Travel is a very real part of my life, and I imagine and hope that it always will be. Most recently I was back and forth from home in various stints over a stretch of a month and a half. I will be home for about that long, and then gone again soon. Then repeat. Sometimes I travel for fun, like the trips we take twice a year to celebrate our marriage. Or family reunion. Or trips with our kids and their families. Or the occasional quilt retreat that has no work attachments involved. But while I don’t always travel with fun as the main purpose, it still is always fun. Like visiting family, especially our kids and grandkids. Or going to Quilt Market, if or when I go. Or quilt retreats with work at least partly in mind, although sometimes work is the sole purpose.
For instance, the recent retreat The Green Apricot hosted in Crossville, TN. I had a great time, and I loved being a hostess and cooking and hanging out and having a good time with friends. On Thursday when it ended, it was good to see smiling faces packing up cars and heading back home again. I, on the other hand, was not headed home. Our granddaughter was having a birthday party in TN on Saturday, so rather than head south to Atlanta and then back up to Nashville the next day, I decided to hang around a bit and take it easy between retreat and birthday party.
As many of you know, I am a bit obsessed with donuts. One time my husband looked at me and basically said, “If you’ve eaten one donut, you’ve eaten them all.” I just stared at him. The donut thing has been real my whole life, although I have hated Krispy Kreme for many years. Mostly because my dad would get them on road trips, and inevitably I would get car sick, and well, the rest is history. (As a note, I tried them again a couple of years ago, and I really do still hate them.) The obsession, however, has really taken flight in the last couple of years because, well, donuts, and I love the idea that an easy way to shop local when traveling is to find a donut shop. So, I try to look for donut shops whenever I am on the road. This time I found Ralph’s Donuts in Cookeville, TN. They’ve been there since 1962, and are located in a fun part of town with boutique shopping and eateries. It was way off of my charted course from Crossville to Nashville, but totally worth it. When I asked what was the one donut I had to order I got an immediate answer of, “Butter Twist.” So, Butter Twist it was, and I was pleased. I usually get two donuts at places like these. A standard that I can compare with other donut shops, and their specialty. But I had just returned from quilt retreat full of Oreos and Peanut M&Ms, so restraint was called for. However, if I ever get to go back…
Since I wasn’t in a big hurry, and I didn’t have the husband in tow, I thought I might check out Craft South in Nashville. I’ve met Anna Maria Horner a couple of times, including once in a restaurant bathroom during Quilt Market, but that’s another story. I’m kinda a big fan, and I love her work and her style, so I was looking forward to her shop. However, it turned out that I might have actually been able to go into the store if Jeff had been with me. I followed Sybil’s directions and found Craft South in a super trendy, fun neighborhood not too far from Vanderbilt’s campus. But, all that fun and trend has a tendency to equal no parking. After circling a neighborhood crawling with both construction and hipsters three times with no luck for parking, I bailed and headed to my evening destination. Thompson’s Station, and Suzy Homemaker.
Who exactly provides a snack bar in their guest room? Who exactly puts together the perfect dinner because she knows what her guest needs? Who exactly can cut through the crap and get to the real story with everything from politics to quilt shops?
Suzy Homemaker, of course. No, that’s not totally her real name, but she is Suzy. I met her a few years ago as she is Chris Warnick’s right-hand woman in putting on The Stash Bash, and have enjoyed her friendship ever since. I messaged her a couple of weeks before I was going to be in Nashville to see if I could visit her and crash at her place for a night. I knew it would be a treat to get to visit with her and her husband, but had no idea just how perfect of a place it was for me to land.
I had a great time at the quilt retreat in Crossville, and very much loved being a hostess for such an event. But when it was over, I truly was exhausted. It wasn’t until I settled in at Suzy’s that I realized how overstimulated I felt, and kind of wired.
Suzy keeps a lovely home, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. So much of it is in the details. Everything from the soap to the bed that I could barely convince myself to get out of the next morning. Everywhere I turned there was something to look at and think about, but not in an excessively analytical way or in a trendy, copycat kind of way. More like a “Huh- that’s cool- I wouldn’t have thought of that, but it works perfectly” kind of way.
She has such a great mix of wood and metal and white and black in her home, and just seems to highlight all the right things in all the right places. Suzy and her husband are also in the race car industry, and there were hints of it throughout the house, but without being brash and kitschy. It felt like Nashville, but it also felt like a canvas for conversation.
It was just what I needed- to be hosted for a day after hosting for a few. We chatted into the night, and picked up again in the morning. And of course, we had to get a donut, and head to a quilt shop. This time there was plenty of parking.
I stole these photos from the internet. I am admitting it openly. I’d like to give credit, but honestly, I’m not sure to whom I should give it! At any rate, Suzy promised I would love Stitcher’s Garden, and she was not wrong. Not by a longshot. This place was packed. I mean packed. In every good way. We have a shop in Georgia similar to it called Thread Bear Fabrics. Both of the these shops have a crazy, serious selection. You want traditional? You got it. You want modern? You got it. You want fat quarters? You got more than you can imagine. I had a fabulous time sifting through and making plans, and even remembering projects gone by. I showed a bit of restraint, as I already have plenty and enough, but I did get a couple of things with purpose, and a couple without.
We literally shopped until the last moment. Jeff flew in that afternoon, and I needed to navigate through Nashville traffic to pick him up at the airport. It was good to see his face. I enjoy my adventures, and I feel that I am fairly independent, but I miss him terribly when we are apart.
Jeff and I go to Nashville from time to time as two of our daughters and their families live there. We have a favorite place to stop and eat- Coco’s Italian Market and Restaurant. My favorite appetizer is the bruschetta, pictured above. I’d like to deconstruct it and try to make it at home, but I’m afraid I’d never get the bread quite right, and that I’d gain a couple hundred pounds!
Speaking of low-cal Italian treats, we also never miss a chance to share a piece of Chocolate Eruption cheesecake. We are kind of known for taking it to go with the intent of eating it a little later, but it never makes it more than a mile or so down the road.
The next day we headed to our daughter’s house to spend the day celebrating our granddaughter’s birthday. It was such a nice day with family, and I am so grateful that we were able to be there. I feel very grateful for all of the travels, even the ones that can be somewhat stressful, but I am especially grateful for the travels that take me places like this one. Some things matter, some things don’t. Some things last, some things won’t.