Sunday, April 2, 2017

Travel | Nashville, TN

We just returned from our week long trip to Nashville, Tennessee and I left smitten by the city. Guys, the houses there are gorgeous! Every street we drove through I was oohing and ahhing. The weather was beautiful for the most part. There were some days of rainy/stormy weather but it was typically in the evening and we were already exhausted from being out all day. Worked out just perfectly.

I've been wanting to visit Nashville for some time now. Especially in the past five years where I've grown to appreciate country music. Then with the show Nashville, I wanted to see some of the spots in the show.

When we started planning out our trip, I was fortunate enough to have a friend who lives in Nashville and able to impart her wisdom of good places to eat and visit. Made the planning part pretty easy! We stayed in a rental in the 12 South Area which turned out to be a great location. It was a quick drive from downtown and there were lots of restaurants and shops in walking distance. Reminded me of South Tampa Hyde Park area for any Tampa readers.

Typically, when I do my travel posts, it's usually a photo dump of everything. This time, I thought I would type it out for you of the things we did and places we ate.

Things to Do: 
You can't do Nashville without visiting the country landmarks...

  • Country Music Hall of Fame
  • The Ryman
  • The Grand Ole Opry
  • Johnny Cash Museum
  • Bluebird Cafe - We didn't really go in to this place, but I did go drive by to see it.

We did a little historical/museum visits.

  • Andrew Jackson's Hermitage
  • Nashville Parthenon
  • Belmont Mansion and University
The weather was beautiful so we wanted to take advantage of it and be outdoors. 
  • Cheekwood Botanical Gardens
  • Radnor Lake State Park
  • Centennial Park (The Parthenon is located here as well)

Places to Eat:
This was probably the best part of the trip. Honestly, I could have titled this post, "Eating our way through Nashville" because we ate like it was our last meal each time. Even as I type this and think about some of the restaurants, my mouth is watering and I want to go back.

  • Flip Burger Boutique - The burger was delicious BUT the Nutella Burnt Marshmallow milkshake stole the show for me. 
  • Butchertown Hall - Chips and Queso
  • Taco Mamasita - This place had your not so typical tacos which I was pleasantly surprised with. 
  • Hattie B's Hot Chicken - I am not a big fried chicken fan or eating any chicken off the bone really. However, this chicken was too good not to have. 
  • The Loveless Cafe - Biscuit heaven. 
  • Box: Bongo & Bakery on 10th - I had a falafel sandwich with beet tzatziki sauce which was delicious. Their cookies were so so good. I had a chocolate pretzel cookie and was talking about it hours after. Ha. 
  • Frothy Monkey - We stopped here a few times during our stay to grab some coffee and had breakfast once. That was just as great!

For the Sweet Tooth!
It wouldn't be a post of mine if it didn't include a dessert selection. Lucky for me, there were so many choices within walking distance!
  • Las Paletas - They had quite the selection of popsicles. We got our popsicles and walked over to the park across the street for a nice little stroll.
  • Jeni's - Ice Cream Shop - This was not your typical selection of ice cream. One of the flavors I chose was a Salted Peanut Butter with Chocolate Flakes. It was light tasting and good.
  • Five Daughters Bakery - They had a small selection of cronuts and some other pastries. Again, delicious. 
  • Legato Gelato - This was not in walking distance but a quick drive.
  • Olive & Sinclair Chocolate - The cutest little shop that makes their chocolate in-store. 

Another great trip in the books!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Life Groups and New Friendships

In honor of GFC's Beautiful Bible Study Spring semester starting yesterday, I thought I would share about my experience in joining a life group and the value in being a part of one.

I started attending the Monday night life group last Fall. I was feeling really drained emotionally, physically, and spiritually and I felt that I needed some more Jesus time in my life and wanted to get more connected to my church. We'd been attending this church for about 9 months, but hadn't really gotten involved. (It's a large church and easy to get lost in the crowd, especially when you are introverts like we are.) I'd heard time and time again, that the best way to get connected in a large church (or any size church for that matter) is by joining life groups/bible study groups.

Well, I finally made the leap (huge leap) and went on a Monday night to try it out. Leading up to the evening, all the anxiety kicked in and it crossed my mind to just go home instead of turning on the road to get to the church, but I didn't give in. When I entered the sanctuary I was greeted by a couple ladies who welcomed me, had me fill out a name tag and sat with me a group of ladies at a table.

The rest was history. 

These ladies made me feel welcomed and part of the family. I created relationships, friendships through this group which has opened up other relationships through the ones created from this life group. We have provided each other support and words of encouragement in this thing called life through table conversations, prayers, texts, etc.

One of the friendships that has formed as a result of this life group is with this lovely lady, Ashley.

This bottle of sunshine has been such a pleasure to meet. She was my lifesaver during the women's conference from saving me seats each day to introducing me to other ladies at church. She will send me a text or two throughout the week just to say 'hello and hope that I am having a great week'. While it may seem like nothing, this small gesture, taking out the time of her busy week to send me a text, has been huge in just making me feel special and loved. That folks, is what this Christian life is all about.

Okay, enough of the gush talk.

I am so thrilled that this semester we will be doing a bible study reading Lisa Bevere's Girls With Swords book. Y'all already know, since the conference, I've been slightly obsessed inspired by Lisa Bevere. I'm really looking forward to reading this book this semester!


Sunday, February 5, 2017

GALentine's Soiree 2017

Yesterday, I hosted my first GALentine's party with some of my fave gal pals. I've seen these sorts of shin-digs on pinterest and blogs for years and always wanted to host my own. I had some ladies over to enjoy chocolate fondue and wine.

Here are some pics of the details.

So, those who know me, KNOW that anything kitchen related is NOT a strength of mine. The good Lord blessed me with a husband who is a great cook and baker, so I do not mess with all that non-sense. See, because when I do, something is bound to going wrong.

Chocolate fondue.

I followed this recipe, STEP BY STEP. While it was in the sauce pan, it looked great. Once I transferred it to the fondue pot is where things took a turn for the worst. It was my first time using the fondue maker because I bought it specifically for this night. When I set it to "warm" it made the chocolate bubble, which you don't want happening! I immediately turned it off but there was no turning back, y'all. The chocolate began to separate and it got very oily. Then it started looking not so appetizing. I was so thrown off by the oil. Where in the world did the oil come from?! There was no oil in the recipe. EPIC FAIL. See picture below.

After several SOS texts to the Mr. from not only me, but friends who were cracking up, he came home to the rescue with more chocolate from the store and re-made the chocolate.

I am still trying to figure out what went wrong. We have a couple theories...

1) I bought the wrong kind of chocolate. I bought chocolate chips instead of the baker's chocolate bar.
2) The dang fondue maker made the chocolate bubble which caused it to separate.


In the end, we had a great time, chatting, eating and drinking some red wine! First time in the books. Can't wait for future ones.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Style | Ankle Booties

At the women's conference last week, I noticed that 90% of the ladies in attendance were wearing some type of ankle bootie. I was part of the 10% that was not wearing them. #alwaystheoutcast

We had perfect boot weather and, of course, I don't have any. I always have it on my mind that I want to a get a pair, but haven't actually made the purchase. While I love fashion, I am always way behind to get on trend with my own personal style.

Well, after this conference, I feel very motivated to get a pair. So I've started browsing online to get ideas. Below are a few that caught my eye from DSW site.

My wardrobe consists of a lots of neutral colors hence the neutral tones above.

I see shoe shopping in my near future!


Friday, February 3, 2017

Friday Five | No. 16

Well, it's been a hot minute since I've posted a Friday Five!

ONE | Guest Post on the GFC Beautiful Blog

On Sunday, after I published and shared my post about the Fearless conference on Instagram, I was contacted by the Women's director from my church asking to share my post on their ministry blog. Guys, I can't tell you how excited I was to be asked this. I have followed the blog for some time now and always thought how cool it would be to guest post on it one day. So to have them reach out to me to do this was huge!

TWO | Beauty and the Beast Trailer

All the goosebumps! I am so excited for this movie to come out in theaters. I already have a girls night planned to go watch it.

THREE | Valentine's Day Home Decor

I've already put up the Valentine's Day decor in the casa. I bought some new items from Kirklands a couple weeks ago and have been anxious to set them up. Getting the house ready for my GALentine's Soiree this weekend!

FOUR | Magnolia Journal Spring Edition

Joanna Gaines announced on Instagram that the Magnolia Journal Spring Edition will be hitting stands on Valentine's Day!

FIVE | Nashville Vacation

It's official y'all. Our next vacation will be to Nashville, Tennessee! We actually booked this last week, so I am a little late in sharing the news. We already have a list of things to do and places to eat thanks to friend recommendations and our own searching the internet. Essentially, we will be eating our way through Nashville and I wouldn't have it any other way. If you have any recommendations, pass them along!


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Currently | February 2017

Hello February! Here is a short list of my current happenings...

READING | Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley. I have been a long time blog/Instagram follower of Emily. Umm, hello, she owns a planner business. My love language. When I learned that she was writing a book I knew I wanted it.

WATCHING | Victoria on PBS Masterpiece. Guys, I am loving this series! #historygeek

DOING | Planning for my GALentine's Soiree that I am hosting this weekend. I am having a few girlfriends over to have drinks and a chocolate fondue. Yum!

WANTING | Too Faced Sweet Peace Eye Palette. Not that I need another eye palette but the packaging is just to cute!

LISTENING | This was one of the worship songs during the Fearless conference and I am a little obsessed. Hillsong can do no wrong.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

GFC Fearless Women's Conference 2017

On Thursday and Friday, I attended the GFC Fearless Women's Conference that my church was hosting and guys, it was AWESOME! I didn't realize how much I needed the conference until it was all said and done. I almost didn't go at last minute because of work and I am so happy that I did not change my plans. I would have most certainly regretted it. God moved in such a way through the worship, the messages, and the fellowship among ladies that I did not want to leave!

Day 1
So, if you haven't gathered by my blog already, I am an extreme introvert. Randomly going up to people in a crowd, introducing myself gives me anxiety. Takes me back to first of day of school and having to meet new people and figure out who to sit with during lunch time. Worst day ever for an introverts.

Well, fast forward to Thursday and I was reliving that same anxiety as the conference started off with dinner, trying to find somewhere to sit in a group of a 1000 ladies. I have been attending this church for a year now but I haven't been the best at building relationships (again, introvert problems) and the few people that I knew attending the conference were actually volunteering and working in the background. After some awkward hiding behind a pillar, I made my way to the food, grabbed my box of BBQ goodness and scurried off to another dark corner under a tent. Really? I have issues.

After dinner, we gathered in the sanctuary and one of the ladies I know, had saved me a seat next to her. Thank you Jesus! I didn't have to face my fear again of trying to find a seat. Granted, the seat she had was right in the first row, but that's okay, I can handle that.

Now on a serious note, worship was amazing and the sermon even better! After weeks of going non-stop at work and draining my energy, the first night was so reinvigorating. Lisa Bevere was the key note speaker at the event and oh my word. This lady is fierce and I love it. Confession. While I have heard about her before and knew that she speaks at conference and has authored several books, I have never heard her speak before. Seriously, during the first night of her speaking, I couldn't help but think to myself... "Have I been living under a rock this whole time? How have I never heard her before? In person. Online. Anywhere?! What?!" This little half Sicilian pistol was on fire. The way she commanded that stage and spoke God's word with such tenacity was... Wow.

We finished off the evening with music, fellowship and smores!

Day 2
Morning Service began at 9am. We had worship and the guest speaker was Sharon Tubbs and her message was on Rejection and pressing through it. Again, I needed to hear this. Rejection is something that I have struggled with my whole life and based on the "Amen's" that I heard during that message, I am not alone.

Mid-day activities included: lunch from Chick-Fil-A (woot woot), two breakout sessions of our choice, a panel discussion, and a full segment of The Pew (our version of The View).

Dinner was Carrabba's and then it was time for the evening sermon. Again, Lisa Bevere did not hold back. Seriously y'all, I'm fan-girling over her. I even waited in line to have her sign my book and take a picture.

As a female and a Christian, I left this conference feeling so empowered, so inspired, so ready to take on the world. With all that has been going on with the Presidential Campaign, Women's Marches, and so forth... It has left me frustrated, exhausted, and at times, ashamed to see how other Christians are reacting to all these situations. It was so refreshing to see women gathering together - not spewing hateful words towards this nation, the president, each other, but instead PRAYING for peace and understanding over this nation, wisdom for the president and blessings over each other's lives. THAT is what we, as Christians, should be doing.

I hope and pray that this flame that has ignited in me doesn't stop. I know it won't be easy, especially when I get back to the work routine, but I will press forward.

Keep me honest friends!


Monday, January 9, 2017

Eat Well and Be Active.

One of my goals for 2017 is to make my health a priority. Eat well and be active.

Eat Well.

Confession. I am a stress eater and sweets are my vice. Even though my eating overall remained good last year, towards the end I consumed a lot of sweets to get me through work. That ish needs to STOP. Definitely not a good habit to have, even more so considering my own health issues. I'm not saying that I am cutting it out completely, but saving the sweets for a weekend treat or special occasion is the plan. I would also like to reduce (not eliminate) dairy in what I eat. I have seen and read one too many articles on the not-so-great truths about dairy and how it affects our bodies.

Be Active.

Here's another one of my fails last year. Around April, I started a new role at work which required me to be in the office everyday. At first, I didn't think it would be a big deal, because I used to go in every day before we were allowed to work from home. But, when you worked from home 2-3 days a week for two years, you get spoiled and don't realize how hard it is to go back to being in the office all week. The STRUGGLE. The days I worked from home, I would go to the gym and it was perfect. I was going to to the gym three, four, sometimes five times a week. Cut out the work from home days and I was lucky to make it to the gym twice. Trying to get the energy to hit the gym after twelve hour days (ten hours work, two hours commute) is not easy. But it is so important! The difference I saw in my health from not going to the gym is crazy. So, it is a must. No excuses. I need to make it happen.

I posted the photo above on Instagram earlier this week talking about this topic. It's all about clean eating, meal prepping, active lifestyle, and my new blender for smoothies! One week of better food choices and going to the gym is already making a huge difference.

So here's to a healthy year.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Hello 2017.

A few days late...

Happy New Year!

What? Yes. It's 2017. Anyone else thrown by that? I mean, I remember writing my 2016 post like it was yesterday.

So, let's talk about 2016. It was an alright year. I wouldn't say it was my best year. I started off strong and then by the end of it, I felt like it swallowed me whole, chewed me up and spit me out.... then stepped on me. #realtalk Hence the lack of posts.

Thankfully the Mr and I planned a little vacation to Asheville, the last week of December, which allowed me to break away and get some much needed R&R.

Now that we are back, I am ready to take on 2017.

More posts to come about my goals and focus for this year.

Cheers to 2017!