The Dark Knight, Lots of Pizza and the Anniversary Countdown Begins!

Another week of summer, over and done with. Hard to believe that it’ll be August in less than 2 weeks! Which means…Drew and I have been married for almost one year! Two weeks from today marks our actual anniversary. We’re celebrating a bit early by taking a long weekend trip to Chicago-we fly out this Thursday night and I couldn’t be more excited. It’ll be nice to get away for a while and spend a weekend in the city that Drew lived in during most of our engagement. I haven’t been in almost a year and a half, so it will be nice to go from living in one big city to exploring another for a few days. We have a lot of our meals mapped out (surprised?) but other than that, we’re planning on taking the architecture boat tour and being spontaneous sight seers for the rest of the weekend.

Ticket to see The Dark Knight Rises!

This past weekend was a lot of fun. Instead of spending our usual casual Friday night in, we headed to our friends’ house for a marathon viewing of the first two Batman movies, to prepare for our 11:20 showing of The Dark Knight Rises later that night. Each movie is almost 3 hours long so needless to say, it was a late night! We went on a pizza run halfway through (thanks April and Jim for the Pizza Hut gift card!) The movie was really good-not to give any spoilers away, but the second is still my favorite. We ended up leaving the theater a little after 2 A.M. One of the later nights Drew and I have had in a while. Nice to know that unlike last Saturday, we didn’t have anywhere to be and could enjoy sleeping in.

After sleeping in until almost noon and eating breakfast, brunch, lunch, we embarked on a total overhaul of our closet. We’d been meaning to go through and give away all the old clothes we don’t wear anymore, and this was the perfect opportunity to do so. We ended up piling four huge trash bags full of clothes to drop off at Goodwill. Needless to say, our closet no longer looks like a tornado went through it. After dropping off the clothes and making a much-needed grocery store run, we headed home for a late afternoon nap. Apparently staying out so late the night before had really taken a toll on us. We decided to have date night in, and made margaritas and margherita pizza. I tried to recreate the from-scratch margaritas we had during our Cinco de Derby party, but they just weren’t tasting right. We used our go-to mixer for Round 2 which turned out much better. I’m not giving up on mine just yet though! Our pizza was good as always.

Margaritas and margherita pizza…a match made in heaven.

Sunday morning we awoke early enough to get a nice 4.5 mile run in before church. Even though it was only 8 A.M. the sun was already beating down and we made it through our run, but only barely. It was nice to take Drew on the route that I usually run solo during the weekdays. Sometime soon I think he’s going to take me on one of his routes. It’s a fun way to spend time together, even if we don’t do much talking. Then again, I can’t really talk and run at the same time for very long anyway…

Theo and Drew kicking it on the couch after a long day. It was just too hot at the dog park for Theo.

After church, we headed to a BBQ place for lunch with a big group of our friends. What, might you ask, does a vegetarian order at a BBQ joint? I figured I’d just order several sides but they actually had a smoked tofu sandwich, which I was pretty surprised to see. I kind of felt like a chump ordering it but carnivores, smirk all you want—my sandwich was delicious. I think Drew gave it the stink-eye for a few minutes before continuing to enjoy his pulled pork basket. Eh, to each their own. We tried to take Theo to the dog park for some exercise afterward, but the sun was way too much for him. We ended up leaving after only a short while. Apparently it was too hot for all the other dogs too, the park was practically empty. We decided a nap in the AC was a better choice.

After an uneventful evening and a spaghetti dinner (yes, that’s right, I ate spaghetti for the first time in years. I guess I’m getting better about my aversion to certain food textures), we decided to call it night. Apparently we still needed to catch up on our beauty rest after being out late a couple nights before. We’re definitely going to need our sleep with all the fun things we have planned for our weekend in Chicago!

Theo’s Gets a Bath

Today was a very eventful Saturday for the Hawkins clan.  This morning, after sleeping in for a few more hours than we get to during the week, Drew and I headed out to do our respective workouts.  I stuck to running on the treadmill in the apartment’s gym while Drew met up with the local running group.  He came back to the apartment pretty convinced that I could hold my own within the group.  I keep saying that I’m going to move my runs outside but keep hesitating for one reason or another.  Hopefully next weekend I’ll finally commit to running with the group.  Shortly after our runs, while we were still sweaty, we headed out to the Piedmont Dog Park.  The mid-60’s temperatures make this feel like no January I’ve experienced; back in Kentucky we’d have at least one snowfall by now.  Apparently everyone else had the same idea, as the dog park was one happening place.

Theo had a blast at the dog park!

Since Theo graduated from the smaller dog park to the bigger dog park last weekend, we headed into the area where the 30+ pound dogs play.  Already there were dozens of dogs running, playing and even wrestling with each other.  Since I’d never been to the park before, and knew that Theo could be a little hesitant around other dogs, I was afraid to let him off his leash at first.  When I did I half-expected him close to our sides, even plop down on my feet.  But he was off like a bolt of lightening, making friends with other dogs (and their owners).  He looked like an old pro navigating the park, though he had no interest in playing fetch.  Drew is looking forward to playing fetch with a Frisbee when he gets a little bigger.  Several people commented on his beautiful eyes and even though his foster mom told us he was a Lab/Australian Shepherd mix, we’re convinced he has a bit of Pitt in him.  Since Pitt Bulls are a banned breed in our apartment, we’re keeping that little bit to ourselves!

Theo getting bathed. He wasn't really a fan, but it had to be done!

On the way back to the apartment we decided that Theo was in need of good bath.  While at the park, a much larger dog had been running and couldn’t put the breaks of fast enough, essentially pummeling right into Theo and sending him rolling through the dirt.  His once black, sleek coat now had a brown tint to it.  We armed ourselves with several old beach towels and shut the bathroom door, preparing for the worst.  I had images in my head of black fur, everywhere.  Even though he wasn’t a fan of the hard water pressure at first, he calmed down and only made an escape attempt once or twice.  We were able to scrub him down with shampoo and rinse him with little objection and something that could have taken an hour turned into a pretty painless affair.

Our first bread making attempt = fail

 

The adventures of the day didn’t end after Theo was clean. While in Owensboro over Christmas, Jim taught Drew how to make his infamous delicious bread. We knew we made the first mistake when we used all-purpose flour instead of the necessary bread flour. It still looked salvageable until we tried to knead it; it was nothing more than slime that slipped through our fingers. Laughing and chalking it up to a learning experience, we trashed the batch. The good thing about making bread is that there’s a starter mix you have to constantly “feed” so we’ll have plenty more chances to redeem ourselves. Bread making is harder, and more time consuming, than I thought but I’m sure our eventual end result will be a good—and tasty!—one.

In other culinary endeavors, I made a baked potato soup from a recipe I’d seen on Pinterest a few weeks back.  It was the perfect opportunity to try out our new slow cooker we received from Uncle Doug as a Christmas present.  The recipe was extremely easy and as we smelled it cooking all day, it was hard not to dig into it right then and there.  Our patience paid off and after gathering some garnishes together (green onions, sharp cheddar cheese and chopped bacon) we sat down to eat.  The soup was absolutely delicious, very reminiscent of the Cheddar’s kind.  Surprisingly filling too; by the time we got the bottoms of our bowls we were absolutely stuffed.  We made quite a bit so we will probably have it for lunch after church tomorrow as well.  The recipe can be found here, if you want to give it a try sometime.  I highly recommend it—it’s going to be a regular in our kitchen!

The baked potato soup-Before...

...and After! Delicious!

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!

Adventures in Apartment Living

Before moving to Atlanta, I’d never before lived in an apartment complex.  While most college students do either their junior or senior year (or both), I actually lived in two different houses with two other roommates.  Sure I got a sneak peek of what apartment living would be like during the two times I visited Drew back in June.  Still, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I really understood just what I was getting myself into.  Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE where Drew and I live.  We’re in a great location in Midtown and are within walking distance to several awesome restaurants, as well as the Fox Theatre.  Still, there are definitely some things they don’t tell you about or put as an “FYI” in fine print on the lease agreement.

For instance, Drew and I are convinced that we live beneath a family of (or perhaps just one or two) ogres.  We’ve spent countless nights lying awake, staring at the ceiling and listening and Shrek and Fiona stomp around upstairs.  To say they’re heavy-footed would be an understatement; it sounds like a Sumo-wrestling match up there.  It started out randomly, then turned out to be an everyday occurrence; in the early hours of the morning, mid-afternoon, and especially late at night.  Drew joked (kind of) about bribing them to be more courteous neighbors with a plate of cookies.  Since it’s not like we can register a noise complaint (believe me, we’ve checked) we just grin and bare it, and try to ignore it.  A couple weeks from now, however, may be sending Drew upstairs with some chocolate chip cookies as a peace offering.

Another part of apartment living, which a lot of the time is considered a perk, is that you have maintenance staff on-call to take care of the occasional sink leak.  Our refrigerator ice machine was broken so earlier this week, a man stopped by to take a look at it.  I led him to the kitchen, and after opening the freezer, he switched the ice machine lever to the “On” position, then turned around and looked at me like I was a complete moron.  “That should fix your ice machine.”  Hold it, buster, it’s a little more complicated than that.  He ended up sliding the fridge away from the wall and finding that one of the plugs was loose.  Aha!  Thank you very much.

There is a huge perk to our apartment building—literally two doors down in a pretty decently equipped fitness center.  I’ve spent several mornings there since I haven’t quite adapted to running outside in the hot and humid Georgia weather.  It’s quiet in the mornings and I usually have the place to myself for a good portion of my run.  It beats the heck out of a gym membership and keeps us accountable for our running routines.

So far, I really do enjoy the place that Drew and I call home.  It’s conveniently located in a nice part of town, is just the right size square-footage wise, within our price range and the people are generally very friendly.  Who knows what the story is with our upstairs neighbors.  Maybe they have a wrestling ring in their living room, or maybe they just run laps around the kitchen at random times throughout the day.  It comes with the territory of living in an apartment, and just like everything else that comes our way, Drew and I are taking it all in stride.

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.