we’re engaged!

The past month has been the most beautiful whirlwind. Connor and I went to California in October, and he proposed while we were in Napa! We have been so overwhelmed with love, happiness and excitement — and it is just the beginning!

Our date is set, our venue is booked, but I still cannot stop thinking about how perfect the day of our proposal was.

October 21, 2019 will forever be one of my favorite days.

Connor and I spent three days in San Francisco before driving to Napa on October 20th, our seven year anniversary. While our San Francisco itinerary was packed with places to see, food to try and things to do, the Napa portion of our trip was meant to be much more relaxing (a full travel guide is coming soon!).

We heard about how beautiful Stags’ Leap was, and knew it had to be part of our Napa trip — after all, it is rated one of the Top 5 Most Romantic Winery Destinations by Sonoma Magazine! Unfortunately, when we were booking our trip, there were no available tastings and tours for the day. A few days later, Connor said he checked the website again, and there was an opening. I was so excited! I later found out that the open spot was created for us as part of a much bigger plan.

On Oct. 21, we went to Boon Fly Cafe for the most delicious breakfast and mini donuts before heading back to our hotel to get ready for our tasting and tour at Stags’ Leap Winery. While at Stags’ Leap, we toured the beautiful Estate and sipped on several different wines throughout the afternoon. After the tour was over, Connor and I had planned to stay to enjoy some more wine before heading to dinner — it was our last day, so we wanted to soak in all that Napa has to offer before flying home!

We went out to the porch that overlooks the vineyard and had a glass of wine. Connor wanted to get a picture together before we left, so we walked through the vineyard to find the perfect spot (little did I know, Connor had this all planned out!). We turned down one row, and Connor took a selfie of us,  put his phone down and looked at me.

“This has been really great,” he started. I jokingly interjected (as we do when one of us unintentionally says something that sounds so “final”) and said, “Please don’t tell me this is where you leave me — right in the middle of a 240-acre vineyard!” He laughed, looked me in the eyes and said, “I don’t want to leave you, I want to stay with you forever.”

In that moment, I realized what was happening, and I just couldn’t believe it. I was crying, shaking and smiling as the love of my life got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was such a beautifully intimate moment that I will treasure forever.

Best Proposal Wineries in the Napa Valley - Stags Leap Winery, Yountville - CA

Best Proposal Wineries in the Napa Valley - Stags Leap Winery, Yountville - CA

Best Proposal Wineries in the Napa Valley - Stags Leap Winery, Yountville - CA

After I said yes, he sprung another surprise on me — he turned me around and pointed to a photographer that he had hired to take our proposal and engagement photos! I could not believe all of this was happening! Our photographer, Christophe Genty, captured one of the best moments of our lives together, and I am forever grateful for that.

In between our engagement photos, Connor told me all of the details of the proposal — from how he asked my dad for his blessing to designing my ring and coordinating the day with Christophe and the winery. The start of our forever was one of the best days, but our best day ever is going to be in just under a year! I cannot wait to marry my best friend!

travel guide: nashville, tn

Nashville is by far my favorite city I have ever visited in the U.S. The country music, hot chicken and live bands almost everywhere you go are just some of the reasons that I fell in love with this Tennessee city.

I went to Nashville with a few of my friends in 2017, and since then, I have been itching to go back (thankfully I am going back later this year!). From doing a pedal tavern in a rainstorm and celebrating the Nashville Predators winning two Stanley Cup games, to talking about how we pretended to be a bachelorette party on the radio, it is safe to say that our trip to Nashville was full of adventures! Read on below for some of my favorite activities and places we visited while we were there!

Where to Stay

Courtyard by Marriott Nashville Downtown
Just two minutes away from the historic Ryman Auditorium, the former home of the Grand Ole Opry, and a short walk to Lower Broadway, the main street of bars and restaurants downtown, the Courtyard is a great location to stay at while in Nashville. The hotel has clean, comfortable rooms and a Starbucks — the perfect combination to kickstart a full day in Music City!

What to Do

Grand Ole Opry Tour
Normally, I would recommend seeing a show at the Grand Ole Opry if possible, but unfortunately, there were no shows scheduled when we visited. I still wanted to check out this important piece of Music City’s history, so my friend Allie and I jumped in an Uber and spent an afternoon touring the Grand Ole Opry. Having the opportunity to go backstage and even step foot on the Opry stage is something I will never forget! Find out more about the backstage tour here!

Join the Studio Audience at The Ty Bentli Show
Formerly known as the Ty, Kelly & Chuck show, the Ty Bentli Show on Nash FM is one of my favorite radio programs to listen to. When I found out you can be a part of the studio audience, I knew it was a must for my trip to Nashville. As someone who works in media, it was great to see Ty and Chuck in action. They were incredibly welcoming, and they even gave me an opportunity to be part of the show! After the show, we got to tour the other studios in the building, and we even learned how to line dance with Shawn Parr from Nash Nights Live! Whether you listen to Ty’s morning show every day or hear it for the first time while in Nashville, this is an experience I highly recommend! Click here to learn more about how to join the audience!

Nashville Pedal Tavern
When you walk around in Nashville, you are bound to see groups of people pedaling through the streets, singing songs and drinking. While there are several different pedal taverns to choose from, we chose Nashville Pedal Tavern and had a great time. Unfortunately, it was pouring out the day we were scheduled to ride, but Nashville Pedal Tavern employees provided us with ponchos and a driver who made the day so much fun despite the bad weather! The Pedal Tavern also stopped at a few bars along the way, giving us an opportunity to explore parts of Nashville we had not been to yet. Book your bike tour here!

Lower Broadway
Lower Broadway is a must for your Nashville getaway. No matter where you go, there is live music playing all day and night. The bands are so talented and they all take requests. Some of our favorite spots include Tootsies, Honky Tonk and Nudie’s!

The Gulch
Have you ever seen pictures of the famous wall murals in Nashville? My favorite is this one pictured here: “What Lifts You?” created by Kelsey Montague! You can check them out in person by visiting The Gulch. A short ride away from downtown, The Gulch also has some great boutiques and restaurants, including a few of my favorites: Kittenish and Biscuit Love.

Belle Meade Winery
Belle Meade Winery just exudes southern hospitality. We booked a food and wine pairing with one of their sommeliers, and it was such a great experience. We got to taste Belle Meade’s award-winning wines, pair them with foods and learn about the proper ways to taste wine. After our pairing, we were able to enjoy the property while sipping on a few bottles of wine and snacking on some cheese and crackers. The best part is that they ship wine to almost all states, so you can enjoy Belle Meade’s wines long after you leave Nashville!

Shenanigoats
Two words: Goat. Yoga. This is definitely not something I ever thought I would try, but when I visited Nashville for my friend’s bachelorette party, this was at the top of the agenda. The goats are incredibly cute and playful, and are ready to climb all over the yogis in the room! They are even willing to pose for some fun pictures at the end of the session!

Where to Eat

Biscuit Love
We may have waited two hours in the hot, Tennessee sun, but Biscuit Love was well worth the wait. This is the first restaurant we stopped at once we hopped off the plane, and from fluffy biscuits to large mimosas, Biscuit Love did not disappoint! Make sure you try a Bonut (fried biscuit dough) while you are there. I promise you, you will not regret it!

Pancake Pantry
This was my favorite breakfast spot we ate at while in Nashville, and we all agreed that the food was amazing. I am a big fan of breakfast, and Pancake Pantry exceeded all of my expectations. From the best crepes to melt-in-your-mouth hash browns, I am still dreaming about this meal!

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken has some of the best hot chicken around Nashville. You can’t go wrong with a hot chicken sandwich and a side of pimento mac & cheese!

Burger Republic
Declared one of Zagat’s 50 Burgers in 50 States, the Tennessee burger at Burger Republic is one of the best burgers I have tasted to date! Topped with a Jack Daniel’s honey glaze, maple bacon and crispy onions, this burger was absolutely delicious! Definitely make this one of your stops while in Nashville!

5th & Taylor
The drinks, appetizers and dinner coupled with a cozy, family-style ambiance makes 5th & Taylor the perfect place to go to celebrate a special occasion. Everything is delicious, especially the duck wings appetizer and the pork tenderloin with rattlesnake beans, peach and jalapeño.

These are just some of my favorite spots we visited during our weekend in Tennessee! I hope this travel guide inspires you to put on a pair of cowboy boots, blast some country music and travel to this amazing city!

fall favorites

IMG_5704This past weekend, Connor and I celebrated our sixth anniversary! I feel so blessed to have someone like him by my side each and every day, and I am always amazed by how much we have done and accomplished together — being in love with my best friend is truly something special. We have shared so many memories and milestones over the years, and our anniversary is the perfect excuse to celebrate all of that!

IMG_5706In the past, we have always tried to travel somewhere new for our anniversary, but this year, we chose to do something different. Life has been pretty busy these days, and our work schedules are completely opposite, so we decided to take a step back and have a relaxing, fun weekend at home. 

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From pumpkin picking and carving to dinner and a movie, we spent the weekend doing some of our favorite things together. 
We had such a great weekend, and in the spirit of celebrating, I wanted to share some fun activities that you can add to your fall bucket list. Grab your significant other or a group of friends and hit up some of my favorite spots before the season ends!

 

Processed with VSCO with a5 presetDemarest Farms
Demarest Farms is the perfect place to spend a crisp fall day. Hop on a hayride to search for the perfect pumpkins to carve for Halloween, and on the way back, grab a bite to eat. Make sure to pick up some apple cider donuts before you leave, and heat them before you eat them! They are so delicious!

Tip: if you visit Demarest Farms earlier in the season, you can also go apple picking there! Connor and I have some apples that we are planning on baking into a pie this weekend!

Angry Orchard
This is a great place to go with a group of friends! From cider tastings and treehouse tours to live entertainment and lawn games, Angry Orchard has a great property for all-day entertainment.

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Warwick Winery
Warwick offers wine and cider tastings, as well as a distillery tour and live music. In the cooler months, there is an indoor tasting room complete with a wood-burning stove; when the weather is warmer, there is plenty of outdoor space to enjoy drinks and food with friends!

Pennings Farm Cidery
There is a variety of ciders on tap here, offering a variety for all palettes. Pair your favorite with lunch or dinner and enjoy! Starting in November, the tasting room is only open on the weekends and for adults 21 and over.



BE5945FC-8B6C-417D-85EE-B65B78C09FDE.JPGBear Mountain Oktoberfest
This is your last weekend to visit Bear Mountain for Oktoberfest (it closes Oct. 28). Grab a stein, fill it with beer or cider and snack on some pretzels while hanging out with friends!

Brownstone Pancake Factory
Brownstone is great any time of year, but it offers amazing fall-themed dishes! From Pumpkin Cheesecake Nutella Pancakes to a Halloween Ultimate Shake, you will be drooling over all of the options!

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Movie Night
Halloween is the perfect movie to get you into the fall spirit this season. Michael Meyers makes his chilling return to the big screen in this classic series, and it is definitely worth the watch. Movie theater popcorn is always an added bonus!

Netflix & Chills
Netflix has several Halloween movies available for binging, but this season, give your full attention to The Haunting of Hill House. This show may have given me nightmares for days, but it is so good. Cuddle up with some hot cocoa and light a few candles, because you will not want to watch this one in the dark!

Almost all of my suggestions are for locations that are open throughout the year, but I do love visiting these places in the fall! Let me know if you have visited any of these spots or have any suggestions of your own in the comments below or on Instagram by tagging @ livingsimplygray!