My Brother Arrives!

Hooray for visitors! My big brother recently flew from Nashville to London to visit me (first time travelling outside of the US mind you). This consisted of us basically dragging him around to anything and everything historically notable we could cram into his short stay! We made sure to keep him calm in the face of public transport by plying him with lots of craft beer! Please forgive the combination of bad iphone photos and proper photographs! 😉

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The boys ready for the 49ers game!

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Climbing at Trafalgar Square…

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Imperial War Museum!

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British Museum!

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Boat taxi home on the Thames…

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The obligatory phone booth shot!

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The Emirates Air Line!

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Deep thoughts on the Thames with Dan…

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Off to the Tower of London!

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A little afternoon stroll…

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I already miss ya bro! Come back soon! xx
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Another Glorious Green Park Pug Meet + Being A Tourist…

I’m about 2 weeks late with this – better late than never.

Prepare yourself for a big dose of HAPPY.

Because PUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGSSSSSS!!!!

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NOODLES is convinced that he is their leader…

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I even brought some friends this time to share in my crazy.

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Who’s pug is this? DOESN’T MATTER – I just had to HUG him.

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Pepper is such a little tart…

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Once Sir Noodles felt that all of the pugs had been conquered, we headed to the pub for a bite to eat with Stu-pot.
He’s been visiting us from China where is a fancy pants tea ambassador! ❤
Stu has an amazing Tea blog by the way, check it – http://teaearlgreyhotblog.tumblr.com/

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Then off to Tower Bridge for a stroll along the Thames.

ACK!!! Tourists!

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My dog has been more places than you.

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If you live in London you should check out the poppy installation currently at the Tower.

http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/remembrance/ww1-centenary/poppies-in-the-moat

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We ended with pints and grub at Southwark Tavern…

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Fish and Chips!! Yummmmmm.

This is Stu showing me how to take an appropriately obnoxious selfie because apparently my attempts at selfie taking were not obnoxious enough. 😉

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It was a brilliant pug & London event-filled day! And then it was bedtime for all! Cheers! x

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PUGS! London Monthly Pug Meetup @ Green Park!

AHHHHH!!!! The first Saturday of every month there is a gathering of pugs and pug owners in Green Park. I’m not entirely sure why it has taken so incredibly long for me to attend, but I have now corrected this cosmic mistake and will forever attend the monthly pug meets! I was so excited meeting these amazing creatures that I overzealously mishandled a puppy and sustained a minor eye injury. All in the game yo!

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Behold! Pugs galore! All shapes and sizes! All magical and super rad.

Princess Peppermint Sparklechops was ready for it.

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I certainly was. I picked up the first stranger pug I saw. MINE! HUGS! GIMME!

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Pepper is all “What the hell mom?” and I’m all “I CAN HUG ALL OF THE PUGS. DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT. GO PLAY!”

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And off she went!!

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Puuuuuuuuggggggggzzzzzzzz…

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This is the slugger that did me eye in…

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Sir Noodles got some snuggles too…

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Pretty much the best day ever. Plum pugger’d out!

If you live in London and own a pug, why not join the rest of us crazies at one of London’s pug meetups? http://www.meetup.com/londonpugs/

See you there! x

Horniman Museum: An Afternoon of Delightful Curiosities

Frederick John Horniman was once the world’s biggest tea trader and an eccentric collector of vast curiosities with a passion for objects of great interest, culture and beauty.
His extensive and eclectic collection of priceless objects is now housed at the Horniman Museum and Gardens in the Forest Hill area of London.
We recently spent a quiet Saturday afternoon exploring the treasures within, and I (of course) brought along my camera so I could document these delightful and intriguing finds. Enjoy!

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Go see it for yourself!!! There was so much stuff but my camera is rubbish in low light! http://www.horniman.ac.uk/

Up Next: 4 countries in 4 days!

(Staying) Home for the Holidays.

After the crazy/busy/wonderful/stressful
year we’ve had, all we wanted for Christmas was to kick our feet up and RELAX.

We didn’t go anywhere this year.
No Spain, no Cumbria, no Nashville.
Nope, not in 2013.
We’ve had a proper staycation.

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We bought a Christmas tree and hung up stockings and all that jazz.

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I’m not religious at all but I love Christmas decorations and the traditional bits associated with it.

Combine that with having this big old house that hasn’t been painted or decorated yet…I probably went a little crazy decking the halls.

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I only have 3 days left of my vacation and I’m pretty sad about it.
I’ve gotten used to eating meals with my husband (gasp!) and getting to accompany him on dog walks (what?!).

We’ve spent a lot of time watching films in and out of the cinema as well as working our way through The Wire (which is downright unbelievably good television).

S even made us a gorgeous Christmas dinner! Amazing!

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And because these are too fantastic not to share-here are a couple of brilliant shots from the company Holiday party.
Can you guess the theme?

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We’ve been dog sitting a little muppet of a dog over the holidays as well so there are THREE pups in our pack currently. Lots of walks and lots of fun at Greenwich park.

Meet Cooper. The Fraggle.

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I took my camera along on one of our walks the other day to capture some more of the magic that is my new neighbourhood.
I seriously cannot believe I get to live in such a beautiful place.

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That view NEVER gets old.

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We made a few furry friends along the way.

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Simon and the pups at the top of One Tree Hill. Simply breathtaking.

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I know I’m very lucky. I love my life and especially the people and creatures that are part of it.

Wherever you are in the world I hope you are feeling the same way and enjoying all the beautiful things that make the world so magical. If it’s not going so well for you, take a deep breath and know that you are loved and that the New Year is just around the corner.
Draw a line under the bad stuff and get ready for a year of joy! xx

A little piece of home with The Cadillac Three…

Sometimes weeks go by where I barely think of my old life in Nashville. Sometimes it’s all-consuming and I get so swept up in the nostalgia that it’s all I can think about. That’s the tricky part about living in the same place for 28 years and then suddenly starting over in a new country. It doesn’t all just go away and get replaced by new things.
There are the new things and the old things, and sometimes they work against each other.

I don’t know when I’ll be home again and that upsets me a little.
I just try to focus on my life here and that works until I see photos of my niece and nephew or see another friend has announced a pregnancy or gotten engaged.

Another wedding I will surely miss. Another baby. Life goes on…

It’s sad, but it’s the choice I made and I’ve never regretted it for one second.

I think about it sometimes, if my husband just announced one day: “I’m ready for a quieter life! Let’s go live in Nashville!!!”

I’m not sure I’d want to go back and live there.
Part of me does because it’s so comfortable and familiar.
I know everyone and everyone knows me.
It would be so easy. Like your favourite flip-flops.
We’ve been through so much together Nashville and I.

I think perhaps I’ve outgrown it somehow and I’d actually feel a bit lost.
It’s impossible to say really. My opinion on the subject changes monthly.

I do miss my friends though. This never changes. And when friends come to London I get REALLY excited.

Recently, some friends I’ve known for half of my life came to play a few gigs in London and I went out to Camden to see them.

They’ve been playing music together since they were kids and although I’ve seen them in a lot of different bands over the years, this one (The Cadillac Three) is probably the most authentic and solid thing I’ve seen any of them do. https://www.facebook.com/TheCadillacThree?fref=ts

Or maybe this is just my favourite?

I will fess up and say that although I love Pecan Pie and Dolly Parton and I swear on Tara that I am a Southern girl through and through – I’m really not a huge Southern Rock fan.

I am however, very happy to report that their show was really really good and I had a blast.

Not just saying that! It was GREAT.

I actually almost flaked out on going because it was a school night and I knew it was going to take me an hour to get there and an hour back- but I seriously love these dudes so I made it happen and I’m glad for it.

Twas most excellent!

And yeah, of course I took some photos!

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Kelbs & I hanging after the show…

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See y’all later! xx

A Change of Scenery.

Howdy!

I am overjoyed to inform you that I am officially on Christmas Holiday as of today (yes I said holiday, not vacation).
I’ve finally assimilated! I have 11 days to do whatever I want and I’m going to try to spend as much of it as possible in yoga leggings eating clementines and watching films with my main squeeze and my cuddly pups.

A lot has transpired in the last few months since I’ve disappeared from my blog. We’ve sold our flat in Stockwell and bought an old Edwardian house in Greenwich/Blackheath.

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It’s basically the house I’ve dreamt about living in since I was 5 years old and started watching fluffy period films.

It’s also a reasonably big house so the dogs are pretty much in heaven and spend much of their day running up and down stairs and out the cat flap into the back garden so they can bark at EVERYTHING THAT MOVES. 😉

My work life has been hectic but spectacularly fun and rewarding. The business has been growing exponentially which has presented me with the opportunity to really hone my skills and stay challenged on a daily basis.
I also get to work with the raddest group of women and honestly love my fucking job.

I have also fallen madly in love with living in the UK and I feel much more at home here than I did last year around this time.
I know it’s hard to believe that I would have ever not been in love with London, but coming from Tennessee, London life got pretty exhausting pretty darn fast.

Living in a city the size of London can be intense regardless of where you are from. I am from Nashville, and I belly laugh at the thought of how I used to fume with rage sitting in traffic with my Starbucks latte listening to Fresh Air on NPR.

I had no idea. At least I didn’t have to share space with anyone!

In Nashville, you drive from point A to point B and you can sing loudly and badly in your car.
You can cry. Scream. No one is watching you.
This is your time. You and Terry Gross. You and your iced mocha.
Traffic or no traffic, you get to travel to work in privacy.

I remember those days fondly, but I think now I actually prefer not having to drive everywhere.
Not having to stop for gas or put air in my tires. I definitely don’t miss my monthly freak out because smoke is pouring out from under the hood of my poor car.

Nope. Now I just get on the train and am transported to my destination.

That being said, there are just so many people in London.
From the moment I leave my house in the morning and make my way to the train station I’m surrounded by them. People on public transport typically have complete disregard of anyone else around them.

There are also plenty of polite people that get out of their seats to let an elderly man sit but they are outweighed by the assholes, trust me.

It is also REALLY difficult to stay positive and think happy thoughts when it’s 8:00am and I’m standing with a 50 lb backpack squished against the wall of the train underneath the armpit of a guy reading a newspaper than keeps flapping into my face every time the train starts to sway a bit.

FLAP. FLAP. FLAP.

I actually slapped a paper out of a man’s hands once in protest and he seemed quite horrified, but I think I was secretly celebrated as a hero to everyone else that witnessed my tube rage.

Then there are the people towering over you with their disgusting bacon buttie morning breath, or even better those heart-warming individuals that want to share their breakfast experience with everyone on the tube. There they are-chomping away on their smelly baguettes from Upper Crust as I watch bits of sweet corn topple from their mouths and onto the puddles of their coffee already being sloshed all over my backpack.

LE SIGH.

All the while everyone exiting and entering the carriage is stepping on my toes as my face gets pushed deeper and deeper into the glass of the train door. At no point when I thought of my life at 30 did it include getting punched in the boob so often.

Sometimes I get lucky and I get a seat! Then you get to be wedged between two assholes blasting horrible top 40 shit on crappy headphones. But at least you are sitting!

You basically have to learn the public transportation game if you are going to be a successful commuter and not lose it on someone.

You’ve got to learn the ebb and flow of the trains/buses/tubes you take.

What carriages are usually less busy?

What part of the platform should I stand at so that the door opens to align with the exit tunnel at the station in order to saving me exactly 24 seconds of fighting through the herd of commuters to the escalators?

Don’t be lazy and be an escalator-stander. Save yourself another 45 seconds by walking up the left side.
Burn off some calories. Get out some aggression. Hold onto the hand rail.

Do be aware though that should you fall, they will step over your lifeless body. This will of course also be recorded on someone’s iPhone and posted to Youtube within the hour for you to revisit!

Commuting via public transport can be one of the single most stressful and infuriating experiences if you don’t do it right.
My journey every day consists of two trains, two buses, and two tube journeys to get me to work and back home.
Sometimes I just have to look at the floor in front of me when I’m walking because it is mentally taxing to look at any more faces. But I’ve gotten a good set of headphones and I never leave the house without at least 4 TV shows downloaded onto my iPhone ready to be watched. I check emails, troll facebook, read a good book. The key is to stay busy!

My commute to and from work has been made much more enjoyable now that I can just huddle in the corner of the train and watch Top Chef. I still get stepped on and bumped into, but at least I’m distracted by Tom Colicchio’s beautiful shiny head and it makes it all okay somehow.

Anyway, back to our recent move! We moved for a number of reasons. We were really annoyed with the neighbourhood we were living in. Aside from the fantastic people at the dog park, the rest of our neighbours were horrible and I dreaded my walk to the tube every day. There was a lot of litter everywhere, people were really anti-social, and it just wasn’t a pleasant experience.

We also needed a bigger space. We needed a place with a garden for the dogs. They have limitless energy and the 1st floor flat just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

We are now just a short walk to Greenwich Park which I have chronicled before when Becca visited…https://nashvillegirlinlondon.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/beccas-visit/

This is my happy place these days. This is where I go to unwind and decompress from the urban overload of my Monday-Friday routine. Here is a snapshot of how we spend our weekend in our new neighbourhood!

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View of London at dusk from One Tree Hill.

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Pups in flight…

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Queen Elizabeth’s Oak.

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Here is a little snippet from http://www.thegreenwichphantom.co.uk/2007/12/queen-elizabeths-oak/ explaining why this tree is so special:

“Why Queen Elizabeth’s Oak? Because popular tradition reckons that Henry VIII sported with Anne Boleyn under its branches (well, ok, ‘danced’) and the fruit of his loins, the future QEI “oft partook of refreshments” in its shade. It’s not, by the way, the tree under which she was sitting eating an apple when she discovered she had been made Queen.”

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photo 1

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My husband has taught me this year that the key to living happily in London is about finding the right balance. 2014 will find me striving for this. I think by next year I’ll be an old pro at this city life thing, you wait and see. xx

Dusk in Looe and a cemetary stroll…

No matter where you are in the UK, you are never that far from a beach.
Living in London, surrounded by concrete and sky scrapers every day, I forget this.

Growing up in a land-locked state, the closest beach was a 7 hour drive.

It’s still magical. Every single time. Even if it’s a freezing cold England beach and there is zero chance of actually getting a tan or taking a swim!

During our weekend getaway to Cornwall, we spent a few hours in the lovely little seaside town of Looe.

We just missed the sunset…

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On our drive back, we spotted a spooky looking graveyard poking out from behind some dark trees and. I loudly announced “creepy graveyard”, prompting an immediate  U-turn, and drove down a narrow forest path to a errie looking church. It was almost nightfall. 

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Goodbye dusky cemetary!!!

Next up…The worst zoo I’ve ever been to, the most spectacular landscape in England, and parking lot ponies…

The Eden Project Part II…

I’m back! AGAIN. Sorry for the delay. I am the reigning Queen of blog hiatuses.
But I never give up!
Has it really been 3 months?! Dang.
It’s like my days just get gobbled up by a big and unforgiving minute-munching monster!
I had so much time to kill when I lived in Nashville-nothing but slow sweet syrupy time.
But in London? Nope. I’m in a constant state of “hurryhurry-rushrush-getoutofmyway-movefaster-I’m sooooo late”

Even though it’s hilariously behind schedule, here is the second batch of delightful little flowers and plants from my birthday Eden Project visit!

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Weird and amazing little wood carvings and teensy sculptures…

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The SEED…

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Giant metal butterfly sculpture…

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In case you didn’t know, The Terminator lives at The Eden Project…

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I guess he’s into gardening?

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See you later beautiful biomes!!!!

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Coming up next…Ice cold beaches in Looe and a creepy Cornwall graveyard stroll…

Turning 30 & The Eden Project Part I…

My 30th birthday gift was a beautiful surprise road-trip to Cornwall.

S booked for us the most adorable little cottage…

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With Alpacas in the front yard…SQUEEEEEE!

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Oh to be able to sleep in as long as you want and wake up to warm sunshine streaming through your window with only the soft bleating of goats in the distance. HEAVEN!

We spent an entire day trying to absorb all of the exquisite botanical treasures at The Eden Project http://www.edenproject.com/visit-us/whats-here

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Lots of photos of flowers and teeny tiny plants await you…Enjoy!

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Hooray for my 30s!!!!!!!

Next up: Even more Eden Project treasures…

A Snowy Day in London…

I’ve gotten quite used to listening to most people around me moan about the dreary winter weather in England.
I used to think everyone was just being grumpy and dramatic.
But to be honest, I’m getting a bit weary of the cold myself.

Recently London was blanketed in snow and it seemed like everyone gave up their constant complaining for a few days and really enjoyed it! Imagine that!

I really and truly love snow days and was very excited to take the pups out and do some frolicking!

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Pepper’s not so sure about it…

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But she soon got some cuddles and warmed up a bit…

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Snow is also good for wrestling!

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Noodles happens to love the snow…as well as affection from his favorite park buddy!

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Okay, so that’s officially enough snow for me!
Bring on some Spring!!!

Going Home…

After one whole year away from all the beautiful people I love dearly and have MISSED EVERY SINGLE DAY(like you wouldn’t even understand) I simply had to go home.

My life would of course be much easier if all of my friends and family were located in the same city, but like most families, they are strewn out around the United States.

It’s always going to be challenging to see all of the folks that I would like to when I visit. It’s simply not possible. I will also miss weddings, births, and killer dinner parties whilst I’m abroad.

This is just a sad reality of my spectacularly fun new life. ;(

We flew into Cleveland first because that’s where a big chunk of my family live.

My beautiful Aunts did their best to make our stay the most relaxing and fun few days imaginable…

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I even got to spend some quality time with the family pets!

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And no trip to CLE is complete without stopping by Cedar Point.

We rodes some epic and terrifying coasters…

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Ate some massive BBQ turkey legs…

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Then we passed out from jet lag exhaustion!

Followed by a quick flight to Nashville!!

I immediately had a bar party and invited everyone to come out and give me a year’s worth of hugs.

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They complied!

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Toasts were made…

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I was so excited to spend time with some of my besties…

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And baby!

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OOooohhh baby!

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This one made me want one of my own…

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Even with fussy scrunched up sad baby face…

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There were lots of babies being made whilst I was away…

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Big fat squooshy pretty babies!!!

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And some of the babies I knew a year ago weren’t babies anymore, but little tiny people…

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Simon made some new friends as well…Of the furry variety…

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And the wacky-conspiracy-theory-Jesus-loving-rocker-chick variety…

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Crazy girls are the hottest. Always. That is a fact.

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LOVE YOU LALA. Forevs. PS. Her Dad MIGHT be Ziggy Stardust. FYI.

Moving on…

My mom was as pretty as I remember her being…

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My brother was still a massive fantasy football dweeb…

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Gorgeous sunny Murphmurph was just as gorgeous and sunny as ever…

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Becca was still awesome and smart and sharing her love of great food…

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She and her fantastic fiance took us out to Dinner at Silo http://www.silotn.com

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Exceptional and elevated Southern cuisine welcoming me home proved to be JUST what I needed…

Especially deviled eggs three ways…

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Deep fried greenbeans…

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And pork belly…

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We even visited my beloved Bombay Palace http://www.bombaypalacetn.com/

They were all super excited to see me too! Awwwwww!

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Actually, we did a lot of eating.

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And of course, we had to work some of it off…

No better place than Edwin Warner Park…

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So that was our trip back to Nashville via Cleveland. A ton of photos I know, but some super wonderful days with friends and family! Hopefully I’ll be back sooner than later and can see more of my loved ones this time! See ya soon Nashville xx

Christmas in Spain…

Hi Friends. Sorry it takes me forever and ever to post lately.
I’m a busy little worker bee in hustle-y bustle-y ole Londontown. You must forgive me!

Needless to say, spending Christmas in Spain was exceptionally cool (as you have probably surmised from my last few posts).

I don’t celebrate Christmas for religious reasons (because I’m not a religious lady) but to be honest, I LOVE the aesthetic of Christmas.

Big fat glittery Christmas trees and shiny foil wrapping paper get me all swoony inside.

Eggnog, chocolate truffles, and roasted meat? Yes please.

To get to do, see, and experience all of these things in fancy pants Spain with my beautiful and FUN Spanish family was simply the best.

There was so much food. So many presents. It was quite simply the loveliest and merriest of Christmases I could imagine ever having.

I present it to you with limited comment!

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The boys worked hard to prepare Christmas dinner…

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They even served everyone!

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My paleo plate!

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The wine began to flow and so did the laughter!

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And then the machetes?

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And of course…dishes were tackled…

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Snuggles were had…

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Feliz Navidad!!!!! xx

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My Spanish Animal Friends…

I made a few friends in Spain…the furry four legged variety.

And of course, because I am me, I took their photos…

Farm cats…

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Scaredy cats…

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“Jimmy”!!!

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Look at his big fat grumpy head! xxxooo

This dog that looks like yoda…

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My niece-kitties “Six” and “Seven”…

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Snuggle time!

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Super schnozzle close-up…

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And last but not least, my Father-In-Law’s adorable beagle mix “Benny”

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If this goofball doesn’t bring immediate joy into your heart then something is clearly broken inside of your soul.

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Benny shows off his serious dog model good looks…

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Benny loves his uncle!

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Hooray for Spanish furballs! Til we meet again!

Next up…Christmas in Spain xx

Road Trip to Granada…

We woke up bright and early one morning and hit the road to Granada…

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The Alhambra!!!

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I really don’t have words for how grand and beautiful the Alhambra is…simply stunning.

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Next up…Christmas in Spain xx

A December Stroll Around Alcalá la Real

Yippee! I have more Spain photos for your viewing pleasure!

There was so much to photograph yet I left feeling like I should have taken more.

Shall we begin?

Our first day in Alcalá la Real we simply could not sit still and took a nice brisk hike up the hillside…

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Quite the view!

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The clouds rolled in to create a nice moody light…

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My gorgeous Sister-in-Law Veronica standing underneath her street sign…

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The Magi…

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My darling Brother-in-Law Andy, experiencing his first deep thoughts of the day…

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Next up…Our road trip to Granada xx

The dog park

We’ve got a routine with our pup Noodz that is pretty much the highlight of my day.

At 9:30am every morning a BIG group of dog owners and their gorgeous dogs meet at the park down the street from us for an hour or so of full on doggle action.
Sometimes there are only a few dogs, other times it’s closer to 20.
It’s the best antidepressant you could imagine.

Without fail. Rain or shine. Mud or snow.
I get up every morning knowing that there are wagging tales, big bright puppy smiles, and a community of fellow dog lovers waiting for us across the street.

If you aren’t a dog owner, or animal lover, you might not get it.

But our dog is pretty much our child, and finding such a great group of people to get training tips from, brag about your dog with, and bemoan the not so fun aspects of dog ownership with…well it’s amazing.

I took my camera along with me the other day in an attempt to capture some of the magic.

I give you, (some of) the pups of Larkhall Park:

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Playtime!

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Here comes Noodz!

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More dog park posts coming soon!