Ok, so I ran away again…

And it was long overdue, by the way.

Yes, last weekend I did one of my patented runaway mom weekends in Chattanooga. Even though it has been a loooooong dang time since I did this, when it came right down to actually leaving Russ had to practically kick me out the door! I have no idea why I am always initially so hard to convince–God knows I thoroughly enjoy myself every time I do this and come back swearing I won’t let so much time lapse between runaway trips again. But for some reason I can always come up with at least 5 good reasons why I should wait until another time, there’s too much going on to leave town, blah blah blah.  (WhatEVER, self!)

Anyway, I DID IT, and it was fabulous! (And just for the record, I’d like to state that nobody paid me a dime or comped me a room or bought me a meal to mention their business on this blog– these are my own pristine opinions, unsullied and uninfluenced by graft or filthy lucre. Sadly.)

Here’s some of the highlights:

** Once again I stayed at my favorite little hotel in Chatt-town, the StoneFort Inn– I just love that place. It’s got a bed and breakfast vibe, but it’s large enough (16 rooms, 3 floors) to keep you from feeling like you’re staying in someone’s guest bedroom. The rooms are all so charming and there are huge soaking tubs in every bathroom, usually with big walk-in showers as well. Every room is individually decorated with elegant antique furnishings, incredibly comfortable beds and lots of vintage shabby chic/cottage-y touches everywhere. (Apparently I’m not the only one with an antique mall fetish!) Take a peek into a couple of rooms– the first one is where I stayed, here’s a shot of the bed:

**I love the exposed brick wall with lots of huge windows:

**This was the room next door:

**A shot of the hallway right outside of my room:

**And there are always fresh-baked cookies sitting on the buffet to take back to your room (I love little touches like that!):

**This is one of the common rooms on the main floor– doesn’t it look like an English pub?

**There’s a library with an antique piano:

**Everywhere you look there are cozy little vignettes– like a silver tea service:

**Or handpainted murals and doors… even the elevator:

**In the morning, you go downstairs to the Cafe Elite for your made-to-order breakfast. This set-up effectively eliminates Russ’ least favorite part of staying at B & Bs– eating a family-style breakfast with strangers. Not surprisingly, that doesn’t bother me at all!

**(But I’ll admit, sometimes it is nice to spread out your newspaper and dine alone…)

**Isn’t this a lovely setting for a breakfast buffet?

**Later that afternoon, I was wandering around the Southside area (yes, MORE antique stores) and found an authentic English tea room called The English Rose– heaven! So of course I had to stop in and have a scone and a cuppa.  It was just like being back in the UK… (I sure thought about you, Rachel and Betty!)

**And finally, here’s some food porn for my favorite tablescaper Linda– oh honey, did I ever find a great restaurant! It’s a tapas restaurant called Terra Nostra, right across the river in the trendy North Shore neighborhood. All kinds of unbelievable small plate servings from all different kinds of cuisines, which is my absolute favorite way to eat. Here’s a menu snapshot:

**I had 3 small plates– shrimp salad over sliced avocado, one of their signature dishes ‘bleu puffs’, and a moroccan crepe. The crepe was really more like something called a ‘bastilla’ which I had once at an incredible restaurant, Dar Mahgreb in Beverly Hills. In the late 80’s. With Michael and Stormie Omartian.

(I’d like to take this moment to admit/share with all of you the heretofore unrevealed fact that I am kind of like an idiot savant about food. Like, I NEVER FORGET EVERY SINGLE DETAIL OF A MEAL, even yeeeeears later. Also? Though I can still manage to get lost in Nashville despite living here for 34 years,  I have been known to track down an Indian restaurant in the fat middle of the winding streets of London that I had only been to once before 5 years earlier. I’m kinda like a blonde Rain Man.)


Bastilla is described as as “Morocco’s famous chicken pie– a light, crispy warga pastry shell conceals savory saffron chicken, spicy omelet stuffing, and crunchy topping of fried almonds sweetened and flavored with orange flower water. A garnish of powdered sugar and cinnamon adds to the fabulous blend of flavors.” Oh yeah, baby. (These photos aren’t very good because I took them with my cell phone in dim light– and also I was probably drooling at the time.)

**Everything I ordered was absolutely delicious, but the bleu puffs were a revelation. I am scouring the internet for some kind of similar recipe because I am dying to reproduce these at home! (If any of you have one, hook a sistah up, will ya?) Basically it is a phyllo puff pastry pillow with a savory filling of really good bleu cheese, and they serve it on top of a warm pool of what tasted to me like ginger marmalade. Seriously. It was a religious experience. I have now officially found my favorite place to eat in Chattanooga.

Well, there you have it. A beautiful place to stay, a fascinating city to roam and delicious food to eat– that, my friends, is what this ‘Bloomr calls The Perfect Runaway Weekend!

19 Responses

  1. rachelbaker

    16 rooms/3 floors? Is this not the perfect venue for the first ever bloomr nation convention?

    Seriously, it all looks so beautiful and I’m glad you had a good weekend. I want to try some of that food.

    I ran away this weekend too. It was the total opposite of your ideal weekend away from it all – I went to a Gaither Vocal Band concert in Glasgow, Scotland! 3 hour train journeys all alone, time to read, and write and listen to music. A newspaper delivered to my hotel room when I had absolutely no reason in the world to get out of bed before mid-morning. Pottering around shops without little hands dragging me in all directions. This is new for me – and I have decided it is needed for every mum – especially those who are by themselves with the kids a lot due to husbands working away. If all that wasn’t enough, I met some great people, had dinner with some lovely ladies that I had only ever ‘met’ in cyberspace before, and had a front row seat at the best concert I have EVER been to. Now I’m ready to be Mummy again (while secretly plotting my next getaway).

  2. tori

    rachelbaker: I wish you could see the big smile on my face at the thought of you having your own Runaway Mom weekend!! It sounds like you had a wonderful time– I am so glad you did that! You have beautifully described EXACTLY why some version of these kind of things are so important… Russ figured out years ago that this was a very, very worthwhile investment– I always come home rested, happy and ready to tackle my life again (also secretly plotting my next trip, too!)

  3. BrownEyedGirl

    It’s stunning! It makes my escape to Buffalo in a Homewood Suites sound almost unappealing LOL. ( Okay.. I’m really excited to go) I’m glad you had a chance to get away to such a wonderful place! It’s absolutely beautiful!


  4. tori

    BrownEyedGirl: Honey, I can get real excited about a Homewood Suites in Buffalo, too! For me it’s really all about the alone-time, the temporary lack of daily responsibilities and the rare pleasure of waking up in the morning and thinking about what you WANT to do instead of what you NEED to do…

  5. BrownEyedGirl

    Buffalo will be so much fun…going with my siblings to visit family and friends we haven’t seen in 15 years.. I can’t wait!! Yeah.. and I’m blowing my diet on amazing Buffalo food! Beef on Weck here I come… LOL

  6. LindaB

    OMG, I love it! And you’re so right—-every mom needs some time away to regroup and recoup! And some grandmas too! My hubby used to go on business trips and I went along, and while he was working, I would scout out the town for interesting shops and places to eat. I would pour over travel magazines and maps to find the best places. And I can relate to your “Rainman syndrome”—-I can also remember the details of meals I’ve had years ago. (We may be weird, Tori.) Like the perfect Moo Shu pork in L.A., the seafood buffet in The New Orleans House in Cincinnati, and in 1975 while on a family camping trip, I had the best pizza I’ve ever eaten in my entire life at Dad’s Pizza just outside the Ipperwash Campgrounds in Ontario, Canada—-the crust was made with potato water and it was so good, it made ya want to scrape all the pizza stuff off and just eat that luscious crust.

    Okay, that does it—-right after I visit Bell Buckle, Tn., I’m headin’ over to Chat-town and check out that fabulous restaurant where you ate.

    We did eat at an interesting place Sunday afternoon. It’s so “Michigan”! The most visited tourist attraction in our state is a little German town about 15 minutes from our house called Frankenmuth. It was settled by German Lutherans decades ago and has never lost it’s German flavor……or their love of beer and good German cuisine……and all things Christmas. There’s a brewery right in the middle of town that has been turned into a restaurant. It has huge brewing vats everywhere and they still make their own beer….and root beer. It sits right on the river and is all glass on two sides so you can eat and look at the river at the same time. The river doesn’t do much….just flows along. The floors were cement and still had old gum on them from years ago—-that says authenic to me! And we had fun. We don’t like beer, but the root beer was great. And the food was very good! You should come here sometime. I’ll take you to Frankenmuth and we can eat and shop. There are many interesting places to do that. And there’s an antique “place” on the way there. It’s quite messy and unorganized, but there’s a lot of old stuff there. And the guy who owns it is a character!!

    Enjoyed your pictures and I’m glad Russ kicked you out of the house! WTG Russ! You’re a good and wise husband!

  7. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Gracious, I don’t know whether to describe all of this as beautiful? charming? or delicious? Actually, it is all of those things….and then some. I only wish I could have been there with you, dear heart.

  8. tori

    Linda B– OK, Frankenmuth is exactly my kind of place, not to mention it has the best name ever! And I do enjoy the occasional beer, so that restaurant sounds great. Thank you for confirming that I may not the only one out there who will be lying on my deathbed one day dreamily recalling fabulous meals–in detail– while simultaneously not recognizing my loved ones…

    Momma Lloyd– If Betty was here, I bet she’d be quietly planning how she could kidnap you and get the both of you down to meet me in Chattanooga– to do your Christmas shopping!

  9. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Bless your sweet heart, Tori, you are right on target with everything except the word “quietly.”

  10. jonny

    Well, LB, if that fab root-beer is bottled, would you mind picking me up some next time you’re there. Then send some over ?? = )

    Glad you were able to get away like that, Tori ! And if it also makes every else’s life more pleasant being around you after you have these wonderful weekends, maybe it should be seasonal ! You do have four of them where you’re at don’t you ??

    And really nice to read you had a wonderful time too, Rachel = )

    Mr. small-j

  11. MostlySunny

    WOW! What fun, what food, what a place! Looks like a fun place to explore. I’ve only been to Chattanooga once – and only to the convention center and the Marriott connected to it…then the airport! Oh, I did make a quick trip over to Precept Ministries since it was out near the airport. Next time…

  12. meb

    I dream of spending a year traveling around just to try all sorts of different restaurants and other wonderful places to eat. Oh my, that would be wonderful…
    I have a recipe for a greek version of the bleu puff, you might be able to alter the cheese that is inside with a bleu or gorgonzola instead of feta. And oh, Whole Foods has a gorgonzola spreadable cheese in the cheese department, they dish it out into a tub based on how much you want. Let me just say it is FABULOUS on steak or roast beef sandwiches. Add to that fresh rosemary bread, and a little bit of lettuce and you have one amazing sandwich. Okay, I’ll find the recipe and send it your way.

  13. jonny

    A change of subject. I have what may be an urgent prayer request. A little over a week ago I started hooking up with some people I used to share a certain part of ‘the mission field’ with. Unfortunately, some really messy/ugly things happened around twenty years ago involving me and a few others. Some things are still unsettled, other things some of these people may believe about me may be based off of various rumors, with sprinklings of truth tossed about here and there. I had an opportunity to reach back out, re-connect with some a few years back, but seriously blew that. I have no idea what will happen this time ’round, but I’m reaching out again in hopes that some old, incredible friendships could be re-kindled, or start again fresh, a-new. And doing so in obedience to my God, trusting His good purposes will prevail.

    Peace !


  14. LindaB

    I will pray for you, jonny, and that everyone’s heart will be softened and there will be much forgiveness and unity of spirit that will honor God and that grace will abound.

    And I will pick up some root beer next time I go to the brewery (that sounds funny, doesn’t it?) and ship it to you…….being careful to write in big red letters all over the box—-“DO NOT SHAKE!!! CONTENTS MAY EXPLODE!!”.

    Rachel, I am thinking about your idea for a Babybloomr convention in Chat-town and…….that’s a dang good idea. Tori, has any big blogger ever had such a gathering of their readers? There’s always Family Fest too since you are already there. Just thinking out loud.

  15. rachelbaker

    jonny – I’m praying too.

    LindaB, if it were to happen, I’d do all I possibly could to be there! Oh and I may be wrong, but I was looking at the Family Fest information for this year and Russ’ name wasn’t on it.

  16. jonny

    Thanks ladies, and sooo looking forward to the root beer = ) And any excuse to zip around the world and meet some of my fellow mommy/mummy bloggers works for me = )

    Oh, and LB, please send an e-mail when’s a good time to do that calling thing today. You guys time changing before us has sort of put me off kilter with these things = /

    Oh, and wonderful things have slowly started taking place with this reconnecting stuff, and with two of the people God’s involvement in/with it has clearly been evident. Sadly, one of my closer friends seems to have out right ignored me once he and his wife realized who this small-j-jonny was. I keep trusting Christ in all of it though, and I’m so grateful for the love and appreciation I have for all of them. Possibly more now than back then ! = )


  17. wendmark

    Thank Tori for letting us live vicariously through you! The food looks fantastic! Love ya Gal!

  18. Barbara M. Lloyd

    jonny, may I suggest that you start right at the beginning of your first meeting with an apology…..acknowledging that you made some bad decisions and did and/or said things you wish so muh you had not….and that you are asking for their foregiveness? Then tell them how much you value their friendship and would be grateful if they would consider starting over with you.

    I will be praying for you, my friend, and that their hearts will be softened.

  19. jonny

    I did that with many some years ago. Unfortunately I put my foot in my mouth shortly afterwards. I didn’t say anything I should apologize for, but it was what at least one seemed to be waiting for to rip me to shreds, up one side, down another. It got ugly, but not on my part. At a certain point a couple of us quietly left the Yahoo Group thing. Thr Spirit of Christ seemed to pull an Elvis. It seemed to simply leave the building. Funny thing is, the situation basically effects, involves me and one other, but many have aparently taken sides, and truly knowing little about what happened and why, some were even in other countries at the time, I became the devil’s right hand man. Or he became mine = / I’ll keep reaching out, carefully, sensitively, to the best of my ability, in love and trust Christ with the rest = )

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