North comes South: Part I

My good friend from college Blair came to visit me a few weeks back.  She was my first non-family member Yankee visitor and it was her first time in the south.  EVER.  It was a pretty big deal.

I picked up Blair at the airport early Wednesday afternoon and went over some ideas of things to do and try out during her stay.  Even though it was a little chilly (I’ll have you know it was 80 degrees the weekend prior), the afternoon she arrived was supposed to be the warmest of the days while she was here so I suggested we pack up a picnic and head out to Arrington Vineyards.  I had never been before but had been told by many people that I should go if I had the chance.  We packed up supplies in the largest beach tote known to man, picked up some cheese and olives at Whole Foods and headed on our merry way.

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After a scenic drive away from the city, we arrived at Arrington Vineyards for our free wine tasting.  Our server gave us his spiel, telling us we could try up to 8 different wines.  I asked Blair how many she was going to try, to which she replied, “8! I’m on vacation!”  I like the way she thinks.  No wonder we’re friends.

We were both starving and decided to nosh on the cute little crackers offered at the tasting to cleanse the palate between wines.  Blair referred to them as cracker pillows, because they did indeed look like pillows made out of a cracker.  Our server agreed and we giggled about it for a good 5 minutes.  For the record, this was before we had sampled any wine, which was unfortunate for Blair who tasted the crackers first.  I asked her how they tasted as she chewed for an eternity.

“Very…dry.   They make you thirsty.  In a bad way.”

I tried one or four also and concluded that they were indeed the driest crackers I’d ever tasted.  Who knew something so small and cute was capable of robbing your mouth of all moisture.  Perhaps they should use them at the dentist instead of that terrible saliva sucker thing…

For the rest of the trip, Blair and I referred to anything or anyone who put a damper on things as a cracker pillow.  As in, “Man, he was a real cracker pillow.”

Anyway, we tasted our 8 wines and decided on a bottle to purchase and enjoy with our picnic.

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I went to the car to retrieve the picnic and as I walked back up to the porch, I got several comments on my monstrosity of a bag.   It really does come in handy on such occasions.

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We set up our spread and caught up for several hours as we enjoyed our wine and cheese.  The sun began to set on the Vineyard and it was time to pack up and get ready to go downtown for dinner.

Normally, if I’m trying to ensure that my guests have a good time and/or trying to convince them to move to Nashville, I take them to places that I have been to and know are worth returning to.  I hadn’t been to Arrington Vineyards, but that was a hit so I continued breaking my rules that evening by suggesting we try a new restaurant in town that I hadn’t yet been to.

We freshened up and headed downtown to The Row, which had just opened the week before.  We arrived to a nearly empty restaurant and were seated in a booth in the corner under some very harsh, interrogation style lighting.  We asked if they could maybe dim the light a little, which they couldn’t (poor lighting design) so we asked to move.  We were re-seated in a very dark section and began to study the menu by candlelight.  From one extreme to the other in the span of 30 feet.

The menu had lots of southern classics to choose from.  I picked chicken fried chicken with cheese grits and bourbon sweet potatoes and Blair got the BBQ, brussel sprouts with bacon, and fries.  What the restaurant lacked in atmosphere it sadly did not make up with its food.  While it wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t special.  I know better than to order fried chicken with two grandmothers from Kentucky.   Shame on me.  I’m sure the restaurant would be more pleasant if it were full, but I’m not in a hurry to go back and neither is Blair, particularly if she has to come all the way from Boston.  So maybe I should have quit while I was ahead with the blind adventures.  Thankfully, Blair was willing to write off that one since we started off well at the Vineyard and had several days of pre-approved adventures ahead.

And that was just the first 8 hours.

Stay tuned for parts II & III.

Y’all come back,

Sugarlump

Family Visit: Scene II

On Saturday, day 2 of the family visit, we began with a nice breakfast at Meridee’s in downtown Franklin.  Apparently we weren’t the only ones with that idea because the place was packed.  But, it was delish as usual. We … Continue reading

Chichi-cago

I was in Chicago yesterday and today for the ASID Design Awards and NeoCon, one of the biggest interior design trade shows.   I spent several hours yesterday wandering around the hundreds of thousands of square feet of showrooms in the … Continue reading

Family Farms

I love farms.

Every summer as a kid, when I visited my extended family in Kentucky, I loved to ride around with Papa and my cousins and check out the family farms.  Because I only saw the farms once a year, I never really knew them that well.  Now that I live closer and can visit more often, I have asked Papa to take me around and show me the farms more thoroughly as well as some of the really beautiful spots around the county.

Last week, he took me to one of the farms that has been in the family for several generations.  Most of it is covered in trees, but it’s still fun to drive around hear Papa tell me the history of it.

Apparently, before there was a paved or gravel road to the farm, this was a back way through the creek to get to the farm.

I see you hiding back there, little barn.

Papa said this hollow goes for a mile or two.

Maybe I can convince my cousin Lauren to explore up to the head of the hollow with me this summer.  Perhaps we could fix up Julio for our journey. I’m thinking “Ain’t Skeered: Part 2” might be in our future.

Now, let me tell you a story about me and this fairly moderate incline.

Growing up, I was obsessed with cars and driving and could not wait to get my license.  In the summers before I was 16, I always looked forward to driving Papa’s truck around on the farm, where no other parties were subject to harm.

One day, I was having a grand old time driving up and down the gravel road when I decided I needed to go across this little ditch and up the hill to this barn on the left. I didn’t (and still don’t really) know how to drive a truck on this mixed terrain.  Evidently, I did not give the truck enough gas because I proceeded to get stuck just past the ditch as my wheels slid on the gravel/grass/dirt hill.  Scared for my life, I yelled to my Uncle Brian who was standing nearby and he instructed me on how to put the truck in 4-wheel drive.  After a few dicey moments, I made it up the hill, all 50 feet of it.  Thank goodness I didn’t start to slide backward because I could have been seriously injured as I ran into…..a grassy field.

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t really a life-threatening situation.  It seemed very serious at the time.

For my farm touring adventures, I’m going to let Papa do the driving.

Y’all be careful,

Sugarlump

Ain’t Skeered

This is me and my cousin Lauren in the teeniest automobile/go-cart posing as an automobile you have ever seen.  She’s pictured left, in the driver’s seat, and I’m pictured right, being unhelpful and giggling.

I’m not really sure why we own this fierce vehicle with a Harley Davidson sticker. Apparently my papa bought it thinking it was a useful farm vehicle.  Turns out, not so much. It has, however, provided hours of entertainment for his granddaughters.  So, all in all, I would say it was a good investment.

One pleasant, Kentucky afternoon, we set out to trek up old Leslie mountain here (read: small hill) and stalled and nearly went careening down the mountain (read: rolled 10 feet down hill at a snail’s pace), but Cousin Lauren and I ain’t skeered of no mountain and we kept on keepin’ on.

Undeterred, after about 17 of these stall-and-roll episodes (very much unlike the athletic pick-and-roll), we managed to charge up the mountain (minor hill) at 1.7429 miles per hour and made it to the top by what seemed like the following afternoon.  What a journey.

Having arrived on level ground, which proved more agreeable to our peculiar vehicle that I have decided to call Julio, we then toured around on the dirt road and took in the lovely wooded scenery of our family’s farm.

We only ran over a stick and subsequently stalled 4 times.

Then, we began our descent back down old Leslie Mountain (hill).  For our lack of speed traveling up the hill, we certainly made up for it as we flew down the hill in Julio’s alarmingly front-heavy cab, his Barbie Jeep tires barely gripping the grass to prevent our collision with a very dense and at rest object of the bovine variety.

If you look closely in the picture above, you will see that my mouth is open as I am likely screaming for my life or laughing uncontrollably.  Maybe a little bit of both.

Once we reached our resting point, a ditch, I decided to drive.

Did I mention that I had never driven a manual transmission before….?

All parties left the scene unharmed, in case you were wondering.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

Sugarlump