Happy Friday! And happy romper season! Rachel is showing off a romper from TJ Maxx for just $10! it's already sold out but there are other options linked. Grace is sporting an adorable casual chic look and her top is just $31!
Enjoy your weekend!
post author: grace
Living in Nashville definitely has it's perks! There are always tons of fun things to do, amazing restaurants to try, and music everywhere. Having friends and family visit gives us lots of opportunities to try new things and explore our city a little wider and deeper... adding to our ever evolving list of must-sees/dos list! Currently, here is some of my favorite things to do in Nashville.
1. Arrington Vineyards
About 20 minutes outside of Nashville, Arrington Vineyards is a gorgeous hillside winery. Their wines are delicious and fairly priced. We never miss an opportunity to take friends and guests here.
You can pack a picnic, purchase gourmet chocolates, cheese, crackers and sausage on site or take advantage of the gourmet food and picnics offered by Simply Living Life. Bistro tables and tons of picnic tables are available or spread a blanket out on the lawn under a shade tree and, if the weather isn't cooperating, there's a fun barn with seating available too.
On Friday evenings from May thru October, they host Food Truck Fridays where you can enjoy live music and food from Simply Living Life and different food trucks. Visit their website here for the food truck and music schedule.
On Saturdays and Sundays from April to October they host Music in the Vines. Jazz groups are featured in the courtyard by the tasting lodge while bluegrass bands are by the Grand Barn.
The second Wednesday of each month, they host Cigar Night from 6 - 9 p.m. in the courtyard. My FIL would LOVE this -- live music, cigars and wine.
All of these events, as well as parking, are free!
But Sunday afternoon is by far my favorite time to visit Arrington because it offers the ideal setting to relax and recharge for the coming week. And what could be better than family and friends sharing good wine, good food, good conversation, and a gorgeous sunset? Now that's my idea of the perfect start to a new week!
2. Belmont University
Belmont University is set on 84 gorgeous acres near downtown Nashville. I first toured the campus grounds with my parents a few years ago and it was absolutely breathtaking! The architecture is stunning and the garden area is exquisite.
The university is open for guided campus tours Monday through Friday, but campus maps are available so you can tour the campus at your own pace if you'd rather.
To avoid city traffic or searching for parking, try an Old Town Trolley Tour. You can hop off the trolley, explore the campus and hop back on the next passing trolley. Plus, you'll get to see and learn about many more points of interest in Nashville.
3. 12 South
This is a wonderfully walkable neighborhood -- shopping, eating, drinking, playing -- you name it, it's here.
The small boutiques are unique and eclectic and there's a broad range of goods and price points. Something for everyone, for sure!
Food and drink options in 12 South are endless! Most notably Edley's, Burger Up, Five Daughters Donuts, Frothy Monkey, etc. It is the perfect area to sit on a patio and people watch for hours.
Also, the surrounding residential street are adorable. I could walk up and down those streets admiring the beautiful homes for hours.
And on Tuesday afternoons, from May to October, be sure to visit the 12 South Farmer’s Market in Sevier Park (hours are 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.) In addition to the amazing food and produce vendors, you'll find some of the city's best food trucks here.
4. The Listening Room Cafe
The Listening Room Cafe, located in Sobro, is a fairly new one-of-a kind venue and is the PERFECT live music Nashville experience. They've built a reputation for attracting the biggest songwriters and artists in the music business.
It's always a great time and pretty affordable (usually $5 - $15 cover).
People come for the music, but can enjoy food and drinks too. They offer lunch, dinner and late-night appetizers as well as a Saturday brunch.
I highly recommend giving this place a listen and you can check our their upcoming shows here.
5. Edwin & Percy Warner Parks
Edwin and Percy Warner Parks are awesome! These two parks are adjacent to each other, separated by Old Hickory Boulevard, and cover more that 3,000 acres. The parks are absolutely beautiful and have great hiking trails, horse trails, cross country courses, picnic pavilions, play areas, bathrooms, and a dog park.
The trails are well marked, suitable for all fitness levels, and shady so you can enjoy a hike through the hills even on the hottest days of summer. Also, they are pet and bike friendly.
These parks are just a few miles from downtown Nashville, yet being here feels a million miles away from the city. This is my favorite place to join a friend or two for a good hike, even better conversation while enjoying the beautiful surroundings and peacefulness of nature.
If you have never been to Nashville, start planning a visit to our remarkable city now. The people are friendly, the food is out-of-this-world delicious and the sights and sounds are abundant!
If you have been to Nashville, let me know what your favorite spots are!
If you're heading out of town this weekend, Rachel is sharing her favorite, most comfortable travel look. While Grace is showing off her cute travel look from Paris.
Have a great weekend!
post author: rachel
New Zealand is such a gorgeous and breathtaking place to visit!
In case you missed it, my husband and I took a two week trip in March, each with only one backpack, and explored Sydney, Cairns and Melbourne, Australia and then hopped over to New Zealand. It was an incredible experience and a trip we'll be talking about for a very long time.
March, by the way, is the start of the fall season in Australia and New Zealand so we had wonderful weather and were able to enjoy all the beautiful scenery. Check out the photo gallery at the bottom of this post for more astonishing views!
We caught an early flight from Melbourne over to Queenstown on JetStar, which we chose because it had the cheapest flights available. We had a 3-hour flight and, unlike traveling to Australia, you do not need a visa, you just need to show your flight itinerary when departing the country.
The view from the plane (photo above) was breathtaking! We were so ready to explore this beautiful land!
Upon arrival, we went through customs, which we found had some very strict regulations. They are very sensitive to any foreign substances being introduced into the local eco-system. Therefore, you have to discard all fruits, veggies, nuts, foods, etc. You also have to declare any golf shoes, other sports equipment, hiking boots, essentially anything that might contain bacteria or spores that could be introduced in New Zealand and have a negative impact on the environment. Not only do they police it intensely, but it’s also a $400 minimum fine for any item that you didn’t declare prior to arrival. They ask you about what you have in your bag and then it is sent through an x-ray machine for further examination.
Once through customs, we taxied over to our Airbnb. It was a small unit on the first floor with a wall of large windows overlooking the water and the mountains. Beautiful! We also had access to the hot tub in the backyard and, it was phenominal!
We took a quick tour of the place, dropped our backpacks and walked into town for lunch. Queenstown is situated along Wakatipu Lake and is nestled on the side of The Remarkables mountain range. The leaves were just starting to change colors, which added to the beauty of the town.
As we strolled through this quaint little town, we did a lot of window shopping at the boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants along the way. The town reminded us a lot of Breckenridge, Colorado, but with more spectacular views.
For lunch, we stopped at Public Kitchen & Bar, near the water. As I've mentioned in previous posts, my husband and I shared most of our meals when we ate out because the portions were usually more than enough and it helped us save a few dollars along the way. Plus, we always had plenty of snacks on hand if we needed them throughout the day so we were never famished when we sat down to order a meal.
We shared some delicious fried squid with aioli and a fried chicken burger. Yum! The only things better than the food, were the views of the majestic mountains, the crystal clear water and the impressive boats. The restaurant had massive windows lining the back wall and it was the perfect place to relax and enjoy the view.
After lunch, we did a bit more walking and wandering in an out of small shops, stocked up on a few groceries and wine for the next few days and then stopped at a local coffee shop. We enjoyed some much needed caffeine while sitting outside on the patio people watching ... one of my favorite pastimes.
Town wasn't from our AirBnB, but with our shopping bags, we decided to grab a cab back. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing in the hot tub and enjoying a bottle of wine, a few snacks, and some music. A perfect first day in New Zealand!
Day two was scheduled to be a full-day of adventure, but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate that morning and our trip to Milford Sound was canceled. The weather cleared up by noon and we were fortunate to be able to participate in the second half of the tour that afternoon -- a wilderness adventure and a jet boat ride up the Dart River! What an experience and one of our favorite tours.
The tour bus picked up around noon and headed down the highway that runs alongside Lake Wakatipu. The views were spectacular and, I promise you, the photos don't even begin to do it justice. Along the route of our 45-minute drive, our driver made several stops to let us enjoy the breathtaking views and to share stories with us about the history of the town.
When we arrived in the small village of Glenorchy, situated at the head of the lake, our excursion started with an off-road tour out of town and into Mt. Aspiring National Park, which is a UNESCO protected piece of the country. This area of land has been used to film the Lord of the Rings movies, The Hobbit movies, X-MEN: Wolverine, and several other Hollywood blockbusters. Experts say it has become a popular destination for filming movies because of the remote location. There are no power lines, highways, or any other human interference in this area. As such, several different movies have used the exact same mountain backdrop for their shots...and the audience is none the wiser. Mount Earnslaw is the most popular site for these filmings and after seeing it first-hand, it’s more amazing in person than on the big screen.
After a quick tour around the beautiful landscape, our guide led us on a on an easy hike through the forest and shared the history of the land.
We then met up with our jet boat driver for a trip up the Dart River. The jet boat was a 15-person speed boat that operates much like a jet ski. We cruised through water that was just a few inches deep and our driver took some exhilarating 360-degree spins with ease! The water is all fed from a glacier range and runoff from any big rains in the area so, the water levels are constantly changing. Because of that, the boat drivers have to be highly skilled to navigate those ever changing waters.
We sped through the river, twisting and turning, and occasionally stopping to appreciate the breathtaking sights -- magnificent waterfalls, crystal clear waters, towering peaks. We were awestruck by the Lord's beautiful work. It almost seemed too majestic to be real!
After an hour or so in the boat, our driver dropped us back in Glenorchy to rejoin the bus and head back to Queenstown. As we departed, our driver presented each of us with a small piece of the local greenstone. It is a sacred stone that early inhabitants of the area pulled out of the river beds and is considered a treasure. Greenstone is protected and you cannot take it without specific permits and permissions. It is widely used in making jewelry and sculptures today and we were thrilled to receive this special keepsake.
When we got back to town, we weren't quite ready to call it a day so we headed up the hill to the Skyline Gondola - one of the steepest cable rides in all of the world. This area of the world is truly a thrill-seeker’s dream! From the gondola, you can hang glide, bungy jump, swing 300 meters across the valley, or ride the popular Skyline Luge. Wow!
The Skyline Luge is essentially a motorless go-kart that rolls down a winding track of small hills and tight turns. The track also is at the top of the summit so it offers incredible views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables Mountains and everything in between. Absolutely fantastic sights!
After enjoying several runs down the luge, we headed back down the hill towards town to find some dinner. We stopped at the legendary Fergburger, which came highly recommended from multiple sources. Upon arrival, it was a 30 minute wait to get to the counter to place your order and another 20 minute wait to get your food. Based on a tip from our jet boat driver earlier in the day, we called Fergburger (while standing in line) and placed our order ... it allowed us to skip the line and cut the wait time in half!
While we waited, we went and watched the sun set over the mountains (a much better use of our time and a great way to avoid waiting impatiently in line). Once our food was ready - a Fregburger and fries - we made the trek back to our AirBnB where we enjoyed our dinner with a bottle of wine and a little more relaxing in the hot tub. All in all, a wonderful day!
We woke up early, but again to a rainy start to the day, so we made some coffee and sat back to watch the rain splash down over the lake. Just as we were finishing our cup of joe, the rain lightened up a bit so we threw on our rain jackets and made the walk into town for breakfast.
We stopped at Mrs. Ferg’s, a local coffee shop with a variety of options. We ordered more coffee, a delicious fruit smoothie and a breakfast wrap. Mrs Ferg's is a cute little shop and it was filled with locals -- it was a great place to really get a feel for the community.
The rain had picked back up again, so we used that time to check in with our families and FaceTimed our parents. They were so excited to see us and hear about our adventures!
Once the rain finally stopped, we found a gorgeous walking trail with magnificent views and a spring flowing nearby. We walked quite a distance on the trails before making our way back to town. We were anxious to try The Winery - they have over 80 New Zealand wines on tap - after friends of ours (thank you Georgia & Cody!) who had visited a few months earlier highly recommended it. It did not disappoint!
We had our fair share of local wine before heading to dinner by the water at Blue Kanu where we joined another couple we had met on our excursion the day before. They too were from Kansas and had attended K-State, so we had plenty to talk about! Our double date dinner featured tapas style entrees with tastes of the Pacific - Hawaiian, New Zealand and Polynesian inspired foods. Amazing flavors that all paired well with more of the local wine.
This was our last day in Queenstown and we had a couple more spots we wanted to hit before we left.
Our first stop of the day was to a place called Yonder, a local breakfast spot right in the middle of town. We got a mimosa, a Bloody Mary, and split an egg & bacon sandwich. It was all delicious!
Following breakfast, we enjoyed one last stroll through this small community with the gorgeous mountain backdrop.
There are stores of all kinds in Queenstown. Everything from souvenir shops to high-end retail outlets. We also discovered some interesting sweet shops too. My favorite was Cookie Time. It houses multiple types of edible cookie dough that you can buy by the scoop! So scrumptious!
We got a few scoops and took our treats over to the park where we lounged on a blanket near the edge of the lake and simply relaxed and did a little more people watching. The skies were blue, the breeze was cool and crisp, and, of course, the views were absolutely spectacular.
I would highly recommend adding Queenstown to your bucket list. It was paradise and should not be missed!
Next up - Auckland! Be on the lookout for that post soon. In the meantime, take a look at the photo gallery below!
Happy Father's Day! We wanted to share some photos of us with our dads and express how thankful we are to have these men in our lives. We would not be where or who we are today without our dads. We love you with all our hearts!
Happy Friday! Hope you all had a fantastic week and have some fun weekend plans ahead!
Check out our picks for this Fashion Friday!
Post author: grace
Do you ever find yourself needing that extra motivational push? Or wanting a good laugh?
Typically mid-way through the week, I find myself needing a little pick-me-up. For some people this may look like getting a treat at Starbucks, getting your nails done, etc. For me, I just need a little time to tune into a favorite podcast. There are so many I LOVE, but I wanted to share with you my absolute favorites.
Some of you may recognize her from the Bachelor and as the Bachelorette! She is hilarious, honest and interviews some of the most interesting people.
What I love about her podcast is that she makes "celebrities" seem so real and just like us. The conversations are always entertaining and it’s fun to discover what makes them tick, but it’s also comforting to hear we aren’t alone in our struggles. Plus, Kaitlyn always shares a confession. This is typically pretty hilarious and, again, reminds you that everyone is a just a flawed human being.
Not only are the people that she interviews very honest and real, they are also incredibly inspiring! So drop what you are doing and go subscribe now!
Erwin McManus is the lead pastor at Mosaic Church in Los Angeles, California. If you have never listened to the Mosaic Podcast, you need to check it out.
He is brilliant, wise and creative. I always find myself having an "Aha!" moment when I listen to his sermons. They are practical, empowering, and convicting. If you need some wisdom in your life, go subscribe now!
Last but certainly not least, The Ziglar Show! Featuring Zig Ziglar, Inspiring Your True Performance is all about why people achieve and why some do not.
Ziglar and his co-host bring in the top influencers in the world to discuss what they did to go from "zero to hero". This is fascinating, easy to listen to and keeps me motivated to keep blazing forward on my path.
What are some of your favorite podcasts? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Happy Friday! We just got back from the Grand Cayman Islands, which we'll be posting more on soon, so we're sharing our beach looks today!
Post Author: Rachel
At the beginning of the year, I wrote about my goals and shared about my search for the best workout routine to fit my lifestyle.
I tried different classes and places, such as CYCLEBAR and CorePower Yoga. Both were great and I would highly recommend either of these options, however, the locations and class times didn't work the best with my crazy schedule.
So now we are halfway through 2018 and I'm happy to say I have definitely found my workout home -- Health House!
I first tried Health House (HH) in February and quickly discovered their classes and community kept me going back for more. They have a number of classes from early morning to evening. With my schedule being lopsided, I have a limited window of opportunity to attend most workout classes, but luckily, with all their options I've found a way to fit it into my routine on most days.
There are two types of classes, each lasting 45 minutes - Rip & Row or Ripped.
Rip & Row - This class combines rowing and weight training. It's described on the website as "a full-body strength workout combined with short bursts of intensity that will chisel and tone every muscle." Typically, the class is split into two groups. One group starts on the rowers, while the other group starts on the mats — focusing on heavy lifting with muscle specific exercises to strengthen and tone your body. Throughout the class the groups switch back and forth between the rowers and the mats.
Ripped - This class is all about building muscle! It involves lifting and weight training with no rowing. Health House describes it as focusing "on specific muscle groups to gain strength and sculpt lean muscle." During this class, cardio is typically limited and the focus is on weights, medicine balls, a Bulgarian bag or even just using your body weight. I would describe this as a more intense class.
The classes stick to this basic description, but each day has a certain muscle objective. For example, Monday might be chest and legs, with Tuesday being biceps, triceps and abs, and Wednesday working on full body, etc. No two classes are the same which keeps it interesting and challenging.
Also, the instructors are fabulous! They each bring their unique style, but they are all super motivational and genuinely interested in each person's success. I'll introduce you to some of them later in this post.
When I first walked into HH, I have to admit, I was slightly intimidated. It always looked so intense and I was anxious about performing up to par. However, I quickly realized every single skill level is represented - from first timers to gym rats to women who are 8months pregnant! You don't have to be the fastest rower, or lift the heaviest weights. You can modify any exercise you need to for your body.
For example, I still struggle with push-ups, so I support myself with my knees. I know it's my weakness and I'm working to improve each week. It's truly a time to solely focus on improving yourself and doing the best you can do to be stronger and healthier. Everyone there is just working to get better than the day before.
To be honest, during those first few months at HH, I was using 5 - 10 lb weights in class and was struggling on the rower. And I was on the Rowing Team at the University of Oklahoma! Now, to be fair, it's been a few years and rowing on water and rowing on an erg are very different animals, but it was still an exhausting task.
After about four months of working out at HH, I can still say the rower is challenging, but not as daunting as it once was. I can see the growth, feel my core becoming tighter and my body becoming stronger. Now I am regularly using 15 lb weights and even tried out 20 lb weights last week!
It's incredibly encouraging to see your body grow stronger, become healthier and feel better. Don't get me wrong, it isn't easy. It takes everything I have to get through a class sometimes. It's meant to push you, challenge you and make you better.
For 45 minutes I can turn everything off, let my mind go blank, push out all the stresses of life or work and just row and sweat, a lot of sweat. It leaves me feeling stronger, energized and accomplished.
Okay, now I have to tell you about a few of the instructors! These are all trainers whose classes I've taken, not all of them at HH.
First off, Tonya is probably the most positive and encouraging person I've ever met. She is always smiling and is one of those people that just makes you want to work harder.
Jackie S. is so sweet, and can turn into a machine during class! She is always hyping everyone up and enthusiastically yelling "hell yes!"
Jackie C. is adorable and tough! She is great about helping you perfect your technique to make sure you're working the correct muscles, which I often need.
Amy has such an endearing personality. One time, I walked into a completely packed class a few minutes late and was frantically trying to find weights and a spot to squeeze in. Before I even took two steps, Amy came running over and directed me to her mat that was already setup and ready to go, while she moved and worked out in the corner in a makeshift spot. It was such a simple, but generous gesture that I was very grateful for!
Tara, well she is just a straight up badass (pardon my French). Every time she is in the room, teaching or working out, it just makes me work harder because I see her and I think, "yes, I want to be a badass too!"
Jack is such a goof and insanely enthusiastic, so much so that it often times it helps take my mind off the pain and his dance moves serve as entertainment.
Glen is a beast and so are his classes. The first time I took his "Ripped" class, every single muscle in my body was sore for what felt like a week!
Tommy is so kind and easy going, but don't let that fool you because he loves pushing you to your limits on the rower!
I make sure to be at Health House at least three times a week, but others hit the gym six times a week and still others try to fit in a class once or twice a week. You have to do what's best for you. Making your workout a priority and adjusting your schedule and other commitments, might by easier one week and not so easy the next. Do what you can when you can and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!
If you want to give Health House a try - click here! Or stop by one of their locations and let them know I sent you. Your first class is just $15 and I'm betting you'll be hooked too!
Try their location in Leawood at Town Center (below) or in Prairie Village at 3924 W. 69th Terrace.