The Magic of Ordinary Days

BYpP5kUCIAIHGUA

As of late, we’ve had several back-to-back weekends full of, well, nothing.  Sure, we’ve gotten out and about and done things, but we haven’t had schedule full of to-do’s or traveling.  Of course all that is about to change this coming week as we head to Kentucky for Thanksgiving, but we’ve had several leisurely weekends at home.  Two Saturdays ago we got up early to hike up Kennesaw Mountain.  It had been a little over two years since the first time we went, hiking to the top for a lunch picnic with several other couples.  This time it was just the two of us and we stopped at a quaint little coffee shop along the way to pick up coffee and breakfast.  The view at the top is worth the short hike up and the Atlanta skyline is just beautiful.  Like I said in my previous post, I have definitely taken a new liking to Fall.

fall decor

We’ve had a lot of fun decorating our home for the Fall season.  It’s also been fun to take our time adding things here and there, like hanging up the gold window treatments in the dining room and finding new pillows for the couch.  I think I’ve been to TJ Maxx more times in the past two months than I ever have in my entire life.  This past Tuesday night, I headed to a friend’s house for a girls’ night full of laughter, hot soup, and crafting.  Several of us made wreaths and though I thought I could hold out hanging ours until after Thanksgiving, I just couldn’t wait.  Yes, I am one of those people that post-Halloween, I crank up the Michael Buble Christmas music on Pandora.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving (if you’ve seen the incredibly spread at my parent’s house, what’s not to love?), but as soon as November 29th rolls around, I am in full blown Christmas mode.

wreath

That being said, I’m using this post as an opportunity to hold myself accountable for being content and grateful throughout the holiday season.  I want relax and soak it all in, rather than spinning my wheels in anticipation of what is still left to be done.  It’s no fun wishing away the magic of the season, in hopes that it may arrive a bit quicker.  We’ve spent the last several weeks at church diving into what it means to intentionally seek out rest.  It almost seems like a contradiction to talk about during this time of year, but perhaps this is when we need it most.  I plan to journal each and every day, noting everything from the mundane and ordinary to the extraordinary.  Too many days go by where I try to remember what happened that day, only to forget or have one day run into the next.  By giving each day its own celebration, I think the season overall will be much, much richer.

Advertisements

Home Sweet Home

closing day

If you follow Drew’s or any of my social plug-ins, you’ve probably been bombarded with our “We’re buying a house!” shpeel by now, and this blog post will not be a huge surprise.  However, I think it’s worth mentioning exactly how we came to be homeowners, since we certainly weren’t planning to purchase a home this year.

The first weekend in August, during the drive home after a wedding in Kentucky, Drew showed me a house he’d spotted on Trulia, not thinking much of it.  I guess the fact that I really liked it surprised him, and on a whim we decided to contact the owner to schedule a tour.  The very next weekend, we met the owner and took a tour of the house.  5 minutes in, I knew this was the perfect place for us.  It gave me chills, much reminiscent of the first wedding dress I tried on…which also ended up being the dress I wore on our wedding day.  Coincidence?  I think not.

house

We loved the house but feared things would end there since the owner and his family were itching to sell after already purchasing another home.  Still, we couldn’t forget the house and decided to contact an agent.  After meeting with her, touring several other homes and finding out breaking our apartment lease wouldn’t be the financial catastrophe we were anticipating, we put an offer on the house.  I’ll never forget being in the meat aisle at the grocery store when Drew got the call that the owners had accepted our offer.  Could it really be this easy?  We’d heard horror stories from our friends going through the house buying process and assumed our situation would be similar.  Instead, it was 5 short weeks from the initial viewing to the first night we spent our new house.  I think we both walk through the rooms, in awe and still a bit baffled that this whole thing hasn’t been a dream.

front door

Since we’ve been married, this is without a doubt the biggest life event we’ve experience together.  At times it was exciting, scary, and frustrating, but in the end we know we we meant to have this house.  While the exact reason may still have yet to reveal itself, we feel beyond blessed by our circumstances.  Drew wrote a great post on his own blog about how much we learned from the process that’s definitely worth the read.  I have a feeling the next few months are going to be very exciting for us as we settle in and make this house our home.  So stay tuned!

 

 

A Last Hurrah of Summer

So this is a much delayed post…but as you’ll soon learn, it’s been a busy past few weeks for us!  Now how’s that for a cliffhanger?  Unless you’re know us well, then you obviously know what I’m hinting at 🙂

boat2

A few weekends ago we spent an afternoon boating on Lake Lanier.  One of our friends found an awesome deal on Groupon for a large group to spend several hours on the water, wake-boarding and just soaking up the last few precious rays of the summer sun.  I do no such thing as wake-board, but I definitely enjoyed the latter.   The weather was perfect with barely a cloud in the sky.  Even though it’ll stay relatively warm in Atlanta for another few weeks, it really was one of our final “hurrah’s” of the summer season.

boat1

The following afternoon we spent strolling the streets–literally–around Midtown.  Last May, the city put on an event called Atlanta Streets Alive, closing down Peachtree Street to traffic and letting people walk freely while checking out storefronts and pop-up events.  Drew and I had so much fun last time (climbing a rock wall was involved) that we were excited to find out they were bringing it back again so soon.  The weather was perfect and we spent over 2 hours walking several miles, exploring stores, running into friends and soaking up the sun.  We never doubted how wonderful it is to live in Midtown, right in the heart of everything, but it’s events like this that make me love Atlanta even more.

midtownlove

After spending several hours outside, where the temperature neared 90, we were quite grateful to be back in the AC.  The temperature has been slowly dropping since, and I can’t help but be lulled into the Fall season when my Pinterest feed is being overrun by Halloween decor and the return of Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte.  So, true to form, I made a breakfast cake that has Fall written all over it.  I want to eat this while sitting on the back of a hay ride, snuggled in a sweater and watching the leaves change colors.  Also, the accompanying frosting is not optional. 

applecake

Apple Spice Breakfast Cake with Caramel Frosting
Makes 1 bundt cake or 2 medium-size loaves

Ingredients
For the cake:
1 container vanilla or plain yogurt
3/4 cup apple butter or applesauce
1 large egg
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large overripe banana, smashed
1 3/4 cup apples, chopped
1 tsp each of the following spices: cinnamon, allspice, ground ginger, cloves, nutmeg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

For the frosting:
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease bundt or loaf pans. In a large bowl, stir together yogurt, apple butter or applesauce, egg, vanilla and sugars until combined. Add in banana, apples and spices. Slowly mix in flours and baking soda and stir until just combined, but be careful not to overmix. Pour into pan(s) and bake 40 min. or until inserted knife comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Allow to boil for one minute, add in brown sugar, and allow to boil for another 2 minutes while stirring continuously. Remove from heat, stir in milk and vanilla. Sift in powdered sugar, whisking until frosting becomes thick. Allow to thicken about 5-10 minutes before pouring over cooled cake.

Our 2-Year Wedding Anniversary!

photobooth

Wow, has it really been 2 years already?  A part of me thinks that it feels more like one year, but considering all the things we’ve done since tying the knot, I guess it really isn’t that surprising.  We’ve been on a bit of a wedding marathon lately, attending the most recent one this past weekend.  It was great to see our friends Matt and Rachel tie the knot since Matt was a groomsman in our wedding and Rachel is his perfect match.  The bonus was being able to stay with Drew’s grandparents, and catch up with some family and college friends.  Drew and I are definitely at that age where all our friends are getting engaged or married.  And now they’re having babies now too!  A couple from our house church, Joey and Anna, welcomed a baby girl Logan last Saturday.

Celebrating at Matt and Rachel's wedding

Celebrating at Matt and Rachel’s wedding

Not wanting to be outdone by our wonderful first year anniversary trip to Chicago, we planned to extend the anniversary celebration a few days.  Tuesday night we went to dinner at The Lawrence, which we hadn’t been to since last December.  It was just as delicious as we remembered–how can one go wrong with chocolate truffle cake?  You know you love someone when you’re willing to share your dessert with someone without constantly wanting to jab their hand out of the way with your fork.  We wrapped up the night on the couch, looking through our wedding photo album and reminiscing.  I hope that’s a tradition we continue every year.

And we ate it all.

And we ate it all.

We continued the celebration last night, attending the Falcons vs. Bengals preseason opener at the Georgia Dome.  I hadn’t seen my Bengals play in quite a few seasons and Drew had never been to an NFL game before, so it was the perfect opportunity.  Drew did a great job picking out seats as we were just a few rows up from the field.  Just as I showed Drew my love by sharing dessert, Drew showed his loyalty by donning my old Bengals jersey.  That, my friends, is true loyalty.  As for converting him from a Packers fan to a Bengals fan, I won’t be holding my breath.

The couple that fends off angry mobs of Falcons fans together, stays together

The couple that fends off angry mobs of Falcons fans together, stays together

To avoid being too mushy, I’ll wrap things up there.  All I can say is that the past 2 years of my life have easily been the greatest.  There’s no one else on this planet better suited for me; I’m not sure if I completely believe in soul mates but I know that Drew is my perfect match.  I can’t imagine going through life with anyone else. So thank you to my husband for being my biggest supporter, encourager, confidante and friend.   Here’s too many, many more years!

 

Ben and Dana Get Married

Congrats Ben and Dana!

Congrats Ben and Dana!

Over the 4th of July holiday, Drew and I headed to our old college stomping grounds in Bowling Green, KY to see our friends Ben and Dana tie the knot.  Drew was a groomsman in the wedding so we headed out of town Wednesday morning, dropping Theo off at Barking Hound Village on the way.  We’d actually be staying with our friends Mike and Donna since we hadn’t seen them in a while and they had a 10-month old son, Tanner, who we couldn’t wait to meet.  Despite the rainy weather, we made great time and arrived in Bowling Green with enough time to kill, stopping at our favorite Mexican place Puerto’s before continuing on to Mike and Donna’s house.  It was so nice to be back in the town that I spent four amazing years of my life in; the last time we’d visit was Homecoming, just a few months after we got married.

The rehearsal dinner was at Mariah’s, one of the must go-to restaurant in Bowling Green.  It’s the same restaurant where our parents met each other for the first time, where I witnessed a surprise engagement of two of my friends, and where my graduation lunch was held.  Before the dinner, Drew and I drove through the main street of campus, noting all the new building and renovations that had been made in the years since we graduated.

We were actually able to see a lot of the pre-wedding photos being taken at a beautiful white house with an ornate backyard that just begged for wedding photography to be taken there.  I have got to commend everyone for making sure that Dana and Ben never saw each other during those hours; it had to be hard to be so close to your soon-to-be spouse and not even try to sneak a peek!  The wedding ceremony was wonderful and Dana of course looked stunning in her dress.  I’m a pretty sentimental person but I usually don’t tear up at weddings; however, as Ben and Dana exchanged their vows, I felt myself tearing up a little.  There’s just something so special about seeing two people whose love you’ve seen grow over the years, commit the rest of their lives to each other.

bendana2

Drew and I at the reception.

The reception took place at the Kentucky Museum, which is actually right on WKU’s campus.  Dinner was a build-you-own enchilada bar (best idea ever?!) and there was definitely no shortage of wedding cake.  One of the cakes was peach flavored and actually had peaches in it that had been picked from Jackson’s, an Orchard owned by Ben’s family.  The wedding cake replicated Dana’s wedding dress and was absolutely stunning (and delicious).  Even though it started to rain, we saw the newlyweds off with the glow of dozens of sparklers.  It was 4th of July weekend after all.

In a few weekends, we’ll head back to Kentucky to see the same group of friends, and celebrate the wedding of Matt and Rachel.  It’s exciting seeing the people so involved in our own wedding getting married themselves; I guess we are all really growing up!  To Ben and Dana, I wish you all nothing but the best and a lifetime of true happiness.  You two are such great people individually but even better as a couple.  Enjoy married life!

A {Surprise!} Baby Shower

group

Last Thursday night,  instead of our usual weekly couples’ get-together, we threw Anna and Jami, our resident mommies-to-be, a surprise baby shower.  This little plan had been in the works for a good two months, and I have to give our group of girls a ton of credit for keeping it a secret for that long-I know it was hard for me!  The looks on their faces when they walked into the room and we all shouted “Surprise!” were priceless.

waffle bar

The food spread and decorations were incredible.  When you have two interior designers among your group, you know the party is going to be stunning.  After dinner–which consisted of a waffle bar, fruit platter with dip, breakfast quiche, cake and the world’s best baklava–we decorated onesies and wrote inspirational messages on two canvases that Elle had painted for the girls’ nurseries.  Toward the end of the night, the husbands swooped in (after holing up in a bar for most of the night, far away from the “ooh’s!” and “ahh’s!” that accompany a baby shower) and demolished the leftover waffles and cake.  I think that was the extent of any male participation in the shower.

babyshoes

paintings

The night was absolutely one to remember.  I am beyond grateful that I made friends with such an amazing group of women relatively quickly after moving to Atlanta.  Drew and I talk all the time about how blessed and lucky we are to have been led into fellowship with such an amazing group of couples.  And there goes any resolve I’d had about not writing an overly-mushy, baby-crazed blog post.

My contribution to the breakfast-themed potluck were cinnamon roll cupcakes.  I’d never made such a thing before but used the logic that cinnamon rolls are delicious, and cupcakes are delicious, so together they would be a double dose of deliciousness.  The batter smelled vaguely familiar to my Mom’s homemade cinnamon rolls, and I could have eaten a bowl of the brown sugar cinnamon streusel with a spoon.  Except that I didn’t, because I’ve heard of the cinnamon challenge and it scares me.

cupcakes

—————————————————-

Cinnamon Rolls Cupcakes, adapted from this recipe
Makes 1 dozen

1/3 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup plus brown sugar, packed
1 Tbs cinnamon
3/4 cup plus white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 12 muffins tins with paper liners.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.

In a large bowl, beat butter at medium speed until fluffy.  Add white sugar and beat until combined.  Add egg and vanilla.  Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk into the bowl, continuing to beat at medium speed until everything is incorporated.

Drop a spoonful amount of batter into each muffin tin.  Sprinkle brown sugar cinnamon mixture.  Add another spoonful of batter into each tin and sprinkle the tops with remaining cinnamon mixture.  I took a knife and swirled everything together to make sure the brown sugar cinnamon mixture was evenly dispersed throughout.

Bake cupcakes for 20-22 minutes (I took mine out right at 20).  Allow to cool to room temperature before frosting.  To make the frosting, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy.  Turn mixer down to low and add powdered sugar, a small amount at a time, until frosting is fluffy and spreadable.  I used the open star decorating tip from Wilton to frost the cupcakes.

—————————————————-

Concerts, Babies & Waffles

Need to Breathe performing at the Fox Theatre!

Need to Breathe performing at the Fox Theatre!

This past weekend was an eventful but fun one.  Friday night we had tickets to the Need to Breathe concert at the Fox Theatre, which I had gotten for Drew’s birthday.  The last time we’d seen a concert at the Fox together was Mumford and Sons a few months before we got married, so it had definitely been a while.  Before the show, we ate dinner at Baraonda, one of our favorite Italian restaurants, with our friends Lance and Shelly.  Several of Drew’s coworkers were also attending the concert.  Drew and I hadn’t heard of the opening band, Drew Holcomb at the Neighbors, but they put on a great performance.  Drew introduced me to Need to Breathe shortly after we got married, and we still listen to their very first CD on every single road trip.

Drew and I at the show

Drew and I at the show

Saturday morning we took Theo for a walk through Piedmont Park.  Every Saturday there is a farmer’s market with dozens of tents-there’s even a vendor who makes wood-fired pizzas!  The beautiful weather brought a large crowd which proved to be too much excitement for Theo; he was wanting to jump in everyone’s laps and be their new best friend.  That afternoon we attended a baby gender reveal party for our friends Andy and Jami.  Neither one of us had been to a gender reveal party before but we were looking forward to celebrating such a special time with all our friends.  All the guests sprayed silly string to find out the gender, and after a count of three, everyone was covered in pink!  Congrats to Andy and Jami, who will be welcoming a little girl come August.

Is it a boy or a girl?? Andy and Jami's friend Lesley Anne took this amazing picture!

Is it a boy or a girl?? Andy and Jami’s friend Lesley Anne took this amazing picture!

Its a girl! Congrats Andy and Jami!

Its a girl! Congrats Andy and Jami!

The rest of the weekend was pretty laid back.  Sunday’s dinner was a new discovery.  Who knew the putting two or three Pillsbury cinnamon rolls in a waffle maker would yield the most delicious waffles ever?  Apparently one of Drew’s coworkers did, as that’s how we found out about it.  I have a feeling these will be making a regular appearance in our kitchen.

waffle

Best discovery ever.