The Shaefers visit Nashville!

Susie, Luke, Bridget and Michael were patient enough to sit through epic construction traffic just to come see me in Nashville!  We had such a great time!

Michael is such a trooper!  The Shaefer kiddos are great road-trippers!P1010350Dinner at Calypso Cafe and we got to see the banner that the kids of St. Ann’s Episcopal made!

What a loong day in the car!  Zzzzzzz!

Gooood Morning!!!  Wait… somebody’s still sleeping?!?!


After a great sleep – Big sister gets little brother ready for breakfast!


We hiked up to the top of the pedestrian bridge to see if we could see any boats.  Nope.  But we did spot Cumberland park!  Let’s Go!P1010353

We had to take the LED elevator down to playground.P1010355SWEET!!!  There’s a waterfall under the bridge and a bunch of little jets of water that shoot up!  FuN!


Oh yeah!  Michael is TOTALLY loving this!  P1010364

Bridget spies a climbing wall and net!  Cumberland Park is awesome!P1010363

Come on, Michael!

He’s doing it!  Through the water fall!P1010372

He did IT!P1010371

What’s the best way to celebrate a fun time at Cumberland Park?  JENI’S ICE CREAM!P1010391

This girl is going to be a Kindergardener this fall!  Can you even believe it?P1010408

NAP TIME!!!!  (Bed head!)



B & I hung out in the GIANT CHAIR!
P1010461We spotted butterflies in the garden!  (Can you spot the Swallow Tail?)


Michael liked the colorful peppers.P1010436

The log cabin in the Nature Play area was fun.


Time for dinner at the LOVELESS CAFE!


Fresh biscuits and homemade jam while we make up our minds about what to eat for dinner!P1010487

It rained and thundered on the way home- then off to bed!  The next morning, B practices rolling up her sleeping mat.  She’s such a good (indoor) camping buddy!


Michael had a bit of a ceiling fan obsession… although in this photo he looks like he’s having a religious experience.  Luke looks so proud.
P1010502Bye guys!  It was SO fun to have you visit!


Love you, Shaefer Family!






Redneck Riviera: Florida isn’t just for retirees and Disney fanatics.

Summer camp is done.  All the post-camp meetings are finished.  Time to take a road trip! photo 2-6 I figured that I should take advantage of my current latitude and enjoy a weekend at the beach!  When I asked Laura if she’d like to road trip with me, she said ,”Yes! Let’s go to the Gulf coast, Florida!  They call it the Redneck Riviera!”  The Redneck Riviera!?!?  Was that supposed to be a selling point?  I had only been to Florida once… when I was 14 and our family went to Disney.  It was an amazing trip but it firmly cemented a stereotype in my mind – Florida was full of retirees, Daytona Beach bikers and Disney fanatics.  (I’m pretty sure these stock photo retirees are on their way to Disney.)impact1 Laura insisted that the panhandle was the best part of FL (besides the Keys!) and I’d be a fool not to drive down there with her.   It took up seven hours of our Friday, but it was worth it!  Highlights include: a rest stop with a real rocket ship, cows asleep in the shade, a CAMP license plate, pop up campers that looked like Hershey kisses, self-service ice houses and chocolate-covered graham crackers from Cracker Barrel! P1010160 P1010159

photo 1-7We stocked up on supplies and visors at Publix, then headed to St. Andrew’s State Park to set up camp!  Nice sites! P1010256             Once we were settled, we made grilled cheese, grabbed the kite and headed down to the beach to catch the sunset! P1010203 There was a pirate ship that cruised the shoreline.  We saw it again the next day, ‘firing’ its canons.P1010206 There was a neat Great Blue Heron just chilling on the beach.  We sat 20 ft away from him for almost an hour as the setting sun lit up the clouds.P1010216 The pier at St. Andrew’s State Park. P1010226   There was a nice breeze and it didn’t get too hot in the tent.  The next morning, Laura cooked up some breakfast, eggs and sausage.  (The palm-like underbrush gave the park a very tropical vibe.) P1010254 We decided to pay $20 to take a boat over to ‘Shell Island’ for the day.  Just finding out how to do that was quite the task since the brochure offered very little info… like where you buy tickets.  It took us 2 tries.P1010258 We learned there is no shade, no bathrooms & no services on Shell Island.  The ticket sale girls told us to pee in the ocean, that’s what the fish do!  Um, ok…  We had picked up a discarded umbrella from the beach the night before.  Off we go, the shuttle leaves every 30 minutes. P1010259 After 10 minutes wading through the sugar sand, we arrived at the beach!  (We were really glad we had decided not to bring along the cooler!)  This is a photo of the people flocking to the Ice Cream Boat!P1010260 There was plenty of empty beach to claim- so we found a spot and set up our free umbrella.  Ahhh…P1010263 Laura had thought to bring goggles for both of us, so we swam down along the break wall to where the little tropical fish hang out in the rocks.  Then, we had ‘snack lunch’ and took the kite for a walk.P1010282   We spent six hours living the beach life on Shell Island, then headed back to camp.  Being at the beach all day had made us hungry for FISH TACOS!  We spotted this cute little place, right on the water.P1010284 The fish tacos were pretty mediocre (cheddar cheese?!? Really?) but the view and the onion rings were on point!P1010287 We decided to risk it and try to make it back to the beach for sunset again… but we just missed it. P1010300 Luckily, Laura is a marine-animal-magnet and she spotted a HUGE sting ray from the pier AND this adorable little turtle, chasing his dinner!  He swam along under the pilings, entertaining us with his cuteness, but it was getting too dark to get a clear photo. P1010298 We had to buy ice for the cooler, so of course we stopped by “EVERYTHING A DOLLAR” on the way.  The lady who works there makes hot glue ‘sculptures’.  Laura thought her sunglasses tan made her look like that cute little owl, so she bought him! photo 4-4 Sunday morning, we made friend egg sandwiches (Brilliant!) and tea, then packed up camp to drive to Destin.  The 2 state parks we had originally wanted to stay in are there, Topsail and Henderson.  As we drove between Panama City Beach & Destin, there were an intense number of giant hotels between the road and the beach.  A bit of a bummer, but they also had lots of public access points to make sure you could get to the 1-5 Lunch that day was donuts.  The Krueller was magical.  The Key Lime Pie donut was perfection.  The cream filled Long John was so sweet it made our teeth hurt.  Luckily, Laura had a half gallon of milk in the cooler. photo 2-7   We  stopped in Destin to get some caffeine to combat our OMG-we-ate-donuts-for-lunch sugar crash.  There is a big board walk with zip lines, airbrush stops and people coming in from fishing trips.  So many fish.   Look!  I found a pirate ship!photo 2-5   It was time to head home, but first- let’s get some more ice for the cooler!  This photo was taken 2 seconds before 20 lbs of ice plummeted into the cooler.  Luckily, I thought to take the eggs out before loading up. photo 1-4   We drove and drove… and we were still in Alabama when I remembered that it was 8pm and we hadn’t eaten dinner!  Tragedy! (Remember what we had for lunch?  Geesh.)  Like a food beacon, we saw a WAFFLE HOUSE at the next exit!  Our waitress, Trouble tolerated my request for UNsweetened tea and suggested the marinated chicken breast with hash browns.  It was 4-3   Thanks, Laura!  What an awesome trip.  That won’t be the last time I visit the Florida Panhandle. P1010283

Celebrations: Americana style, Netherlands style


The wonderful and well-traveled Natasja came to Nashville to stay with me for the first week of July 2014.  Natasja and I met in S. Africa in 2008, we hit it off so we adjusted our travels to scuba and surf together.

673_101479000787_9697_n 1898_105077040787_3025_n In September 2013, Mom, Dad & I spent 3 days with her in Prague!

wpid-Photo-Oct-1-2013-406-AM.jpgShe came to Nashville via New York, where she had spent 4 weeks at a yoga farm in Woodstock, learning how to teach Sivanada yoga.

10502149_10152269070983877_2373131883078282818_nI went to pick her up at the airport on Sunday night and Monday we had breakfast at Sky Blue Cafe.  Across the street there was an adorable house with a white picket fence and an insane amount of flowers!


Then we hit up Kroger and headed out to Opry Mills Mall.  We bought $15 Gap jeans, shoes and matching $3 patriotic Flag shirts.

That night we tried to eat at the vegetarian restaurant, Wild Cow, but got there just before they closed.  We went across the street to Rosepepper and Natasja got a vegan burrito and was super happy.

July 1st: (Happy Birthday Jessie!)  Today we went to a little boutique called, OMG with 300 lbs of gold glitter lacquered into their floor.  Then we mailed Jessie’s birthday package and headed down to Hillsboro Village.  We went to Pangea and bought cat postcards and to BookManBookWoman and bought nothing.  At 4pm we saw our first movie at the Belcourt!  It opened in 1925 to show silent movies, then was briefly the home of the Grand Ole Opry!  Afterwards, we head to Wild Cow again… and it was closed on Tuesday.  Pfft.  Calypso Cafe was a great replacement!

20140702_122946_Richtone(HDR)July 2nd: THE BEST DAY EVER!  We canoed the Piney with Paul and Laura!  N & I stopped at Mitchell’s Deli and bought everyone a yummy sandwich.  (They were as delicious as Zingerman’s but half the price!)  Then we picked up Laura and Paul and headed East.  It’s still amazes me that 45 minutes outside of Nashville, everything is all backwoods and pick-up trucks.


20140702_171325 Our canoe outfitters were great: Pinewood Camp & Canoe.  The gave us this cool canoe with a toking rabbit.

20140702_123219_Richtone(HDR)It was a perfect paddle: quiet river, all to ourselves.  A green heron followed us along the river.  It was 83 degrees and we stopped to swim. Ahhhhhh.












We had gotten dropped off and paddled back to camp- when we got there we found a rope swing!  Paul and I went off of it 4 times.  Super fun!


We stopped at M.L.Rose for veggie burgers (& 2 for 1 beers!) after our paddle and met this awesome person: our waitress, Meridyth!  She spent 3 months in Cambodia and was hilarious.  Obviously, we’re buds now.


Since none of us wanted this super day to end, we walked Paul’s dog, Neepa and got shakes at Bobby’s.  It was 10pm before we headed home.  Best Tuesday on record.

July 3rd: We made oatmeal & headed out to Sri Ganesha- a Hindu temple that I drive by on my way to work.

IMG_7639We arrived while the priests were doing a ceremony.  We took our shoes off, entered the temple and inside there was a giant room with many small shrines to Hindu gods along the wall.  In the center, there was a 10×20 room with a giant statues of Ganesha.  The priests chanted as they made offerings of fruit to the elephant-headed god.  They rang bells for a long time and wafted incense over the offerings.  When the short ceremony was over, they passed the plate around and brought you back fruit from the altar commensurate with your donation.  Natasja and I each got a banana.

There were ladies sitting on the floor, threading fresh flowers into leis to purchase for the statues in the shrines.  There were little kids running around and fliers for senior’s activities.  The temple had a very family-oriented vibe, like church.  We thanked them and headed off.

Next, we headed to Warner Parks so Natasja could see where I had been spending the summer.  We met the lovely ladies at the Nature Center, prepped some crafts at the Field Station and walked around a bit.  Then it was time to find dinner!  Paul had a fantastic vegetarian suggestion, Woodlands Indian Restaurant!

Natasja was thrilled that Woodlands was all vegetarians, since it’s pretty hard to tell if ‘stews’ contain meat until it’s too late. We shared Thali- Chai tea & rice pudding.10527305_10152276429838877_296938232793117789_n

Then we raced off to the Ryman for one of the Bluegrass nights: Yonder Mountain String Band!  They had 2 special guests: Sam Bush and Alli Krall.  Alli sang ‘Jolene’ by Dolly Parton and RAGED on the fiddle.  I wanted her to play Dolly’s songs all night.  Yonder was great but they were prone to long ‘solos’ for each player… during EVERY SONG.  Natasja discovered that she’s not really into ‘jam bands’.10450530_10152276857968877_1084731628425221884_nWhile we were listening to Yonder at the Mother Church of Bluegrass, MOM & DAD arrived and made themselves at home.  We cruised Honky Tonk row after the show, so they were asleep by the time we got home.

57578_10152276860558877_8768768425272158152_o 10492462_10152276861393877_8156770494169857809_n

You may notice the police officers in the background… Natasja was entertained by their golf carts.  They must have been bored, later they were shining their flashlights on Natasja & giggling when I took her photo.


July 4th: HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, AMERICA!  I had planned a day jam-packed with patriotism, so we made breakfast and headed down to a little neighborhood that has been putting on a 4th of July celebration for 38 years!  They start with a what they called a ‘children’s parade’, even though each child had at least 2 adult escorts… so it was more like a ‘parent’s parade’.


We took our dish-to-pass to the food tent & found our seats for the reading of the Declaration of Independence!

Can’t you just hear this couple’s conversation?

“Alan!  Alan!?!  You’re going to miss the symphony, Alan!” “Martha… I’m right behind you.”IMG_7668

Dad is looking super-happy because of all the free hot dogs.10478149_10152278330468877_5500900182724045057_n

After the symphony finished their Sousa marches, it was time for the pot-luck!  YUMMMMM!!!


This is the most patriotic pie I’ve ever seen!  And it was Natasja’s favorite: Rhubarb-Strawberry!




After we pulled ourselves away from the festivities, we stopped at Centennial park. Did you know that the largest train fatality in the US happened in Nashville in 1918 on “Dutchman’s Curve”?!?!

Well, now you do.

IMG_7738 IMG_7729

IMG_7756Then we head to Hillsboro to have Las Paletas popsicles- they are handmade in 30+ flavors!  Mom & I had Mexican Caramel, made with goat’s milk!  Dad had lime.  N had banana, dipped in Olive & Sinclair chocolate.  We were all tuckered out from the festivities and head back home to nap.  We had dinner at Tenn16 (Dad wondered why his chicken & waffles had so much syrup on the chicken…)  Mom & I shared some awesome meatloaf.  We couldn’t linger, we had to make it downtown for the fireworks!  Luckily, Laura & Won had been holding some prime viewing real-estate for us!  We were still wearing our patriotic matching outfits!

10486781_10152278330678877_305175584603433856_nThe 10 minute drive to downtown took 45 minutes… but when we got there- it was totally worth it!


The show was the 2nd, only to NYC’s this year!  The thing that made it really over the top was the Nashville symphony- they were playing music, synchronized with the blasts!  Too bad they didn’t have louder speakers.  While we waited for the traffic to clear, we checked out Won’s house, that used to be a bank.  He turned his 3 story vault into a library, using shelves from the bankrupt Border’s Books.

IMG_7847 IMG_7850

This is where you make deposits! And photobombs!IMG_7856

There is a theatre upstairs!  And a ballroom!IMG_7868

Laura's bank house



July 5th: Breakfast at home, then off to Olive & Sinclair for a chocolate tour!IMG_7880Mom and Natasja look fabulous in their hairnets!   Roasting Beans. Even the chocolate grinder is patriotic.




IMG_7886IMG_7874Then, off for burgers and Mint-Oreo shakes at Bobby’s and a stop at Antique Archeology, which is the shop from the History Channel show, American Pickers.  There was a long line and it was boring.  Don’t bother.



It was WORLD CUP time!  Off to a patio pub to watch the Netherlands vs. Costa Rica!

10487308_10152279967668877_9124329047859517929_nIt was 0-0 at the end of the game… so on to penalty kicks!  HUP, Holland, HUP!  AND THEY WON!!!



To celebrate the end of a successful visit, we toast with tiny mustache glasses full of Limoncello, sent as a gift by Natasja’s handsome Italian cousin, Silvio.  It’s too bad this epic week is over!  I miss you, Natasja!  Ciao, Bella!IMG_7925IMG_7926







July 6th: Mom and Dad headed home after breakfast, taking their, “newest & tallest daughter” with them.IMG_7933

I was sad to see them go, but N got to see the new house in progress AND my baby photos.  So it was worth it.  Natasja-  I can’t wait to figure out where in the world we will meet up next!!!


Camp Warner Park

Since my move in April, I’ve been a busy little bee, setting up summer camp in a 3,000 acre park in Nashville, Tennessee!  Well, June 9-13th it all came together!  This past week was rainy and cool and full of amazing experiences with awesome staff and happy kids. 8 weeks ago, I couldn’t have imagined things would go SO well.  I did all my blogging on, so you’ll have to head over there to see the rest of the photos.  Here are some highlights!

Our home base- the Bob Brown Field Station!


 Sidewalk chalk!


Our youngest group, the DUCKLINGS!IMG_6138

The Tadpoles, searching for critters in the river.IMG_6142Catch and release salamanders.IMG_5610

Lunchtime at the pavilion.


The Metro Park Police came by to meet the campers!  This is Echo and Officer Owens.

Officer Johnny shows us Burt’s teeth!IMG_5831

Long hike to the quarry!

IMG_6037Searching for fossils at the quarry.

Then we head to the Little Harpeth River for some ‘research’.IMG_6097

Rhett shows the campers some stonefly larvae.IMG_6121

River FUN!


Corn Snake, thinks its a tie.IMG_6085

This week was SO fun that there were some tears when it was time to go home!IMG_6199Its good to have feelings.

Mom and Dad visit Music City!

Hooray! After a month of getting used to this new place, I was ready to show off Nashville to my parents! They drove down 9 hours from Michigan on the first Friday in May. The weekend was packed with eating, and exploring. Here are the highlights!

Saturday May 3rd

The next morning we head out for a busy day of exploring the city. At Yeast Nashville my biscuit breakfast sandwich was tasty and large.

Then, we went to check out the downtown Farm Market. It was right next to the Bicentennial Mall; at one end is the capital and it’s made to mimic the National Mall in DC. There were towers with bells at the other end, quite the carillon!

After we were done learning about Tennessee’s history (16th state in the Union!) and headed down to see Warner Park, where I’ll be holding camp this summer!

Mom and I, enjoying the Little Harpeth River.

We had a lovely little wander, then headed to Harding Academy to meet Jessie & Ron’s friend Barrett at the art show. Barrett spends a LOT of time outdoors, waiting for wildlife to photograph. He captures some really stunning photos and even won a National Geographic contest for this photo of a Grizzly, charging after salmon in a stream.

Dad was feeling nappish after that, so Mom & I dropped him off at home and went to split a salad at Calypso Cafe and take a brisk walk in Shelby Bottoms Park, my favorite spot to run with the Indigo Buntings.

Hours later, we roust Dad and head to 5 Points Pizza to grab a few slices to go. Dad gets pepperoni and we get prosciutto and basil. YUM!!! We eat it on a bus stop bench and head off to explore downtown Nashville.

We park on the north side of the river and take the pedestrian bridge across because it has the best views. This is Dad’s cool abstract-reflection-of-the-bridge photo.

Reflection Bridge

There were about 9 different groups of red-carpet-ready teens getting their prom photos on the bridge. Here’s the prom pix of Mom and Me!

mom and A on bridge

Dad found a rooftop wedding to photograph.

Rooftop Wedding

I spotted a horse-drawn carriage!

Finally, across the Cumberland River and into town! We stop to admire the fountains.

And explore Broadway- with all the Honky Tonk bars. But of course, we’re only there for ice cream.


After grabbing ice cream, staring at all the gaggles of ladies in cowboy hats and walking past the buskers – we got sleepy and hiked back over the bridge.


Sunday, May 4th

In stereotypical ‘Adrienne’ style, we spent Saturday running all over town and Sunday we were tuckered out!  So, we were going to try to take it a bit easier…

So, we went to church at the cute little Episcopal church in my neighborhood, then met up with Laura and Won at the Gerst Haus for lunch. Oops, no photos. Then, we went to meet the cousins, Rachelle and Steve Sipkovsky at Radnor Lake!

Cousin Sips

We hiked around the lake, spotting big turtles with Brayden, Bryce, Brenden and Ellie.  We were careful to follow ALL the POSTED RULES… no running on the trails, no dogs, do not sit on the scopes.  Lots of rules.

Silly Rules

It was a lovely little gem of a lake – nothing remarkable by Michigan standards, but since there aren’t any natural lakes around here, it’s pretty unique. In fact, this lake was created to supply steam engines with water as they passed through Nashville, an overland transportation hub.


We hiked until 5pm, then Mom and I were hungry, so we headed to Calypso Cafe! Mom and I got salads (again! SO good!) and dad? Well, he got a warm mint brownie with whipped cream. He loved it.

We were tuckered out and headed home, where we spent 45 minutes watching YouTube videos like this one about the “Flippy, floppy spider of the Sea” (aka. Octopus). Do yourself a favor and watch it.

Monday, May 5th

Mom and Dad head out early, and stop by Louisville to see Father Roger and Andrew. They got home pretty late, but it was worth it! They’re making plans to come back for another visit this summer when we go to Mammoth Caves! BYE MOM! BYE DAD! I LOVE YOU!!!

Mom in the Van


Moving to Nashville is like going to college.

I started off my last post by talking about my standard 2-4 week ‘settling in’ period marked with location-based frustration and uncomfortable-in-a-new-place grouchiness.  (My local CVS had NINE gun magazines on display.)1Home defense

Hooray! The transition is over!   Here’s a recap of my gradual acclimation to NashVegas.

I took a weekend trip down to Atlanta, GA to spend the weekend with Barb Knust & family!  Atlanta itself was hot and ‘concretey’ but Barb & Jaime’s neighborhood was designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted who also designed Central park!  It was shady and the winding streets were lined with gorgeous flowing trees!






Barb Sabina




On the way back to Nashville, I stopped in Chattanooga to see Sara Breese Apgar and meet the Cheetah Brothers, Simon and Owen Wilder.   Chattanooga  instantly felt more like ‘home’ than Atlanta did – there were water features for the kids to play in, bridges to stroll on and handmade pasta to enjoy.  FOuntains

CHeetah Bros
Back in the Nash, I began feeling more like a local when I had my first celebrity sighting!   I was at the little organic grocery store, the Turnip Truck and saw Hayden Panettiere, star of the TV show Nashville!  She was just buying some organic produce and wearing this cool leather jacket.

 Hayden Panettiere

That weekend Laura and I set up a Camp Warner Park booth at the Earth Day festival in Centennial Park.  For those of you not familiar with Nashville, Centennial Park central feature is the Parthenon which was constructed for the 1897 Tennessee Centennial & World’s Fair.  Memphis built a pyramid.  This is an awesome Wikipedia photo of the celebration.Parthanon

Our booth was near the Children’s stage and we got to watch a number of ‘global dance’ performances.

Indian Dancers


The stage drew quite a crowd and we had a fun craft project for the kids to do in between acts.  We colored 200 bird necklaces with kids that day!





Then I got to go to a Bird Banding event at Warner Park Nature Center!  I wrote a whole blog post about it, click HERE to read it.

This past weekend I got to meet some great new people and one of them told me that moving to Nashville was like going to college.  (I bet you’ve forgotten the title of this post already.)  There are lots of fun, young people but no one is really ‘from’ here, so you get to have 100 conversations that revolve around where people ARE from and why they moved to Nashville.  Then you hang out around a bonfire and someone plays guitar.

Nolan and Nicole  These adorable folks are Nolan and Nicole Rossi!  Nicole and I worked together for the YMCA of Metro Detroit, back in 2007?!  They have been in East Nashville for 4 years and had a backyard BBQ to celebrate their new privacy fence.  (Which is a MUST in a city.  Our own ‘backyard’ is not a relaxing locale due to the 2 smelly, barky dogs on chains next-door.)  I got to meet their awesome friends and hope to see them much more often now!  Hooray for old friends!

And for cousins!


And for NEW friends that are old friends of your other COUSIN!


And finally, hooray for Dogwoods- they are the prettiest trees!  Dogwoods







Nashville makes me feel like an elderly person. But I’ll get over it.

Disclaimer:  I KNOW that I need to grant myself a ‘settling in’ time so I feel comfortable in a new place.  This has happened before.  It usually takes 2-4 weeks and then I’m zipping around like a local and going to shows with my new friends!  BUT when I’m in it, this is how I feel… like an old lady who has NO idea how to do anything.  (Luckily, my new boss Laura is a patient and kind guide!) Just to give you a picture, these are random thoughts that floated through my head this past week:  Why can’t I figure out how to type my sister’s name into my Contacts list on this Android smart phone?!?  It keeps auto-correcting “Jessie” to ‘JESUS’!  Why do I have to drive on the highway just to get to the grocery store?  Why did my TWEET just post to my personal FB page and not the CampWarnerPark FB page?  If I’ve never used the handbrake on my car, will it be stuck forever?  If I don’t use the handbrake on my car, will it roll down the driveway and into my housemate’s car?  I think I need an APP to work the thermostat… it’s 62 degrees in here.  Brr. OK. OK. OK!  Enough of THAT!  Here’s a pix of a cherry tree!  They are blooming EVERYWHERE in Nashville!NasCherryBlossom This is what I’ve been up to lately:  I’ve spent this first week getting things set up for camp (Insurance, marketing, etc) and also getting to EXPLORE the 3,000 acres of Warner Park!!!  What a fun day at work!  Hiking and seeing Blue birds and OWLS!  And that counts as work!  Because of Laura’s vision, our new camp has access to this whole area;  forest, streams and field!  PLUS, Warner Park has a really amazing Nature Center  where they keep bees, a pond full of chirping toads, an organic garden AND a staff of naturalists who are going to lead activities with our kids!  Jackpot! Here are some photos from Warner Park.



Even the bathrooms are CUTE and naturey!



So camp is going to be great- I just need to get the word out and sign up about… 400+ more kids!

Yesterday, I drove to Columbia, TN, where Laura is the new Exec of a Community YMCA.  Their town is ‘famous’ for MULES.  (That’s right, the horse/donkey hybrid)  and they celebrate with a week-long festival called… Mule Days.  Saturday was the parade and BOY O BOY was it entertaining!

Check it out! 1- Horses in overalls  2- Lil’ Miss Paternity Testing  3- Cool old car  4- Giant Radio Flyer Horses in OverallsLil miss paternity   Blue Car ParadeWagon Car

And the fun doesn’t stop there! Horses with stars and guys yelling, “I say, WAFFLE!  You say, HOUSE!  WAFFLE!  HOUSE!”  Star HorseWaffle! House!

And don’t miss out on the Mule Train! 3 Mule team Mule Train The Saturday of FUN doesn’t stop there!  That afternoon I stopped by Laura’s house (in an old bank) to pick up some things and I got the grand tour!  The bank had to be majorly remodeled over the past decade to make it livable- and it’s awesome inside!  I don’ t have a pix of the 2 story vault that is now a library with a rolling ladder.

But I DO have a picture of me, riding on a cowboy fish in the ballroom.  Yup.
Laura's bank houseBallroom
Cowboy Fish
To cap off a great day, Laura fed me handmade Korean pork dumplings and took me to see some art.  OF course the ones made of crayons were my favorite.  I’m so sophisticated!
Crayon Deer
This arcade does an art crawl every 1st Saturday of the month.

Remember when I used to write blog posts?

The last time I wrote a blog post, it was about our trip to Slovakia… we flew back into D.C. the day the gov’t shut down… October 2013.  Since then, I haven’t been overly inspired to do much more than post photos to FaceBook.  Lame, I know.  Here’s my attempt to get you all updated before I start posting about Nashville and how slowly people walk there (I’ve been warned!)


This Fall was split between applying for Event Planner jobs, teaching swim lessons at the YMCA and helping my dad build a house.  (In the photo I am DRYING a house, but I did get real handy with an impact driver and did some actual work!)

Adrienne Dries the Wall


Then Cory came home for a wedding, the beginning of November and helped us out at the house.

November Cory

Then it got insanely SNOWY and FREEZING!  Dad and I had some very leisurely mornings, making eggs and watching Kelly & Michael on TV while the wind chill hovered around -18.  (Dad went through a lot of Hot Hands this winter…)  In late November, Mom and I went Silver Bells in the City- in Lansing. Freezing, but a fun time!

Silver Bells

When it was warm enough to breathe outside (without your nose hairs freezing) Mom and I would take walks and have adventures.  THEN, just before Christmas, we had a crazy storm that knocked out our power for 3 days.  I slept over at Uncle Pete & Aunt Kathy’s.  They had a FULL house and threatened to go to a hotel.  Family Rocks!

Icy Tree


We managed to cut a tree and put it up for Christmas.  It was decorated with 30+ year old salt dough ornaments that were G’ma Smith’s.  So adorable.  I miss her.  Merry Christmas!

Saltdough ornaments


Then we headed back to Pete & Kathy’s for Christmas Day.  It’s always nice to hang out with the Smith crew.

Mom, Emma Betty Jane Christmas

What a bunch of cuties!  Above: Betty Jane, Emma and Mom.  Below: Uncle Petey & Callie, getting along just fine.

Pete and CallieI rang in the New Year with the best bunch of college roomies a girl could as for!  1234 White Street may have been  such a generic name that they refused to deliver pizza to us, but we know how to have FUN!  So happy to have spent the evening with this crew!  Also, Cards Against Humanity?  You should buy it.  Tentacles.  That is all.

White Street NYE

In January Mom, Dad and I drove out to Colorado to spend a week with my siblings.  It DUMPED down snow on our ski day at Beaver Creek and the powder was almost to our knees.  It snowed all day and the hill was so empty that we could ski RIGHT back on the lift, no wait at all.  The NEXT day, there was a snow day and everyone flocked to the slopes.  People were waiting 1.5 hours IN LINE for the LIFT!  You could see the lines at the Vail lifts from satellite images.

Vail Daily

Then, 4 of us spent 2 hours shoveling 2-3 feet of snow off of Cory & Maria’s roof.  You do the math.  Epic snow.


Jessie and I, doing a dance in our matching Patagonia jackets.  We’re so spoiled!

Sister PatagucchiSipFamily Christmas

It was also Dad’s birthday before we left for Colorado, then it was Mom’s birthday when we got back!  There was much celebrating!

mom and dad celebrate

Let’s just skip February… and now it’s MARCH!  My Aussie friend from YMCA Camp Jewell is doing a tour of the USA with his friends and invites me to meet them in Chicago for St. Paddy’s Day!  What fun!


Troy & I, waiting for my favorite Irish Band, One of the Girls, to go on!

Chicago River Green

Chicago sure knows how to do a solid dye job!

Adrienne & TroyTroy wore that Kermit head all day.  Seriously, for about 14 hours.  Drunks LOVE Kermit!  (We have no idea who these girls are, but we will claim Sebastian- in the sunglasses.  Surprisingly, he’s not drunk- he’s just Argentinian!)

And we’re all caught up to present day!  Here is my motto for 2014…



It seems to have worked, I’m moving to Nashville, as we speak and developing/running a nature day camp in a 3,000 acre city park!  Should be an interesting summer!



Meeting G’ma Sip’s Cousins

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

We woke up in Klato and Elena made us omelets + liquor for breakfast, toured a neighbor’s garden and had mushroom soup (made by Michael’s mother, Hana).   Mushroom Soup

Every time we left a relative’s house, we got presents- usually it included alcohol!  (See below: my bell + apron!)

Elena's kitchen

On our way out of town, we stopped in Nedanovce (a tiny town a few miles away from Klato) to plan a visit for the following week with another set of relatives.


(Zdenka & Marie: The sisters are 80 & 85 year old cousins of his mother!)  It was a pretty old-timey way to set up appointments.  They sure were surprised to see us!

Hana’s summer cottage is in Neda Nofsa and she took us over to the cemetery to visit dead relatives.

CemeteryLovas Grave IMG_0794

We headed back to our Slovak ‘home base’- NITRA- It’s a mid-sized college town where dad is friends with a Lutheran priest called Pastor Ivan.  We settled in at the Penzion Vila Aria and made plans to drive across the country the next day.  Luckily, in Slovakia it will only take us 4-5 hours.  :)


September 23

In the morning, a tiny, hummingbird of a woman, Anka, made us omelets for breakfast and forced me to take a pile of salami for the road.  She didn’t speak any English, but she was very concerned that I might go hungry.  This often happened to me in Slovakia… I guess I just have that look about me. ; )

ANKE at the Aira

Before we begin our cross-country trip we pop over set up a visit with “Young Jan” who also lives in Nitra.  Dad knew where Jan lived, so we stopped over- but no one was home.  We called Jan’s cell phone and he answered but the connection was bad… until he stepped out onto the front porch!  HEY!!!!

After setting up a visit for the 30th, we start our journey to Poprad, at the foothills of the Tatra Mountains.


The Agricultural Fair in Klato Nova Ves

Michael cheers DadWhen I last left you, we were just leaving the VINOTEKA – where we tasted BURCIAK (wine’s sweeter/younger/cloudier cousin) and gave the chandelier the ‘Ultimate Test’.  We headed towards Alena’s school through the grounds of an abandoned mansion- the family had collected ‘exotic’ trees that we recognized from Michigan!  Species like Black Walnut, Ponderosa Pines and Sycamore trees!Klato MansionThe Mansion was owned by the mayor and in 1901 his wife started a school in a spare room.  Now, Alena is the principal of that school, on the same property.  Today is the Agricultural fair and all the kids have brought their biggest vegetables/fruits to school to win ribbons.

Outside of the school, Veronica was gathering seeds for her garden.Nika picks seedsInside the school, the ballroom was lined with folding tables heaped full of the bounty of the backyard gardens of  the town of Klato Nova Ves.  It was pretty impressive!

The spoils of Nature

The school kids recreated the town with cardboard box houses, decorated with seeds  and leaves.

Klato recreated

This is the cutest Leaf-Fox I’ve ever seen.  Good job, Anetka!Leaf Fox

Mom found a BIG pumpkin and a basket of gourds!

Big PumpkinThere was also an entertaining table of door prizes – our favorite was a gift basket of wine, paired with a first-aid kit!  Just incase you injure yourself in a drunken stupor.  We headed out an hour later and stopped to admire the fountain in the ‘Nameste’ (Town square).

Klato fountain

Then, we head back to Alena’s house for leftovers! We’d spent 1/2 the day, wandering through this tiny town!  As we made our way home, these hearty geese chased us across their yard… eventually, I should post videos- these guys were SO NOISY!

Klato Geese