Archive for the ‘Friends. Family and Life’ Category

Nashville Area Attractions

Cheekwood Botanical Gardens


I believe this is one of the most beautiful things in Nashville. It is an extensive garden and art museum and wow…it is beautiful. I would highly recommend it if you want something low key and beautiful. The Chihuly exhibit will be there through the end of October and it will take your breath away.


Centennial Park/Parthenon

This is one of the iconic places of Nashville and also how Nashville became “The Athens of the South”. If you don’t stop by while you visit Nashville you must be out of your mind. Centennial Park is a cornerstone of our city and the Parthenon sets this park apart from all others. It is an accurate replica of the Parthenon in Greece. Just standing in the park and admiring its beauty suits me but you can also visit the art museum inside if you like.

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts

Nashville’s version of a sexy and hip art museum bringing fine art from all over the world. Another one of my favorite places and worth seeing if you give a hoot about art at all. The exhibits change every few months but every piece is worth seeing


Union Station

When you drive by The Frist, make sure you check out Union Station. It’s free to take a gander and worth the stop. I have brought family here and would recommend it to anyone who likes to appreciate yester year. The Union Station was once a 19th century train station converted to a hotel. Word is, it was scheduled to be torn down before it was saved and converted. Check out their website for more fun facts and how to book a room


Broadway/Downtown/Honky Tonks/Bluebird Cafe

Nashville is the Music City and no trip would be complete without a visit to what made us famous. Even if you despise country music I can guarantee you will have a good time downtown and specifically at the Honky Tonk bars. Brandon puts a full endorsement on this activity even though he isn’t very fond of country music. They are a draw for locals and tourists alike so don’t forget to check this off your list.


Shelby Street Bridge 

A pedestrian bridge that crosses the Cumberland River and leads you from Downtown Nashville to the Titans Stadium parking lot. It offers the most beautiful view of downtown Nashville night or day. What’s more it’s free to take a walk along the bridge and enjoy the beautiful October weather. This has become one of Brandon and I’s favorite things to do.

The Hermitage

Located in Hermitage, TN on the outskirts of Nashville the Hermitage is another gateway to the rich and sometimes heartbreaking story of the South. Originally the home of President Andrew Jackson you can thoroughly understand his life as well as the lives of the slaves who worked this plantation. It is a beautiful place and offers a lot of perspective.


Belle Meade Plantation

Another window into Nashville’s past is Belle Meade plantation currently located in the most affluent part of the city. It was once a horse farm and is now preserved as a museum and event venue. If you want to get a feel for the wealth and history associated with plantations in the South you can’t go wrong.


Farmer’s Market

Fall is an amazing time to visit the Nashville Farmer’s Market and highly recommend a quick stop. One of the things I have really appreciated about living here is the readily available fresh fruits and vegetables. I love this place and come here multiple times a month! There are restaurants and vendors available all the time.


Grand Ole Opry/Ryman

If you are a fan of country music, music, or just want to really explore an important part of Nashville check out the Ryman. Located in Downtown Nashville it is really the epicenter, where country music really took off and first location of the Grand Ole Opry. Although typically Grand Ole Opry concerts take place at the Grand Ole Opry house in Donelson (suburb) they have been moved back to their beginning location because of the May 2010 flood. If a concert isn’t in the budget or schedule you can tour the facility and the museum.


Country Music Hall of Fame

The Country Music Hall of Fame is quintessential Nashville but I wouldn’t recommend going unless you really LOVE country music. It is everything you need to know or could ever care about. Also, it’s a little pricey. I have heard it is worth every dime but something Brandon and I just haven’t been able to cough up the money for yet.


Art Scene-Downtown, East Nashville, Belmont/Hillsboro Village

Nashville has a beautiful and amazing art scene I would recommend checking out if you are at all interested. There are art galleries everywhere by the main ones are in the areas listed above. You could spend days just wondering through them. Also, on the first Saturday of each month there is free art crawl downtown which is one of my favorite activities ever!

Have a drink in East Nashville-Everything from Holland House to 3 Crow

Brandon and I love this neighborhood and will be moving to this side of town within the next year or so. It is a fun and trendy place with tons to do especially involving the food and drink scene. There are some upscale bars as well as some low key beer joints. We will be happy to show you our favorite spots should you get the hankering for a yummy cocktail, beer, or a sweet tea.


Belcourt Theatre 

Located in the Hillsboro Village area near Belmont this is a fun and not so obviously touristy place to check out, particularly if you are movie buff. They play independent and foreign films as well as some awesome documentaries. They serve drinks (of all kinds if you catch my drift) and your support helps keep and old theatre alive and well for many generations to come. It’s definitely a piece of Nashville’s history.


Adventure Science Center

If you have kiddos or just really want to crazy on some science check out the adventure science center. I have plans to take my nephew there as soon as he is big enough. Although I have not visited, Brandon did and said it was tons of fun for all ages.


Nashville Zoo

You must be crazy not to love the zoo. Nashville’s is all around pretty good for a city of this size and once again, a prime spot for the young ones to have a grand ole time.


Away from Nashville

Jack Daniels Distillery

If you like whiskey, want to check out the brewing process, or just want to check a rich piece of Southern History the distillery is only about an hour and a half drive from Nashville.


Greenways/State Parks/Metro Parks

Nashville is beautiful. Tennessee is beautiful. Even if you aren’t an outdoorsy person (I’m not) please make it a plan to go somewhere green while you are here. (Shout to my AZ family!) I am constantly struck by how freaking gorgeous this place is. It really is what sets Tennessee apart.



Historic Franklin

About a half an hour drive from my house downtown Franklin is like stepping into a movie. In my mind it is what people picture when they think of America (sidewalks, perfectly manicured streets and Southern influenced architecture). It’s is really beautiful to just walk the streets and grab a bite to eat. The other good thing is that is on the way to Arrington Vineyards (more info to come) and Natchez Trace.


Natchez Trace

Hop in the car and start driving and check out some of the most beautiful scenery the state of TN has to offer. Afterwards, grab a bite to eat at the famous Loveless Café.



About a 3 ½ hour drive west from Nashville. Home of famous BBQ, Graceland, and the Civil Rights Museum it may be worth it if you are going to be in town awhile. Otherwise I would save it for another trip (one which you can invite me on).


Also about a three hour drive but going east Knoxville is the home of Brandon’s beloved University of TN. Gatlinburg is the jumping off point for the Great Smoky Mountains, Dolly World and other magnificent attractions. Although beautiful and worth a trip, I would caution against doing it in one day. Brandon and I made an overnight trip here on my first trip to TN and so it will always hold a special place in my heart.


Two hour drive Southeast of Nashville and another TN jewel with plenty to keep you busy. Brandon and I fell in love when we visited last Christmas.


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Brandon and I realized that yesterday marked one year since we got engaged! My how life just passes you by. So much has continued to change in our lives. We are so thankful for each other and for the life that we have together. We absolutely cannot wait to celebrate our big day with our friends and family. We are so looking forward to seeing all of you and to celebrating this very special day in our lives. Thanks for all of your support, love, and encouragement.

Love you bear!

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Okay, so here’s the deal with Nashville.  Its a touristy place.  There’s a lot of hotels.  There’s a lot of crappy hotels, there’s a lot of overpriced hotels, and there’s a lot of hotels right in that sweet spot.  Since almost all of Shannon’s family/friend base is from out of town, she’s been pushing me to publish a blog regarding hotels in Nashville.  (The reason she thinks I’m the best man for the job?  Years and years of delivering pizza).

So here’s where we live in relation to the city of Nashville.  I’ve also circled the Airport, as well as the sweet spot.  See below:

So, you can probably tell, we want to put you near the airport/our apartment/Opry Area/Interstate/Downtown

You’d think that was tough to do, right?  Wrong!

The following guide is for the adventurous among you.

Hotwire.com is the best deal you can get.  The catch with Hotwire?  You don’t know for sure what hotel you’re getting until after you’ve booked it – and its non-refundable (although I believe you purchase trip insurance that will allow you to cancel).  Good thing you know someone who’s familiar with the area.

So, here’s my advice if you’re willing to use Hotwire to get your hotel.  First of all, only look at hotels in the “Nashville Intl Airport BNA area hotel” because those are the ones I’m most familiar with.  There’s currently a 3.5 star hotel available for $75 a night.  That hotel is the Sheraton Music City (Sheraton.com/MusicCity) (I’m about 90% positive on this one – it could be the Hotel Preston, which still a very nice 3.5 star hotel which runs about $110+ a night).   This is probably the nicest hotel in the area that’s not geared towards business travelers.  In addition, those rooms go for anywhere from $130 to $150 a night, typically.  Its a great deal.

If you’re not looking to spend that much, check out the 2.5 star hotel currently listed in that same area at $42 per night.  Now, the issue here is: there’s a lot of 2.5 star hotels in this area.  The nice thing?  They’re all pretty nice hotels.  There’s not a single one I wouldn’t stay in (Comfort Suites, Holiday Inn, Country Inn and Suites, Etc.).  So, if you’re not looking to spend a lot of money and still want to stay in a fairly nice place – go for the 2.5 star hotel in the Nashville Intl Airport BNA area.

Now, for those of you who aren’t quite as brave.

I would still highly recommend using Priceline to find your hotel.  You’ll get to pick your hotel, and are still going to pay less than you would booking directly through the hotel itself (typically).

My recomendations (once again, make sure you search the “Nashville Airport – BNA area within Priceline):

  • Club Hotel – $59 a night.  Quiet hotel near the airport, but away from the main road. Outdoor Pool
  • Wingate Inn by Wyndham – (currently listed at $69) – One of the nicest hotels near the airport.  Super friendly staff, above average rooms.  Nice common area in the lobby.  Free breakfast.  Indoor pool.
  • Radisson Hotel Nashville Airport – $78 – Another nice choice.  Set away from the road, similar to the other two listed above.  Considered a 3-star hotel.  Indoor Pool & Spa
  • Holiday Inn Airport/Opryland – $86 – Another good choice.  You know what you’re getting at this well known chain.  Nice rooms, indoor pool, restaurant, right by the interstate.
  • Country Inn and Suites Airport – $70 – Nice hotel.  Literally right off the interstate.  Closest hotel in Nashville to the airport.
  • Courtyard by Marriott Airport – $89 – Geared towards business travellers, but has everything you’d need.  Outdoor pool, restaurant, business center, store.  Up-scale business class.
  • Crossland Hotel Nashville (Not a BNA area hotel) – $45 – probably the best economy option (aside from the above discussed Hotwire option – an economy studio hotel room.  Its the closest hotel I would recommend staying at near our apartment.  Its not located in the greatest neighborhood, but it is set far back from the road and up a pretty substantial hill.  Given that, its pretty quiet and translates to a pretty good deal.

Now, you’re more than welcome to seek out your own deals and contact us for opinions.  Downtown area hotels are always an option – but be prepared to pay a premium for a hotel in downtown Nashville.  Good luck!

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This year has been a great one so far. Awesome.  Exciting. Brandon and I are feeling on top of the world and so I decided to do an update of recent events.

At the beginning of the year Brandon and I made a goal of making this year much better than the last. We had been through a lot in the past year and when 2010 began we knew we had to renew our life goals and our expectations. This is otherwise known as reframing and hoping good karma comes our way. I’m not sure when we did but 2010 has been awesome!

The last month or so has been pretty crazy with one thing right after the other. The first and perhaps most obvious being that, Brandon got a job! After delivering pizza full time for over a year he accepted a position as the Nashville Sports Council as the Marketing, Development, Communication Manager. We are so thrilled.

Today he began his third week. This may sound silly, but it still feels like it is all a dream. Having our evenings together and weekends to plan ahead is perhaps one of the most amazing experiences ever. Brandon and I have been dating for a about four years (give or take) and at no point have we been able to plan and spend time together. We lived across the country, across the world, and then across the state. We have lived with parents, worked two jobs, survived on one income, worked nights, worked days and everything in between. Fact is, the mundane is kind of exciting for us. Not to say there won’t be adjustments because we are definitely acclimating to a much different way of being but overall we couldn’t be happier.

That’s not all we are excited about. Below is a list.

1)      Wedding

2)      Betty

3)      Valentine’s Day was awesome

4)      New TV (42” 1080p LCD) (That was Brandon’s input in this blog!)

5)      Shannon had an awesome leadership training in Los Angeles

6)      Spring is coming

7)      My sister  and nephew are planning a visit

8)      Weekend plans (or lack thereof)

We can’t help continuing to talk about how thankful we are. It still just seems surreal. BTW, if you feel the need to gag, you can do so….now. I know it’s cheesy. Just doing my best to be thankful for the good times folks.

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Ha. I thought that line was perfect for this post. Good point Juliet. Good point.

The topic of this blog is somewhat controversial but something I feel very strongly about. I feel almost compelled to explain myself because I am going a little bit atypical.

I am not taking Brandon’s name. Well not completely. Let me explain.

I was surprised when I began to learn that this was still such a controversial topic. It was something I decided a long time ago, in my early teenage years actually, but as I get older and talk more openly about it I have found that a lot of people feel very strongly about it. Brandon was actually not even in the picture when I made this decision. One of my teachers from high school whom I greatly admired was the first woman I had ever met that still had her “maiden” name even 20 or so years into marriage. I thought it was an awesome way to assert yourself and honor your family.

I have multiple reasons why I want to keep my last name. I take pride in my name. I have always liked it. I liked the strength and character in both my first name and last name. When I was 16 and my father passed away there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to stay a “Wagner”. I knew it would always be a way of honoring the man who had given me the strength and courage to honor who I am. It gives me a connection to him and to my family. Also, like it or not, I am an incredibly independent person. I knew in my heart that I would feel most comfortable with keeping my name. I really believe that each couple’s needs are different. I think that is one of the reasons we know our love for each other is so real. We have truly been able to appreciate each other’s independence. We both have a very strong sense of self and take pride in the adults we have become. We both are able to respect each other’s time, needs, goals, etc. Brandon and I love each other dearly and he respects that I love my name. I was open with him from the beginning and knew exactly what I wanted. We made the decision together and I have thoroughly and thoughtfully discussed every possible reaction and question. Believe me, I have already started getting them. But, all that matters in the end, is that we are happy with our decision.

I get a little kick out of answering people’s questions. I have heard all the reasons for both sides of the argument. I have researched and read articles and discussed it with friends and family. The only issue that I have is that if we decide to have children they may not be treated well or respected because people may assume I am not their mother. Quite frankly, I look forward to the times when people question me. (I’m a little competitive. What can I say?) However, my future offspring is another ballgame. Based on that, I have decided to compromise. I will take Brandon’s name as a middle name. I will still go by my full given name for everything but legally change my name. This means if I want to pull out his last name for things like school paperwork and field trip forms I can. I am not hyphenating though so the two last names will not be connected. My new initials will be SMCW. Ha. I get four names. Cool huh?

So there you have it. I wanted to get that one out there. I am so excited to marry Brandon and I know he is just as excited me marry me. In the end, Juliet had it right. It’s about the love we have for each other and not about our names.

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“My car is on fire! OMG! My wedding stuff!”

This, folks, is not from a movie. This, folks, was screamed from my mouth less than one week ago. Most of you now know that my poor little 1987 Nissan Stanza caught on fire and burned to the ground. But more on that later, we are going to talk about the wedding stuff first.

Last Saturday I began searching the trusty ole craigslist. I love craigslist so much. It was like the most genius idea ever! Anyway, I found a couple in Murfreesboro who were selling 24 chocolate brown polyester tablecloths. For those of you don’t know a single thing about events. Those are the fancy ones that they use at events and get this…weddings. And guess what else? OMG! They were five dollars a piece! I know! That is cheaper than they are to rent folks! I was so excited.

After a stop to pick up Maggie we headed out to this people’s house. It turned out they had a lot of things for sale and I ended up adding 28 ivory colored Japanese style lamps to the mix. I had been pricing both items online and I know I saved a load of money buying them off the couple who had gotten married only a few months earlier. The best part though, is that they were very eager to share their DIY wedding with me and show photographs. I was so excited when I saw that they had gotten married at the same exact location as Brandon and I. They were so nice and showed me all of the decorations and set up they had used. Earlier in the week I had been questioning whether or not I could pull off a total DIY wedding on such a tight budget but they showed me it was completely possible. I felt so great about their draping, set up of tables, bar etc that I knew I could do it too! I excitedly purchased the items and put them in the back of my little Stanza.

Maggie and I had plans to head to Emily’s housewarming party that evening so we headed on our way. The rain had been going all day and by the middle of the night had settled in quite nicely. It wasn’t going anywhere. As a result, we left the tablecloths and lamps in the car. In fact, they stayed in their all night and all day.

Brandon hadn’t even seen them yet when I called him screaming into the phone, “I think my car is on fire. I saw flames.“ I had been on the phone with Emily when it began smoking driving over Donelson Pike and I-40. I was leaving Anna and Tony’s house. I pulled over as soon as I got over the bridge and hanging up with Brandon grabbed my purse. All of this happened so fast I can’t even describe it. Within seconds, a man was opening my door and screaming at me to get out of the car. It was on fire! As I stood on the side of Donelson Pike shaking and watching my car burn I remembered the linens and even though I hadn’t been crying before, I was now. Turns out the man who pulled me from the car (guided me out really) was an off duty fireman named Josh. When his wife, Katie, found out about my linens she asked him if there was any way we could save them. Quickly, he began throwing the boxes on the ground as Katie and I tried to grab them and run. It was a miracle people! They were saved with no damage whatsoever. However, my car was not. Even though the airport fire responded within 5-7 minutes the whole front of my car was engulfed in flames. Brandon had been at the grocery store and was hauling a** down Murfreesboro Rd. and Donelson Pike and his parents were coming from the other direction. They were both blown away by the smoke and flames. They got there soon after the fire department.

Besides shutting down Donelson Pike and scaring me really badly everything was okay. It could have been much worse. Everything worked out in that I was able to stop in time and get to the side of the road quickly. My car was only worth a few hundred dollars and turns out….my future in-laws came through on that one. Better yet, my wedding stuff was saved thanks to a passerby who saw and stopped to help. At the end of the night, as I was hugging Josh and Katie, I was grateful for their help. Nobody wants to go through something like that but if you have to it is great to have people step in and help.

So here I am. Planning a wedding and dealing with burning cars. It is a crazy story but one that will be awesome to tell for many years to come. Thanks so everyone who expressed their concern. No wedding goes off without a hitch!

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Well since Brandon got to write all about “the boys” I guess I get to write about “the girls” huh?

I also put a lot of thought and consideration into my choices. Things were a little funky for me based on the fact that I have friends and family in three different states. It was a little awkward. When one moves across the country, relationships change, grow and dissipate. I made my decision based on whom I could see myself being closest to at this point in my life and whom I know would be capable of putting up with my crazy and somewhat obsessed self. The following women are incredibly special to me for a variety of different reasons and are all incredibly different. They each bring a gift and a special touch to my life. I am so thankful to have each of them.


Tonya aka My Baby Sister

The Matron of Honor

Tonya Michelle, as she is known in our family, possesses key knowledge of which others know little of. She has seen me at all (minus the first five years of course) stages of my life and been there in the way only a sister can be. She also happens to be the mother of the most handsome little man ever, my nephew, Stephen. My sister has been through a lot in her life and continues to overcome obstacles every day. She is strong, resilient, and caring. She values her relationships with friends and family and would pretty much go out on any limb to help people. If she were any cooler she would be me and then that wouldn’t work out quite right. She also LOVES sweatpants which makes sense since she is a hard working mama with lots to do. We have been through a lot together. More than either of us can ever fully explain. She was a no brainer as my Matron of Honor.



Maid of Honor

Danyella and I met my freshman year of college when we were pledging for Sigma Lambda Gamma. However, we stood still in that friends, but not best friends, stage for quite a few months even after we crossed and became sisters. Though, once we clicked, we clicked, and the world had to take note. (Okay that was a little over the top, much like the two of us.) We have the same introspective personalities. We can get damn serious and political when we want to be, however, get us out on the town and we can raise the roof. Danyella is confidant, insightful, and passionate. Some may she (and me too!) has a flare for the dramatic. Danyella (like myself) is a fire sign and it shows in everything she does. She is incredibly loyal and always stands up for what she believes in. I call Danyella when I have good news, bad news or really with any news at all. I know she’ll always be there, even when it is to tell me what I don’t want to hear.




Emily is part businesswoman, part social activist, and part artsy creationist (my own word). Emily and I met at Room In The Inn but she has since ventured into the world of Vanderbilt Education(s). She reminds me how important it is to be progressive even it feels like the rest of the world isn’t.  She blazes her own trail. She is open minded, sassy, and big hearted. She is one of those people that you sometimes think you have figured out and then she comes along and surprises you. Did I mention that she seldom takes “no” for an answer? She works hard and is always up for a good time. Emily is adventurous and I don’t see her settling down anytime soon. That’s totally part of her charm and I love her for it. She is a go getter, passionate, and thoughtful. Emily is going places and I am glad we became friends ‘cause I get to share it with her.




First of all, let me say, if you are a hard core street thug with a knife or an incredibly intoxicated, loud and really grabby troublemaker YOU DO NOT STAND A CHANCE. This means Maggie handles anyone who gets drunk at the wedding. Just kidding! Maggie and I met through work at Room In The Inn but became friends with a little quality partaking and hanging out. She can match me curse word for curse word and few people can do that. She also gives everything she has to everything in her life…which is a whole bunch. Maggie is also Martha Stewart and Betty Crocker rolled up into one. I can only hope to aspire to be as gifted as she is in that department. So you see why she is the conqueror. I think she could probably be making desert on one hand and beat down someone with the other. Come heck or high water I know Maggie would be there in a pinch. If I had one word to describe Maggie it would be…real. She is never pretentious and always herself. She is also super genuine, open, fearless, and kindhearted. We have a ton in common and I look forward to many years as friends.




Patricia and I met my freshman year of college as well. Patricia took me under her wing and later developed my passion for Sigma Lambda Gamma and the sisterhood. Patricia defines fun. She can cut a rug like a champ and always make me laugh. She held my hair back the first time I had too much to drink and has given me advice through every step of becoming an adult. She is one part girly and one part beat you down. She loves all things glitz and glam and has the shiniest hair I have ever seen in my life. She is also loving, dedicated, and brave. She pile drives adversity. She is super creative and adventurous. I love that she always has a lot of love to give. Once you get on her good side, she’ll do anything to help. One thing is for sure, I can always count on Patricia to keep it real and make me smile.

My wedding party in a nutshell. Aren’t they gorgeous, wonderful and totally awesome? Planning a wedding has been an wonderful experience with these knowledgeable and helpful ladies in tow. I couldn’t do this wedding without them. Actually, I probably couldn’t do life without them.

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