I don’t know about you, but I have been BUSY living the best life yet. My days have been filled with so much joy, family, friends, art (both teaching it and making it) and of course, reading! I’m not going to lie, I’m actually surprised with just how much reading I’ve been able to get done over the last month, mainly because it feels like there is never enough time in the day, am I right?!
But yet, here I am sharing with you the 9 books I was able to squeeze out during the hot summer month of June! Woo… you name it, poolside, break-time, before bed, an hour a day, I’ve been squeezing in the time to get these books knocked out and I’m so glad I did.
Wildflower by Drew Barrymore:Another biography in a collection of essays by the lovely Drew herself. To be honest, I am a HUGE Drew Barrymore fan and I was so glad to sink my teeth into this book. I loved reading about her life, and her journey to womanhood, adulthood and all that in between. It honestly made me love her even more.
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari: Humorous Self-help book? Honestly I’m not sure what the genre is, but either way, it was super smart and insightful. What’s my reason for picking up this book? I have way too many single girlfriends and I wanted to get an insight of the stuff they deal with on the daily. #theresstillhope
The Girl with the Lower Back Tatoo by Amy Schumer: A hilarious biography/memoir written by Amy herself. Honestly, this one was pretty entertaining, it definitely had a lot of the crudeness we’ve come to expect from Amy. But, with a big scoop of sincerity and honesty. I give Amy kudos for opening up to the reader and letting us get to know a different side than she normally portrays.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert: This one is totally a self-help book all about learning to live with fear, becoming in-tune with ideas and learning ways to foster our own creativity. A great read to inspire you on your next project! It’s helped me become more aware of the opportunities around me.
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor: A great librarian recommended this sci-fi read to me. It was a quick read, filled with enough action to make it well worth it. In true novella form, it was a great introduction to the world of science fiction.
A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like by Ashley Graham: Biogoraphy/Memoirish that’s full of self-love. I admire Ashley, she says the things that I’m afraid to say out loud and she’s happy with who she is. She oozes self-confidence and that’s a sexy and amazing quality. When I finished reading the book, I felt good in my skin. I no longer felt like I had to conform to societies beauty standards. It was a good mixture of life, love and owning your womanhood by slaying with self-confidence.
Let’s be friends
I’ve already started on my July list and my first book is almost complete, yes! If you want to follow along, come hang with me on Goodreads. I try my hardest to rate and review the books as soon as I’m finished with them. Leave comments and share with me your summer reads and any recommendations. Clearly, from the list, you can see I’m a HUGE fan of memoirs and biographies but really I’m open to anything! Until next time…see you on Goodreads!
Famous songwriting capital of the world and home to some good old honky tonks! It was a no-brainer when we decided Nashville would be a great place to visit especially to ring in my big 3-0! We planned a 4 day weekend and off we went!
You guys should already know by now that when we travel we ALWAYS use Airbnb for our accommodations because it’s just the way to do it (be on the lookout for an Airbnb specific post soon). We ended up scoring an amazing house in such a hipster part of town and the decor was everything! Let’s just put it this way, if I ever moved to Nashville that would be THE house of my dreams.
We flew in early and were able to settle right into our comfy home and hunt down some breakfast. I came prepared with a list of places that were specific to Tennesse that I just HAD to try. So first on my list was the Pancake Pantry. And guys… this place is notorious for having a line and when we arrived, that famous line awaited us. We only ended up waiting about an hour and maybe 10 minutes to get seated. It was no big deal because we ended up making friends with people in the line. Nashville folks are SO nice!! Oh and if you’re wondering if it was worth the wait? Absolutely, 100% yes.
With full and happy bellies, we walked around Hillsboro Village some, which is where the Pancake Pantry is located but then quickly decided to visit the Parthenon. Yes… you read that right, as in Nashville has a fully replicated Parthenon like they do in Greece! The art nerd in me jumped for joy when we pulled up into Centennial Park and saw all these amazing statues and all these people picnicking and bike riding like it was no big deal! Talk about being green with envy, heck if I lived close to Centennial Park I’d be doing all of the above too! The park and the replicated Parthenon DID NOT disappoint.
Naturally, the park ignited us to do some more touristy activities so, we decided the next stop would be the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge. A lot of my friends said this bridge had beautiful views and made a great backdrop for pictures. But I was actually more excited to visit the bridge because it’s one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world. When we arrived, I was NOT READY for the steep incline. But once we got to the top, my friends weren’t lying, the views were AMAZING.
We got to walk across the Cumberland River, view the “Batman” building, overlook the Tennesse Titans stadium, I mean there was so much to take in. It was awesome.
By the time we got done enjoying the bridge and the views we were feeling HOT, from both the incline and the weather. We needed to find AC stat and right at the bottom of the bridge was the Johnny Cash Museum. We decided to go and check it out and I’m so glad we did, it felt surreal to be in there. To read about his life and see the things that were once his. His story is beautiful and hard all at the same time and to be able to experience that will always be a treasured memory for me. I especially loved all of the photographs of Johnny and June. #swoon
After spending time at the museum, we decided to just stroll down Broadway to see what tickled our fancy. We had no idea that the Ryman Auditorium was just right down the road. I immediately said, “we need to go there now!” We purchased tickets and made it just in time for the last tour of the night. I’m not going to lie, I got pretty teary eyed being there and listening to the rich history of such an extraordinary place. It felt like I was standing in the middle of the heart and soul of Nashville.
After the tour, we were all starving. I took out my list of places to try and I was so excited that Puckett’s Grocery was 2 blocks away. It’s a pretty busy place especially around lunch/dinner time so I’m not ashamed to tell you that I ran to get our names on the list and did I mention it was uphill!? Luck was on my side because we got seated almost immediately. Win! Ok, so hands down this is a MUST try. If you are ever in Nashville, go here. I promise you will love it.
And if you’re trying to figure out what to get, allow me to help you. The Piggy Mac is a yes, the BLT with Fried green tomatoes is a double yes and their skillet pecan cobbler, OH MY GOSH, triple yes. You can thank me later. Overall, day 1 in Nashville was super successful!
Before we even got up for the day we had already decided to make it an early morning so we could get first dibs in line at Biscuit Love. Why? Because this place is also notorious for having lines up to 3 hours long! I’ve only ever waited that long for one place and that’s Franklin’s Barbecue in Austin. We arrived early enough that we only had to wait 20 minutes and it was legit! You place your order at the counter and then find a table and await the goodness. Their biscuits were fluffy and tasted like little miniature cakes! SO delicious. Also, it’s home to the famous NASHVILLE sign that you can find all over Instagram and Pinterest!
After our delicious breakfast, we decided to visit the Grand Ole Opry which is a good 15 minutes away from downtown. We purchased our tickets and took our spot in line for the tour. I was so blown away by the building and how friendly the staff was. We got to explore the dressing rooms and hang out backstage before they let us actually go up on stage and get our picture taken!
The Grand Ole Opry was right across the Opry Mills mall and they had just opened up the Madame Tussauds Nashville inside. To celebrate its grand opening we scored some awesome tickets to go inside. I’m not the biggest fan of wax museums but our group was super excited so I decided to give it a go. I’m so glad we did because I am a huge country music fan and inside was the mecca of country music stars plus a multitude of genres and eras. If you can score coupons, I say go for it, lots of great photo ops!
When lunch time finally hit, we were ready to get our grub on. We had a lot of friends recommend the Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden so off we went. We didn’t know what to expect when we got there, we just knew that we had to get on the wait list. There’s an app that we were able to use to skip the long line, so by the time our lyft got there we had a table waiting for us! It was awesome. The place itself is super inviting and homey, and the outside beer garden is top notch. Now the best part hands down are the burgers. OH MY GOSH. I went with build your own, and it was heavenly! I just can’t say enough good things. Everyone at my table agreed it was one hell of a burger, one of the best we’ve ever had!
I don’t know about you guys, but I love me some dessert. It’s one of those small things in life that I am very grateful for. I asked the group what they all felt like, and there was a mixture of replies so we found a place that housed two of Nashville favorites, Five Daughters Bakery and Jeni’s Splended Ice cream down in East Nashville. Both get A’s in my book especially the vanilla flavored icecream at Jeni’s, SOOO good. Definitley worth all the hype.
After our amazing lunch and dessert combo we headed home to rest. We had planned a Bar crawl with Nashville’s Really Entertaining Tours that evening and we knew we needed some rest before we took off for the night. I slept for like 3 solid hours and I’m so glad I did because the bar crawl was EPIC and I needed all the energy I could get!
We met with Ryan our host and guide and he took us to bars that I probably wouldn’t have thought to go into. My favorite was the George Jones Museum Rooftop bar, because the view… gorgeous. On the tour we made our way into a speakeasy jazz bar, karaoke bar and finally made it to the moonshine bar where we stayed the rest of the night. We had a blast with both Ryan and the guests themselves. They all sang happy birthday to me at the end of the night! It was the perfect way to ring in my big 3-0!
Sleeping in after my awesome birthday celebration was a must. There was no need to rush, so when we were finally ready, we made our way to 417 Union st. to get our breakfast on. Please do yourself a favor and next time you’re there order the chicken and waffles. YUM!! The biscuits and gravey are a close 2nd! It’s a cute little place with some mean drinks on the menu. You won’t be disappointed!
My siblings had purchased some celebrity home tour tickets for us so after breakfast we hopped on a bus at a local hotel near 407 Untion and sat back and enjoyed the 4 hour tour. We got to visit the homes of Taylor Swift, Reese Witherspoon, Dolly Parton, Hillary Scott, Martina McBride, and many more. We weren’t really able to stop in front of the homes so snapping pictures was a little hard to do. It was enjoyable but definitley a long tour. Bring snacks, although they do stop for a break, it’s better to have them on hand, and don’t sit in the very back, it’s hard to get AC back there. Just an fyi.
Since the days were beginning to catch up, we were running out of time to try all the awesome places on my list to eat so we decided to embark on our own food crawl. The premise was that we’d visit each place, get a plate to share so we could try out a variety of places. Our first stop was Martin’s barbecue. Tennessee is famous for their dry rub barbecue and although it was good, I’m just a Texas barbecue with all my sauce kind of girl. The sides were great and I just love the way they style their pancake cornbreads!
Next stop was Desano Pizza Bakery and originally we ordered a small pizza but they accidentally read our order wrong and they gifted us a large! This pizza was awesome, we were all just supposed to have one slice but my husband and brother kept going for it. It was that good! They might have over done it because we spent the next hour trying to walk off our food down music row before we headed off to our final destination to Party Fowl.
Nashville is famous for their Hot Chicken and so many people gave us their recommendations. We finally settled on a smaller hole in the wall restaurant which brought us to Party Fowl! I’m so glad we did because it was the perfect introduction to Nashville Hot Chicken! Our waiter recommended we start out with mild and work our way up. Thank goodness we listened because even the mild was HOT. If you’re looking for Hot Chicken, go there, it’s busy but not long line busy. You’ll get seated, no problem.
On our last day in Nashville, we decided to take it easy. It was an easy decision to grab breakfast close by to our Airbnb. Plus I wanted to finally hunt down the famous I believe in Nashville Mural. Our first stop was Frothy Monkey for a wholesome breakfast and can I just say that the coffee is fantastic. Right down the road is Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James store, which of course we had to stop in and check out. I scored the cutest Tennessee pin for my collection, and did you know they serve you FREE delicious sweet tea? Heavenly. The alley next to the shop houses the famous mural and let’s just say it’s everything it’s cracked out to be. I’m so glad I got a photo op there!
On our way to the airport, we finally made our last stop at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Being able to go through the years and experience the success of so many amazing artists was magical. They showcased many artists and their unique talents, for example, did you know that Brad Paisley likes to paint? The walls were filled with stunning artwork and I even got to play and mess around with their recording studio. It was so much fun, it was a great way to end the weekend.
Thank you, Nashville.
This trip is one for the books, we had a great time! I hope that if you’re planning a trip to Nashville, this guide helps you in some way. Nashville, you’re so wonderful and thank you for all the amazing memories, I believe in you!