Happy 2020!

Good morning and welcome to 2020!! I hope you had time to reflect on 2019 and what you want out of this new year. Like everyone else 2019 was full of ups and downs but compared to 2017 and 2018 I feel like there were more ups than downs for sure.

Last night we rang in the new year a little bit differently and then exactly the same. You might have heard of a tiny little show called Hamilton? Well, the show finally danced and sang its way to Nashville and last night was opening night. The tickets were not cheap but I am appreciative of the way TPAC handled them. You had to go pick your tickets up at the box office or get them on the app. If you got them on the app they were not available until 90 minutes before the show and forwarding was not available. They also had warnings on the website that said that tickets from 3rd parties were likely fakes. I don’t know about you but I am pretty tired of legalized scalpers buying up all of the tickets for everything and marking the prices up.

So much fun!!

Anyway, we got downtown about 5:30 partially because we didn’t know if the tickets would show up on the app so we were going to head to Will Call and also because we wanted to find parking and knew that there were a bunch of road closures. Lucky for us the tickets showed up and none of the road closures were near where we wanted to be. Of course all of the meters that are free after six were blocked off for the Music City Eve party in Bicentennial Mall. On our way to TPAC we discovered Caesars Pizzeria (No, not Little Caesars). It was right on our way to the show so we stopped in and picked up a pizza. They seemed to be a bit short staffed but once our order was taken our Italian pizza and cheesy breadsticks made it to our table fairly quickly. I think we would likely eat there again if the opportunity presented itself. They are pretty much open most of the night. After dinner we still had plenty of time to make the short walk to TPAC and take a bunch of pictures along the way.

TPAC was packed last night and it was the first time I have seen them use metal detectors and security at the door. I wonder if that was just a New Year’s Eve precaution or a “this is our biggest show of the season” precaution, or if it is a new protocol. Since you had to go to Will Call or use your app the lobbies, staircases, restrooms and every other space were all packed. It was hot but the crowd did a good job of staying calm and waiting for doors even with sweat trickling down their faces…and by their I mean me. We finally made it in to our seats in the loge and got settled with just a little time before Aaron Burr stepped to the front of the stage and began the show. We were entranced from the first moment of the show to the last.

A little crowded on the Loge Level before doors

One of our 2019 adventures was to start homeschooling our son for high school. He is taking a US History Class and the beauty of him getting to see Hamilton is that it counts as a field trip for him. He will be writing a paper about it as well partially because it falls right in line with some of the history he has learned over the last semester in his lessons. It feels like a good end to his first semester of homeschool.

Once the show was over were were able to pick up my daughter’s sweet friend so she could spend the night and another friend and her daughter made their way to our house to watch the Nashville Note drop. These are best friends that have been joining us for several years to ring in the new year. We have a few fireworks leftover from 4th of July but ended up not using them due to the amount of fireworks and (if you believe the neighborhood watch page) gun shots already being set off in the neighborhood. After the ball dropped the kids asked if we could watch a couple of episodes of Friends since it was slated to be removed from Netflix at three am. We made sure to watch “The One with the Cake” in which Chandler and Monica tell Emma it is 2020 and they hope she is enjoying her nap. Um…Friends fans, and friends that have kids turning 18 this year…how are our children the same age as Ross and Rachel’s daughter?

Happy New Year!!

We wrapped up our night about two in the morning. The snacks were put away, friends went home, and we all crashed into our beds with dreams of what this year holds.

We get an extra day in February this year. An extra day to be awesome! We have a Presidential election this year which gives each and every one of us the opportunity to get out from behind our computer screens and talk to our neighbors with cool heads and calm demeanor. I’m not saying don’t be passionate about whoever you support but try to talk to and listen to each other without judgment. My daughter will be old enough to vote this year. I want to be an example of kindness, thoughtfulness, and love for others that she can follow. My son will be of driving age this year. Watch out world! We have a lot of change happening this year and I am excited to see what adventures that will bring! How about you? What kind of adventures do you see for yourself this year?

Brightside Bakeshop

You already want to make a trip, don’t you?

This morning I was downtown and the name Brightside Bakeshop popped into my head. After wracking my brain for a few minutes I remembered stepping into Barista Parlor in Germantown a couple of weeks ago for a Whiskey Caramel Latte and seeing towering brioche pastries. I consulted my trusty Google map and discovered I was not far from the bakery. It is just off of Porter Rd. in East Nashville. I will say if you want a Hipster village to hang out in, this is the place. It is like almost every business used the Hipster Name Generator to name their business. Examples: Hunter and June, Apple and Oak. It made me giggle to see there is even a giant mustache bike rack out front. I need to head back over to the area so I can check out all of the neat stores.

Fun window decor

Lucky me, there was a parking spot right out front! The space is very small but the lady behind the counter was very welcoming and told me about the business. Andrea, the owner, was based at the Richland Farmers Market before opening at Porter East. You can tell she has had plenty of practice perfecting her pastries. Her bakery is a small batch bakery but will be opening a second location in the Nations in the future. The lovely girl with the yellow bandanna in her hair was enthusiastic and so excited about the possibility of a space where you could sit and see the baking magic happen.

My happy place

Brightside Bakeshop has sweet and savory pastries with brioche and croissant dough. I picked up a Churro Croissant for my hubs, a Sunshine Roll for my son, and a Chai-Spiced Pear Tart for me.

The prices were around $3.50 – $5 per item. That actually seemed pretty reasonable to me based on the size of the pastries alone, not to mention the work that goes into making brioche and croissant dough.

I started this post right before Thanksgiving, had company, and have now run headlong into December. While my brother and sister in law were here they stopped at Barista Parlor and also sampled the pastries available there. They were as impressed as I was.

If you get a chance stop by and check out this gem! I know I will be visiting again in the near future!

Surviving Nashville

For months my son has been asking to go on a mother/son date to the Melting Pot. The idea of getting to cook his own food on skewers in the middle of the table has been intriguing for quite sometime. My husband is not a fan because if you have ever been there you know how stinking expensive it is….and you have to cook your own food!! We had tickets to see the SpongeBob musical at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) so we made an entire night out of it.

Because we are surviving Nashville as it grows we made sure to leave with plenty of time to find parking before our 4:30 reservation and 7:30 show. Now, if I was smart I could have parked at the library and been done with it but I wanted cheaper! (Quick tip: If you park at the library during the day and go in and get your ticket validated your first hour and a half are free. In after 5pm and it is $15). We drove up and down the block near TPAC and saw a couple of open spots…with signs that said no parking starting the date we were there. We continued down to Commerce and saw a garage that said it was $28 unless we parked after 4. That lot was going to be $15 as well but it was not 4 yet so we continued down to a Premiere lot across from Panera. I checked the rate….$38. So, back in the car and we drove down the block and discovered a few non metered spots in front of a hotel. There was a no parking to the curb sign and we were behind that but on the other end there was a carriages only sign. I don’t believe the carriages run on Tuesdays so I thought we would be fine, and we probably would have been but what if we weren’t (there was a towing incident when we first moved here that still makes me uneasy)? So we drove a little further down Commerce to a meter. We fed enough coins to last until a little after five and headed down to 2nd and the Melting Pot.

Y’all…Nashville is hilly and I always forget that until I am walking (or running, I did a half marathon a few years ago and let’s just say uphill is not my friend). As our altitude decreased I knew our walk back to TPAC was going to take longer than our walk from the car.

Our dinner was spectacular, my date was charming, and we made it in plenty of time for our show with a stop off at the car to drop off an uneaten salad that my thoughtful son got for his sister to pack in her lunch the next day. I went into the SpongeBob Musical not really knowing what to expect. I knew there were songs by Panic! at the Disco, Steven Tyler, and They Might Be Giants. I had no doubt I would love the music. But, I have a confession…I don’t watch SpongeBob and neither do my kids. They get the memes because they are kids and understand that stuff but it has never been on our list of things to watch. Sure, I know who the characters are..I don’t live under a pineapple under the sea. But I don’t know the relationship of the characters to each other or if the characters in the play match up to the show. I will say my favorite act of the play was when Squidward sang “I’m Not a Loser”. When I went back to the playbill I realized the song was by They Might Be Giants, one of my favorite bands from high school. The staging, the lighting, the choreography for this particular song were outstanding. Unfortunately, a lot of people didn’t see it because many people left at intermission. Honestly, what is not to love? A tap dancing, clarinet playing squid performs with a sea anemone chorus line! Check out the Playbill first look below.

If you get a chance to come to Nashville and have the desire to see a show, TPAC is your place. The Tennessee State Museum used to be located in the basement at TPAC but now has its very own building next to the Nashville Farmers Market. Aside from our parking fiasco the evening was fantastic! Please come visit! We need more theater goers to balance out the pedal taverns! šŸ˜‰ The more that balances out the easier to survive Nashville!

My son has grown a ton in the last year!

As an aside: The other day I read a book called Surviving Nashville by Stacy Barton. It had several short stories in it that were rather tragic. The writing was lovely and Ms. Barton is a vivid story teller. I initially picked this book up because of the title but there was only one story that referenced Nashville. That was okay though because the stories were compelling.

Chasing the Milky Way

A still more glorious dawn awaits
Not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise
A morning filled with 400 billion suns
The rising of the Milky Way

Carl Sagan

Recently my dad decided to sell my daughter his faithful little blueberry of a car. Mom and dad are moving to Tennessee next year so they were thinking of things they could downsize and one of those was to become a one car family. At least for the time being. My daughter and I flew to Colorado for a very brief visit, to buy the car, and drive it back to Tennessee. My sister, Kim (The Adventures of Milling About) called to see if we would like to go try to take some pictures of the Milky Way. I am always up for that type of photography adventure so I packed my good camera and jumped on the plane. As luck would have it, my niece was home for the weekend so she and my daughter were able so spend some time writing together and freezing together while we looked at the stars.

Cousins back lit by a field of windmills and the Pawnee Buttes

A couple of years ago my family was at my grandparents farm in October for fall break in the middle of Michigan, kind of between the thumb and forefinger if you know what I mean. The area they lived in was surrounded by Amish farms and a lot of open space. Looking at the stars on the farm was a spectacular sight. One night we sat out and were amazed by all we could see until we saw something that kept glinting in one particular spot. It wasn’t the space station because that moves pretty quickly through orbit. I really like scary movies and story lines with aliens so we googled it then and discovered it was a Chinese satellite that had an erratic wobble just sitting there, rotating, and glinting in the light! No aliens. Side note: I just looked this up and apparently the satellite reentered the atmosphere April 2nd, 2018 over the South Pacific!

There is a Milky Way in there somewhere…no aliens just a bad picture of me.

Anyway, back to our Colorado adventure. My sister picked us up at mom and dad’s and we headed out into the wilderness. I have been to Estes Park and have hiked in Rocky Mountain National Park. When I think of Colorado I think mountains. I don’t think tiny back roads and plains but that was where our destination led us. As we headed out there was cloud cover but we could still see the moon so we were hoping the clouds would blow over. Before we hit the back roads, where we knew there would be no restrooms, we stopped at a Maverick services station. You guys!! Their slogan is “Adventure’s First Stop”! I know people in Texas love their Buck-ee’s but we were enthralled….by a service station! It was a hiker’s dream with murals on the walls. My niece is an artist so she seriously thought about trying to go in the men’s room to see the murals in there as well. So many adventurer details! Just in case we didn’t get to see the actual Milky Way we did buy a Milky Way to ease any disappointment that might crop up.

Maverick Women’s room

We probably would have checked out the men’s room if we weren’t itching to get to our destination and set up our tripods. Back in the car we went and made our way to the Pawnee Buttes Trailhead. On our drive out we saw a few cars but it was late enough that people were likely settled in for the night. The girls spent a lot of the drive talking in thick southern accents and wondering if we were going to be harmed in the wilderness. There may have been banjo sounds. Hopefully our giggling didn’t annoy anyone too much.

Blurry Windmill

We set up camp next to an old windmill and cow pond. Unfortunately for us the cloud cover did not go away so we tried to get as many fun shots as we could. Those included very dark shots of the windmill, attempts with a flashlight and remote to get shots of the four of us together, and some attempts at making us look ghostly..the last may have turned out the best.

Ghostly girls on the prairie
Ghostly sisters

It was really pitch black at the trailhead. We managed to walk through many cow patties without realizing it until we shone our flashlights around. I don’t get to spend much time with my sisters so this was a really fun trip to take with this one. Let me tell you, this sister of mine is as stubborn as all get out and when she gets an idea on her head she grabs on and doesn’t let go. I really admire her for that! She and my brother in law just sold their house and bought an RV to live in full time. Make sure you go check out her blog as well: The Adventures of Milling About.

Milky Way!

While we were a tiny bit disappointed to not see the actual Milky Way, we did see the Milky Way we brought, along with a raccoon, about 7 rabbits, a porcupine, a pronghorn, and an owl. This just gives us the chance to try again the next time we are out there for a visit!

Calypso Cafe

This one is for the locals or for those looking for a local place. The Calypso Cafe has 3 locations in Nashville. When we moved to Nashville 18 years ago this restaurant was based in Rivergate. That was the area where the mall was and quite a few restaurants. Eventually it closed and opened in other locations.

My daughter came to work with me today so she could earn some volunteer hours for National Honor Society. She helped out on an admin day for the non profit and she rocked it! Everything she worked makes life easier on the rest of us!

Jamaican Curry with St. Lucian Rice and Black Beans

We got done about one and decided to grab something to eat. I had never been in to this location but my colleagues and I had ordered in so I knew it would be amazing! I had BBQ chicken with spiced sweet potatoes and Boija biscuits. My daughter had Jamaican curry with black beans and St. Lucian rice. She was given the option to include sour cream and onions on her black beans to which she said yes. After the first bite she made the observation that sour cream and onion chips actually taste like sour cream and onion. I guess it is not too often one actually eats sour cream with onions. Everything we had was fresh and delicious! So, if you are in town to visit and want to go to a place the locals go check out the Calypso Cafe!

BBQ Chicken with spiced sweet potatoes and Boija Muffins

Davy Crockett Days

Davy, oh Davy Crockett. King of the Wild Fronte-er! You hear that line in your head don’t you?

My son is reading the Narrative of the Life of David Crockett for his English lessons right now. He is annotating and making sure he understands the words and themes. He enjoys the fact that Davy Crockett lived in Tennessee and that there is history here to see. A couple of weeks ago we went to the Tennessee State Museum and saw the tiny section on Davy Crockett but we were not satisfied. I did a little research and found out you can visit the Davy Crockett Cabin in Rutherford Tennessee. I also found out that last week was Davy Crockett Days! The only day we could go was Saturday, but that was a good day to go as the town was finishing up the celebration with booths and a parade!

Davy Crockett Cabin

Rutherford is about two and half hours away from Nashville and over an hour of that time is spent on tiny back roads passing things like the cows, stray dogs, fields, the army munitions plant, and not many other cars. It was the first real fall day after the last month of roasting so the drive was lovely. We even all wore sweatshirts or jackets! Hallelujah!

Davy Crockett Last Home

When we got to Rutherford the party was in full gear. The booths were all set up and we drove in straight down main street. There was one blinking light and one turn to get to the Davy Crockett Cabin. I saw on the website that it cost $3 for adults and $1 for kids but the gentleman at the door said that there wasn’t really a charge this week because of Davy Crockett Days. There was a jar on the counter though were you could leave a donation. The guide welcomed us and told us the history of the cabin…which turns out not to be the original cabin or location of the last place Davy Crockett lived. However, there is a photo on the wall of his original cabin and all of the boards that were used to build the current cabin are marked. In the 1930’s (it is very weird to me that in 10 years we will have to actually use 1930’s to describe the ’30’s!) when the Crockett cabin was being demolished the Mayor encouraged salvaging what they could to build a replica cabin with the original materials. Local families donated period pieces to furnish the cabin. While not completely original to Davy Crockett it was still interesting to see and to think about Davy Crockett living in that type of cabin.

Amazing house with so many inflatables

We checked out all of the nooks and crannies of the cabin which left us with about two hours to kill until time for the parade. That means we checked out the entire town and still had an hour and forty minutes until the parade. Rutherford is quite tiny but has a lot of charm and the people are incredibly friendly. We decided to check out all of the booths and discovered that they were almost all church booths selling food. There were also several booths in front of the shops selling all kinds of things. The drugstore had a table out front and I realized I had not planned very well as each booth only took cash. My husband and I pooled our resources and discovered we had $21 between the two of us. Even though the drugstore only took cash outside we were able to go in an make a purchase of a model cabin and drinks! Think Lincoln Logs only much smaller. Yay for one more literature related project! We made our way back to the booths to see what we could get for lunch on our extremely limited budget. Now, when you are in Nashville and eat at a food truck you can expect to pay quite a bit. For the grand sum of $18 we got a loaded baked potato with pulled pork, cheese, butter, chives, and bacon bits. A burger with fries and a drink, and deep fried Philly cheesesteak burrito fries and a drink. There were a few tables scattered around so I sat with two ladies who looked friendly while the boys were still in line for their food. The one lady had grown up in Rutherford and told me all about the car dealership her daddy had owned that burned down. She pointed out where some of the other businesses had been and regaled us with tales of climbing the coal elevator that was in the field where we were sitting. She also pointed out a couple of people she had gone to school with. There was even talk of donkey basketball in the school gym.

A pony, a child, and coonskin caps!

We still had time before the parade so we walked up the street again and found a place to sit on the steps of the Baptist church. (est. 1903) When the parade started I think we thought it would be super tiny but it was longer than we thought it would be. The police and firefighters came through. There were both middle and high school marching bands, ladies in coonskin caps, a dragster, and the Masters of Ceremony “Lila and Nancy”. Both sides of the street were lined with people who were excited to see their community in action. It was really fun to be part of the festivities of Davy Crockett Days! Once the parade was over that was it. The festivities were at an end and people started to disperse. One year after we were first married we went to the Hollywood Bowl for the 4th of July. Traffic was a nightmare and I envisioned a situation like that but it seems that we were the only out of towners actually leaving so traffic was not a problem.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, TN

We decided to head a different direction on our way home so that we could see the Eiffel Tower! Now, my hubs and I have seen the real thing but my kiddos have not. I’ll have to take my daughter back on a day she isn’t working so she can experience the magnificence of the tower in Tennessee’s own Paris! Paris, is lovely in the fall. The town square was very Gilmore Girlsesque with scarecrows all around. Think the episode where Rory and Lorelai build Bjork and Jesse destroys the chainsaw carved snowman. My son wanted a little treat so we were headed for A La Mode but alas it was closed. However, Stella Nera was open so we popped in to see what they had. We didn’t stick around to eat at the restaurant but did pick up a cannoli that was to die for! The town square and the Eiffel Tower are only a couple of miles apart so while my son was consuming the most delicious cannoli in Paris we drove over to the park. As expected there were several other tourists there taking photos and enjoying the romantic city of lights…oh wait that is French Paris. This Eiffel Tower is much, much smaller than the original but it was fun to see anyway. The town is called Paris, you must see the Eiffel Tower there.

Sweet Jordan’s

Our very last stop on our Day Crockett Days extravaganza was at Sweet Jordan’s bakery and ice cream shop in Paris. We were greeted by two sweet employees that told us about all of the different items. You could see someone making ice cream in the back and you could see the entire kitchen. There was also a play area for kids called Jordan’s Play park. We were there in the late afternoon so it wasn’t very busy but I could see it being very busy in the morning. Jordan has his story posted on the website and it is an incredible one. The company hires special friends and they are making an impact on their community. If you get to Paris check out Sweet Jordan’s and their mission.

By the time we got home we were exhausted but we had a really great day. History, community, treats, people and places with a mission. What more could you ask for? Have you been to any of these places? I’d love to hear your experiences as well!

My First Blog Post

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

ā€” Oscar Wilde.

This is the first post on my new blog. Iā€™m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

Welcome to Adventuring with Karen

Good morning! Here I am starting a new blogging adventure! I used to blog frequently when my children were small but as they have grown we have gotten busier and I have spent quite a bit of time driving places and not writing.

I am Karen. Mid forties, mom to two, wife to one, 3 pets, a Diet Coke habit, and a messy house. Most of the time I don’t ask to talk to the manager unless it is really necessary. And c’mon, if you are not asking for the manager are you really living?

Over the years I have thought a lot about what I would like to do with my life. I have taught college classes for 10 years but the college I was teaching at closed in Tennessee. I have been subbing for 5 years…always an adventure and I have just started my third year as an instructional coordinator for a non profit. I love to travel and to share my finds with my friends, friends who have said I should either be a tour guide or open a bakery. Well, my daughter thinks I should open a bakery. So here I am sharing our adventuring with you!

I am hoping to just basically share life with you. My family is in the Nashville area so many of the things I post will be about the general area. It is the “It City” at the moment. However, we do love to travel so I will share the weird and fun things we find along the way.

I hope you will enjoy adventuring along with me!

meditations on home, belonging & all things literary

Living in Each Moment and taking photos of it all



Nana's Whimsies

Musings of a Baby Boomer....

Tea and Scones

Cooking, Baking, Exploring new Foods.

A Plateful of Happiness

Betsy's Kitchen Experiments and Other Food Adventures

a whisk and a spoon

connoisseur of fine cake

Adventuring with Karen

Living in Each Moment and taking photos of it all

Live, Read, Cook

Our Crazy Blessed Life