Howdy, blog readers! I have followers from across the globe and am so very grateful for all of you. Today, I have a special opportunity for my readers who live in or near Nashville. It’s sort of like a giveaway, but in this case, anyone who wants the “prize” can have it. I am partnering with the Foto Sisters, a talented music group made up of three sisters who are friends of ours, to give away tickets to an event sponsored by Keith and Kristyn Getty of Getty Music. You may remember watching my interview with Keith Getty three years ago.
While we were in the Great Smoky Mountains a few weeks ago (see my photos from Parrot Mountain), we visited Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. I was surprised to learn that it is owned by the same company that does the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not books, comics, and TV show.
Mr. Handsome and I have somehow become aquarium and zoo people. I didn’t grow up spending time at either, but since we have been married, we have visited quite a few (Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, Chattanooga’s Tennessee Aquarium, St. Louis Zoo, New Orleans Audubon Zoo, and Memphis Zoo). We also went to the Knoxville Zoo on our way home from the Smokies. We both agree that going to a zoo or aquarium isn’t the absolute most exciting thing that anyone could ever do with their time, but we love how relaxing and therapeutic it is to walk through the exhibits and watch the animals. You can allow yourself to lose track of time for a few hours.
The aquarium has a huge shark tank, where you can see the sharks from above water and then walk through a glass tunnel and watch them swim above you.
The creature in Shark Lagoon that fascinated us the most is not actually a shark, although it looks like one. It’s a sawfish, and while it can cause harm to prey with its “saw,” it is not aggressive towards humans (unlike actual sharks). It also has what looks like a human face on its underside.
The penguin exhibit was my favorite, and it was hilarious to put Little Buddy up to the glass and watch a swimming penguin try to grab his swinging pacifier.
The stingrays were also pretty neat and reminded us of our honeymoon on Grand Cayman, when we swam with wild stingrays at Stingray City. Mr. Handsome enjoyed seeing the jellyfish, but he now unfortunately wants one as a pet.
This morning, Mr. Handsome and I, along with Little Buddy (who was in a great mood and loved being out and about), went on a date in the 12 South area of Nashville. We took a walk through the nearby residential neighborhood to get a bit of exercise. Then we picked up two 100-layer donuts from Five Daughters Bakery (Mr. Handsome’s favorite treat–regular donuts just don’t compare) and iced coffee from Bongo Java.
While in line at Bongo Java, we saw a display case containing a cinnamon bun and were immediately curious. We were shocked to learn that this cinnamon bun (which was actually a replica of the real thing) is world-famous.
In 1996, an employee took a second look at a Bongo Java cinnamon bun and realized that it bore a striking resemblance to Mother Teresa. An article in Nashville’s newspaper, The Tennessean, went viral, and the bun was featured in publications across the world and received air time on multiple radio and TV programs. Visitors flocked into the coffee shop to see the bun in a display case where it had been preserved.
It wasn’t long before the owner of Bongo Java was contacted via phone by Mother Teresa’s attorney, and then in a letter from Mother Teresa herself, asking him not to use her likeness to sell merchandise. “I have always refused permission for the use of my likeness for commercial ventures,” she wrote in her letter. As one would expect of Mother Teresa, she was very kind in her request. “I do know that you have not done anything out of ill-will, and so trust that you will understand and respect my wish,” she continued.
It was decided that Bongo Java would call it the NunBun instead of the Immaculate Confection or the Mother Teresa Miracle Bun. The shop also negotiated a limit on the amount of NunBun merchandise it could sell. But despite her request, it sounds as if Mother Teresa was not upset about the bun but rather got a kick out of it. Apparently she joked about it shortly before her death in 1997, mentioning in the presence of her attorney and successor that they should have the people in Tennessee fun a bun that looks like her successor.
In 1997, a thief broke into the coffee shop and stole only the NunBun. It has not been recovered, but if it ever is, the person who finds it will receive a $5,000 reward. The photo above is of the replica that is displayed at Bongo Java.
When we’re driving along backroads, which happens quite frequently here in Tennessee, I always enjoy snapping photos of old country churches, and whenever I see an old building, it blows my mind to think about the stories that it holds.
The photo to the left is of Station Camp Baptist Church, located in Cottontown, Tennessee (northeast of Nashville). One of the earliest frontier churches in America, Station Camp was established in 1796–the year Tennessee was admitted into the Union and the year John Adams, the second president of the United States, was elected into office.
I love this quote on the church’s website: “Just as the station camp (from which the church got its name) provided settlers and weary travelers a refuge from frontier dangers, Station Camp Baptist Church has provided a refuge for weary souls for over 200 years. May it continue to do so.”
While I have been to a couple churches that can trace their roots back to the 1800s, they have always been in more modern buildings. I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience attending service at an old country church. It happened one year ago, while Mr. Handsome and I were on vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii. …
While visiting Mr. Handsome’s family for Thanksgiving, everyone met at a Christmas tree farm (which also had live reindeer–see my November 28th post) so those who live in the area could pick out Christmas trees. The tree selection wasn’t great, so we ended up stopping at a tree lot. Mr. Handsome and I were poking fun at them because it took so long for everyone to choose trees. And it wasn’t that they were walking around the lot looking at a bunch of different trees…
Within the few minutes, Mr. Handsome’s youngest brother and his wife were sure that they wanted a 10-foot tree for $125. After about 25 minutes of discussion about size and type, the other couples decided to save money and go with the $25 Scotch pine trees. Then for another 15 minutes, Mr. Handsome’s parents (and two youngest sisters) and his second oldest sister and her husband went back and forth between three Scotch pine trees before each household came to a consensus. …
While we were in Boston, we visited the Museum of Fine Arts so Mr. Handsome could gain some inspiration for his artwork. As a hobby, he enjoys painting in oil and acrylic and has had his masterpieces displayed in quite a few art shows and venues across Nashville.
This summer, he started painting cows, and the one above is my favorite so far. We have it hanging in our kitchen, which Mr. Handsome’s brother dislikes because when he sits on our couch, he feels like it’s staring at him. I think it’s a cute cow, but it really creeps my brother-in-law out for some reason….
On this rainy Friday night (at least it’s raining here in Nashville), I thought it would be fun to kick off the weekend with a discussion post. My favorite part about blogging is being able to chat with my readers via comments, email, and Facebook, and I always enjoy learning more about each of you.
Mr. Handsome and I have followers from across the globe, and I would love to know what part of the world you live in. I’m also curious to hear any interesting or unique facts about your hometown or native country. I’ll start……
Have you heard the news? We’re having a boy! As promised in Tuesday’s post, this is the story of our secret gender reveal party, during which we cut into an “ordinary” chocolate cake that turned out to be a gender reveal cake.
When we first found out we were expecting, we enjoyed keeping the news to ourselves for three months before announcing to family and friends. From the start, I knew that I wanted to find out the gender of our baby at the 20-week ultrasound, and while Mr. Handsome liked the idea of waiting until the birth, he allowed me to choose….
At the suggestion of one of our readers, Mr. Handsome and I visited Window Cliffs State Natural Area, located near Cummins Falls (about an hour east of Nashville). We were amazed to learn that the window cliffs were first sketched by French explorer Charles LeSuere in the 1830s. Before that time, the park was home to Native Americans….
As a couple that enjoys fishing, Mr. Handsome and I are always looking for new ways to cook our catches. Nashville is famous for hot (spicy) friend chicken, so we created a similar recipe for fried fish. We use crappie or bass, but you can use any type of fish.
Spicy Fried Fish
- Oil I use canola
- 4-6 fish fillets
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3 Tbsp hot sauce
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
Rinse fish fillets, and remove all bones.
Combine the breading ingredients in one shallow bowl, adjusting the amount of cayenne to fit your tastes. This recipe is only moderately spicy.
Combine the milk mixture ingredients in another shallow bowl, adjusting the amount of hot sauce to fit your tastes.
Fill a fry pan with just enough oil to cover the fillets. (Do not add the fillets yet.)
Heat the oil over medium heat, keeping it covered with a splatter screen. Test it by flicking one TINY drop of water onto the surface of oil. If it crackles and pops, you know it's ready.
Warning: Do not flick more than one tiny drop of water onto the oil. Oil and water do not mix. If you add any significant amount of water, you will create an explosion.
Dip each fish fillet in the milk mixture and then in the breading. Make sure fillets are fully coated with breading. Place fillets into hot oil. Cook until both sides are golden brown, flipping once if needed.
To test if fish is fully cooked, remove a piece from the oil, and cut into it with a fork. If the white fish meat flakes, it is ready to eat.
The glaze is optional, but if you wish to try it, mix all three ingredients in a separate, small fry pan, until combined.
We use Frank's Hot Sauce because, unlike most brands of hot sauce, it is free of artificial preservatives. We eat our fried fish with MSG-free ranch dressing.