Nashville Trip

I made my second trip to visit Kayla in Nashville the first week of May! I have to say the weather was definitely much nicer this time than it was in December! Highs were in the 70's and 80's most days. It did rain all day on Saturday but it wasn't too terrible, we still managed to go out and wander around and shop. 

We hit up a few of our favorites and tried some new places on this trip. 

We hit up Urban Cookhouse and Newk's which are both favorites of mine from living in Birmingham. We also went back to Proper Bagel and I tried some new cream cheese flavors including their new Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cream cheese which was really, really good!! It wasn't too overwhelming and I LOVE Reese's. I also tried their blueberry cream cheese and that was really good as well. I tried a black and white cookie for the first time too and there's is really good! Nice and soft, and the white icing side has a hint of lemon flavor which I loved. 

On Thursday night we went to Kayla's favorite Nashville restaurant, Pastaria! Their bread is so amazing and fresh. Plus they make all their pasta by hand on site. It was probably the best pasta I've ever had in my life! I got the plain old Chitarra al Pomodoro but it was fantastic! Be warned though the portions are huge!

In my continuing effort to eat all the amazing doughnuts we stopped by the newish Nashville doughnut place, The Donut & Dog. This place specializes in brioche donuts, plus hot dogs, fries and coffee. We grabbed a side of fries as well as two donuts the first time we were there since we were feeling like a snack. Their fries are so good! Crispy and light without being too hard. We also got the Stairway to Heaven donut which is butter glaze, cinnamon & sugar and raspberry. It was an awesome doughnut!! So many layers and flavors, it was substantial without feeling heavy. The Stairway to Heaven was definitely my favorite. (We headed back in on Sunday morning and I got a Dirty O.G.). 

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We tried out the historic Bobbie's Dairy Dip one night. And I have to say the cones are HUGE and super messy! Or at least they are if it's as busy as it was the night we went. The ice cream inside my dipped cone was barely frozen. Funny experience though as I made a huge mess trying to eat mine. 

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We headed back to Biscuit Love on Friday Saturday morning and I got some more of my beloved bonuts! 

We did a bit of shopping and wandering and we went in my favorite little independent bookstore probably ever. It's called Her Bookshop. Kayla spotted in one day when she was driving around in East Nashville and she thought I'd like it. It is a truly adorable little bookstore and I swear it was like I had curated the collection of books they were selling. So many of them I already wanted to read and then there were new ones that I had to add to my list. There were also some really cute gifts, artwork and kids books. Of course I had to buy a few books! We've gotta support independent bookstores when we can! 

We stopped by the Pharmacy again on Saturday night for dinner and I had another great burger! On Sunday morning we headed out to Radnor Lake State Park and walked the trail around the lake. It was a gorgeous morning with great weather. There were lots of people out on the trails. I would recommend going early if you do go, because the parking lots definitely get full. 

The only picture of us I managed to take. Oops. 

My Year in Books 2017!

My Goodreads reading challenge for 2017 was to read 30 books and I made it!! I read some great things this year as most years. I'm going to set my goal for 35 next year... Although I wish I could commit to more, I'm trying to be realistic. 

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A few stand out favorites:

  • Bellevue
  • Where'd You Go Bernadette?
  • I Was Told to Come Alone
  • The Sisters of Versailles series (3 books)
  • The Year of Living Danishly

Bellevue is an amazing history of over 300 years at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. I love history, Manhattan, and medical history so this was a phenomenal read for me! It is full of so much information and I specifically loved the parts about the HIV/AIDS crisis in the hospital and Hurricane Sandy. This is a thick one but so worth it if you're interested in medical history. 

Where'd You Go Bernadette? is a book that I keep picking up at bookstores but never actually bought. I'm glad I finally did. It's not exactly what I was expecting but I enjoyed it a lot! 

I Was Told to Come Alone is a fabulous combination memoir/history/politics look into the formation of ISIL and radical Islamic terrorists from a German female journalist who also happens to be Muslim and an immigrant to Germany. I really enjoyed both the personal anecdotes, the stories of her time reporting in places that other reporters couldn't or wouldn't go, and the history that becomes clear about how the West helped form ISIL, or at least bring about a climate in which it was easy for it to form. 

I started reading the Sisters of Versailles before I went on my trip to London and Paris and it really heightened my enjoyment of visiting Versailles. Plus I LOVE historical fiction. Although I had read a good bit about Marie Antoinette and her tumoltous time at French court, I definitely didn't know as much about the previous French King, Louis the XIV. I finished the other two in the series in the fall and loved them as well. 

I found The Year of Living Danishly randomly online and ordered it for a couple bucks (shoutout to Thriftbooks for providing me so many 2-4 dollar books this year!!). I have always enjoyed anthropological studies about how people in other countries live and while this is definitely more in the nonfiction genre and written by a former editor for Marie Claire in the UK, it is a very accessible easy read that I found laugh out loud funny more than a few times. 

Books by Female Writers: 29 (Wow! a pretty darn good year)

Books by Male Writers: 1. 

Nonfiction/Biography: 20

Fiction: 10

YA: 4

My Year in Books - 2015

I set my goal to read 35 books this year!! And I made it! Just barely. You can see all the books I read this year on my Goodreads here!

Some of my favorites included: 

Belle Cora by Phillip Marguiles. HIstorical fiction set in 19th century San Francisco, loosely based on a real life prostitute's story. Ah, I love historical fiction.

It's What I Do by Lysney Addario. Memoir of the famous NYT photojournalist. I love reading memoirs and I especially enjoyed this one about a female photographer reporting from unique, dangerous, and war-torn places. Plus the photos are gorgeous. 

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon. The second book in The Bone Season series. I enjoyed this one, and I love the unique premise for these books. 

The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson. The fourth book in the Shades of London series. I'm obsessed with everything MJ writes and this book is no exception. 

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth. I really enjoyed this retelling of the Rapunzel story mixed with a healthy dose of historical fiction. 

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. Love, love, love this book. I love pretty much everything Jenny Lawson does and this is an honest, breathtaking, hilarious look at her life with mental illness.