Brown County Shopping: Land of the Spree

From maple-bacon cupcakes to button-flap jammies, new and updated Nashville shops are loaded with cute stuff you don’t necessarily need but will almost certainly want.

Sarah R. Wiley

This article is part of the Rediscover Brown County package in the October 2016 Indianapolis Monthly issue. For more on our favorite fall destination, click here.


Fallen Leaf Books

Darling shop on a cozy side street—how books were sold before Amazon. You can grab a stack of discount paperbacks, cradle a $4,000 relic from the collection of rare volumes, or browse a section of Indiana authors and books about the region. 45 S. Jefferson St., 812-988-0202,

Forever Sweet

Almost-too-pretty-to-eat cupcakes in flavors like peach cobbler, pumpkin spice, and maple bacon. 211 S. Van Buren St., 812-720-7060,

Hesitation Point Bicycles

All the gear for Brown County’s primo mountain biking trails, in a new location near the state park’s north entrance. No bike? No sweat: Rentals are affordable, the for-sale stock is deep, and the onsite repair shop offers tune-ups and expert advice. 51 Parkview Rd., 812-988-4566,


Home-decor shop with one-of-a-kind treasures in the farmhouse-chic milieu, many with a vintage vibe: stenciled burlap pillows, distressed furniture, and tastefully picked flea-market finds. If you see something you like, buy it (because one-of-a-kind merchandise can’t be restocked). 125 S. Van Buren St.

Mulberry Cottage

A longstanding stop for whimsical home decor and gifts, the shop has gone boho boutique with the addition of gypsy dresses, flowy tops, vintage-inspired children’s wear, and a make-your-own jewelry bar. 46 W. Main St., 812-988-9803,

Paws and Claws Pet Gifts

The pet-sclusive store welcomes your fur babies with toys, treats, and fashionable animal duds.
41 S. Van Buren St., 812-200-1358,

Simply 4 You

Painted mason jars. Repurposed wine cork decorations. Kitschy wood signs hand-painted on-site by the owner. ’Nuff said. 145 S. Van Buren St., 812-350-8806

The Thomas Treehouse

An artist co-op featuring functional pieces by more than 40 local and Midwestern makers, carrying everything from jewelry to hand-thrown pottery tableware to heavy wooden cutting boards. You can watch proprietor and woodcarver Rhett Thomas at work in the store. 173 S. Old School Way, 812-720-7077,

Nashville: A Big Unveiling

Secret no longer, “NashVegas” lures bachelorettes with laid-back glitz.

Sarah R. Wiley

Originally published in Indianapolis Monthly Magazine, June 2016



Throwing a great destination bachelorette party doesn’t have to mean booking a flight to Las Vegas or Napa. Straight down I-65, Nashville, Tennessee, is the hottest prenuptial destination this side of the Mississippi. Entourages rush Lower Broadway ’til the wee hours in designer cowgirl boots and matching tiaras and sashes, hustling veiled brides-to-be in and out of honky-tonks. The walkable strip is boisterous yet safe—Vegas without the sleaze. Added attraction for single gal pals: mingling with bachelors who also seek out the city’s neon nightlife.

Of course, great live music is ubiquitous, and huge stars make pop-up appearances, like when Steven Tyler jumped onstage with Keith Urban for a surprise jam at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. The clubs don’t charge covers, making it easy to dip in and out until you find a sweet spot. Acme Feed & Seed is a fine place to start, with inventive, Southern-twist cocktails and vittles, in a distressed granary-chic setting. The rooftop bar—kind of a “thing” in Nashville due to the fair weather—overlooks the river and has a great skyline view.

Celebs often blend in with the crowd. Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani were recently spotted together in a restaurant booth, and Taylor Swift is known to hit the coffee shop Fido. Jack White’s Third Man Records sells vinyl and includes a “novelties lounge” displaying some of his curio collection. Nashville native Reese Witherspoon just opened cute little Draper James to showcase her recently launched lifestyle brand of clothing and finery for the home.

Urban Cowboy B&B, in eclectic East Nashville, combines artsy Southwestern deco and Victorian refinement, with cozy suites and claw-foot tubs tucked into the historic mansion’s dormers and tower. The morning after all-night boot-scooting? Brunch. City Winery serves Biscuit Beignets with tomato jam and sugar dust—those, and maybe a mimosa on the patio, should fix you right up.


Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is the reputed originator of the local-specialty cuisine. 615-226-9442


Omni Nashville hotel houses posh Mokara Spa and adjoins the Country Music Hall of Fame and


Nashlorette sets up dining, winery and moonshine tours, photo shoots, and spa trips—with package pricing.


NEST: A Cabin in the Woods

Roll the windows down and follow the warm summer breeze toward the village of Leiper's Fork.  Tall grass and wildflowers sway, beckoning you to the rolling hills just south of Nashville, Tennessee.  If you know where to look, you'll find a small break in the treeline that leads you down a winding, half-mile driveway.  The sounds of the woods give way only to the sounds of gravel crunching under your tires and the gentle splash as you drive through a shallow stream.  The canopy of trees opens to a sunny, hillside meadow and a perfect cabin at the end of the lane.  Welcome to, "NEST: A Cabin in the Woods."  

Photo credit: Jay at  

Photo credit: Jay at 

Shelter + Roost owns six vacation rental properties in the Franklin, Tennessee vicinity.  I recently stayed at their newest property, Nest: A Cabin in the Woods. It's already a highly sought after, frequently booked location.  Fortunately, I reserved my particular weekend dates months ago, before the cabin was officially available for booking.  I planned a solo adventure to stay at the cabin and attend renowned vintage market, City Farmhouse Pop-Up Fair.   Kim Leggett, owner of City Farmhouse, is the Interior Stylist Extraordinaire of Nest.  It's not just a cabin, it's simple elegance at it's finest.  Take a look...I saved my favorite features toward the end of the post (oh the anticipation!)

Seemingly straight out of an English garden, the brick pathway is perfectly seasoned with moss and soft grass.  A footbridge leads you over a small runoff stream where local bullfrogs make their home among the purple Pickle Weed.  I felt as though I'd literally escaped reality and arrived into a daydream as I walked up the steps to my retreat.

Sarah Wiley Photography 

Sarah Wiley Photography 

Every detail has been attended to; from the Chesterfield sofa to the stack of s'mores supplies in the kitchen, you will feel pampered at Nest.  The feeling of a rustic cabin in the woods, juxtaposed against the luxury you find within it, is a pleasant surprise.  

Photo Credit: Jay at

Photo Credit: Jay at

Sarah Wiley Photography

Sarah Wiley Photography

The common areas are composed of one large space that includes the living room, dining area, sitting area and the kitchen.  The kitchen is stocked with all the hardware you might need to make a meal; pots and pans, utensils, baking dishes and a (cough, cough) wine opener.  Top-of-the-line, stainless appliances and granite counter-tops are remarkably complimented by an unlikely "found" vintage table that has been employed as an island.  Modern meets vintage is the story of this space. 

Sarah Wiley Photography

Sarah Wiley Photography

As a woman, traveling alone, you might think I'd be a bit jumpy staying out in the woods all by myself.  I assure you, I slept like a baby and never felt more safe.  The Master bedroom is on the main floor separated from the common area with glass pane  French doors and curtains.  The smooth, wide-plank floors and barn wood accent wall reminded me that I was indeed, in a cabin. However, the simple but oh-so luxurious bedding felt like a five star hotel.  In fact, I loved the bed sheets so much I had to know where to find them; Jennifer Adams Home.  You're welcome. 

Photo: SWP

Photo: SWP

The most curious design element is upstairs in the loft.  There are two twin beds, a sweet, little French sofa paired with a cowhide rug and Mongolian sheep wool pillows.  The unexpected  wall of books (not bookshelves) is a one-of-a-kind architectural point of interest.  The beige-ish color variations of the book pages mingling with an occasional hardcover book spine create a visually stimulating and palpable design feature.  It's really something to see.  I found myself peering at book titles and touching the rough edges of paper as I admired the creativity and character it brings to the space. 



As much as I love the book wall and other highlights of the cabin, my favorite features happen to be outside.  The first of which is a full-size bed-swing on the deep, covered porch.  The evening I arrived at Nest, it began pouring buckets of rain.  My spirits weren't damped in the least.  I simply sipped a glass of wine and enjoyed the storm from my dry, porch perch.  Bliss.

Take special note of the very soft wool blend throw blanket on the swing.  I loved it.  You can pick one up for yourself at a darling shop in Leiper's Fork called, Serenite Maison.  You can also go there to talk about yoga and get hugs. Probably.

My other favorite feature is the outdoor shower.  There is a beautifully appointed shower inside the cabin complete with a chandelier, but I'd save it for colder months.  The outdoor shower has strategic corrugated panels to help hide your bits, lest a passing deer see you in your altogether.  Mostly, though, it's en plein air.  Al fresco bathing with a sublime view of the meadow.  Don't be shy, go on, you will be so glad you did!  Travel tip: Bring your own natural, body sponge and smell-good bath products to thoroughly spoil yourself.  



If you feel the need to leave the woods for awhile, there is no lack of things to do. Live music abounds.  Art galleries, shops and the original Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant are up the road in Leiper's Fork.  Franklin has eclectic shops and local restaurants at every turn.  Meander up and down postcard perfect, Main Street, dipping in and out of boutiques.  Treat yourself to ice cream. Then, go back to the woods. Nap on the porch. Wade in the creek.  Take a deep breath at Nest: A Cabin in the Woods.

5 Reasons You Need to Attend Zoobilation..Next Year (because you missed it)

Indy's Signature Black-tie Gala

Zoobilation 2015 is in the books. Done. Finite-o. Curtains. Ovah.  Were you there? Or were you lame?  Six thousand people were there.  You might've been one, in which case you are privy to all the swank I'm about to hit you with.  If you weren't, then check yourself before you wreck yourself (a famous sentiment by philosopher, Ice Cube). Next year is the 30th Anniversary of Zoobilation.  *Everyone* will be there. You should be there, too! I know in your heart of hearts, you aren't lame.  You are simply uninformed. Let me throw some light on the sprampiest soiree in town. Pay attention.

1.  The Indianapolis Zoo...without a child in sight.  Not a single one.  Little Bobby and Susie are with a sitter because IndyZoob is a grownup event.  You must be 21 or older to attend. Are you picking up what I'm about to put down?

2. Booze.  In the zoo.  Flowing as free as the White River.  13 bars throughout the zoo grounds with craft beer, wine, and top-shelf mixed drinks.  There's always a specialty bar, too.  This year "Deep Eddy Vodka" was mixing up refreshing versions of Moscow Mules (Make mine a "Ruby Red Austin Mule, please).  Your ticket price includes all you can drink...and eat.

This photo block courtesy of  King Shots ...Official Zoobilation Photographer

This photo block courtesy of King Shots...Official Zoobilation Photographer

3. Food.  70 eateries and establishments from Central Indiana are at your service.  The winding pathways of the zoo are lined with white canopy tents beckoning you to sample delectable cuisine.  The restaurants are evaluated by celebrity judges and awarded various ribbons for their fare.  Oysters on the half shell, prime rib sliders, lobster mac & cheese, an endless, super sumptuous buffet, really.  St. Elmo's served shrimp with their world-famous shrimp cocktail sauce (or notorious, depending on the sensitivity of your taste buds).  For a full list of 2015 participants look here.  Personally, I like to round out my refreshments with an iced shortbread cookie from "People's Choice" winner, Blondie's Cookies

4. Entertainment.  4 stages throughout the zoo, y'all.  Top acts from the Indianapolis area will rock your socks off all night long.  I wore stilettos, so socks didn't matter.  The main stage is out on the bridge above the White River.  A warm summer breeze blows, city lights twinkle, and the band  is rocking out; daring you to shake your groove thang. The view of the city at night is magical.   Unforgettable.  Another hot spot is the party pavilion tent, aka. "Jack Daniels White Rabbit Saloon."  DJ Lockstar whips the crowd into a dancing frenzy as he juggles hooks and mixes beats with the best pulsing, party music, all the way til midnight. Word.  Lastly, the small stage in the entrance/exit pavilion is a great place to wrap up the night.  I prefer to be onstage, with a band I've never met, like the Whiskey Ninjas,  singing loudly with an amused guitar player. That's good stuff right there.

5. It's for a worthy cause.  I don't want to hear you whine like a cash-strapped, college kid about how you don't want to pay $250 for a ticket.  Your ticket is tax deductible (the wheels are turning now, aren't they?) up to $75.  The Indianapolis Zoo is the largest zoo in the nation that receives zero direct tax support.  Your money is quite literally putting food into the adorable mouths of all those cute critters.  Plus, you get to dress up, be fancy-dancy with your friends, under the stars for a night of enchantment.

The money raised by Zoobilation helps the Indianapolis Zoo care for and feed the 1,600 animals and 23,000 plants in our collection, as well as to support our global conservation initiatives. Contributions also propel many diverse and far-reaching education efforts.

Bonus:  You can ride the kiddie roller coaster and act a fool.  I suggest going after a drink or two. Insider tip: They shut 'er down at 9pm.  On a related note, I do *not* suggest getting into the simulator ride after a few drinks. #experience

Tickets to Zoobilation go on sale in February. They sell out within a few weeks.  Avoid being lame by getting your tickets early.

This photo block Sarah Wiley Photography

This photo block Sarah Wiley Photography

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Indie Arts & Vintage Marketplace

An interview with Jon Jenkins, Founder and Promoter of Indie Arts & Vintage Marketplace.

Saturday kicked off the fourth season of Indie Arts & Vintage Marketplace in Broad Ripple.  More than just a shopping experience, it's an event.  Music, food trucks, adult beverages and creative vendors with an eclectic mix of items you never knew you needed!  Jon Jenkins talked with  me about the concept of the show, how it's evolved....and the newest feature, "Indie Arts Hi-Fi Lounge." Ted Lyons, vendor and "builder of the bar" jumped in too! Take a look...

The vibe at the market is festive and friendly, inspiring a sense of community among vendors and shoppers.  You can find anything from  clothing and jewelry to antique furniture, handcrafted whatnots and maybe even a vintage pair of high top Chucks!  It rained for a bit, but with the addition of the Indie Arts Hi-Fi Lounge nobody seemed to mind much..especially this girl.  Mason, from The Hi-Fi , an actual live music venue in Fountain Square, was my bartender extraordinaire.  He poured the most savory Bloody Mary I've ever tasted! 


Many of the vendors return year after year. I popped in to talk with one of the original vendors, Marshall may need to turn up your was loud!  A side note: If my arms ever get cut off I will no longer be able to speak. Wow...

Since it’s debut in 2012, the Indie Arts & Vintage Marketplace has been Indy’s monthly go-to source for all things vintage, antique, re & upcycled, artisanal or just plain cool. Brought to Indianapolis by Jon Jenkins, a 20 year veteran promoter of some of America’s largest and most successful antiques and vintage events, the Indie Arts show has been honored by Indianapolis Monthly, the Indianapolis Star, Nuvo and social media commentators as an “must attend event”. The show features great vendors, food trucks, adult beverages and the cool vibe of a European street fair. Come see what everyone’s been raving about!

If you're a flea market chic shopper, you'll want to follow my wanderings as I head to Franklin, TN later this month for the City Farmhouse Pop-Up Market!  Follow me on Twitter for my latest musings!

 I want to thank the lovely and talented Darla for her photography skills and the ability to hold my camera. You can find the aforementioned links here:..

Indie Arts & Vintage Marketplace

 Ted Lyons Creative Barnwood Designs

Marshall Davis Antiques

Darla Aniline Photography

The HiFi 

Tailgate Market in Nashville, TN

Springfield Extravaganza