Nashville.

It's hard to believe that the trip we have been anticipating for months has already come and gone! Cody and I went sans LJ and I have to say, as much as I adore her and missed her while we were gone, I am glad we chose to leave her with my parents (much more fun for them too!). There's no way that Cody and I would have gotten to experience Nashville the way we did had we brought her along. (She is currently in the "can't-sit-still" phase. Imagine the plane ride.) And we pretty much experienced Nashville via our taste buds.

I was really hoping for some abundant fall color, but unfortunately we arrived a little late for the best of it. There was still some color here and there, and I soaked it up as much as I could!

We had some amazing BBQ, phenomenal espresso, the best cocktails we've ever tasted, made a stop at White Castle (a childhood favorite of mine!), and checked out some of the places that were recommended to us by helpful locals and friends who live there. Without further ado, here are some of the highlights:

Crema

Nashville Crema sign

We literally couldn't get enough of this place. We went three times. I wanted to pack the whole thing in my suitcase and take it with me back to Arizona. I learned much about the craft of espresso when I started working at Liberty Market and am thankful that I know a good shot of espresso when I taste/see/smell it. And Crema was IT! Loved the atmosphere too. I do believe this would get the Joe stamp of approval.

Nashville espresso

Nashville latte

Nashville downtown

Nashville Crema
Yeah. It was love.

Marche

Nashville Marche

I was too busy enjoying my savory tart with parsnips, gouda and caramelized onions and tasting Cody's cinnamon croissant french toast to bother with pictures. But this was by far our favorite food experience on our trip.

Patterson House

Nashville Patterson House

Before we went to Nashville, I had no idea what a speakeasy was. But everywhere we went, people kept talking about "that speakeasy the Patterson House." In fact, while at dinner when we mentioned to our server that we were headed over there, she got this dreamy look on her face and said to us breathily, "It's wonderful…" She was momentarily transported out of her current reality as our server before snapping out of it and taking our payment. Little did we know… we'd be doing the same thing after our experience there.

There is a waiting list… a heavy velvet curtain dividing the waiting area from the bar… and once you're inside, you're handed a menu full of drinks made the old way- think an experience that transports you back to Prohibition times. We sat at the bar and enjoyed two drinks each made by our bartender Matt- who was awesome enough to buy our first round in honor of our anniversary. We heart him forever. I didn't have my camera with me (I was KICKING myself) but we went back and snapped this photo. Hands down, most memorable part of our trip- we LOVED it.

Fall Leaves

Nashville sidewalk leaves

Nashville red leaves

Nashville red leaf

Nashville house

Nashville life and death

Of course, being from AZ, we were super stoked to see some actual fall color. And experience some cool fall weather (it stays well into the 100s through October here). Much to my chagrin, it was warmer in Nashville when we arrived than it was in AZ! COME ON! Thankfully, that changed quickly, but sadly for us, we missed the bulk of the color.

Honky Tonkin' 

We also headed down to Broadway to do a little bar hopping and BBQ eatin'. Jack's was SO GOOD. Again, didn't bring the camera (and it's a good thing- the honky tonks were PACKED!) but I took a shot of the area:

Nashville Broadway

Before we hopped on our plane home, we met up with Courtney of Pizzazzerie and being the sweetie that she is, she treated us to lunch at Nuvo! It was so fun meeting her in person and getting to know her a little more. She's a doll and I can't wait to see her again when the TomKat girls and I venture to NYC in January!

Nashville Courtney 2

Nashville Courtney

And finally, here are some pictures of us from the trip.

Nashville Cedars of Lebanon

Nashville East

Nashville piggy back

Nashville Gallery

Nashville AEA fall leaves

Nashville couch

So… the verdict? We loved Nashville. Maybe even enough that we could live there… someday. But not now. Phoenix is home and as much as there was that we loved about Nashville, I actually left with a new appreciation for all we do have at our disposal here in Arizona. All in all, we had an amazing trip and loved the time we had for just the two of us. Nashville- we will be back!

Happy 3rd anniversary to the love of my life!

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Where do we go next year? It will be, after all, 11.11.11!

Help us decide- to bring baby or not to bring baby?

Cody and I are headed to Nashville for our anniversary and have run into quite the dilemma as to whether we should bring LJ or not. The thought of not bringing her along bums both of us out big time because we want her with us and can't imagine being away from her that long.

On the flip side, the thought of bringing her along STRESSES US OUT.

We have a sitter-in-waiting if we decide not to take her along, so that isn't the issue. And it certainly isn't an issue of wanting her there- of course we do. What we get stressed out about is the plane ride there (the child can NOT sit still- and screams at the top of her lungs if she's forced to!), the naps she requires, the fact that we probably won't be able to get out to experience Music City the way it was meant to be experienced (like go to shows), cloth diapering, whether we'll get quality time together (since it is for our anniversary) or if we'll spend the whole time chasing our constanty-on-the-go little girl around. And I really feel like we need some time to focus on each other instead of always dealing with life's daily demands (not just LJ- I would never complain about that- but everything as a whole). I feel like life hasn't made much room for our marriage to grow in recent months with all of the commitments and changes we have faced- all good ones, but the days are definitely speeding by more quickly than ever before!

But we love our daughter to pieces and want her with us when we travel. It really makes me sad to think of being away from her that long, about taking pictures in this fun new place and her not being in them. She's fascinated by everything around her and when I imagine the look on her little face when we show her a leaf turned red by fall, or snuggle with her to keep her warm, I can't imagine her not being there! So if we're gonna bring her, we need to be prepared to have her with us, and it needs to happen fast.

So we don't know what to do. We're both completely torn. I know lots of moms out there have little ones that they have traveled with (or maybe didn't) and have opinions and advice for us since we're getting down to the wire. So what advice or experiences can you share to help us decide?

LJ Vintage Rose Wraps

Where it all began.

Cody, LJ and I went up to Flagstaff for a day trip on Monday. It was a lovely day- gorgeous weather, amazing coffee at Macy's, a drive through Oak Creek Canyon, conversation about where our family is headed next and how we will accomplish our goals. While we were there, we decided to take LJ to the very spot where Cody proposed to me: on a rock at Buffalo Park. Here she is at the scene of the crime:

LJ on The Rock
She was very concerned about being out in nature, and didn't have much tolerance for things like sitting in the grass, touching rocks or dealing with the wind (she literally gasps… it's pretty stinkin' cute). See? Very concerned:

LJ concerned

We have come to the conclusion that SHE HATES IT. That being said, we will be turning this around quickly when she begins joining me at the community garden in a couple of weeks!

On another note, today she turns 9 months old, and my dad is 75! Happy birthday to one of the best men I've ever known. Here's a picture of him with a buddy in a boat in Pennsylvania, circa 1941-ish. He's the one on the left:

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Cute li'l guy, wasn't he?

Love you, Dad! You're the BEST!

Arizona is home… for now.

Cody and I have been thinking of where we would like to live if we ever left Arizona. Then I take pictures like this and wonder if I could ever leave this kind of beauty.

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There is no sky like an Arizona sky. You can see for MILES.

We're planning a trip to Nashville for our anniversary this year (and keeping our fingers crossed that it actually works out) because we are super intrigued by living there… even though we've never been there before. So call us crazy that it's at the top of our list of places to live- vastly different than this scenery, that much I know.

I think that no matter where I live, Arizona will always be home. I love this place more than words can say. But Cody and I both agree that if we didn't take a chance and move our family somewhere else at some point, we may regret it someday. It would be a huge change and super difficult to leave our family and friends, but it's time for some adventure in our lives!

Maybe we'll just pack our loved ones in our bags and take them along.

Just sayin'.

First trip to the ocean.

This post is waaaaaaaaay overdue, but too cute not to share, nonetheless. Linnea's first time seeing the ocean. Thanks Jess for taking these for me!

LJ's 1st Beach Trip-6

LJ's 1st Beach Trip-10

LJ's 1st Beach Trip-21
She was only five months old at the time- it's hard to believe how tiny she was, and how fast she's been growing! Also, I'm not gonna lie: I think she hated the ocean. It was a little too loud and a little too cold for her tastes, but with time I'm sure it'll grow on her! That, or she'll be a mountain lake kinda girl, just like her mama.

Peach Festival.

Last night, I saw on Twitter that there was going to be a Peach Festival this weekend at Schnepf Farms. Since peaches are Cody's absolute favorite food of all time, we decided that it was a must that we go- especially since you can pick your own peaches from their orchard. 

I tweeted and FB'd that we would be there, and our friends Sarah and Jeff saw my posts and decided to meet us there. It was so fun to see them- especially since we haven't seen them since Linnea was two weeks old! We watched a pit-spitting and pie-eating contest, rode the hay ride, ate some amazing peach pie, lusted after the peach cinnamon rolls they had in their bakery, and headed out to the orchard to pick our peaches! Our day in photos:

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Our driver:
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All of us on the hayride:
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Found a little friend on my peach… I wasn't willing to share:
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Yes, I realize it looks like I'm not wearing pants in this photo:
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Hanging out with Sarah:
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We brought home several pounds of delicious, pesticide-free peaches, and now we just need to figure out what to do with them. Now I need some recipes from YOU! Peach pie? Peach preserves? Other ideas? Shoot 'em my way!

Can you even stand the cuteness?

Today I took Linnea to the park, set up the t-shirt quilt (made out of my old track t-shirts- I couldn't part with them!) on the grass next to a tree, and laid a very happy, content 8-week-old in the shade, kicking her little legs in the air, looking around taking in the beauty of the great outdoors. Best. Afternoon. Ever.

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Since
this was yet again The Cutest Thing I've Ever Seen, I started snapping
pictures with my phone…

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And caught a big ol' smile on camera for the
first time! Can you even stand the cuteness? CAN YOU?!?!?!?!

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OH MY GOSH I AM BESIDE MYSELF WITH ADORATION. I just cannot get enough of this kid. I pretty much wanna swallow her whole. Just sayin'.