We’ve been planning this trip for months. Ever since my friend told me she was getting married.

As we left Northern Virginia we drove out some beautiful back roads through farm country. It breaks my heart to see so many empty homes. It’s one thing when it is the empty houses I drive by every day, but when you drive between pastures and farms and you see the family signs that are starting to fall into disarray from lack of maintenance. Part of the struggle I am having in committing to buy a house is that it breaks my heart a little knowing that people are having to sell their homes, and not because they want to. Sure, we are going to get a great deal, but at what cost?

So…. I had a depressing start. lol.

Ok, so the trip from our house to Knoxville is 7.5 hours long. From Knoxville to Nashville is 3 hours. That’s about 11 hours when you make the trip as an adult.


With Ginny is was a little bit more complicated. Everything with a baby is a learning experience, and we learned a lot on the trip down that made the trip back home a lot easier. We made it to Knoxville just fine. Ginny did a lot of sleeping. B-man and I did a lot of singing of “The Wheels on the Bus” and fishing for binkies. In the past when we’ve traveled I drove and B-man would ride in the front. This was our biggest mistake. After about 8 hours in the car Ginny started freaking out. Hind sight tells me she was just lonely and probably sick of sitting on her behind.

It only took us about 2 extra hours, but I was determined to not  stress about time. Starting out I said we were going to stop every two hours, unless Ginny was sleeping at the two hour mark, at which point we would stop when she woke up and started fussing. As soon as we would stop B-man would potty her, while I ran into the gas station to use the potty myself. Then I would feed Ginny while B-man went in. We got a system down.

Once I banished B-man to the back seat, at Knoxville, things were a lot quieter. Ginny just wanted some one to look at I guess.

We spent Monday and Tuesday in Nashville visiting my Dad’s sister and her family. I did a bit of shopping, and got an incredible deal on baby t-shirts. Win!

I also ate at Krystals…. in fact… it was the same Krystals that I ate my first Krystal at. lol.

Tuesday night we went out to Murfreesboro and visited my other Aunt and Uncle.

Wednesday we got up and drove back to Knoxville, checked into our hotel, and then headed out for dinner. We had a long list of restaurants that we wanted to hit up. We only got to three of them. My favorite Thai restaurant had closed. Boo. We also went to McKay’s to grow Ginny’s book collected. McKay’s is an AWESOME used book store. Lol. Vacation… book stores… those go together… right?

On Thursday we went out to lunch with my cousin, then I took Ginny around campus to visit some of my previous teachers and mentors.

Friday I did a bit of shopping, B-man and I drove past our old house, which now has several broken windows and looks kind of sad. Then we hit up our favorite Mexican place, then I bought a dozen cupcakes from my favorites cupcake place. hmmmm yumm. I gave some of them to my Sister-in-law who was dog-sitting for me. The rest of them went home with me.

Friday evening we went to my friend’s wedding. Afterwards we went back to the hotel and Ginny got to go swimming in the pool. I have a water baby!!! She is so cute she kicks and “hoos” a ton!

Then the week was over and we were driving back to Virginia the next morning. B-man sat in the back with Ginny the entire time, and there was very little crying. It was kind of lonely for me because B-man had his laptop out and was working… but I just listened to the Christmas music on the radio and practiced signing the music.


This post is kind of scatter brained. I have a mountain of laundry and a ton of un-packing and cleaning to do. But I’m home and alive and well.


Also… Ginny rolls. Every which way. She has started sleeping on her tummy, and she spends the majority of her time on her tummy now. Every thing from diaper changes to bathing her has just become immensly more complicated, and she is quite the wiggle worm. She also does a kind of army man crawl where she pulls herself across the floor.

And she found her thumb last week too.

She’s had a big week!

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My Tennessee

I want to share my Tennessee. It may not be the most exciting and happening – but it is definitely fun and beautiful. To those of you visiting from Blog-Trotting.com today… welcome! I hope you find my Tennessee as beautiful as I do.

I am not from Tennessee. I have moved all over the world, including Europe and a good portion of the United States. I chose to go to college in Tennessee, mostly because that is where I got in-state tuition. Honestly, I wasn’t very excited about it to begin with, but this beautiful state has grown on me. So I am going to show you my favorite places and things about Knoxville, and then give you some suggestions of places to see and things to do. Ready?

When in Knoxville, do like the Volunteers! So just to get in the mood, I wanted to share some of the most popular SOUNDS of Knoxville.

Yes, for college kids, and anyone in Knoxville on any given Saturday in Fall… football is the biggest thing. Here is a map of Downtown Knoxville, and the University of  Tennessee campus. There are seven multi-colored stars, each corresponding with a picture from below.

Yellow Star:  To be honest, the University of Tennessee has been losing long enough that it’s not about the game, but the environment. It’s about seeing these people walk down Neyland Drive…

To feel the humming from the people filling the streets…

To the point where you can’t see the road, the parking lot, or the sidewalk… it all disappears into a mass of orange.

Watch our beautiful Neyland Stadium start, small, empty, humble…

And become a vibrating mass of excited and anxious fans.

“GOOOOOD OOOOL’ ROCKY TOP” ringing in your ears as 100,000 fans sing along with the Pride of the Southland Marching Band.

The roar of the crowd, and the fireworks let everyone for miles around know that the University of Tennessee just scored!

But my favorite part of UT football is after the game. The next day. Sunday. The fresh feeling of winning a game, having fun, enjoying time with friends, and the soft autumn breeze that carries the sent of dying leaves across campus.

This is my UT football experience. If you are ever in town on a Football Saturday, scalp some tickets and join the fun (or… prepare ahead of time and buy some tickets… whatever floats your boat). I promise you will not be disappointed. Just remember, everyone looks good in orange.

Orange Star: Just to the left of Neyland Stadium (on the map above), is Circle Park. At the entrance to Circle Park you will find this statue:

This is the torchbearer. He represents the University’s ideals. “One that beareth a torch standeth in shadow to give light to others.” We are the Tennessee volunteers, giving of ourselves – not for ourselves, but for others. The torch in his hand guiding the incoming freshman class to our school’s standard of service. In his other hand he holds the Goddess of Winged Victory – the symbol of success. The goddess stands on a globe in the hand of the torch bearer – symbolizing that your success in this world is in your own hands. Take it. Run. Live.

It is just a statue. But it means something. If you want to come and see it… do. Then walk to the left and visit the McClung Museum, which hosts different exhibits 3 or 4 times a year.

Pink Star: Northeast of Neyland Stadium is The Hill.

The oldest part of the University of Tennessee, The Hill encompasses the original buildings, most of which are beautiful, but lack decent air circulation. My freshman year we burned up during August, and then by December we had to have the windows open because the stifling dry heat in the building was unbearable!

Ayres Hall as seen from the west.

If you are interested in Civil War history, this part of town is steeped in it. Even The Hill has its own bit of fame.

If you are interested in seeing the other civil war marker, try this website. It’s usually a good source, but if it’s still having API problems, then just type “Knoxville Civil War Markers” into your favorite search engine.

Purple Star: If you are looking for another college experience, check out The Rock.

Best paint job ever - picture by me, painting by someone more creative than me.

The center of lots of late nights, The Rock is often painted multiple times a night, and is also painted by the Band for Game Days. I’ve also heard that a few people have tried to propose using The Rock – but the most popular messages are those of well wishes, birthday wishes, and luck on exams and during games.

I did paint the rock with my roommates junior year.

Because honestly, who doesn’t love the Beatles?

Red Star: This might not be a place to visit, per say, but it is a beautiful spot during the fall, when all of the leaves change colors to a perfect golden yellow

I no longer live on campus, but I would love to spend my days tromping through these crispy leaves.

Light Purple Star: Less than a mile Northeast of campus is World’s Fair Park. It is full of interesting statues, and our outdoor amphitheater, fountains to play in, and bench parks to spend the early days of autumn sitting on.

This is also where my darling husband proposed to me, just over two years ago! Such a beautiful sight to me. I especially love the multi-faceted Sunsphere. During the World’s Fair you could pay $2.00 to go up and look around, but now the elevator ride is free, and it has different boards and videos about Knoxville and the park.

Aqua Blue Star: All the way on the right of the map is a lonesome blue star. It is lonesome because… well.. it’s not in Knoxville, but it is something worth checking out. This little star is on a path that my husband and I did some geocaching on.

Geocaching with the dogs & B-man

The path leads to Ijams Natural Center, which aside from having plenty of geocaches, has lots of dog-friendly paths, picnicking areas, and a nature center that teaches about ways to go earth-friendly.

Gretel hanging out in the Tennessee River

And that is my little tour of Knoxville, Tennessee!

Tennessee River, Knoxville, TN

Lastly, I wanted to share a few of my favorite restaurants. I didn’t have the time to get out and take pictures, but if you are ever in Knoxville, and you’re hungry, check the following places out – yummm!

  1. Calhoun’s is one of my favorite restaurants. It is a small chain only in Knoxville. The prettiest one is right by campus on the Tennessee River. My favorite dish to get there… is actually a salad. But it is HUGE and you will not be disappointed. It’s called the Turkey Creek salad. I feel hungry just thinking about it!
  2. If you like to go organic and local, you should check out The Tomato Head. All of their ingredients are fresh, local, and mostly organic. They have pizzas, salads, soups and sandwiches, along with vegan desserts! Located in Market Square, it is the perfect place to stop during a day of walking around town. My favorite item here is The Tuscan Chicken sandwich. PS: The hummus is to die for. My husband doesn’t like hummus, but he likes the hummus here. Give it a try; it’s cheap, so if you don’t like it, you’re only out $1.75!
  3. Speaking of Market Square, not only is it home to an outdoor ice skating rink in December, lots of quaint little stores and a summer concert series – it is also home to the Farmer’s Market every Wednesday & Saturday. Wednesday is a small event, with plenty of stands to peruse, but Saturday is almost fest-like, with the different vendors and street performers. Definitely worth a visit!
  4. This last one is a diamond in the rough. King Tut’s Grill is a fun little place in South Knoxville. On the weekend it is a happening party with karaoke and fun, while during the week it is a little more laid back. Mo is the owner and host, while his wife does all of the cooking. It’s delicious, authentic Greek food – and worth a try. It definitely looks sketchy on the outside, but it’s all “win” on the inside. PS: Mo doesn’t take plastic, cash or check only.

And there you have it! My Knoxville. My Tennessee. I hope you’ve enjoyed my little tour, and if you’re ever in my neck of the woods, give me a shout!

Welcome to Big Orange Country!

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Back Tracking: Franklin, TN

While we were in Nashville we took the opportunity to be tourists.
We went to the Carter House in Franklin Tennessee.
And we went on the hour long tour.
Our tour guide was amazing! His name was Rob.
And it was kind of surreal to think that 146 years ago thousands of men died on the ground we were standing on.
The tour was very moving, as our guide pointed out that the survivors of this battle went on to do amazing things, and with out them, our world would be very different. With out Ernest Hemingway, or Hellen Keller, or our tour guide – all descended from men who barely survived this battle.
It was incredible to see all of the bullet holes. Bullet holes that start at this building, and go through three or four more walls, ending in a different building!
The weather was so beautiful for our hole trip, and even though my hip was killing me, I’m glad we took the opportunity to visit this historic location!

After the tour we went to down town Franklin, and ate a Merridee’s. A family owned bakery and restaurant. B-man go the apple bacon panini… which was AWESOME. I got a grilled cheese sandwich, which was also good.
The food was good, but the portions were pretty small for the price. I would definitely try a different place if we went back – which is saying a lot since I tend to frequent the same places rather than finding new ones.
Then we went to Naticakes, a cute little cupcake store with a mission.
I got the Cookies & Creme, while B-man just got lots of chocolate. Both were very very good!
Overall, a wonderful trip. I would love to go back and see the Carnton Plantation, and maybe try a different restaurant. We’ll have to see when Rob gives tours at Carnton to make it worth the while.
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Back Tracking: Easter in Nashville

B-man and I have been planning on visiting Nashville for a while. It was on my list of 23 things to do before I turn 23, and it was part of expanding B-man’s horizons. I can now say I only have 22 things left to do, and B-man can say the furthest West (in the US) that he has been is now Nashville! We also got to see extended family, and B-man got to meet relatives that were unable to make it up for our wedding.
We arrived Friday afternoon. I love visiting my Aunt & Uncle’s home. It’s always so beautiful, and every one is so welcoming and kind. I don’t know how we managed to draw the longest straw, but we ended up sleeping in a room that felt more like a hotel than most hotels I’ve stayed in.
We also snagged our own bathroom! Both were so spacious and beautiful. It definitely felt like a vacation, which is wonderful – because I was in desperate need of a comfy bed, and a bigger bathroom.
On Saturday Brandan and I made a trip to Franklin (which get’s its own blog post). We did a bit of touristing, and then went back to the house for…
Some quality swim time. The pool was so nice and refreshing. See! Just like a hotel, but with better company!
After church we opened up Easter baskets! Ours was German/European themed!
My Aunt The Easter bunny also include these for me!
Because I’m One Shiny Star! I’m also a big fan of post-it notes. Yes!
Then every one had a job to do…
Some how Brandan got the best job, but I think he ended up playing video games any way. I think he really enjoyed getting to be around some guys his own age!
As people started arriving, my cousin’s boyfriend decided it was a good time to try and rescue this kite… again. They had tried on Friday with little success.
So every one trounced out to the field, and with a bottle of some car fluid tied to a rope, they put in their best effort to get the kite down. It had only been there two years!
Oh well… I’m sure my Aunt’s dog Rocky enjoyed being out there while the fun lasted!
Then it was dinner time!
The food was delicious and the company was fantastic.

My Dad’s brother’s family was not able to make it up for the wedding, but they finally got to meet B-man, and I’m glad we got to see them (well… almost all of them, once of my cousin’s had to work).
B-man in a food coma!
I was nervous about leaving the dogs, but everything turned out fine… better than fine! I am really glad we went! The dogs were happy to see us when we got home, but Zuko had chewed off his harness…. gah! I had bought the one that was a little more sturdy and expensive, in hopes that it would last… but apparently puppies left to their own devices will chew on ANYTHING. At least it wasn’t his bed! Now he has a new, blue collar. I prefer the harness… it’s like a puppy-handle!
We really did have a fabulous time though, and I’m hoping it won’t be too long until we see every one again!
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