Saturday at the Nashville Flea Market

jewelry at the nashville flea

Tim and I are still enough of newlyweds to regularly look at each other and say, Can you believe we’re married? Remember what it was like when we weren’t? and, on days like this last Saturday, where we went to a flea market we’ve been hearing about since before I moved to Nashville, Remember back then? Back when we didn’t even live in the same state?

Sometimes I can’t even believe we used to just talk on the phone every night, with Tim in Tennessee and me in Chicago. The days of driving eight hours to spend time with him seem like such a long time ago, back when I’d stay a few days and we’d go to Las Paletas and Sevier Park and bake things like pear custard pie at his house.

glass milk jugs at nashville flea

But I’ve been living in Nashville for ten and a half months. Ten and a half months! It’s not home in the same way the Chicago suburbs are—we still visit my family and everything feels so familiar and normal that it’s like where I belong—but yet it is home, too.

old books at the nashville flea

We have Tennessee license plates and library cards and a church family and friends down the street to eat dinner with on Sunday nights. We have our little house, a place that’s gone from an empty living room with an air mattress to watch TV from to a cute space with our pictures on bookshelves and our stockings on the fireplace and our curtains on the windows.


One of the things I’ve loved most about living with Tim is setting up our place, together: making Christmas traditions, cooking dinner after we work all day side by side, having friends over, decorating.

$3 DVDs

Just like when we were planning our wedding, we’ve become sort of partners in finding old things we like for our house—moving from the days of scouring antique shops for vintage reception plates to the weeks of nabbing $5 chairs from thrift stores. We love fixing things up and making them our own.

ceramic pots at the nashville flea market

And that’s why I really can’t say why it took us so long to hit up the Nashville Flea Market, which is just ten minutes from us and happens on the fourth weekend of every month—or the third weekend in December.

table display at nashville flea market

We headed to the state fairgrounds last Saturday, arriving in the afternoon, bundled up for chilly air (that is so much warmer than it is in Illinois, I know, I know), after hearing about this event from everyone from my old roommate to an article my brother forwarded me last week.

vintage napkins and vintage suitcases

Personally, I’ve only been to one other flea market that I can compare it to, but from what I’ve been told, the Nashville Flea is like a lot of others: big, loaded with vendors, filled with everything from tables of athletic socks and piles of discounted bed sheets to gorgeous homemade quilts and unique handcrafted tables.

chairscowboy boots

It’s part craft show, part garage sale, part antique mall—a fun place to get new decorating ideas and an addicting way to find little treasures. There were booths of cowboy boots (hello, Nashville!) and a vendor with all animal skins; fresh barbecue and shelves of individually wrapped, candy-covered caramel apples; tables filled with mason jars; lawn ornaments; burlap-covered chairs and ottomans; bags; clothes; all kinds of nick-knacks.

gold mason jar

Some of the market is inside, spread amongst a couple buildings and rooms, and some is outside, beneath tents and awnings and stretching all over the fairgrounds.

shabby chic furniture

As for me and Tim, we came away with a solid, heavy $10 wooden chair that Tim sanded down and painted white, ready to be paired with our other mismatched, much loved dining chairs. The man who sold it to us said it came from a Chicago insane assylum—which we just say adds character.

lamps at nashville flea

And I know I also came away with a desire to make this flea market a regular practice in my Nashville life, if only for the excitement of never knowing what you’ll find or what a great price you’ll get it for—the vendors welcome bargaining, and, as any antiquer or thrifter will tell you: that’s half the fun.

coca cola sign at nashville flea

So Nashville Flea, I hope to see you again in January, post-Christmas, post-New Year’s, post all the hub-bub of the holidays—and that goes for you too, dear readers, whom I hope to see again next year. Merry Christmas, may your holidays be lovely. I’ll see you soon!

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Brown Butter Cranberry Hazelnut Tart + Chocolate Tart

bokeh christmas tree

I never thought much about what our first Christmas would be like—which is funny because, for a classic overthinker like me, it’s rare not to think about something. Maybe it was because of how big October seemed and how faraway December felt.

first christmas

The first week, we bought a six-foot Fraser fir, purchased from a giant red-and-white tent outside Home Depot, a tree that smells like the forest and sheds needles every day. We stowed it in the back of Tim’s car, alongside a poinsettia and a fresh wreath from Aldi, and put it in our living room, inside a plastic stand Tim hadn’t used for four years and topped by white bulb lights I’d hung at that blog birthday party I had in 2009.

advent calendar

We hung a homemade advent calendar (inspiration: summer harms) on our dining room window, made of leftover wedding kraft envelopes and filled with holiday activities each of us wrote on slips of paper, mixed together and inserted randomly.

The first day was kisses every hour; the second was a thankful list to hang on the fridge.

We made a bed by the tree and read “The Gift of the Magi.”

christmas craft night

We had some of our favorite kids over to make ornaments, just simple circles cut out and hung with red string, after which we ate popcorn and watched a movie about a valiant mouse.


We took our burlap wedding runners and made stockings.

burlap Christmas wrapping

Then we took more and wrapped gifts.

pie day saturday

And last Saturday, we had a holiday pie party at our house, where everyone brought a pie to share—lemon meringue, key lime meringue, candied apple, pumpkin.

For our contributions, Tim and I made two tarts: David Lebovitz’s dark chocolate (the perfect dessert for incorporating some coffee Starbucks sent me a few months ago):

chocolate tart

And Meg Gordon’s brown butter cranberry with a hazelnut crust, beautifully Christmassy with its bright red berries and set on a nutty cookie-like crust:

cranberry tart

And so here we are, less than two weeks from Christmas Day, in the throes of new traditions and new memories, and I’m certain of one thing:

I may not have thought much about what our Christmas would be, but I know I will think, often, of what it was.

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