Lake Tahoe Family Road Trip for Our 10th Wedding Anniversary (Featuring the 2018 Mazda3) by Nick Shell

It’s somewhere between ambitious and foolish to travel from Tennessee to California for a 2 week long trip when you have 2 young kids. But since that’s exactly what we did, my wife and I decided to make the trip our official vacation to celebrate our upcoming 10th wedding anniversary on July 5th.

Going in to it, my wife and I knew it would be a mix of both challenging and rewarding, as parenting itself is in general. So we drove the 40 miles from our home in Spring Hill to the Nashville airport, then took a 5 hour flight to Sacramento, California (which included a layover in Las Vegas), then another 40 mile trip to my mother-in-law’s home in Walnut Grove; which would serve as a our base for the 2 weeks.

From there, we embarked on another 2 and a half hour journey to Truckee; where we rented a cabin (which my next blog post will focus on) just 25 minutes from King’s Beach on Lake Tahoe. Just imagine what all that must have been like with a little girl who, despite being extremely adorable, has officially begun the Terrible Two’s.

Whatever you can imagine that part of it was like… you’re probably right.

But we survived! And not only that, we truly had an amazing time as a family.

One thing that definitely made things easier for us is that we got to a drive a Mazda3 during our first week of the trip. It was the perfect size for our family and our ridiculous amount of luggage we had to take, including a travel bed for our daughter.

Yeah, we lived it up though. My son decided he wanted to go out on a pedal boat on Lake Tahoe, so my wife and I took turns with him on on the water, while our daughter played in the sand.

My wife was born and raised in northern California. As for me, I was born and raised in the tail end of the Appalachian Mountains in Fort Payne, Alabama; but Lake Tahoe reminds me so much of where I grew up.

Lake Tahoe is truly an extension of our family’s identity. It was worth the trip and I am really looking forward to returning next year; especially since my daughter will be a bit more independent.

I’ve still got more to say about our family’s trip to Tahoe, so stay tuned for two more blog posts about that, with more fun pictures…

Have you read all 3 of my blog posts featuring my family’s road trip to Lake Tahoe in the 2018 Mazda 3? Here’s a table of contents just to be sure. Click on the title of the blog post you would like to see:

Lake Tahoe Family Road Trip for Our 10th Wedding Anniversary 
Cabin Life in Truckee, California for Our 10th Wedding Anniversary 
Plant-Based Millennial Family Checks Out Vegan-Friendly Restaurant Called “Squeeze In” in Truckee, California
Advertisements

April Milam Photography in Spring Hill, TN: Specializing in Newborn and Family Portraits

A month ago while I was taking photos for my SEO spotlight article on Legacy Coffee Co., I met April Milam as she was ordering her drink. I learned that she is a professional photographer who lives just a mile and a half away from my family.

So I thought it would be cool to shoot a video tour of her home studio, to include in my massive library of videos on one of my YouTube channels:

And then when I began to fathom the logistics in being able to get newborns and young children to pose to her photos, I decided to make a video about that in itself:

Meeting April when I did (which just happened to be in the month of April) was perfect timing, because my wife had just said that we need to get some good professional photos done of our family; and especially of our daughter, who just turned 2 years old on April 24th.

As you can see, April did an amazing job.

In the moment, I had no idea that she was getting such beautiful images of our children. As the parent, I was just hoping my daughter didn’t have a meltdown during the photo shoot.

Something that really stands out to me about April’s approach is how efficient she is. We were literally at her home studio for 28 minutes from the time we pulled in the driveway until the time we left.

We had originally planned on doing an outdoor shoot, but that plan got rained out. As you can see though, April’s home studio served us quite well.

She knows what she’s doing.

So obviously, if you’re in the Nashville area, April is a solid choice for a photographer!

Here’s a link to our family’s entire photo shoot on her website:

April Milam Photography

And here is her page on Facebook.

Thanks for checking out April’s photos of my family today. We are so pleased!

To think: It all happened because she went out for a cup of coffee one random Tuesday morning.

I Got a Clean Head Shave at Boardroom Salon for Men in Nashville on West End

Two months ago in February, right after I made my TV debut on Lifetime’s This Time Next Year in the episode, “Dudes From Different Latitudes”, I buzzed off my hair with a zero guard. My inspiration? For more than a year and a half, I had to have messy hairstyle to look like my doppelganger; as part of the show.

I was so tired of having to deal with hair, that in the likeness of Pedro on the movie Napoleon Dynamite, I just grabbed a pair of clippers and buzzed it all off. (And I have yet to regret my decision!)

A few days later though, I was invited to attend the Grand Opening Celebration for the Boardroom Salon for Men in Nashville on West End. The thing was, I had already been invited to and committed to attend the Toyota Grand Slam Road Trip across Florida during the same week.

So as a consolation, Boardroom Salon for Men offered to give me a haircut after I returned from my Florida trip. The funny thing was, with me having already buzzed off my hair, there wasn’t much left to cut.

However, on my most popular YouTube channel which happens to focus on men’s hair, many of my nearly 4,000 subscribers had been asking me to shave off all my hair with a razor. I didn’t want to do it myself because I saw it as too much trouble.

So as you can imagine, Boardroom Salon for Men was happy to engage my YouTube audience, as I made a video chronicling the epic event.

Here is the video I made featuring my visit. I admit, I am especially proud of the jingle I wrote for Boardroom Salon for Men, in Nashville on West End.

It is one of the most liberating experiences for a man to shave off all his hair; though I imagine many men, especially for those who can still grow hair, fear such an extreme change.

Not me. I love it.

And I think this speaks to the concept of a classy barbershop like Boardroom Salon For Men: That when it comes to men’s hair, choosing to go completely bald these days is just relevant as maintaining a traditional hairstyle.

Boardroom Salon for Men is aware of this, to the point they actually have a separate page on their website dedicated just to head shaves.

Nationwide, there are 30 locations for Boardroom Salon for Men; across Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Georgia. If you’re interested in visiting the new location I visited, which is right across the street from Nashville’s famous Parthenon, here’s the address:

2505 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203

I am very pleased with my visit. I also feel honored to be have been sought out as one of YouTube’s most popular “men’s hair” hosts in America.

And yes, I totally get the layers of irony: I run a popular YouTube channel about men’s hair, though I choose not to have any hair, and then I get approached by Boardroom Salon for Men.

Either way, I am proud to serve as a spokesman.

* Since 2004, Boardroom Salon for Men has been the place where men get ready.

* Boardroom pioneered the concept of luxury salons for men when the industry was yet to exist.

* What started as an idea to build a single salon has now grown to 30 locations across Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Georgia.

* Boardroom currently has two locations in Tennessee, including Brentwood at CityPark and here in Nashville at West End that opened recently.

* Brentwood-CityPark: 7010 Executive Center Drive, Suite 104, Brentwood, TN 37207

* Nashville-West End: 2505 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203

* Boardroom Salon for Men was created to provide the ultimate relaxed grooming experience for men.

* Clients enjoy salon and spa services in an elegant, country club environment that features oversized leather chairs, a pool table, a chessboard and a great vibe.

* A complimentary beverage is also provided with each service.

* Boardroom clients have the opportunity to purchase an Annual Membership, which provides members the freedom of unlimited haircuts, plus 10 percent off all other services and products for one year.

* Boardroom also recently launched a Head Shave Membership:

– 24 head shaves per year – $865

– 48 head shaves per year – $1,620

* For more information, please visit http://www.boardroomsalon.com.

@BoardroomSalons

#WhereMenGoToGetReady

SEO Spotlight Series: Legacy Coffee Co. in Spring Hill, Tennessee Uses Locally Roasted Beans (Featuring a Video Making an Iced Caramel Macchiato)

If you happen to be passing through Spring Hill, Tennessee, a must-stop place is Legacy Coffee Co. As a resident for 3 years now, I am well aware of the buzz about Legacy. It’s quite typical when I am getting coffee there, that I have heard the same reoccurring message from fellow customers:

“I would rather support local business. I want to contribute to our own community. Not to mention, I like the coffee here better anyway!”

I met the owner, Joshua Merrill, a couple of years ago when his coffee joint consisted of a pick-up truck pulling a tiny house that he built himself.

Fortunately, his business saw enough success that last fall, he was able to move in to some extra space at everyone’s favorite pizza place in Spring Hill: Viking Pizza Co.

Something that has become apparent to me when I visit Legacy Coffee Co. is that Joshua apparently knows every single person in town by name. He’s like the modern day equivalent of the owner of the General Store in town.

Except he runs a coffee shop instead.

It is obviously very important to the identity of Legacy Coffee Co. that they locally roast the beans themselves. This is something I quickly learned when I was shooting the 2 minute video promo of Josh explaining how he makes an Iced Caramel Macchiato. Check it out, and you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of Joshua’s passion for the art of making exceptional coffee.

And if you did just watch that video, you’re probably drooling right now for his hand-crafted Iced Caramel Macchiato. That’s what happened to my wife when she saw the video.

It’s no surprise that she actually just informed me we are making our way to Legacy Coffee Co. in the morning. So maybe we’ll see you there.

Want to see your business featured in my SEO Spotlight Series?

I am confident I can help boost your business’s presence online, thanks to hosting a special customized article (like this one) here on my website; which notably has great SEO. Plus, I also will shoot a special video promo for you, to host and share on my YouTube channel.

On top of all this, I am also convinced I can do this at a much cheaper price than any other media company could do for you. As of April 7th, 2018, I am starting out at the introductory price of $350.

Interested? Curious? Email me with the subject line, “SEO Spotlight Series”:

nickshell1983@hotmail

Despite the 1990s Sitcom Cliche, I Actually Really Like My Mother-in-Law (Featuring the 2017 Mazda 6 Grand Touring)

I feel like there’s this familiar cliche from family sitcoms of the 90s where the mother-in-law comes from out to town to visit, which inevitably yields 23 minutes of zany frustration for the husband and father of the household; accompanied by laugh tracks, of course.

Maybe that’s true for some men out there, I don’t know.

What I do know is I personally can not relate to this stereotype at all.

My wife and I have been married for nearly 10 years. I can honestly say that I have never once felt frustrated when my mother-in-law comes to visit or when we visit her in California. In fact, she has the opposite effect on me: I feel more relaxed with her around.

I assume I’m the typical American dad in that I am heavily involved not only with the kids, but also with the household chores. The only real free time I have is when everyone else is asleep.

During my waking hours, I’m either taking care of at least one kid or I’m helping clean up a mess. Because with young kids, there’s always a mess to be cleaned.

But when my mother-in-law is in town, I get a break from reality. I actually have pockets of time where I can do things like, you now… learn what it feels like to sit on my own couch for 5 minutes; thanks to my mother-in-law insisting on preparing dinner without my help, telling me, “Now Nick, sit down. I’m taking care of all this over here. You just take a seat and relax.”

This is all especially fresh on my mind, as my mother-in-law is currently staying with our family here here in Tennessee this week.

When the folks at Mazda heard about our special guest flying in from the West Coast, they dropped off a 2017 Mazda 6 Grand Touring with a full tank of gas, to make the week-long visit extra special.

It’s funny because despite only living about 40 miles south of Nashville, I only see that wondrous and trendy city a few times a year. But knowing we had a fancy car to get us there, we loaded up in the Mazda 6 and took our mother-in-law out for a magnificent lunch.

My wife suggested this cool Lebanese bistro called Epice.

Wow, seriously. It is now officially my favorite restaurant in all of Nashville. It was like being introduced to a whole new world of food. Not to mention, they were easily able to cater to me being a vegan.

The restaurant shares a parking lot with a very swanky “Nashvilley” shop called White Mercantile, which happens to be owned by Holly Williams; the daughter of Hank Williams, Jr.

I admit, the decor there was so cool, I took lots of pictures, made it into a collage, and debuted it as my new Facebook banner picture.

My mother-in-law just loved that store! Despite being born and raised in Oakland, California, she definitely has a fascination with the Southern motif.

After lunch, my wife and mother-in-law decided we would be stopping by an organic grocery store called The Turnip Truck; as it is soon to be a place frequented by Country Music stars.

Apparently, there were no celebrities there at the time, but at least I got a Mexican coffee out of the deal, and my daughter was able to enjoy one of her favorite snacks for the drive back home.

The next day on Saturday, my mother-in-law decided she wanted to take us out for dinner at our town’s official favorite restaurant, Viking Pizza Co. of Spring Hill.

Needless to say, it’s been a very enjoyable week for our entire family with my mother-in-law in town. Especially for me. I have enjoyed being able to remove myself just enough from the household chores, as my mother-in-law has assumed many of my roles this week, so though I could have some moments of sanity.

I don’t care what happened in 90s sitcoms. All I know is, I definitely like having my mother-in-law in town!

If you would like to learn more about the specifics of the 2017 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, check out another article I wrote; which as the title of it implies, will answer many of your immediate questions. Just click on the click below:

2017.5 Mazda 6 Grand Touring: Back Seat Space with 2 Children’s Car Seats, Fuel Door Release, Volume Knob for Stereo, Extra Trunk Space, Gas Mileage, Price

And don’t forget to catch up with me on The Lifetime Network’s “This Time Next Year” on February 20th, at 10 PM Central/9 PM Eastern; as I journey over the course of an entire year in attempt to find and meet my doppelganer!

2017.5 Mazda 6 Grand Touring: Back Seat Space with 2 Children’s Car Seats, Fuel Door Release, Volume Knob for Stereo, Extra Trunk Space, Gas Mileage, Price

This week I was sent a 2017 Mazda 6, so that I could review it from the dad’s perspective. Perhaps my top priority in featuring vehicles on my website is always this:

How much seat space is there in the very back seat if an adult has to sit back there?

After all, you never know when you might need to fill the vehicle to full passenger capacity, but have to work around two child car seats.

That was definitely the case this weekend as my mother-in-law was in town from Sacramento.

It was her, my wife, our 7 year-old son, our 21 month-old daughter, and myself in the vehicle as we made our way to our town’s favorite restaurant, Viking Pizza Co. (in Spring Hill, Tennessee).

The drive was only about 3 miles away. On the way there, I drove, and my wife sat in the back seat sandwiched in-between our 2 kids; with my mother-in-law sitting up front. On the way back, my wife and I swapped places.

I made this video to demonstrate exactly how I fit into the back seat in this situation. But at 5′ 9″ and 171 pounds, I was surprised at how “unsmooshed” I felt back there. My head didn’t even graze the roof.

It’s also worth bringing up that the 2017 Mazda 6 has an unsuspecting amount of truck space! I was nearly able to fit my guitar back there longways; with plenty of room to spare on both sides. So if you’re planning on taking this car on a road trip, you can afford to pack heavy.

For some, the “volume knob” for the stereo may be difficult to find. That’s because, to my knowledge, there’s not one. Just simply use the volume buttons on the left side of the steering wheel.

On a similar note, should you find any difficult finding the fuel door release, just look a little lower.

As for gas mileage, it averages 30 miles a gallon; 27 in the city and 35 on the highway. The model featured here on my blog, which is basically fully loaded, has a total MSRP of $34,695.

Okay, there’s your briefing.

Be on the look-out for more blog posts I have in store on the 2017 Mazda 6. Thanks for reading!

Dear Jack: We’ve Been Snowed in for a Week Now, Technically

7 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack,

It’s now been a week since you’ve been to school. This is like Christmas vacation again, but with snow… and without all the presents.

A week ago we were informed that your school was going to be closed due to the chance of a blizzard the next day on Friday. Knowing you were also going to be off from school the following Monday for Martin Luther King Day, I mentioned to Mommy at dinner:

“Let me throw a crazy idea at you…”

She stopped me, as she had instantly read my mind:

I took you and your sister to Alabama so we could stay at Nonna and Papa’s house for a 4 day weekend, while Mommy stayed back in Tennessee to get caught up on work.

You and your sister got plenty of quality time with your grandparents; meanwhile, I got a little bit more caught up on one of my most coveted commodities: Sleep!

It was so rewarding to just head upstairs and sleep for 2 or 3 hours, knowing you and your sister were being taken care of.

And it turns out, it didn’t actually snow while we were gone.

But sure enough, on Tuesday, when you were supposed to go back to school, that’s when the mini blizzard actually arrived.

Our family has been snowed since then.

Hopefully, the roads will be cleared up enough for you to return to school tomorrow, which is Friday. At that point, it will have been a solid week without you going to school. Even then, you will just be there for one day and then it’s the weekend again.

You and I did get a couple chances to enjoy the snow outside, while Mommy stayed inside with your sister. But even then, the temperature has remained around 9 degrees most of this week, so we couldn’t stay outside all that long.

What an interesting week.

Love,

Daddy