The Boxes Take Music City

A couple of weeks ago, we went on a vacation with my family to Nashville! My mom has gotten really into genealogy, so they spent the week doing research in the area and visiting family, and Dan and I met up with them for a long weekend. And let me say, they don’t call it music city for nothing. Even some of the boutiques had bands playing! I liked to think of it as my personal serenade.

My parents rented a cute, old house for the week right off 12th South (which was an awesome neighborhood- more below) and it ended up being a few houses down from where my cousin lived when she first moved to Nashville! Small world- I love those coincidences.

We flew in Thursday night and feasted on Southern cooking at its’ finest at Monell’s. The whole meal is served family style, potentially sharing with others if your party isn’t large enough to fill the table! Plus, it was in a beautiful historic home- with a neon sign in the front window 😉


Brunch at Marche! We waited almost an hour for a table, which was a little crazy for a Friday, but I’d say it was worth it. My savory crepes were delightful, the coffee just right, and my almond croissant too yummy (they were out of the chocolate croissants… why are they always out of the chocolate ones?!).

We peeked around East Nashville for a hot second and went into Woodland Wine Merchant, which was definitely the coolest liquor store I’ve ever been in (or “Purveyor of Uncommon Wine, Spirits & Beer” as they call it). The branding is crazy adorable, also.

Next up was a visit to The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home. It has been incredibly well maintained and the grounds were beautiful. We did quite a bit of walking to see it all. The audio tour was also fantastic, and we all learned a lot listening to that.


My mom had read about a neat vintage shop (I guess that’s what you’d call it?!) called Old Made Good that we stopped at next. They take old items and put a twist on them- no photos allowed in the shop, but the floors were covered in pink glitter. My dad absolutely despises glitter (3 girls on drill team will do that to you) so it was funny to see his reaction. Some of the funniest pieces were old paintings with a surprise update added. It reminded me of this clip from The Last Man on Earth (does anyone watch that show other than Dan and I?!). Seriously couldn’t stop laughing for DAYS over this. Oh, and BUNNIES!

We ate dinner at The Pharmacy, which I could easily see myself hanging out at on a regular basis if I were a Nashvillian (?). Cold beer, perfectly shaded biergarten, and some seriously tasty burgers. I had the stroganoff burger and now my mouth is watering. Don’t you hate it when you find something so great and can’t get it anywhere else?? Not that I should be eating stroganoff burgers on the regular…

I just really adore this guy. I actually smile every time I see him smile.

That night, the young ones ventured down the street to check out some local joints. We tried The Flipside, Embers Ski Lodge, and 12 South Taproom & Grill. Dan hit it off with a man at the bar (who apparently is the head of a big music association and has an impressive resume) who recommended we go see some live music at Station Inn. This venue has been around forever and I’m SO glad we went. The band was very talented and I think most of them had been playing their entire lives. I especially loved the banjo player, who absolutely killed it.


We had brunch at Pinewood Social which is the coolest concept. There is a swimming pool. At the restaurant. And a bowling ally. And just really neat places to hang out. I didn’t want to creep anyone out by taking a picture of the pool (and thus people in their swimwear), but it is just the most genius idea for hot climates. You can reserve lounge chairs and have all your drinks brought out to you, just like a country club. The design of the place was also AWESOME and I couldn’t stop looking at everything. Especially the stork wallpaper.

We shopped for a while before heading over Tennessee Brew Works, which was probably Dan’s favorite part of the trip (surprise, surprise). The layout of the space was great- double-decker patio and a plenty of tables upstairs, with plexiglass overlooking the brewery. Considering my love of basil, it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed their basil farmhouse ale. Dan, can you please make lots of beer with herbs?!

Our twins!!!

My mom planned the entire trip with pretty much no help (thanks mom :)), but my one contribution was picking dinner- Rolf & Daughters. Maaaybe one of my favorite restaurants I’ve been too. Is that too extreme? I loved everything about it. Rose? check. In an old warehouse with twinkly lights? check. Super fresh ingredients? check.

Considering we were in Nashville, we couldn’t miss out on visiting Broadway. However, visiting Broadway with an under 21-year-old is a little tricky. We did manage one spot where we somehow devoured curly fries… after our large dinner. Healthy. Tara, Dan, and I stuck around to hear some more music and check out Robert’s Western World before we headed home. Broadway was fairly similar to 6th street in Austin, with a country twist, and if you’re into bachelorette parties, it’s your spot! Glad we saw it, but not even close to my favorite part of Nashville.


We couldn’t leave with some Tennessee barbeque. I’m really picky about my beef (hello, Texas), so I generally order pork outside my home state. Edley’s is pretty famous in Nashville and definitely hit the spot.

We spent the afternoon touring another plantation- Belle Meade. If you get married here, you are lucky. It was gorgeous. The family history was also really interesting, as they were the premiere thoroughbred stud farm. Several famous race horses can trace their lineage back to horses owned by this family (think Seabiscuit and American Pharaoh). We also got to see one of my cousins and his adorable family! Unfortunately, no pics 😦

 Thanks mom & dad for a great trip!! I can officially add Nashville to my very short list of places I’d live outside TX.

Dallas Days

I’ve gotten to head home and visit my family twice over the last month, which has been great!! When I moved to Houston, I kind of resigned myself to never living in the same city as my parents again, so visiting lots help make that feel a little less depressing. I was able to see best friends from high school, celebrate at a baby & wedding shower, shop for house things with my mom & sisters, and explore Dallas a bit. Having grown up in the suburbs, Dallas always feels new and now that Tara has lived in Deep Ellum for the last year, it’s fun going with an actual local 😉

Some pictures from the weekends, even though I slacked a bit:

^^ Laura & Alex’s wedding shower at my parent’s and Ash’s Baby shower 

^^Barley hated every second of learning to swim.

Lunch with mom’s at Celebrity Cafe  

^^He’s gotten huge. To scale: Dan is 6′ 4″. 

Dinner in Ft. Worth (whoops, not Dallas) for Tara’s birthday

^^ My parents treated us to a really fun night out at Trinity Groves, which lots of great restaurant concepts. We tried LUCK (Local Urban Craft Kitchen) for dinner, which only serves beers from DFW, and Off Site Kitchen for games & drinks. 

Barley had a great time too 🙂

Land of Beer and Beautiful Weather (at least sometimes…)- Portland!

Wow, I’m WAY behind. Work has been crazy between traveling (to Midland- most exciting city ever ;)) and us moving floors and just lots of projects. Trying to play catch up now! And this post deleted mid-writing so forgive me if it’s not very detailed, because I just got a little tired of it.

A few weekends ago, we flew up to Portland for a family visit. My brother-in-law grew up there and was our official tour guide! Considering I’m such a huge planner, you will be shocked to discover- I did no planning. NONE. I looked at one Thrillist article about Portland breweries and that was it. Weird for me, but also kind of nice to just go with the flow. The main point of visiting was to hang out with family anyways, so any activities were just extra.

Y’all, the weather was beyond unbelievable. Having visited in January, I know it wasn’t the norm, but man was it good. I swear, we’ve been the luckiest lately! First NYC, then Portland. Fingers crossed this continues. We spent the evenings just hanging on the back porch of Rob’s parent’s house, in their beautiful backyard, surrounded by raspberries bushes. Which I ate handfuls of. The summers there are like something out of a dream. Mostly because that could never be a reality in Houston. If we try to sit outside, we get covered in mosquitoes and start sweating within 3 minutes.

We got into town fairly early, so we headed to Portland Brewing Co. for dinner. They make Pyramid, if you’ve tried that! It was the first of many breweries. The fish and chips were great! Then after the kiddos went to bed, we walked over to Laurel Public House. They have a few locations in Portland. Heavy on IPA’s so not my favorite ever.

The next morning, we drove up to Mt. Hood to see some snow. They had a dry winter, so while there was snow, there was’t much. However, people were still skiing! We got to see Timberline Lodge, which was beautiful with really nice woodwork inside. This is where the exterior shots of the lodge in The Shining were filmed.

After that, we drove on to Hood River for lunch at Full Sail. Their Amber is one of the best and there was a nice view of the river. We also tried out Double Mountain Brewery. The service was fantastic and they had a Red Ale called the Engineer just for Dan 🙂 Plus, we hit a couple great fruit stands. The cherries… and blueberries… and everything, so yum and fresh. I could have spent days in Hood River.

To take a break from beer, we visited Cathedral Ridge Winery. The wine was great, but even better was sharing a bottle while laying in the grass and enjoying the scenery. Man, I really loved it.

On the way back into town, we stopped at Multnomah Falls. This is a can’t miss when in Oregon. Beautiful!

Saturday morning, we went to the Rhododendron Gardens which were stunning. The kids (and adults) loved feeding the ducks and geese. I was legitimately more scared of the geese than the babes were. I’m a huge chicken. But they were mean!!

We had lunch at Widmer Brothers. Their hefe is one of my all time favorites. The brewery scene is SO different in Portland. Pretty much all of them serve food and it’s actually very good. We spent the afternoon brewery hopping in the Pearl District.

Deschutes- Packed! But great. The actual brewery is in Bend, which we hope to visit sometime.
Fat Head’s- A crowd favorite. Lots of fun beers, like blueberry, which was surprisingly tasty and not at all syrupy. If you ever visit, try to branch out of the norm. Dan’s mom picked her flight, to the boy’s skepticism, and it ended up being the best. Tons of options!
10 Barrel Brewing- I liked the interior and the beer but it wasn’t super special.
Rogue- We sat on the patio and tried some pretty interesting beers. For example, Beard Beer, made from yeast in one of the brewer’s beards. Weird, yes. But it tasted good. They also have several local influences, like Marionberry and Voodoo Doughnut beer. Loved it.
Cascade- On the way back, we stopped here for their sour beers. And I’m sorry, but I’m just not a sour fan. Yuck. Not sure how this is becoming popular, but I guess some people like it!
Forewarning: Dan and I take a picture in front of every brewery we visit… it’s the only time he willingly takes photos with me so I take advantage.

That evening, we soaked up the weather while Rob grilled. We also had to soak up being around our niece and nephew!! We most likely won’t see them until November, and when you’re that age you change so much. I’m going to miss them so much. We’ll miss you too Rob & Jenny 😉 Ugh just look at these cute faces.

That night, we went out with Dan’s parents in Nob Hill (a bartender had told us it was cool), just because we could because we are kid-less. Gotta take advantage while we can! Will have to explore that neighborhood more the next time around.

Thanks Rob & family for showing us a great time in Portland! We truly had a blast and hope to visit again soon.

The Super Hero In-Laws

Friday was a blast! Dan’s boss gave us tickets to the Houston Dynamo suite, which was great (even though we lost to FC Dallas) and then we met his parents for drinks at D&T Drive-In, which I personally think is one of the cooler places to drink a beer in Houston. I love that they still have the old sign in front. I’m assuming new ownership as it’s part of Treadsack now (as is Downhouse, yum), so it’s neat that they chose to keep the sign.

So as mentioned above, Dan’s parents came to stay with us this past weekend! We always have a great time with them and this weekend was no exception… although it was a little bit different type of fun! Ha. Dan’s dad helped him put in all the fence posts around the back yard and his mom helped me paint the dining, living, and sun rooms. It was a productive weekend to say the least. They are amazing motivators to get things done and have more energy than we do. It’s impressive and so appreciated.

Having a fresh coat of paint on the walls has REALLY brightened it up. One of the biggest things I would change about the house (if it wasn’t prohibitively expensive) are how low the ceilings are, so having white walls make them feel just a bit taller 🙂 I ended up choosing Benjamin Moore White Linen and love that it’s warm without feeling yellow. We also tested out Frostine and Simply White. Dan is still complaining that it feels like an insane asylum, but I think he’s mostly kidding 😉 But I am in love and can’t wait to do the trim next weekend (because right now it just looks dirty :/). The furniture is still pushed in the middle of the living room at the moment so the house feels like a wreck, but sitting in the midst of white is quite dreamy. I’ll post better pictures once everything is back in place.

Testing out colors

The cutest little helper. Who was more in the way than anything.

We also decided on a horizontal fence and Dan will start putting on the planks this week!!! It’s going to look amazing. And he gets to buy a new toy- a nail gun. Because apparently the one we already have isn’t strong enough. I swear, the amount of tools we have… Yay for house projects!!

So funny that prior to painting I was finally starting to feel like the house was really coming together. Felt homey, (most) things had a place, and I just generally liked it but still knew what had to be done. Then everything came off the walls for paint and I’m starting fresh again. Ha. Hoping we get to the kitchen soon!!!

Relaxing at Cottonwood and home after a hard weekend

A Long Easter Weekend

It was SO good to spend the long weekend at home. Can I call it that anymore? I haven’t even really lived in that house except for a few weeks at time, when home on college breaks since they moved into it after I was already at UT. Either way, it’s the same place I grew up, off the same road as before. And my sisters were there, so I think I can still call it home for a little longer. Maybe I’ll stop after I have my own kids.

I’m rambling, but it was a fantastic weekend filled with gorgeous blue skies, sunshine, lots of food & beer, and quality time with family.

FRIDAY>> Deep Ellum Arts Festival. Tara moved into this Dallas neighborhood for grad school and it’s changed immensely. Very cool area. Artsy and modern with older building mixed in. Only purchase was a hat for dad! None of us were prepared for the intense sun and all ended up with sunburns. Glad we got it because it’s supposed to rain for a week straight here in Houston. We all really enjoyed lunch at Brain Dead Brewing. Chips and salsa were to die for and the beer menu was really diverse. And Deep Ellum Brewery was awesome! Fun place to hang out, both inside and out.

Nanny nanny boo boo, I’m taller than you

Bar LOVED this. Obviously.

A 200 lb, 5 year old Dane, named Admiral

SATURDAY>> Shopping with the girls and lunch in Ft. Worth at The Bearded Lady. Also, Easter egg dying. What do you expect from a family of girls? We even got Dan to do a few 🙂

It wasn’t our best year…

Mine & Dan’s favorite eggs

SUNDAY>> Easter! A day of celebration. We went to the church I grew up in for the service and afterwards my mom made a delicious lunch. Home cooked food from your mom can’t be beat. And my mom still puts together a killer Easter basket. Then we headed down to Waco for Easter with Dan’s family. The little ones did great at their egg hunt- Ellie would intentionally skip eggs to only get the pink ones. And we got to make our pizza’s in Dan’s Aunt’s brick oven! So nice that all the cousins, aunts & uncles, and grandparents are within a couples hours of each other. Makes me wish all mine were closer!

The whole time we were decorating, Dan’s only concern was if he would get to make deviled eggs out of them. He got to.

Dan’s Easter “basket” from me.

Barley’s “I am not a horse” face

**Most photos from Tara’s camera

Cute babes

I have a new favorite picture of Daniel.

Too stinking cute. I get so excited thinking about him being a dad and I have to remind myself (and both of our familes :D) that we want to wait.

“waiter!” also… that’s beer in the glass.

Anyways… we visited Dan’s parents in Georgetown over the weekend and Jenny was in town with the kiddos. While I terribly wish they thought we were awesome and wanted to sit and hug and play with us all the time… that is not the case (Opa and Nana win by a LONG shot there). Although I did squeeze in hugs when they would let me and helped Ellie make some really cool pumpkins with mustaches (leftover craft from Halloween?). Fingers crossed that as they get older they realize how super cool we are and want to be our best pals. Lucky for us (though not for her family), Jenny is moving back to Texas while Rob is deployed, so we will be seeing more them 😀

The weather was pretty terrible so we were inside a lot. Which meant Dan took a nice nap. He gets a cute award too.

 I leave you with Ellie and “Ariel”. All the chickens got princess names. And I took these on Dan’s phone so the picture quality is much better.

A Visit from the Boxes (weird that’s no longer my name…)

My family came into town this weekend! It was the first time they’ve all visited since Dan and I got married and it was extra special because they all stayed in our little house. I loved playing host, cooking for them and showing them little bits of Houston. I have a lot to live up to considering my mother is the absolute best hostess (hopefully I won her approval this weekend :)) It went by so fast! It always amazes me how quickly a weekend can pass. My favorite part of all was just having them spending time in our home that we’ve been working on since the wedding. It felt really great to share it with them, even though that also meant sharing one bathroom, ha. It surprisingly wasn’t much of an issue!  After all my complaining to Dan about how we NEED, HAVE TO HAVE, 2 bathrooms for when company visits, turns out it was fine. But I still want 2 bathrooms. Just in case. OH and we played Taboo (thanks Amazon Prime) which is my new favorite ever since playing at game night at the *future* Hilburn’s home.


Breakfast! I made a bacon & brie quiche that turned out pretty tasty. Still working on actually making in the time the recipe estimates it takes… this one took me 3 times as long to prepare. Also- brunch plates. Didn’t know they existed until we registered for the wedding, but they are adorable and I love them. Biggest hit of the weekend, food-wise, was the sweet potato salad I made when we grilled out.


My family brought Barley a treat! How cute is this?? He loved it, needless to say.

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Sisters are the best! This is from St. Arnold’s Brewery, the oldest craft brewery in Texas (but the 1990’s really isn’t that old ha!) Dan and I went on a date here when they first moved to this building (over 2 years ago, what?!) and I was SHOCKED at the amount of people this time… the popularity has definitely boomed over the last couple of years. Although who can argue with hanging out in a beer hall on a cloudy afternoon?? The parentals are not super into beer, but I think they still enjoyed the tour (aren’t they cute?). And Abby is apparently taking after Dan in her drinking preferences, although she only got sips 😉 My fav is Weedwacker.


We also decided to go ahead and tack on having lots of people in our house by inviting friends over for the Super Bowl. Super relaxed night with good friends. Dan put the projector up in our teensy living room and it worked out really well! Now I want to have a weekend long movie marathon in our pajamas with a floor covered in mattresses. We made chili, queso blanco, and pizza bread (YUM).


Gah look at our pup. He was really intrigued just long enough for me to take this picture. Maybe we should put him in football lessons. Airbud?