Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nashville Part Three - Music Row

Here it is, world famous music row!  A visit here surrounds you in music, some coming from the bars/venues along Broadway and some coming from street performers.

We visited lots of places on music row, three of them really stood out.  First was Robert's Western World.  I read about them in a Southern Living article, so it was on the top of my list for a visit.

Loved all the boots lining the wall

The music was great, the food was good and the beer was cold.  We chose to try a few local brews.

Yazoo Brewing Company
Cool sign
The second place I really loved was Bootlegger's Inn.  Their bragging point was their house made moonshine.

I didn't try any...I was a little scared of it, but I did love their chandeliers made from ball jars.

And I LOVED the bluegrass band that was playing...Chris Henry and the Hardcore Grass.  They were very talented.

And finally there was Tootsie's.

Tootsie's may have been my favorite venue just because of the history that came along with it.  The Grand Ole Opry used to be located in the Ryman Auditorium, which is directly behind Tootsie's...well at least the side entrance that the performers used is anyway.  Tootsie's used to serve as a kind of green room for the performers since there was nothing like that inside the Ryman at the time.  Performers like Johnny Cash would walk out the back door of Tootsie's and into the Ryman to perform.  Willie Nelson got his first song writing job after singing at Tootsie's and I heard a rumor that Toby Keith wrote "I Love This Bar" about the place.

Enjoying Tootsie's
The band playing the day we stopped in was called Jake and the Naked Truth...they were fantastic!

Hello handsome cowboy.
There were also Elvis sightings along the row.

Some real and some fake (get it? lol)
And it sure was pretty at night.

Speaking of night, last night we took a night off from working on the house.  We will be back in full force tonight.  I have no intention of leaving the kitchen on the sun porch!

I told the husband we should open the shades and freak out the neighbors.  Wouldn't they love seeing the back of appliances through the windows?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Nashville Part Two - The Grand Ole Opry

Just like Alabama's song goes, "If you're gonna to play in Texas you gotta have a fiddle in the band"; if you're gonna go to Nashville you gotta go to the Opry.  Okay my quote doesn't rhyme like the song and it probably won't catch on as a fun lyric, but it is SO true.

If you don't know anything about the Opry, let me tell you that going to the Opry is like stepping back in time.  The Opry is a two hour live radio show, yes radio, and is broadcast on WSM (650 AM).  Today of course you can also catch it online or on several cable/satellite channels, but the show originated as a radio show and is still formatted that way.  There is an announcer, a host, and a sponsor for each half hour.  The half hour opens with the host performing with the band, then they introduce the other artists that play during their half hour.  In between sets (which are typically two songs per artist) the announcer reads the know "words from our sponsors" while the stage is set for the next act.

Opry Stage
The seats in the opry house are much like church pews with the seats numbered along the back and the row letters stenciled on the floor.

Cool, right?

If you are ever in Nashville and you love country music, live shows and history...head on over to the Grand Ole Opry.  It is a one of a kind experience.

Last night the house work continued.  We (and by we, I mean mostly the husband) got all the appliances out of the kitchen, so tonight we will finish pulling up the floor.  I got the final donation load into my trunk so that will make its way over today or tomorrow at lunch time.  The healthy dinner of choice was turkey sandwiches, which were pretty good.  I ate only half the bread with mine.  So far a pretty good start to the week.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Nashville Part One - Gaylord Opryland Resort

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I just returned from a conference/vacation in Nashville.  I love Nashville.  The conference was held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort which is amazing.

Inside the hotel
The resort is composed of 3 sections, each section has an enormous indoor area that looks like it is outdoors.  It is really very neat.  This is our second stay at this resort, both times we have combined my conference with a short vacation.  This year the conference was Sunday - Wednesday, so the husband flew to Nashville on Wednesday and we stayed the weekend to enjoy ourselves.

My conference - great one if you are in higher ed and use PeopleSoft
In all honesty, if we had booked the hotel on our own, we probably would have stayed downtown.  We find that we venture down there more than we visit anywhere near the hotel, except the Opry of course.  The hotel does have a shuttle that takes you downtown on the hour during the day and on the half hour past 5:00 PM,  but there is a charge for using the shuttle.  My feeling is that the shuttle should be included in the price of your stay, especially since one of the drop off points is a place owned/affiliated with the hotel, but that's just my opinion.  Either way the shuttle costs you less than a cab ride which is a fixed rate of 25 bucks one way.

Now back to the beauty that is the hotel.

We took our picture in front of this waterfall 6 years ago on our first trip together.  Here is our new version...a bad self portrait.

The hotel has a boat tour in one of the sections...I would never take it, it costs $9.50 for adults and sounds pretty boring, but it was cute to snap a picture of.

sell out boat tour

As with many resorts the food seems much more expensive than it is at restaurants outside the resort.  The food was delicious though and there was a sushi restaurant that seemed to have pretty comparable prices to those in Houston, so we were impressed with that.

Just walking through the hotel I saw a lot of plants I had never seen these flowers.  I totally want to plant some.  The resort is amazing with it's indoor nature...I definitely loved that part.  We did discuss and wondered about the electric bill for a month at the resort...all of the indoor space is comfortably air conditioned.  Their bill must be crazy!  Their water bill might be high too, but this dancing fountain is super cool.

Dancing Fountain
In short, the resort is impressive and with a conference rate I am happy to stay there.  If I was booking on my own, I would skip on this hotel and stay downtown.  Downtown Nashville has live music all over the place, everything is within walking distance including the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Ryman Auditorium (the original home of the Opry).  The Grand Ole Opry is around the corner from this hotel, so I would plan to have dinner and explore this hotel on the day I had tickets for the Opry.

In house news, the husband and I did some good work last night.  We got the second to last load of donations loaded up (I will be dropping those off at lunch time), we got a bunch of trash hauled off, and we got most of the rest of the floor pulled up in the kitchen.  The only parts left are those that are under appliances.  We will be moving those out of the kitchen today and finishing the last of the floor.

Dinner was healthy last night!

These fresh rolls had carrot, avocado, lettuce, cucumber, and imitation crab.  They were delicious.  The glass of wine was much needed after all the hard work!

Have a lovely Tuesday!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Busy and Crazy and More Busy and Crazy

We started demo on the house.

My husband has it all, AND the kitchen sink.
 We found hardwoods under old linoleum in the breakfast room.

Extra work, but still score!
I will be posting in-progress pictures as soon as I get the before pictures up.  Look for all of that in coming posts. 

We took our first trip to Home Depot for demo supplies.  Guess what I put in the basket.

Planting flowers is more fun.
I did my fair share of the demo work though.  So did Sammy.

"Demo makes me sleepy."
Last week I was in Nashville for a conference.  Here is a view of the hotel from the convention center.

Yes, that's inside the hotel.
The husband met me on Wednesday and we made a small vacation of it after the conference was over.  We love Nashville.

More details on our trip, Music Row, the Opry and the Gaylord Opryland Hotel coming soon as well.

As far as the weight loss effort goes, I am pretty much at a stand still.  I am working hard to try and figure out how to balance going straight from work to work on a house with a torn up kitchen and still eat remotely well.  This has always been my downfall...when I can't control the schedule and the meals completely I seem to make bad choices.  I am working on fixing that this week.

I did get on the scale this morning, first morning back from vacation and I am up 1.7 pounds.  I am trying not to let that get to me too much.  I told the husband we needed to go for a walk after work before we start on the house, which is also physical so we are burning calories there too.  I think I will also go pick up turkey sandwiches from Subway for us to have after our walk.  Even if I am not cooking each dinner I can still get better choices worked in there.  I can do this even with all the stress and craziness!

I hope you are having a great Monday!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I Love Spring and Cheese

The past couple of days have been so nice here!  Not too humid with awesome temperatures...I love spring.

I keep trying to forget that the fact we had such a mild winter might mean we are in for a terribly hot, humid summer and instead just focus on the blooming flowers.

Another thing I focused on recently, was a new cheese in my grocery store.  Packaged much like laughing cow, this is a light smoked gouda.

This little beauty is 25 calories a wedge and it is good-a. knew it was coming...and it had to be done.  Okay, fine...back to flowers.

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Weekend Recap 2: Good Food and Good Beer

Outside of packing up, making a donation run and buying boxes, we kind of took a break from the house this weekend.  We did a little relaxing.

Saturday during the day the husband and I went for some lunch and darts in the Rice Village.  They welcomed us on the chalk board.

Okay, yes, that is a type of beer, but it is still fun to have your name in chalk!  We played one game of darts over lunch (I won) and then we took a nap. 

After the commotion from this post, we went and tried out an awesome new bar in Houston.  It's called The Hay Merchant.

They have a gazillion craft beers on tap.  Yes, really that many.

And they serve them in the correct glasses...and if you're a beer snob like the husband or the brother-in-law that is important apparently.

I thought the Tulip glasses were super cute!  So they were important to me.  Priorities.  :)

The food was awesome...chicken and sausage gumbo...delicious!

And they had one of the coolest dart setups I have seen in a long time.

In short...if you live in Houston, you should try this place.  I really liked it!  Let me know when you are I can come too.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekend Recap 1: Thank God for Firemen

My weekend had some unwanted excitement in it, so I am separating this recap post from the high points of the weekend.

We live in an apartment complex with an attached parking garage.  Saturday evening when I took Sam out for a quick potty break before dinner, I noticed smoke coming from the parking garage.  I made Sam make quick work of her break and ran back up the stairs to ask the husband to go check it out...I thought someone was trying to make BBQ in the parking lot too close to the building.  By the time the husband and I came back outside, which was less than a minute, we could see that there was a car with it's engine area completely on fire.

I immediately ran back into the house to grab my phone and call 911.  I grabbed Sam and got in my car, the husband into his truck to move our cars to a safer location.  The car that was on fire was parked about 10 spaces down from my car.

As it turns out when things are engulfed in flames, I am not that calm of a 911 caller.  Luckily, there had already been a call about the fire that was received and by the time I got to the bottom floor of the garage the fire department was arriving.  I was able to kind of calmly, point them to the closest stairs and tell them yell out what floor the fire was on.

The husband, Sammy and I returned back to the 3rd floor of the building, a safer distance from where the firemen were working, I was extra concerned that we had left Trixie inside.  Daniel was very reassuring that the fire would not make it to the buildings and certainly not down to our house.  I was working hard to try and believe him and not vomit from the fumes that had already given me a full blown headache.

Once the fire was out and the firemen (and women) were rolling up their hoses I was so overcome with appreciation and love for this group of people who had come and risked their safety to keep us safe.  They are truly amazing people and I am so happy they do what they do...I know I couldn't do it.  If you see a fireman today, tell them thank you.  I wanted to hug them all...what they call work is so heroic.

I found out later when I talked to the car's owner that this was a brand new Jeep that he had just purchased and driven off the lot.

He said that he had been home an hour and was headed back out to pick up dinner for him, his girlfriend and family and he saw smoke coming from under the hood.

He said he was happy they were hungry.  Can you imagine?  I told him I was so sorry, but also so happy he wasn't hurt.

The fire did jump to one other car in the parking lot.

To give you an idea of how close we were to the fire, that is Daniel's red truck in the back left of this picture.  Fires are so unpredictable and scary.  I am sure on the scale of things the fire fighters that responded to this call didn't think this was one of the scarier things they had seen.  I had never been around a real fire before, so it was very scary to me.  The fact that fire fighters battle fires that are 100 times worse than this one for complete strangers is so humbling.  I have such sincere gratitude for all people who work in a life saving line of work.  They are all heroes.  Thank them when you see them!

Happy Birthday Lindsey!!!

My awesome and beautiful niece Lindsey turns 9 today!

My how time flies!!!

Happy Birthday Lu!!!  Love you lots!