Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Visit from Loree and Taking Nashville By Storm!

This morning I said goodbye to my sweet friend Loree as she started back on an 11 hour drive to Florida. We crammed in as much as we could so she could get her fill of all the East Nashville eats & shops.  It was actually quite ironic that she came out here with a note-page filled of places she wanted to see and food she wanted to try since several of these spots I had in fact never even heard of before!  So funny. It ended up being an adventure for the both of us, since I got to try many of these places for the first time myself!!

Where do I even begin?  The purpose of Loree's visit was to attend a blogger's workshop in Nashville to learn more about Photoshop.  Had it not been quite so spendy I would have loved to attend myself, but regardless it was awesome to have her here and share the time we could together.  She arrived at the house last Thursday afternoon around 4 and I rushed home to meet her.  (Sidenote - Jason finally revealed my belated birthday present to me and surprised me with 2 ladies hired to come deep clean my house - oh.yes.he.did.)  The ladies were still there elbow deep in dog hair and construction dust after I got off work, so we headed over to Ugly Mugs (my personal fav) for coffee and to catch up on...ooooh... say a couple years worth of life's happenings.  We also figured out that we've literally known each other for 27 years. How wild is that?! 27 YEARS! Man, God is good.

After coffee at Ugly Mugs, we headed back to the house to freshen up, check out my gloriously cleaned home, and get ready for dinner at The Wild Cow.  I've wanted to check this place out, not because I'm a vegetarian, but just to see what it was like - and since Loree happens to actually be one, I thought it would be the perfect time to go!  Our impressions: Loree loved it, she had the Veggie Quinoa Bowl; I however had the Portabella and Couscous Salad, and was not so much a fan.  I personally think I could do without going back. The evening was concluded with hours of conversation back at the house before crashing out.

Friday morning we first took off for The Farmer's Market where we had lunch and scoped out all the fresh produce and local honey varieties.
(photo by Loree Rowland)

Afterwards, we drove over to The Food Company in Green Hills to meet up with the The Peach Truck and snag some of the last Georgia peaches of the season. Loree has been following them on Instagram, so she was pumped to finally meet up with them here in Nashville - crazy side note, turns out they're cousins to her best friends in Florida - weeeird.
Then we were off to Nadeau in Green Hills where she fell in love with an Aztec-style rug for her home, and we browsed around Color becoming immediately obsessed with the Rose & Ivy Spiced Tea Blend that they had mixed with frozen Strawberry Daiquiri (yes, it was non-alcoholic). So of course, we each had to buy our own jars to make this same deliciousness at home! Seriously, amazeballs and I want to figure out the spices so I can make my own!!
We zigzagged over to the 12th South neighborhood for some Las Paletas hand-crafted artisan popsicles.  These are always a win with everyone!  I had the coconut and Loree had the Avocado. Both wins.
We walked around the whole area looking into all the fun stores and Loree was able to check off another item on her list to see Imogene & Willie. No I did not look at the price of their custom made jeans - the whole idea scared me. Extremely cool place though - although a bit too trendy/hipster for my liking.  All those long papers hanging from the ceiling are the patterns made for the custom jeans.  Very awesome.
Next stop was The Filling Station where I loaded up on some Sprechers' Gourmet Soda and Loree picked up a Growler for her man back at home.  (Yes Little One, I will take you and John there next time you visit. You both will love this place! ;-))

After all this shopping you know by then we had worked up an appetite, so we jaunted back to East Nashville for dinner at Silly Goose.   Loree thoroughly enjoyed the Melon Gazpacho and Green Salad with Steelhead Salmon, whereas I was head-over-heels with the Cast Iron Flank Steak, Smashed Potatoes and Carmelized Onion and Fennel.  Dare I go on?  Nom.nom.nom.
And as if we hadn't munched on enough that day, we topped the day off with ice cream from Jeni's.  Let me tell you something...this place is RIDICULOUS.  I can't get enough of their ice cream.  My only complaint is that those scoops just aren't big enough!!!
I may have started an affair with the Loveless Cafe Biscuits and Peach Jam ice cream - to.die.for.  But then there was also the Sweet Corn & Black Raspberries flavor - I'm not even kidding you.  We were forced to go here twice in four days - and both times the lines wrapped completely around the store and even out the door down the sidewalk.  Rumor has it one is opening in 12th South - thank the Lord!  It's getting crazy crowded in our hood!

Are you drooling yet?  Let's move on to Saturday.  Loree spent the day downtown at the workshop while I sipped coffee and enjoyed a good book and my beautifully clean home.  No - it is not completely arranged from the renovation.  Jason has been working like a mad man trying to catch up on his yards, so I'm in a holding pattern until he can free up some time to help build the closet shelves.  I'm thinking November is when we'll be all moved in. I went to the grocery and picked up some things I needed to make Loree a fabulous (if I do say-so myself) vegetarian AND gluten-free dinner of Potato Gnocchi with crushed sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, lemon, onion & shredded mozzarella. It's a recipe my friend Julia lent me and it's so delish! (Yes Kristin, I can send you the recipe ;-) ) We spent the evening at home relaxing and snacking on kettle corn and sipping iced sweet green tea (I am SO addicted to this stuff).
(photo by Loree Rowland)

Sunday - a little more of the same.  Jason worked all day, Loree was at the workshop and I was snuggled up with my four adorable furbabies.  I also worked on our bedroom door chipping paint off the glass panes (thank you incompetent painter for that lovely gift).  As soon as Loree and Jason were back at the house, we got ready and headed out to The Pharmacy for dinner!!  Many of you have been there with us and know that we so love this place!  The weather couldn't have been more incredible, the back garden was so beautiful,
 the food totally grub and the company wasn't bad on the eyes either.
Well hello there.

Our last day together was Monday so of course we had to make the most of it! We first checked out the Hey Rooster General Store, which is a cute and quaint little shop near my house that had fun housewares and food items.  We couldn't resist taking home a jar of Coconut Jam 
(photo here)
(cannot WAIT to try this with some homemade scones - yuuuum!).  

Then because we were both starving we skipped over to Blue Sky Cafe for entirely way too much fluffy goodness. No seriously, TOO much. Ugh. 

 I mistook the French Toast Pancakes as french toast bread that were dipped in pancake batter much like the ones Jason makes me.  Um no.  This was 2 gigantic pancakes with 2 slices of french toast between them and then Nutella and Banana all up in its bizness.  

Unreal and immediate stomach ache.  Smart one Kim.  Loree ordered the Portabella Melt and she said it was delish.  Our next stop - to pick up more peaches.  Don't ask - it's a long story.  ;-)   Then we ran back to pick up Loree's rug at Nadeau and took a scenic drive to Franklin to wander the shops. So relaxing, so busy and SO FUN!  Thankfully, The Iron Gate (one of my favorite shops in Franklin) was still open so I was able to drag lure her inside.  She didn't put up much of a fight.
(Photo from Iron Gate's website here)
Isn't it dreamy? I die.

For our last hurrah, we decided on dinner at Rolf And Daughters, a restaurant that I had actually never even heard of, but yet it was very recently rated #3 as a Best New Restaurant in the US by BonAppetit.  
(photo here)

Freakin cool and insanely good food - hand rolled pasta, not even kidding.  Yes, Loree and I sat on the patio outside with the little white lights twinkling and the perfect summer evening weather.  I know I'll be back with Jason for sure!!  To finish off a perfect day, we enjoyed yet again some perfect Jeni's Ice Cream.  Don't judge.

Tuesday morning we were up early to check off Loree's final quest, which was to stop for coffee at the Barista Parlor.  Again, not even a mile from our house - I love my life. ;-)  The Barista Parlor is one heck of a hipster mecca and I personally think its quite overpriced, but still a fun experience none the less.  

I'm already missing Loree like crazy, but I feel so incredibly blessed to have as much time with her as I did!  I forget sometimes how much this girl and I are actually alike!  I can't wait to have both Loree and Roy back for a visit this fall! (fingers crossed!)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

What to say, what not to say?

Holy crap - where do I even begin?

Jason and I have been knee-deep in a home renovation over the last 3 1/2 months.

It's been challenging, exciting and exhausting all at the same time, but very recently has brought us to a very difficult place.  We met our contractors through some friends of ours who had used them for a build-out of their own attic space on an old historic home, so we knew we were putting ourselves in good hands.  And at the beginning we had to jump through some difficult hoops of meeting the codes of the Metro Historical Zoning Commission here in Nashville.  Well, we thought we were long past having to ever deal with them again...but no, they've come back to haunt us yet one more time.  Our contractors had mistakenly overlooked a very crucial code requirement through the framing process and a couple weeks ago one of the Historic Commission staff members reported our home as breaking their codes.  Our contractors have been meeting with them and trying to figure out a compromise, but they have stuck to their guns and refuse to budge on their requirements. So what does all of this mean to use?  Well, we're literally 2 weeks away from completion - the drywall is finished, the trim up, the tile laid, the electric & plumbing installed and 80 % of the painting completed.  The only thing really left to do was installing the hardwood floors.  And now, we're being required to literally demo the side walls of the renovation space and build in 2 feet on either side of the home, so that the new construction is noticeably separate from the original home.  It's sickening when I think about it.  My anxiety has been through the roof and I am at a loss for words of how to pray.  Of course my solid-as-a-rock husband is steady through it all - even when I was cussing and ready to throw the contractors out of my house.  They know it's their fault and they of course will eat the cost of demoing and reconstructing the walls.  I just thought I was so close to putting this process behind us - putting the dust, the mess, the fumes, the stress, the running to the laundromat every week with 9 loads of laundry in 90 degree heat, the anxiety and consequently seizures Jeep has been having....and now we're in essence starting over in many ways.

I'm not conceding however without a fight.  I've met with a couple attorneys that I work with who specialize in construction law and one of them happens to know a few of the Board Commissioners of the Metro Historical Commission.  I'm hoping he is able to persuade them to allow Jason and I the opportunity to appeal our situation, so they will issue us a variance.  I'm literally flabbergasted how the Commission could choose to penalize a couple who have only put money, blood, sweat & tears into improving the East Nashville community.  How is it that I have neighbors down the street from us who literally let their homes rot to the bones, many eventually becoming condemned and yet we try to preserve the beauty and integrity of our historic home and end up being slapped on the wrist for the way we go about it?  I mean really people, 2 feet?

I have yet to say anything on Facebook about the grief this has all been causing me, because in one way I feel guilty for allowing something like this to even get to me - yes, its super frustrating - but I have many friends who look at our situation and only see what a blessing it is that we are in a place to even do a remodel such as this in the first place.  It's true and I know it is, that God has been faithful to us.  I just so struggle with being discouraged by continual "bad news".  I have a terrible habit at comparing the struggles that Jason and I go through to the ease that others seem to achieve in their own lives.  I want so badly to be content in where God has us - with our home, our fertility, our family, our careers and our lives.  He is good and His love never waivers.  I just need to blog more often so I can remind myself of that more often.  The last 2 days I've emptied and exhausted myself being angry, frustrated, anxious and stressed out.  The amazing thing about grace - is that today I can start anew, ask forgiveness and begin trusting again.

So some positive things to end this post on....I've lost 10 pounds and am excited to finally be losing some weight and look forward to the next 10 pounds I plan to lose!  I was able to head back to Seattle for a quick visit to see my family and spend the first Father's Day with my dad since I left for Nashville.  It was gorgeous weather and I had a great time.
Also, Jason and I took the boys to our first Drive-In of the summer!  We saw Monsters U and Iron Man 3.  Both were great movies and the boys did really well (even CJ, who I was super nervous to bring since he's such a maniac!)

I'm gonna get back into this blogging thing - I think it's good for my sanity ;-)

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Five Love Languages.....for DOGS!

So our church recently held an evening seminar for parents on The Five Love Languages for Children.

And guess what?  It's the same freakin' thing as for adults!!  Shocker right?  I only know this, because our friends Matt & Amy went and they were like "this is the exact same thing as the adult version". 

Hmmmm....which got me to thinking last night as I was snuggling with my boys.

There really should be another book written called The Five Love Languages of DOGS! :-) 
Oh yeah, I just went there.

So Jason and I were evaluating our pups last night trying to decide which one had which love language and here's what we came up with:

Jeep's always been a bit of a loner, but he loves to snuggle and give kisses.
I swear that massive tongue of his is outside of his mouth, more than it's in his mouth. 
He's our Alpha as strange as that is, because he's more passive and gentle. 
He's also our most fearful dog - he's terrified of fire, flashlights, lawn equipment, Jason's work cooler...I could go on and on.  Poor guy.
He weighs in at 93 pounds and guards the backyard as if his life depended on it. 
He's also our morning dog and as soon as my alarm goes off, he's moaning at the bedroom door for one of us to get up.
He's so gentle and so sweet.
We call him the Mayor, cause whenever we go to the dog park, he feels it's his job to go around and welcome everyone and say hi. 
He also goes by the nicknames: Polar Bear, Handsome, Yellow Guy & Buck Buck #1.
Love him.
Jeep's love language is physical touch.

Seven is our ADHD dog. 
He can only focus on one thing at a time and it's usually his Kong.
There could be trains going by, kids running around, CJ hanging from his collar or 50 other dogs circling him at the dog park and all he's intensely focused on is either his Kong or a tennis ball. 
If we were duck hunting folks, he would be the most amazing hunting dog. 
His "love tank" must have been getting low last night, cause he had ZERO tolerance for CJ's peskiness and was growling something fierce at him.  Even when I laid my hand gently on his back to calm him, he grunted at me.  I told Jason he was super grumpy and Jason took him outside for a little one-on-one time.  They played fetch till Seven was so tired he collapsed back in the house.
But boy, was he one happier boy. It was like night and day. 
Seven weighs in at 83 pounds and is NOT a morning dog. 
He loves his sleep and does not appreciate being woken up. 
He hates the rain and whines like no other.
His territory is guarding the house. 
He is the one that has woken us up in the middle of the night when someone was trying to get in the house. 
Seven goes by the nicknames: Booger, Monkey, Black Guy & Buck Buck #2.
His love language is "quality time".

CJ is absolutely fearless. Jeep & Seven both have their unique fears (ie Jeep is deathly afraid of fire and flashlights, and Seven is terrified of the broom, go figure).  But CJ - nothin. 
We took him to the vet last weekend for his last round of shots and he tried to take on a pitbull by growling and howling at her.
CJ's love language is "receiving/giving gifts".

I know that sounds weird, but follow me here.
This pup knows when he gets on Jeep & Seven's bad side and will go get one of his toys or even his own bone and leave it right in front of their face as a peace offering.
It's just so darn cute.
He's a total punk most of the time, but he's also still a puppy.
His last weigh in came in at 47 pounds.
I'm thinking his territory is becoming the front porch as this little guy growls and barks at anything that walks by.
He's very sweet, but extremely willful. 
Within the first weeks of having him, he growled at both Jason and I (that was shortly lived).
He's incredibly smart and fast learning.
He was potty trained within a couple weeks at most and loves going to work with Jason.
He loves to swim - whether its in the water collected in the swimming pool, a large puddle or a pond at Jason's clients home.
I'm thinking as he mellows out (and after we remove his testicles), he'll be quite sweet and gentle.
But until then....
His nicknames are:  Boog, Nut Nut, Choco Taco (cause for some strange reason he always smells like tortillas), Brown Guy and Buck Buck #3. 

 Yes, we are obsessed with our furbabies :-)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January Bakers' Challenge - Gevulde Speculaas

It has been almost exactly 3 years since I last participated in a Daring Bakers Challenge, and even then I only did one challenge in 2010 (Nanaimo Bars - which are amazeballs might I add). Before that I hadn't done any since 2009.  I participated in these challenges for quite a while before I quit due to the increase of calories in our household.  But now that Jason is working lawncare full time, I figure I can get away with going back to one of my favorite hobbies - baking. 

Thankfully, my login and password was still good with the Daring Kitchen website, so I was able to download the first challenge of the year - Gevulde Speculaas, hosted by Francijn of Koken in de Brouwerij

I had ZERO idea what I was making - all I knew, was that it was a Dutch pastry of some kind.  Part of the challenge was to mix our own spices to create the Speculaas spices - which pretty much consists of 10 or so different spices (Cardamom, Mace, Ground Cloves, Anise Seed, Cinnamon, Ginger, Coriander, Nutmeg and White Pepper which I didn't add).  As fun as that was, the spices smelled so strongly that I was afraid I wasn't going to like this pastry very much.  But thankfully, I was wrong ;-)

The Gevulde Speculaas turned out like a slightly crunchy gingerbread with a chewy almond paste center and taste wonderfully with a hot cup of coffee.  And as a big bonus, it was a fairly quick recipe to make.  Please believe, there's been some challenges that have taken me daaaaayyyys to make.

Jason, my inlaws and my co-workers all loved them - so the recipe is a winner in our book and will be added to my trusty recipe box shortly!

Friday, January 18, 2013


Watching:  Not a whole lot at the moment.  *Sigh*   Over the weekends I do get the opportunity to catch up on some shows, and when I do, I watch Greys Anatomy, Master Chef, The Bachelor, Private Practice and Parenthood.  Best shows ever.

Listening To: Pandora's "She & Him" station.  Freakin awesome laid back music from today and even oldies.  I swear it helps me get through the day while I'm at work.

Thinking About: This weekend!  I'm so excited to have another 3 day weekend!  Last weekend was also a 3 day weekend since I took our anniversary off (the 14th).  We relaxed quite a bit, had dinner at our friends Dana & Julie's, hung out with the kiddos in the neighborhood (Jason made a rap music video with Larry and RonTavius - oh yeah, it's coming), saw Silver Linings Playbook (loved it) and had dinner at a new restaurant in East Nashville called Lockland Table (not bad, not our fav either).   This weekend is my MIL's birthday and I'll be cooking up an Italian dinner for her Sunday evening and I'm sure we'll end the evening playing a round or two of Sequence.  AND yesterday was Jeep and Seven's 4th Birthday!!  So this weekend I plan to make them a little treat of homemade dog biscuits.  I know they will go crazy over them!  How on earth has it already been 4 years?  They are the best dogs EVER.
Trying To Figure Out: A meal plan for this next week.  I've joined the weight loss competition at work and have been trying to plan more healthier dinner and lunch options.  I wish money grew on trees, cause I would eat a Panera salad every day of the week! yum!  I'm also planning to complete my first Daring Bakers Challenge of the year with making a traditional Dutch pastry called Gevulde Speculaas (that should be interesting). Hopefully, it will turn out something like this:

Looking Forward To: Spring!  The weather here goes from 70 degrees one day to 32 the next.  My body is wiggin out from the extreme temperature changes and I'm ready for Spring already!!! 

Wearing: Layers upon layers upon layers.  Sweaters, cords, you name it and I'm layering it on! Brrrr!!! Oh and my beautiful new grey wool coat and grey, fuzzy mittens that I received as Christmas presents :-)

Reading:  I just finished Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman (see my review here) and am anxiously looking forward to starting Love Anthony by Lisa Genova.  I loved Still Alice by Lisa Genova, so it didn't take much convincing to grab my copy at the library. So that's one book down toward my goal of 30!

Making Me Happy: My sweet and loving husband who has worked very hard on keeping the house clean and doing the laundry - it has been SO nice to come home after work to a made bed and a clean home.  I also love my little choco-nut, CJ who makes me laugh every day with his super cute face, his crazy personality, his clumsy padded walk and his stinky puppy breath.  CJ thinks it's pretty funny to hide Jeep & Seven's dog food bowls in the doghouse UNDER the hay, so when daddy goes to feed them dinner, he has to do a little scavenger hunting first.  He looks huge in this picture, but he's standing on the center console of Jason's truck.  He's actually 38 pounds now and 5 months old.  I'm so curious how big he's going to get and if he'll surpass Jeep and Seven in size.