My first post of 2020 is looking back at the final month of 2019, our slowest, sleepiest month to date. Well, I take that back—it was still insanely busy as we readied our Cedar House for renovations, completed quite a few end-of-year projects and closed our books for 2019, but it was definitely nice spending some time at home and only six nights in hotels or Airbnbs, especially given the first three weeks of the month are largely going to be spent on the road for us. Mississippi, Knoxville, Idaho, Blount County, here we come!
We went to Franklin for the opening of the Harpeth Hotel. This boutique hotel, which is a part of Curio by Hilton, is an absolute dream with a great food and beverage program. Looking to take a weekend trip to Franklin this year? Now you have somewhere awesome to stay downtown!
We went back to Franklin the following week to shoot Dickens of a Christmas. This annual event taking place now for 35 years was bigger and better than ever, and I highly recommend adding it to your to-do list in future years.
We had so many Christmas happy hours and parties and outings with Charlotte Rose. Being home for the holidays is the best ever, wouldn’t you agree? Especially when your niece is this stinkin’ cute. She alternates holidays between here and Charleston, so this was our first Christmas with our almost-two year old. What a fun age!
Speaking of my niece, my sister finally announced they’re expecting a boy on June 2, so I can finally talk about it! After knowing for 3.5 months, it’s nice no longer having to keep my mouth shut. Charlotte’s still unsure about her “baby babbo” as she calls him, but she knows he’s living in her tummy (HA).
Our new tenants moved into the Victorian! They are the nicest and also invited us over for a Christmas party. They really did this old gal up for the holidays!
We got to work on the Cedar House. First up, we’re fashioning a rack system for the garage—that came toppling down on my head, OUCH—so we can organize before we start on the interior.
I got to wax poetic about murals for Livability. My friend Amy interviewed me about my favorite mural cities for the site. I’m sure a few will be obvious and a few might surprise!
Fortune quoted me in a story about the decline of Airbnb. Look, I’m still a fan of Airbnb from a guest perspective—and we still list two of our properties on there as hosts—but it’s no big secret it’s gone from customer-focused to IPO-driven. I wish it would get back to its “live like a local” mentality and start reining in all these scam stays and hotels that are now listing themselves on Airbnb as if it were Expedia. No matter how you feel about the subject, you should read this well-researched piece on Airbnb’s struggles.
We had print deadlines out the wazoo. Among them, were a pair of stories for AARP, six pieces for This Old House, and a couple features for some international publications and tourism magazines. We definitely went out with a bang this decade, and I spent a whole lot of time in our 20+ hours of driving this past week writing and working on grant applications and sponsorship decks for 2020.
We spent three nights in Panama City Beach. I love me a long weekend in PCB, but it was rather drizzly, so we didn’t get to hang out by the pool as we planned, but we did take a little walk on the beach, did some outlet mall shopping, went beer-tasting (duh) and saw the new Star Wars (we both liked it, contrary to critic reviews!).
We closed out the year with a pair of back-to-back weddings. The purpose for our Florida trip was to attend our friends David and Abby’s wedding, which was a lot of fun, then we turned around and drove up to Chattanooga—with a one-night stop in Birmingham to see my cousins—for my childhood friend Chad’s wedding. For professional wedding goers who attended zero weddings the rest of the year, I’m glad we got a pair in before the year changed! Can’t ruin our record or anything. Plus, both weddings were beyond gorgeous, and who doesn’t love built-in New Year’s Eve plans?
We went to our first show at the Caverns. When Bluegrass Underground was at Cumberland Caverns, we attended a few awesome shows. Now it has its own dedicated venue in Pelham and is even more awesome and accessible than it already was. We saw our pals Moon Taxi completely rock out and would love to make the Alison Krauss and Amy Grant shows there this year.
We adopted kittens! This was unexpected for all parties involved, including us. We had told our dear friend Devry, cat rescuer for the ages, that we would maybe considering taking in a pair of strays from the same litter, and lo and behold, we did! We rescued them from the craziest Confederate flag-wallpapered house in Lynchburg where the three from the litter were named (of course) Dixie, Rebel and Dodge and, fittingly, renamed our two Whiskey and Rye. They’re adapting quite well, so sweet, and beginning to tolerate Ella. They’re part bobcat, which is also kind of fun.
We made some big progress on our Three Big Things for 2020. I think I alluded to two, but there’s actually three we’re working on, two of which should be launching by the end of January and the third sometime in mid- or late-spring. Any ideas on what any of them be? I’ll give you one hint: None are necessarily related to the others.
We spent a sleepless New Year’s in the Bode Hotel. We booked this place through Airbnb while in town for a wedding and paid nearly $400 to essentially sleep atop a club. Take my word and do not stay in the Bode Chattanooga (unless you’re a Millennial looking to bed-hop with other guests…). Book another Airbnb or the Dwell instead.