breakfast egg muffins.

Recently I took to making egg-bagel sandwiches on occasional Saturday mornings at home. I scrambled the eggs, poured them into two silicone egg rings on the griddle and waited for what felt like forever to flip them and usually made a mess in the process. I will say, the final product was delicious. But I was looking on Pinterest for something easier and just as tasty.

I found a link to eggs in a muffin tin. Unfortunately, as is the flaw with many Pinterest links, it linked to a picture only and not directions. But I tried it out this morning and while no bagels are required, they were pretty easy and delicious.
Breakfast Egg Muffins(Prep: 10 min. Bake: 35 min.)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 c. cheese
  • splash of milk
  • 12 strips of bacon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped peppers/onions (optional)

First, grease your muffin tin. I sprayed olive oil spray and it worked well. Then loop a slice of bacon in each tin. I use turkey bacon because it's awesome. The bacon didn't really form to the shape of the tin, but it stood up on its own. It works.

Second, scramble up eggs and cheese. For 12 "muffins" I used 8 eggs. Six wasn't enough. I added about 1/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese and 1/4 c. cheddar. Also a splash of milk. If I made these again, I would add salt/pepper to taste and maybe even some chopped onions/peppers.

Pour the scrambled eggs into the tins. The easiest way I found to do this was with a cookie scoop. Don't worry if the egg leaks around the outside of the bacon. The few that looked like they didn't leak ended up leaking in the oven anyway. They'll taste the same even if they aren't picture perfect. I filled each cup up about three-quarters full. The eggs expanded a little when baking, but they just "puff" and don't overflow.

I baked them at 375F for about 35 minutes. The eggs had puffed and were toasty brown on top. They slid easily out of the tin and were very hot. Nate ate his with hot sauce; I liked them plain.

I was happy with how they turned out. This would be easy to take to a breakfast or brunch. It would also be cute if you wanted to serve them each on half of a toasted mini bagel. Since the egg crisps over the top, the insides stay warm for quite awhile.

Update: We had leftovers and they are surprisingly and amazingly good reheated! I popped a couple in the microwave for 20–30 seconds and the insides were still fluffy delicious.


snow day.

Here's everyone who came out to Nashville for Thanksgiving: Mark, (me and Nate), Erica, Mom, and JR. Last year when Mom and Mark came out, it was 70 degrees. Much colder this year, but not unbearable.

Random fact: Nashville hasn't had measurable snow on December 10 since like 1934 and 1910. (Or something like that … I can't remember exactly what dates the news said. But it's been awhile.) We got a dusting overnight, and thus schools were closed. Despite brining and salting efforts, the interstates refroze and traffic was kind of a mess this morning. I left for work early, while it was still dark. Our main road had wet spots, a little slush, and didn't look like it had been cleared at all. People were driving 15 mph in a normally 40 mph zone. I stayed under 40, but 15 mph was a little too slow. I avoided the interstates (or the drivers, rather) and cruised into downtown up 2nd Avenue. The roads downtown were pretty slushy and slick, but once the sun came up, everything melted and by the time I left work, you could barely tell it snowed except for some leftovers in the shadows.

Baby Jones has been moving like crazy! Kicking or punching or something. I had felt little butterfly movements before, but starting this week (22 weeks and some-odd days) I have been able to feel him with my hand on my belly. Nate even felt him. I was pointing out to Nate yesterday that my innie belly button is getting shallower. I have a few maternity shirts, but I've just started wearing Nate's shirts around the house because they're big enough. Most of mine leave Baby Jones hanging out.

I can't believe how quickly Christmas is approaching. April is going to be here before we know it!


It's a … !

Baby's profile. Cute little nose. :-)
This morning Nate and I went for an anatomy scan. It was good to see Baby Jones again after so many weeks. The ultrasound tech asked right away if we wanted to know the sex and we said "Yes!" I don't get people who don't want to find out. I needed something to propel me through the second half of this pregnancy. It didn't take long at all. Maybe five seconds of moving the wand around and … oh, this baby's not shy at all! It's a BOY!

I was wrong, most of my friends/coworkers were wrong, and that dumb Chinese gender predictor chart was wrong. Nate was right, though. I think the idea of a girl scared him a little so he is very happy. He said, "I know things to teach a boy. I wouldn't know what to teach a little girl!"

I am happy too. We would have both been thrilled either way. It's neat now to think about Baby Jones and start planning things knowing he's a boy.

He was moving around a bit during the ultrasound with his hands near his face. At one point, his legs were stretched up over is body and his feet were like over his face! That did not look comfortable. Then he arched his back and stretched and yawned real big. Not gonna lie, babies look a little creepy on ultrasound. But it was so great to get some pictures and have Nate there too. The tech talked to her doctor and reported that everything looked good. I think the pregnancy has become more real for both of us now. It's fun sharing this news with friends and family.



We got our first taste of snow today in Nashville. Some heavy flurries and fat, wet flakes that lasted briefly on the grass until it melted, and then the snow turned to sleet as it got dark. I let Miles and Otis out for a couple minutes. The flakes sat on Miles' black coat. Otis was only interested in eating grass. They were distracted in this photo by the mailman driving by.

Tomorrow morning, Nate and I will find out if Baby Jones is a boy or girl. 20 weeks now … halfway! Most people are guessing girl. Nate says seeing the ultrasound will make it more real for him. He is kind of freaking out at how much my belly is stretching. "Honey, you're so pregnant!" he said.


that great city.

Nashville, that great city

Last night we took dinner to some friends who recently had their second baby. Kara and Matt are friends from church, and—small world—Kara is from Kansas! Grew up about an hour from me. Matt is from Chicago. We are glad to cheer for KU with them and share the same area code on our phone numbers. We figured they had enough casseroles for dinner so we picked up ribs from Corky's and some tasty sides. Nate and I drove to East Nashville and then headed home as the sun was setting (4:30 p.m. here). Made for a sweet view of downtown at Shelby and 1st Ave S. with the going-home traffic.

We also got a slab of Memphis dry ribs for ourselves. I was really hungry and probably ate them too fast but they were sooo good! Then I fell asleep and went to bed around 8. Then I woke up at 10:30 and felt nauseous. It felt weird, like I was burping the taste of ribs. Before long, I was puking those ribs in the bathroom. I haven't puked in awhile! And after 10 weeks of daily puking all kinds of foods, I will say that Memphis ribs are the worst to throw up. I think it's the spices. It took lots of teeth brushing and mouth washing to get rid of the taste. I'm thinking it was indigestion or something thanks to laying down right after I ate.

Here's a photo of Miles being scary. "Party in the bathroom" is a morning ritual in the Jones house. We don't have an exhaust fan in the bathroom so I leave the door partly open so it doesn't get real hot in there when I shower. I think they just try to get me to feed them in the morning, but I like to pretend they just like keeping me company. Otis sits in the wet shower when I'm done and Miles likes to stand on the sink … and sometimes lay in it and yawn like a crazy cat.

Baby Jones' anatomy scan is in one week! Nate is leaning toward boy, and I'm leaning toward girl. I've started talking about the baby saying things like "her" and "she" and it drives Nate crazy. Haha. Obviously we will be ecstatic no matter what.

Saturday, I am going to a Thanksgiving party with a group of friends from church. (Nate would go but he has to work…) I'm excited. I've decided that I especially love Thanksgiving food this year because being pregnant, it all sounds good and I can eat a lot of it. :) I think about food a lot lately. haha


18 weeks, going on 19.

18 weeks pregnant!
I'll be 19 weeks tomorrow. Here's a pic of the 18-week baby bump. Most of the time it's hard to tell I'm showing, especially if I'm sitting down but in the evenings I think food and general bloating makes me stick out a little more. Everyone who sees me is like, "You're not even showing!" But I Googled it and apparently lots of people barely show at 19 weeks and then one day you just "pop."

We are 11 days away from finding out if Baby Jones is a boy or a girl! I really have no idea, but I'm really excited to find out.

Mostly I'm just excited to see the baby again since I really haven't since 8 weeks, and at my check-up last month I heard the heart beat and have wanted to listen every day since then. Nate's grandma emailed us to say she's planning on crocheting a little baby blanket. How sweet. :) We've got a crocheted blanket in the attic that Nate's great-grandma Elsa made him. My Grandma Richwine made us (my family: siblings and me) lots of afghans too.

Last Saturday, I went to Target to try to find maternity jeans. Because the rubberband around the button isn't real comfortable anymore. I saw Old Navy had some on their website, but I didn't feel like going to the mall. Anyway, Target had nothing. Their maternity clothes were basically mixed in with plus-sized women's clothes. I bought a belly band, thinking it looked like a good idea. It is not. I am returning it. 1) It's super uncomfortable. 2) It's not super cheap. ($17) 3) Whenever you sit down, it bunches up, so when you stand, you have to re-adjust. Also anytime you have to go to the bathroom, you have to move it out of the way and then re-adjust. Super annoying. Fortunately I kept the receipt and all the packaging, so I'm returning it.

Now accepting advice on how to find/buy maternity pants. Sweatpants are great for home, but I need jeans for work and being in public in general.


back in the kitchen.

I made dinner last night, which is kind of a big deal. The whole time I had morning/all-day sickness, all I wanted to do when I got home from work was get into bed. So we ordered out a lot. Nate said he'd do the dishes if I took care of dinner last night, and I thought about what I could pick up but yesterday I also happened to pay our Visa bill which includes a seminary/conference class for Nate + conference fee for me to go with Nate + 12 months of insurance on two cars so I was not in the mood to spend money.

We had everything at home to make chicken pot pie, so that's what I made. I stopped on the way home for milk and green bean casserole fixings because that sounded really good too. It was good, and I was so full. Green bean casserole is making me excited for Thanksgiving. Grow, baby, grow!

I think I have been feeling Baby Jones move lately. At least something is going on in there. At 18 weeks, Baby Jones is the size of a mango. Two weeks from today we do an anatomy scan. I was watching 18-week ultrasounds of other people's babies on YouTube because I was curious what a baby looks like at this point. It is crazy how they move around so much on these videos! I am excited to find out the sex so we can decide on a name.

Last Friday night, we went on a double date with our friends, the Newlands. Baja Burrito for dinner and then to 100 Oaks theater to see Captain Phillips. It was a great movie! I liked it way better than Gravity, and not just because Gravity made me motion sick. It's based on a true story and at the end, even though it's a good ending, everyone left the theater silent. I was thinking, Navy SEALs can really do that? They are the real deal.



Otis, swaddled

Praise the Lord, the morning sickness seems to be a thing of the past. I haven't puked in six days which is a record. But what seems to be normal for the second trimester is this nearly insatiable hunger! I'll eat and feel full—a bagel for breakfast, for example—and then an hour or two later feel like I am starving! So several small meals throughout the day works best, though it feels like I am constantly eating. I complained to Nate and he said he'd trade places with me. (Sure, now that I'm not standing over the toilet every morning.) I read that Baby Jones only needs me to eat an extra 300 calories a day, which isn't hard. Fortunately I have some room to catch up on weight gain after a rough start.

I mentioned in my last post that I am loving Starbucks' "Everything with Cheese" bagels (and plenty of cream cheese). Now that the weather has turned cold, I am also loving their hot chocolate. But Nate doesn't work a lot of early mornings, and if I'm not getting his discount or my drink for free, it gets expensive. I Googled and found a recipe for a copycat Sbux hot chocolate online and tried it out this morning. It took less than three minutes to make, and it satisfies that sweet craving on a cold morning.

Starbucks Hot Chocolate at home
2 T. sugar
2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 c. water
1.5 c. milk
1/4 t. vanilla extract

Put the sugar, cocoa powder, and water in a 16 oz. cup. You don't need to stir it, I think. I tried and it really didn't mix cold. Just stuck to the spoon. Microwave it for 30 seconds and stir to form a chocolate syrup. Then add the milk. I have a ceramic travel mug from Sbux so I just filled the rest with milk. Microwave it for 90 seconds. Add vanilla and stir. Then you could top it with whipped cream. I didn't have any, but I wish I had. It was very good! Very similar taste to what you get at the store. (And so easy.)


on food cravings and being sick.

It seems pretty stereotypical that pregnant women have cravings. It's true. Only my cravings aren't for weird things or things I've never liked to eat before. What has surprised me most is my food aversions. Foods I used to love, that I don't even want to look at now. With "morning" sickness (aka all-day/every-waking-hour sickness), I discovered that being hungry made me feel a hundred times worse. So no matter how bad I felt, I had to try to eat something. The first couple of weeks, I lost six pounds which felt terrible so if anything sounded good, I ate as much as I could.

In the first few weeks of being nauseated and puking all the time, it was blueberry Eggo waffles with peanut butter. That has passed and I haven't felt like eating them anymore.

Some other fleeting cravings: potato chips, Cheetos, and barbecue ribs. (Not together.) A couple weeks ago, I couldn't drink enough milk. It sounded so good. Maybe I was calcium deficient. (I'm taking B6 and a prenatal vitamin.) I also stopped drinking skim and upped to 2% since I needed to gain weight.

Fortunately I've had a prescription for Zofran which is supposed to help with the nausea. It seemed mostly to stop the puking, but wasn't much help with nausea. Last week felt like a miracle in that I felt more good than bad. Then both days this weekend, I didn't feel awesome. But I've felt good enough to do laundry which is an improvement because our house was seriously turning into a disaster zone for awhile.

As long as the sick days are fewer and farther between, that's encouraging. Being sick was seriously wearing me down. I know most pregnant women get sick, but I feel like I was maybe slightly more sick than average. I was throwing up often. I felt nauseous for ten straight weeks with no break. Sometimes Nate would bring home something for dinner and I'd burst into tears because I felt so sick. It was rough.

Nate's been really good at taking care of me. When he's at work, I'm not great at taking care of myself. It's hard to get off the couch and make myself something to eat. My doctor had given me a goal weight gain of 2 pounds in 2 weeks. I have to give Nate a lot of the credit for the fact I gained 5 pounds in 2 weeks. I'm still only 2 pounds over pre-pregnancy weight. Typically you gain 25–35 pounds when pregnant, but I'm sure I'll catch up now that sickness is subsiding.

Food aversions: anything sugary. Nate bought Oreos, and I could typically finish off a pack in a week. They lasted weeks around our house. I haven't touched them. I haven't eaten ice cream except the occasional Klondike bar when I feel up to it. The weeks I was trying to gain two pounds, I had a milkshake one afternoon and felt so sick afterward.

Currently I am loving everything bagels from Starbucks. Not the same as Thomas everything bagels from the store because Starbucks' bagels are everything bagels with cheese. Add some cream cheese, and I am loving breakfast. Also hot chocolate from Starbucks but I am slow getting ready in the mornings so I don't often have time to swing by the store and pick some up. Nate brought me home a sleeve of recently expired everything bagels from Sbux so I have those whenever I want. :)

I'm 17 weeks now. (Due date: April 12, based on the calendar. Though based on the first sonogram measurements, they said maybe April 19, but I hear it's normal to be a week off.) So Baby Jones is the size of a sweet potato!


family photo.

Family photo! We took several photos with the camera on a timer on the tripod, but we surprisingly liked this one the best. Most natural. Unfortunately it cut off Nate's head but Miles and Otis were not super cooperative with the whole "family photo" idea and did not last long. Plus Nate had pulled an all-nighter the night before to do homework and had literally not slept in 48 hours. So this is what we get. :)

Let's review: Me (Alyssa), Nate['s beard], Miles (black cat), Otis, and Baby Jones!
Baby Jones is coming April 2014!

We are very excited. I'm 17 weeks tomorrow, and until this point I've been extremely sick with morning (read: all-day) sickness. It seems to have subsided this week and based on my doctor's visit yesterday, I've gained 5 pounds! Still just 2 pounds over pre-pregnancy weight, but I'm sure now that the nausea and puking is going away, gaining will be easier.

My shirt, by the way, is homemade. Inspired by Pinterest.  Similar shirts are selling on Etsy for $15–$30, but I stopped by Michael's on Monday. T-shirts were on sale for $3 each, and with the fabric paint and paintbrush, I created my own shirt for less than $10.

Here's the little bean's first ultrasound, around 8 weeks. I guess the head is toward the left and in the top center is a little arm bud sticking up. Baby's grown a lot since then—from the size of a raspberry at about 0.04 ounces and just over a half-inch to a whopping onion at 5 inches and nearly 6 ounces. I'm getting a legit baby bump. Haven't bought any maternity clothes yet, but I'm keeping my jeans comfortable by looping a rubberband around the button.

Now that our happy news is public knowledge, I'll try to update regularly. We're scheduled for an anatomy scan on Nov. 26 (Week 20, banana sized) and will find out if Baby Jones is a boy or girl. Any guesses?



Sunday afternoon, Nate installed our new mailbox! I may or may not be partially responsible for knocking over the old one.

I say partially because I didn't actually knock it over. It seems to have fallen over on its own. But a few months ago I may have contributed to cracking the post. It was a few years old anyway and painted yellow like our house. It was time for an upgrade.

I picked up the supplies at Home Depot, and Nate did all the work. The trouble was that Black & Decker power drill thing isn't very powerful. Not powerful enough to put screws into a block of wood. So we had to drill pilot holes. We have a drill that plugs in, but the post was already in the ground and we don't have an extension cord to reach to the mailbox. So that was a bit tricky.

Nate did the rest of the work on the side porch and then used the B&D drill and his muscle power to get the job done. We'll be investing in a 100 ft. extension cord sooner or later.



Can you hear the echo on my blog from lack of … well, blogging? Just trying to get through the next few weeks. I'll start blogging regularly again next month. Ciao.



Twelve years ago today I was sitting in my 8th grade algebra class when our principal's voice came over the intercom system to notify the students of the 9/11 attacks. In the days following, I wrote this poem. I read it over the radio for our local station and it was published in a 2002 issue of Creative Kids magazine. I had a volleyball game that night and we listened to President Bush's address over the radio while we were on the bus. I interviewed some of my friends about what they thought; their words are scribbled on a piece of notebook paper somewhere. I remember my mom telling me, "This is a day you will never forget. For the rest of your life you will remember exactly where you were when you heard about this."

America Under Attack
Like a scene out of a movie,
It all happened extremely fast.
Hard to accept the truth,
Something belonging in the past.
We've been attacked by terrorists.
The words seemed so untrue.
Thousands killed, yet just as bad
It was our planes they flew.
Because they hate America
They started to hijack.
Diving from the sky:
A suicide attack.
Evil, taking lives,
Not caring who they hurt.
Quickly, without warning,
No hint of an alert.
Felt across the nation,
Anger and sadness filled the land.
Allies, neighboring countries
Stop to lend a hand.
Children's moms and dads,
Neighbors and close friends:
Faced with despicable terror,
Their lives came to an end
So much talk of war
Yet no chaos or retreat;
Whoever planned this murder:
Justice they will meet.
Worry and confusion,
Pray for those who died.
This wasn't supposed to happen;
I just want to know why.
The president said we'd be all right;
He said America was strong.
"What if," I often wonder,
"The president is wrong?"

Alyssa Reeves, age 13 
Sept. 13, 2001



Irish poet Seamus Heaney died today. Strangely enough, I took an Irish poetry class my last semester of college and we read a bunch of Heaney's work. It wasn't my favorite class and I can't say I've really thought much of him in the last four years, but I appreciate quality poetry. Here's a classic to remember him by.

by Seamus Heaney
Between my finger and my thumb   
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound   
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:   
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds   
Bends low, comes up twenty years away   
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills   
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft   
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.   
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.


cards win.

Nate, Caitlin, Lisa, Lyle (left) and me (right)
Last weekend, Nate and I roadtripped to St. Louis. We met up with Nate's sisters, parents, and brother-in-law. Saturday night we went to the Cardinals vs. Braves game. The Cardinals won. It was a super short trip but good to see everyone.

Early Sunday morning (midnight–6 a.m.), Nate shot a time-lapse from the roof of Andy's parents' condo. Check it out:

STL - City Time Lapse from Nate Jones on Vimeo.
Night to morning time lapse over St. Louis. (6 hours) Shot with a GH3 / 25mm Lumix.


last week.

Last week, two of Nate's friends—Danny and Michael—were both in town and he met up with them.

This cat—named Buddha—weighs 31 pounds. Apparently its owners fed it people food.
Now it is living at the Cat Shoppe and is on a diet. That is one fat cat!
Nate always lets me stop at the Cat Shoppe when we are in Berry Hill to pet the kittens.
We found mini-versions of Miles and Otis! And they were BFFs too.
The Immanuel Cafe. We have lights now! Still waiting for the sink to be hooked up.
Coffee is popular on Sunday mornings. Nate brewed for 2.5 hours straight—from 8 until the service started.
And there was no coffee leftover. I think people like it.

On Saturday, Nate and I went to the downtown YMCA. I've lived here for four years and haven't had a gym membership. But we both faced the reality that we have been exercising basically never. So we took a tour and got a free day, and then yesterday I signed us up. The Y downtown is really nice! There is a dark room of exercise equipment like treadmills and ellipticals, and they just show movies in there all day. How cool is that? And with our membership we can go to any of the Ys in Middle Tennessee. Plus I get a significant corporate discount. This will be very good for us, and Nate finally has a place to shoot hoops. I literally just have to walk one block to get to the Y from work. So here's to regaining some of that pre-2009 muscle.


immanuel nashville: cafe.

Sunday was Immanuel's first service at our new location: 4301 Charlotte Avenue. Tons of people worked really hard to get the building updated and ready. I haven't been over to see the kids' area, but our home—the cafe—looks awesome. Nate and I help on the hospitality team, making and serving coffee, iced coffee, tea, water …
My job was organizing our pantry. :) Nice to have this space.
We are saying NO to unnecessary junk accumulation.
People working really hard! They painted the ceiling tiles black, refinished the floor, installed counters, a sink, a coffee bar. A group of us assembled the tables and chairs.

Creating a new look

The new cafe is a big improvement from our old setup which was a self-serve coffee bar in the entryway of the church. This is a place where people can come to hang out, meet new people, and enjoy some quality coffee.

The sweet coffee bar. Lots of storage underneath.
Serving behind the bar on Sunday was neat because we met so many people. Several people from the neighborhood stopped in. Putting the coffee behind the counter and asking people what they would like to drink gave us a chance to interact with people.

The cafe setup. Love the orange bench and reclaimed wood wall.
Someone suggested we put up some local/member art like some local coffee shops do. We like the idea. The cafe is still a bit of a work in progress. For example, we don't have any lights yet! (Waiting on them to arrive.) Our sink isn't hooked up yet, and with the growing popularity of Sunday morning coffee, we are trying to figure out how to efficiently brew such great quantities.

Actually, Nate is on the task of figuring that out. He is the coffee master. (He actually is. He's done the training and wears a black apron at the 'bux instead of green.) It is an exciting time for Immanuel. An exciting time to reach out in the Sylvan Park neighborhood and see how God works through us as we strive to make the real Jesus non-ignorable in our city … and far beyond.

If you're ever in the Nashville area, come see us! Community groups start at 9am, and service starts at 10:30. Come early for coffee because we stop serving when the service starts. Coffee will be available from about 8:30–10:30 a.m.


25 july: date night.

Impromptu date night last night. And kind of an impromptu-during-the-date night because pretty much everywhere we went, we changed our plans. :) But it was fun!

We decided to go to a place on 8th Ave that has sushi and also things like sweet and sour chicken (for those of us who don't like sushi). We were at the light at Nolensville & Thompson Lane when this beauty pulled up next to us. Shiny! The driver fit right in, and old guy who looked like he was livin' the dream. I couldn't get a good photo of him from the passenger seat of Nate's car, though.

As we neared One Hundred Oaks, Nate said, "Do you want to stop by The Cat Shoppe?" "Yes!!" So we made a pit stop. I think we were the only ones there. When we got there, one of the little kittens had his paws up against the outside door and was meowing at us as we walked up. Cute.

All these tabbies look like Otis' siblings! Most of the little ones were out. I loved how they were snuggling all over the bigger cats. This guy below wouldn't budge. He was still breathing though. (I checked.)

There's a canister of cat toys on poles near the front door, so Nate played with some of the rambunctious kittens, and they were crawling up all over him. It's fun to pop in The Cat Shoppe every once in awhile. It's good therapy. Like you can't be sad there.

Not sure why this orange cat was on a leash, but it was funny that this little kitten was sitting right up next to him. We bought a bag of cat food for Miles and Otis and continued with our date.

We parked near Koi Sushi & Thai Restaurant, but as we were walking up, we saw a sign for M. L. Rose. There is an M. L. Rose right across the street from Immanuel's new location, but I had heard the original location was in the Berry Hill neighborhood, I just didn't know where. So we decided to check it out. It was good. I had a burger.

Nate had his camera, and it has been super nice in Nashville lately: cooler temps and lower humidity. Today and Sunday are supposed to be perfect too. So we drove over to Radnor Lake. We saw two baby deer and a mama. Then we found the little boat ramp and this view:

Uh … wow! The water was like glass. I posted this photo on Nate's Instagram and flipped it upside down, and you could hardly tell the difference.

Then Nate and I went home. Hannah, who has been living with us since mid-May, was packing up. She left for work this morning and then will head straight back to Texas (via Indiana) to start school. She was with us 11 weeks, and they flew by! It was fun even though her turning 20 in June made us feel really old.

OK, so Nate and I took this photo … Wednesday I think. It was like a cute "family" photo, but Miles wasn't in it. So I asked Nate to photoshop him in. :) He doesn't like to cuddle! I think it turned out pretty well.


F: Fort Negley

Yesterday, evening Nate and I went on an adventure. I like adventures because it's a fun way to see Nashville and get out of the house. We try to do something we've never done before or see a place we've never been. We had heard about Fort Negley, and knew it was close to the City Cemetery, so we packed up the camera gear and set out.

Fort Negley is sandwiched between the Adventure Science Center and Greer Stadium. The entrance to the park is at Chestnut St. and Fort Negley Blvd. It's free, and open from dawn to dusk for self-guided walking tours. There is a paved half-mile loop around the fort and a quarter-mile of boardwalks to take you to various parts inside the fort.

About halfway around the loop, there's a paved trail up to the top of the hill. What a view!

The view to the south
East to west panorama
West to east panorama
Map of the fort. All that is left are short stone walls outlining the fort

Looking north: view of downtown Nashville
Fort Negley (2011)

Here are some interesting facts about Fort Negley:
  • The largest inland stone fortification built during the Civil War
  • From August through December 1862, more than 2700 conscript laborers, predominately contrabands (runaway slaves) and free Blacks, constructed Fort Negley, atop St. Cloud Hill, as part of a massive fortification system
  • Nashville’s strategic location on the Cumberland River and networks of turnpikes and railroads made the city a valuable asset to both the Union and Confederate Armies. Following the surrender to the Union Army on February 25, 1862, Nashville became a fortified stronghold, second only to Washington D.C.
In Davidson County, there are more than 12,000 acres of green space, including 108 parks and 19 greenways. We've explored a handful of them, but it'd be fun to see them all! The historic ones are neat, and I think there about seven of those. Adventures await. :)

This post is part of my series, Nashville: A to Z in which I explore all the (mostly free) things to do in and around Music City.


storybook wedding.

On Saturday, Nate and I went to a wedding. David and Brittani are friends from our church, which is fun because a lot of our church friends were at the wedding too. Actually, the ceremony was held at Immanuel (where we were married two years ago) and Pastor Ray officiated.

Brittani used to work with Nate at Sbux, and Nate invited her to Immanuel. She started coming, and she met David there. David proposed there, and on Saturday they were married there. David is a singer/songwriter, and he sang a song at the wedding that he wrote just for Brittani that no one had ever heard before. It was neat.

After the ceremony, we headed to the Noah Liff Opera Center for the reception. The wedding party took photos after the ceremony, so we had a little time to kill. Amy James (I always call her by her full name instead of just "Amy" … I'm not sure why) was my "date" because her husband was doing videography for the wedding, and Nate was his apprentice.

Me holding the camera and shoulder rig which looks like a jet pack.
(A groomsman actually came up to me and said, "What is that? It looks like a jet pack.")
Amy's pretending to be amazed.
Amy is awesome. She has a super-cute 2 year old and is expecting another baby in January. We were both starving and knew we'd have to wait a long time before dinner was served, so we swung by Wendy's on the way to the reception. Genius.

The centerpieces had floating flowers with candles … and REAL goldfish! One goldfish per bowl, and a lot of the other tables had tall hurricane glasses and our fish got stuck in a little bowl. He was freaking out the whole time. Panicked swimming back and forth. We tried to calm him: removed the flower, blew out the candles in case the flames scared him, fed him bread and cake, crushed up some xanax (just kidding). Finally we all lined up our name cards around the bowl like a privacy fence and he seemed to calm down and he ate some cake. Yay, we did it! (We were too excited.)

David thanked Nate at the reception for inviting Brittani to Immanuel, and he asked Nate to pray before we ate. Dinner was delicious. My favorite was these small red potatoes that were twice baked, but instead of scooping out all the insides, just a little bit of it was twice baked on top. So you get the baked red potato and the twice-baked potato taste. Mmm. We didn't know the people at our table, but they were all about our ages and were funny. Nate, Ben (Amy's husband), and the other videographer sat with us too to eat, hence the camera equipment on the table.

Lots of fun with dinner and dancing. It was a very nice wedding. Amy and I left a little bit after the dancing started (9:30ish) because we were tired. Nate got home around midnight. Yesterday, we had our next-to-last week at Immanuel on Granny White Pike. August 4 is when we launch on Charlotte Pike. Nate and I need to go up to the church this week and clean out one of the kitchens that is full of ITG stuff (mostly expired snacks).

We had some storms come through and the temperature finally dropped out of the 90s … out of the 80s … upper 70s! I went outside yesterday afternoon to pull weeds from my flower bed and put down two bags of mulch. The mulch had just been laying in the driveway because it's been too hot to work outside.

I'll leave you with a cute photo of Odie. He is such a snuggler. In fact, he'll snuggle with about anything, including a laptop. Actually I think he was trying to snuggle with me and was just getting as close as he could. I hope he never grows out of that.


great smoky mountains adventure!

Nate put together a five-minute video about our second anniversary trip. Check it out!

A Smoky Mountains Adventure from Nate Jones on Vimeo.
We celebrated two years of marriage in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

Shot with a Panasonic GH3, 50mm Lumix.

Music by Junip - "Head First" and "Villain".

Bluegrass by Monroeville.


great smoky mountains national park.

Nate and I took an anniversary vacation (aka our annual honeymoon) this weekend. We left Friday morning for Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We had never been, so we weren't really sure what to expect.

We headed out on I-40 E past Knoxville. And then we hit something we could hardly believe: Pigeon Forge. Oh my goodness, no one warned us about Pigeon Forge. I'm not sure how to describe it, but it did remind us a bit of Branson. And any negative feelings you get about Branson, it was worse here. Think airbrush T-shirt stands and carnival rides and wax museums and Titanic replicas and an "Everything Under 9.99" store, immediately followed by a "Everything Under 9.98" store (for real). It's home to Dollywood and RV campgrounds and outlet malls. We got stuck in traffic and I told Nate, "Get us out of here!"

After Pigeon Forge, we checked into Eight Gables Inn, our bed and breakfast on the west side of Gatlinburg. It was tucked away on the side of a mountain. Our room was on the second floor of a separate cottage, and we had a private screened porch hanging over the front of the cottage. It was very nice.

After we checked in Friday evening, we headed into Gatlinburg to see what it was like. Interesting little town. Hard to describe too, kind of not what I expected. It's clean and has a main street with lots of little shops and restaurants and lots of people walking around. Lots of people. We lucked out and found a free place to park. As we walked, we stumbled across a band called Monroeville playing bluegrass outdoors. They were great. We drove into the national park to find the scenic bypass back to our B&B so we wouldn't have to fight Gatlinburg traffic/pedestrians again.

On Saturday morning, Nate and I drove into the Smokies to find a waterfall. The drive toward Cades Cove/Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont is beautiful and runs along a river. There are pull-offs everywhere. As Nate passed this pull-off, I looked and saw this view (above). We turned around to get a better look. I'm sure it's spectacular to anyone, but for two Kansans: Wow.

I had vague directions from the Internet for a waterfall  The trail started near the Smoky Mountains Institute. Once we got there, though, we didn't have cell service, so my phone wouldn't show the instructions. We stopped in a welcome center and got instructions from a guide behind the counter. He was very helpful.

Nate and I found the trailhead and hiked a one-mile trail up to Spruce Flats Falls. This was a legit mountain trail: steep and narrow and curvy and over boulder and streams ... it sure made the trails around Nashville look like cake. I picked out Spruce Flats Falls because there are a lot of waterfalls in the park, but this one was cited as a "best kept secret," and most of the other falls were either popular, kid-friendly spots or required five- to ten-mile hikes. I like the idea of hiking, but let's be honest; I'm out of shape. So one mile there and one mile back was a good length.

It was beautiful! Nate took this photo with his Lumix GH3. There were was only one other group there (three guys), so it was very quiet. We stayed at the falls for an hour, and Nate shot some time lapse footage. It actually felt chilly with a breeze coming up over the falls, like the air conditioning was on outside.

We put the camera on the tripod and snapped a silly photo, haha. I'll upload more photos and maybe a link to a video once we get them all put together. As always, you can check out some of the photos on Flickr.

Like I said, I'm out of shape, so I was glad to be back at the car after two miles. ;-) Also I had worn some Chacos that I hadn't worn in a few years and they were giving me blisters. We took it easy the rest of the night, got some dinner and froyo, watched a movie, and called it a night.

We're back in Nashville now. It was a fun weekend getaway. I'd go again for the Smoky Mountains. There are plenty of scenic routes to drive, or if you're more athletically inclined, hit the trails. It was a fun way to spend Honeymoon 2013.


two years.

Today, Nate and I are celebrating two years of marriage! It's been so fun. Our wedding day was awesome, and I love looking back at the photos. I love how our photographer, Dani Braden, captured so many of our friends and family.

Everything came together so perfectly. The bouquets were beautiful. I handmade my necklace and earrings and the bridesmaids' jewelry. I had stayed out of the sun to avoid tan lines in a strapless wedding dress. My white skin paid for it the first day of our honeymoon at the beach! :)

In front of the red doors at Immanuel Church in Nashville. We love Immanuel. Our first visit was the first weekend we hung out in June 2010. We've been there ever since. We are saying goodbye to this building next month as we move to a bigger location!
Apparently I can't blow out candles correctly. On our way out the doors, I bent down and blew out a tealight candle … and blew wax all over my face! (Not my first incident with a candle.) Nate was wiping it off my face. I love you, Nathan Jones! Here's to many, many more.

Click here to browse the album of photos.



Nate and I saw Despicable Me 2 tonight. 
So funny, the minions really make the movie extra great. I'd recommend it. :)
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