Belk Charity Day: Event to CELEBRATE

Belk embodies – it is the homegrown southern department store that has been providing top of the line style since 1888.  While I rarely dish the dirt on big sales, I have to boast about Charity Day.

On May 2nd from 6 a.m. to noon – Belk is having its semi-annual Charity Day sale – the sale raises millions of dollars annually for non-profits while saving consumers $$$

Most major brands will be 20%-25% off including Ralph Lauren, POLO, Tommy Bahama, Lilly Pulitzer and so much more.

The sale is busier than Black Friday – so if you are like me and want to avoid the crowd I recommend doing a pre-sale.

What is a pre-sale?  A pre-sale allows you to pick out everything you want in advance of the sale, it is placed on hold and charged to your account the day of the event….you can sleep in and not miss out of the savings.

Don’t live near a Belk – no worries – they have a great online website ideal for all of your shopping needs – or you can always call a store and have them ship the items to your house.  I continued to shop Belk even when I lived in Montana.

Karen Kane Full Spectrum Scuba DressGeometric shapes and bold prints are all the rage this season – I love this Karen Kane dress – it is Made in the USA and a style you can dress up, down and in between

Karen Kane Pull On Printed PantCalvin Klein Flyaway JacketCalvin Klein flyaway jacket

Printed pants are popping up everywhere – I must admit I wasn’t a huge fan at first but I’m warming to the trend – this Karen Kane pattern would look great with a silk sleeveless cream top and royal blue jacket (denim anyone?)

Jack Rogers shoes included in CHARITY DAY

Jack Rogers Hamptons Navajo Sandal

Charity Day is the main time I shop because the deals are so spectacular – and the fashions this season have a lot of color and style.  The best part is that the sale actually gives back to local non-profits – including The United Way and local education.


Lilly Pulitzer: Something to POST about

Lilly Pulitizer launched at Target a week ago and the buzz shocked consumers with a cruel sting as many devotees to the queen bee of floral prints sold out online and in stores almost immediately.  In fact the frenzy surrounding Lilly Pulitzer was so crazy that the Target pieces are re-selling on e-bay for prices higher than traditional Lilly dresses.  Oxford Industries, parent company of Lilly is blooming with PR and stock power from the what initially seemed like a risky move of putting a high-end boutique line in Target.  Oxford knew exactly how to generate the buzz to make Lilly garner top fashion talk without compromising the brand’s ‘Veblen’ status (Word of the Day Veblen goods are types of material commodities for which the demand is proportional to its high price, which is an apparent contradiction of the law of demand)

If anything Lilly has more flower power than it had before and it has gotten so much gossip and PR from The Target promotional stint that the floral blitz of fans is flowing over to Lilly’s traditional boutique stores.

I decided to do a follow-up story on Lilly for several reasons.  1)I work in a department store that carries Lilly and I sell Tommy Bahama – another Oxford brand – so I’m naturally interested in how high end does in Target binge quick boutique shopping. 2)I have a business degree with an emphasis in economics and marketing and to me this story is absolutely perfect for a case study in branding, marketing, marketing alliance and distribution…some might argue on distribution – but the brand sold out in only a few hours and there was greater demand than quality which equals success for the seller.

I also wanted to revisit Lilly because I recently read a scathing article in The Washington Post about Lilly Pulitzer and the alliance with Target.  The Post demeans Lilly as just junk clothing for clueless preps (though it does not use that language it doesn’t take much to read through the lines) – they say Lilly Pulitizer herself was never really a fashion designer and just an heiress with time and money to burn. The Post goes on and on about how Lilly is not a fashion brand and this stunt was terrible for fashion.

First things first let’s make something clear – fashion is about style, but fashion is also about trends – fashion is also something that might be foreign in style to one person and define the character of style for another – fashion is a fluid language and it is something you don’t necessarily have to be born out of NYC and Paris to comprehend – in fact I think fashion and style that is too closed off in the elitism fashion circles manages to lose the cutting edge innovation – it is like Latin against the vernacular – Latin is beautiful it has its place, but vernacular prose like street fashion can be equally alluring and exemplary.

The Post says Lilly is great for retail, terrible for fashion…I hate to scar the naive minds out there but retail often drives fashion – style is a little more lasting – and retail is driven by consumers – it is a partnership.  Fashion can be a work of art – but just because it finds a market in retail does not mean it is not ‘fashion’ or a part of the style symphony of the day.  There are nuances – frankly I think a fashion house would rather generate revenue in retail than win accolades and be in debt.

Retail and Fashion are two sides of a coin – I agree sometimes one causes the other problems.  I think retail and fashion should both be held to blame for their lack of focus on making quality homegrown US products.

I think it is a HIPSTER mentality to think – if it sells – it is bad for fashion.

If you don’t like Lilly’s bold prints – I understand – I like her prints because I like color – I have an artist heart and I’m a creative person – also in the south we have warmer weather and they are great outfits for a variety of functions.  Would I wear it every day – no – but to dismiss an icon – a style so distinct that the minute you see it you know ‘That’s a Lilly’ as being ‘bad fashion’ it is a question then of choice.  Lilly in my opinion is an icon of fashion – it is fashion and it is innovative – even in its recurring bright floral prints – no do they do other designs like minimalist and modern dark and grey – NO – but most brands adhere to a style branding.

As retail big box chains consolidate and more commerce from high-end fashion moves to boutiques or high-end department stores more collaborations with the likes of Target and other brands will happen because at the end of the day – fashion is art, style is timeless – but they have to pay the bills – fashion services a need and follows the market trends – style is more complex and often sets trends.

I think when retail is in good shape it helps fashion – when sales are down and consumers are not expanding their wardrobe then less innovative designers are able to get financing and build their brand.

One of my biggest focuses on Adele Belle is American Made – something I also think good retail sales helps expand as consumers demand ethically made goods.

This is fashion for thought and my two cents and a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice – I understand those who disagree, but hey we at least started a conversation.

#FashionreflectsLIFE #ConsumersdriveRetail

Messy Closet/Clean Closet: Step 2: Getting Rid of Junk

In our first edition of Messy Closet/Clean Closet in March we focused in on the first steps of empowering yourself to get sort through your junk and clunk it or treasure it.  We also discussed my personal debacle in a subsequent MC/CC post as I finally got rid of the deadweight of a storage unit that I held onto for over five years.  I understand the emotional pain and baggage of freeing yourself from clutter.  It is NOT EASY, but it CAN be done.  As I write this I am still sorting through boxes of my life – photos, yearbooks, scrapbooks, and junk – you don’t have to do it all at once (sometimes the one and done approach works the best because you execute the plan without fail) other times you need to take it piecemeal – the trick is to keep moving and to keep making progress.

I failed to mention in my last MC/CC post about removing your ‘dead weight’ – we discussed the possibility of a yard sale in our Spring Cleaning edition – this continues to be a fantastic option for getting rid of your trash that can be re-treasured.

If a yard sale won’t work for the ‘trash to re-treasure’ – I know with my storage unit we have thousands of dollars in antiques.  I was left helpless to sell the pieces in my until because I could not afford to hire a company to move the items to my home or even to a nearby consignment shop. As a single gal I find it hard to move heavy items on my own – and I am pretty strong and limber – but a 500 pound pure walnut chest of drawers won’t budge with my all my might.

Luckily in our case our storage unit is going to bring it to auction – which frankly I’m still bummed about because I don’t think the auctioneers get the true value of the piece.  We had a glorious etage owned by my family The Rhetts, Heywards…that passed down from Heyward Hall Plantation to our tiny condo and beyond – our storage unit owner thinks it is a $100 yard sale piece when the craftsmanship is easily $2000+ unfortunately I put myself in a position where I was dependent on this auction because of circumstances beyond my control.

Value your pieces – but don’t over value them.  If you have antiques – do some research and speak with several consignment shops and estate sale agents.  You probably won’t get the actual value of the piece because the antiques market is slow now – so I think if you have antiques and have to sell them – then make sure they go to the best home possible.  It breaks my heart thinking that my treasured family pieces will wind up in a bidding war with someone who doesn’t respect the piece – but it is an unfortunate loss I have to take.


Don’t allow yourselves to get in that situation – instead take time to research options for where to sell your furniture if it has more than easy sell value ($500 and below) – great places to sell included Used Furniture Stores, consignment shops and also on Craigslist (I’m more hesitant about CL given issues with accounts receivable)

If the pieces are not high resale value (i.e. antiques) but still in good, gently used shape then I recommend calling The Salvation Army or Goodwill to cart away the items as a donation for their outreach – it will do a world of good.

If the items are so damaged you just need them dumped – you can hire services like ‘College Hunks moving Junk’ and similar moving companies – they will charge you the city fee for dumping and the cost of moving – but it takes a load off your back.

Storage Buyers* websites bid on your junk to re-treasure it.

I’ll continue to update this post with links for services to help you get rid of JUNK.

Nashville Spotlight: Centennial Park

One of my favorite spots in Nashville is Centennial Park, a graciously appointed 132 acre green oasis smack dab in the city center of Nashville’s bustling West End-Vanderbilt business district.  Music City prides itself on its public spaces and for good reason – Nashville has dozens of city parks and vast expanses of wilderness and outdoor spaces for respite from the concrete jungle of traffic jams and deadlines.

Home to The Parthenon, Centennial Park is a symbol of Nashville, representing the diverse community, history and interwoven fabric of culture, food, arts and life in this Athens of the South. Nashville upholds its title with a commitment to community building on the roots of southern grace, fortitude, perseverance and creativity in motion.  Centennial Park is a gathering spot for Nashvillians – it is the prime spot for lazing in the sun with a good book on a picnic blanket or cramming for an exam under the shade of an expansive oak.  Anglers can enjoy fishing in the park ponds.  Runners and hikers can enjoy park trails.  History and art buffs enjoy touring the glorious revitalization of The Parthenon.  An aquatics and recreation center is a staple of the park activities.  Throughout the year, Centennial Park hosts a wide array of colorful events from Musicians Corner Concert Series, to Shakespeare in the Parks, crafts fairs and more.  Centennial is a hub of community – local volunteer groups sow and tend the effervescent blooms of the park gardens and organize local events.  You’ll encounter people from all walks of life enjoying the peace of this urban oasis.

The park’s heritage dates back when it was owned as an antebellum farm belonging Anne Robertson Johnson Cockrill – who interestingly enough was the first teacher in the state of TN!  Nashville’s higher institutions of learning are prominent in its cultural diversity – so it fits that this land was owned by the state’s first teacher!  Her brother was General James Robertson, the ‘Father of Middle Tennessee.’ After the devastation of the Civil War the land was deeded as state fairgrounds. In 1897, the park served as the site of the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition – a World’s Fair of sorts in the heart of Middle Tennessee (it is important to note that TN holds close to the regional terms ‘Western TN’ ‘Middle Tennessee’ and ‘East Tennessee’ – each have their own cultural flare and imprint that makes us the state’s patchwork quilt of diversity – connected in differences by a common love of their home state.)

The Centennial Exposition included the building of a full-scale model of the Athenian Parthenon and an artificial lake was established ‘Lake Watauga,’ along with sunken gardens and a band shell – all in use today!

For more information about the history of Centennial Park.. click here 

The Parthenon is the jewel of Centennial Park.  It remains one of the most visited tourist stops in Music City – Athena is the ‘god’ of wisdom, justice and inspiration in Greek mythology – three symbols that help center Music City.  Nashville is a place of higher learning with world class Belmont University, Vanderbilt University, TSU, Fisk, Aquinas and other institutions…Nashville is a city of creative inspiration and inspired innovation…Nashville is the state capital – the seat of justice in TN.

This full scale model of the Parthenon – is beautiful architecturally – a testament to the original Greek inspiration and is a cultural treasure – it includes 63 pieces of art including a gold plated Athena – the history of the museum focuses both on Athens and Greek Historical Culture and the culture and history of Nashville.  The Parthenon offers a number of lectures on history, art and community living – it is a hub of culture and a testament to Nashville’s spirit as The Athens of the South.

A Day in the Park:

Centennial Park in Nashville - one of my favorite places. I went there with my family when I was a child, took my children there and married the love of my life in this garden

Adventure awaits in the oasis of Centennial Park – whether you enjoy a stroll on the one mile hiking trail, fly-fishing in Lake Watauga, enjoying an arts and crafts class or swimming in the pool – something is always going on at Centennial.

I love to read and journal – so this was a go to spot for me to pack a picnic lunch, sit on a fold-out chair, enjoy the sunshine, while delving into high-brow literature (or the latest thriller) and working on the rough draft of a novel or essay.

Centennial Park is made for picnics in the park.

My go to lunch was take out from nearby Bread & Company – This gourmet-meets-homegrown take out is southern proper picnic food at its best.  It is what inspires Antebellum Kitchen, from the hand tossed salads, to made to order salads, potato salad, chicken salad – and the light succulent sweetness of B&C lemonade on a sweltering summer day.  Sadly the two locations I frequented in college (Green Hills and Belle Meade) have closed, but The West End locale across from Centennial was still in swing when I visited The Ville a few weeks ago. MUST HAVE – their FRUIT TEA – I nearly sold my soul for the recipe – it is that good!

Because I have Celiac Disease I often had to improvise with my to-go ‘sandwich’ – it became a makeshift lettucewich !  I’d order B&C’s turkey sandwich with swiss cheese, bacon, onions and a side of baked chips – no bread – instead I’d wrap my sandwich in lettuce and use chips for a mini-sandwich.  My mom adores their chicken salad and swears by its heavenly food goodness.

Nashville also has a great takeout cafe called The Picnic Cafe – that specializes in southern easy gourmet fare ideal for picnics and gatherings.  The food is delish and affordable.  Get your take out and enjoy southern YUM in the GREAT Outdoors of Centennial Park.

One other great spot – five minutes from Centennial (on Wedgwood and 21st near Vandy/Belmont in Belcourt area) is Provence Breads – they have delicious salads (I never did get to try the bread with my GF heartbeat, but I know it is to die for!)

And just for Good Measure…what to wear in the park?

I recommend practical park fashion a la Patagonia or Life is Good.  Girls can go Boho with print long bright colored skirts and a linen tank button up with a scarf, over-sized bag and sun hat.  If you are going to a concert or play in the park you cannot go wrong with a Fit & Flare active wear dress and Jack Rogers ~NAOT or similar sandals…

Karen Kane Baja Printed Maxi SkirtBrighton Anju Beaded Soft BucketCharles Jourdan Sydney 3 Shoulder Bag

Artist spirit with Karen Kane and Brighton Handbag – find similar styles at Belk, Target, and local boutiques

Nashville ~ Backyard Trekker ~ Elliston Place

One of the hotspots in Nashville is a tiny nook behind West End near Vandy and downtown Nashville – Elliston Place.  This area is home to a number of restaurants, stores and music venues.  Take time in your Nashville journey to make a Backyard Trek to Elliston Place.

Food for Thought:

Elliston Place Soda Shop – classic Vandyland – mmm-Nashtown traditional good food.  This soda bar is rooted in history and nostalgia – the milkshakes are legendary – the atmosphere evokes the 1940s and 50s bringing to life simple recipes of a soda diner.  This comfort food for the ages.

Jimmy Kelly’s is located in a historic southern mansion in the heart of Nashville – Jimmy Kelly’s is arguably Nashville’s best steakhouse.  Since 1934 it has been providing guests with top-notch cuisine and service.  It is one of my favorite spots for a special occasion meal in Nashville.

Cafe Coco: Nashville is a city that howls under the light of moon.  I am a night owl – it is a time honored tradition.  My brain revs up at midnight.  My mom is the same way – we often found ourselves starving for a bite to eat after going to a late night movie at The Belcourt or a show at TPAC hungry for midnight grub.  One of my favorite late night haunts in Nashville is Cafe Coco – I did not mention it on the coffee and tea grab list because Cafe Coco has its own distinct personality – it is a coffee house, but it is also an all-night diner in the core of Elliston urban Vandy noise. Cafe Coco is a noted MUSIC spot of its own with great shows by singer-songwriters.  This was my late night escape – especially when my neighbors had three a.m. drum practice.  🙂 Life in Music City was never dull ~ This is what I’m talking about! ~ Double Trouble Double mocha w/ white chocolate.
Served HOT… Select ICED if you want it served COLD.   4.75

*In the greater vicinity you’ll find the original Logan’s Steakhouse and sea food bar Rotiers

Literary Haunt…Elder’s Bookstore is located adjacent to Elliston Soda Shop – it is a premier purveyor of rare and used books – a literary hounds dream haunt –

Music Venues:

Music Rocks on Elliston:


The world renowned Exit/In has hosted famous musicians from the heyday of 70s/80s rock to present day Indie rock and beyond – it is one of the great venue stops in your Nashville music tour.

Across the street you’ll find the alternative music hook up The End.

Need a place to stay: The Homewood Suites and Vanderbilt Hampton Inn are within walking distance.  Make a point to explore Elliston Place during your stay in Music City

Antebellum Kitchen: Coffeehouse Grub

As a struggling college student and songwriter making the rounds in Nashville I lived for the days when I could enjoy a hearty meal of what I term ‘coffeehouse grub’ at Bongo Java, Frothy Monkey and other YUM eateries.  I have since found my own voice in the kitchen – the best food is often simple, natural and speaks from the soul.  I love breakfast, but with Celiac Disease I have been able to indulge in some of my old breakfast comforts – pancakes and french toast.  It took playing around with Gluten Free recipes in the kitchen and working with ingredients to find a niche to complement the breakfast comforts I craved. This week my Antebellum Kitchen theme will focus on Coffeehouse Grub and Tea Time Delights.

Humbug Ranch Steak with Nash Browns

This is a western-southern fusion dish inspired by favorite Nashville eateries and my Montana cattle call recipes.

When I am on the road or gearing up for a busy day (a hike or long day of driving, touring a town on foot) I want breakfast to be my primary meal.

The Humbug Ranch Steak is a grass fed (preferably) sirloin steak marinated in a sweet tea marinade (just keep in sweet tea for six hours for full effect – I am lazy I do a ten minute marinade, then add the rub – my mom will add the rub to the marinade and marinate for three hours) and seasoned in Bone Suckin Steak Rub.  I use a Lodge Cast Iron Skillet and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Depending on how you want to cook your steak you can alter this a bit, but I’m a no fuss sear it gal –

“Place the steak in the skillet and cook, turning once, until well-browned, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the steak in the skillet to the oven and cook for 5 minutes more for medium-rare.”  I’m a medium well girl – I know a cardinal sin – light pink in the middle is my choice.  You can get a great how to from Food Network – I just use intuition and tongs to kind of guide my direction..

You can also use a grill or George Foreman – I just like the rich flavor from the cast iron.
I drizzle barbeque sauce (Knot a Yankee or Jack Daniels – I’m allergic to Jack, but it is Tennessee’s best), spicy sauce is another choice for cowboy’s who like a hot breakfast…my taste buds cannot handle it.
I do a stir fry of grilled onions, green peppers and cilantro and mangoes (you can do canned or I just buy them pre-sliced) I drizzle olive oil for heat and allow the medley to simmer – I then drizzle the medley over the steak with grated Colby jack cheese.
I crack a hard boiled egg and crumble the egg into bits over the steak for added protein and flavor.
This steak dish is complemented by Nash Browns – a hearty helping of Tennessee West hash browns.  Nash Browns are crispy hash browns with gooey cheese, pico de gallo, chopped onion and brown sugar (just a pinch)
Hash browns made simple – you can purchase hash browns from the frozen foods section or do it the old fashioned Hickory way –
My Grandmother Ruby used to use a potato ricer to get all of the juice out of the potato, she then peeled the potato and used a basic cheese grater to create lace thin, pulpy delicious pieces of Russet or Yukon Gold potato.  She would then mix the shredded potato with thin cheddar hoop cheese – any type will do – and add a pinch of brown sugar.
I like to ‘fry’ saute my hash browns in a mix of olive oil and a tinge of maple syrup (Maple Grove Farms – Vermont).  adding in the pico and onion with the shreds…
I usually just purchase pico pre-made at Whole Foods, but you can make your own.  I’ll post a recipe for pico soon 🙂 I am a PICO LOVER
For a great how to on crispy hash browns I recommend this link.
You can dress up the plate with a sliced orange and rose petal – pair with a rich deep roast coffee – Bongo Java’s blends are available for order online – Whole Foods Night Owl is my go too for early rising or late night breakfast.

Backyard Trekker: Nashville ~ Coffee and Tea

Throughout April, Adele Belle and our sister site Vagabond Warrior are doing a focus blog series on ‘Nashville to Asheville’ – a virtual travel journey from the heart of Middle Tennessee and roots of Music City east through the Rocky Top hills of Tennessee into western North Carolina’s resplendent Blue Ridge Mountains.  Along the way we will tour the sights, take in the local cuisine, fashion, music, literature and vibes.  Vagabond Warrior and Adele Belle each have an independent spirit, complementing one another.  Vagabond Warrior is my travel philosophy – into the great unknown personality – Adele Belle is a flavor of my southern roots ready to take on the world.  Thank you for joining us on this fun vagabond ‘antebellum’ journey into the soul of Tennessee and North Carolina.

I attended college in Nashville at Belmont University.  Belmont is located on the property of a former antebellum plantation owned by Adelicia Acklen (another ‘adele belle’ :)) As a college student I split my time waiting tables, recording music, performing in songwriter cafes, going to class and studying.  This heavy workload was accomplished through gallons of coffee, tea and scrumptious Tennessee sweet delights.

I love coffee and tea – it is part of my antebellum vagabond soul – there is nothing more relaxing that meditating with my devotional, journal or a good book while slowly inhaling the aroma of fresh coffee and tea.  My love for coffee formed in Nashville where I first experienced the allure of frequenting down home off the wall cool funky coffee and tea bars – where acoustic sounds and good conversation fill the room.

When I moved to the Pacific Northwest my love of coffee and tea only cemented into a lifelong love affair – the coffee romance began in Nashville.  At first my priority with coffee was the desperate need for caffeine during midnight study sessions or the seven o’clock a.m. test after an all-nighter recording music in a campus studio or playing a late gig at a songwriter’s showcase.  Coffee, water and tea were my lifelines.  As a vocalist I know caffeine is not idea for singing – so I had to limit my consumption – over time the coffee consumption addiction to stay awake shifted to a desire to enjoy the rich taste and delicate and hearty hues of coffee – each cup of coffee has its own personality.  Coffee and tea are sacred drinks because they need to be savored, enjoyed – for me a morning coffee run is as much a meditation on getting ready for the day as it is just begging God to help me stay awake (and trust me during the Christmas shifts in my department store – espresso shots were a lifeline).

As a writer and literature nut I think there is an added gift in off beat coffeehouses – they are nooks for people-watching and spirit soothing hideaways – how often I have lost myself in a good book or written a heartfelt song with a cup of coffee and homegrown coffeehouse grub on my plate.  I have enjoyed endless conversations with friends discussing everything from the mysteries of the universe to run of the mill chit chat in my favorite Nashville coffeehouses.  My mom spend hours helping me study Spanish in coffee nooks as I worked to pass my final exams.

Nashville has a great coffee culture – the coffee culture is rooted in a diverse blend of influences – from Portland inspired strong cups and Seattle transplants to Nashville’s own coffee revolution.

Many do not know that Maxwell Coffee started in Nashville – that’s right – long before Starbucks and Seattle’s Best, Nashville’s cup of Joe served in the elegant Maxwell House Hotel.  One sleepless night while staying at the Maxwell House in Nashville, President Roosevelt requested a cup of hot coffee – he liked the hotel’s coffee so much he said it was ‘GOOD to the LAST DROP.’  Maxwell House started marketing its coffee, which was eventually sold to investors – it is definitely America’s cup of coffee to this day.  Sadly the Maxwell House Hotel in downtown burned to the ground, but the legend lives on and Nashville’s coffee tradition is alive and well.  The term ‘coffeehouse’ describes Nashville’s culture of coffee and tea because a majority of coffee spots are in retro houses and buildings – with a live-in neighborhood vibe.

The majority of Nashville’s coffee houses and tea rooms feature live music the perfect a la mode for your tea and coffee cups.

Here are my favorite coffee and tea joints in NASHVILLE:

Bongo Java: This is the grand-daddy-O of Music City coffee joints – located in a funky bungalow across from Belmont University on Belmont Blvd, Bongo Java is a tapestry of Nashville’s eclectic mix of residents – businessmen, students, performers, teachers, artists, truck drivers – everyone frequents this hip to the core, cool – laid back no-nonsense good eats coffee house.

Bongo Java was founded in 1993 and has a variety of daily roasts, specialty drinks and a Yum menu of comfort foods with a Music City flare.  Bongo is the city’s oldest coffee house – and is a gathering place for friends, colleagues and live – you’ll see everyone from A-list country stars to down home no fuss plumbers in Bongo.  While it has a reputation of having the best coffee in Music City – it lives up to its appeal by consistent quality and service – not just resting on past laurels.

It doesn’t hurt that Bongo Java is ‘blessed’ by the heavenly nun bun.  In 1996 one of Bongo’s scrumptious cinnamon rolls came out of the oven looking like Mother Teresa – a miracle of our daily bread.  I’m a Christian and what can I say God words in mysterious ways.  Sadly the Nun Bun was stolen, but the legend lives on

As a college student I was broke – so I usually stuck with a piping hot cup of their house coffee of the day and the occasional grilled cheese – (I developed celiac in college so I enjoyed a few years of succulent cinnamon rolls before giving up the ghost)


Located in the trendy (and I mean this as a complement – trendy as on the mark, always evolving – full of local authenticity and charm) district of Belcourt – you’ll fall in latte love with Bongo Java’s sister spot Fido.

Fido is a bit more industrial and has a city edge that appeals to Vandy med students, on the go Music Biz peeps and area students.  The coffee bar says it blurs the line between upscale and organic coffeehouse – down home and uptown in one

Fido offers signature drinks including mmm-good lattes.  In fact Taylor Swift (I’m a Swiftie #noapologies) has been seen here and our next stop Frothy Monkey a few times.

Romeo – one of the delicious lattes on the Fido roll call.
Latte with rose, agave + lime

Frothy Monkey:

Cool name, awesome vibe, artsy neighborhood, craftsman bungalow, nooks and crannies – beans java – what more can you want in a coffee spot.  12th Avenue South is near my own neighborhood and I walked up to Frothy Monkey a lot with my mom.  We used to love to sit in their cozy chairs, read the paper, talk about the latest news and then meander the block where art galleries and local restaurants flourish – I have learned that 12 Ave So continues to grow and Frothy Monkey only gets better and better with the addition of partner restaurant Burger UP.

Excerpt from their website:

We feature creative folks using local ingredients to prepare original dishes served in a cozy and approachable atmosphere. Frothy Monkey has been a staple in the Nashville community since 2004. We were one of the first coffeehouse concepts in Nashville and one of the cornerstone businesses to open in the transformed 12th South Nashville neighborhood. The chef driven menu offers breakfast, brunch every day, kids menu, lunch + dinner with expanded beverage offerings including coffeehouse standards as well as craft beer, wine + cocktails.

We’re a neighborhood concept. The brand is a staple in the Nashville community and a proud member of the neighborhoods we serve. You can count on Frothy to deliver quality, creativity, and approachability in everything we create. Our relationships with farmers and others who care about where ingredients come from is at the center of who we are.

Locally sourced, craft made home loved food – innovative and comfort recipes – Frothy Monkey is worth the stop in Nashville.   They have a wonderful tea selection – particularly herbal tea – ideal for vocalists who need to sing the blues without feeling light the frog is in their throat.

Portland Brew:

Located a coffee bean away from Frothy Monkey, Portland Brew on 12th So grew out of one couple’s passion for coffee.  Though originally from the South, the owners fell in love with the coffee culture while living in Portland Oregon, when they returned to the south they decided to share the STRONG Brew of Portland the Pac NW – in college we had the opportunity to partner with Portland Brew to help promote the young business – since then the business has continued to grow. Follow their latest tweets via Twitter

High Garden Tea:

I have not been here, but my friends rave about the quality of the tea and community feel servicing East Nashville with wild herbal and traditional teas in bulk coupled with an inviting tea room.


Another great coffee and tea house located in the Murphy Road area of Nashville.  Dose has de-VINE teas, pastries and mocha to make you loco – yum!

Savannah Tea Company:

High-Tea with southern flair – my grandmother was from Savannah and this name upholds the elegant southern charm and gracious food of a Savannah kitchen.


Stay tuned for a coffee and tea inspired post in our Antebellum Kitchen segment on coffee and tea inspired fare, food for the artist soul

Messy Closet/Clean Closet: Storage Wars

Messy Closet/Clean Closet:

I confess I have had a been keeping a big messy secret – for the past six years the messiest closet on record. In 2009 when I graduated from college I had to move across the US and did not want to lug my family possessions in my 1989 living on a prayer Oldsmobile (which later died in Gillette WY- another story, another day).  I filled the storage unit filled to the brink and brim with everything I ever owned except the kitchen sink (not without trying :)) For years I was in a quagmire do I get rid of my possessions or spend thousands and thousands of dollars to get them shipped to Montana?  The dilemma; family antiques – selling or getting rid of them to a non-family member is a cardinal sin in the south, dilemma 2 – the air in Montana is dry – and the wood in the antiques would suffer from the move, dilemma 3 – I loved Montana but knew eventually I’d have to move back east for work.  So I let it sit and I analyzed solution after solution – I prayed and reasoned, frustrated as I paid $213 a month for six years!  Ridiculous.  Finally the worms burst out of the can – when I found out our storage unit was going to either have to be evacuated or sold off due to the facility closing – well I had two weeks to unload my life and give up my ghosts.

It is one of the hardest things I have ever done – being forced to GIVE UP the possessions from my life and past I feel so connected too – well in the end I had to clunk most of the belongings.

My mom and I made the bittersweet trek over the Blue Ridge Mountains, battling a tornado no less ( we rain into tornado like winds in Knoxville – Lord Helped Us STAY ALIVE), and on Saturday April 4th we cleaned out the storage unit synonymous with our lives – we were so upset as we started the process – angry we had to just give up our lives – but as I sorted through the mess I found beauty in letting go and peace of mind in keeping what really mattered – baby pictures, scrapbooks, memories that cannot be replaced.

I thought everything in the unit was so valuable it took getting in the grime and muck to realize half of the storage should have been tossed out years ago – a blender with no glass container or lid – I don’t care if it came from Williams and Sonoma – junk it!  Storage bins with sheets – dump it!

Things to keep are personal effects like letters, postcards, pictures and home movies – antiques, silver and rugs – NOT Crate and Barrel glasses and second hand furniture that is not worth a dime more than you paid for it – it is harsh – I was harsh on myself – but sorting through the mess – I started laughing – this was what I guarded with my life – this is the clutter I clung to?  Seriously a blender with not glass container?

Yes it pains me to get rid of my grandmother’s beautiful etage and sofa – but I made a decision – pay off bills and let it go or not eat for three months and spend $2000 I don’t have with high interest to move it?  In the end it comes down to the load you are able to carry – YES hang onto things that matter – but be more realistic about what you need to kept and what to chunk – when something holds you back emotionally, financially and physically – it might be time for a furniture and clutter break up.

And yes I am LIVID to lose my grandmother’s etage and sofa and the storage unit won’t sell it for the $3000+ it is worth and we’ll wind up with a loss – but sometimes you’ve got to cut ties to make room in your life for the future – the past has no future in it.

So what did we do?  We sorted through every box with precision and a take no prisoners attitude – if it could be replaced and had no real sentimental value then I put it in the trash for another person’s future treasure, and some junk just became trash to be recycled and left in the dump – I am an eco-girl, but some things just need to be destroyed 🙂 We kept every painting and scrapbook and photo album, year books and other personal effects that represent our lives – we sold many of my DVDs and CDs at McKay (awesome spot in Nashville) to help fund the trip – others can now enjoy my favorite movies – most of which I can stream online.  It is not an easy task but it s well worth the effort. I now can enjoy my belongings instead of having them hidden, collecting dust in boxes.

Nashville to Asheville: Southern Flair

Throughout April join Adele Belle and our partner site Vagabond Warrior for a cultural journey from Nashville TN to Asheville NC.

This concept found its genesis in a recent road trip to clunk my storage unit (stay tuned Messy Closet/Clean Closet).  I have traveled the Nashville to Asheville road countless times in the past decade as I drove from my hometown of Raleigh NC to my alma mater Belmont University in the heart of Nashville ‘Music City’ TN. This trip allowed me to revisit the haunting beauty, mystery and wonder of Tennessee and Western North Carolina from a new lens.  The Nashville to Asheville vagabond journey has been a time honored tradition in my pilgrimage from the heart of Carolina to Tennessee time.  The traditions and culture of this richly diverse stretch of highway crosses over Native American to antebellum roots, art and music, American roots, folklore and homegrown cuisine.

The concept of Adele Belle/Vagabond Warrior collaborating on this series is to delve into travel itineraries, history, culture, art, food, architecture and fashion.  On Adele Belle, I will had Backyard and Off Road Traveler segments, along with fashion, food, art.  Adele Belle’s antebellum kitchen segment will feature homegrown TN and western NC recipes and restaurant highlights along the Nashville to Asheville trail.

I hope to post a new segment every day (or as often as time allows) – I’m working to build both sites up and I appreciate your sharing Adele Belle and Vagabond Warrior.  I appreciate your sharing this road as we create art in motion.

On a hot torrid summer day in Middle Tennessee, nothing tastes sweeter and refreshes the soul quite like a fiddle and bow coupled with FRUIT TEA.  Fruit Tea is as Tennessee as the Tennessee Waltz or Rocky Top – it is part of the fabric of the state, particularly Nashville.  Fruit Tea has a time honored tradition, even Rachel Jackson (Andrew Jackson’s wife) had a fruit tea recipe*.  Everyone has their own take on the sweet concoction – some prefer the fruit to be light – just a dash of pineapple and lemonade others like the fruit to be heavy and sweet – Nashville eateries each have their own take on Fruit Tea.  As we travel in Music City will explore tons of fruit tea recipes to soothe your Tennessee hankering for a drink.

To get started on Tennessee Fruit Tea and grub I recommend a stop by The Loveless Cafe on Highway 100.  This was my old morning stomping ground before a hike on The Natchez Trace.  You can find their fruit tea recipe on the link above.

Stay tuned to my Tennessee favorites on Antebellum Kitchen…and our travel adventures in Nashville…Middle Tennessee…East Tennessee…to the Carolina Highlands.

Music for the Road: We will be traveling the roots of Americana and as a music lover it will be impossible for me to make a list short enough to do justice to the infinite number of talent in the corridor between Nashville to Asheville.  I’m going to start with a song that is a bit country and a bit mainstream – it is shows that this is open territory for music – it grows wild and free.  I love this Lee Ann Womack song because it symbolizes a lot about my time in Nashville and my own journey to leave the music dream and chase down the open road – I’m slowly making my way back to music and believing in my abilities again – it is a journey.  To me no road trip is complete without a ‘mix tape’ – yes I’m old school – but music is a soundtrack to our lives so I hope to incorporate great tunes from mainstream and indie artists throughout this journey.  I am hoping to focus on local and regional groups as TN and NC have a storied and diverse folk music heritage.

StyleFILE: Tropical Trends, Florals are Blooming

From vintage tropical prints to bohemian surf prints, fashion is blooming with fantastical prints and colors.  Paradise Blooms is a hot trend this season, even classic clothier Brooks Brothers introduced a ‘Tropical Prints’ collection.  Let’s toast to spring blooms with some fashion picks I’ve spotted.  I also recommend you search the internet, find smaller boutiques and even go to consignment shops looking for fun tropical pieces that can be incorporated into your style.  G

Men’s Fashion:

I work in an island of tropical fusion.  I am a specialist for Tommy Bahama – no one does ‘tropical’ better than Bahama – they have that ‘most interesting man in the world’ thing down pat. While the rest of the fashion world gets hot on tropical prints – Bahama has made it a lifestyle – good trends never die. Here are several outfits and pieces great for the modern tropical trend.

Luau Sunset – This outfit includes a light super thin cotton woven print with a ice turquoise Bali Sky tee and REVERSIBLE shorts – I love the innovation in fashion Bahama comes up with!

Luau Royale Camp Shirt

Baja Double Weave REVERSIBLE Shorts

I like pairing it with the light teal blue and popping marlin crew – New Bali Sky Tee in Ice Turquoise

Aloha to Urban Surfer: For the person who is has an edge, and likes darker tones this is the floral outfit for you.

Legion of Blooms Woven Short Sleeve

Eastbank Slate Grey Cargo Shorts ( these shorts are super soft and have an edgier look to them, you cannot tell from the photo – but these shorts have several pockets and a distressed look – ideal for an Urban Surf look)

Pair with a dark Cohen V-Neck (navy or even an orange color with look great)

Uptown Surf: Bonobos has been going bold and cutting edge with their floral patterns this season.  Bonobos fits into the space of style in the narrow gate of classic cool to city style with an edge.  I love their bold forward fashion, without compromising quality, and classic rules of style – that is why Bonobos is so popular with all ages from the target 20s/30s young professional as well as cool as Jagger retirees.

These shirts will go great with dark denim or shorts.  You can layer with a bright or white shirt underneath to add effect

Bonobos has the brightest floral print shorts I’ve seen this season

Love both of these shorts – you can tone down the brightness with a grey-blue polo – or keep it bright by picking one of the colors from the bloom and let it POP.

The Manhattan Palm: Brooks Brothers Classic meets Island Cool

NavyAquaMilano Fit Nautical Print Pants Blue


Pineapple Sunrise: Sophisticated laid-back beach style

Tommy Bahama says Aloha to the Tropics!

Escapada Mia Dress - Aqua / Melon GrenadaCute dress from Escapada you can pair with a sea gull green (like a foam green) cardigan and wedges for a cute island sophisticate look.

Hale Bob Palm Play Dress - Coral/PurpleLove this dress from Hale Bob, great to pair with sheer tunic woven (as a layering piece, a shell necklace and cute flip flops – I’m thinking a la Jack Rodgers.

Wear this tropical coral pima cotton polo from Land’s End with a pair of Bermuda shorts or cute capri crops

I hope these tropical blooms got you in the mood for summer and spring.  Stay tuned to the blog for a Tropical Baja meal to match this new wardrobe.

Remember you don’t have to spend a lot to mimic a trend – look at the runway or designer styles then look to replicate with off brands if the traditional designs are out of your price range.  If you are going to invest in a piece – make sure it is a design you won’t tire of.

Don’t know where to find the floral fashions?  Belk has a ton in stock, as well as Target, Kohls, J.C. Penney…Lilly Pulitzer, Tommy Bahama…I like to check out boutiques that sell off the rack, unknown or local designers – so be willing to surf the web, go off the beaten path; Patagonia, Columbia and other brands are blooming with lots of tropical designs – it is hard to miss this beat.