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. :)

C: city cemetery.

The Nashville City Cemetery is the oldest continuously operated public cemetery in Nashville.  On March 9, 1820, the Mayor of Nashville and the Aldermen purchased from Richard Cross four acres of land located "on the plains, south of town, for its burying ground."  The cemetery opened on January 1, 1822. (source: Nashville City Cemetery Association)

Yesterday evening, Nate and I drove downtown to explore the City Cemetery. I drive by it often on my way to and from work, but despite having lived here for four years now, I had never stopped to check it out. Nate is learning to use his new camera for video, and I'm trying to figure out photography. So this was a good place for us to practice. We are amateurs, but we're learning. :)

City & Elm
Links and Post
Section marker. Notice how the photo is blurry at the top and bottom; I needed to increase the aperture.

Up in Madison, just north of here, there is a national cemetery that would be worth exploring too.

Tomorrow (July 4), I have the day off from work. Nate opens at Sbux, but he'll be off around 1. The annual Music City Hot Chicken Festival is tomorrow, and we are going to try to make it over to East Nashville to check it out. Then, of course, there are the downtown fireworks and all the activities going along with that. We've stayed out of downtown in the years past because there are so many people. Last year we were actually in Atlanta celebrating our first anniversary. We might stay home, but even though it is illegal to set off fireworks in Davidson County, I assure you there is always plenty of excitement on our dead end street.

Check out more sites to see in Nashville at my Nashville: A to Z page.
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