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Nashville, Y’All

Oh, how far the Vargos have come. Since being married just a year and barely two weeks, we’ve added a new member to our family, bonded with some pretty groovy neighbors, and traveled the great midwest – from Turkeyville to my old stomping grounds to Milwaukee, hey, there’s no stoppin’ these two. Oh, yeah, we even started logging these adventures and more in our little pool of the great big world wide web. And what better time than 5 months into the blogosphere to take a break from our adventures in home decor to really introduce ourselves.

Hi, I’m Kim. And this is my better half, Scott.

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Last year, on November 8th, we tied the knot. Got hitched. Tied on the ball and chain, or so they say. But if this is what they call being tied down, then I’m a fan. This last year has been an amazing ride, from the ups, downs, and in-betweens. So what does a duo of young kids do when celebrating the one year anniversary of such a momentous event? Why, strap on those cowboy boots and hop in the wagon – we’re going on a one week fabulous getaway to Nashville, folks!

As lovers of music, what better spot than Music City itself? The whirlwind week included everything from down home cookin’, to dancing at the honky tonks, and even catching a glimpse of a country celeb or two. Sprinkle in the most fabulous show on Earth: The Grand Ole Opry, a free outdoor concert, and surprise passes to the Country Music Award rehearsals, and I’d say we had a heck of a time.

Since we were the geekiest Chicago tourists you’ve ever seen, our camera never left our side. Unless we were standing on the corner with a map to our nose, you bet we were snapping away. So let’s begin, y’all, and allow me to show you how it all went down in true photo fashion.

Starting with the food. Oh, sweet food. I’d feel guilty with all I consumed, but I put that aside with my “on vacation” excuse. From wandering through Germantown and treating ourselves to sinful cupcakes at The Cupcake Collection to immediately eating a home cooked meal of sweet potatoes, pasta, chicken, brisket, and corn (and gravy and biscuits and veggies and brownies) at Monell’s just two doors down, I’d say we kicked it off right.

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Throughout the week, we rolled up our sleeves and ate some off-the-bone barbecue at the famous Jack’s Bar-B-Que. Of course we washed it all down with pitchers of cold sweet tea…

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…And finished the evenings with icy bottles of Yuengling. My family originally hails from Pittsburgh, where this treat flows from the tap at every bar. Mmm, imagine our excitement when the same goes for Nashville! Is it so bad to be excited so easily?

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The good barbecue and frosty mugs of sugared tea were just a warm up for what our bellies would consume the rest of the week. We spent a day in the Vanderbilt ‘hood of Hillsboro Village, where we had more than our fill at the Pancake Pantry. Omelettes, bacon, steaming mugs of coffee, and of course, a pancake or two. Or three. (Okay, four).

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A friend of ours and a Vanderbilt alum, Shannon, filled us in another college-kid secret: San Antonio Taco Company. Or, if you’re hip with the lingo, Satco. Over stuffed crispy tacos and more Yuengling? Yes, please. (My man loves his food).

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And we learned fast how starting the mornings with a hot cup of Bongo Java joe was the secret to a successful day. This Nashville home brew was so tasty, that nary a drop of cream or spoonful of sugar entered my cup. That’s saying a lot coming from a 2 cream, 2 sugar girl. We were instantly hooked on their “Orgasmic Organic” blend, and, well, the name pretty much says it all. We were so smitten with Bongo Java, that we even brought a fresh bag of beans home as part of a gift to our neighbors who made sure our furballs were fed and loved throughout the week.

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But Nashville is more than just great food and drinks. It’s called Music City for a reason, and we learned very fast that it’s a rare event to even walk down the street without spotting a crooning cowboy with his guitar. Speakers built into traffic lights hum sweet bluegrass, and even the crosswalk signals chirp different bird lullabies when it’s your turn to go. And little did we know, the Country Music Awards were happening the Wednesday we were in town, which made for some exciting adventures. Including a free concert put on by Good Morning America with American Idol alum Carrie Underwood and chart-topper Brad Paisley

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…And an “in” to watch the CMA rehearsals the afternoon before the big night! A complete stranger saw us standing on the sidewalk (I’m sure we look confused, no doubt), and offered us his sticker passes to watch the practice sesh. Whoa, talk about luck. Not sure if it was a joke or not, we hesitantly flashed our passes to security at the Sommet Center, and before you knew it, we were watching Taylor Swift, Reba McEntire, and Martina McBride (to name a few) warm up with their song and dance. This unexpected detour was a highlight of our trip, and you bet Scott and I sat there with our jaws dropped the whole time.

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A close second to our unexpected CMA detour was probably one of the most pleasant experiences we’ve shared. A night at The Grand Ole Opry. The hubs and I were probably the youngest folk in the Ryman Auditorium by about 30 years, but we couldn’t have had more fun. Pleased as punch, one might would say. We tapped our toes, clapped in tune to fiddles, and watched the amazing Jean Shepard yodle her ol’ heart out.

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Keeping in tune with our musical theme, we hopped into the East Nashville record store, The Groove, hoping to score some tunes of our own to bring home. As record lovers, we were instantly smitten with the smells of old cardboard and years of kicked up dust. We didn’t find the yodle-fest we hoped for, but I did find a stash of Christmas albums, which I’ll fully admit is a big weakness of mine. Scott convinced me that I already have one too many holiday carols on the shelf in our home, so we left empty handed. They did, however, have a cool couch, where we did what all tourists dare to do: set the self timer and say “cheese.” Or in our case, grab the Nashville Scene and strike a pose.

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Of course we couldn’t say good bye to Nashville without a dance at the honky tonks on the famous Broadway strip. On a bustling street lined with Elvis statues and in-and-out priveleges to every bar on the block, how could you go wrong? Music pulsed out of every open door, pulling us in. Those rockin’ guitars and banjos really got my blood pumping, and I danced the night away. Can’t say the same for the dear husband (he’s not one to dance), but I noticed a giddy grin that never left his lips.

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Unfortunately, this Chicago gal did learn an important lesson in country fashion, just a bit too late. Skinny jeans and colored flats don’t quite cut it on the dance floor. It’s all about the boot cut, and there’s a reason for that. So next time, I’m investing in a pair of these babies:

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And there you have it. Nashville will surely see us again, and our list of “must-do…next time” grew by the minute. Alas, it was time to say our farewell, and Chicago’s breathtaking and sparkling skyline didn’t disappoint on the homecoming. The Windy City ‘scrapers greeted us with twinkling lights on our drive into town, and we couldn’t have had a better welcome to this place we call home. So here’s to another blissful year of marriage, friends, and family…and another twelve months to map out the next anniversary adventure.

Make sure to come back Wednesday, when YBH will be hosting it’s first ever freebie giveaway! Free stuff, who doesn’t love that?

  • jill - November 23, 2009 - 12:11 PM

    YEEHAW! you made me want to head on down to nashville! AND i wish i could’ve watched your furballs for some of that coffee! i’m on a huge coffee kick which may have to end soon – BF – and i don’t mean best friend. Yup, TMI!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - November 23, 2009 - 3:30 PM

    Jill, that coffe was so good, I’m sure little Leo would have popped right out!ReplyCancel

  • Dave - November 23, 2009 - 4:52 PM

    Kim&Scott,
    Great photos! Kim, I’m thinking pink boots for the next trip.
    DaveReplyCancel

  • angela - November 23, 2009 - 9:00 PM

    Wow – great summary of the trip! My favorite pic is the one where Scott is about to dive into the pancakes and he looks REALLY really excited. And right on with that coffee – good stuff!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - November 23, 2009 - 10:09 PM

    AHHH I want to go back to Nashville after seeing these!! I’m so jealous you made it to the Pancake Pantry! The wait was out the door and around the corner and we didn’t have time to stand in line last time we were there :( Great pictures and way to be the cutest couple on the planet…seriously!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - November 24, 2009 - 10:09 AM

      Kelly, the line was out the door and around the corner for us, too, but there were HUGE parties in front of us. So the host just kept calling for parties of 2, and we were seated in less than 10 minutes!ReplyCancel

  • Sara Reat - November 25, 2009 - 6:13 PM

    I’ve never been to Nashville…but you’ve definitely made me want to go there immediately :) Pancake pantry?? that sounds like heaven!ReplyCancel

  • Kalli - November 30, 2009 - 2:09 AM

    BBQ, Yuengling and cowboy boots= I’m jealous. I want those aqua and black ones. I love Scott’s look of wondrous joy at the food and Kimbo, you look beautiful in these shots!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - November 30, 2009 - 9:59 AM

      Aw, thanks, Kalli! Yes, the aqua and black ones were pretty neat-o.ReplyCancel

  • Christina M - February 18, 2010 - 4:55 PM

    I live here in Nashville and if you guys decide to come back soon you need to visit a little meat and three called Arnold’s Country Kitchen. There are also a lot of great new less touristy restaurants you guys should check out. Nashville is slowly growing into a great city for wining and dining. I am glad to see that you did get some Jack’s – its one of my favorite BBQ spots in the city! Centennial Park and the Parthenon is another cool thing to go see. I think you guys did a pretty good round up your first time here though!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 18, 2010 - 7:24 PM

      Hi Christina,

      Thanks for the tips! We actually cruised through Centennial Park while in town, but we would love to see Parthenon. There were so many things to do and see, and we only had 5 days – not enough time for such a beautiful city!

      Also, looking forward to our next stop through Music City – Arnold’s sounds delicious!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle - April 9, 2010 - 2:22 PM

    Totally late to the party, but I am a girl who hearts Nashville. Glad you enjoyed our city. hope you will come back for me. Sounds like a fantastic trip, always fun to hear about how others view your home.ReplyCancel

  • jill - August 10, 2010 - 1:34 PM

    my friend courtney’s going to nashville and i just sent her the link to this post, which i just skimmed again. you really got some beautiful shots! and i love scott’s grandpa hat (reminds me of the hats my grandpa shorty used to wear). scott does the hat justice and that’s not an easy feat! love you guys!ReplyCancel

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