The festivals on my to-do list this summer

Matt and I love us some festival visits in the summer and now that we have a baby on board it’s even more fun (cumbersome but fun). If for nothing else, the people watching can not be beat. Am I right? At the Rossini festival last week, Matt and I got to see a guy puke his guts out (as in, I didn’t know so much could come out of one man). I was all, look away, look away!!!!! One too many strawberry margaritas I think? I’m not sure about the Italy connection and why exactly strawberry margaritas were being sold, but it looked like this puke-y guy had a grand ol’ time anyways.

I know that story doesn’t make you want to visit a festival but it’s what I will best remember from that weekend festival visit. I was actually nursing Gray in the park (semi-discreetly) and looked up just in time to see him gagging his guts out. Poor, poor man.

On a non-puke-y note, I’m listing some of my favorite festivals here in town, at Knoxville Moms Blog. What would make your list? And I’m willing to travel so share away.

Festival Time in Knoxville

mouseinyourhouseThe festivals on my to-do list this summer

GIVEAWAY: Lettered & Lined prints

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il_570xN.585270907_cpe8Folks, it’s that time! This is an awesome giveaway and one lucky winner will get their choice of two 11″x14″ prints from this cool print store, Lettered & Lined. Wouldn’t this make a great Mother’s Day gift! I have her prints in my own home (as I mentioned yesterday) and they really are some of my favorite decor items in my house.

HOW TO ENTER
If you’d like to enter, just follow these easy “blog comment steps” to enter to win up to 5 times. Closes next Tuesday, 4/29. That’s a lot of chances:

Featured Giveaway1. Like Lettered & Lined on Facebook and share in a comment that you’ve liked her.

2. Like Mouse In Your House on Facebook and you know, just share that the deed is done (per usual).

3. Tell us which Lettered & Lined print you like the most.

4. Share this giveaway post on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.

5. Subscribe to the Mouse In Your House weekly post digest. See the box there on the right hand column at the top.

il_570xN.478398334_3rwcYou can tell me which entries you did all in the same comment if you like.

That’s it. I am so excited that Kelly signed on for a giveaway. And for transparency’s sake, Mouse In Your House doesn’t make money from these giveaways. I do them as a way to send a thank-you to all you kind readers and because I really enjoy connecting with talented artists who count me as a fan.

Read the interview with Lettered & Lined owner and designer Kelly Bernal here.

Here are a few of my favorite Lettered & Lined prints.

 

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mouseinyourhouseGIVEAWAY: Lettered & Lined prints

Getting to Know Lettered & Lined (Giveaway Prep)

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il_570xN.506538563_q0c1Just in time for Mother’s Day, I’m introducing our featured giveaway artist Kelly Bernal of Lettered & Lined.I found this Portland, OR-based artists while trying to decorate the treehouse and needed some fun prints to spruce up the bathroom and makeshift closet (they made their way to my laundry room now that we’re back in the house). She makes it simple to pick her sleek designs with creative sayings and dynamic illustrations. You can choose any style and a custom color that works best for your space. Easy peasy.

So a couple weeks ago (or maybe a month? I’m blinking at the calendar, where did the time go?!) I asked if she’d want to host a giveaway and she’s been kind enough to oblige. I’ll introduce it tomorrow and it will be one of those easy entry ones that just requires you to like her over on Facebook and let me know in a comment, and I’ll include a few other entry options. You’re welcome to get a head start and you know…like her….cause she’s extremely likable.

But let’s get to know her better, for fun. And also because, you know, I love to get nosey with cool people and this is my excuse to ask personal questions that I wouldn’t get away with otherwise. I love her inspiration tip…

il_570xN.420295510_jlq21. What’s your morning routine?
My two sons are my alarm clock. Waking up to them is best way to start each day. Next up, I make a (giant) breakfast–it’s my favorite meal of the day and I can’t function without it! Then I hang out with the boys while answering e-mails and filling custom print orders.

3. What’s your best tip for getting inspired?
I take photos of everything that draws my attention. It might be vegetables at the grocery store, a gorgeous flower, a display at Anthropologie, a well designed menu, a fancy drink or amazing art. When I need a jolt of inspiration I flip through the photos I’ve taken and almost always find something that gets my the creative juices flowing.

4. What did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember. When I discovered graphic design, that was the end all for me. I’ve been doing it ever since!

Thank you, Kelly! Check back tomorrow and we’ll get this giveaway party started.

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mouseinyourhouseGetting to Know Lettered & Lined (Giveaway Prep)

Childhood With the Russian Circus

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Violetta, left, with her mother while on tour with the circus in 1986.

I am very excited to introduce the Traveling Family Series. It’s a project I’ve been contemplating for several years and I finally made connections with a few talented and adventurous people to bring it to life.

For this first feature, Violetta Afanasieva is talking about her childhood experiences touring with her parents while they performed with the Russian Circus as figure skaters. Little Violetta practically entered the world with blades on her feet, destined for theatrical performance on ice.

Her mother was a three time Moscow junior pair champion and her father a graduate of the Russian School of Circus Art. Together, they toured with the Moscow Bolshoy Circus On Ice for 25 years.

Are these photos not gorgeous? What an amazing childhood!

I am fascinated, and this was a nice way to start the series since we’ll be talking with parents who take their kids on the road in the next two features. It’s interesting to see the type of impact travel can have on a child. In this case, it inspired a rewarding career.

Violetta depicts a time and a place that is now only spoken of briefly in history books. It is an honor to host her story here on Mouse In Your House and I’ll outline a brief timeline of her career before we get started. English is Violetta’s second language but I thought she did a wonderful job explaining and sharing her memories.

From birth on, Violetta traveled with her parents for the majority of their tours. When she turned 5, she moved back home to attend school but was also heavily involved with the state-run ice skating program. The Soviet Union had only recently dissipated so the country was very different than it is today and sports was extremely serious business. The children’s schedules were strict and school was scheduled around on-ice classes, ballet, swimming, running and other aerobic sports geared toward preparing skaters for competition. Training was intense and because of this the country produced several of the best figure skaters in the world at the time.

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In 2006, with her husband by her side as her partner, the pair won the Extreme Ice Skating World Championships in St. Petersburg.

Violetta competed at the national level successfully for several years. At 14 though, she missed the showmanship aspect of touring professionally and decided to join her first ice show with the Moscow Circus on Ice alongside her parents. Her signature performance was a hula-hoops act, which she eventually perfected to combine adagio and acrobatics with a partner. You can see it here.

She eventually met her husband while on tour and today, the pair performs throughout the world together on TV shows like Battle of the Blades and local performances in the U.S. They are a mesmerizing and extremely talented pair. Learn more about them. Violetta and her husband, Pete Dack, are available for public speaking engagements and you can find their performance schedule as well.

Welcome, Violetta…

Tell us about your parent’s work structure. How did they make travel possible with a little one? 

Both of my parents were working for the division of Big Moscow Circus – “Circus on Ice”. My parents would always go on trips, usually around 3 months at a time. I was born in Moscow and started to travel with my parents at a very early age. To help my parents, my grandmother quit her job to be with my family and help with taking care of me. She would travel with us and raise me while we were following my parents. Usually my grandmother and I would join my parents during the trips across Russia, but we would stay in Moscow when they would travel to different countries. Most people in the circus companies had families and kids, so I always had friends around. It’s was quite exiting for the kids to be exploring new places and we had plenty to see.

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Violetta’s mother performs.

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A portrait of her father.

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A portrait of her mother.

Where did you sleep and how were the performers fed? Were restaurants an option? 

I started performing when I was 14. When my parents traveled with the circus, they stayed at hotels, a Russian kind. Every floor had a community kitchen, so they cooked. When they would travel outside of Russia, they would live on the per diem.

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Violetta’s family celebrates New Year’s on the road.

When I started touring, I never toured Russia. I did a year or two with the circus and then was hired by a European company, Holiday on Ice. They also hired my mom and my dad. We worked with that company for 6 years. We had a car and caravan, like most of the people in the company. We would stay at the camp sights or right by the building we were performing in. My little brother (4.5 years younger) traveled with us too.

What did your “normal day” as a kid look like? 

When I started school, I stopped traveling with my parents and stayed home with my grandma and grandpa. So my childhood was pretty normal. Expect that I was a part of a russian sport program and my schooling and training session was especially designed for my class, there were 15 of us. So I hardly played outside my home, because I would leave around 6am and return 6pm. I would play with my group mates between school, ice sessions and off ice training. I would join my parents on their trips only during school breaks and few weeks in the summer.

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Little Violetta poses outside the circus entrance.

Exploring new place was the best. Never boring or repetitive. There were about eight kids of my age in my parent’s circus, so there was plenty of ideas of what to do and to play. I don’t remember playing with toys. We always played active games. It was always exciting to know that you are going to travel. I loved it! Spending a day in the train, while we would be going somewhere in Russia was fantastic. Because the production would occupy a couple of train cars, there was lots of room to roam around. We also would travel long distances in the car, which was definitely a favourite for me and my brother.

Any favorite memories that stand out from your days on the road with your family?

My best memories was to watch the audience reaction to my parent’s performance. No matter where we were people loved them and applauded. That fascination with performance laid the path for my career choice. As for being on the road, I would say it is the feeling of going somewhere was always the best. It’s like going on vacation.

How do you think traveling as a kid influenced your adult life (if at all)?

Because I traveled since I was very little, travel became a very normal thing. I never stressed going somewhere new, never worried that I will get lost or will not understand different languages. I understand people better because I’ve seen different lifestyles and customs.

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One of Violetta’s first times on the ice with her mother.

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Stopping for a photo break while traveling with her family on tour.

Would you take your own child on the road with you? 

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One of Violetta’s first performances.

I think my situation would be different, since my family is in Russia and my husband’s family would not be able to travel with us and help us to take care of our kids. Also, my husband and I are self employed. We don’t belong to the company that travels as a team. Sometimes we would go some where for a couple of days, sometime for a couple of months. It would not be possible to travel with our child, I think. When we start our family, we would have to settle and work in one spot. Well, maybe with the exception of a cruse ship show, we might take our kid with us.

Thank you so very much, Violetta! 

If you’re interested in learning more about figure skating during the pre and post-Soviet Union era, there is a wonderfully engaging book written by Olympian pair skater Ekaterina Gordeeva that paints a detailed picture of life and sport during that time.

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Violetta and her husband, Pete Dack, perform with hula hoops.

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Violetta and her husband perform a headbanger or “bounce spin” during a show.

A few more photos from Violetta’s personal collection…

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Violetta’s father performs.

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Violetta at 5-months-old traveling with the circus troupe.

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Hand-in-hand with grandma.

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A vacation, posing with mom.

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Violetta’s dad at work.

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A portrait of her mother.

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Baby Violetta, her mother and her grandparents vacationing at the Black Sea.

I hope you enjoyed this start to our Traveling Family Series. I’ll be back next Thursday with our second story. And a huge thank-you goes to Molly Quigley Moenkhoff, another incredibly talented ice skater and a dear friend of mine, for introducing me to Violetta.

P.S. I actually skated competitively for most of my childhood. It’s something I plan to talk about here on this blog. I’ve just never gotten around to figuring out exactly how I want to explain and share those 10 years of my life but we’ll get there eventually. Happy Thursday!

Photo Copyright: All photos are owned by Violetta Afanasieva and may not be used without her permission. Please email her directly or feel free to email me (christinaconnally@gmail.com) and I will forward her any requests if you’d like to use them. Thank you!

mouseinyourhouseChildhood With the Russian Circus

Matt’s Music – Paper Wires

I’ve written before about being married to a musician but I’ve never actually posted Matt’s music on this blog. So….I am today. We’ve had a lot of fun lately with some of his shows. The Rhythm N’ Blooms Festival made for quite the late night family party (Gray and I did some dancing together) and he’ll be playing at Barley’s in Maryville May 16. Come on out if you’re nearby.

Here’s a little tune for your day. It gets me in a good mood. Happy Tuesday. I’ll be back Thursday with the first feature in our Traveling Family Series.

Matt Honkonen “Climbing Vine” from Loch & Key Productions on Vimeo.

mouseinyourhouseMatt’s Music – Paper Wires

When It Doesn’t Rain

Another month has passed and our blogging collective is on to its second writing prompt. This time around our prompt word is “rain”. To be perfectly honest, I’m just glad it’s not raining. Now, I’m going to go quickly knock on wood.

OK, I’m back. So this post is my plea to Mother Nature. Please, pretty please, be kind when it comes to the downpours this summer. I’m not asking for a draught here, but this past weekend, when it was bright and clear and the perfect temperature for sitting outside in a beer garden and chatting over some salad, was so appreciated. And I want more of these days.

Grayson turns 5-months old today. I CAN NOT believe it. Where has the time gone? I can’t wait to get his little baby toes in some sand this summer, but we sure are enjoying these warm Tennessee days in the meantime.

When it doesn’t rain our family gets up late and smiles big…

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We dine al fresco…

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We try oranges for the first time…

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We photograph that single dimple nonstop, in case you didn’t notice…

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And we eat whole artichokes with melted butter…

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Happy Monday, everyone.

P.S Be sure to check out Katie from Hello Little Bean. It’s a lovely blog and I’m very proud to join these ladies every month in blogging together. You can find their links below and read their posts for our writing prompt day.


“Rain” is the April writing prompt of The Mommy Blogger Collective. In addition to a monthly writing prompt, the collective hosts a monthly blogger featurette. This month we are featuring Katie of Hello, Little Bean. A few words from Katie — Hi! I’m Katie and I write a blog called ‘Hello, Little Bean.’ It’s about life as a new mom to my cute daughter, Lark Story. I’m California born and raised, but currently live in Michigan with my soon-to-be husband, James and my soon-to-be stepson, Brennan, as well as our little Lark and two kitties. I’m a full-time graphic designer who loves all things artistic and creative. I’m overly sensitive and sentimental, sarcastic and foul-mouthed at times, a foodie and a reality tv junkie who’s completely and utterly in love with motherhood. You can also find me on instagram, facebook, pinterest and our little online boutique, Bold Threads.

/// The Mommy Blogger Collective /// Christina, Courteney, Dena, Erica, Erin, Gillian, Katie, Misty, Nicole, and Renée. ///

mouseinyourhouseWhen It Doesn’t Rain

How to Dress a Fashionable Toddler

Tuyen Ho is a friend I met through my husband. They work together at a local design shop here in Knoxville. Andimage6 maybe, just maybe, I rejoice a little inside every time she posts another photo on Facebook of her stylish daughter. Can you really blame me? Just look at that adorable Bjork dress. I die.

So I asked if she’d be willing to give us some tips on how she dresses her sweet Cát Vy. I don’t have a daughter and doubt I ever will. Both Matt and I have two brothers, no sisters, and a family history of reproducing little men. Let’s just say, I’m not holding my breath. But this post made me WANT A GIRL. As in, I said it a million times and Matt was, all, NOOOOOO. And then he looked at these photos and was all, well maybe…..

Tuyen, you need to come pick out my wardrobe too! Enjoy the lowdown on one extremely fashionable toddler.

1. Cát Vy is absolutely adorable. What are some of your tips for dressing her so beautifully?

Thank you for the kind words about my little Cát Vy! I love it!

My tip for dressing a child is to try not to restrict yourself with any rules or pre-conceived notions about what’s stylish or trendy or expected. Trends come and go quicker than growth spurts. But, classic pieces will never go out of style, which is also a plus for the next child who gets the hand-me-downs.

Cát Vy is a girl, but she doesn’t wear head-to-toe pink all the time. Sometimes I shop for her in the boys’ section. That’s usually where I can find classic, oversized sweaters and cardigans, or plain tees. I also don’t keep myself confined to the toddler aisle either. I’ll often look in the older girls’ department for items that will fit her, but not necessarily the way it was intended (e.g. a shirt becomes a dress). Buying larger sizes is also a great way to save money over time, since she will grow into them rather than out of them. Plus, as she gets bigger, the fit of the piece changes, giving it a new look.

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A couple of things I keep in mind when buying larger sizes are 1) make sure it looks intentionally oversized, not ill-fitting, and 2) play it safe by picking items that don’t have any characters or themes she may lose interest in after a week or two. One way I add fun to her wardrobe without adding additional cost is to look in my own closet. Scarves and necklaces are one-size-fits-all. Sometimes I’ll complete Cát Vy’s look with one of my statement necklaces that’s not too large and won’t over-power her tiny frame. And she loves it, because she gets to be like her mommy!

I am able to find Cát Vy clothing and accessories basically anywhere (I’ve bought her a dress at the fair before!). Generally I’m a bargain shopper. I’ll buy her basics at stores like Target and Old Navy. They are great for cute finds on a budget, but every now and then I’ll splurge online when I see something I wouldn’t be able to find in local stores. Some of my favorite online shops are fleuranddot.com, bobochoses.com and zara.com. I find I revisit these sites often, even if I don’t shop. Their clothes have so much personality, I can’t help but be inspired when I look through their collections.

2. And we should probably get to know you’re little model. How old is she? What’s her favorite color and what’s her favorite piece of clothing or outfit?

Cát Vy is 2 years old, 3 in July. Her favorite color is pink. Luckily for me, we’ve somehow struck an unspoken deal where I work it into every other area of her life, and she’s content with a fairly pinkless wardrobe. I tend to like it more as a bright pop of color in a small amount. Her favorite items in her wardrobe are her hot pink rainboots, or depending on the day, her Princess Anna gown from the movie Frozen.

Quick Disclaimer: Cát Vy gets to wear pink anytime she wants. I don’t tell her no if she picks something out for herself. As long as she’s covered and warm, I’m ok with it. But, for as long as she’ll let me pick out her outfits, I’ll do it.

image9 4. Name the top five little-girl fashion pieces you wouldn’t want to go a week without.

My top five little-girl fashion pieces are:
a good pair of suspenders (any color will do!)
her ducky necklace
her Pocket Twirl Skirt from Fluer + Dot
her Lucky Top boots
her gray beenie I got from the general dollar store

5. Do you sew a lot of her ensembles and which ones so far? Any tips?

I wish, wish, wish I could sew clothes for her, but I can’t yet. I have so many ideas in my head, it would be great if I could actually make them. I have crafted her a few costumes which involved hand-stitching, but nothing highly-involved. Learning to make her clothes is my next big hobby though, for sure!

Note: Tuyen did make the Bjork dress, pictured below.

6. You’ve obviously got a knack for fashion. What’s your professional background and has it influenced your style at all?

I’m a graphic designer, and I definitely think my career goes hand-in-hand with my fashion sensibility. Both need to be well-balanced and cohesive to be successful, and the small details are what refines the overall look. I’ve always thought typography was like shoes. You can have the perfect outfit, but if you have on the wrong shoes, then the outfit falls apart. Much like a design piece, you can have the perfect layout, but if the typography is wrong, the piece falls apart.

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7. Are there any spring items out on the internet that you just know Cat Vy needs to have in her closet?

Once spring weather does come, it will take me a minute to adjust. I’m always layering her up. So this spring, I want her in simple, breathable pieces like these jumpsuits from gogentlybaby.com or dresses like this one on caramel-shop.co.uk.

8. What are her thoughts on fashion (as thoughtful as a two-year-old girl can get haha). Does she love it?

Cát Vy LOVES getting dressed up. Before she even turned one, she was obsessed with shoes. They were always the first thing she would look for after she woke. Now she likes to wear all sorts of accessories; hats, necklaces, headbands, sunglasses, scarves, etc. I think she’s open and willing to wear all these things because she see’s me wearing them. She alway says, “…just like you!” and my heart melts.

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Thanks so very much, Tuyen! She is awesome and I can’t wait to see what she does in her life with all this fashion sense you’re passing on. Here are some final shots to make you smile, dear readers. Have a fantastic, sunny weekend.

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mouseinyourhouseHow to Dress a Fashionable Toddler

The Traveling Family Series

I have always dreamed of being able to do some longterm travel with my family. It’s one of those scenarios Matt and I have imagined a lot through the years. So far, we like our little setup here in Knoxville, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still enjoy considering all the different opportunities out there in this great big world and I absolutely adore hearing about family adventures abroad.

Sometimes, I admit, I use this blog to dig a little deeper and learn more about the lives I find so interesting.

Hence, I present to you the Traveling Families Series. I had a wonderful time interviewing these families and people and I am so thankful for their willingness to take part, their time spent answering questions and forking over photos and their general openness to sharing their life with us.

So how with this all go down? During the next three Thursdays I will be introducing a family or individual who have traveled with their family for their job. Next week, we’ll kick things off with a very talented ice skater who grew up touring with a Russian circus. She’s welcomed us into her world and her memories and I am so excited to share her photos and thoughts with you!

Since this post was written, I’ve posted the following features:
Childhood With the Russian Circus

Traveling Family-01

mouseinyourhouseThe Traveling Family Series

Yarn Bombing at Knoxville’s Rhythm N’ Blooms Festival

Have you heard of yarn bombing? I never knew about it but was at Knoxville’s Rhythm N’ Blooms Festival in Knoxville this past weekend and was delighted to see all this fun yarn art. Who came up with this goodness? How awesome that someone somewhere spent time creating these colorful tree cozies and garlands for us visitors.

Honestly, Knoxville, I just fell head over heels in love with you all over again this past weekend.  And I needed the mush fest, bad. On Saturday morning, I looked at Matt during a neighborhood walk and told him I just couldn’t shake this funk I had gotten myself into during the week. I wanted to crack it, but it just wouldn’t budge no matter how much matte I drank or front porch lounging I did. But when Gray and I finally arrived downtown to see daddy play in the Old City for the Rhythm N’ Blooms festival I finally got a big breath of festival energy that sunk down to my toes. It was time to relax.

Maybe it was being surrounded by all those happy people enjoying such fantastic music. The lineup really was impressive (and not just because Matt played ;). Cereus Bright, Black Lillies, Brett Dennen, Ben Sollee, Guy Marshall, Daryl Scott, Tim Lee 3, Senryu, Harpeth Rising, Shovels and Rope, the Felize Brothers. The list went on and on.

So on top of being able to dance a little bit, I got Gray setup in the Ergo and enjoyed finding these yarn bombs as we wandered through the Old City. So thank you, to whoever spent their time creating this incredible art. What a great weekend that I desperately needed. It was a perfect way to welcome in Spring….finally.

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And some shots from Matt’s show and the fam enjoying the music. My favorite spot was the Jackson Avenue Viaduct stage with string lights and food trucks lined up for the choosing.

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Matt and the very awesome Preston Davis and Cody Noll rocking it….

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mouseinyourhouseYarn Bombing at Knoxville’s Rhythm N’ Blooms Festival