What are Three-Day Weekends For?

Three-day weekends are for...

*Therapeutic top to bottom house cleaning sessions.

*Last minute decisions to drive to Jacksonville for a couple of days.

*Letting your 50-pound dog sit in your lap because her kennel takes up the entire back seat of your car.

*Spending some time with your boyfriend's family.

*A trip to Jeremiah's Italian Ice for some gelati.

*Doggy BFF playtime.

*Home cooked steak and shrimp tacos and beer with friends.

*Drives to downtown Jacksonville for brunch and bottomless mimosas at Hoptinger with friends.

*Hardcore games of post-mimosa Monopoly.

*Evening drives home with a sleepy pup in the backseat.

*Watching Daddy Day Care while eating Chinese take-out.

*Sleeping in, followed by iced coffee and time with a book.

*A lazy Monday of nothing with your little family.

*Talking about plans for the future.

*A much-wanted kick off to another hot Florida summer.

Happy belated Memorial Day, and a huge thank you to those who have served.

How did you spend your weekend?


{Babybel Blog Takeover} THE BEST SURPRISE EVER!

Hey, what's up? Hello! Babybel Rogers here.

It's that time of the month where I secretly post on my mom's blog. You'd think she would have learned by now to hide her computer from me during the day. Poor Mom, she just isn't that smart sometimes.

Something really exciting happened to me on Wednesday! I got a flippin' BarkBox in the mail! I was soooo surprised. It was my Dad's idea to start ordering them for me. I told Mom that she could learn a lesson or two from Dad. He's so cool.

Wanna know something hilarious? My mom tried to make me pose for a picture with my BarkBox before I opened it. She said something about a cute pic for Instagram? I don't know, I wasn't really listening. Anyway, I sat still for a couple of seconds, but then I was like...yeah fudgin' right Mom, just give it to me! And this was the best picture she got. Heh heh.

In the dog world, BarkBox gets a lot of...what is it called? Oh, hype. It gets a lot of hype. So, for a second I was really nervous that I wouldn't like what was inside. And...I didn't like what was inside. Because, I LOVED it! Ask Mom, I went crazy for my new toys!

My mom sometimes does book hauls on here. (Lame though.) I'm going to do something much more entertaining. I really wanna show you my new stuff, so here's a BarkBox pawl! (Swiped these pics from Mom's phone while she was in the shower this morning. Luckily she took them, because, you know, I don't have thumbs and stuff.)

I got two new treats and two new squeakies in one day! Can you believe it? Look how cool this stuff is. The pretzel was my initial favorite, but then I got tired of it because it didn't have enough salt. My actual favorite is the Statue of Liberty ball! I've already chewed a hole in the soft stuff and tried to rip it apart. I haven't been successful yet, but there's still plenty of time. I'm just a young pup!

My Dad gave me one of each treat and I would say they're both pretty solid. The Lamb Lung toasters are pretty good...very lamb-ey. I think the Sojos are the best though, because they're bacon and cheddar flavored and those are my two FAVORITE foods! Plus, I think that little cartoon dog on the box looks kinda like me...just not as cute obviously.

Oh, I almost forgot, I did get a beef chew but my parents haven't let me have it yet. I tried to tell them that I have to eat it so I can tweet about it, but then I remembered that Mom banned me from my Twitter account because I pooped on the stairs the other day. (It was POURING outside. So sue me! You wouldn't wanna poop in the rain either.)

I guess you could say I'm obsessed with BarkBox. So OBSESSED.  I can't wait until next month.

I'm gonna go now. I have dog stuff to do. It's the last day before the weekend, so I have to take advantage of my parents not being home. There's just so much stuff to lick and destroy.

Paws and love, y'all.


Going Back to School?

Can we have a little chat? Blogger to blogger, or blogger to reader? We can? Great. Grab a coffee or something, this could take a bit.

August of this year will mark five years since my college graduation.


For the most part, I look back on college with fond memories. I worked my way through school, had somewhat of a social life, and still managed to keep a good GPA. My degree in Social Science is something that I'm still proud of to this day. My studies provided me with a lot of important knowledge, and I've been lucky enough to land good, stable jobs fairly easily.

I've always been someone who enjoys learning and is interested in a variety of subjects. In fact, when I was in college, I changed my major twice. I began with English, then quickly shied away from it after people kept telling me it would ruin my love for reading and writing. (Pretty sure that wouldn't have been the case, but I was young and irrational then.) Sociology was my next endeavor because I found it fascinating. Interdisciplinary Social Sciences was my final stop, because it allowed me to continue with Sociology but also take more Geography courses.

Over the past few months, I have been overcome with a giant "want" to go back to school. It seems that when most people return to school after being out for a few years, they are going back to obtain higher degrees in their already studied subject. That's not really the case for me right now. There's a nagging voice in the back of my mind that is telling me to go for another Bachelor's degree...a Bachelor's degree in something that I have always known is my passion in life.

Here is the part where you may laugh or roll your eyes...I want to study creative writing.

I've been in this argument with myself for a few weeks...to apply, or not to apply? The logical side of me is saying, "No way, Miranda. You still have a ton of student loans to pay off from your first degree." The ambitious side of me is saying, "YES. Study all of the writing!"

There are two reasons I want to do this:

1. I enjoy writing like I enjoy nothing else. I know that this is an area of study that would not only teach me a lot, but would also bring me a lot of enjoyment.

2. I need some confidence when it comes to my writing. I have reached a point in my blog where I'm pretty comfortable hitting publish on just about everything. But, what people don't know, is I have three half-written novels that I can't bring myself to complete because I feel like absolutely no one wants to read anything I have created. I always start strong with an idea, and then I question myself to the point of quitting. I want to publish a book. And, I know I can do it...but I'm getting in my own way.

I'm not going to say that a degree is magically going to help me produce a novel, but I am saying that I think it will give me the tools to realize that I'm just as capable and deserving of making that happen as any other writer.

I've always been told, if you're passionate about something, you should go for it. So...I guess I have my answer right there. Maybe I just needed to talk myself through this to prove that I'm not being silly or irresponsible.

Have you ever went back to school after being out for a few years? What is something that you have always wanted to do, but avoided because it didn't seem like the logical decision? Please share your experiences with me!


Tampa Indie Flea, Ulele, and Other Sunday Adventures

A couple of weeks ago, my cousin Taylor texted my other cousin Shelby and I to see if we would be interested in driving down to Tampa to check out the Indie Flea. We were both up for it, so we made plans to go this past Sunday and create a full day of things. We ate some good food and came across some good finds, and I just can't pass up the opportunity of sharing!

We left Gainesville around 7:30am and made it to Tampa around 9:30am, so the first place we ventured to was Buddy Brew Coffee. Buddy Brew is a local coffee shop that has been in Tampa since 2010, and there are now several locations around the city. It's one of those places that you immediately love once you walk in the door.

I ordered a chocolate croissant and a cold brew coffee. Cold brew is always my go-to, so I feel the need to try it at every new coffee shop I visit. I loved the croissant...but I actually did not like the cold brew at all. It was no fault of Buddy Brew's...there was just some odd flavor that my taste buds were not a fan of. I guess you win some, and you lose some.

After coffee, it was on to IKEA! Can anyone tell me if it's actually possible to get out of there in less than two hours? We walked around the showroom to check everything out, and then spent a good portion of time collecting the items we wanted to purchase. We all found some great stuff! I walked out with new pillows for mine and Slade's bed (much needed), a new print to hang somewhere in our house, a cute little fake plant to take to work and put on my desk, and a toilet brush/holder for our second bathroom. I also found these adorable stuffed animals that look just like Bell and Rizzo, which I resisted the urge to buy in spite of how precious they were.

We had all worked up an appetite in IKEA, so lunch was next on the list. Taylor had made us reservations at Ulele, a restaurant on Tampa's Riverwalk.

The restaurant's website gives a better description than I could: "Ulele (pronounced You-lay-lee) celebrates the vibrant fusion of ingredients from Florida waters and land once home to many Native Americans, including the young princess Ulele. Expect intricately flavored, visually appealing dishes prepared on the 10' diameter barbacoa grill."

It is located inside of an old, preserved building, and has a really unique atmosphere. For an appetizer, we tried the alligator hush puppies. Yes, with actual alligator meat, ha ha. If you have never tried gator before, it is similar in taste and texture to chicken. The hush puppies were really different and tasty!

For our entrees, Taylor and I ordered the lobster roll with fries, and Shelby ordered the crab mac n' cheese. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about the food. Everything was fresh and wonderful. I will definitely pay Ulele another visit!

Once we were finished (and full), we walked to check out the fountain in front of the restaurant, which is a dedication to Ulele. I think the restaurant is doing a wonderful job with their style and their message. The fountain is proof of that.

Our last stop of the day was the main reason for our trip...the Indie Flea! The Flea takes place in the Rialto, an old theater in the heart of Tampa. Local vendors of every variety come to sell their products...everything from craft beer to tshirts to succulents to art prints.

There were so many different, quirky things to check out. It never ceases to surprise me how creative people can be. It's always awesome to see people sharing items that they put heart and soul into. I think Blue Poppy Gallery had my favorite booth of the day. They create prints with quotes and images on sheets of dictionary paper. I couldn't say no to this Jane Austen quote. It came home with me.

Do you have any events similar to the Indie Flea in your area? Tell me about something really cool that you have purchased recently.


Burgess Falls State Park: Putnam County, TN

While on the Tennessee portion of our vacation, Slade and I decided that one of our goals was to see a waterfall. Since we were staying in Nashville, we did some research and were pretty surprised at the large number of waterfall options in the surrounding area. We ultimately decided on Burgess Falls State Park, which was located just over an hour east of Nashville. We woke up early, put on some hiking approved clothes, had a good breakfast, and set out to chase a waterfall.

State parks are always a great option when on vacation. They are typically free (like Burgess Falls!) and there are usually a variety of activities to choose from...hiking, swimming, picnicking, etc. Nature parks are also a reminder of the importance of the environment and the outdoors. I know that's something I often forget to think about when I'm busy in my daily life, and there is something really peaceful and eye-opening about getting in touch with more "untouched" parts of the world.

We arrived at the park fairly early in the morning and it wasn't crowded at all. The weather was pretty chilly (at least chilly compared to the Florida weather we're accustomed to), but it warmed up nicely in the hour or so we were there. There are two (possibly three, I can't remember exactly) trails to choose from. The one we took was about a 20-minute hike to the falls.

Fun fact about that shirt...I was not a fan. I bought it while on the trip because it was warm and cheap, but all I could think of the entire time I was wearing it was the phenomena of #blessed. Anyway, arriving at the waterfall is a memory that I will never forget. It is the first large waterfall I have ever seen, and it was almost sensory overload. The sight, the sound, the smells, and even the feeling in the air...it was all a perfect combination for a place that I could have spent all day at.

There is usually another trail that actually takes you down to the bottom of the falls, but it was unfortunately closed the day we were there. I was a little bummed about that, because I'm sure it would have been amazing! When we were at the overlook, all I could think about was the scene in the Disney version of Pocahontas where she dives off of the waterfall and how unrealistic that actually was. Not saying I'm a waterfall expert now or anything, but there were a LOT of rocks at the bottom of that thing. (Oh the places your mind can take you.)

When we arrived to the car after our hike back, I reflected on how the adventure had been a perfect start to our day. Experiences like Burgess Falls also make me extra grateful that the U.S. has such a wide variety of sights and landscapes to explore. I want to see as much of it as possible in my lifetime!

What is the most surreal natural sight you have ever experienced?


RoseBlood by A.G. Howard {Restless Reviews}

It's time for another Restless Review!

The book I'm about to discuss was possibly my most anticipated read of the year. I had been anxiously awaiting the moment that RoseBlood, by A.G. Howard, would fall into my hands. Did it live up to my self-created hype? Eh, not so much. Let's get into a little bit more detail...

"Guard your throats and hide your eyes. He's not dead, you fools. Legends never die."

In a nutshell...
RoseBlood is a retelling of Gaston Leroux's classic novel, Phantom of the Opera. In this version, we follow 17-year-old Rune Germain, who has a gorgeous voice, but for some unknown reason, falls ill every time she sings. In an attempt to cure Rune's singing sickness, her mom sends her to what is essentially an opera-centered boarding school, located in France. Questions are answered and an adventure begins as Rune meets the characters and learns the secrets of the school. 

Bad news first:
*Insert long, obnoxiously audible sigh here.* Initially, you should know that my love for Phantom of the Opera runs deep. The novel, the musical, the characters, the story-line...I couldn't love it any more than I already do. It's my favorite thing of life. And...maybe that's what ruined this book for me. If it were up to me (and it's not, but if it WERE), I would describe this book as more of a sequel than a retelling. I'm not going to say why, because that would be a bit of a spoiler. Let's just say, I didn't always appreciate the angle of the story. 

Howard also chose to go more of a paranormal/fantasty route with this book. You see, I like both paranormal and fantasy, but, I'm just not sure I liked those aspects combined with the mystery and amazingness that is Phantom. I found Rune to be a pretty obnoxious protagonist...she feigned this heir of "toughness," but really she was just naive. There was virtually no depth to the majority of the supporting characters, and portions of the dialogue were super, super cheesy. (And not in the funny way.)

Now for the good: 
I have one word for you: nostalgia. Nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia. Howard did a really good job of creating the same creepy, yet beautiful atmosphere that Leroux created in Phantom. The descriptions of the opera house were wonderful, and even though the setting was present day, you still often felt like you were in a much older time in France. She was also great at adding pieces of the original Phantom story into her own writing, and then building on the ideas. For these reasons, I rated RoseBlood 3/5 stars. 

So...yay or nay? 
Sure. If you're a Phantom fan, I definitely think it's worth a comparison. If you're a fan of fantasy and paranormal aspects on classic stories, you may really enjoy it. If you check it out, let me know what you think! 

What is a book that you found yourself being overly critical of? Have you ever read a retelling of your favorite story? 


5 Instagram Accounts for Dog Lovers

One of my favorite things about Instagram is being able to easily follow accounts that produce photos of things that I love and am interested in. It is the one social media platform that doesn't overwhelm me. Call me crazy, but sometimes scrolling through my feed is all I need to change my mood, or motivate me to accomplish something I have been putting off.

Even better, Insta is the perfect place to go if you're looking for something cute and fluffy to gush over. I have always enjoyed following pet-related accounts, but I love doing this evening more now that I have Babybel. It's fun to see photos and read stories that other dog lovers post, because I can relate to them on such a close level. I even created a profile for Bell, because that's just the kind of dog mom that I am.

Are you a dog lover? Here are some of my favorite dog and puppy related Instagram accounts. You may enjoy them too!

1. lizzie.bear
This account shares the daily lives of Lizzie and Ally, who are both Golden retrievers. They are so precious! They both look incredibly happy all the time, and their feed is full of their adventures. You can also tell that they love each other dearly...it makes my heart happy!

2. thatgoldendog
Bear, another Golden retriever, is the star of this profile. The owner originally started the account with her dog Champ. Sadly, he passed away in 2015. She got Bear in 2016. Oh my goodness, all of the photos are CUTE. You can spend hours getting lost in this feed.

3. popyourpup
There is no one particular pup that makes an appearance on this account. Pop Your Pup is actually a company that creates custom portraits of your pet. You can get these portraits on canvas, tshirts, and other products. I really want to get one of Bell and our cat Rizzo done. They're so adorable, and the account always shares the cutest photos of pets that have had their portrait done.

4. love.a.bull_diesel
Diesel is a pit bull with an incredibly sweet face. He looks like he would be the best snuggle buddy. You can't help but smile when one of his pictures pops up in your feed.

5. rescuepetsofinstagram
Rescue pets features photos that followers send in of their own rescued pet. We adopted Bell and she makes us happier than anything, so seeing other animals find families makes me believe that the world isn't always such a bad place. They also give a shout out to the shelters that the animals are adopted from, which is wonderful for making others aware of where they can adopt from.

Do you follow pet accounts on Instagram? What are some of your favorites? Please share them with me!


Never-Ending Mysteries of Adulthood

I'm going to be 28 in a few months. 30 is just over two short years away, which is still a pretty unbelievable thought to me. In my mind, 30 has always been the "magic number of all-knowingness." It has just always seemed like that age that most people tend to be living a pretty smooth-flowing life; the age of having it all figured out.

Having experienced close to 10 years of adulthood, I'm finally accepting that there is no such thing as a turning point in adult life. I'm never going to know everything, and all aspects of my life are never going to co-exist in a synchronized fashion. There are, and will always be, a pretty hefty amount of mysteries out there. Mysteries such as...

Is there such a thing as a reliable laundry schedule?

Is it actually possible to love yourself for more than a day or two at a time?

Why do some people spend more time judging the lives and decisions of others than living their own lives?

Is accepting the fact that summer vacations are over forever even fathomable?

Is it better to speak your mind, or hold your tongue to avoid conflict?

Do bills just continue to multiply with age?

How does one make new friends as an adult when they are also an introvert?

That last question is the main one I've been pondering lately. I'm in such a weird place friendship wise. I've never been the type to have a million friends to choose from, and that has never been a problem until I've found myself distanced from the handful of good friends that I do have. The live across the country, or an hour or two away, or just have completely different schedules than I do.

Slade is my best friend, and I'm fortunate that I get to see him every day and he more than provides all of the most important gifts of friendship. But...sometimes I just need a good girlfriend to chat with or grab a drink with. And...reaching out to people I know through work or blogging is always a little scary, because at this stage in adulthood, most people are pretty well set in their lives and the people in them.

Emotional word vomit...it's one of my finer talents.

What are some of the mysteries of adulthood that you dwell on? What is your opinion on making new friends as an adult?


A Short Stay in Birmingham, AL

During our vacation/road trip, Slade and I decided to spend a bit of time in Alabama...specifically, Birmingham. We wanted to find some good BBQ, and get a feel for the city. We were there for less than 24 hours, but that was enough time to enjoy ourselves before getting back on the road. Here's a little peek into our time there.

Also, quick side note: did anyone else listen to the podcast, S-Town? If you haven't...you should! It's so unique and interesting. Anyway, I ask because the setting for this podcast is a little Alabama town called Woodstock. It's only about 35 minutes from Birmingham, so Slade and I went and took a nosey drive around. It truly is a teensy weensy town, and it was really cool to see some of the places that are mentioned in the podcast.

Now, back to Birmingham! The first thing when did upon arrival was locate something to eat. Slade recommended that we try Saw's Soul Kitchen. It was actually recently named one of the best BBQ restaurants in America, so it didn't take much convincing for me to want to go as well. Slade also smokes and grills pretty regularly, so he knows his BBQ and I trust his opinion.

It was a difficult decision, but we both chose to go for the pulled pork sandwich. I got a side of fries and Slade went with the cheese grits. The sandwiches came with traditional red sauce, but we got a side of the white sauce to try as well. I dipped my fries in it, and actually liked it better than the red sauce!

As expected, the sweet tea was fantastic and the sandwich was too. It all hit the spot! Slade also really enjoyed the food, but he said he wishes he had chosen something a little more "challenging," such as ribs. If we're ever in the area again, I'm sure we'll be back!

By the time we had wrapped up our meal, it was pretty late in the afternoon and the weather was not too great. We went and checked into the hotel, then spent a little while in the indoor pool/hot tub before heading back downtown. Something I have been wanting to do for a while is check out the Birmingham color tunnel.

The city placed LED lights of all colors throughout the underpass, and they're on a timer to change from color to color and eventually to rainbow. The tunnel is a really nice touch to the city. It's so fun to walk through and watch the colors alternate around you.

After walking around for a bit, we went for drinks and a late dinner at Pies and Pints. It's a pizza and beer joint, which automatically makes it right up our alley. (Sorry for the dark photos here...the lighting was not photo friendly. How rude, right?)

They had a really extensive beer menu, so Slade was in heaven. I'm not much for beer, but I do like cider and they had a good choice of that as well. Slade chose a type of nitro stout (beer language...I have no idea), and I went with a pineapple cider. I wish I could find ciders like this more often!

For a starter, we gave the Pizza Skins a try. This was a twist of potato skins. Essentially, it was a pizza crust, with mashed potatos, cheese, bacon, sour cream, and chives on top. It was a bit odd, but I didn't hate it.

Now, the pizza we chose, was on FIRE. It was the Steak and Mushroom, which was topped with marinated steak, caramelized onions, mushrooms, gorgonzola cheese, and a type of horseradish sauce. It was such an excellent combinations of toppings. Overall, I loved the cider and the pizza and thought Pies and Pints was solid. Slade thought the pizza was really good, but the potato skin thing should stick to being a potato. He liked it, but thought it was his least favorite food choice from our vacation picks.

I wish we had had a bit more time and some better weather so we could experience more of Birmingham. I'm sure we will go back again someday! I did visit a really awesome coffee shop on the way out of town the next morning, but I'm planning to talk about that at another time.

Have you ever visited Birmingham? Want to see more food and fun from our vacation? Click here to read about our eating exploits in Nashville, Tennessee!


My Mama Deserves the World

"A mother is your first friend, your best friend, your forever friend."

Sunday is Mother's Day. It's officially that time of the year that we all reflect on how wonderful our mothers are just a little more than usual. When some unknown person pointed out that we should treat every day as Mother's Day, they were right. However, even endless amounts of Mother's Days wouldn't be nearly enough to express the love and appreciation that I have for my mom. 

Because my Mama deserves the world. 

My Mama is selfless and supportive, sympathetic and understanding. 

She is loving and kind, and has a heart made of pure gold. 

She would give up everything of her own, if it meant making just the slightest bit of difference for another. 

She is a peacemaker and a go-getter, and a saint by any definition. 

She's beautiful and brilliant, thoughtful and honest, 

She's gentle by nature, but firm when you really need it. 

She has taught me how to dream, how to persevere, and how to always strive for the best version of yourself. 

She's my dearest friend, and my greatest role model. 

And...I'll never stop believing that she deserves anything less than the world. 

Happy Mother's Day to you and yours! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend with your families. 


My Daily Routine

This post contains affiliate links. For full disclosure, click here.

Falling into a daily routine is inevitable for most people. In fact, I would dare say that it's crucial to maintaining sanity most weeks. Responsibilities and commitments can be taxing, even when you're overly familiar with them.

I have developed quite the daily routine since Slade and I moved in together back in December. Aspects of my weekdays are usually exactly the same as the previous one...and so on and so forth. A normal (work) day in my life looks a little something like this:

This is when my alarm goes off. Actually, I usually set my alarm for 6am, and then hit snooze until 6:30. If it's a day that I don't wash my hair, I'll usually keep hitting it until 6:45. Oh, how glorious an extra 15 minutes can be. Anyway, the first thing I do is let Bell out of her crate and we head downstairs for a walk.

Bell and I head back upstairs and both of us hop back into bed for a few more minutes. I usually spend this time thinking about the day, reading a bit of my book, or having a quick scroll through Instagram. (You can find me @mirandamhunt. Where can I find you?)

Now it's back down to the kitchen. I always feed Bell breakfast, and then get my breakfast and lunch for the day prepped. I take my breakfast with me to eat at work, so it normally consists of wheat peanut butter toast, or even better, these healthy chocolate chip cookies. Lunch varies, but most days I bring a salad with a side of chicken or tuna or something like that. The final thing I do is put peanut butter in Bell's kong and pop it in the freezer for later. (One of my co-workers gave me the tip about freezing it...Bell loves it cold!) 

Time to shower and get ready for the day! Some of my daily essentials include this Clean and Clear cleanser that I have been using for years,  Moroccan oil for my hair, and the Garnier BB cream for oily skin.

I'm usually ready by this time, give or take a few minutes. I take Bell for one more walk, grab her kong out of the freezer and put her and her water in her crate. After that, I get the Keurig going, and slip on my shoes while the coffee is brewing. My go-to is Donut Shop brand with a dash of creamer. 

With coffee in hand, I grab my stuff, say a final goodbye to our cat Rizzo, and head out the door. 

The work day starts here. If you don't already know, I work at a travel agency as an air specialist. I feel very fortunate to work in an industry that I'm passionate about. If you're wondering why my keyboard looks odd, it's a special type of keyboard that goes with the software I use to book air travel reservations. 

Lunch time! Monday through Thursday I have a low key lunch with just me and a book. (My current read is In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.) On Fridays I will go out to eat with a co-worker or two. 

Work ends here, which is good because my brain is always more than finished for the day by this point. Right now, my afternoon commute isn't that bad because all of the college students are gone for the summer. It will be even better when the K-12 schools wrap up in a few weeks! 

One of my favorite parts of the day is walking through the door to Slade, Bell and Rizzo. Bell is always really happy to see me...it warms my heart! Slade and I usually spend a little time catching up on our days, then I head upstairs to change clothes while he starts/finishes up dinner. He enjoys cooking and is much better at it than I am. I'm not sure how I got so lucky, ha ha. When dinner is ready we sit down together and eat. One of our frequent go-to's for dinner is eggroll in a bowl. You can find the recipe here!

This part of the day varies quite a bit. Sometimes I write or read while Slade plays video games. Sometimes we watch a show or movie together. Sometimes we go out to run an errand or two. The only guarantee of the evening is playing with our hyper dog to get some of her energy out, ha ha. (As I was writing this she chewed through my laptop charging cord...thanks for that Bell.)

This is the point where the day begins to wrap up. We clean the kitchen and tidy up then take Bell for a final walk and put her to bed. I usually take a look in my closet to get an idea of what I'm going to wear the next day. Before I lay down I brush my teeth and take my makeup off. My favorite cleansing wipes are these from Simple that are formulated for sensitive skin. 

After reading a chapter or two in my current book, it's lights out! 

Do you have a daily routine? What are some of your favorite parts of your every day life? What are some of your everyday essentials? 


Nashville Eating Exploits

Today is day two of being back to reality. Slade and I had a wonderful vacation last week, but it really did end just as quickly as it came. I told you a little about what our original plan was in this post. However, that is not the vacation that we ended up taking. Long story... We had to cancel the Branson portion and do a quick last minute re-plan.  After our initial weekend in Jacksonville, we took a road trip to Nashville, TN, Birmingham, AL, and Columbus, GA. In spite of the quick changes, we still had the BEST time. 

I have several vacation related posts planned for the next two to three weeks. Today is the first one, and I'm going to be talking about one of our favorite aspects of the trip. What would that be? Well, obviously the food in Nashville. 

Let's be real, eating new and often not-so-healthy food is one of the most fun aspects of going on vacation. In this day and age, it's also incredibly easy to discover the best local restaurants in any given destination. (Thanks Pinterest and Google!) Nashville may be known for it's musical history, but I can now attest that the food scene is certainly not lacking either. Here's a little look into our Nashville eating exploits. 

We visited Taco Mamacita on our first night in town. It is in a really cute little part of the city, near Music Row and the Vanderbilt campus. It has a really warm and fun environment that automatically draws you in. I knew the food was going to be delicious when we walked in the door. 

For drinks, I ordered a strawberry margarita and Slade had a whiskey ginger mojito. Mine was really yummy, and in Slades' own words his was "phenomenal." We also ordered queso as an appetizer, because can you really go to a Mexican restaurant and not try the queso? It was so good! 

Taco Mamacita has a lot of specialty tacos. Deciding on an entree of two tacos and a side was the easy part. Actually choosing which two tacos to get was the difficult part! They all sounded mouth-watering. 

What we ordered: I eventually decided on the Sloppy Jose and the California Club with a side of black bean and corn salad. Slade went with the Korean BBQ and the Oy Vey with sweet potato fries. 

What we thought: I LOVED the Sloppy Jose. All of my food was delicious. I also tried a bite of Slade's Korean BBQ taco and it was awesome. Two thumbs up from me! Slade says the Korean BBQ was also his favorite, but the Oy Vey was also really good. Two thumbs up from him as well. (He says being the second one to give an opinion is more difficult and insists on giving me his thoughts for the next restaurant first.)

We wanted a good hearty breakfast before going hiking one morning, and Pancake Pantry was obviously our best bet. This restaurant has been in business for over 50 years, and is one of Nashville's most popular choices for food. I found several reviews online that said the line for a table is normally around the block. We luckily didn't have to wait at all since we went early on a Tuesday. 

What we ordered: I ordered the banana bread pancakes with a side of hashbrowns, which have been voted the best in Nashville. Slade ordered the french toast with a side of loaded hashbrowns with cheese and onion. 

What we thought: Slade says the hash browns were the best he has ever had because they were crispy but still potato-ey. He also says the french toast was fantastic. It was fluffy, flakey, and ferocious...the three "F's" of french toast. He gives it one and a half thumbs up since it was a little pricey. My banana bread pancakes were divine...I ate every single bite of them. The cinnamon cream syrup tied everything together. I was full for hours, that's for sure. 

We went to Tavern one evening to have some drinks and an appetizer and fell in love with the atmosphere. We sat in a big, comfy booth and talked about how much we liked the decor. Even the hot sauce was in what looked like old-fashioned medicine bottles. 

What we ordered: For food, we shared the Philly cheese steak eggrolls. I had a glass of wine and Slade had a cider and even tried a beer cocktail. 

What we thought: Slade says it's a really cool place with a great vibe. The cider was really good and grapefruity, but the cocktail was just okay. He says he thinks they were trying to be too hipster. In his words, the egg rolls were also "off the chizzain." I thought the egg rolls were pretty good...not my favorite food of the trip but still worth a try. Tavern was a great place for a few drinks. 

The Pharmacy  was the number one place on my food list in Nashville. It is a combination of a burger joint/soda parlor and a German beer garden. There are options to sit inside, but we chose to sit out in the garden because the weather was so perfect when we went for lunch. Everything at The Pharmacy is claimed to be made with the best ingredients, and there is no shortage in food and drink choices. 

For drinks, I tried the Creamsicle soda and Slade had a couple of different types of beer. 

What we ordered: I went with the Mission City burger with a side of tater tots, and Slade had the Farm Burger with a side of tots. 

What we thought: Slade says the venue was beautiful and it was really nice out the day we went. As far as the burger goes, the bun is what made it. He thought the bun was fantastic...and fluffy and ferocious and fierce. He says his beer was "ear licking good," which is apparently how our dog would describe something so delicious. He says the tater tots were meh, but he gives The Pharmacy 2/2 thumbs up. He also wants everyone to imagine a Hades two thumbs up gif here, because I refused to actually include it in the post. (Insert mandatory girlfriend eye roll here.) The Pharmacy was also my favorite food experience of Nashville...the Creamsicle soda is what did it for me! 

That brings me to the end of our Nashville food experience. Have you ever been to Nashville? Which of these restaurants would you most want to try? 
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