Rachel Awtrey

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Lifestyle | Travel | Faith | Marriage

Posts in The Awtreys
3 years of marriage

3 years down and I say we’re getting pretty good at this whole marriage thing.
Nothing profound, just real grateful for this stud and the day when we became a family. 🖤
Happy anniversary babe. I like being an Awtrey.

Here’s a few of my past posts about what I’ve learned in marriage:

Suffering does not mean the absence of God. In fact, lean in. Perhaps, a breakthrough is right around the corner. After the death (and what they thought was a defeat) on Friday, the Saturday was still but He came through on Sunday. Your “Sunday” is coming, too, friend!
Happy Easter from the Awtreys and this beautiful sunrise service at the beach. He is Risen! ☀️

Thomas is an Air Force Pilot! 🇺🇸✈️

This is a side of our family maybe you didn’t know about or maybe you’ve never seen. But, it’s one you’ll see a lot more of. 🇺🇸✈️

Today, Thomas started a new step in his pilot and military career by combining both of these worlds completely and this military wife could not be more proud. It’s been a few years in the waiting season for a moment like this. My determined husband was just selected as the next KC-135 pilot for the Alabama Air National Guard. So, he’ll be flying one of these big guys behind us and we’ll call Birmingham home for a few years longer 🙌🏻

Visiting Mimi + Grandy
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I love the traditions we create with the ones we love. When visiting Mimi + Grandy you can always count on “tea party” breakfasts, poppy seed bread and home videos 🖤 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
What do you call your grands? What are you fave traditions when visiting fam?

Cheering On My Husband
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Thomas’s dream was (and is) to fly. I didn’t know how I felt about it, all of the fears arose, I had too many questions to ask at once. But, I just knew that he lit up when he saw airplane pass by, it often occupied our supper conversation and I didn’t want to be the one to hold him back.
Lots of flights, miles and God stories later, Thomas is a pilot, accomplishing dreams and doing his thang and dang, I’m so proud and excited to be a part of it all. ✈️
Pray for your dreams!
Ask God the hard questions!
Cheer on your husband!

Remi + The Squirrel
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This dog...
In case you missed it: Remi horrified me yesterday by bringing a dead squirrel into our home all while Thomas was gone. Yes, friends, you read that right. 🐶🐿
Just the other night I was squealing over a dead roach and here we are with a dead rodent (the size of a cat, I must add).
Me, a dustpan and a bucket came to the rescue all while a dear friend stayed with me on FaceTime (and documented the whole thing via screen recording). Blessed assurance.
Y’all, I can’t make this stuff up.
Cheers to real life, conquering fears, and all of the paid off hunting training. 😅
Catch the whole showdown in the newly added story highlight. 😂🙈

Cozy Christmas Decorating + Some of My Favorites
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We went shopping for our Christmas tree, strung the lights and hung the ornaments while watching How The Grinch Stole Christmas tonight. Man, it's my favorite night of the year! More of this to come (stay tuned)! But, in the meantime, I wanted to fill you in on some of my recent favorites that made tonight so much more enjoyable!

1. Madewell's Sherpa Slippers

I wear these anytime I'm in our house because it's mostly hardwood floors and my feet start to hurt. These are comfy and keep me warm (and all the cold natured people said "amen"). It took me forever to find them online because the picture looks a little different online than I thought they did in person. But, I did find them! I just fold them down to make them more "slipper-like". If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw these details in my story the other day.

 
 

2. World Market Faux Fur Tree Skirt

Oh goodness. I love World Market. It is absolutely my favorite place to find anything big or small and trinket-y. They have the best Christmas decor of the season so when I saw this tree skirt I had to snag it! This tree skirt is burlap looking but has a little glimmer of stitching to make it shimmery under the tree lights. It's lined with faux fur so it gives a fab finish.

3. Our Favorite Hot Cocoa

Go to the grocery store and grab hot cocoa packets (with the mini marshmallows of course.) Heat up your favorite mug with half water + half milk until warm. Add the cocoa packet. That's how you make good hot cocoa. Add a candy cane to add a peppermint twist if you wanna. That's what we do!

A Tour of San Francisco
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We're (relatively) not too far from San Francisco and we were already in Sacramento for a John Mayer concert, so we made the trip to see the shiny red bridge, the famous fog and a little more hustle and bustle than we're use to at the Ranch. The trip was unforgettable to say the least. Who knows? We may be going back again soon, very shortly ;)


The sweetest bakeshop, super small so the line goes out of the door, but so so worth it on your trip. It may be out of your way but the yummy cruffins and donuts make up for the detour! Every part of this store is creative and makes for a great photo op!

1042 Larkin Street San Francisco, CA

Mango's Taqueria & Cantina (Fisherman's Wharf)

If you love Mexican, this is for you! Their pomegranate margarita was so perfect after a long day of walking around San Fran. Ask for outdoor seating to be seated on the side of the pier at Pier 39 - Fishermans Wharf - that gets a great view of ships coming in and out and all of the sailboats on display! Bring a jacket, it gets a little chilly on the water. 

39 Pier San Francisco, CA

If you're like me and you love donuts - everyone know's this about me - then you'll really appreciate this "hole in the wall" restaurant. This sweet little shop is run by an Asian family who makes the donuts in front of your face and serves them until their gone. They're also known for their giant, bigger than your face, donuts. Their old fashioned are my favorite. If you like donuts and San Fran, this place is for you. 

1621 Polk St San Francisco, California

Xian House of Dumplings (Chinatown)

When going to Chinatown, it's good to get a feel of authentic Chinese food, but not too authentic if you know what I mean. Thomas and I are adventurous but not to the point we'll try something that we just don't know exactly what it is. So, Xian House of Dumplings was perfect! They had an authentic menu, an authentic feel but also served your regular chicken fried rice, chow mein, dumplings and wonton soup. 

925 Kearny Street San Francisco, California


Where we Played

Painted Ladies

Known for their appearance in the opening intro of our favorite TV show, Full House, the Painted Ladies are known for the Victorian colorful look. Across the street is a park that's great to grab some lunch at the nearest grocery store and throw yourself a picnic. 

700 Steiner Street San Francisco, CA

Golden Gate Bridge

The Famous Gold Gate Bridge cannot be missed. Of course, there's plenty of places to go in order to leave with your perfect picture. We chose to look at the bridge at Kirby Cove Campground. There's a beautiful road, often with cyclists climbing the hills, that you can drive up. Along the side of the road, there are parking spots for visitors to take pictures! Make sure, if it's a foggy day, to tag @carlthefog on Instagram in your foggy picture!

DT San Fran

If you love shopping, this area is for you! There's every store and every department store you could think of within a few blocks of one another. Try and find a parking garage and then walk around where ever you're planning to go - you won't find parking anywehre else than garages. 

Powell Street Trolley Station

This is the famous station that has trolleys running up and down San Fran streets. You may have seen these featured in "The Princess Diaries" when Mia accidentally runs in to one on the street. 

 

33 Powell Street San Francisco, CA

Fisherman's Wharf

This was the perfect place to round up our day. It has tons of fun stores, a carousel, any restaurant to fix any craving, and it's on the water. You may want to take a jacket because it gets chilly the closer to the water that you get. There's a market around several corners, too, to pick up some fresh fruit to eat while you stroll through the crowds.

Pacific Heights

Not only is this a neighborhood full of tall Victorian houses on the side of steep streets but it's also home to boutiques and other walk-in shops, cafes and the very new LiketoKnow.it mural right around one of it's corners. We stopped and took some pictures, of course. 

 

The LiketoKnow.it wall: 2298 Fillmore Street San Francisco, CA

Chinatown

This is a great place to roam around if you have a few extra hours but I would not recommend it as an absolute "go-to" during your time in San Fran. It's proximity to other must-see places is what makes it worth seeing. The streets are strung with Chinese lanterns that are said to glow at night, dozens of Chinese restaurants and tacky, but fun, San Fran tourist shops with the "I love San Francisco" tees and kimonos. 


Where We Stayed

Ritz Carlton

We stayed on Nob Hill (right next to Chinatown) in the Ritz Carlton. It's proximity to other locations was great. They accommodated us well - we told them that we were celebrating our one year anniversary so they treated us to a complimentary bottle champagne. 

Air Bnb

There are great places close to the city on Air Bnb! Wherever it's located, you can take a taxi or an Uber into the city for your adventures and then use the cable car system to get around throughout the day. 


We loved our quick day adventure in San Fran and would go back in a heartbeat. It's the beautiful people, variety of cultures, Hollywood features that you pass by easily on the streets and tons of fun that make this place so special. 

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Date Night at a Vineyard

We try and get a date night every so often - always married, forever dating, am I right?

Our favorite things to do are

  1. adventure
  2. drink wine
  3. listen to music

and by chance last night, all of the three above happened!

Last year we found a sweet vineyard tucked away in the hills of Medford, Oregon (this is about 2 hours from where we live in California). It's called Dancin' Vineyards and goes off of the theme that everything they do from growing and picking the grapes to serving people is a dance. Love that.

All of their seating is out side - first come, first serve. It's lit by sweet market lights outside of a yellow stucco Italian looking home with vines crawling up each corner. In the back, they raise chickens and have their Chardonnay grapes.

This particular night, there was a musician, an incredible guitaristcovering some of our favorite songs to sip our wine flight to. We both got the wine flight and tried a variety of white and red wines from their winery. We also ordered the charcuterie board with Willamette Valley Cheese Co. Brie, Rogue Creamery Brutal Blue, Briar Rose Chevre, Fruits, Bee Local Cherrywood Smoked Honey and Focaccia Crackers. YUM!

We were told the pizzas were big enough to split, so we did. We each had three pieces of the Passo E Mezzo with Duck Confit, Easy Valley Spinach and Pumpkin Seed Pesto, Buratta. It sounds super fancy but it was basically a pizza with duck meat, spinach, pesto and great great cheese.

To top off the lovely evening, we shared an ice cream with chocolate shavings and a Pinot Noir port before walking around some of the garden trails to see the coy ponds and the rest of the grounds.

Date nights are so special to us. We spend these evenings chatting about our dreams, our weeks and where we feel like the Lord is calling us in the next few days and years. It opens up great opportunity to hear each other and to understand each other without the pressure to be understood first. Needless to say, this date night was one for the books and this memory will be cherished forever. 

What's your favorite thing to do on a date night?

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Napa Valley, California

It's been about a week since one of Thomas and I's greatest getaway and I can't wait to share all of the details and pictures we were able to capture on our trip!

We arrived on Monday evening and checked into our inn in Sonoma Valley, got dolled up and headed out to our dinner to celebrate our first wedding anniversary together. We chose to eat at a quaint and intimate restaurant that sits in the hidden corners of Saint Helena (a small neighborhood that sits in Napa Valley) called Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen.  It's the sweetest place with the kindest servers. When Thomas made the reservation, he snuck in the small detail that we were celebrating something special and when we arrived and were seated at our table, they brought us complementary glasses of champagne to start the evening. How thoughtful!  It's not just the menu that takes your breath away - we'll get there - but the interior decor as well (the wallpaper is so perfect!). I didn't grow up in a meatloaf loving family but thanks to Thomas, he's turned my tastebuds towards loving it. Cindy's had the most flavorful meatloaf I have ever eaten, Thomas admitted it was his favorite too. To top the evening off, we had their Campfire Pie (s'mores pie) with a marshmallow top that's torched to perfection. It's big enough to split, for sure.

The next morning we woke up and needed to grab a good but quick breakfast to go because we wanted to make sure we weren't late for our reservation on the Napa Valley Wine Train (eeek!)

Because of the crunch we were in, we ate flaky, warm chocolate croissants and ham + cheese breakfast sandwiches and a dark chocolate and cherry muffin from Bouchon Bakery. Again, another aesthetically pleasing place with the greatest goodies. They have a large selection of macaroons, and all baked goods. They don't have seating inside the bakery but there's outdoor seating right outside so we highly suggest this for a morning that has perfect weather and little rain. Bouchon Bakery sits in the sweet neighborhood of Yountville. If you're not in a hurry to get anywehre that morning, take some time to roam around this sweet town that holds so many Michelin-rated restaurants as well as great boutiques.

Like I said, Yountville is so stunning, it deserves more time than what we had leftover after Bouchon so we continued on our way to the Napa Valley Wine Train Station. Thomas had reserved us a train ride through the valley, passing all of the vineyards with a four-course lunch with a fabulous wine selection. We sat in the Vista Dome, seated higher than the other cars, which gives you a glass roof view of the entire valley. It is so so worth the extra few dollars to grab a prime seat like the ones in the Vista Dome.

The lunch selection is more delicious than you can ever imagine. To be completely honest, Thomas and I had expected a meal that is mass produced for everyone on the train. However, the Vista Dome received an exclusive menu that was only made for the few people sitting in this section of the train.  There was a first and second course followed by an entree and dessert. Each course also had wine pairings from vineyards and wineries in the valley. Throughout the train ride, you're brought your courses by an incredible server with the greatest waiting service.

We chose the Ambassador train tour which takes you to two vineyards after the train ride: Charles Krug Winery and Raymond Vineyards. 

Charles Krug was the most "traditional" styled winery that we visited our entire trip. I loved it for its green gardens, carriage house exterior, and Tuscan feel. You're immediately transported to a vineyard in the outskirts of Italy. When we arrived, we were poured a tasting of their house made Pinot Grigio, which was refreshing on this sunny day. They take you through a guided tour inside of the fermentation process, the certain rooms that act as venues to wedding ceremonies and then you end up at the last tasting room that holds a "museum like" feel to get the historic background of the vineyard and Charles Krug. Thomas and I snuck away to visit the carriage house a little more up close than the far away look we got from the gardens - so worth it!

We were then taken to our second vineyard spot on the tour, Raymond Vineyards which has a fun vibe, less traditional more modern. There were purple and pink lights glowing in most of the rooms. This is a well-known place for celebrities to host their most extravagant parties. Before you're taken inside, though, they let you wander through their farms and gardens which is a super fun part that we thoroughly enjoyed. We got to feed the goats, see the chickens and get the beautiful view of the vineyards from afar. 

After all of the vineyard tours, we needed a little bite to eat so we headed into the town of Napa to explore and snack a little. We wandered around to find a super cute market, a great boutique called Hunter and Gatherer and finished up the evening snacking on Redd Wood's well known flatbread pizzas and appetizers and unique bar concoctions. Yum! Highly suggest their procsuitto pizza.

We wanted to end our evening early because of the big adventure that was waiting for us the next morning: a sunrise hot air balloon ride. This has been on our bucket list for a while so we were so so thrilled to be able to mark it off while being in the famous Napa Valley with Napa Valley Aloft. Thomas and I have gone skydiving before, and other adrenaline filled adventures, so we were nervous to know that this hot air balloon ride is more peaceful than eventful. And although it was, it was a memory we'd never forget. Hot tea, hot chocolate and coffee was served to us when we arrived early that morning. We were able to see the hot air balloons being filled up and took off shortly after. Although there's no drop or quick elevation, we were in need of a peaceful experience like this. Getting a bird's eye view while being calm is one that you'll never forget.

After our ride ended, we wandered back over to the town of Saint Helena where we ate a quick bite before brunch at Model Bakery and shopped around some of their boutiques before going to Archetype for their famous brunch. This greenhouse type of restaurant, with incredible landscaping, has the most flavorful menu, so it took us a while to decide on something. I ended up with the Norwegian Eggs and Thomas with the brunch burger. Great choices!

Our last vineyard experience was the greatest to end on: Sterling Vineyards. First and foremost, you have to take a gondola ride to get up to the actual quarters. We paid extra for the "Silver Experience" and we can't recommend it enough. You're swept away to a balcony/terrance view of the property while given three tasting paired with local cheeses, meats, fruits and nuts. After this experience, you're on a self-guided tour, at your own place, for the rest of the tour. The last tasting ends on the rooftop terrace with a spectacular view. It offers tables and chairs and outdoor seating with umbrellas to relax and take everything in before the gondola ride back down to the Valley. 

Thomas and I are so so thankful that we got this sweet time to take in another great part of our country, to roam through vineyards, to learn new processes and to have an "adventure" that also offered more rest than we ever knew existed. Napa, we will see you again very soon. 

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Waco, TX + Magnolia Market

We went to Waco, TX because it was on the way to our destination out West: California. We took little detour off of our route but we were oh so thankful. 

You may have heard about Magnolia Market, the bakery and Silos because of the HGTV show, "Fixer Upper" with Chip and Joanna Gaines but I fan-girl'ed and begged Thomas to take me. He loves me so much so we ended up starting our road trip at the greatest store on the planet, if you ask me.

If you're planning on going, I suggest going in the morning time or heading over on a weekday (we went on a Saturday). Because we got there so early, we were able to find a parallel parking spot right on the side of the road. If you get there later, there are tons of spots in local churches parking lots for $10 a spot. The great part of being there so early is that we were able to get in line for the store and head right on in. Usually, you wait in line for a while until a few people exit and then they let a few people in. I was not about that so we were there at opening. 

The store was much more than I had imagined! There was a section for everything: kitchen, home decor, bedding, candles and scents, greenery, Chip's corner with all the manly stuff, kids decor and then rugs + wall decor. Although there was some kind of organization to it, it was still overwhelming - in a good way. They have fake flowers that look real as every so you can put together a bouquet and take it home to remember your trip forever. The staff is so nice, excellent and polite so you'll never feel un-welcomed. If you're traveling, like us, they have an option to ship your item but we were suggested to try and stuff them in our car (so we did). Otherwise, we would have had to pay a large shipping and boxing fee - at that point you might as well just shop online.

As soon as you check out, there's a turf lawn outside with outdoor games and seating to rest your feet or grab a meal from the food trucks that surround the lawn. Dogs are welcome! Hallelujah because Remi had to stretch his legs just as badly as we did! He loved the smell of the food trucks, especially their kettle corn. There's plenty to chose from, the bakery truck, BBQ truck, hot dog truck, pop corn stand, plenty of local Waco business to propel and support.

There's a greenhouse with a beautiful garden right outside to walk through and you can hit up the "Seed and Supply" right after if you want to stock up on your gardening supplies. Make sure to take a look at the Silos and the bakery. The bakery will also have a long line, so anticipate that but apparently it's worth it. With the timeline we were on for our road trip we didn't have time to stand in the line but we smelt it walking by! They hand out cards with the different cupcakes and cookies they have that day so that you can chose which one you'd like best before you get in the bakery - it makes the line move quickly. You can get your goodies to-go or you can eat it outside in the beautiful patio they set up for customers.

Every detail is excellent and I think that's exactly how Chip and Jo wanted it. We so so enjoyed our trip and think everyone should make an effort to experience the Magnolia Market. Who's down for a road trip?

Road Trip Out West

You may have seen it on Instagram and Facebook but we completed a road trip from Birmingham, Alabama to Etna, California and y'all, it was a blast! I highly recommend taking a few days to travel across the country and see our America - it's remarkable!

DAY 1

Birmingham, AL to Waco, TX

Our drive from Birmingham to Waco included us going through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana to finally Texas. We stayed right outside of Waco that night and got up the next morning to head to Magnolia Market (the famous store of Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV's "Fixer Upper"). The entire trip we stayed in hotels that we found along our way that were dog friendly because we brought Remi the whole way. 

Remi did well! We saved him a little spot in the back seat with his bed and some of his toys. We stopped for frequent water breaks and he occasionally found his way up to the front seat over the console. There's was lots of snuggling on this trip but I didn't mind :)

DAY 2

Waco, TX to Albuquerque, NM

We got up the next morning and headed over to Magnolia Market and gosh, this was a sight to see! If you're planning on going, I suggest going in the morning time or heading over on a weekday (we went on a Saturday). Because we got there so early, we were able to find a parallel parking spot right on the side of the road. If you get there later in the day, there are tons of spots in local church's parking lots for $10 a spot. The great part of being there so early is that we were able to get in line for the store and head right on in. Usually, you wait in line for a while until a few people exit and then they let a few people in. I was not about that so we were there at opening time!

Read about our Magnolia trip here!

After Magnolia we headed West to Albuquerque, NM where we were met along the way by sweet Texan towns and lonely roads. We loved it though, the windmills, the lack of road signs, the two lane highway and Ranch signs on the left and right. 

We stopped for a Mexican lunch in Hico, TX in a small town that had a market going on as well. We window shopped and went inside a sweet home decor boutique called, "Hill Country Dwelling" where I couldn't walk out without a coffee table book and other fun knick knacks for our new cottage-home in California. 

We got to Albuquerque later than we had expected so we headed to bed to prepare for our long day at the Grand Canyon.

DAY 3

Albuquerque, NM to The Grandy Canyon (AZ)

The drive from Albuquerque to the Grand Canyon was stellar! The difference between the desert view to the mountainous view was incredible. We drove up the windy road to the entrance to the National Park and headed right in. We parked at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon where you can find the most spectacular view! There's even a short passage way where you can skip around the fence and see the Grand Canyon from a "less tourist-y" view by standing on a rock that overlooks the Canyon. Dangerous but worth it. After we saw the Grand Canyon and a lot of what it had to offer, we came down the mountain and grabbed a bite to eat at a local pizza shop. After diner we kept driving to Kingman, AZ and spent the night there.

DAY 4

Kingman, AZ to Los Angeles CA

What a drive! It took forever because we didn't exactly account for the LA traffic. Yikes! So we stopped in the famous Coachella Valley, CA for a short pit stop, to pretend like we actually went to "Coachella" and to play fetch with Remi.

Once we finally got into LA, we stopped at the sweetest place for donuts and most of their selection was gluten free/vegan so our tummies thanked us after all the to-go food we had been eating. We walked down the street, a little outside of Beverly Hills, and took Remi into Vanderpump Dogs and got to see their store! They had a great grooming section, retail section and other dog treats available for Remi. We hopped back in the car and drove down Sunset Blvd, onto Rodeo Drive. We got out, walked around, saw all the stores and went back in the car to chase down the Hollywood Sign at sunset.

After seeing everything that we could fit in the few short hours we had in LA, we grabbed sushi at this awesome sushi bar called Blue C Sushi. There was a conveyer belt that went around the entire restaurant that had different types of sushis and appetizers. The plates were labeled with different colors and each colors indicated a price. You'd grab a plate off the belt and share it and then stack your plates. Your bill was based on the colors and amounts of plates on the table after you were finished. It was the perfect, unique LA dinner experience we were aiming for! Must go to Blue C Sushi, right outside of Beverly Hills in Hollywood. 

Day 5

LA to Yosemite to Etna, California

That day we drove to Yosemite National Park which is a sight to see! It's not like the Grand Canyon where you drive up, park and walk up to the view. At Yosemite, there's plenty to see, different views and different things to do besides walk around. We stopped at two different views along our drive through. Our favorite viewing spot in the pictures below was at Tunnel View on the South Entrance of Yosemite. We got out, took a few pictures, climbed some rocks and then headed out of the park to make good timing to JH Ranch.

We stopped and visited a friend in Chico, CA before finding out Remi had eaten a pack of gum and destroyed a water bottle in our car. We called the vet, everything was fine! Praise! But, we hurried to the Ranch and finally were able to lay our head on the pillow in the place we'll call "home" until September. 

Woo, what a whirlwind but I wouldn't trade it for the world. We have the fondest memories from this time together and yes, we still like each other. :)

Valentine's Day in Nashville

To be honest, the real reason we swung by Nashville in the first place was to pick up a washer/dryer set that we bought #adulting. But thanks to that, we were able to spend the day walking up and down the streets of The Gulch and 12 South in Nashville, TN. If you've never been, you're missing out -- incredibly. If you have, you'll probably read this and the whole time be nodding your head and saying "yes!" 

Here's a look at our itinerary and the places we found along the way. 

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On our way into the 12 South neighborhood, we stopped in the Gulch to grab some Biscuit Love coffee to-go. I'm convinced they have the best brew.  I grabbed a chai and Thomas got his regular order, iced coffee.

We ended up parking at the very end of the 12 South strip so we could walk all the way from Jeni's ice cream all the way down to the White Mercantile and we didn't miss a thing.

12 SOUTH

Places to Shop:

Amelia's Flower Shop

The sweetest flower truck that parks in different corners around Nashville carries the greatest selection of flowers to create the bouquet of your dreams. It was just my luck and I was able to put together a Vday bouquet with the help of Thomas. Lots of carnations, eucalyptus and other beautiful flowers. Praise!

Cadeau

A super cute and funky place to just walk around and enjoy all the beautiful knick-knacky things. They have beautiful bar cart stocking items, coffee table books, things for your office that are rather odd and lovely. Not to mention, the music you're shopping to is always on point and the manager could easily become one of my best friends. 

 

White Mercantile

If you love antiques, the farmhouse look or anything that has to do with rustic contemporary, be sure to stop by. The White Mercantile has antiques and odd-ends in one room and the other has everything from women and mens clothing to toys to really great socks and journals and thing to make your pet super happy. 

Draper James

This store, owned by Reese Witherspoon, is a great fun shop if you love being identified as a "southern belle." Almost every clothing piece has the word "y'all" incorporated, they offered Thomas some sweet tea and they have the cutest nooks full of classic southern decor. 

Places to eat:

Bartaco

I can't rave about this place enough. If you want authentic Mexican food with a great atmosphere, personal servers and want to sip on a margarita while you're at it, Bartaco is your place. They make their tequila in house so you can imagine how magical their margaritas are. Their menu is sushi-style meaning that you order at your own convince and fill out a paper with how many of what tacos you want and they come by, pick it up and your tacos come out in no time. We, however, ordered the large tray with 9 tacos and 3 sides and 2 tamales. It was the perfect amount for the two of us since we've been walking around all day until then. Greatest news - if you eat outside, they're dog friendly. So, Remi got to join us and eat his dinner right next to us. 

Five Daughters Bakery

The pink neon lights, the white subway tile, the lines and lines and options of donuts, it's truly magical. I love Five Daughters because of their tiramisu and maple bacon donuts. They're filled with a buttery cream (I normally don't like cream filled donuts) so the donuts are well worth the four dollars. Must go. If you don't have time to go in, no problem! You can order them and pick them up to-go!

First Saturday in Birmingham

It's our first Saturday (not snowed in) in our new town, Birmingham and man! Did we enjoy getting out and exploring or what! 

It was a beautiful 70 degree weather day so of course we took the motorcycle and took a few (accidental or purposeful?) wrong turns. We wandered around some windy roads by Cahaba Heights, found a running trail, park, waterfront park and so much more fun! We meandered our way to a sweet nursery called "Leaf and Petal."

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Naturally, I fell in love with a few succulents that would go perfectly in my new gold distressed planter I picked up in Anthropologie my last visit. My brother, Hamilton, was in town staying with us and he went to grab coffee with a friend so we met him afterwards back near our home at a great burger joint: Flip. 

Seriously, their turkey burger with avocado and pomegranate ketchup was to die for. We chose to sit outside on the patio because, again, the weather was magical. At the Summit (a nearby shopping center) there's an overlook that looks over the mountains in the near distance. So, we were able to enjoy lunch and a view. Too bad we were too full to not enjoy their Nutella milkshake topped with marshmallows. 

But, we bounced across the street at Steel City Pops for our second visit of the weekend to grab a coffee and cookies + cream popsicle. It was seriously just the best lounging day. 

I could do this every Saturday, honestly. A "welcome" to a city has never been sweeter.