Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Weekend in Nashville

After three days away from home and a late Monday night at a Cardinals game, I finally have a second to tell you about my trip to Nashville! This weekend was my second trip to the city in the past six months. It's quickly becoming my new favorite place to visit. It's a quick drive from St. Louis, and there is always so much going on. Downtown and Broadway are a blast, but what I love most about Nashville are all of the diverse neighborhoods with unique restaurants, bars and shops. It was a fun, busy weekend and I can't wait to go back!

My mom and I were on our own Friday morning and afternoon, which obviously meant we were going shopping. First, we wanted to get breakfast at Pancake Pantry, which is super well known, but someone (me) was getting hangry, so we ditched the lonnnnng line and headed across the street to a little cafe for breakfast. Pancake Pantry is in a neighborhood called Hillsboro Village, which is super close to Vanderbilt and Belmont University.

Because of its proximity to tons of college students, the neighborhood was full of unique stores and hip restaurants.

It had a nice, small-town feel but it was still trendy and fun. I'd love to have more time to explore the area and try some of the restaurants. 

After Hillsboro, it was time to head downtown to the Rock n Roll expo to pick up our race packets. For a Friday afternoon, the expo was super hectic. There were people and lines everywhere! It was far bigger than either of the St. Louis race expos I've been to, and it was cool to see some of the local vendors I'm not used to seeing at home. And, of course, there were lots of free giveways! I'm now the proud owner of three new re-usable totebags, some snap pea crisps and some running nutrition supplements! 

The forecast for Saturday called for rain, so my mom and I got new moisture-wicking hats as a precaution and a way to fend off the bad weather. Is anyone else of the notion that if you have your umbrella/rain coat/dry-fit hat it most certainly won't rain? 

After the Expo, we headed down the street to Broadway to find some lunch, a few drinks and of course live music. We chose Rippy's across from the Bridgestone Arena, and it was awesome! First and foremost, the barbecue and the barbecue sauce were outstanding and the restaurant offered a long list of unique cocktails. 

 Perhaps my favorite thing about Broadway is that any bar you visit will have live music from 10 a.m. until at least 2 a.m. the next morning. I really don't think I've seen a bad band in the two times I've been to Nashville. There is so much talent in the city. I couldn't get over how packed the bar was at lunch on a Friday and how much fun everyone was having already. 

After lunch, my mom and I went back to the condo for an outfit change (duh) and met up with my dad and Matt. The boys hadn't eaten all day so it was time for another meal (most vacations I go on center around food). Dinner was Burger Republic in the Gulch. It was SO GOOD. All four of us ordered the same burger (the best in Tennessee, according to Zagat). It was appropriately titled The Tennessee and had bacon, onion, smoked ketchup and Jack Daniels Honey Glaze. I would definitely recommend checking it out. They also have tater tot fondue and boozy milkshakes. How can you resist? 

  After dinner, we hopped on over to midtown for a few drinks and live music. As usual, Midtown was a great way to end the night and get in some quality people watching. 

After a night in Midtown, my 4:30 a.m. wake-up call (proceeded by the fire alarm going off at 3:30 a.m.) came a little too early. It was off to the races! The only advantage of getting up that early was the spectacular view of the city on the way to the race. 

Although it was weird being a half marathon course and not feeling totally stressed and nervous, it was kind of cool to watch everyone finish their race, especially the winners. I cannot imagine sustaining that fast of a pace for 13 or even 26 miles.

My favorite part of watching the race was learning how running brings out the best in people. Whether it's guiding a blind runner, helping someone who is struggling or running for an important cause, you really witness some incredible acts of kindness on the course.

And of course I used a 5K as an excuse to have a beer and bloody mary at 8 a.m. 

After lunch and a nap and another outfit change, it was back downtown to enjoy a surprisingly sunny and warm afternoon. See, I told you it wouldn't rain because we bought those hats! You're welcome, runners. 

First up was Acme Feed & Seed on Broadway. I was a little bummed by this place at first because it was so crowded, but once I had a drink in my hand, I really started to enjoy it. It's gorgeous on the inside, has a great patio and is the place to be on a sunny Saturday, so the people watching was fantastic, especially since it's bachelorette/bachelor party season (though, I think those are always in season in Nashville). Matt, my parents and I had a great time enjoying the sun on the roof. 

After Acme, we headed to the 12 South neighborhood for dinner at Edley's. My mom and I had bbq nachos, and they were fabulous. In typical Nashville fashion, the place was charming, the atmosphere fun and the food delicious. After dinner, we headed back to Broadway and closed out a short night listening to more live music. 


Sunday, as is usually the case on weekend vacations, was a little sad because we had to leave/ sit in the car all afternoon/ go to work tomorrow, but we drowned our sorrows in coffee and biscuits at The Southern. Sunday brunch at The Southern is easily my favorite meal of both Nashville trips. The menu is unique, the staff is wonderful, the restaurant is beautiful and the food is amazing. I would drive four hours both ways just for brunch. It fills up quick though, so I would definitely hit up OpenTable to make a reservation.

Oh, and remember last week when I mentioned going to Kendra Scott during the trip? Obviously I couldn't let Matt drive away without visiting the store and picking up my first of her pieces. I can't wait until the St. Louis location opens. The staff was so friendly and the store was inviting and obviously full of gorgeous stuff. It was hard to pick out just one thing.

Are you going on any trips soon? What did I miss this trip that I should definitely check out next time I'm in Nashville?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Weekend wonderful


 Happy Friday, y'all! I'm spending my weekend in Nashville with Matt and my parents and about 40 of mine and my mom's closest running friends for the Country Music Marathon & Half Marathon. Don't worry, I'm not running a second half this month, just a 5K and cheering on our friends whose training is coming to a close this weekend.

Today my mom and I are shopping and hitting up the race expo before the boys get down later tonight. Look for a full recap next week. Hope your weekend is fabulous!

I've been a huge fan of Sarah and her fiance Kiel James Patrick for a long time. They're perfectly preppy and their Instagrams are what dreams are made of. I've loved watching their brand grow and following along with their adventures. Getting a peek inside her office was such a treat this week. Serious design inspo. 

Kendra's Nashville store just opened a few weeks ago, and I can't wait to check it out. I've had my eye on lots of her pieces for a while. Maybe this is the weekend I'll pull the trigger on this, this or this.

Not gonna lie, I was one of the girls refreshing her computer like crazy and checking Twitter to find out when the collection went live Sunday around midnight. I was one of the lucky ones who was able to get her hands on a shift, and I'm anxiously awaiting its arrival! Almost equally as awesome as the collection itself was the fallout and freak-out from dedicated Lilly lovers. Yes, it's unfortunate the collection sold out in minutes, but the tweets about it are pure gold. 

New restaurant I tried this week: Blues City Deli
Extensive menu. Yummy food. The sweetest staff. 

Place I want to try: Ices
They make the ice cream from scratch in front of you. Sign me up!

Any big plans this weekend? How about any suggestions on things to do in Nashville?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

DIY wooden monogram

Just as I'm sure most of the bloggers you follow are, I'm obsessed with monograms. Monogrammed phone cases, monogrammed coffee mugs, monogrammed vests the list goes on. My aunt got me wooden laser-cut monogram for my birthday, and nine months later, I finally finished it and hung it up Sunday. Painting it and getting the ribbon to stay was a lot more involved than I thought. If you've got a monogram you've been meaning to paint, or you've always wanted one, here's the process I used to prep, paint and post mine.

What you'll need:
- wooden monogram
-Sand paper
-Wet rag
-Push Pins
-Spray primer
-Acrylic paint
-Foam brushes
-Thumb tacks
-Optional: furry friend to supervise 

It's easy to want to skip this step because it's a little tedious, but sanding is probably one of the more important steps with a project like this. You'll want to lightly sand the entire surface of the monogram to get rid of any imperfections and stray pieces of wood. A nice, smooth surface will make for a nicer finished product and will help the primer and paint go on easier. After you sand, take a wet rag to the wood to remove any remaining dust.

 Place a few push pins on the back of your monogram so it doesn't stick to any towels or blankets you've laid down once paint and primer is applied. The push pins will also make it easier to paint the sides and small corners. 

 To help your paint go on easier, apply a coat or two of spray primer to your sanded monogram. Make sure to do this in an open, well-ventilated area. I took my work table to the middle of my yard as to not make a mess in the garage. Once your primer has dried (about an hour later), lightly sand one more time to get rid of any rough edges.

This step is fairly self-explanatory. You'll probably need to apply two coats, and make sure you let each coat dry before applying a fresh one. 

 Adding ribbon
There are probably a few ways you can do this, such as looping the ribbon through the top of your monogram, but the shape of my letters didn't really allow for this, so we had to improvise. I'm happy how the ribbon turned out. I think it's a little cleaner than just looping the ribbon through the middle. Fold a long piece of ribbon in half and place each side on the back of the monogram at the height you'd like to it hang. You'll need about four thumb tacks to secure your ribbon. You'll want to lightly hammer down one on each side to keep the ribbon in place. Then you'll gather some of the ribbon to make sure it's hidden behind the monogram and hammer another push pin on each side to keep your gathering in place.

Once you're happy with your ribbon placement, cut off any extra, tie a bow at the fold at the top, nail the back of the bow to your wall, and voila! 

Have you DIY-ed a painted monogram? What are your tips? Any suggestions for DIY projects I should try?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Getting to know you ...

Last week, I discovered Annie Reeves and her blog, which is a gorgeous and fun homage to Charleston, style, food and more. I love her writing style and her photos. She posted these questions a while back, so I thought I'd take a stab at answering the same questions.  *Some questions were omitted because I just could not come up with an answer*

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?  
Do they have to be alive? No? Okay, cool. I would choose my grandmother. She passed away when I was a baby, but based on how all her friends and family talk about her, I know she was an amazing, strong woman. I think we would be close. I've always wondered. 

For what in your life do you feel most grateful? 

My relationship with my parents. I'm an only child, so I've always spent a lot of time with them. They're my best friends. We share lots of laughs, we goof around, have good talks, enjoy trying new things together. But they're also my parents. I am so confident that they have my back no matter what and that they will always want what's best for me. I'm not afraid to admit that they're always right, and I feel like that says a lot.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? 

To be the most outgoing person in the room. I've always admired people who can charm the pants off of anyone they meet. That's not me. I try. I'm nice and pleasant, but not charming. 

If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

Do my kids turn out okay? (I don't have any now, but I'm fairly confident I will someday)

What do you value most in a friendship? 

Someone who allows me to be absolutely be myself 100 percent of the time. Someone I can laugh with.

What is your most treasured memory? 

College. Every single day. All four years. Every tear. Every hard class. Every awkward moment. College made me who I am today. And it was just so so fun to become her. 
How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
Today I went to Target with my mom, we went antiquing, and then watched The Sound of Music in theaters, and it was just the best day. We're running buddies, shopping buddies, and she is the first person I call for advice or when something weird/funny/exciting/scary/stressful happens. So yea, I feel pretty amazing about our relationship.  

If you were going to become a close friend with someone, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
I get stressed out easily. I'll probably think you're mad at me at least once.  

What would constitute a “perfect” day for you? 
It would start with bottomless coffee and bloody marys at brunch with my girlfriends. We would laugh and gossip and create hilarious scenarios in our heads and then we'd take a drive with the windows down because of course it's sunny and warm on your perfect day. Then I'd take a nap in an immaculately clean room (I really value some good, quality alone time and clean rooms). After my nap, I'd meet up with Matt and we'd go to a brewery or try a new restaurant or go to a baseball game. Anything where we're together, trying new things or sharing something we love. And I'd see my parents at some point too. And probably play with puppies.  Oh, and we'd be in Paris. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I bought a desk and now I'm suddenly going to become productive, right?

A while back, I mentioned that I wanted to get a desk for my room in hopes that it would make me productive and organized and make my room look even more fab than before. It's only been 48 hours since me and Matt (mostly Matt) put the desk together, so I can really only speak on the third goal, but I'll keep you posted on that whole productivity/organization thing. In order for the desk to fit, I had to move a few things around, and I'm very pleased with how my room has come together. In the past week I've also added a few frames to my gallery wall and finished a monogram project I've been working on since the fall — I know, I know. I have so many ideas and things I want to accomplish, but it's the execution that always gets me.

I scoured the Internet for a small and affordable desk, and ended up picking out this one from Target.  It's ten percent off right now with code GRAD. The magazine holder and candle were impulse buys while I was picking up my desk because who goes to Target and only comes out with what they came in for?

The two photos on the right are my new addition. Those, the bench and porcelain Basset Hound are all from Home Goods, aka heaven on earth.

Look out for a tutorial on the painting and hanging a wood monogram later this week.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Half Marathon #2 in the books!

Last weekend, I crossed the finish of my second half marathon. Although I've been running consistently for a year now, I'm still so amazed that I've run not one but two halfs (halves?) and signed up for my third today! Who am I?

Getting ready for this half was a lot more difficult than the first one, mostly because training in the winter is so so so different from training in the summer. First and most notably,  in January, it's dark when I wake up and it's dark when I get home from work, so it's almost impossible to get your weekday runs in outside. No running alone in the dark for this girl! So that means I had to succumb to treadmill running, which I would not wish on my worst enemy. I just can't get myself to enjoy it. Also, I know this is news to no one, but it is cold in the winter! It was a huge challenge to stay consistent with my training this time around. So the fact that I even finished my race is quite an accomplishment to me.

BUT, I didn't just finish my race. I SHATTERED my pace. I hobbled, half-sprinted across the finish sixteen minutes earlier than in October. The realistic part of me thinks I probably started too fast to be consistent throughout the 13 miles, but the fun part of me is just like, who cares. A 16-minute PR is a huge deal, and I am so incredibly proud of myself for finishing and finishing in record time. And I didn't do it alone. Check out some of my favorite running clothes and accessories that have helped me get through all of my long runs.

These Feetures socks are everything. Moisture-wicking socks are so important during long runs and these are my favorite. The way they hug your feet is so comfortable. And the come in the cutest color combinations. 

I cannot say enough good things about these shoes. The right running shoes really have an effect on your comfort while running and afterwards. I highly recommend getting fitted for the right shoes if you're planning to train for any long-distance race

I swear by these guys for any distance longer than five miles. They taste great, are easy on my stomach and have prevented me from ever hitting the proverbial, yet oh-so-real wall while running.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Adventures in Adulthood

Last night, my mom was explaining that I need to do something with my address and my car and pay some sort of fee. Honestly, it was all very confusing. Anyway, I got frustrated and told her that I wish I could have just turned the tassel at graduation and have all the knowledge I would need to be a functioning member of society. Well, unfortunately, my mother didn't need to tell me the world doesn't work that way. There's no innate way to just know all the intricacies that will help you get by in life. You have to learn as you go and trust those who care about you to help you figure out all the forms you need to fill out to file your taxes, how often to renew your license plates and how to get that coffee stain out of your favorite blouse.

I wish there was some resource to help me get through all the challenges I've faced in my first year living on my own. In that spirit, I've decided to start a segment on my blog dedicated to helping you guys work through some of the challenges facing girls fresh out of school and their parents' houses.

First up — and arguably the biggest change in my life — how to find your first apartment.

Select your location
If you live in an even a moderately sized city, there are thousands of apartments available for lease at one time, and it can be so overwhelming to comb through page and page of craigslist ads or Google search results, so choosing a few neighborhoods you want to live in really cuts down on looking at apartments you'll never sign a lease for. "Location, location, location" isn't the mantra of house hunters and realtors for nothing. It is SO important. First and foremost for safety reasons, but also because you want to live in an area you can see yourself in for at least a year. I'm a 23-year-old who likes to run, go out to eat and have a few drinks on the weekends, so I made sure my neighborhood gave me access to parks, bars and restaurants. Once I had a few neighborhoods in mind, my apartment search became immensely easier.

Ask an expert
Or in my case, mom. Although I've lived in the St. Louis area my entire life, I wasn't totally familiar with a lot of the city when I was looking for my place. While I was looking for apartments, I would always run the location by my mom to see if it was an area I would enjoy and where I would be safe. She was able to shoot me down or give her stamp of approval within seconds of looking at the map. It was incredible. If you're moving to a new city your mom isn't familiar with, find a friend who lives there, ask your future boss, pay a visit to scope out some areas, anything to give yourself an understanding of where you're going to be living. 

Soak in the culture
 As a first-time city dweller, living in a place that had a little something going on was so important. I always made sure my parents and I had dinner or a drink in every neighborhood I looked in. It was easy for me to see myself living it up in a lot of areas of the city, so I also paid attention to the parking situation, traffic, how loud the streets were, etc. It really helped me narrow down my search even further. 

Go house (apartment) hunting!
This is the fun part! I recommend looking into any place you have an interest in at all. Maybe the pictures were totally misleading and the bedroom is teeny tiny (darn wide-angle lenses!) or maybe the pictures were taken on a cloudy day and the place actually has tons of natural light. Looking at a ton of places really helped me learn what I liked in a place and what my priorities were. I learned that I wanted something with a little character, but maybe I didn't need a totally updated kitchen. You have nothing to lose by looking at as many places as possible. 

Be Aggresive
And after you've narrowed down your location and found that place that has everything you're looking for, it's time to lock it down. Give yourself a couple days to make sure you're making the right choice, but don't hesitate too long. If you want the place, make sure you let the landlord know as soon as you do. Call, email, text, carrier pigeon until they get back to you and you sign that lease. If you're trying to lock down a place during a busy time (right before school starts) this is especially important. I looked at my would-be place on a Friday afternoon only after my mom and I called the office all afternoon and pleaded with them to fit us in that day. And then, two days later, my roommate came to town to see the places before we were to sign a lease. The company didn't show places on Sunday, but the guy who showed me the place Friday said the unit wouldn't be locked, and if I buzzed someone and they happened to let me in, it wouldn't be a big deal. Well, you can bet I took him up on that, and my roommate agreed we found the perfect place.  

Finding my apartment and moving in was one of the most stressful things I've ever done, but it was also so fun. And, ten months later, I know I made the right choice. We love our place so much we're getting ready to sign a lease for another year.

Have you been through apartment hunting? What tips & tricks helped you get through the process?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Went two months without blogging ... AGAIN

Oops! Somehow I completely forgot about blogging again. One of these days I'll get in the habit of regularly updating this baby. Anyone who has tips on how to get in the groove of blogging, send them my way. Anyway, the past two months have been busy with half marathon training (the big day is Sunday!), holidays and enjoying the increasingly warm temperatures. A few highlights ...

If you read my previous post,  you know Mardi Gras is quite a big deal in St. Louis. It's just one day but a whole month of fun. One of my favorite parts is the Beggin' pet parade. Anyone who knows me could tell you there is no way I would pass up on an opportunity to play with one dog let alone thousands. Daisy really enjoyed the parade for about ten minutes before she fell asleep on the sidewalk.

Girls' weekend in Columbia
 Me, my roommate and our friend Ashley took a one-day trip up to mine and Monica's college town to partake in the True/False Film Festival. T/F is a huge deal in Columbia and provided one of the biggest headaches and learning experiences I had during my tenure at Vox. It was a fun day of reliving the glory days and enjoying a sunny day. 

The Symphony
My uncle, dad, Matt and me spent a night at the Symphony watching the Godfather with the symphony playing the score in the background. It was a very unique experience, and they were so good that after a while, I forgot they were even there because the music sounded just like it would in the movie. 

And, of course, Brunch!
A few weeks ago, a few friends and I checked out a new area and a new brunch spot called Melt. It was so so good! Almost every dish on the menu had waffle involved. I got a 'wake & bake,' which was a waffle with sausage and bacon COOKED INTO THE WAFFLE and an egg and cheese on top. Their bloody marys were also fantastic. Brunch turned into a fun afternoon complete with a photo shoot in front a new mosaic mural on Cherokee Street. The mural is of the St. Louis flag and is a great homage to how great my city is in spite of all the challenges we've faced in the past year.