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!

 

 

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Vampires, date night and farmer’s markets (just another weekend in the ATL)

t’s been a great weekend in Atlanta!  We’ve got several big trips coming up within the next month, so it’s been nice to relish the city the past couple of days.  Awhile back, Drew read the book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter after several of his co-workers recommended it.  I remember lying in bed one night doing a crossword, and Drew was reading on his Kindle. After telling me the name of the book, I couldn’t stop laughing.  It sounded like a really bad historical spoof, or an even worse joke on Drew’s part.  He actually really enjoyed the book and after reading it, discovered that there was going to be a movie adaptation released this summer.  I didn’t have any interest in reading the book but I humored him by watching the trailer online.  I was surprised to find at the end I was telling Drew “I wanna see that!”  So yesterday, we headed over to the theatre at Atlantic Station to see the movie.

Drew happy as a little kid on Christmas morning, posing with his beer growler.

The movie was just as good as the trailer promised it would be, even if it did stray from the book quite a bit. Unbeknownst to me, of course, but Drew said the ending was very different, and better, in the book.  We still really enjoyed it, and it was refreshing to not have a bunch of big celebrity names headlining.  After the movie and a quick late afternoon nap, we headed out to dinner for our usual Saturday date night.  Aside from last week, the past several weeks we’d been out of town traveling and hadn’t had our weekly outing.  It’s something we look forward to during the week, and we always attempt to try a new restaurant…bonus if there’s outdoor seating.  This time we chose Zocalo and since it’s only a short distance from our apartment, we walked there.  We sat on an outdoor patio and enjoyed tacos, enchiladas and of course, margaritas. After dinner we headed to Hop City so Drew could fill up his beer growler and then headed home for a few more drinks and episodes of Breaking Bad, our new Netflix discovery.

This morning after church and a lunch at Willy’s with two couples from our house church (I don’t think there’s such a thing as too much Mexican food in one weekend), we headed on to our next new adventure: the Dekalb Famer’s Market.  We’d been told so many great things about it from so many of our friends, we almost felt like Atlanta was hiding a well-kept secret from us.  The market is located in Decatur so it’s a bit tucked away from the hustle and bustle of city life.  We met up with our friend Rene and as we entered the market, both our jaws dropped.  This place is huge! It’s probably double in size of Findlay Market, which Mom and Dad frequent back in Cincinnati.

Dekalb Farmer’s Market. This photo doesn’t do the size of the place justice!

Drew and I didn’t really have a list or a game plan, and had fun just wandering around the aisles.  We picked up quite a few goodies, and said multiple times that we’d have to make another pilgrimage ASAP.  We always enjoy our trips to Decatur, like eating at Farm Burger, and always comment on how we could picture ourselves moving there, buying a house and starting a family one day.  It’s the perfect combination of both worlds: city life and suburbia.  That’s probably still a little ways down the road, but it’s fun to start thinking about now and envisioning what our future first home will be like.

Our farmer’s market finds.

It’s a short work week for us–we’ll be driving to North Carolina Thursday night to spend a long weekend with my parents.  It’ll be our first time back since our last-minute-change-of-plans-honeymoon.  It’ll be a whole new adventure bringing Theo with us. I can’t wait to see him running around the beach, splashing in the ocean and (hopefully not) drinking the salt water.  It’ll be the perfect short and sweet getaway, and a nice way to lead up to the Fourth of July holiday.  I don’t see how it could be any hotter there than it is in Atlanta, but it’ll be nice to get a few days’ worth of sunshine on this pale legs of mine!

It’s A BOY!

Today we welcome a new addition to the Hawkins household.  After a lot of thinking, planning and of course, praying, Drew and I decided to adopt.  As I write this blog post, the cutest, most lovable pup is curled up at my feet.  That’s right, we decided to adopt a puppy.  I didn’t think the title would fool most people since a lot of you have already seen us tweet about Theo, or text a few photos.  Just last night while Drew and I were eating dinner, Theo nestled into his bed on the other side of the room, sprawled out with all fours hanging in the air.  Of course we had to take a picture of that.  Now I finally understand a bit more about what that “new mommy” feeling feels like.  Obviously not on as grand a scale as being a mom to a human, but for the next few years, Theo will indeed be our “child”, and will probably be treated and spoiled as such!

We’d been discussing getting a dog for weeks, but were hesitant to act until after the new year.  With all the holiday traveling we’d be doing, the last thing we wanted to do was kennel a dog a mere week or two after bringing him home.  With Drew being at home from work the entire week after Christmas, and both of our families being supportive of us bringing Theo to Kentucky for our visits, we decided to start looking.  Via Petfinder, we found a cute puppy named Bruce, and made plans to visit him at the weekly adoption day at Petsmart this past Sunday.  Two minutes with Bruce told us he was not the one for us; way to whiny, needy, and spastic.  A few crates down, I spotted a cute puppy, sitting calmly in the corner.  While all the people were enamored with Bruce and his cute puppy looks, I walked over to the black puppy with two beautiful, different colored eyes.

After taking Theo out of his crate and taking him for a walk around Petsmart (several people automatically assumed he was ours, we even got an offer to take a pet picture with Santa), we knew that he was the exact kind of dog we were looking for.  A lab/Australian shepherd mix, he was surprisingly laid-back and mellow.  He knew us a mere 10 minutes before he was sitting in our laps, lying on his back so we could give him a good belly rub, and licking our hands to death.  My heart melted right there on the sidewalk.  Drew started talking with the woman who we’d told we were originally interested in Bruce.  We found out that Theo’s foster mom would be in touch with us in a few days to set up a home visit.

This Wednesday night, Theo and his owner came over to our apartment.  It was great getting to see Theo again; those few days we went without seeing him were surprisingly hard.  I actively missed him; at my office I gushed about him, showing coworkers pictures of a dog that wasn’t even mine yet.  After a good home visit (minus a bathroom accident on the carpet-but we like to think that Theo was just as excited as we were), Theo was as good as ours.  Thursday night we spent about an hour in Petsmart, getting food, bedding and other supplies to anticipate Theo’s arrival.  After bringing him home last night and feeding him dinner for the first time, we quickly learned that he’s going to go through his food fast.  He is a growing pup after all!

So it’s official, Drew and I are now dog owners.  We’re so excited to be Theo’s owners, especially during this festive, happy time of year where everything feels magical.  Sure, we may feel the burn a bit more in our bank accounts, but Theo is more than worth it.  Knowing that we rescued him from a kill shelter makes us so happy, and we feel blessed that we have the opportunity to do so.  We’re even grateful to Bruce, that over crazed pup that ultimately led us to Theo.  As I finish writing this, Drew is getting ready to take Theo out for the fourth time this morning.  We’re determined to nip any future accidents right in the bud.  As we get ready to do our Christmas shopping today, I’m sure we’ll both be thinking of Theo and how quickly we can get home to him.  For the Hawkins family, Christmas came early this year.  Welcome to the family, Theo!

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree…

On Saturday morning, Drew and I went to go pick out our Christmas tree.  Due to a 10K going on at the same time, a lot of streets were closed off—including the route we were planning to take.  Driving up and down a few side streets, we managed to find another tree nursery.  As we walked up and down the rows of trees,  most were clearly too big, too crooked, or too sparse.  I pointed to one that I thought was the perfect height and width, but it leaned a little too far right.  Drew noticed that it was propped up against the fence on a tilt, so it actually was just perfect.  Roping it to the top of Drew’s car, we headed to the store in search of lights.

After schlepping the tree through the garage and into our apartment, we planted it next to the couch.  There was already a path of pine needles leading from the front door.  That’s the price you pay for getting a real tree, and we’ll be putting our vacuum to good use this month for sure! The festive pine scent that greets you when you walk in the door is more than worth it though.  After stringing the white lights and plugging them in, we noticed that every fifth light twinkled on and off.  In a way, it made the entire tree look like it was sparkling-very magical!

We hung up our ornaments while watching the UK/UNC game. It was a nail biter until the very end and we had to keep taking breaks from decorating to sit down and catch the game.  Once the game ended (Wildcats won!) we finished decorating the tree.  Going through the dozens of ornaments from Drew’s childhood was a real treat for me-there were quite a few that really made me smile.  We also found an extra-special ornament we’d forgotten about–a keepsake where a charm for each year is added to the bottom.  25 years from now, if we’re still adding charms, that will be one of our most special ornaments!  Toward the end we noticed that we didn’t have a tree topper.  Half jokingly, I grabbed a red Santa hat and set it on top, thinking it could be a temporary topper until we found a more suitable angel or star.  But we quickly came to love it-it’s quirky, unique, and very much a “our first Christmas” accessory.  I’m sure by next year we’ll have a more traditional topper, but for this year, the Santa hat stays!


The Hawkins Play Host

Last week, as our Wednesday night house church group was winding down, discussion arose as to who should host the next week’s get-together.  I excitedly volunteered to have everyone over to Drew’s and my apartment, since none of our Grade Midtown friends had been over yet.  Actually, aside from Drew’s grandparents coming over for dinner one Sunday night and having a pizza night with some other friends, no one had visited us in our new home.  I also knew that Drew and I had set aside time that weekend to give our apartment a good cleaning, as well as make a trip to IKEA.  After working hard to make our house spick and span (and indulging ourselves at our favorite furniture store), it would be the perfect excuse to invite people over.

Drew cleaning in style with his plaid shirt and Fedora 😉

Saturday was an incredibly busy day for us.  Drew rented a Rug Doctor from Publix and used it to steam clean our carpets throughout the entire apartment.  It was something we’d being wanting to do for at least a month, but with our busy weekends full of traveling, we hadn’t yet found the time.  A word of advice: if you’re thinking you can steam clean your carpets in a half hour flat, you’re sorely mistaken.  Working as a team—Drew pushing the vacuum and me mixing the cleaning solution that had to be changed out at least 10 times—it still took us a good 3 hours to clean the living room, hall and entranceway, and bedroom.  The end result was very much worth the time and money-it looked like we’d have new carpets put in.

That afternoon we made our highly anticipated trip to IKEA for a few odd and ends around the apartment.  Thinking we wanted an ottoman, we headed in that direction, only to be deterred by the expensive price tag.  It was at least double what we had budgeted to spend.  After looking around for an alternative, we decided on a white coffee table that perfectly matched our desk and dining table chairs.  Now that we’ve had it for several days, I wonder how we went so long without it; it’s perfect for storing our laptops, books and magazines, and my crossword puzzles.  We’ve already spent one evening kicking up our feet and eating dinner from the couch.  While at IKEA we also found a shelf for the living room, a organization/storage cabinet, a photo collage to frame our wedding photos, and our favorite find of the day-a magnetic chalkboard to hang in our kitchen, complete with a mail storage slot and pegs for our keys.  Next time we make a trip to IKEA—which I have a feeling won’t be too far in the future—I’m going to have to have one of the apple turnovers that remind me of the way the kitchen smelled in my Mom and Dad’s house on Christmas morning.  I’m sure Drew will go for their infamous Swedish meatballs.

One of the best things about taking the weekend to thoroughly clean our apartment and get organized is that it’s made us want to keep things that way! There’s nothing better than coming home from a long day at work to find a clean and organized apartment that faintly smells of cinnamon (thanks to that cinnamon branches we’ve been buying at Kroger, we’re officially hooked).  Plus, with my parents coming into town for a visit this weekend, we want the place to be perfect.

Last night turned out great-it was so much fun having 6 other couples over for a night filled with great food, friendship and fellowship.  Drew and I made chicken fajitas which went over incredibly well with the group.  In keeping with the theme, we also had margaritas, chips and salsa, yellow rice and salad with strawberry cheesecake for dessert.  Cooking for 14 seemed a little daunting at first but the amount we prepared was spot-on.  Per the request of several people, I’m including the recipe for the fajitas below.  They’re incredibly easy and quick to make, and only require a few ingredients.

     Chicken Fajitas
Serves 4 (I tripled the recipe for last night’s house church dinner)
-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (chopped in to bite-size pieces)
-canola oil
-package of frozen peppers and onions (we use the Birds Eye brand)
-Fajita seasoning mix packet

      Drizzle some olive oil in a medium-size skillet.  Add in chicken and cook until tender.              Microwave frozen vegetables and add in to skillet.  Stir in seasoning packet and mix until everything in combined.  Serve with warmed flour tortillas and all your favorite toppings (sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa, cilantro, etc.)

 

Playing hostess and entertaining friends and family is something I really enjoy doing and wish I had the time to do more of.  With my Mom and Dad coming in to town tomorrow night, I’m already planning on making my Dad’s favorite apple cranberry crisp.  Now that Drew and I have a place of our own, I hope we can continue to have people over, cook a feast for a crowd, and open up our home to people.  Mom and Dad, you’re in for a real treat this weekend!

Home is Where the Heart Is

Drew and I had a very interesting dating period.  We were never in the same city, not to mention the same state, during the entire time we dated and throughout the engagement.  When I was still in school in Kentucky, Drew was living and working in Chicago.  The few times I visited him were extremely fun but extremely cold; anyone who knows me knows an ideal day for me is 80 degrees and sunny.  Still, I would be happy to call Chicago my home if that’s where the man I loved was.  I guess God had other plans because earlier this year, Drew found a new job and moved to Atlanta, a.k.a. Hotlanta.  The two cities couldn’t be any different from each other weather-wise.  I didn’t have to tell Drew, and anyone else who asked, how much I loved visiting Atlanta on those two weekends in June.  The city sucked me in from the get-go.  It might have been the company; one night we went to a Mumford an Sons concert at the historical Fox Theatre.  Yet something tells me I could have fun doing absolutely anything in this city; picnicking in Piedmont Park, spending an afternoon strolling around Atlantic Station, attending a Braves game, or paying a visit to the legendary Varsity.  Sure, one could argue that Chicago boasted just as much, if not more, entertainment and adventure, but I could really see myself building a life—and a home—with Drew in Atlanta.

It’s been about a week since I moved into the apartment Drew had been living in for about four months prior to the wedding.  I’m happy to report that we’ve just about settled in; countless boxes have been opened and put away and our kitchen looks like it could host an episode of Iron Chef America with all the new gadgets we got from family and friends as wedding gifts.  It’s easily our favorite room in the apartment.  We can’t wait to invite friends and family over and entertain and cook for them.  Just the two of us, we’ve already had several amazing homemade meals at our kitchen table using the raspberry-colored table settings from our wedding registry.

Drew has hung up several pictures and frames, including a black and white vintage shot of Wrigley Field.  I know he misses Chicago sometimes, and it’s safe to say that we’ll take a trip back every one in a while for a deep-dish pizza fix.  Our apartment is really starting to take shape, and it’s a comfort to see our two tastes and lives mesh together as one.   I promised Drew I wouldn’t completely take over the bedroom closet but I still think he’s a little in shock of just how much stuff a girl can own.  We’re having fun discovering each other’s random quirks and habits-there are definitely new things to be learned when you begin living with each other.

One week in, and I can honestly say it’s already been an adventure.  I met Drew for lunch by his office one day and we ended up being extras in the background of an NFL commercial for the Falcons.  The next night we went to a Braves game after one of his coworkers offered him free tickets.  And I’m sure Drew’s side of the family is proud to know that I’ve already eaten at two Atlanta institutions-Mary Mac’s Tea Room and OK! Café.  I may not have been born and raised a true Southern Belle, but I think Atlanta is going to a be a perfect fit for me, and I for it.