Tennessee Trip

October 5th, 2015 - 

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Adam and I just got back from our babymoon trip to Tennessee in August. It was pretty fun and I wanted to document it.

I know a lot of people babymoon by the ocean, but that didn’t make a lot of sense for us. Adam can’t swim and I can’t drink right now. What’s the point of tropical weather without a tropical cocktail? Instead, we chose to knock on our “BBQ to-do list” and eat our way through the south.

Our adventure began after work last Wednesday and ended on Tuesday night. We really missed our dogs, but lucky a friend was able to house sit for us and text us some photo pupdates (as we call them) so we knew they were happy and in good hands.




Minneapolis, Minnesota > Cedar Rapids, Iowa

WHAT WE DID: Adam went to work and I took a photography class (for work). I just bought myself a new Canon T6i and this class was very helpful in learning to use the equipment before going on our trip. I got a lot of use of it and definitely felt more comfortable troubleshooting issues as they came up. Still not a master photographer, but it really did help. I definitely don’t think I’ll embarrass myself next time I’m asked to photograph something for my job. YAY.

We share a car, so between dropping Adam off for work and the start of my class, I had a little time to drive north to the Sven clog outlet (my first visit) and get myself some new shoes for the trip. A delayed birthday present for me!

WHERE WE ATE: On the way, we stopped at a place called Dugan’s in Floyd, Iowa. Their welcoming “EAT” sign greeted traffic coming from the south, but they were a little hard to find coming off the road from the north. They had a soup and salad bar and a pretty traditional menu. I had been craving shrimp, so I got fried shrimp, and I think Adam got a patty melt. Our server might have worked there for 40 years and she was really sweet. She asked where we were headed and when we said Tennessee she got excited and told us about a horse video her granddaughter had just sent her from Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. Unfortunately we weren’t headed for Dollywood, but I’ll definitely keep it in mind for next time.

WHERE WE STAYED: We figured we could drive as far as Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and slept for cheap at a Motel 6 that was kind of scary. Adam taught me how to check the mattress for bed bugs and I continued to check every mattress we slept in for the rest of our trip, just to be safe.



Cedar Rapids, Iowa > St. Louis, Missouri > Nashville, Tennessee

21249318864_19167be673_zWHAT WE DID: We barely spent any time in Cedar Rapids and only had a few hours to kill in St. Louis so we went to Laclede’s Landing, a historic part of town. We checked out a costume shop and the wax museum — which had two floors of horror stuff, some religious stuff, some celebrity stuff, and some science fiction stuff. It was a little low rent and kind of creepy. Glad we went. We also ate at Pappy’s Smokehouse in St. Louis and kind of peeked at the arch from afar. I also read a lot on Wikipedia about John Hamm and the other celebrities who had trained in St. Louis while we tried to find our destinations. I didn’t get a great sense for the city since we saw so little of it, but I imagined it must not be that great if actors are just kind of passing through. I know Minneapolis’ theater scene is a bit harder to leave, because quality of life is pretty nice in Minnesota. We did see a bunch of signs for the St. Louis Bread Company (AKA Panera Bread) and I told Adam about Mother Bread, the eternal lump of sourdough that goes into every Panera product, but Adam didn’t believe me, so I googled it, and couldn’t find any information. Maybe it’s just hearsay after all.

When we got into Nashville we checked into our hotel and headed straight for the honky-tonks on Broadway. It was a Thursday night and there were a surprising number of bachelorette parties. A lot of bars weren’t playing music we’d be into, so we just went into the shops and only sat in a few bars. Robert’s Western World was best of the bunch and they had a real hillbilly band playing.


We found another bar with rockabilly music but the rest fell into that “Blueshammer” category of rock/country/pop that isn’t really anything special. We payed $25 for parking and I think we’ll always regret that. Then we drove around the neighborhood just to see what was there. By the next day, we knew the area pretty well. There was a lot of stuff worth seeing in one place, and many more pockets of interesting shops all over town.

WHERE WE ATE: Heading out of Cedar Rapids we stopped at a local coffee shop that seemed to be just opening at 9am. They didn’t have a lot of their food out, but I ordered a croissant and asked for jelly and that seemed to be a big ordeal. Adam sensed her confusion early on and decided not to order anything even though he was hungry. Then we went across the street for gas and got snacks for the road. I have family in town and it would have been fun to see them, but we didn’t really have time to set something up since we were getting in so late and our time was limited. Never did run into anyone by chance.

21881732791_f5a11f300a_zPappy’s Smokehouse in St. Louis was our first BBQ of the trip — Adam would go on to say it was his favorite. I got sliced brisket, chopped pork, sweet potato fries, and beans. All great. He got ribs, brisket, pork, sweet potato fries, and their famous corn. It was all pretty outstanding and it was the only BBQ place on the trip that 1) offered sweet potato fries (MY FAVORITE) 2) had several sauces to choose from. We also got bottled sodas and his root beer was a helluva lot better than my blackberry soda, which was gross.

We got into Nashville too late for dinner but we did share a fried bologna sandwich at Robert’s Western World in Nashville and it was amazing.

WHERE WE STAYED: We stayed two nights at a Country Inn & Suites in Nashville and that was just fine. We never took advantage of the free breakfast, but I did snag a free cookie after checking in.





WHAT WE DID: After breakfast we went to the Parthenon. Because evidently in 1890, whoever ran Nashville thought it needed a full-scale replica of the Parthenon. We weren’t sure what to expect, so we just went there and walked around. Then we found out it’s a museum. Didn’t feel like paying for admission so we left. It’s surrounded by a pretty park and it’s kind of impressive to have that sort of structure in town, it was fun to explore from the outside. They also had some nice swing/benches that we enjoyed and just kind of looked at the trees and the building and the little people going into and out of the building. Kind of a nice way to start out our first full non-travel day of the trip.


Next we went to Jack White’s label/shop Third Man Records and I had the BEST time. I got to make a recording straight to vinyl and we got to hear limited edition presses in their listening booth. We bought a Neil Hamburger record and an Elvira single. Excited to hear it all on our record player at home. Haven’t done that yet.


Then we went to Grimey’s Records and tried to eat at Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish. Which we couldn’t finish, and after that had to go back to the hotel to recover, where we took a nap.

We got up for a dinner/drink adventure out of town at Nashville’s only known “tiki bar” — but then we didn’t know what to do and decided to check out Michael Ian Black playing at Zanies comedy club. I love watching comedy in other cities and I’m glad we did it. I’m so used to Acme but I love seeing how other clubs look and who they book. The first two comedians were from the south and then Michael Ian Black was just totally his own thing, mostly telling absurd stories. Before comedy, we killed a little time at Two Old Hippies, which was not a vintage store as I assumed, it was a pretty upscale boutique. I bought us a candle to remember Nashville by and then we poked around the Urban Outfitters next door.

There were so many interesting pockets in Nashville, we discovered. Before we found this Uptown-like section of Nashville looking for Two Old Hippies, I would have never guessed we’d find anything like it in town. Broadway was totally its own thing, with lots of touristy bars and live music in one spot, and The Garage (another venue that was recommended to us) was just in the basement of Grimey’s, not far from Third Man, which wasn’t that far from Bolton’s Hot Chicken and Las Paletas. It was just interesting.

21685243139_35326d2c07_zWHAT WE ATE: We got in line for breakfast at Pancake Pantry and waited at least an hour to get in. Adam ran across the street and got us coffees for the wait. A guy was playing cover songs on a banjo at the front of the line and his string broke just as soon as we turned the corner so we didn’t have to hear too many repeats of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Two-Headed Boy.” The pancakes ruled. I got the orange walnut pancakes and Adam got the banana bread pancakes with cinnamon cream sauce. We shared some Tennessee country ham. It was pretty great.

We snacked as Las Paletas (WHICH WAS AMAZING). I got the pineapple blueberry fruit paleta and Adam got a Mexican caramel cream paleta. I could have eaten 8 in a row. It was so good. I would like to eat there every day. In fact, I have been looking for locally made paletas in Minneapolis since we got home and I can’t find anything even remotely like it and it’s the saddest thing. Nashville has a real treasure with Las Paletas. I am jealous of them!

For lunch we tried to eat at Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish. They do a dry rub type of hot chicken and when Adam went to order his spice level the nice old man working there went to the back, brought back a toothpick with shmear of hot spice on it, and it basically wiped Adam out. He ordered a lower level of heat on his chicken, but never quite got over it. I got my chicken with no spice and it was still spicy. They only had a few bottles of soda left that we could buy, but after that, we had to go next door for bottles of water. We went through two huge bottles. Mostly Adam alone, poor guy. They had spaghetti as a side option, which Adam said was a southern BBQ thing, and he got it and some mac and cheese with his quarter chicken. I thought spaghetti sounded gross so I got fries and mac and cheese with my tenders. We couldn’t finish and had to go back to the hotel to rest/recover. It was bananas. Food should not destroy you like that.

We didn’t have dinner plans and weren’t really that hungry, so I looked online to see if there was a tiki bar nearby. Usually there’s a non-alcoholic fruity drink I can drink and I love the atmosphere.


We found something ~25 minutes out of town called Omni Hut, which was described as a polyasian restaurant with some kitsch. They didn’t serve liquor but the did have an amazing non-alcoholic drink served in a beautiful tiki glass that they refilled like soda. It had a blend of tropical fruit juices mixed with decaf tea. (A pregnant girl’s dream!) I loved it. We also ordered the pu pu platter, which included some meats, fried wontons, bacon-wrapped pineapple, and eggrolls. We split that and an order of chicken fried rice. It wasn’t *very* good, but it was fun for sure. And the women wore mumus and the decor was low rent kitsch and I’m into that.

WHERE WE STAYED: Same old Country Inn and Suites.



Nashville, Tennessee > misc. roadside attractions > Memphis, Tennessee

WHERE WE ATE: Before heading out of town, we went to Hot & Cold for coffee and…more Las Paletas! I got the honeydew fruit paleta and Adam got the banana cream paleta. Would love to live on paletas.

Between Nashville and Memphis, we stopped at Loveless Cafe. They’re known for their biscuits, which makes a lot of sense. You sit down, they bring you biscuits. You run out of biscuits, they offer you more biscuits. Served with blackberry, strawberry, and apricot jam. I ate most of the biscuits… The breakfast was great too. Adam had the pit cooked BBQ and two eggs (which came with a surprise corn pancake) and I got the Loveless country ham with two eggs and red eye gravy. We each got the hashbrown casserole for our side. So good! At first we were told the wait would be almost two hours, but there’s stuff to do on the property and we filled up our car with gas and sat around on our phones for awhile when all of a sudden the beeper went off. We only had to wait about 45 minutes, which felt like magic. I was starving, there were no other options nearby — plus I really wanted those biscuits. I’m so glad everything worked out. And our server and the manager gave us great tips on what to do once we got to Memphis, which was really nice. Glad to have tried red eye gravy too, it was pretty incredible (served decaf, here) and I saw it on a few menus in the south later on so I’m glad I knew what it was.

21872096385_00aa7a3d3d_zWhen we got to Memphis we rushed to Payne’s BBQ, but it closed at least 40 minutes earlier than their posted hours, so we went to Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous downtown instead. On the way there we stopped for more paletas at La Michoacana and I got a pistachio cream paleta dipped in chocolate and coconut. Adam got a butter pecan cream paleta and we split a grape cream paleta — it had a cream core with grape on the outside, like a dreamsicle. It was a lot of richness at that point, for me, but so so good. WOULD EAT PALETAS EVERY DAY. HAVE I SAID THAT?

There was a slight wait at Rendezvous so we had drinks (I had a NA beer, la-dee-dah) and waited in their huge waiting room, which was as big as most restaurants. When we got to our table, I ordered brisket and he got ribs. Their sauce was pretty good, but their beans were maybe the best I’ve ever had and their coleslaw was incredible. We ordered some potato salad (good, I liked it more than Adam), a side of pickles (dill spears, just fine), and bread (basic rolls). Adam loved his ribs. They use a dry rub here and the ribs are charcoal-smoked.

WHAT WE DID: Before leaving Nashville we stopped at a fabric store, which was having a moving sale. I bought a child’s coat pattern and lovely burnt orange corduroy so that someday I can remember this trip when I make it for our daughter. Then we made a few stops between Nashville and Memphis. Starting with the Loveless Cafe, where we checked out their shop (totally cute) and mostly sat around on our phones and ate free samples of popcorn.


Our next stop was a detour through Jackson, Tennessee, to visit the TV and Movie Car Museum. It was SO AWESOME! Highlights include the car from Deathproof, the Wayne’s World Car, the Mystery Machine, a few cars from Fast and the Furious, the Dukes of Hazard car, and a bunch of others. The owner gave us a short tour before we went loose on our own, and he says he has way more cars in storage that he’s working on at all times, too. It was definitely worth the stop. They were very nice there and it was such a trip to see that stuff.

On our way out of town we saw a fabric shop that looked promising, so we stopped (just upholstery fabric though, so no good for me), and we also checked out a shop called Nerdvana. They had used games and new board games, plus snacks, and a few tables for people to play games in-store. It’s always fun seeing nerds in other states, glad we stopped there. I even bought Epic Mickey for Wii for like $6.

Next we drove through Brownsville, Tennessee, to see Billy Tripp’s Mindfield. Not really worth it, in hindsight. You couldn’t walk around the base of it and just had to look at it from your car. Very cool if you just stumbled onto it, but if you go out of your way to spend a little time there, it kind of disappoints.

When we got to Memphis we mostly ate, but driving around to all the different places was really eye-opening. I saw probably one open building to every ten that were boarded up or totally lifeless. Even then, I’d see a house I was sure must be vacant with someone just sitting on the porch. Everything seemed destitute. No grocery stores, no businesses. Very few restaurants or bars or even corner stores. It was just depressed through and through. I got the sense people had just stopped caring and it was so widespread over so many areas we drove, it was incredibly surprising and really weighed on us. I didn’t expect to see that, so widespread, in a major American city.


After dinner we went to Beale Street, which is where most of the nightlife seems to be. It was a Saturday night so they were checking IDs and even wanding people before they could walk down the street. I overheard someone say there’d been an incident awhile ago and now they just do this on Friday and Saturday nights for safety.

We went to a shop called Tater Red’s which was partly a head shop partly a tourist shop, but was kind of a let down. We went to the Coyote Ugly bar and it was kind of empty and depressing so we decided to come back later. They had yards of slush alcohol, which we love, but since I couldn’t have any Adam didn’t feel right getting one. He did eventually when we got to Silky O’Sullivan’s (I had to beg him). I got a NA beer and he got his weird slush drink and we sat by the goats. It was cute watching Adam get drunk, he’s been sober with me through the whole pregnancy, but he had a few drinks that night, and was letting me know all about how cities should be ranked. Tiers of cities across America, based on population and hub-bub. I think he put Memphis at a tier 2 and Minneapolis at a tier 3. Anyway, it was fun.


Beale Street was definitely a party center, and maybe that’s why it seemed kind of sad — just because it didn’t feel natural somehow. Kind of like Broadway in Nashville, but skanky, with less people, and more stuff you’d find at a fairground.

WHERE WE STAYED: We spent one night at a motel-style Super 8. After checking in, the girl working chased us down and had to switch us to another room. She forgot they were doing work in the room where she had originally put us. (We assumed blood stains on the carpet and hoped for the best in our new space.) The new room was fine, and overlooked the pool, which was comfortingly full of families, and yet creepily overlooking a huge abandoned military facility and what might have been a metal museum at one time.



Memphis, Tennessee


21685215639_60fcc1af18_zWHAT WE ATE: We started the day with reservations at the Beauty Shop, a cute little restaurant built into an old beauty parlor. The decor was really nice. I liked the creamy gold color palette. The food was pretty great too. I loved our order of bread with ricotta, peaches, honey, and mint, but my meal was a little disappointing. I got the egg pizette — which said it came with black beans but barely had a visible schmear of black bean paste and the eggs were really overwhelming. It was mostly eggs, actually (probably my least favorite breakfast item at a restaurant). Adam got the chilequiles-migas which were very good though.

It was just nice at that point in our visit to Nashville to go somewhere that had taken one of those old buildings and done something interesting with it, where people seemed to enjoy visiting. I was starting to feel very sad about Memphis, and my opinion started to perk up after this brunch thankfully.

We got ice cream at Graceland after we toured the house and saw the cars. They didn’t have great options for ice cream, but I tried Superman flavor for the first time and it was kind of nice.

21881682651_2c20244c65_zWe made it to Interstate BBQ for lunch and that was probably my least favorite of the trip. The waitress was super nice and they had strawberry soda (a favorite of mine) but I didn’t care for the sauce. I thought it was too sweet, and it was kind of all over everything. I had chopped pork with potato salad and fries and Adam got an assorted meat plate with pork and beef ribs and I forget what else. He also had coleslaw, fries, and BBQ spaghetti. He didn’t have anything bad to say about it, but I had that sauce taste in my mouth for at least a day and wasn’t liking it.

We weren’t very hungry for dinner so we skipped our plans to eat at Gus’ and just ate a snack at the hotel. Weirdly, I really wanted cake, and they had a ton of it in the Peabody’s deli and desserts cafe.


I also ordered room service and ate a whole tray of jellies and rolls while we watched TV. #noregrets


WHAT WE DID: After brunch we went to Graceland! The tour was guided via iPad narrated by John Stamos and it was all really interesting. I loved Elvis’ old house. He made a lot of interesting choices, and the layout of the home was nice. Not very airy, but lots of conveniences all around.


My favorite room was the jungle room — which had green carpet on the floor and ceiling and staircase — but really they were all pretty amazing. The blue TV room and bar was great, and the billiards room with the fabric walls and ceiling was pretty amazing too. The kind of textures and details you really need an expert cleaning crew to manage so I will never have it.


We dipped out of part of the tour and just did Graceland and the cars and checked out the shops.

21685193499_f1fe92a528_zThen we went to the Stax Museum which was pretty great. I didn’t know anything about this label beforehand and the museum was really modern and professional, which I wasn’t expecting. It started with a video and then a self-guided tour that started with the gospel tradition and got into the evolution of the kind of funk and soul that was made here. I thought it was really weird that one of my favorite albums was put out by Stax, Big Star’s Number 1 Record. It didn’t seem to be in line with the rest of their stuff — but they were a Memphis band so this is where they recorded to start. Just kind of weird learning about this recording studio as a magnet for the area — in some ways, that being more important than the type of sound they were creating. I still don’t really understand how the music business works, I guess.

All the music stories we heard in Memphis were so sad: Elvis, Stax, Sun Records. Big talent, coming from a place of real sadness and poverty, that wasn’t always managed well. I feel like that really summarized the city for me.



Then we checked into the Peabody and pretty much didn’t leave. We checked in just as the ducks were heading back to their rooftop home and seeing that was pretty special. I convinced Adam to head to the pool with me and he used the hot tub and I swam around. It’s a gorgeous dimly-lit pool in the basement and it was so incredibly relaxing to float around. We got it mostly to ourselves for awhile too, before families showed up and we left. Just really pretty and serene.

We had a nice break in the lobby — I really wanted cake, but it was late. Adam remembered a cafe downstairs and we had a bit of time yet to get there and order something. They had a variety of delicious looking cakes and ice creams, so I got a little cup of something hazelnut and some decaf coffee and I forget what Adam ate. And we just sat in the lobby eating while a pianist played old standards and it was very relaxing.

We did head out that evening for a short while. There was an Elvis tribute show happening down the street and when we paid our admission we were assured it was going on for at least another hour. We only got to see a few performers and seating was awful (and the people were rude) and the drinks were expensive and it was kind of just a weird experience. Even with that, I’m glad we did it. Would have been a wasted opportunity to come during Elvis week and *not* get to see some impersonators.

WHERE WE STAYED: We slept modestly for a few nights on the road so we could splurge here at the Peabody Hotel AND IT WAS WORTH IT. They were running some kind of summer special, so our room was about $200 (no idea if that’s typical) and we decided to make the most of it. We spent basically all night at the Peabody and only strayed out for a few hours to investigate a false rumor of a tiki bar across the street (now under new management and the theme changed years ago) and spend a semi-lousy hour at the Elvis tribute show down the street. The Peabody was lovely though. A nice lobby to hang out in and lots of amenities on-site. Really loved the pool.



Memphis, Tennessee > Kansas City, Kansas/Missouri

WHAT WE DID: After breakfast in Memphis we watched the Peabody ducks descend down the elevator to jump in the fountain. It was magical even though the music wasn’t working.


We had very little time to spare so we ran to Sun Studio for the tour and that was great. It’s a really small space and the studio itself is pretty bare bones. Really cool to think about all the people who made important music at that time having a place to come together and record. Adam bought a patch.

Most of the day was spent driving but when we got to Kansas City we had just enough time to stop at our hotel before driving to the Alamo Drafthouse to watch the latest Mission Impossible movie. While we were waiting for our seating to start, a special screening let out for something really nerdy and a bunch of nerds piled out of the theater and stuck around in the lobby to talk about it and it was nice — kind of like Fantastic Fest. It made us nostalgic.

WHERE WE STAYED: We stayed at a Super 8 in Kansas City, on the Missouri side. It was totally fine but a little outside the city. We worried it might be a bit far to drive there and into the city during our visit, but everything was about 20 minutes apart anywhere so it hardly mattered.

WHAT WE ATE: Before leaving Memphis we decided to get chicken and waffles nearby. Miss Polly’s Soul City Cafe on Beale Street which was recommended by the Internet. I thought the waffles were on par with what you’d make yourself at a free breakfast buffet — kind of crusty, thin, and flavorless — and the eggs were pretty greasy and gross. The chicken was sort of dry and the biscuits were fine. The potatoes were also fine. It was just sub-par greasy diner food in a restaurant that felt really un-cared for with a slightly sticky residue on everything.

We stopped for lunch at Steak and Shake in Springfield and it gave me a bit of a tummy ache. I had better memories of Steak and Shake and was a little disappointed. I got a Nutella milkshake, cheeseburger, and fries. It all tasted pretty alright, though greasy, but it definitely made me feel a little sick afterwards. Adam got some hot dogs and I forget what milkshake. Probably something with bananas and chocolate.

I got dinner at the Alamo Drafthouse — a pizza with goat cheese and onions. It was not great, but I got to eat it at the Drafthouse, my happy place, so I still loved it.



Kansas City, Kansas/Missouri > Minneapolis, Minnesota

WHAT WE DID: After breakfast at Kolache Factory we visited some stores and coffee shops that sounded interesting. We went to Thou Mayest for coffee and sat outside. It had a real Sioux Falls vibe to it and everyone there seemed very smug. I didn’t like their coffee — it reminded me of Dogwood which is always to silty for me.

21250988853_54c557d209_zThen we went to Retro Inferno and pet a poodle who hangs out at the store. We just came to stare, but everything was really awesome.

We tried going to some vintage shops but we ended up in a warehouse district full of antique stores that only open once a month. It was bizarre. Who can afford to be open once a month? LOTS OF BUSINESSES APPARENTLY. This really captivated me about Kansas City. They seem to have a lot of hidden treasure there.

We ate the best BBQ of the trip (now 2nd in my mind to Franklin) before driving all the way home. Keep reading!

WHAT WE ATE: We ate at the Kolache Factory for breakfast and it was AMAZING. Wish we had one of these in the Twin Cities, I would eat there all the time.

We had our first kolaches a few years back in Texas and loved them. I found one recipe online and have made them for us a few times, but at the Kolache Factory we really got schooled on what a kolache can be. I had the ham, egg, and cheese kolache and it was outstanding. Super cheap too.

We had coffee at Thou Mayest and I didn’t love it but Adam thought it was fine.


We went to LC’s for lunch and it was AMAZING. Delicious smokey smell from outside the small restaurant. You can see the big smoker behind the cashier as you enter and when they opened it to put in a brisket it was magical.

I got pulled pork and brisket and Adam got rib tips (which he loved). They put a normal, manageable amount of BBQ sauce on their meat and it was great. We also ordered bread, fried okra (THE BEST, not too greasy but crunchy and so good) and thick cut fries which I cut and ate with a fork. They also had strawberry soda, self-served. The staff was super nice and everyone who ate there was nice too. Adam ended up offering some of his leftovers to a construction worker who was waiting for his friends on our way out and he said this place is the best and he tries to come here often.

Thankfully no lines, even though we went for lunch, and the food was just outstanding. Great flavor, loved the atmosphere, and everything was cooked to perfection. TEN STARS!

WHERE WE STAYED: Home! With our dogs, who were missed. xo

***T H E  E N D***




August 4th, 2015 - 

D23 is happening next week and they’ll start to announce upcoming plans for the Disney parks, which is totally exciting to me, because I love the parks. Love love love.

A lot of things have been closing in Hollywood Studios this year and it seems like that could bring some excitement as new things are announced to open. I’d love to see a fully-transformed Hollywood Studios (or whatever its new name is!) in my lifetime. I’ve been reading about a possible name change for that park and hopes for more Star Wars. But I also keep reading about Avatar Land, at Animal Kingdom, which is already in development. And — yuck. Really? I just feel so bummed out about this I try not to think about it at all.

First of all, I love Animal Kingdom. It’s got a great vibe and so much going on. I had so much more fun than expected there. You can drink, the boat ride rules, it’s pretty, I LOVED the dinosaur ride and the yeti ride ruled too! Plus the tree is so pretty and the safari is fun. I just think Avatar Land is a tacky addition to what is a pretty cool and successful concept.

I guess the through line between Avatar and Animal Kingdom is resource conservation but I just still fail to see the appeal of walking into Pandora.

My expectations for Avatar Land are very low. On the surface, it sounds totally stupid and I’m hesitant to like it at all. The movie was fine, and the world they built was magical and pretty, but it just seems so dated and un-fun already. Also bummed it’s taking the “mythical and legendary creature” spot in that park, which I think opened the door for a lot more creativity than one pre-made fantasy (even though there didn’t seem to be any production on that vague concept at all…the very idea had potential, right?).

I just don’t expect to be thrilled to enter the world of Avatar, like I am with Harry Potter, the Simpsons, or Star Wars. Pandora is a place I have spent literally zero time thinking about, and it’s riding on the strength of ONE movie so far. The fandom for Avatar isn’t very visible (to me, at least) and I’m just totally confused by the decision to cater to this movie. The only person I’ve ever heard say that Avatar was their favorite movie was the “evil” entrepreneur behind Kingdom of the Little People in the Vice documentary Dwarves Kingdom. Cool demographic, bro.

I can’t even tell you how disappointing it’s going to be to see a Na’vi character greeting. Just this huge blue person, huh? It just totally bums me out for some reason!!

Maybe because it’s not something beloved from my childhood, or anyone’s childhood, to my knowledge. And it would have ruled to see a Pete’s Dragon meet and greet or a Fantasia ride. Mermaids? Hello. Would you like to make a million dollars? MERMAIDS. CENTAURS. CRAZY EVIL BEASTS. BOOM.

Could keep ranting. Should stop now!

Thoughts Before Vacation

August 3rd, 2015 - 

Major thoughts right now:

  1. Maternity leave
  2. My hair
  3. Our vacation
  4. Preparing for baby
  5. Money

1. Maternity leave

I just learned that I can take 12 weeks off for my maternity leave, without having to take *too* many unpaid vacation days. So insanely happy.

2. My hair

I got my hair professionally bleached and dyed a few weeks ago. Even though the color came out very pretty, it wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted pastel peach and I got a shocking pink that I was told would mute into peach. Well, it kind of did, except the back of my head is still pink! So I’ve been trying to wash out the color so I could use this new oVertone product I bought. It rules, it totally came out right, this is the world’s greatest company, but I think I might want to mix it with pastel pink for a more flattering shade. I’m just not totally sure that peach is a good color for me after all. Too bad, but oVertone is amazing, has a ton of color options, is *way* cheaper than the salon (and far nicer/more accurate) and now I will probably never stop trying their shades. MAYBE I WILL OMBRE. WHO KNOWS.


Side note: do all selfies look kind of creepy or just the ones I take?

3. Our vacation

We’re leaving for vacation in a few days! Going to Tennessee! Going to see Graceland, eat lots of BBQ, spend one magical night at the Peabody Hotel with the ducks, and just get out of town — which is all I really need. AND getting to spend time with Adam will be awesome, it’s tough to find time these days! We’re always doing work, which isn’t as great as just hanging out. So glad that we’re able to do this.

Also, Lauren Winzer will be in Nashville at the same time we are WHICH IS A BIG DEAL. Really wish I could try and get a tattoo from her but I’m pregnant so… I would just be so honored to run into her. She is a real hero of mine.

4. Preparing for baby

We’ve already done so much work to prepare for the baby but if it came tomorrow we would still be pretty screwed.

Major achievements:

  • Bedroom moved downstairs
  • New bedroom painted
  • Baby room painted
  • Two new dressers purchased and built
  • Chipped most of the fallen branches and pulled weeds/laid mulch around the hostas (looks damn good)
  • Fan in bathroom fixed
  • Downstairs light fixed
  • Outdoor water leak fixed
  • Bathroom shower situation resolved, new shower head in place

To do:

  • Accent wallpaper in baby room
  • Scrape and re-paint bathroom ceiling
  • Clean out and organize garage
  • Steam clean the carpet
  • Get baby stuff not picked up in registry (this is a stressful process, waiting until the last minute to find out what you have to buy)
  • Major cleaning
  • Baby-proofing
  • Sign up for classes
  • Write a birth plan
  • Prepare mentally for the biggest life change ever
  • Get rid of discarded furniture taking space in garage
  • Get a second car
  • Write a plan to distribute my work while I’m gone
  • Get rid of electric organ

5. Money

We’re showing the Airstream again this week and I just really hope it sells soon. It would be a relief not having to deal with it anymore and having the money would be nice too. I’m sad we didn’t get to live our dream, but hopefully someday we’ll just get a new Airstream and not have to deal with a major rehab project.

I got into a craft show for a new product I’m making, so there’s some money tied up in that and I’m getting stressed about it. It’s a lot of work to make the new product and it’s unclear if anyone will even like it or want to buy it. It’s scalable and would really be great if it picked up and provided me any extra income down the road, but right now I have zero reason to be confident about that, so I’m mostly just trying to get ahead on the work and make it as fun as possible. Hopefully I make my table back is all. I applied for a second show in early November too. I’m hoping that two shows will help determine what’s good/working and what’s not with this new venture. Still not selling on Etsy yet. Don’t have enough made.

I think we’re going to need a new car soon, before the baby comes. Adam’s car is paid off in February so we’re looking at two car payments for a few months. It’s doable but kind of stressful. Finding a car is kind of crazy too. I’ve convinced myself I need an electric car, so there’s that.

The Pregnant Wedding Guest

July 28th, 2015 - 

My friends are getting married in October just a month before my due date. I expect to be very large and possibly uncomfortable at that point but I still want to look cute at a wedding, if I can.

It’s hard enough trying to find DIY maternity clothes, but finding something interesting to wear to a wedding is a real challenge.

Here’s what I’m looking at so far:

1. The Tent Dress


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Simplicity 1105 is the only pattern I’ve found that comes close to what I’m imagining. I love the illusion neckline swing dress I found online and would like to do something like that. *Maybe* even with embroidery(!?) plus a little petticoat underneath to help keep its shape. I think this could be really amazing. A lot of work — because I’d really need to adjust this pattern (change the back, add sleeves, create the illusion neckline) — but I’ve got three months so there’s time.

I realize this is the no-no shape that pregnant women shouldn’t ever wear because it makes you look EVEN BIGGER, but I think I might be into that. Especially with a fabric that’s slightly flowy and a hemline that hits above the knee.

There’s some precedent for people wearing this shape while pregnant…


I’m not alone!

2. The Gown



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Simplicity 1102 and Burda Style 7106 are appealing because of their cut-outs around the shoulders. I like that it’s mostly covering the body, except for that one detail.

3. The Crop Top and Long Dress


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Burda Cap Sleeve Cropped Top 02/2015 #127 +McCall’s 6608 could work for this. I might even just make this to wear to work.

4. The Kardashian


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I am so very into this dress. I think it’s amazing. I think I could achieve something similar using McCall’s 7122 (basic shape in a stretch fabric) and Vogue 2273 (fishtail/train). Wouldn’t want to do the built-in gloves, but I just think this whole idea for a dress is stunning and amazing and I love it. It’s so out there.

Leaning towards the tent dress right now and hoping to pick up that Simplicity pattern at an upcoming sale at Hancock Fabric. Wish me luck!

Coming Home

July 23rd, 2015 - 

I don’t know how to come back to this blog but I’m pretty sure I have to.

I started a few other blogs since abandoning this one but it wasn’t much fun for me. Their focus was more narrow and I wasn’t getting excited about them at all. I guess what I still want is a free-for-all format where I can write about anything and not feel like I’m cultivating a specific audience or maintaining a certain narrative. Which, somehow, I got it into my head was something I wanted to try.

Lately I’ve stumbled upon a few really great blogs and read them completely, which has been really inspiring. Many of them aren’t updated anymore either and I guess that made me kind of sad. I didn’t like to think of all the bloggers out there, like me, who neglected or quit their work. Even if their reasons were good, my mind just wandered back here and I couldn’t understand why I left when I kn0w how much I love blogging and would still find it rewarding.

You’ll notice many big changes since the last time I posted in 2013.

  • My hair is peach
  • I’m pregnant
  • We have a house
  • We have two dogs
  • I bought a new camera
  • I’m working to start an Etsy shop (to help pay off the camera…)

We went to LA (and Disneyland!) last fall for our big annual trip, but nothing like that is happening again this year because we’re prepping for baby. Instead, we’re taking a smaller trip to Tennessee in a few weeks to eat BBQ and look at Elvis’ house. I’m really excited about it, but I do spend an awful lot of time thinking about when I’ll get to take my next trip to a Disney park. (More so than even when I was a kid.) Probably because most of the people I follow on Instagram are there all the time and it looks REALLY FUN. Our honeymoon at WDW in 2013 reignited my interest in Disney for sure. Right now I’m re-reading the Harry Potter books as well and that’s been a lot of fun. Having a kid on the way is scary, because there are a lot of overwhelming stories out there about poop, health and behavioral issues, etc., but it’s fun to think about all the imaginative and fun things they’ll get into as well.

We’re having a girl, by the way. 😊

So, that’s it for now, but I’ll be popping back in from now on and I just didn’t want it to seem sudden if anyone’s still paying attention.

Memories of Sewing in 2013

December 30th, 2013 - 


I returned to sewing this year with high hopes. I have exited 2013 with not much I’m proud of, but a lot of good experience.

Top 5 garments include:

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  1. Wedding dress
    – Might have liked a smoother hem line from front to back, but otherwise no complaints
  2. Adam’s second western shirt
    – Nice colors, looks good, well-loved, highly complimented
  3. Honeymoon shift dress
    – I wear this often with a cardigan, but don’t much like it without one
  4. Wiksten Tova
    – This shrunk and I grew, unwearable now, but loved in its time
  5. Pair of booties (unblogged)
    – Given to my mother-in-law for X-Mas, handmade leather foot bed, good color/fabric selection, stash-buster, and real cute

A message for me in the future:

  • Fabric bought on the internet could be see-through, ergo pain. Try not to buy it
  • There is muslin fabric to be had at every thrift store, cheap. Buy it. You now have no excuse to avoid making a muslin
  • Learning to embroider will make you want to buy an embroidery machine. Do not do this. Everything you want in an embroidery machine is $1000+ and you will never find it cheaper EVER
  • Figure out what RTW styles look good on you and search for patterns that match these styles
  • Stop making shift dresses, they look horrible on you
  • Spend time fitting one pattern in each category that you will actually wear and make them many times over
    – Leggings
    – Panties
    – Sleepwear
    – Pants
    – Cardigan
    – Fun dress
    – Work dress
    – Jacket
  • Please lose weight, you have gained too much weight, it is becoming difficult to fit you
  • Buy nice fashion fabric in-person that looks good with your skin tone
  • Stop buying fabric without a plan
  • Use your stash
  • Thin your pattern collection
  • You do not need another Craftsy class
  • When your wearable muslin does not fit, adapt the pattern and move on. Stop trying to edit the muslin. Just donate it if it’s nice. That’s someone’s size as-is and when you toy with it you always ruin it
  • Every four items you make for yourself, make something for him or a friend
  • Make one child’s pattern before buying any more children’s patterns, you are not even pregnant
  • You were right, quilting cotton does not look good in a garment, still avoid
  • If you finish the edge of your quilt, you will have a quilt, instead of a pile. Apply this wisdom to all areas of life
  • Continue to challenge yourself

2014 Goals:

  • Make a jacket
    – Minoru with existing canvas
    – Trace and remake favorite RTW coat
  • Test a new western shirt pattern for Adam
  • Make something from each Burda magazine
  • Finish both knitting projects from 4+ years ago
  • Make the window drape you planned to make for the kitchen
  • Make one vintage dress from a vintage pattern
  • Find at least one TNT pattern
  • Meet another who sews, attempt friendship
  • Make shorts
  • Finish and mail Dad’s shirt
  • Make Mom a cardigan
  • Create better fitting garments
  • Make better color and fabric selections

Overall, as a sewer, I feel very confident going into 2014. I’ve had a lot of missteps, not all of them blogged, but my think muscle is stronger for it, and I feel like I’ll see a lot of improvement next year.

Vintage Pattern Haul

December 12th, 2013 - 

Adam and I had a very successful trip to Savers last weekend and I found a ton of vintage patterns!


These Vogue patterns are gorgeous. Look at these details!


Ooh la la pockets.


Love this silhouette.


Side gussets! Ah!


The way Savers packages their patterns, I lucked into these vintage patterns as well.


Darling little neck ties.


I will probably use this little V neckline in something.

I am beginning to see a need to thin my pattern collection. I’m overstuffed. But it’s so hard to pass these things up!

There’s just no way I’m getting through 2014 without attempting to sew my first vintage dress pattern.

Simplicity 1609 #2

December 3rd, 2013 - 


I did it again! Simplicity 1609.

The fabric is a crinkled polyester from Vogue Fabrics bought on sale for $1.99/yard.


As with my first purchase from Vogue, the striped pink cotton lawn, it is a little see-through, so I fully lined the dress.


The lining fabric was purchased at Arc’s Value Village. I love looking for fabric and notions at thrift stores! I found a bunch of amazing stuff last weekend.

I used my old self-eased template from the first version. Except this time, I removed the center seam. I actually think it drapes a lot better! I will probably not make this dress again with two front pieces. I am eating my words about how much easier it is to size with a center seam. Derp.


One thing I hate though is how long it was to begin with. I cut 4″ off the bottom hem. Sometimes the scale of things is not preserved in larger sizes, I’m finding. The envelope shows the hem falling just above the knee, and in my size, it fell a few inches below the knee.


The cap sleeves were a nice addition this time. I used the cap sleeve option in Simplicity 1880.


The collar called for interfacing, but my fabric was so stiff to begin with, and my main fabric so flowing, I’m not really sure the collar needed all the additional structure of interfacing. This was probably a job for organza and I just messed up. It did lead to the first time I ever edge stitched something to my lining fabric. Ooh la la.

The green buttons are a vintage find from my mom. My sole supplier of buttons. The collar fabric has been seen in the bodice of an earlier project.

Total cost: $10 fabric + $0 pattern + $2 thread + 8 hours

I thought this dress came together rather quickly, but there was some ripping out of stitches when I started to install the sleeves, and I did have to cut and sew the dress panels twice, essentially, to fully line the garment.

After this dress, I really feel like I can achieve anything. Again, I ignored instructions, and just did it out of instinct, which saves a lot of time. I sewed the shoulders, then the neckpiece, then the sleeves, then the side seams, then the back seam, then the hem. I’m really proud of the construction on this one!

Simplicity 4417 D #1

November 27th, 2013 - 

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I found Simplicity 4417 (size 6-14) at a thrift store and saw some potential in it as the basis for a simple negligee. The pattern was partially pre-cut, which didn’t bother me, since I planned to make a lot of changes anyway. To start, I would have needed a 16, plus I wanted to add in some ease to avoid the side zip and I needed to lower the hem to make it skirt length.


I am into creating wearable muslins right now, considering my large remnant collection is getting out of control. The main fabric for this project was a remnant from Jo-Ann Fabrics. I had slightly less than 1 yard to work from and was very excited when it seemed to be enough. It’s pretty and silky, but polyester. I have some nice silks I’d like to make this in later, once I perfect the fit. The lining fabric is a silk charmuese.

This was my first time creating little delicate fabric tubes for straps. It was frustrating, but I did it somehow. I literally can’t remember how. I must have blocked the memory.

Lately I’ve stopped reading pattern directions and just dive in. Here, I made the tubes first, then sandwiched the end between the main and facing fabric pieces and sewed it into place at all four points, then sewed the sides of the bodice in a continuous line, right side to right side at the side seams, and pressed the seams open, before attaching it to the skirt, so there are no raw edges in the bodice. I also did a French seam in the skirt.


To keep bulk out of the hem, I just serged it, turned it under, and stitched .25″ from the edge. I love when I can hem like this. It’s so simple.


I thought at first I would enclose the raw edges of the bodice/skirt seam into the skirt somehow, but now I think I’d rather enclose the seam with bias tape. I ran out of the main fabric and have enough of the lining fabric to make bias tape, but it’s time to move on. This is something I will try to do on my second version.

I still don’t know a lot about adjusting pattern sizes (slashing and spreading and whatever). So while technically this “fits” and “works,” the side seams don’t line up in the bodice and skirt, and the shoulder straps are a bit too far out, I’d like them closer to the center of my body where they will not fall down so much and possibly feel more comfortable.

I have made some adjustments to my already-adjusted pattern, and hope to start a new negligee soon!

Total cost: $5 fabric + $1 pattern + 4 hours

Note: this would not take nearly so long to make if I was able to turn a fabric tube more easily and didn’t have to rip out and re-attach the skirt which I initially put on backwards. Derp.

Magic Kingdom Dress

November 16th, 2013 - 


We left for our honeymoon the morning after our wedding, and spent 7 days going to theme parks in Florida.

I knew I wanted to make a few dresses for the trip, and this one was meant to be worn at the Magic Kingdom. I thought maybe it would equal the park’s optimism.


The fabric is a cotton lawn I picked up on sale from Vogue Fabrics online. It’s my first time working with lawn, and I thought it was pretty nice! Mine was quite transparent though, so I backed it with a pink lining fabric. It showed through the fabric somewhat to make it look even pinker. I used a thrifted, vintage zipper that picked up some of the blue.


The bodice comes from Vogue 8755 (a personal favorite, very comfortable) and the skirt is a modified version of…something vintage. I forget. Anyway, I used 5 panels for the outer skirt and 4 panels for the lining skirt. I used pre-made bias tape to finish the neck and arm holes. The lining gave me some trouble so I just used my serger to finish that edge, and I sandwiched the lining to the fashion fabric panels and serged those edges before sewing them together. Worked out pretty nicely!
magickingdom_dress_5I thought I would have to retire it after the trip, since it’s no longer warm and summery in Minnesota, but I still decided to wear it last week with a cardigan and boots.

Total Cost: $7 fabric + 6.5 hours

And how was the honeymoon? magickingdom_dress_1