If Heaven is a Restaurant, it’s the Catbird Seat

For my 30th birthday, all I wanted to give myself (treat yo’ self, as Kim would say) was a dinner out at the Catbird Seat. For those of you who are living under a rock, the Catbird Seat is a restaurant in Nashville that’s been featured in Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, Southern Living, Travel + Leisure, etc. It’s one of the top restaurants in the country, and I’d venture to say a trailblazer in putting Nashville on the culinary map.

So what’s all the fuss about?

The food. Dear baby Jesus – the food.

But the experience, too. You see, you don’t walk into the Catbird Seat and order some chicken fingers. You must have a reservation. You can only get a reservation within 30 days of when you’d like to go, and you must do it online. You cannot call from your prepaid cellular device. So if you want to go eat there 30 days from now, you get online at midnight and start clicking before the reservations are all gone…because they will be, in seconds.

Then you arrive 15 minutes apart from each of the other parties for that evening. And you sit at one of 32 seats at a square bar around the kitchen, where award-winning chefs greet you, prepare your meal and serve it to you while explaining what it is, how you eat it and then stand there and shoot the breeze with you about things like music and Amsterdam.

You eat 10 courses of the most delightful culinary treats you’ve ever experienced. You don’t order anything – it’s all chef’s choice. Oh, and you have a wine or cocktail pairing with each course. (insert drunk face here).

It is a nearly three-hour-long, foodgasmic party in your mouth where no one overstays their welcome.

And y’all. I don’t really get star-struck in this fair city often – but being the food lover that I am, I knew I’d totally GEEK out over eating here and seeing Erik Anderson in the flesh. In front of me. Cooking food for me. Serving food to me. Talking about food to me. I want to be his best friend and awkwardly show up for dinner unannounced every Sunday.

So we went. We ate and drank. And it did not disappoint. Here is the play by play.

The Catbird Seat.

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We arrived, were welcomed by the hostess and rode up the elevator with her babbling about I don’t know what because OMGI’MABOUTTOEATATTHECATBIRDSEATSHUTUP!

We were seated and then greeted by a tiny plate already waiting on us, with the chef’s version of Nashville’s famous hot chicken.

Crispy chicken skin and a “Wonder Bread” puree. Y’all.

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The wine and cocktail pairing is $40 per person and worth every dime. (Also, take a cab).

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This was another one of our “snacks” and part of the first course. I failed to take a photo of the others before I inhaled them. But this was a beef tartare. Amazing.

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Oh hey famous chef Erik.

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This was a melon salad. And you’re all like “oh melon salad, whatevs.” No. It was to die for. Those little melon balls almost changed my life. There was an avocado puree, some sort of foam and mint and salt something or another that made it to die for.

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This was a celery root that was served on a super hot plate with foie gras shaved over the top. (Foie Gras = duck or goose liver that has been especially fattened). That foie gras melted like butter on the hot root and hot plate and we were encouraged to eat it quickly. Um, no problem.
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Mashed potatoes. But not your grandmas. These had golden caviar underneath and cured sturgeon with lemon thyme. You know, like you do. Amazing, but probably the least impressive thing we ate.

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Now we’re getting to the good stuff. I had known three other friends/acquaintances who ate at the Catbird Seat and two of the three were served Pigeon. Make that three now, counting me. I was so scared and excited when this came up. LOOK at that claw.

And aren’t pigeon’s referred to as “rats with wings?” They are gross, annoying animals. But I would have eaten a frosted turd if Erik Anderson served it to me.

So, he put this in front of us and explained it and I had heard to ask a lot of questions, when you eat at the Catbird. So the best I could come up with was, “How far down this little claw leg can I eat?” Well played.

He said, “well, that’s a bone – so don’t eat it.” Sweet, dude. Y’all. A real, single tear came to my eye when I ate this dish. We will all be eating pigeon in Heaven. Real talk.

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After. Like a boss!

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This was maybe my favorite cocktail that got major points for creativity. It was sweet tea, but real tea leaves were infused in riesling instead of water. That’s how we should all be drinking our tea, folks.

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This was a top contender for favorite dish, as well. Wagyu beef ribeye that simply melted in your mouth. The watercress puree was really strong — watercress is just such a distinct flavor. I loved it, but it could have ruined it for you if it’s not a flavor you like.

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We should always have a cheese course – with every meal. This was harbison cheese, which was kind of the consistency of brie, but twenty times tastier – served inside a hollowed out shallot with a mushy cherry compote of some kind. I don’t know — but it was good.

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Hey drinks! And the first of three dessert courses. YES! Sweet corn ice cream, y’all. It was SO good. Served in a potato cone with shaved truffle on top. Truffle is such an overwhelming flavor when served in this quantity — but with the ice cream it was on point. This was a super savory dessert, as well.

IMG_2455Another savory-ish dessert. Maple, bacon, thyme custard served inside a real eggshell with a tiny real piece of bacon. I almost licked the inside of the egg.

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Finally — a little smorgasbord of vanilla cake, cherry crisp, oak wood ice cream and pineapple gelee. But the star of this show were the bourbon beads. Close up in the next photo.

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So that bourbon bead you see there was a tiny, gel casing that when bit into shot straight bourbon into your mouth. It was the craziest thing and I don’t know how they made them, but I could have eaten a million. I would have died, but it would have been sort of worth it. They were delicious!

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Lastly, a tunga vanilla espresso drink with an espresso ice cube. Eh, it was fine. I had a lot of food and alcohol by this point, so I would have enjoyed anything.

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Chef Erik, cutting some lady’s pigeon off the bone for her because the claw freaked her out. Really lady? This aint Burger King — you can’t just have it your way.

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The view of the restaurant from the door when you walk in. This is pretty much the whole thing.

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Lastly, here is a photo of our menu that they give you to keep as a souvenir. You can read all about everything here if you’d like. But I suggest you just fork over the cash and go yourselves. It was worth every penny. (FYI — it’s roughly $100/person plus the $40/person alcohol pairing plus service charge and tax, so…yeah).

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We decided we’d treat ourselves once a year to this kind of experience, if possible. The menu changes constantly, so hopefully each time will be new and different.

I love Nashville and I love food. I’m so glad the two have teamed up to make our great city a foodie destination, as of late. There’s so many new eats to be excited about.

Thanks, Catbird. We’ll be back.

XOXO,
Jenn

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My Juice Cleanse Experience — The Juice is Loose!

juice. Nashville

**I preface this post by saying, I am not a doctor. What works for me may not work for you. This is my opinion and backed by no professional or medical knowledge about basically anything, ever.**

Several weeks ago I got serious about researching a juice cleanse. I don’t really know why – it was a combination of things probably. I have been really serious about trying to eat healthier foods, watch my calories and overall be healthier since the new year rolled around. I also read about it on Beth’s blog when she did it last year – and I pretty much trust that anything she says is awesome, will be awesome. The day I picked up my juice, she was there picking hers up too – for her third cleanse in six months.

Since it seemed to be the best around, I settled on Juice Nashville – a local company who does not have a brick and mortar storefront – they are a mobile, family-owned, cold-press juicery. That means no preservatives are added, no sugar, no nothing. The juice has a shelf-life of 3 days, so you get it and use it – or freeze it immediately. And if you open a bottle, you drink it within 8 hours. All this to say, it’s fresh, y’all.

So I placed my order for a the 3 day cleanse and was ready to pick it up on Saturday morning. I made sure I had no dinners planned, no fun events, etc. I was just going to hibernate all weekend with my juice and wrap it up on Monday at work.

I went to pick the juice up at the Nashville West Farmer’s Market where Wes (the husband half of the Juice team) sells on Saturdays. As he sifted through paperwork to locate my order, my juicy heart sank. He didn’t have it. Even though I had my confirmation email, something happened and my order was missing. I left thinking I might not be juicing after all – but Stephanie (the wife half of the team) called me as soon as I got to my car and said they were trying to figure out what happened to my order – not to give up yet. I went home and put on my PJs and Tweeted my feelings – and in true 2013 customer service style, Stephanie replied to my tweet in about two minutes and said that she was moving heaven and earth to find my juice.

WOW – customer service gold star for you ma’am. About 45 minutes to an hour later I got a tweet that said “found your juice! Calling you now.” And my cell rang. (I did drink a Naked fruit juice in the meantime that I had in the fridge because I was getting hangry = hungry + angry).

I zipped back down West and got my juice. I could have hugged Wes. I couldn’t believe they were so responsive to my juicing woes and were just so, so nice. Turns out, they had my order all along and the paperwork had just been misplaced so the two couldn’t be matched up.

So, let’s Juice.

The Juice Cleanse includes NO food. No drinking ANYTHING other than water or green tea. (I missed coffee dearly). You drink 5 juices a day (the same 5) and one almond milk a day.

The juices are:

 the cleanse 5 juices

I’ll be honest – I liked some of these more than others, but I hated none. I LOVED the C Ya – orange, apple, grapefruit and ginger. OMG. Snap – apple, carrot, ginger. Delish. But I think, crazy enough, the almond milk might have been my favorite. I love almond milk.

The Whoa (apple, beet, kale and ginger) was a bit harder to swallow. The Oh Yeah (apple, kale, collard and lemon) got old by the third day. But again, none were terrible. And the nutrients they clearly contain kept me chugging!

The experience:

Were you hungry? Not really. To know me is to know how much I love food. I love to eat. Food = love, to me. If you love me, cook me dinner. Buy me dinner. I love to eat. I exercise so I can enjoy food. Some people eat to live – I live to eat.

So a liquid diet with no chewing and salty food was a real challenge. But was I hungry? Not really. I did yoga Sunday night (day 2), and the calorie burn made me momentarily starve, so I ate a cutie (one of those tiny mandarin oranges). Juice Nashville says if you are desperate, you can have a raw fruit or vegetable.

By the third day I had a screaming headache, but I still think that may have been from three days with no coffee more than anything. I don’t think it was from no food as much as it was caffeine withdrawal. Although I will say, when that last juice was gone, I ate a spoonful of peanut butter straight from the jar. Sorry I’m not sorry.

How did you feel? I felt detoxed, just like they promised. I felt pumped full of vitamins and nutrients and I felt healthy.

Why did you do it? To detox. To cleanse the system. To purge the crap. I did NOT do it to lose weight.

But did you lose weight? Yes. I lost 4 pounds. It was an added bonus – yes. AND, it did jumpstart my fitness this week when I finished the juice. I wanted to keep that four pounds off. I worked out twice a couple days this week. I was determined. But I also ate pizza, which I did crave while I was abstaining from solid foods during the cleanse! Ha.

Let the record show – I just weighed myself this morning and gained every bit of those four pounds back this week. Even with two-a-day workouts and overall watching what I ate, I gained it back. So it’s my advice not to do this cleanse for that reason. Or any cleanse. Clearly.

How did it work for you and would you do it again? I think it totally purged my system. I was drinking a huge glass or two of water between each juice and I was peeing every half hour. My system was cleansed. I was so hydrated – TMI, but my pee was so clear you couldn’t tell I’d peed at all. It was insane. SO I would venture to say that a lot of the weight I lost was water weight and as soon as I started consuming regular food and salt again, it just came right back. I’m not near as hydrated as I was.

Would I do it again – yes. I would definitely buy their juice again and incorporate it into my regular diet, probably before I would juice again. They have lots of other flavors I want to try! But I would juice again if I started feeling sluggish and full of crappy crap. I’d do it again.

Can you work out during the cleanse? I’m no doctor, so I say just do whatever you feel like. I went to power yoga on Sunday evening, two days into the cleanse. This is a 400+ calorie burn class, so it’s intense, and I was totally fine. Again, you aren’t starving yourself – this isn’t a lemon juice and cayenne pepper cleanse. You HAVE nutrients in your system, so just do what you feel like.

How much is it? Lots of people asked me this. It’s not cheap – but when you realize how much fruits and veggies are crammed into every bottle, they can’t be marking it up that much, y’all. It’s quality product, so you pay for it. The three day cleanse was $123 with tax and the refrigerated tote that the juice comes in (which I’ll definitely be using again!). Full disclosure, in the name of stellar customer service, Stephanie gave me half off my juice cleanse because they misplaced my order. Thanks gurl!

So there you have it. Oh – one more thing. Again in the spirit of full disclosure, this juice cleanse did things to my bowels that you would not believe. And the worst day was on the third day when I was back at work. (You’re welcome, coworkers!) I mean, when you’re stockpiling fruits and green veggies in your system and they are in liquid form, there are going to be some touch and go situations. So, that’s all I’ll say about that. Just be prepared, if you do the cleanse.

Huge thanks to Juice Nashville for being overall awesome and wonderful to work with. I can’t say enough good things about Stephanie and Wes, how adorable they are, the customer service they provide and the product they deliver. They truly have it figured out. Nashville needs you – so thanks for being here.

XOXO,
Jenn

See ya, Summer

Tell your friend Fall to hurry on over.

We’ve been enjoying the last days of Summer but craving Fall so much.

Here are some of our end of summer happenings.

I recently went to Atlanta for my friend Crystal’s bachelorette party. She is a sweet friend and Phi Mu sister from UT. I can NOT WAIT for her wedding in Austin in a few weeks! We had a blast in Atlanta. The crew was about half friends from college and half friends from her post-college days in Atlanta. So that was really fun. We all got along so well and had a blast – duh, Crystal picked us all as friends, so we’re clearly all awesome. 🙂 It was so much fun.

We spent Saturday “shooting the Hooch,” or tubing down the Chattahoochee River. So nice! It was like redneck tanning. Just laying in a tube, getting some sun and drinking from your floating beer cooler next to you. Yes indeed.

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Then, it was bachelorette time. On the right is Edgin and I – my freshman year roomie!

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There was a serious game of Jenga. Each piece had a question about the bride and groom on it or had a “drink three drinks” or “never have I ever” kind of phrase on it. It was hilarious.

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Me and the bride!

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OMG – dinner at Two Urban Licks. I had scallops over gouda grits. GOUDA! I love you.

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Jen Hester and I have a mutual friend back in Nashville – like, besides the ones who know Crystal. Small world.

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Beginning of night – end of night. 8:30 vs. 3:31. Wow.

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Back in Nashpatch, we went to Bartender Bash. Just as fun as I remember! But the drinks were not as yummy as last year. There were only a couple that blew my mind. The rest were just, eh, so so. But when you’re in good company, it doesn’t really matter.

Stud!

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Alice and I, and Samantha and I. Samantha, our month-long roomie, has moved back to GA since her rotation, and we miss her so! Hopefully she’ll do her residency at Vandy. 🙂

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Beautiful Union Station Hotel where Bartender Bash was held.

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End of the night – sorry so blurry, but things were…well, blurry.

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Also while Samantha was here, there was a Food Truck contest in Centennial Park across the street from our place. We headed over because Samantha won a spot as a judge! She got to try like 20 food trucks on her last day in Nashville. Jealous.

I ordered lunch from Riff’s Fine Street Food, my favorite food truck that I’ve tried.

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I had the shrimp and grits (OMG) and the salt cod fritters, which was their “tasting” portion available for the event. Y’all. I could eat those one more time, top it off with their cucumber basil (I think that’s what it was) lemonade and die happy.

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Look at Samantha and all her loot! Fortunately, she left a lot of it in our fridge when she drove back to GA the next day. Muhahahah. I ate it. All.

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Come on, Fall! I’m tired of sweating every.where.I.go.

XOXO,
Jenn

Etch

Some days it’s all about what you know. Other days, it’s definitely WHO you know. Monday was a who you know kind of day.

I was catching up on my Google Reader, like I do every morning, and my favorite foodie, Beth Eats, was blogging about a sneak peak at a new restaurant that’s opening today, in downtown Nashville. I’m always envious of her taste testing and was living vicariously through her blog, at that very moment. The restaurant was Etch, which is located in Nashville’s Encore condo building.

Several minutes later, my phone buzzed and it was my friend Alice. “Hey — my friend Megan is the pastry chef at this new restaurant and has me on the list for a friends and family lunch today at 1 p.m. Want to be my date? It’s called Etch.”

AHHHHHHHHH! (Angels sang).

HECK YES, I said. Jenn Eats!

Etch is opening today, Wednesday, August 29 — and the servers were still working out the kinks and getting their practice on. We were invited to give constructive criticism about our meal, to help them prepare for opening day. And of course, in return, our meal was on the house. The only thing better than delicious food is free delicious food.

We got to share an appetizer and then each got an entree. We ordered the roasted cauliflower to start. I know — really. Cauliflower as an appetizer. But OMG y’all. It was amazing. It came with a feta cream sauce and a roasted, smokey pea puree for dipping. I could have licked the rest of that beautifully green pea puree off the plate. So good.

For the entree, Alice ordered the short ribs, which had the flavors of a beef stew, but was served between layers of thin pasta — so it was almost like some crazy lasagna. It was soooo good. I ordered the lamb sausage. It was served with ginger grits (I know — I know) topped with manchego cheese and a small spinach (I think) side salad that tasted smokey. How, I have no idea. But I’d eat greens all day if they taste like they were on the grill.

The ginger grits were out of this world, although they sound terrible. Ginger and grits? But yum.

And the sausage was just so deliciously delicate and very fennelly (is that a word? no.) and it melted in your mouth.

Dessert was not part of the menu — however, when you know the pastry chef, you get special treatment. Megan gave us a choice of a chocolate something or another OR a goat cheese…..

Stop. I don’t hear anything you say after goat cheese. Cheese in my dessert. YES!

So we had the Goat Cheese Semifreddo. I sort of knew what a semifreddo was from watching years of the Food Network, but just to be clear, here’s a little Wikipedia for you.

Semifreddo (pronounced [semiˈfredːo], Italian: half cold) is a class of semi-frozen desserts, typically ice-cream cakes, semi-frozen custards, and certain fruit tarts. It has the texture of frozen mousse because it is usually produced by uniting two equal parts of ice cream and whipped cream.

It was like really firm ice cream, with a hint of goat cheese taste. I love savory desserts over sweet ones, so this was perfect.

She came out to explain the dish to us and we said “is this raspberry sauce?” She said “Oh no — it’s a hibiscus sauce. I take hibiscus flower petals and combine them with a simple syrup to extract color and flavor. Then I just reduce it way down to get it all nice and thick and syrupy.”

Ah yes — I did the same thing last night.

Amazing! Megan was so good to us and we’ll definitely be back to eat her delicious desserts (and everything else on the menu) real soon! Do yourself a favor and make reservations at Etch. You can keep up with them on Facebook, here.

**Note — other than tagging along for a free meal, I was not provided anything or asked by Etch to write this review. These opinions are mine and mine alone.

XOXO,
Jenn

For People Who Love Cocktails

One of the most fun and delicious events I’ve been to in Nashville since living here for seven years now is the Nashville Lifestyles Bartender Bash. I went last year with my friend Alice and it was the perfect girls’ outing. This year though, we’re letting the boys tag along.

It’s at Union Station Hotel, which is a beautiful venue, and bartenders from around town and Nashville’s finest eateries show you that there’s more to Nashville’s hot spots than good food — COCKTAILS! I mean, some of the things they whipped up last year were incredible. I can’t wait to see what this year holds! Here’s my recap from last year. (That post from last year also serves as a great reminder as to why I should never have short bangs again. Gross. WTF — all you people who call yourselves my real friends! NO).

Get your tickets now and join me — they’ll sell out! Beth over at Eat.Drink.Smile had a great write up about the event, today. The lucky little lady is judging the event. They’d have to call an ambulance if I got a full serving size of each cocktail — there’s no way I could have just a “tasting” of each. Heck no. Too yummy.

See you there, Nashville!

XOXO,
Jenn

‘Merica — TCB

Happy 4th of July!

Hey y’all. Sorry for the hiatus, but lawd, I’ve been TCB! Taking care of business. You may have gathered from my previous couple of posts that I FINALLY sold my dang townhouse. It sold three years to the day that I put it on the market and I couldn’t be more relieved. It was weighing on me like I didn’t even realize, until it was gone. But all that to say, I hope to be back on the regular blogging scene now that I have my head back in a good, normal space!

In the meantime, let’s do a photo recap of what else has been going on.

I went to Kingston and watched two of my favorite Wade men do a triathlon. They basically kicked tail.

178957_375362782520692_1711799037_n196202_375364175853886_1471133498_n538073_375358895854414_1307886438_njenn and josh

Mom and Dad visited Nashville for Father’s Day. We had a joint Mother’s Day/Father’s Day outing to Arrington Vineyards and had a picnic. It was so fun and they both really enjoyed it. Of course, there was wine.

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We had dinner at Ted’s Montana Grill and lunch at Germantown Café the next day.

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Mom has always wanted to tour the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home, so we did. It was really interesting and I loved the self-guided tour with headphones. You just punched in a code from a sign based on what you were looking at. I thought that was nicer than some period-costumed lady walking you around the entire time.

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Kim took me down to the Farmer’s Market to try Bella Nashville’s pizza. OMG. It’s like Bella Napoli, and its ah-mazing. I die. I think about it daily.

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I went to the courthouse one morning and TCB’d. Isn’t Nashville beautiful from the park?

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The month of June I worked out 4-5 days a week at FIT Nashville’s bootcamp at Centennial. It was beautiful and we never got rained out. Thanks, drought! Fabulous way to watch the sun come up and start my day!

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And in case you haven’t heard yet – I sold my townhouse! Ha.
So empty!

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If you need a realtor, call that guy on the sign. Frank J will TCB.

Then, I celebrated the move.

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And celebrated the sale. A lot of celebrating.

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Rog took us to J Alexander’s for dinner. All I wanted was mac and cheese (it’s to die for), but had some steak tacos too. He had the steak.

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In other news, I’m still obsessed with our McKay’s bookstore. I love it. Here are some of the latest finds.

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Are you bored with the randomness of this post yet? Hope not – because here’s an update on my hair! 🙂 It’s getting looong, and I love my bangs longer, now. I can curl them back a little and keep the little turds out of my face.

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Last Saturday Rog and I got all dressed up and went to Junior Chamber gala. It was so fun. We topped it off with a trip downtown to Robert’s Western World and then acted refined and had a nightcap at the Patterson House.

My handsome date.

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Phi Mu ladies!

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Mal pal.

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Two of my favorite Nashville friends – Rach and Linds.

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And two of my new friends thanks to NJC – Elisabeth and Evelina. I don’t befriend ugly people, clearly. 🙂

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Lastly – I ate half a sticker off my apple yesterday. That was awesome. Then, I checked my mortgage account and saw my outstanding balance. YES sir! Ha. Ok, I’ll quit talking about it, I swear.

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And, I finished this book today and HOLY moly. It scared the poop out of me! And had so many twists and turns. It would make a fabulous movie. But OMG – y’all. Read this book. I read it in three days and had nightmares. Ha.

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How’s that for a random brain dump? Now that we’re all caught up, I’ll try to keep it that way.

XOXO,
Jenn

I Swear Officer — I Just Wanted to Hug Them

I don’t normally get star struck, although in Nashville there are plenty of opportunities. The stars just walk among us like normal humans, for Pete’s sake.

I think I normally don’t get star struck because I usually don’t recognize who it is I’m looking at until they’ve come and gone.

Exhibit A: one time I was at the Bound’ry restaurant and ran into Lucas from Days of Our Lives, Bryan Dattilo. I literally ran into him coming around a corner. He was by himself and I was like “OH MY GOSH, I’m so sorry. OH HEY!”

Because I knew I recognized him but had no idea from where. UT? Kingston? Right. So I played it off.

Jenn: “How are you? I haven’t seen you in forever? (true statement — it had been since about 1997 that I last watched an episode of Days).  Doing ok?”

Lucas/Bryan: **confused — oh hell, how do I know her…is she crazy? Probably** “Oh — you know. I’m fine.”

Jenn: **wow — he seems a little uptight.** “Great — well, it’s really good to see you again. I’ve gotta run.”

Probably about one minute after he walked away I realized who it was. More cocktails, please.

Joke is on him since he probably spent the rest of the evening either a.) trying to figure out if I was an extra he’d once “dated,” or b.) looking over his shoulder for the deranged fan who pretended to “know” him.

Anywho, there have been countless other incidents like this and I’m just never quick enough to put it all togehter…until recently.

Monday night I had to get a package of tortellini for dinner. I tried to go to the Turnip Truck grocery in the Gulch, but they were closed. I cussed, then thought “I’ll just go to the janky Apple Market across the street from my place.” I got in my car and since I’d had a glass of wine with my gal pals, I dug my iPod out of my purse and turned on my favorite car sing-a-long, Miranda Lambert’s “Baggage Claim.” (This will be ironic in a moment).

I drove over there, walked in and turned down the aisle and saw a girl way at the end of it that was so cute. I thought “whoa…what’s she doing in this place?” It’s just kind of seedy. She had on cowboy boots and a crisp white dress and blonde hair in a low side ponytail. Then this tall drink of water walked up behind her and I thought “he’s tall. They sort of look like… HOLY TORTELLINI it’s Blake and Miranda.”

Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. I about passed out. I don’t really give a hoot about a lot of these people, but I love Miranda and Blake is just precious and hilarious.

I think I stopped and just stared and then walked toward them — like a moth to a flame. Then I panicked and turned around and they cut down a different aisle. I then said to some random guy “THAT WAS BLAKE AND MIRANDA.” I think he was homeless. “What. WHO?” Nothing. Walk away.

I walked around until I spotted them again like a total creeper. I wanted a picture so bad! They were so cute and were just shopping and being normal. Who knew?! Miranda yelled “BLAAAKE! We still got them pizzas? Need more?” It was California Pizza Kitchen, if you want to be like the famous people. It’s basically a rule that I’ll only eat CPK pizzas now.

Unfortunately after I cut down three or four aisles like some sort of stalker, I gave up and got in the checkout line. Well heavens to Betsy, they got in line RIGHT behind me. I didn’t dare look at them. As we waited, a couple of people said stuff to them — one lady told Blake she auditioned for the Voice — and he was just sweet as pie. But I swear — Miranda had one of those pizzas up her butt because she was all eye rolls and smug looks. I understand — I’m sure that kind of treatment gets old. You just want to buy your overpriced frozen pizzas and go on about your business like a normal person. But lady, you’re in Nashville and it’s CMA Fest week. You gotta either hibernate at home or just get over it and indulge us a little.

The checkout clerk, who I feel like is my uncle or something since we go in there so often, asked her for a picture. He said, “My wife will just die. She loves you.” She released a heavy sigh and said a flat, “sure.”

I left at this point, got in my car and waited for them to come out. Yes, yes I did.

OH, first I did take a couple photos through the window, as seen here.

As they exited the store, Miranda looked RIGHT at me. I mean, we locked eyes. Dang it. I know she thought “there’s the creeper from inside.” As they headed toward Blake’s pick up truck (or hers, who knows), she whispered something to him and then HE turned and looked at me. OMG I was mortified. I’m one of them — those people who come to Nashville to see famous people and then bother them in their natural habitat. Like poking a stick at an animal in its cage at the zoo.

I cranked up my car and through my speakers blasted Miranda’s twangy voice at top decibel since I’d just been singing along with her. I thought she was back to beat me up. I about peed my pants and then sped away.

Such a loser.

XOXO,
Jenn

Training Gets Personal — with Kathy Mead

Recently an email hit my inbox from Kathy Mead who lives here in Nashville and is venturing into the world of personal training after almost 15 years of being a group exercise instructor. Kathy and I have mutual friends (the Pancake Girls that I run with every Friday morning), but haven’t ever met. This was perfect — because Kathy wanted to hone her personal training style with a few guinea pig clients that she knew nothing about.

I love being a guinea pig!

First, Kathy and I had a phone conversation about my workout history, likes and dislikes. We talked about running, my injuries (stupid ol’ knee), my recent love for boot camp and BarreAmped classes, etc. She asked me what my goals would be if I were to work with a personal trainer on the regular, and I told her that I’d love to just continue to tone up — lengthen and strengthen, people. So that’s what we worked on.

Soon after, Kathy and I scheduled two personal training sessions. Again, her goal was to practice working with brand new clients and putting together fun, effective, hour-long personal training sessions that aligned with the individual’s goals and fitness level. She also wanted to get familiar wtih her new studio location and all it has to offer.

I met her bright and early at 6 a.m. at the studio she’ll be working out of — which was amazeballs. It’s so convenient to me, and anyone in the downtown area. It’s in Hillsboro Village on Wedgewood Ave. in one of those beautiful old houses that you always wish your office would relocate to. 🙂

The entire upstairs, with a separate entrance in the back, are small fitness studios outfitted with tons of equipment for whatever your exercising heart desires. It’s called The Studio of Muscle Integration, run by Kandice King. Go to the website and read about Kandice too — she kicks major butt.

My hour-long session with Kathy went something like this. 5 minute warm up on the treadmill to get the blood pumping. Then, three sets of a circuit that involved two strength exercises and one cardio exercise. We used the exercise ball, exercise bands, TRX, dumbbells, kettlebells and more. I’m telling you, they have a little bit of everything to keep it interesting. After working hard for 50 minutes or so, we cooled down and stretched. And I was a puddle on the floor.

So, for example, we’d do a set of wall squats using the exercise ball, some tricep and oblique (I’m so workout term savvy, as you can see) exercise using a band, and then a set of burpees for cardio. Then we’d repeat that at least one more time. Then she’d introduce another “circuit” of three new things. It was awesome and I was pouring sweat.

OMG the TRX. Do you all know what this thing is? I’d never used one, but had seen it. Here’s an example of a push up using TRX. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4fUS7yITAw. I fully expected for an elbow to give out and for me to get tangled up so badly that I’d have to be cut out of it with scissors, but it was great. Total body workout because you’re balancing and engaging your core the whole time. Don’t think me weird if I install one of these at the Flat, soon. 🙂 Here’s another one we did — TRX Side Plank. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ezC5UNcyyg&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PL4D2D34FEAE5E9A05

I’ll have to be honest — personal training has always seemed intimidating to me. I’ve never done it before, but the thought of someone staring at me and only me while I workout is daunting. But not so with Kathy — she is so likeable, personable and makes you feel comfortable right from the beginning. We chatted (as much as I could while gasping for breath) about random stuff like books, exercise, travel, cocktails! and such. It was like working out with a friend — if that friend just watched you sweat and told you what do to next.

It was SO nice to have someone who knows what they’re doing to be sure your form is right and to be sure that you aren’t about to blow a knee out because you can’t properly do a lunge. That was so cool — because that’s how so many inuries happen. Kathy was great at adjusting the workout up or down as I needed.

Perfect example: on the day of our second session I had run out of peanut butter. (Huh? Yes.) If I workout in the morning I eat one spoonful of peanut butter and that’s enough to give me some protein so I don’t pass out, yet it’s light enough so I don’t puke it up. I know, lovely.

I didn’t have any PB the morning of our second session, so I crammed some dried fruit bites in my mouth and headed out the door. About halfway through our workout I was doing a simple strength exercise and was watching myself in the mirror and saw all the color drain from my face. Then I thought I was going to barf. Then I thought I was going to…well, nevermind. I had to stop, lay down, started POURING sweat and my ears were ringing. I went in the bathroom to splash water on my face and to consider what it would be like if Kathy had to break the door down to pull my face out of the toilet after I fell into it. Finally, I settled down. It was terrible.

I was so embarrassed and felt so wimpy! Kathy was totally cool of course and was like “let’s stretch.” So we did about 20 minutes of really good stretching to finish the workout. Poor Kathy.

If you are interested in personal training in Nashville, give Kathy a call, please. She is so kick ass and you will love her for kicking yours.

Bio and Contact Information for Kathy Mead:
Kathy Mead has a B.S. from Vanderbilt University in Human and Organizational Development and Psychology and a M.S. from MTSU in Exercise Science. She has been a certified group exercise instructor for almost 15 years and interned with MTSU’s strength and conditioning department as a graduate student.
 
She’s worked as an Exercise Coach since 2004 (also certified by the American College of Sports Medicine as a Health and Fitness Specialist since 2004) and is a VERY amateur bike racer.
 
She is absolutely committed to exercise and fitness as a way of life and has worked with a myriad of populations including: pre/post-natal, bariatric surgery patients pre and post-op, post-physical therapy patients, athletes, and just the everyday “Joe” or “Sue” who is interested in improving fitness or losing weight and unsure how to amp up their workout routine or start a routine all together.

Contact her at either 615-330-7308 or at meadkm1028@yahoo.com for more information.

Photo Catch-Up

Man, sorry for the blog slacking! As spring has fallen upon us, so has the craziness and busy schedules. SO much going on lately! I literally have something on the agenda every evening and just collapse when I get home. Wah wah – anywho. Let’s start with last weekend.

Last weekend I did the Richland Creek Run, which is a five mile race (not to be confused with a 5K, friends) here in Nashville. It’s just a couple miles from where Rog and I live, so that was nice. And it’s relatively small – less than 500 people. I haven’t run 5 miles in forever. Probably since I was training for the 2011 Half Marathon this time last year. So I decided I’d just take it slow and do like a 10.30 pace but try and run the whole thing. I ended up doing like a 10.16 pace, and loved every minute of it. Well, almost every minute. Smile I mean, it was RUNNING after all.

The course wound through a greenway in Sylvan Park around McCabe golf course – so the turf was all brand new to me. I’d never been back there, which was nice. I wasn’t anticipating every turn and it made it zip by. The greenway was GORGEOUS, along with the weather. We ran over some bridges across a creek and it felt miles and miles away from the city. So pretty.

Here’s my gear – I was the one in pink. Shocker. I left the pink compression sleeves off though – you know, so it wouldn’t be too much. Smile And my pre-race face.

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Here’s the best picture Rog could snap of me finishing – after I’d already stopped. Because I sprinted through the finish like a big tool – but I had some juice left and there were a couple of chicks in front of me. So, I couldn’t help it. You know, better for my record books to come in 276th place than 278th.

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Who knows what I’m doing in these pictures. I’m all like “Oh heyyyyyyy. Hardest race ever. Cause I ran 5 minute miles the whole time. Yeah.”

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And here’s me acting more normal, back at the Flat.

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Moral of the story – Richland Creek Run will be an annual tradition! So fun.

Some other sights from the weekend:

We saw this lovely outfit outside the Holiday Inn. She had on some sort of hat that looked like a cat. I mean, I’m a crazy cat lady, but this was too much.

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All the other kids with the pumped up kicks…

Heading to dinner at Rachel and Nick’s.

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A little Easter morning quiet time.

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Rog and I spent Easter Sunday afternoon walking through Centennial Park, which we’re so fortunate to have right across the street from our place. We love it and should use it even more. It was gorgeous this day. We’re just waiting on the baby ducks to be born – it’s about that time! They are so dang cute and it’s basically the highlight of the year. Smile

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Have some babies, duck!

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You don’t realize how gigantic the Parthenon is until you’re next to it.

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The view from the Parthenon looking across the front lawn, toward our place. Soooo pretty!

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That was the weekend. This weekend I’m looking forward to doing not a whole lot. I seriously can’t believe how busy this spring has been already, so I’m savoring the quiet moments. I plan to read, get the oil changed in my car and workout a couple times. What’s your weekend look like, little nuggets?

XOXO,
Jenn

Weekend Recap–Two a Days

Most people would agree that running is a sport – but maybe not a “game.” But if you run, you know it’s very much a game. A mental game. I’m really good at the mental game. You see, when I picture myself running, I’m really good at it. When I think “I can run 5 miles,” it seems totally doable and easy, even. 5 miles, that’s nothing.

Then I go try it – and I run three and end up walking…a lot. And cussing even more. I tell myself, “it’s mental. Suck it up.” And I just feel like barfing and like I might pass out.

So yeah, I’m really good at the mental game of running – just not while I’m actually running.

Granted, I waited to run until about 10 a.m. this morning and it was much, much warmer than I’ve run in yet this year. Gag. That first hot run of the year is always so humbling.

Cool down on the back porch, with Callie Cat.

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Back it up – weekend recap.

But first, last Thursday y’all, I made homemade pizza that was AH-mazing. You must try this pizza if you like these ingredients. My friend Kim posted it, so I’ll link to her blog for the recipe, but you have GOT to try this – goat cheese, jalapeño and prosciutto pizza.

Recipe here.

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Rog is out of town – he comes home tomorrow, yay! But I managed to have a lovely weekend doing whatever I wanted.

This fell out of my Kindle cover when I read last night. Aw. 🙂

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Friday was my one year anniversary at my job. I am so lucky to be there and OH EM GEE I am so glad that I’m not selling insurance any longer. That was what I thought about on Friday – was just how fortunate I feel to be doing what I love and actually working in the field that I studied in and earned a degree in, all for a great company.

Anniversary flowers from the boss lady. Very, very nice and lovely. 🙂

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Friday night my friend Kim and I went to a yoga class at Sanctuary Yoga in Green Hills. It was a level 1/level 2 class, which the website said any beginner with a firm understanding of the basics could complete just fine. Well, I’ve never taken a single yoga class, so I just hoped for the best. I was joking with Kim before class that I hoped my “dead pigeon” and “backwards dog” didn’t embarrass her. (P.S. those aren’t real yoga moves.)

The class ended up being “intermediate,” and I was POURING sweat before it was halfway over. Lawd. The instructor was super awesome and came around and helped me several times. Probably he was secretly taking my pulse to see if I was about to die on his watch. Overall, it was a great experience and I’d definitely do it again. I think I’d benefit from a couple of super beginner classes though. Namaste.

The best part of our yoga outing was going to eat at Pei Wei afterwards. I’ll workout for food any time.

Saturday I ran a couple of errands and then showered up and got all professional looking, because I was part of a panel of presenters at the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) regional conference at Belmont that afternoon. I was pretty honored that someone thought I was a “Young PR Pro,” which was the name of the session me and three other young geniuses led. It was really fun and we had some great discussion – talking about tips for interviewing, getting experience in PR, how to succeed in the business, etc. The students were so eager to learn from us and I even connected with a couple of the eager beavers on Twitter afterwards and hope to keep in touch.

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Saturday evening I watched My Week with Marilyn. It was fine – Michelle Williams is absolutely captivating. But it really just made me so annoyed with Marilyn Monroe. The movie portrays her as such a terrible actress who was a royal pain in the rear for everyone who had to work with her. She was never on time, a lover of pills and a huge whorebag. We all knew that already, but MAN she is annoying. So, eh, it was ok – if not for Michelle Williams and her amazing acting skills, it would have sucked big time.

Today, hence the title of this post, I got up and ran a few miles (walked, too). Then I had a meeting downtown for the Jr. Chamber’s 13th Annual Ragin’ Cajun Crawfish Boil. Get yo’ tickets if you haven’t already.

Downtown was beautiful today. The weather was great (for standing around, not running).

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Then, I went to BarreAmped class. Y’all – if you have not been to one of these, I highly suggest you do. My friend Jess teaches here in Nashville and I go to the studio on Music Row, but there are several locations or even similar Barre classes in your area, probably. But BarreAmped is where it’s at in Nashville. Lawd, I’ve never had such a butt kicking.

So, I’m officially ready to relax and enjoy my Sunday evening before another full week. Whew. I hope your weekend was lovely – and that you have a productive, happy week.

Since I know you can’t get enough, here are a few photos of the most beautiful fur baby ever.

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Baby girl loves an open window. She had the best Saturday going in and out her “kitty door.”

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The end!

XOXO,
Jenn