DINNER REVIEW FOR MIEL AND THE NEW BASTION COCKTAIL BAR IN NASHVILLE

Hey y’all,

Ok I may or may not be watching the Grammy’s while stuffing my face with pizza even though I have already eaten my “healthy” dinner tonight. This my friends, is why I don’t have abs. Ugh.

First off, I hope you wonderful humans had a magical Valentine’s Day. If you didn’t then fret not, there is always next year and remember it is just a day! My husband and I had a babysitter and got a free night out of the house to try a couple of hip Nashville spots this weekend. For all you locals I thought I would give you a review and even for any of you guys who plan to travel to good ole Nash Vegas in the future.

MIEL.  343 53rd Ave N, Nashville, TN 37209

Ok I am a self-proclaimed food critic. Mainly because I simply love to eat. A lot. However, I’m highly critical of most places even if overall it was good. I’m not a big raver about restaurants unless I’m truly impressed. With that being said, GO. TO. MIEL.

I have a Nashville bucket list of food I try to mark off each week, which is becoming more and more difficult with our booming growth. I was excited to mark the French restaurant Miel off my list. Tucked away on 53rd avenue in Sylvan Park (my old stomping grounds), the parking situation and location caught me off guard. Unless you park at Hattie B’s across the street you are gonna struggle to find a spot. Let me follow that up by saying once you get inside that won’t even matter to you. It is beyond adorable inside and feels extremely intimate, while still maintaining a simplistic vibe. I also really loved the open kitchen concept with the chefs.

So we sat down a little too close for comfort to the couple beside of us and ordered a couple of drinks. Matt ordered his usual scotch, I ordered my usual champagne cocktail. I’ll just go ahead and say it was so delicious, I in fact, had two. They give you an amuse-bouche to start and also fresh bread with butter. I’m quite a fan of chefs that begin the meal with an amuse-bouche. I feel it lets you know what is on the chef’s palate of what’s to come. I was pleasantly surprised and I thought it was a small bread roll of some sort. Then I bit into it and man was I overwhelmed with the kick of the tangy cheese packed inside it. We started the meal off with an octopus appetizer sautéed in butter with lima beans and peppers. I personally had never had octopus but my husband is quite the food experimenter so i felt the need to be bold in my choosing. I was delightfully pleasant with my choice. It was truly tasty after I got the suction cup visions out of my head.

Our meals. I’m not kidding when I say both of our entrees were divine. Matt had the steak medium rare with sautéed kale. I had the pork shoulder with gnocchi. It had the most audacious yet balanced flavors of food. Beyond appealing. We accompanied those with their brussels sprouts, maple and pancetta. The brussels were enriched with flavor. We were so stuffed we couldn’t fit in dessert but they give you complimentary teaspoons of honey with bee pollen after your meals to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Fabulous job Miel. I will be back.

BASTION. 434 Houston St. Nashville, TN

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This new hotspot bar is located in the Houston Station building. Our last name in the street name and in the building name. I’m sold. Strategic Hospitality ran by the Goldberg brothers, who are known for popular Nashville spots like Catbird Seat, Pinewood Social, Le Sel, Patterson House, have collaborated with chef Josh Habiger to open Bastion in South Nashville in the Wedgewood area of town.

“I just wanted to create the type of place that I want to hang out in; a place that isn’t pretentious. Beers, shots, a few simple cocktails, along with some other elements that we hope will make it a great place to go,” Habiger said in a statement.

Pretentious it is definitely not. The only complaint I would say is I’m not sure how they would fit a large number of people that they should expect to gather as a trendy new bar in Nashville. I loved the atmosphere. Very industrial just like the building they reside in; painted and exposed brick, couches and chairs sectioned off to chat with friends, benches lined around to give more seating. Their bartenders were so friendly and helpful and seemed to really know their shit. Their drink menu was BOMB. I, no joke, gulped mine down so fast that my husband turned for a moment and when he looked back he gave me a look like, “really Ashley?!” See above picture. I can’t help it, it was mouth-watering. For a reference, I ordered the Jack of No Trades (obviously another champagne cocktail, but with vodka this time). Love this place. I doubt I would go out of the way to go there again unless I’m meeting up with friends but if I am in the area, I will 100% be stopping through.

Shew that was hard to do while simultaneously watching Lady Gaga rock the Grammys in her David Bowie tribute but I managed it. Hope you guys enjoyed my reviews of our evening. Here are a few pics we snapped of the night 🙂

Xo,

Ashley

 

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THE PERFECT VALENTINE’S DAY GIFT TO MATCH YOUR LOVE LANGUAGE

Have any of you ever figured out your language of love? I once had a friend explain it to me because she said that basically receiving gifts makes her feel loved. I was intrigued what mine would be so I took the test. Here is how you can figure out what makes your heart smile. Basically how you view being loved is broken into five different categories. I’m basically going to summarize them in Ashley lingo.

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1. Words of Affirmation – “I love you” “You are appreciated” Unsolicited compliments mean everything to you. You need to hear I love you and the reason why you are loved. When you are insulted or put down, you are shattered.

2. Quality Time – If this is your love language you want nothing more than the one you love to be present. No phones, no computer, no tasks to complete. You want their full undivided attention and to just spend time together. If you get stood up on a date or a meeting comes before you, that is extremely hurtful.

3. Physical touch – This doesn’t always mean sexual. A caress of your arm, grabbing your hand in public, rubbing your back, or a kiss are all typical examples of this. You feel loved when you are being touched and you feel rejected if you are not being touched.

4. Receiving Gifts – This is pretty self-explanatory but it doesn’t always mean you are a materialistic person who thrives off having gifts given to them. It doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant presents. You feel loved if someone thought of you enough to take time out of their schedule to get you something that they thought you would like, or put great thought into a birthday/anniversary gift. Or if someone went on a trip and brought you back a memento. In retrospect, it also can hurt you deep if one were to forget to get you a gift for an anniversary or birthday.

5. Acts of Service – We all can appreciate when our loved one help us out with tasks. Your love language shows it is important for someone to take on responsibilities that cause you anxiety or stress. If your husband or wife vacuums, washes the dishes, cleans your car, puts the kid to bed, etc. you feel loved in return. You also feel disappointed and unloved if your partner is lazy and doesn’t help you do anything task related.

Ok personally my top 3 in order were Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service and Quality Time. That comes as no shock to me. Especially married to an extremely busy husband with a three-year old at home. Life feels hectic, you just want to know someone cares sometimes. I’m gonna give my insight to a few gifts you could give your loved one or hint at your loved one that you would appreciate. Heck forward my post over to them, they’ll get the hint 🙂

Words of Affirmation: 

  • Write a love letter. Tell them all the things that made you fall in love with them and makes you continue to fall every single day.
  • Make them a calendar with all the special dates that mean something to the two of you, including special photos coordinating with the months they occurred in.
  • Personalize a coffee mug or wine bottle with words of love.
  • Make them a Buzzfeed post. All the reasons they are the best. Genius.

Quality Time: 

  • Arrange a special day or night for the two of you. Plan every detail to make it special. Turn your phone off, give your partner EVERY bit of your attention.
  • Have a movie night and cook your partner dinner. Again, TURN OFF YOUR PHONE.

Physical Touch: Ok this one makes me blush to explain but I will say this…carve out a “special night” with your partner. Give them a massage, kiss them, take a bubble bath together. Like I said before this doesn’t always have to be sexual. It could be as simple as making it a point to be more affectionate. I have personally had to do this myself because this is my husband’s love language. I am by default not a very affectionate person but I know he is, so I go the extra mile to make him feel loved by kissing him often or stroking his hand sporadically to show I care.

Receiving Gifts: Again, do not think this just means spending money on your partner and they will be happy. They won’t. Put thought into it.

  • Get your lady specific flowers you know she loves or a specific with she has been dropping hints about.
  • Get your guy that wallet he won’t stop talking about or his favorite scotch.
  • I personally like a trip you bought for the two of you, a cabin in the woods or a beach getaway.
  • Love coupons. This is my favorite. They can include a movie of your choice, dinner at your favorite restaurant, the weekend getaway mentioned above, a shopping trip etc.

Acts of Service: Do things you know your partner would greatly appreciate or that would alleviate stress for them. Humans are prone to let stress get the best of them. As a mother and wife I feel like I am constantly cleaning up everyone else’s mess or eating my dinner cold every night while taking care of my family’s needs.

  • Wash & vacuum their car
  • Clean the house
  • Take care of the kids for the day if you have them and send your loved one on a spa day or let them hole up in their room to have me time of their choosing.
  • Finish their list of task to complete.
  • Make coupons for that as well if they cannot be completed that weekend. Such as “IOU to plant flowers in the spring or trim the hedges etc”

Keep in mind all of these are examples, but in general we all just want to feel loved. We all just want to be made to feel special and appreciated. Anything you do to go above and beyond for your significant other and show you care will make them happy. Just give them the attention they deserve….and REMEMBER to not just instill these thoughtful gestures on Valentine’s day but regularly because who are we kidding….VALENTINE’S DAY is just a day people. LOVE is everyday.

Hope you beautiful souls have a wonderful Valentine’s day with your loved ones!

xo,

Ashley

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A NON ROMANTIC VALENTINE’S DAY GIFT GUIDE

Oh Valentine’s Day.

The day of love.

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Come on guys let’s get real…that doesn’t have to mean a significant other now does it? We can celebrate by ourselves, with our kids or with our friends too. Don’t worry though I will touch on the relationship part too for you boys and girls. Hallmark holiday of the year is about to get real. I’m a mother of a 3-year-old, sometimes all I want for Valentine’s Day is a break and someone to cook and clean for me. Not that I would turn down jewelry or a spa day. Hint, hint hubs,

Lets start with our kiddos or any kiddos in your life for that matter. My daughter is obsessed with books right now. She loves a good bedtime read. She especially loves the Llama llama books and I do too. They all teach wonderful lessons and good behavior for kids. This one about love in particular is perfect for V-Day. Next up, how adorable is this dinosaur play set? It brings the prehistoric era right into the play room.

Also, what little girl doesn’t like to play in their mom’s makeup?! Mine does any chance she gets. This cute makeup kit will be so fun to glam up with your little on. Ok lastly, let me tell you…we got my daughter an Alex toys color a rocket ship last year and she built it with her dad and I. Obsessed. She plays in that rocket ship nonstop. Mainly I’m sure because she felt she built it herself and kids will be happy to play in boxes. It engages their creativity. I can’t rave enough about Alex toys. So we ended up getting her the color a house for christmas and built it over the weekend. She hasn’t stopped playing it and pretending like it’s her house. This dog house will be our next purchase I’m sure. It makes a perfect gift for any of the boys or girls in your life. If all else fails, you can never go wrong with candy.

“Now is lady time!”

You will only get that if you watch Parks & Recreation. Galentine’s Day with your girlfriends is only the best way ever to spend your holiday. Sorry guys. Get dolled up, go to a nice dinner or stay in with wine and order LOTS of take out. Just promise me you will dance. Valentine’s Day can make you feel cruddy if you’re lonely but quality friendships are everything. Drink lots of wine and tell each other how much you love each other. What can you present to the lovely lady friends in your life? Well lets see… First up since I just touched on wine, sign her up for a personalized wine club. Take a short quiz and voila it comes to your door each month. It can get pricey so you could always do one month obviously. I joined the Bright Cellars wine club a few months ago and enjoy it but any wine club you prefer would work. They deliver 4 wines to you specifically matched based on your answers to a 7 question survey. They do have a special where you can get the first month heavily discounted as well so it’s a win win. Another good idea in my book are a couple little relaxation tools. Who doesn’t love a nice warm bath? This lavender candle will put her mind at ease after a long day paired with THIS bubble bath. Tranquility accomplished, Ok lastly get her something she might not buy herself: an inexpensive but great quality set of makeup brushes. Thanks to Miss Jaclyn Hill I am addicted to Morphe brushes. They are a great price and oh my goodness they are the bomb at applying makeup. THIS set is only $44.99 and comes with 10 brushes. 10! For that price…holy moly what a steal.

Ok that’s it for your non romantic Valentine’s day gifts. Tomorrow on the blog I will be discussing Valentine’s day gifts for your significant other based on their love language. Thanks to my friend Ash for that bug in my ear. Night loves.

xo,

Ashley

 

 

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LEOPARD AND FUR

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Hello loves…

I thought I would share a few shots I took with a fellow blogger and friend of mine Airelle. I personally love fur vests and I love the fact that this one isn’t full on fur. It makes it more versatile to me. I feel it is key to find pieces that easily mesh with outfits.

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I’m definitely not a model but I love to share outfit ideas with fellow fashion lovers. Honestly I am really camera shy and avoid being the center of attention at all costs. Airelle can vouch how awkward I was taking these photos, but I will get better with practice 🙂

I hope you guys appreciate my little OOTD shout out. If you have any questions please email me or leave a comment.

Outfit Details:

Vest- Blush Boutique Nashville, TN

Booties- Steve Madden Woodstock Fringe

Clutch: Handmade by KeepinItClutch

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xo,

Ashley

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Super Bowl grub on the healthier side

It’s here, it’s finally here! Superbowl Sunday y’all. Both the football loving ladies who will be screaming at the TV along with the boys and the women who are just excited football season is finally over, can agree on the enjoyment of one thing involved. Fooooood. I know that’s what is on my mind. Honestly that is the main thing on my mind ALL DAY long. When can I eat again, what am I eating next? Ok I’m getting hungry so moving on…

If you are anything like me and trying your best to shape up for bikini season, yet cannot give up your food addiction, I’m gonna throw a little bone your way. How nice would it be to nosh on some yummy grub while you watch the Superbowl (or commercials for you non-football lovers) and not feel guilty?! I’m sold. I try to make all my comfort foods the healthiest way I can by substituting different ingredients and researching “skinny” versions of anything and everything. Since I’m just starting to get the hang of this blogging thing, I figured what better topic to post on than some of the awesome recipes I’ve came across that you peeps can use for your Superbowl party. Or any party for that matter. Ok here we go:

Who doesn’t love caprese salad? It has changed my disgust for tomatoes completely. I even like them now. I have had these caprese skewers and let me tell you…so delicious, and these tiny munchkin poppers are just adorable.

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These turkey taco roll ups seriously take 5-10 minutes and give you an up factor on the basic sandwich roll ups most people make for parties.

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If you are looking for a light appetizer which might I add also takes only 10 minutes, look no further. These smoked salmon cucumber bites are the cat’s meow. I mean hello, you had me at cream cheese and horseradish. Oh, on a side note if you have time get the greek yogurt cream cheese. I use that for every cream cheese recipe nowadays.

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Shut the front door. I’ll take mozzarella sticks anyway I can get them! A healthier version? Um, done and done. The skinny mozzarella sticks are my jam!

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I absolutely could not write this without including meatballs for my hubs. He’s obsessed. I must admit I rarely make them because I am not a fan myself. I have found a healthy recipe for you meatball loving kids out there there.

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How can you watch football without wings for crying out loud?! Now they might taste like heaven and all, but those little suckers are straight up fattening. This recipe for baked wings gives you the fulfillment you crave but extremely healthier. Just kick up the siracha and hot sauce level and add some ranch, and you’ll be good to go!

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Last but not least, here are a couple dips for ya:

Just the word hummus sounds healthy but sometimes it’s sneaky and loaded with additives that make it downright loaded with calories or fat. This recipe uses all natural ingredients and greek yogurt as the base. Now chow down with some veggies or pita chips.

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Ok Ok Ok. Now we can get this party started. I saved my favorite for last. I could literally drink this. Skinny Buffalo Chicken dip.  I cannot rave enough about this if you like this dip the regular way. My husband and I cannot stop eating once we start. A couple tweaks I add in are jalapeño and I sub goat cheese for blue cheese, but that is just my personal preferences. I also prefer Flavor God ranch because I am absolutely obsessed with their seasonings. I probably own every one.

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It’s now time to get your food on. You can enjoy a few indulgences without having to wear your stretchy pants. Who am I kidding we all probably still will though. Yoga pants for life! Hope you enjoy. Go Broncos. (I’m from East Tennessee and if I don’t root for Peyton, my father might disown me)

XO

Ashley

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How to make your skin glow in the dry, cold winter…

Snowpocalypse.

I must admit when the weather report came out saying we were going to get this epic snow, I was like “yeah ok…not happening.” I fully intended on completing my Friday routine and had my day planned out like the OCD control freak I am. I woke up, looked at my phone first thing (Don’t act like that’s not the first thing you do too) and saw all these posts about snow. I jumped to the window and looked outside screaming “Oh my Gah.” My three year old was so happy. It was all fine and dandy for the first day. We played in the snow all day sledding and throwing snow balls. We organized her new big girl room. We baked. We finished the night watching Disney movies. To be exact, two of my favorites Beauty and the Beast and Finding Nemo. We were both pretty happy with the stellar snow day.

Cut to the next day. Repeat. All of it. It’s pretty easy to develop cabin fever pretty quickly, especially when you have no choice other than to stay at home. I did get a lot finished on Keatyn’s room and can’t wait to share pics of my DIY pieces. Finally today the weather reached about 50 degrees and most of the snow melted. Even the snowman she named…get this “snowman.”

I started to feel down and out because my skin was looking absolutely cruddy. I even considered a chemical peel… I still am whenever I have a week free to hole up. The dry air had its way with my skin and my allergies weren’t helping. I decided to try a couple of my trusty masks to see if it helped. Thankfully, I woke up the next morning with glow skin again.

I love love love THIS product to slough off my dead skin. Dr. Brandt products are one of my absolute faves! The microderm feels the closest a scrub has ever felt to a microderm in my opinion. Then I follow it up with his Oxygen mask to rejuvenate my skin. The bubbles feel so tingly it’s like heaven to my pores. Right now there is a 22% off coupon but it ends tonight. Just in case you read this before midnight it is: SAVE22. Skinstore or Dermstore always have good coupons you can find so I always price shop first before I purchase since masks can be a bit steep.

I always follow up with my typical routine which I plan on going into detail about soon. Hope everybody is having a fabulous week!

Xo

Ashley

 

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Just Another Manic Momma

 

Hello…It’s me. Ok I just couldn’t resist. Every time I say hello right now, that is where my mind goes EVERY single time. Thanks Adele. I’ll get back to the point. I just wanted to take a line or I don’t know, maybe twenty to introduce myself. My name is Ashley Houston and I am a stay at home wife & mother. My hubby is a handsome, science geek & Vandy grad who has embarked into the app start up world. My daughter is three and a complete quirky diva. (Wonder who she gets that from) Before the glory of motherhood hit me, I was an avid reader and writer who majored in Communications and Advertising. However that kinda shot out the window once life smacked me in the face with a baby. I know you moms out there feel me. I am now at the point where I can dedicate more time to my creative outlet. Thank you Lord!

I am a lover to anything beauty, fashion or food. I plan on this being a lifestyle blog mainly because calling it a smorgasbord of all things I love just didn’t sound as appealing or professional. Some examples of topics I plan to explore would be anything and everything makeup related, fashion, hair, recipes, restaurant reviews, tutorials, DIY home decor and all that kid friendly jazz parents go on about. See I told you its a smorgasbord. Pretty much everything I obsess over and would love to talk about and share. I would love you guys to email or comment with any feedback or questions. Thank you so much for taking the time out to start this journey of mine with me.

Xoxo

Ashley

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Back To Reality

Hello sweet peeps! I’m finally back from a wonderful Florida vacation. I love seeing my little one’s eyes light up at Disney World…and I’m not gonna lie, the inner child in me gets pretty excited as well. I came home to Nashville on Saturday and had an awesome welcome home party with some flu like symptoms. Yay me. So I am writing in bed at the moment as I try to get well.

Life has been crazy with the holidays. Family in and out, traveling, New Years. I don’t know about you guys but I’m in a major demand for some relaxation. I’m pretty sure that’s how I ended up sick. Just in case you are feeling a little cruddy or stressed yourself, I thought I might share a few things that help me unwind:

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Draw a bath. I use 1 cup of epsom salt, essential oils ( My personal favorites are Doterra Lavender and Breathe), Lollia Relax Bubble Bath or their Love Bubble Bath and clearly grab a glass of wine or champagne (I got these adorable Pop Clink Drink flutes) and a book to take in the tub with you. Lavender oils help me relax and sleep better, while the Breathe oils….drum roll please….help me breath 🙂 My friend Tiffany turned me onto the Lollia bubble bath. First off, it’s freaking adorable and bottled like wine. Who doesn’t love wine?! On top of all that cuteness it feels so luxurious. Obsessed. Now ENJOY and lock your bathroom door because I promise you if you have children, they’ll find a way in there.

That’s all.

Ashley

 

 

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