashville is complete without a visit to Opryland or the Ryman and here’s a hint: if you’re going to be in town for a few days, wait to book your tickets and keep monitoring until the timing gets close before you purchase your tickets as new talent gets added to the line-up regularly. You never know who will be in town so it’s worth waiting for the best schedule! For a more intimate sitting, The Listening Room gives you a a front row seat to raw, unadulterated singer-songwriter talent.

If you’re in town to party, add a little exercise to your day with the Nashville Pedal Tavern. Biking through the city streets will make you feel better about all of the beverages you’re consuming (only you will still be drinking while doing it so maybe the purpose will be defeated but who cares, you’ll still have  fun).

If you’re looking for something more relaxing, stroll through Centennial Park and check out the Parthenon. Visits to the Cheekwood Botanical Garden or Belle Meade Plantation are also in order – plus, the latter even has wine tasting!

Listening Room

Sure, Nashville is known as a center of musical talent, but the city has so much to offer and will keep you coming back for more.

 

 

 

Gift Giving: The Magic of Memories

Though a gift granted to us, life is not a thing we should take for granted.  The older I become, the more I understand how precious a gift this life really is.  Another year passed, another group of people that will only live on in memories, hearts and photos.  Be it friends, family, or family of friends, each time I hear of another life taken away, it’s another reminder that there is no guarantee of tomorrow.  That’s why it’s so important that we soak up all the time we do have with those we care for most.  Chances are when you lose someone, you don’t look back and remember the things they bought you.  You remember the things they taught you, the special moments you shared.  Things don’t matter, but people do.

A few years back, my mom got very sick before Thanksgiving and although one to never miss a Black Friday sunrise, reality set in and my priorities shifted.  That particular season was about catering to her, helping her recover, and not about finding the best deals and boxes to stack around the Christmas tree.  There was nothing my mother needed nor wanted more than to feel better and I realize nothing I put under the tree would make that happen.  I decided that instead of buying more “things” for my parents for Christmas, I would invest in memories.

As they get older, I’m not oblivious to the fact that there will come a day, eventually, when we can’t take trips together, when we can’t embark on adventures.  With that in mind, the only gift they received that year was a piece of paper – one that detailed the trip we would take together that spring to Savannah, GA.  From pictures of our accommodations to an agenda tailored to each of them, though not something they could physically use that Christmas morning, it gave them something to look forward to at a time when my mom would be able to enjoy it.  That April we took our trip (yes, ours, because of course I imposed on them).  We got to experience a play at one of the oldest theaters in America, rest our heads at Savannah Bed & Breakfast, tour the town on a sightseeing bus, shop the streets while sipping Mojitos and indulge in the most amazing meal at the Olde Pink House.  My dad and I even rode in a hearse for a nighttime ghost tour and still to this day laugh hysterically about a woman who chased it down.  Those are memories that will last well beyond the time all of us have together.

Following in tradition, this year’s adventure took us to back down I-95 to Charleston, South Carolina.  Again we caught a play at the local theater, took a private horse-drawn carriage around town, ate until we were stuffed and walked around a plantation (and the Swamp where Shrek is from)!

While I’ll still get a few small items for under the tree, I see far greater value in spending money on memorable moments.  If you’re still trying to find the perfect gift for someone you love, give this approach a try.  Don’t buy things just to buy things.  Clothes become dated, children grow out of toys, but memories will always remain.

Bachelorette Bach Decor – Day 1 of our Asheville Getaway

Earlier this month we celebrated my best friend Diana’s bachelorette weekend in Asheville, NC.  I spent so much time planning and crafting over the past 9 or so months that now it feels like I have nothing to do!  So, better time than never to write about the amazing adventure.  We crammed a lot into three days so I’ll break the posts up to prevent bachelorette overload!

As a small airport, flying into Asheville can be pretty pricey for girls flying in from out of town so we decided to road trip it out to the mountains.  With an SUV packed to the brim, we made sure to save room for the most important girls’ getaway essential, the selfie stick. car selfie

We hit the road and headed for the windy, and the rainy, and the scary, Blue Ridge Mountains. Upon nearly driving off a cliff (try backing up an SUV that’s not yours, on an essentially one-way mountain road, during a torrential downpour), we FINALLY made it to the cabin we rented on AirBnB. While some of the girls left to gather groceries for the weekend, my friend Steph and I got to work decorating.The fireplace was the perfect backdrop for the gals' gifts.

The place sure was rustic; everything you would expect a cabin in the woods to look like – minus the creepy aspect (though there were some parts…).  Yet, it had so much character.  There was a screened in porch, outside deck overlooking a breathtaking landscape, three bathrooms (a MUST for seven ladies) and more space than we could have imagined. The only thing we weren’t too crazy about was the “Welcome to our home; don’t leave food outside because of the bears” sign.  Luckily, there were no Yogi sightings.DSCN1010

Each of the girls (or “Mountain Maids”) got an absolutely adorable shirt for Saturday’s adventures, made by SassyCraftsKS on Etsy.  I’ll share those in the next post.  To keep with the southern theme (the bride is a New Yorker), I wrapped each one up in burlap and sealed it with custom bridesmaid pins we had designed from Etsy shop owner Lauren Lash, made to match the bride’s sash.  Diana had cups made for each one of us, too!  The fireplace (one of three, including the outside firepit) was the perfect backdrop for the goodies.

DSCN1003

Catherine, the sister of the bride and co-MOH, made shirts for each bridesmaid with a number on the back.  While the random numbers kept us guessing for the weekend (she threw an odd DSCN1004
number in to throw everyone off), it all made sense on the last evening when we took a big ol’ group shot – it was the wedding date! Another fun element of the party was the “photo booth.”  We got some booth accessories, a white sheet and a disposable camera (this way no one could delete the pics!) and snapped away throughout the weekend. Those are probably just pictures that we’ll keep to ourselves; maybe a good way to calm the bride’s jitters on wedding dDSCN1006ay:)

Surviving a bachelorette, especially one in the mountains, can be tough so we had to be prepared.  Mountain survival gear bags were packed to make sure we had everything we needed: gum, breath freshener, Tylenol and hair ties; what more could we need?DSCN1007

There is no such thing as a party in the south without Mason jars.  With four of the seven girls flying in from New York and one from Colorado, we had to make sure they had this southern staple to bring back with them.  I brought along a glass juice dispenser purchased on the Today Show’s Steals & Deals for just $49 (65% off retail).  Although the chalkboard says, “Everything Tastes Sweeter in a Mason Jar,” our cups were filled with other delicious beverages throughout the weekend, such a homemade Sangria.

DSCN1008I’ve been stock-piling supplies for over a year now.  The wedding colors are purple and gray so anytime I saw something that was one of those colors and could come in handy (and was on sale), I picked it up.  This method really helps save on costs.  Instead of waiting until the last minute and being forced into buying the first thing you see because you’re low on time, do your research and take advantage of a deal when you see it.

I don’t think the decorations would of looked half as cute if it wasn’t for the country feel of the cabin itself.  Thankfully we were able to capture pictures of the set-up on the first day DSCN1015because with that many girls living in one place for a long weekend, things are bound to get a little messy! All the months of constant, meticulous planning (I’m sure Catherine was tired of seeing my number pop up on her phone 50x a day) finally paid off when our beautiful bride entered her decorated palace for the weekend with a huge smile on her face.