Gone South…to Franklin

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We drove the Tennessee backroad to The Loveless Café from Franklin where Taylor, Cole and I stayed twelve days in the home of friends, Kim and Andy.  Switching places, they went abroad while I stayed home with their cat and three dogs. As much as I love back roads, I adore back yards with big porches to grill and chill. Theirs backs up to woods.

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I loved walking the dogs early in the morning, sprinklers hissing as we passed. Off trail, cicadas’ cries crescendoed when we waded through tall, dewy weeds to the Harpeth River rocks.  After breakfast,  I’d pick tomatoes, mint, and basil to make salsa, guacamole, and BLTs for lunch. Cole would play a game of fetch with Wrangler, Ella, and Ollie.

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At night we caught up on movies.  I’d vowed when I got home I’d disappear into a theater for at least a week.  Other than Die Hard shown in the square during the Marrakesh Film Fest I hadn’t seen a single new movie on the Big Screen for an entire year AND when the sound on my airplane screen was broken on the way home, I nearly wept.  But Andy and Kim’s Dish like my sister and brother-in-law’s cable had so many choices the only movie I wanted to see in a theater was Jurassic World.

We also ate our way through America’s “Favorite Main Street,” “Friendliest Town” (Travel and Leisure), and “Best Southern Town” (Garden and Gun). Check out all Franklin offers here. We went to Puckett’s Boat House for live music, catfish and oysters like the ones I’d had there in 2013. (55South on Main also has great fresh oysters; I had them there on Kim and Andy’s wedding day.)

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Before Kim went to Europe she took me to Gray’s where we caught up over cocktails and dinner. Dating back to 1876, the former pharmacy now social and music hub has a rich history.

Family friends/retired teachers/travel buddies from Nashville, Betty and Sharon, drove down to visit.  Starting in 1992 they taught me how to lead school groups on educational trips abroad. We still laugh about the tiny room we shared in England at Hotel Lily. We had to climb over triple beds to enter or exit.  They took me to Henpeck Village Market—a meat and three with a great patio and pecan pie to die for.

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Chicken Salad
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Turnip Greens, Mashed Potato, Biscuit, Pinto Beans, Fried Okra

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Ladies’ Powder Room

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On the weekend, Heather, my Destin and Charleston travel partner and former coworker/student and I checked out the English pub, Bunganut Pig where a rocking band played to a full house.

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Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant was my son’s find. Great choice!  (Mexican food is the cuisine I miss most in Marrakesh.  Moroccan friends, if it’s out there, please let me know where.)

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I’m thankful for all the good food in Williamson County, but best of all, I loved cooking  for my family and sleeping under the same roof again.

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Guacamole, salsa, spinach and artichoke dip
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Grilled corn and steak

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I've always loved the Parisian photograph by Cyndi Williams (right) and the Arabian artwork. With Kim in Paris and me in Morocco, art imitates life at the moment.
I’ve always loved the Parisian photograph by Cyndi Williams (right) and the Arabian artwork (center). With Kim in Paris during our stay and me living in Morocco, art imitates life.

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We didn’t know we’d lose Precious, our 18-year old Persian, just a week before pet sitting for Kim and Andy.  Being with their cat, Jet, and the other babies was good for us all.

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And as we did after first moving to Nashville, before we had children, my sister drove down on her day off to Franklin, and we popped into shops along Main.  Our only regret was not getting into Merridee’s Breadbasket Bakery.  Next time.

We loved Philanthropy for its clothes, decor, and cause.

My sister, Penny, and I loved Philanthropy.
Love my sis

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The Iron Gate has been a favorite home haven for years.

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Vintage Jolie 

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On the cover, Mint Juleps, official drink of The Kentucky Derby

Yarrow Acres

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Avec Moi

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Ina’s not southern, but she’s my favorite chef on my favorite channel, Food Network.

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Reminds me of the broaches my Mama Lou and Mama Sargeant wore. (“Mama” is Southern-Speak for “Grandmother.”)

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Finnleys

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Come on Down…

There’s so much more to see and do. The first Friday of each month, catch the Franklin Art Scene, a free, monthly art crawl. Other Franklin Festivals for 2015-16 are found here and Franklin Theater’s attractions are here.  If in Franklin or passing through December 12-13, Franklin’s Dickens of a Christmas is a must-do for winter as is Arrington Vineyards for warmer weather.

Want to stay awhile?

Do you prefer staying in a home over a hotel? Don’t have friends in Franklin with whom you can stay?  Do you love taking care of pets and a home?  On rover.com and care.com those with strong profiles can find assignments as caretakers. Or if wanting to start your search for a “down home” rental south of Nashville, check AirBnB here.

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Past, Present, Future Dickens of a Christmas

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He went to the church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and for, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of homes, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed of any walk, that anything, could give him so much happiness. 

I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. —A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

A highlight of celebrating this Yuletide Season was Franklin’s “Dickens of a Christmas.”  Until last week, my sister, brother-in-law, and I had not done the annual event since first moving to Nashville.  Walking Main Street took me back to many-an-afternoon on Hoptown sidewalks spent window-shopping with Mama Lou–a time before Internet Wish Lists and a place when it was ok to spend a day “just looking.”  We’d stop in to see Mama Sargeant, Bookkeeper at J. C. Penney, have a banana split at the soda counter, and then head home to launch other adventures by way of Christmas classics.

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Both grandmothers loved books, so I met Mr. Dickens early in life. I loved Mama Lou’s Christmas Ideals (the book and her lifelong wonder found in simple things).  Brimming like a stuffed stocking, its pictures fed my imagination with conversations between Santa and Mrs. Claus; carolers in velvet, hooded capes; and children and dogs dallying in the snow.

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Ideals

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On December 15, as cold as the Decembers of our childhoods, Penny, Jeff, and I met Kim and Andy, Franklin residents and newlyweds, in the Franklin Square. On our Sunday stroll I felt fully alive, proven by our breath misting in the streets. Inside stores twinkled with lights and all-things-pretty–cozy bedding and tulle gowns worthy of wearing by the Sugar Plum Fairy and waiting for Santa himself. Though we bought only kettle corn and sugared pecans, we savored sweet Christmas past and present.  I don’t know what Christmas Future holds, but I am confident in the One who holds it.  All is calm, all is bright because as Dickens said:

“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.” —A Christmas Carol

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Kim and Andy
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Penny and Jeff
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Puckett’s Boat House

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Merry Christmas and
Merry Christmas and “God Bless Us, Everyone!”