Trick-or-Treating Zoo Animals!

trickortreat

After the Boo Bash Dash last weekend we drove straight to the Nashville Zoo to watch the animals go trick-or-treating. Luna didn’t get to see any animals during the Ghouls of Grassmere event, and this seemed like a fun opportunity to actually watch the animals be active. More fun for me than her, but still…fun. We like to be festive, so we all stayed dressed up in our Halloween running attire. We are also just too lazy to drive home, shower and change.

looking

The zoo was way more crowded than the Ghouls of Grassmere night, but not unbearably crowded. We didn’t arrive until lunchtime, so we had already missed half of the animals getting their treats (cricket-filled pumpkins). The plans was to run to the camels in time to see them eat, but we ran into the new kangaroo exhibit first and could not resist checking it out.

I swear this kangaroo is not dead...just sleeping.
I swear this kangaroo is not dead…just sleeping.

OMG. The “Kangaroo Kickabout” is fantastic! You can literally walk in the exhibit where they kangaroos live and walk around. You aren’t allowed off the paved path, but you are allowed to pet and love on the kangaroos if they come to you!!! We weren’t there at the best time (mid-day). The roos’ were all sleeping, sunbathing and not all interested in my affections, but that didn’t stop me from ooohing and awwwing over them. There was a Mommy kangaroo on her back and you could actually see the baby in her pouch moving around and peeking out! It was probably the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen, with the exception of Luna playing with a kitten.

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We did finally make it to the other animals. We saw the elephants, giraffes, meerkats, goats, antelope, camels, lions and lots of other animals “trick-or-treating”.  And by “trick-or-treating”, I mean looking at carved pumpkins suspiciously. Most of the animals were not interested in eating them while we all stared on expectantly. The goats and meerkats were the most enthusiastic. Either way, the animals were out and about being cute and meandering around.

look at those adorable meerkats!
look at those adorable meerkats!

There were also a few “zoo talks” happening. I really enjoyed listening to the girl in the giraffe land. She told us about the baby giraffe that is soon going to be shipped to Animal Kingdom so that her Dad doesn’t try to mate with her. I’ll have to remember to look for her next time we go to Disney.

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Our favorite section of the zoo was by far the jungle gym. Their play area is ENORMOUS. We had a blast getting lost in “the largest community built playground in the United States”. It’s 66,000 square feet! I seriously cannot wait until Luna is big enough to play in the playground. The best part is the toddler area. They have an enormous covered area that is basically a giant room covered in 6 inches of foam and it is the greatest idea. Big kids aren’t allowed to play in this area and no on is allowed to wear shoes, so it’s virtually clean. Us, along with several other parents, relaxed in the shade while our babies crawled all over each other.

little flirts
little flirts

Luna enjoyed her second zoo trip, as did we. The Nashville Zoo has many many other events happening, including storytime every Saturday in November at 10:30. To checkout more of their attractions, go here!

my favorite animals!
my favorite animals!

Happy Halloween!!!!

My Nightmare in Nashville

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So, there is one thing that Luna has held us back from doing this year…haunted houses. They aren’t exactly baby friendly and it isn’t easy to find a babysitter, especially one who can sit until very late at night. Last year we went to 11 haunted houses, this year we finally made it to one on Husband’s 30th birthday.

We went to Nashville Nightmare in downtown after the annual Birthday dinner at the Melting Pot. As always, the lines were long, the crowds were obnoxious and 97% of them were smoking. (What is that attracts smokers to haunted houses?) Since we’re awesome we managed to entertain ourselves by being hilarious and playing Heads Up. We also began reminiscing about previous years haunted house experiences. I arrogantly began saying things like, “I wish I got as scared as I used to get….I guess I’ve just been to so many Haunted Houses over the years that they no longer frighten me…It kind of takes the thrill away.” Well, you know what happens when you’re overconfident, right? The universe come back to bite you in the butt, which is exactly what happened.

If you’ve ever been to a haunted house, you’ve probably had the pleasure of avoiding the creepy costumed people who walk around spooking everyone waiting in the long lines. I have never EVER been scared by these people, ever. But, as they say, there’s always a first time for everything. First, there was the creepy guy-in-mask who leaned on me for too long, then there was shovel-dragger, then scream-in-my-ear man and scare-me-from-behind girl…all made me jump and embarrassingly scream, but it didn’t end there. In fact, all that jumping and screaming made me one big target.

During my turn at Heads Up, I was going for a record (and you know I’m very competitive), when a zombie girl came over to try and scare me. She startled me as she snuck up from behind and whispered something creepy in my ear. I tried my best to ignore her because I was clearly trying to win the game. The zombie chick did not give up. She began panting in my ear and literally breathing down my neck. Now… you must know that I hate, absolutely HATE, strangers touching me, and breathing on me might be even worse.

I wanted to throw-up and take a hot shower after I felt her hot breath in my ear. OMG, I am reliving it as I type this and I just want to curl in a ball in cry, which, ironically enough, is what I did. I tried to move away from her quickly and continue playing the game, but the more I moved the more determined she became. She got in my face, stared into my eyes, and KEPT HEAVILY PANTING ON ME. The girl would not let up. At this point, I was close to panic mode, I began running circles around our little group and was laughing/squealing as I tried to play it cool and really did not know how to react. I guess laughing is my defense mechanism?

THEN, get this, another zombie girl sees the spectacle we are creating and decides to join in on the fun. The two of them are coming at me from all sides and my only choice is to curl into a ball in cover my face. They were touching me, breathing on me, panting, whispering and making me soooooooooooooooo uncomfortable. I was trying to yell or scare them off or something, but really I was only capable of mumbling “stop” from behind my hands. That is until, zombie chic #2 decided to up the ante and bite me.

Yes, she bit me, with teeth. I instantly stood and shouted, “OMG she bit me! That’s against the rules!” For some reason the “no one will touch you, if you don’t touch them” haunted house rule compelled me to finally shake off these creepers. I felt as if she broke a commandment. I mean, really, that one rule is what has always convinced me that I’ll be okay in a haunted house. I used to constantly go over that one rule before entering to assure myself that nothing bad could possibly happen, and this girl had the nerved to break the golden haunted house rule!

Everyone in line who wasn’t already watching the little show, was now looking at us, and I was not the only one horrified that I’d been bitten. Zombie girl #1 even felt compelled to tell me that she was not the biter. Although, heavy breathing in one’s ear isn’t much better than biting.

The 2 Haunted houses at Nashville Nightmare were good, even scary, but the creepers in line were definitely the worst part. And, I will never again say aloud that I have not been scared in a very long time.

Anyone else get frightened this year? Or bitten?

Cheers!

Little Monsters at the Zoo

ghouls

I am falling more in love Nashville everyday. We have been super busy with all the fall festivities in and around Nashville. Everyone told us that having Luna would slow us down, but the truth is, she keeps us motivated to do more. Thanks to Nashville Parent and the various flyers hanging up at Starbucks, I am constantly finding new family-friendly stuff to do in middle Tennessee. Last weekend kicked off the Ghouls at Grassmere annual event at the Nashville Zoo, and we decided it was a perfect time to take Luna on her very first zoo trip.

zoo

The Ghouls at Grassmere event is geared towards kids and is a really unique Halloween experience! The kids get to dress-up, trick-or-treat on the trails, see the zoo at night and participate in many other activities. They have a haunted hayride, a spooky house tour, a “scary-go-round”, carnival games, a dance party and more. Luna was a little young for most of the activities, but that little detail did not keep us from enjoying ourselves, or from trick-or-treating.

trick or treat!
trick or treat!

I have never been to the zoo at night, but OMG, it is SO much better! It’s not too hot, you can’t get sunburned, it’s waaayyy less crowded and kind of cool to see what the place looks like a night… also, a little creepy. It’s a really cool atmosphere for a Halloween event. There were lots of lights, light designs, Halloween decorations and really good music. It was full of activities, yet very relaxed. We took our time walking around, ate dinner and just enjoyed ourselves.

Foam party for kids!
Foam party for kids!
They had tons of popular characters for kids to take photos with
They had tons of popular characters for kids to take photos with
a scary spinny tunnel!
a scary spinny tunnel!

The best part had to be watching all the kids run around in their costumes! If you know me at all, you know I love dressing up and celebrating for just about any reason. It was sooo much fun to see how the creative costumes at the zoo.

Mary Poppins AND Napoleon Dynamite...love this family
Mary Poppins AND Napoleon Dynamite…love this family
yup...definitely doing this for Luna one day
yup…definitely doing this for Luna one day

Our favorite activities for us and Luna were definitely the “scary-go-round” and the “Monster Mash”. The “scary-go-round” was the carousel with creepy music and lights that blinked on and off. Come to think of it…I guess that was Luna’s first ride! The “Moster Mash” was a huge dance party. We all danced together and taught Luna how to shake that little tush.

scary go round dance party

The only downside to being at the zoo at night is that the animals aren’t out. We got to see flamingos and camels, but that’s all. I was hoping for Luna to see more animals, but we will just have to back. (As a matter of fact, we went back today! But, that’s another blog…)

flamingos

Anyways, only 5 more days until Halloween! How is everyone celebrating this week??? Oh, and if you are planning a trip to the Nashville Zoo soon, you’ve gotta check out their calendar of events here. They’ve got some really cool activities coming up!

I was so excited to find this perfect picture spot!
I was so excited to find this perfect picture spot!

Cheers!

A Little Garden Therapy

Lately, I’ve been battling more anxiety than usual. It’s typical that my anxiety goes up and down, yet it always seems like a surprise when it comes back. I know why it’s been worse, there’s been some stressful situations as of late, but no time to sit down and write about it, which I know I need. In fact, today isn’t the day to discuss panic either… Today, I want to talk about some beautiful gardens, and how a little nature, beauty and family time can wipe the blues and nerves a way.

harvest

Saturday was Husband’s 30th birthday. We did a lot to celebrate his big day, and it all began at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. We try to visit Cheekwood at least a few times a year. Fall is one of the best times to visit because it is stunning! The leaves are changing and Chrysanthemums of every color are planted everywhere! There is also a “Cheekwood Harvest” throughout the month of October.

bridge

The Harvest includes family ‘art’-tivities, live music, storytime, garden tours, museum tours, a pumpkin patch and a lot of locally made scarecrows. My original plan was to arrive early, and hit every single activity, as well as a reserved lunch in the Pineapple room restaurant. Bbuuuttttt as my good plans go lately, it was an epic fail. Between all of us being sick, trying to get sleep, a late Birthday breakfast of bagels and everything else that comes with a baby, we didn’t get to Cheekwood until lunch time. I wasn’t feeling very calm or peaceful when we finally arrived. I felt like Husband’s Birthday plans were very quickly falling apart. And, because I was already down, it just made me feel like a failure.

luna and dad

 

Something happened when I entered the gardens. Something changed. I stepped into the sunlight and felt it warm my skin. The scent of a myriad of flowers and herbs filled the air. I couldn’t help, but dance a little to the live music wafting through the gardens. I looked at Husband, looked at Luna, looked around at the other families enjoying the beautiful Saturday and began to feel grateful. Happy and grateful. Nature does that to me sometimes. I don’t know if it’s the fresh air, the vitamin D or the walking, but with every step I took I felt more and more like myself. The more we toured the more I noticed my beautiful family and the less I noticed that nasty panic monster. Sometimes a sunny day with the people I love just washes the anxiety away. Even if it’s temporary, it’s lovely.

my outfit

We had a great day at Cheekwood. Everything we’ve previously done seems brand new now that we can experience it with Luna. We let her play on the pumpkins in the patch, which she drummed on to her hearts content.  We walked around the scarecrows and tried to guess which each one was before reading the descriptions. Most were easy (especially the 4 Olaf’s), others were a little harder to decipher.

scarecrow
Look at dat wittle baby scarecrow????
Harry Potter
Clearly, one of my favs

pumpkin patch

The day just kept getting cuter. Luna danced her little booty off to some live bluegrass in the herb garden. She also had her second art lesson. She “learned” to use tissue paper to stain paper, glue and do some more water color. Although, she was much more interested in eating her art than actually making it…

dancing luna's art

Cheekwood was a great start to Husband’s 30th Birthday celebration and a therapeutic trip for me. I think we will be back soon.

me and luna

Cheers!

Pumpkin Patch as a Family of Three

gentry farm

I am just returning from a whirlwind of a trip to NYC, and oh my do I have LOTS to share and review! But, first, I’ve got to share our first experience at a pumpkin patch as a family of three. We visited Gentry Farm for the first time last year on the day I found out I was having a girl. I told Husband that visiting Gentry Farm and picking our own pumpkins is going to be an annual tradition for us. One year later, we’re picking out pumpkins with our baby Luna.

white pumpkin

We went to the farm with a couple of our close friends and we all walked around the patch picking out green, white and orange pumpkins and crazy looking gourds. I decided to mix it up this year and get a little bit of everything. I loved walking around and showing Luna all the different colors and sizes. I think we ended up with seven pumpkins to take home. (Don’t worry the pumpkin carving contest will be soon!)

wheel barrow

I love the pumpkin picking, but there is so so so much more to at Gentry Farm. The fun really began after we picked our pumpkins and entered the farm. They had tons of activities for kids of all ages and grown-ups too. The corn maze is always one of my favorite activities, and this year we did the “munchkin maze” too.

corn maze

 

This was the first year we did the Nature Trail and I was thoroughly impressed. It was gorgeous, had a nice view of the Harpeth River and cute little signs with Tennessee nature facts along the way. It was shaded, a good walk and very enjoyable.

love simply trees water

 

After the mazes and the trail we had fun playing on the farm. We played horseshoes, talked to chickens, explored the barn, ate snacks, played on little wooden tractors, looked at the sheep and took lots and lots of photos.

chickens tractor teepee

I’m already looking forward to next year. I hope Luna always loves our family tradition at Gentry Farm. The Gentry family is so sweet (you can always find many of them working when you visit) and it’s a family-friendly, fun and education environment. I see enjoying the farm for many many years… and if the weather is a nice next year as it was this year, than I think we will pack a picnic to enjoy near the pumpkin patch.

truck

If you are planning a visit to Gentry Farm, check out their site and keep in mind that they are open Saturdays, Sundays and Monday mornings.

Cheers!

 

Coffee and Classics All By Myself

The past weekend was AMAZING and super busy. We did something fun and awesome everyday, which means I have some fun and awesome events to review for you. I’ll start with Friday… Friday morning I got to review the Nashville Symphony’s (Schermerhorn Symphony Center) Coffee and Classic’s series. I had planned on going with Husband, but turned out he was the only one who could watch Luna. So, I got all dolled up and headed downtown all by myself.

coffee and classics

At first, I felt slightly apprehensive about attending the symphony alone. I’m used to being with someone pretty much all of the time, being alone seemed a little scary, at first. Then, it wasn’t scary. It was awesome. From the quiet car ride to the single chair and hot cup of coffee, it was nothing but awesome. I have never been to the symphony (minus the one time I took my 2nd grade class on a field trip), so I really didn’t know what to expect. I learned quite a bit during this first experience of mine and I became a forever fan of they symphony

The first thing I learned was to arrive early. I left with enough time to arrive 30 minutes early, but after driving through downtown traffic, searching for a parking space, paying and walking to the theatre, I barely had enough time to scarf a blueberry muffin and add a little creamer to my coffee. Thankfully, they allow you to bring your coffee inside. Otherwise, I may have missed the first number. I joined the crowd of senior citizens and found my seat which was located at the end of an aisle and an empty seat next to it. Yay! I expected a crowd of Moms and kids, but I guess there are lots of elderly people who prefer to drive during the day and not hangout downtown at night. I get that.

coffee

Before the show began the conductor gave us a history lesson over the composer, Rachmaninoff, and symphony No. 2 in E minor. It was lighthearted, humorous and interesting. The whole setting was laid-back. People dressed more casual, drank coffee and laughed at the composer’s jokes. As soon as the show started I was transfixed. The way the strings moved up and down simultaneously and the fantastic facial expressions each violinists made was mesmerizing. I didn’t know if I could appreciate the classical music the way it should be appreciated, considering my lack of knowledge when it comes to symphonies, but holy cow, it is impressive how instrumental music can arouse such a wide array of emotions.  And, come on, who doesn’t love watching the conductor? It’s amusing and stunning at the same time.

Honestly, the coffee and classics experience was the exact kind of peaceful break I needed. It was as relaxing as a stroll in the park, as soothing as a coffee break at Starbucks and as magical as an hour trying the new products at Sephora. Not to mention, it finally gave me an opportunity to dust off the real clothes hanging in my freshly cleaned and organized closet.

symphony

The symphony reminded me to do three very important things, three things that we should all do more often.

Be still.

Listen.

Reflect.

Scratch that. There’s a fourth thing; enjoy something beautiful.

Shouldn’t we take the time to do that everyday? I guess that’s why I enjoyed being alone so much that morning. It gave me the opportunity to sit still, listen without needing to respond, reflect on things I enjoy and appreciate the beautiful music being played for me by such talented musicians.

I am already planning my next trip to the Symphony. On October 28th they are playing Phantom of the Opera and it will be accompanied by the Concert Organ. There will be trick-or-treating, costume contests, street performers and more! Can’t wait!

To check out info. on the Coffee and Classics series and the many other events hosted by the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, click here.

Cheers!

10 Free Things For You and Your Baby to Do (Outside of the House)

Just because I am a stay-at-home Mom now does not mean I have to “stay at home”. In fact, we rarely spend a full day at home. There’s tons to do with kids around town, but what about babies? It’s taken me 8 months, but I’ve compiled a list of free stuff to do outside of the house with a baby. Why? Because I like to save money, I love finding little daily adventures and I need to get out of the house often for my sanity. Luckily, Luna happens to love getting out as well.

1. The public library. I wrote an entire post about this magical land of free books, movies, magazines, internet, computers and kids’ areas. We are lucky to have lots of libraries where we live and they all offer programs for kids, even babies. At least once a week there is a “mommy and me” type reading going on somewhere.

2. Public parks. We go to the park almost every day. We run or walk and push Luna in the stroller. We play on the playground. She is a big fan of the swings and has just started crawling through tunnels. Sometimes we bring a picnic blanket and just let her do as she pleases. I talk to her about the trees, sky, birds, bugs, grass, big kids and whatever else we see. We’ve even met other families this way.

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3. The grocery store, especially Whole Foods. Our local Whole Foods is awesome and offers a weekly Kids’ Hour. There is a local performer every week who will sing, bring puppets, dance and entertain your children for FREE for an hour. It’s AWESOME. I like to pick up a cup of coffee and chat with the other awesome Moms while our babies clap and bounce a long to the music. I have to admit, just being at Whole Foods makes me feel like Super Mom…even if I can rarely afford to actually grocery shop there. I also like taking Luna grocery shopping with me because I like to talk to her about the food I’m getting and she likes looking at EVERYTHING. She has become such a little ham and smiles, giggles and flirts with every single man in the grocery store.

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4. Starbucks.  The “free” part of this suggestion is debatable. It is technically free to go to a Starbucks. It’s up to you if you want to purchase something to eat or drink. You must know that I couldn’t have this list without mentioning a coffee shop. This is another daily visit for me and Luna. I KNOW it’s like a huge waste of money to a big bad company, but I happen to like Starbucks and we have a nice little group of “regulars” that we visit every morning. There’s something very special about getting coffee at place where everybody knows your name and your baby. Plus, Luna is addicted to chewing on Starbuck’s cups now.

5. Local parades and festivals.  All small towns have these right? We’ve taken Luna to the Live on the Green Music Festival, the State Fair and the Crafts Fair. She can’t do much, but she does enjoy watching everything happen around her. There’s music, food, new smells and often puppet shows.

party animal
party animal

6. Anything that involves animals. Kids love animals, but the zoo can get expensive. We have a local wilderness center that has free weekly lessons and shows for kids. There’s also free petting zoos at several fairs and if you live in the woods like me then you will likely find animals by just going on a walk. Luna loves watching animals, especially her own dog and cat.

7. Take a trial class. I want to sign Luna up for a gym/music class this winter since we won’t be able to be at the park everyday, so I recently started researching local classes for babies. Turns out that most of these “gyms” offer a free trial! Perfect! We get to try them all out to see which one we like the best and get some fun free play time too! We actually met a new friend this way and now see them at least once a week.

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8. Visit people. Your kids need to build relationships with your loved ones and the only way to do that is to allow them to have time together. Visit your friends and your family. Let them play with, feed, snuggle and entertain your little one. We have always let Luna be around lots of people. So far, she seems to be quite the social butterfly. I just hope she continues to enjoy spending time with other people.

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9. Go window shopping. On rainy days we like to walk around the mall or Target…or both. We make mental notes of the latest products in Sephora, try some Teavanna samples, hit up William Sonoma to see what smells so good, check out the deals at Baby Gap and stop at Starbucks, of course.

10. Take a hike. We live in Tennessee so we are fortunate enough to have many walking trails. Some are stroller friendly and some require me to wear the baby. I enjoy the exercise and Luna adores looking at the sun rays shining through the tree branches. Good times.

What do you like to do with your baby when you need to get out of the house?

Cheers!

Everything You Need to Know About the Warrior Dash

warrior dash

Today, is one week since the minor surgery I mentioned a few posts back, which means I got my stitches out and the okay to workout as normal. Just in time too…the Warrior Dash is this Saturday! OMG, I am SO pumped! Also, a little disappointed that I had to take a week off so close to the race, but it’s cool, I still have a few more days to get ready. Speaking of getting ready…I recently got to have a little question and answer session with one of the awesome Red Frog employees. I believe her official title is “adventurologist”. Hmmm, that sounds like a job for me…

Anyways, Red Frog Events is the company that created the Warrior Dash and several other just as cool events. They’re actually one of the best places to work. Their meetings take place in a tree house, they have foosball tables in the office, free soda, beer and snacks, a gym that is available to employees at any time, not to mention full coverage insurance, unlimited vacation days, one “work from home” day a week, paid parental leave and more, so much more! Forget being a stay-at-home Mom I’m moving to Chicago and working for Red Frog!

Okay, sorry, got a little off topic, but I couldn’t not share that info. That’s crazy, right?!  Anyways, back to the Warrior Dash. So, I chatted with Lauren, the “adventurlogist” (I’m so stealing that title) and she gave me the scoop on what to expect this weekend.

What’s the best way to train for a Warrior Dash?

Be prepared to run, duck, climb and crash through a course that will test every muscle in your body, but make sure you save enough energy to refuel with a massive turkey leg! Each course varies across the country, so we suggest Warriors are able to run or jog a 5K distance and prepare with basic strength and conditioning. Of course, participants who would like to walk the course are always welcome, as we encourage all fitness levels to participate in the event.

What are the most challenging/scary obstacles?

Goliath is our newest and most challenging obstacle. As the largest obstacle in its history, Goliath features balancing on a beam one-story above a water pit before climbing two stories to the top of a water slide. 

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Who can do the Warrior Dash?

Warrior Dash welcomes athletes of all abilities to challenge themselves on the course and become a Warrior. It is an event for everyone, a day where participants get to challenge themselves, be active and get muddy.

I recently ran a Mud Run that was very anticlimactic…no cheering at the finish, no party, no excitement. What can I expect at the end of the Warrior Dash?

You can expect to be cheered on through the finish by a roaring crowd of spectators, volunteers and staff as you conquer Goliath, jump over fire and crawl through the mud. After you receive your medal, the festival area awaits where you can celebrate with beer and a turkey leg.

Can friends and family watch and take photos?

Absolutely! We encourage Warriors to bring their family and friends, as anyone can enjoy the festivities for free.

What percentage of people do you think complete every obstacle?

The majority of our Warriors complete every obstacle. However, there is always an option to skip an obstacle, if you are not comfortable completing it.

What if I get hurt?

We take the safety of everyone on site at our events very seriously. Each of our race directors work with our operations team, local officials and a medical team for several months prior to each race in order to assess and determine on-site safety precautions and procedures. This includes if individuals get injured on the course. We always have a fully-staffed medical tent on-site and medical staff at each obstacle.

Do we get photos of the race?

Yes, free photos are available the week following the race for each runner. Registered runners will receive an email when they are posted.

About how long will it take to finish?

It takes an average of 25-35 minutes, depending on the difficulty level of the course.

Any tips for a newbie like myself?

Get ready for the craziest frickin day of your life!

Anyone else feeling super excited?! Oh, and good news, if you haven’t signed up for the Warrior Dash here in Nashville, well Pulaski,  there’s still time. Just click here. Then, tell me that you will be there and we high-five each other and cheers our beers after we cross the muddy finish line!

Can’t wait to share the photos this weekend!

Cheers!

Nashville’s Very Own Food and Wine Festival

The past weeks has been a rough “Mom” week, not rough in the sense that anyone was sick or hurt in anyways, more like rough in the sense that I haven’t slept more than 3 straight hours, washed my hair in 4 days, ate a decent meal, my phone broke and so on… (More on the desperate need for a breather later) Today (Today = Sunday…I’ve tried writing this review for 3 days now and have fallen asleep at the keyboard every time), I got to drink alcohol, and it was the first time I’ve gotten to drink in a very VERY long time. Allow me to introduce you to the Music City Food and Wine Festival.

oodandwine

During a 6-mile walk with Luna and my good friend, Bella, today (i.e. Sunday) I got notified of an invite to review the 2nd day of the 2nd annual wine and food festival. My first thought was “Hell yeah! Mommy needs a glass of wine!”, but we were in the middle of a walking trail and currently lost, so fast forward a couple of hours, an outfit change and a baby feeding lady, and Husband and I are running through downtown with a stroller and getting “hangrier” by the second. At the box office, we were told “You know you have to be 21 and up to get in right?” To this, I literally shouted “Yes!” as I fist pumped toward the sky. Literally. It’s been a long time since I’ve been ID’d. The young woman then looked at Luna and explained that EVERYONE has to be 21 and up.

Woops.

We very quickly decided to take turns watching Luna and enjoying the festival. I took the first drinking/eating shift and let him sit with the sleeping baby. It worked out fine, but rushing from booth to booth, scarfing bites and downing booze while worrying if Luna was freaking out (did I mention she broke my phone?) wasn’t exactly the relaxing evening of wine tasting that I envisioned. Eh, c’est la vie.

grand taste

 

hot chicken

The actual festival was pretty cool. It is a festival full of demo’s and panels from many famous chefs (Hello, Michael Symon and Trisha Yearwood). Then there’s food from over 25 of Nashville’s top restaurants and drinks from over 40 wine, beer and spirits exhibitors. I’d love to tell you I tried it all, loved it and partied the evening away, but that would be a big fat lie. I tried the veggies/fish stuff (which was REALLY delicious) and 5 drinks. I’m pretty certain I was drunk after the first. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to drink. Husband tried literally everything. He was a lot fuller and uhhh…sillier, than I was. We both agree that it was a cool experience, but would have been much cooler together.

michael food

 

My favorite bites of the day were the roasted beet tartare with pickled apples, french toast with pears and crab mac and cheese. The number one drink was the definitely the pineapple moonshine with cayenne pepper and some other stuff that I can no longer remember. The festival was a beautiful combination of southern food and fancy flair. There was braised pork, pickled onion and hot sauce, cornbread with pickled cherries and Hungarian honey and sunburst trout with orange fennel. It was Memphis meets Manhattan, and Jack Daniels meets Pinot Noir. It was lovely.

beets braised pork mac and cheese trout

There were lots of cool reasons to go to this festival. Lots of delicious and unique food, dozens of alcoholic beverages, various famous chefs and lessons on how to cook, prepare and serve these amazing dishes. You could spend all day eating, drinking, and hanging out in the park while simultaneously hobnobbing with Tennessee’s top culinary talent. Oh and Uber offered free rides to anyone who needed a safe and sober ride home, very cool.

ice coffee

Yes, it was pretty cool, BUT not exactly worth the $15o/day tickets. Even Husband, who ate and drank everything, doesn’t think he digested $150 worth. If you LOVE food, wine tasting, and the art of cooking, like really LOVE these things and spend ALL day soaking in the festival than you will get your money’s worth. If it’s not your dream day than you make walk away feeling cheated. Either way, you’ll walk away tipsy.

plate

Cheers!

It’s Finally Broadway Season!

Seeing shows on Broadway on random week nights, picking up last minute tickets, Broadway week, TKTS in Time Square, ticket lottery and seeing shows before they even open were all luxuries and benefits of living in Manhattan. Benefits that I miss SO much. Thankfully, Nashville has its own bit of Broadway (and no, not the one downtown). I’m talking about Broadway season. From September through May there are 8 Broadway shows coming to town at the fantastic Tennessee Performing Arts Center and I am stoked about this years line up!

BTW. Evita is no longer coming, but Camelot will be here in its place!
BTW. Evita is no longer coming, but Camelot will be here in its place!

Did you notice Book of Mormon is coming! (Good luck getting your tickets for that one. Seriously. Good luck. It’s awesome and you should all be trying to see it.)

mormon

Last night I got to experience the first show of the season, Once. I’ve seen Once, once, on Broadway, the year that it opened with the original cast. With that being said, I want you to know that the traveling cast is amazing. I was so impressed with the talent of the 13 actors on stage. It’s such an impressive musical. There is no orchestra. The cast plays string instruments and a piano on stage while acting, or sitting to the side. They sing, play, act and even dance (a bit). There is one set, no costume changes, few props and not even names for the main characters. The simplicity of the show is what makes it so intimate and impressive. How do they keep us captivated for 3 hours with such a simple show?

once

Talent. Phenomenal songs. And a tragic love story. That’s how.

I fell in love with this musical long before actually seeing it (or the movie). I heard the music first and was addicted. I have a “Once” Pandora station, which is fabulous BTW, and I can’t get enough of the soundtrack. There’s something so romantic and cozy about watching the actors play string instruments on stage and sing with such raw passion. There’s no computerized music or crazy effects, just pure talent.

love her so

The story takes place in Dublin (yay for cute guys with Irish accents). There is a busker who writes crazy good music, but wants to quit playing and singing because he girlfriend left him for NYC. Then there’s a hilariously blunt Czech girl who also happens to be a crazy talented musician who coincidentally finds the busker and decides to encourage him to keep singing and also get his girl back. The story follows these two as they play and sing together, encourage one another, fall for one another, discover a few secrets about each other and well…. I don’t want to ruin the end for you! It’s a beautiful story with really likable characters.

One of the coolest aspects about this particular play is that the set, which is a bar, runs like a real bar before the show begins and during intermission. You can actually walk on stage, order drinks, sit in a chair and walk around. What other Broadway show allows you to get that close to the set? They actually begin performing before the show begins, if that makes sense. It gives the impression that you are just at the local bar watching local musicians and a love story sort of unfolds before your eyes. It’s beautiful. Just trust me and go see it.

Once is playing at the TPAC from now until September 21st. You can purchase tickets here, and don’t forget to get your tickets for the upcoming shows as well. This is going to be a great season!

If you aren’t in the Nashville area than be sure to check out the tour schedule!

Cheers!