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Where Did I Go?

by Ashley
Published: Last Updated on 0 comment 158 views 9 minutes read

I’ve been quiet — too quite for my own liking! — since our New York trip in early May. I’ve been slacking on the blogging front and I don’t have a good excuse for it. Just… life. We didn’t go anywhere the rest of May or June, so our focus has been on work, planning our friends’ kickass wedding shower, and prepping for our big July trips (which are more than half over… photos coming soon, promise!)

But that doesn’t mean we didn’t do anything fun or didn’t explore new places. Most of our time was spent in Nashville with friends and family. A few highlights from May and June include:

Watching Nashville become a hockey town.

By no means am I a sports fan. Just ask my husband; I refer to most sporting events as SPORTSBALL. But when the Nashville Predators made it to the Stanley Cup playoffs and had a shot at winning, I couldn’t resist joining in the city-wide reveling and celebration. It was a ton of fun (though I don’t ever want to be in a crowd that big again). Read my husband’s take on the whole series!

Hanging at The Diner, downtown.
The crowds were so bad, at one point, that I could have lifted my feet off of the ground and not fallen.

Planning our 3 week trip to visit Justin’s family, including a non-reciprocal home exchange.

Since we work from home and don’t have kids yet, it’s easier for us to visit Justin’s family than it is for them to visit us. (Theres’s also DOZENS of them and only two of us!) So we have been planning a three-week trip, including a week at Lake Okoboji with one side of the family. Neither of us liked the idea of our house sitting empty while we were gone, so when a family of five from Texas pitched a home exchange for the summer, we proposed our dates to them and they accepted!

(For those unfamiliar with home exchange, there are a few different types: Simultaneous (swapping homes at the same time for the same length of time), Non-Simultaneous (swapping homes at different times for the same length of time), Hospitality (hosting one another in your home at different times), and some sites, including the one we use, offer a non-reciprocal exchange in which you host someone in your home to earn a “passport balloon” that you can redeem to stay in another exchanger’s home.)

Celebrating my mom kicking cancer’s ass.

After 20 weeks of chemo, and a minor surgery, my mom has officially beaten breast cancer! She’s still due for 6 weeks of just-in-case radiation, but we are thrilled that she’s responded so well to the treatment and that she’s as cancer-free as the doctors can declare. Now she and I can plan that cross-country road trip to Lake Tahoe! 

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 6.20.24 PMScreen Shot 2017-07-20 at 6.16.33 PM

Getting a tattoo with my dad.

For the 32 years I’ve known him, my dad has never shown any interest in getting a tattoo. But there have been enough things happening in the last year to inspire him to get a permanent reminder of his favorite phrase: “Om.” (Or “Aum” if you prefer.) His mantra whenever he or anyone around him starts to stress, “om” represents peace between your inner self and the outer world and is something we both strive for on a daily basis. So when he first suggested he might get it tattooed, I jumped on board and said I’d go with him. So we did it. 🙂

Reading “Born a Crime” for my travel book club.

I joined a book club last year that reads travel memoirs and non-fiction books about life in other countries. Non-fiction travel is one of my favorite genres so finding a group of people who want to read the same books and learn about the world from the comfort of our armchairs was too good to pass up! We’ve read some interesting books including Sex Lives of Cannibals (about Kiribati), Bears in the Streets (about Russia) and most recently Born a Crime (about South Africa). This is one of my favorite books that I’ve read so far in 2017. I can’t say enough good things about his writing style and his voice, the insights into both South African culture and life as a black man in America today, and the historical/cultural lessons this book provides. It’s hilarious and heart-breaking and I’d read this again.

Visiting the Isha Institute for International Yoga Day.

I’ve been a super slacking yogi this year and I have no good excuse for my laziness. Yet despite my lack of practice, I didn’t want to miss out on free yoga day at the Isha Institute of Inner Sciences to commemorate International Yoga Day. I drove down alone, enjoying some solitude and me-time in the car. The drive from Nashville into the mountains was absolutely gorgeous; I tried takin some photos but nothing really does it justice. Sometimes I forget how beautiful Tennessee is so this was a nice reminder to appreciate my state. The Institute’s campus was cool, full of families of many different ethnicities participating in yoga and meditation classes, vegetarian cooking demonstrations, hiking through the property, and getting quiet in the meditation hall. I attended a chanting meditation class, which was one of the most challenging yoga classes I’ve ever been to – 20 minutes of chanting “aum”…. but I welcomed the challenge of sitting still and focusing my mind, and felt very relaxed afterwards for my drive home.

Attending the Nashville Pride Festival.

We’ve missed the last couple years so we made it a point to attend for a couple hours this year. We love the Pride Festival. It’s a riot of color and smiles, celebrating love and equality and humanity of all walks of life. One thing that really stood out to us this year was how polite everyone was; no one was rude to one another, always quick to apologize for bumping into or stepping on someone. Our guess was that since it was such a joyous event, everyone was in such a positive mood that no one felt the need to be impolite. It was still super hot so we did not stay for long. Next year, we want to get the VIP passes so we have access to the tents with fans, and don’t have to stand in such long lines for drinks and food.

Celebrating the upcoming nuptials of my best friend and her fiancé.

As someone who loves planning parties and trips, really digging into the logistics of travel and the nitty gritty of event schedules, I kind of insisted that I get to throw Tina and Arthur’s wedding shower. They both love playing games of all sorts so I designed a party that was a game. The planning of this party was kind of my hobby through most of April and May, resulting in a successful co-ed wedding shower that did not involve the traditional awkward circle of gifts but that did involve lots of games, food, booze and laughter. I’m not sure which was more fun — the party, or planning it. 🙂

The game starts with parking!
I had too much fun with the decorations.
Raiding Goodwills and Thrift shops gave me lots of fun decor
Yummy drinks
Mini games
The rules of the game!
Mini games
Mini games
Mini games
We played a few big group games including a combination Family Feud / Newlywed game, and a group version of Codenames.

Enjoying our city.

Nashville is one of my favorite cities in the whole world. People are friendly, always ready to chat; cost of living is reasonable; the food and bar scene has expanded like crazy in recent years; and there’s always something fun to do. Since we’re missing out on a whole month in our favorite city, we tried to take advantage of some of the cool stuff Nashville has to offer while we were in town. This included delicious smoothies at The Daily Juice, seeing Something Rotten (and meeting one of my favorite Broadway stars!) at TPAC, playing ping pong at Clyde’s, trying the cocktails at Hemingway’s Hideout and Urban Cowboy, delicious Indian food at Chauhan’s and paleo donuts at Five Daughters Bakery.

One of our most favorite new places in Nashville is Plaza Mariachi, an indoor mall that aims to feel like an outdoor Latin American marketplace full of shops, art galleries, markets, restaurants and other food & drink vendors. They have a great little juice spot, an arcade, and a walk-up ceviche stand. In the middle is a huge food court area with a large stage for musical performances and salsa dance lessons (every Thursday night). It’s the type of place that the whole family can enjoy and though not all of the shops are full yet, we can’t wait to spend more time here.

The food court at Plaza Mariachi
One of the "avenues" at Plaza Mariachi
One of the "avenues" at Plaza Mariachi
Mural (and my mom!) at 12th and Porter
Smoothie at Daily Juice
Ping pong tables at Clyde's
Cocktail at Hemingway's Hideaway
Drinks at Urban Cowboy
Musical fun at TPAC
I GOT TO MEET ADAM PASCAL!!! (16-year-old me fangirled hard)
Our friend Mary in the men's room at the Hermitage Hotel
Our friend Mary in the men's room at the Hermitage Hotel


I’m writing this from a lake resort in the middle of Iowan cornfields as our midwestern adventures visiting Justin’s family comes to an end, so stay tuned for an upcoming Photo Journal dedicated to Sioux Falls and Lake Okoboji!

What have YOU been doing this summer? Gone anywhere cool? Stayed at home and explored your home town? Share your summertime adventures! 

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