Monday, April 30, 2012

Wedding Planning - Post #3 - Hotel block

If look at everything that needs to get done on my to do list I'll freak out, so I'm only looking at one thing at a time and hoping that it all works out in the end.  This week my focus is going to be a caterer or bakery who can do our dessert only reception.  I have a feeling that a bakery only will have a problem with the set up, take down and manning of the table during the event (if needed) so I might have to go with a caterer.  I'm not sure.  Because I know a caterer will have linens and serving dishes, plates, napkins, etc I'm contacting them first.  Wish me luck.

While that seems like a daunting task for this week, I was able to secure our hotel for out of town guests.  Things I can do at my desk during a lunch hour are my favorite part of wedding planning.  I wanted to find a hotel close to the brewery but also close to other things to do for everyone while they are in town.  The reception is only three hours long and I hope family and friends stick around longer than that.

After some research I found the Artmore Hotel in Midtown.  It's located on West Peachtree close to all of the bars, restaurants and museums in that area.  It's also across the street from a MARTA station which will be perfect for the out of town guests who will be flying in.  They won't need a taxi or a rental car to get to the hotel.  Bonus!  That area is so walkable, too.  It's really one of the best parts of town.  Piedmont Park is only a few blocks away as well.  For the reception night, it's only a three mile taxi ride away.

Photo from Artmore Hotel Reservation website

Rooms are really reasonable, especially in the heart of Midtown, and they will include a breakfast for the guests.  I've heard the rooms are giant, too, from a friend who had her guests stay there for her wedding.  I love their patio, it looks great.   It's a trendy hotel, not your typical Hampton Inn or something similar, which is perfect for us.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Rockstar Shopping Party at fab'rik

I'm sure you've seen those fishbowls at checkout counters of fast food chains or clothing stores for you to drop your business card for a chance to win something.  I see them all the time.  I never drop my card because I never feel there is a chance for me to win something.  I'm not sure what made me drop my card one day when I was shopping at fab'rik for a friend's birthday gift, but I did.  About two weeks later I got an email from the shop letting me know that I had won a Rockstar Shopping Party at the Atlantic Station location.

The party meant I got to invite 10-20 of my friends to come to the store, after hours, for a private shopping party.  Everything in the store was 20% off, even sale items.  They even had refreshments for us.  I should have taken pictures.

Last night was my party and it was one of the best shopping experiences of my life.  Everyone one there was a great friend.  We all dropped our purses on the chairs in the store and went to town.  It took us about 30 minutes before we got into the fitting rooms, we made sure to look at all the options.  Having the entire store a group of girls who know each other was so much fun.

Once we got into the dressing rooms it was organized chaos.  We each had so many different dresses and shirts to try some of us couldn't even fit it all in one dressing room!  It got to a point where everything we tried on we came out of our fitting rooms and showed the collective group.

Some dresses fit like a glove, some fit me horrible.  All of us have pretty different body shapes and sizes so it was also fun to see how one dress or shirt that looked horrible on me looked on someone else.

We all left the store happy.  I ended up with a maxi dress, of course, two tank tops and a long sleeve sheer top.

While shopping and spending time with some of your best friends is always fun, the staff at the store made the experience amazing as well.  There were 4 girls in the store to help us and they waited on us hand and foot.  Our drink glasses were always full, they had fitting rooms for us immediately and didn't make us carry arms full of clothes around the store and they helped us in the dressing room too.  They took our "no's" out and brought new sizes, helped with new suggestions and had fun with us.

It was such a great night, I hope someone else I know wins one day!

*fab'rik did not pay me or give me any sort of compensation for this review.  All opinions are my own based on my shopping experience in the store.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wedding Planning - Post #2 - Reception Venue

The part of weddings that most people remember the most, not the bride and groom, but the guests, is probably the reception and the venue.  Was the party a good one?  Did they have good alcohol?  Were there enough bathrooms?  Did we have fun dancing?  Positive answers to all of those questions is important to us in addition to making the reception reflective of our personalities and us as a couple.

When trying to figure out where to host our reception we tossed around a bunch of ideas.  Some were too expensive and others just didn't have the right fit.  The one that was just right (I feel like I'm writing a children's story) was SweetWater Brewery.  We love their beer.  If you haven't tried one, run out to your local pub or shopping location of choice and pick up a 6 pack.  Our favorites are the 420, the IPA, Blue and Sweet Georgia Brown.  Also, if you're paying attention, we ran in the SweetWater 420 5k over the weekend.

Check out the new wall mural on the addition to the brewery!!  That is a balcony on the right of the mural  - the place is huge!

SweetWater is a local, Atlanta brewery that has been a big part of my time here in Atlanta and Stephen's as well.  The beer can be found all over Atlanta, sometimes even in my office's keg, and only in 6 other states.  Even with the expansion they aren't planning to expand distribution yet.

With the new addition came a few neat spaces.

This is the entry lobby if you were to go into the new building.  Look how small Stephen looks!

This is the new brewery side.  You used to be able to walk through this area when it was only the space to the right (with the brown floor) but now that it's so big and the equipment is so expensive and fast, the tour doesn't walk through there anymore.  Instead you get to view the area from the new event space through a window.  Pretty impressive expansion.  I couldn't get it all in one shot.  

Here is the new event space - can you believe it?!  You can't tell in this picture, but the space goes to the left quite a bit and then back past the bar too.  Hundreds of people can fit in this room - no problems.  The windows in the right of the picture are the windows to the brewery where I took the picture above.  

I'd like to say that we rented this brand new space for our reception, but we did not.  Our guest list, even at the most we would ever invite wouldn't fill this room.  If you scroll back up to the picture of Stephen in the lobby, out the window you can see another part of the building with window walls and an outdoor patio.  THAT is where we'll have our reception.  We will have a big space inside and a pretty large patio all to ourselves that evening.  I don't have any pictures of that space which is surprising because I've been there countless times for the brewery tours.  But I guess that will make it more special for the post after the wedding.  

There you have it.  We're celebrating our union in a brewery.  Sounds about right.  Pretty perfect if you ask me.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wedding Planning - Post #1 - Hair Piece & Photographer

Well, here it goes - wedding planning.  My lunch hours are now going to be spent doing wedding related stuff - I'm calling them Wedding Hours.  For the next 4 months I'm going to be 100% focused on our wedding.  Can I do it all in 4 months?  I'm going to have to!  Luckily I have some amazing friends with some equally amazing talents who I can lean on.

Before we were even engaged we knew who was going to photograph our wedding - Jenn Hopkins Photography.  We met in college and she is one of those people who make your life better.  I've been lucky to stay friends with her so many years after college and I've watched her business take off.  She was the photographer for my step sister's wedding last May, my dad's wedding last New Year's Eve and she shot our family photography session before each of those events on top of countless other events for mutual friends.  She is our family photographer.  Stephen and I knew we couldn't have a wedding without Jenn.  She was as important as every member of our family.

If you haven't been to her website or blog, please check them out.  She's based in Jacksonville, but she can travel - and she's 100% worth it.

One of the next steps, many next steps, is to decide where I'm going to get my hair and makeup done for the wedding day.  There are a million place to choose, but with only 4 months until the wedding, I have to work fast.  I am in the process of scheduling a trail session with a hair stylist and makeup artist at Mariemarie Salon.  They are located between the house and Decatur where we'll be getting married so it will be perfect.  I'll update later after my trail runs!

If you see me in my daily life I rarely wear my hair up.  I want our wedding day to be special and I want to have my hair done up in an updo.  Along with that, I want a flower hairpiece.  My friend found an awesome shop on Etsy and I just purchased the most gorgeous hairpiece, ever.

The shop is Cultivar and can be found here.  The listing for my hairpiece is no longer on the page, so I pasted the picture for all to see.  I'm in love.  It's about 3" wide if that gives you a better idea for how big it will be on my head.  Soon I'll post some ideas for my wedding hair.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

SweetWater 420 5k and Festival

Another 5k under my belt.  My goal is to keep improving on my time with each race, and I'm doing that, but to be honest, not as much as I wanted or thought I would.

Stephen and I ran the SweetWater 420 5k on Candler Park Saturday morning with about 2500 of our closest friends.  I heard that the course was hilly and boy, that was an understatement.  There were some pretty serious hills at about the half mile mark, the 2 mile mark and just before the finish.  It was a gorgeous route that we took, the houses are pretty and the park is really nice, but I hated the finish.

Most races you can see the finish coming and you know to give your last big push.  With this race the last quarter of a mile or so is up a hill and then you round a corner to the finish.  Unless you're tracking your distance on your own GPS, there was no way to know that you were approaching the finish line.  It only gave you about 30 yards to push hard.  If I had known I was so close to the finish I definitely would have run harder.  I was saving some energy for that last push, but didn't know when I needed to start.  More signs or staff along the way cheering us on would have helped.

I finished with an official time of 35:49.  That put me in 147th place for my age group and 1422nd overall.  If you don't want to do the math, I ran an 11:33 mile.  That's better than before, but I know I can do better.

The full list of results can be found here.

The best part of the race was that with registration came your wristband for the SweetWater 420 Fest that started after the race and a free beer with the race t-shirt.  Stephen and I headed home after the race to shower and change then we went back to the park to enjoy the festival for a few hours.

It was a perfect weather weekend.  Sunday we hit up the Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park where we had VIP tickets for the Taste of Dogwood with free food and drinks.

Not a bad weekend.  On to the wedding planning!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pumpkin Cookies

Yes, it's April and I'm writing about Pumpkin Cookies, but believe me, it's worth it.  After a discussion at work about our goal to eat healthy a co-worker brought me a 5 lb. bag of oats!  With so many oats in the house I had to do some research on recipes.  My sprinkle on top of Greek yogurt or the annual cranberry crumble wasn't going to get us through 5 lbs.

My first stop on the Internet was the Quaker Oats website.  Pretty logical, the oats are Quaker Oats, I'm sure they know what to do with them.  There are TONS of recipes on the website.  Some very complicated, some super easy.  While I can only speak to one of them, I'm impressed so far.

While I wanted to find something to cook with my oats, I also wanted to use my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer again so I was leaning towards cookies.  I found a few recipes that grabbed my attention, but the Great Pumpkin Cookies was a winner.  We still have a few cans of pumpkin taking up space in the pantry and Friday night cookies is as good as an excuse that I need to open one of them up.  You can see the full recipe here.  It was very easy to follow and the cookies turned out PERFECT.

You'll notice, these are large cookies.  On my two largest cookie sheets I could only fit six cookies at a time in the oven.

These were my first cookies with walnuts and I'm really enjoying the texture that they give the cookies.  I wish I had put more raisins in the mix - 3/4 a cup doesn't seem like it was enough.  I baked the cookies for 14 minutes and they came out perfect.

The more I use parchment paper when I bake the more I could kick myself for not using it earlier.  I also used the cooked on parchment paper to separate the layers of cookies in my storage containers.  We have a 5k in the morning so I only ate a bite of one cookie that fell apart because I tried moving it to the cooling racks too fast.  

In addition to the additional raisins next time, I think I'll add a handful of chocolate chips next time too.  It may be Spring, but there is nothing wrong with some pumpkin cookies!  

He put a ring on it!

That phrase is so common now, but it works for me!  Two days ago Stephen proposed after work.  Just a regular Wednesday evening before we were headed out for a 3-mile run.  It went from just another day to the best day of my life.

I've known he was the man I was going to marry for a few months now.  He and I even started talking about it around January, after I caught the bouquet at my friend's wedding New Year's Eve.  Even though I knew it was coming, he still found a way to surprise me and catch me when I least expected it.

Here it is, my gorgeous engagement ring!  The gem stones are garnet, that's a question I'm getting a lot from the ladies I've texted a picture to.  (Yep, I had to get a manicure at lunch so my fingers would look nice in the "official picture"!)

When Stephen first asked me what type of ring I wanted, I knew I didn't want something traditional.  I didn't want the diamond ring, I wanted my ring to be different.  I showed him a couple of rings with gem stones and let him do the rest.  On Valentine's Day he asked me to go downstairs to a jeweler in my building to get my finger sized.  Pretty nice Valentine's Day gift if you ask me.

So I've known for about 2 months that he was ring shopping, but I had no idea when he was going to propose.  We started looking for honeymoon locations together - somewhere warm, with a beach and some fun activities.  It took a few weeks but we decided on Jamaica.

I'm a planner, I love to plan things.  Give me a project, I'll give you the steps needed to complete it.  Bring it on Wedding Planning!  I have a feeling this blog will start to fill up with wedding ideas as well as the stresses of what planning a wedding brings with it.

The countdown to August 17, 2012 has officially begun!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Shopping at American Eagle - at 30

I've avoided American Eagle and Abercrombie for a long time.  I would bet that it's been 10 years since I made my last purchase in either store.  Then came Pinterest.  I've been searching for a nice pair of colored skinny jeans that would be long enough for me and I haven't had any luck.  They all have a 32" inseam and are over $100.  I can't afford that and if I could, they are colored jeans, I'm not willing to pay that much.  Then I spotted some colored jeans on Pinterest from American Eagle.  I went to their site just to check out the price - not bad at $44.  Then I saw the best thing a 6'0" girl could see - the X-Long button.  That's right, American Eagle has X-Long skinny jeans.

These are the jeans that I bought - how cute are they!!!???  I got them in that pink color and I couldn't be happier.  I'd say my style is pretty conservative and classic and these jeans are the perfect punch of color.  And they are so long.  I actually have them folded up an inch with my sandals.  I'm looking forward to wearing some wedges with them and not worrying about them being too short!

I'm a size 8 at American Eagle, most other places (Anthropologie, etc) I'm a size 6.  Make sure you look at the sizing chart.  I also bought the cutest bathing suit from AE while I was on the site.  It was on sale and worth a shot.  LOVE IT.  Makes my minimal chest look like I'm actually an adult.  :)
(For sizing purposes, I got a small top and a medium bottom, if that helps anyone decide what size to order.)

Next month, I'll order the white skinny jeans.  I've done too much shopping already.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Atlanta Braves Opening Night

We were lucky enough to get tickets to the Atlanta Braves' Home Opener for the 2012 season against the Milwaukee Brewers.  We were extremely excited about this for a few reasons.  First, and most important, it was the anniversary of when Stephen and I met.  It will also be a special night for us.  Secondly, who doesn't love Braves games and all the added excitement of the start of a new season?!  Third, it was Stephen's first time in a Suite at Turner Field.  It was such a great time and I love sharing new experiences with Stephen.  Lastly, Ryan Braun is on the Brewers team and we HATE him.  During the off season Braun was found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs.  He appealed it and miraculously it was overturned for pretty silly reasons.  He's the luckiest man in baseball.  I can't wait for his stats to drop off this year when he doesn't use his drugs.  The rest of Atlanta let him know how much we like him with a barrage of Boos every time he came up to bat or touched the ball.

Look how happy we are!  And look at that crowd!  Over 50k in attendance.

The National Anthem was sung buy Grammy winning duo, The Civil Wars.  I was a little hesitant at first when they walked out to the microphones.  He looks like a bizarro Johnny Depp and she was too cute to trust.  Then they started and it was beautiful.  They harmonize beautifully and there isn't a bunch of crazy notes added to their music - it's just them and a guitar.  The band is Joy Williams and John Paul White.  No backup band, just the two of them.  They opened for Adele her last tour and had a song play, in it's entirety on Grey's Anatomy.  Not too shabby.  Their second show together was at Atlanta favorite, Eddie's Attic.  They won TWO Grammy's this year - Best Folk Album  and Best Country Duo/Group Performance.  Man!  Not bad for a 2-person band.  And let me tell you, Joy lives up to her name. She never stopped smiling the entire time they sang when they came back onto the field for a short set before the Friday night Fireworks started.  Her smile is contagious.

I urge you to check out The Civil Wars.  I'll be downloading all the songs I can get my hands on.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I need HBO for Girls

We don't have cable television in our house.  We're okay with it.  It saves money, we don't spend evenings in front of a History Channel marathon on crayons or something similar and I hate Comcast.  If there was a way for me to get wi-fi in my house without using Comcast I would.  I definitely don't want to give them more money for cable.

Until now.  This morning in my 5 minutes that I watch The Today Show, Brian Williams' daughter, Allison Williams, was giving an interview about her new HBO series, Girls.  She's absolutely gorgeous, has an amazing voice and a beautiful personality (not to mention awesome dad) so I was intrigued to do more research.  PS - did you know she also graduated from Yale?  She's also written and acted in some Funny or Die skits.

Click here for the HBO official website with clips and trailers.

I need this.  I need this show in my TV Sunday nights.  Not sold yet - Judd Apatow is an Executive Producer.  The lead female actress, Lena Dunham, is also the Executive Producer, Director and Writer.  She doesn't look a day over 25 (She'll actually be 26 next month).  There is no way she's that accomplished and her she is with a show on HBO.  I looked at her IMDB page and I don't recognize a single thing she's been in.

I need a friend with HBO to set up a weekly date with me, at their house, so I can watch this show.  It looks like it's only been shot for 6 episodes, that's not too much to ask, right?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

DH Stanton Elementary School is safe!

It's been a crazy 10 days.  We have attended 3 separate meetings attempting to convince our school board that the elementary school in our neighborhood needs to stay open.  Last night, after 11:30pm, the board voted to close some schools, but to save our school and 2 others.  What a long, hard fight it has been and it's such a relief that it paid off in the end.

Our school is in the very middle of the neighborhood.  Students walk to school in a neighborhood where some parents don't even have a car.  The school has been there over 50 years and is the cornerstone of our Peoplestown community.  The plan was to close the school and bus our kids between 2 other schools that are not walkable.  Not only would this be difficult on the children and their families but it would destroy the neighborhood.  Obviously I don't have kids but this was a very important decision.

Last night we attended the Atlanta Public Schools board meeting, us and 500 other concerned residents from around the city.  The meeting started late, 45 min late, and over 70 people had signed up to speak.  Each person was given 3 minutes.  If you do the math, that's 3 and a half hours of speakers if everything goes smoothly and on time.  Of course it didn't and at 9:15 I had to leave and head home.  Stephen stayed to represent our house.

When it comes to children of course there is going to be heightened emotions.  Some people who spoke cried, some yelled, some threatened the school board members.  One guy even got arrested when he got on stage to approach the board.  I don't understand these people.  There were a couple people who yelled and screamed and talked a lot about fighting for our rights.  Come on people - violence and treats aren't going to get us anywhere.  After a couple outbursts I was certain we'd be closed.  One gentlemen even talked about this decision leading to Atlanta seceding from the nation.  Really, sir?  I understand that a school closing is a terrible idea, that's why I'm sitting in the auditorium with you, but for it to get that far fetched, it only discounts any good point you may have made.

In the end the board had a very, very difficult decision to make and I'm beyond relieved that DH Stanton is staying open.

APS made a good decision.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Saturday Morning Landscaping

Stephen and I have a bunch of projects we want to tackle at the house.  We don't have an official "To Do List" because I'm afraid of what that might look like.  On that imaginary list was landscaping the front yard and with each of us getting out of work early on Friday, we decided to tackle the front yard.  We have a pretty nice hill from the sidewalk up to the house and mowing the grass there is always difficult.  Also, once the azaleas have bloomed and gone, there isn't much color in front of the house.

We didn't take a before picture this weekend, so below is the best we can do.  Imagine the snow isn't there anymore... but grass and dirt.  Nothing too exciting.

It's such a cute house, we need to accessorize more!  We started with digging up all the grass and weeds in the area from the bottom of the wall to the top of the stairs.  That area became our flower bed.  With the $100 gift card to The Home Depot from the Atlanta Braves we filled up the car with a bunch of perennials that would keep coming back each year and filling in the space more and more each year.  Instead of regular mulch we decided to use recycled tires that have been chopped up and painted to look like mulch.  This rubber mulch is definitely more expensice, but it doesn't blow or float away as easily as other mulch, it's more environmentally friendly and it helps with drainage.  It also doesn't attract ants!!  YES!

This is the mulch we bought, in red, from The Home Depot

Once we had the grass and weeds cleared away it was time to plant the flowers.  There was a lot of discussion between the two of us at this point in time.  I thought we needed more flowers.  I wanted organization.  We settled on the flowers we have in an organized chaos look.  I think it turned out fantastic.  But I won't lie, I can't wait for the flowers to fill in some of the open space.

Here it is, the finished product!  Look how great it looks!!  

The last picture is a close up of the mulch - you can't even tell from that close that it's tired.  But if you pick it up and handle it it's definitely obvious.  Pretty neat.

That was all the work we could do on Saturday before we had some friends over for dinner.  Sunday morning Stephen went out and scrubbed down the white handrails and porch and the look great!  They need to be repainted soon, so that's another project to add to our list.  We're also going to paint the house numbers to they stand out more.  Red?  Black?  Not sure yet.

Not too bad for a long weekend!

Easter Bunny Hummus

It should be no surprise that when we are asked to bring a dish to a party, Stephen and I will jump at the chance to try something new.  We were invited to our friend's house for Easter dinner and we wanted to bring something fun.  While flipping through The Food Network Magazine we found a picture of a neat way to server hummus - in a terra cotta pot with carrots.  HOW CUTE!  Stephen makes a pretty awesome hummus and i knew we could make it happen.  Here is how it turned out:

I found a plastic "terra cotta" pot at Target for $1.50 and after it was washed, we filled it with hummus.  We used about 4 of the large cans of chickpeas to get make this much hummus.  Then we found carrots with the greens still attached in the Organic section of the grocery store and we stuck those into the hummus after they were cleaned and the top layer shaved off.

Guests at the party didn't know what to think about it until we started digging in.  It's such a fun way to server hummus.  A few people, myself included, even pulled out a whole carrot and ate it Bugs Bunny style.  The rest of the plate was filled with fresh veggies that could also be dipped into the hummus.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Save our School: How APS is harming children & our neighborhood

Our neighborhood isn't the one you picture when you think of upperclass, suburban neighborhoods.  That's because we aren't.  You won't see home after home with white fences and BMWs in the driveway. We are a diverse neighborhood with working class families.  Many of our homes are single parent homes working hard to make ends meet.  Our homes aren't cookie cutter duplicates of the one next to it - we have character.  And the neighborhood is changing.  The crime is seeing significant drops, houses are being sold and young, married couples are moving in.  They city just spend millions of dollars to build a new park just a few blocks away.  It just opened in March.

Atlanta is in an education crisis.  It seems everywhere we look the city is trying to cut costs and close the most important aspects of the community.  Just yesterday MARTA released that they will have to make some significant cuts in the upcoming year, eliminating a lot of coverage and service.  What major metropolitan city can survive without public transportation?  Atlanta is also planning to close 10 public schools.  Atlanta Public Schools (APS) has been planning to close schools for months, the initial plan was announced in May 2011.  These schools were identified as having low enrollment therefore they aren't able to get the funding that larger schools receive and they are draining resources that could go to other schools.  They claim that each closed school will save $500k that will then be used to support the schools that remain open.

Since last Spring, neighborhoods of the schools that have been identified as ones that will be closed have been rallying together to convince APS to keep the schools open and to identify ways to keep them open and reduce costs.  There are some great plans out there - making schools more green, adding pre-K classes to schools to increase the numbers of students in attendance, and so many other plans.  The final decision to close the schools will be made on April 10, only a few days away.

The shocking thing, is that on April 1, the elementary school in my neighborhood was added to the "cut" list.  Never once had it been identified as an at-risk school.  Never once had parents of children in our neighborhood been given a reason to be concerned.  Never mentioned on a single list, the neighborhoods of Peoplestown, Summerhill and Grant Park didn't have to worry about DH Stanton Elementary School.  Until April 1, a Sunday, during Spring Break.  That's 10 days before the final vote.

APS is doing our neighborhood a disservice and acting unethically.  They say that the decision is based on economics.  This can't be the case - it wasn't the case for the past 10 months there couldn't have been a new development in a negative direction overnight.  If the schools closing were based on purely financial analysis, there is no way a school could be added at the 11th hour.

I had a Realtor friend of mine pull some numbers for the area zoned to attend DH Stanton.  In the past 24 months, 108 homes have been sold.  In the past 12 months, 54 homes have been sold and 16 homes are currently under contract or pending.  The neighborhood is growing, not declining, which means there is no way the financial situation in our neighborhood is declining.  Additionally, the 2012 census shows over 500 4-year olds in our zip code.  500!  Those are all upcoming Kindergardeners.  Our house doesn't have children yet but we'd love to send our kids to the school 2 blocks away.  I'm sure we're not the only household in this situation.  In fact I know we aren't, I met other couples like us last night at the rally to save our school.

I plan to stand up and raise my voice to try to save our elementary school.  This isn't a black or white issue, it's about classes.  Of the school closures, most of them are on the south side of town, the lower income areas.  These schools around me will be closed to help fund the schools further north, the upper income areas.

I plan to stand up against APS' plan to close DH Stanton Elementary School.  As a single, affluent, childless woman,  I want my future children to have the opportunity to walk to school.  I want them to be able to know the kids in houses around them; driving down the street any afternoon will show you that there are plenty of kids.  I want my neighborhood to be thriving in 5 years, it's definitely on it's way now, why stop it.  We have a new, state of the art park in the neighborhood where students of DH Stanton can play.  We don't have school bus traffic up and down our streets each morning because kids can walk to school.  Just last month we had a representative from the Governors office come to the Peoplestown Neighborhood Association meeting to talk about their plans for the neighborhood.

I hope that the board and Superintendent of APS hears our voices.  I hope they see the support the school has from the parents and neighbors in the area.  We are willing to support the school, please don't take it away from us.  Let's give our kids the chance to grow up knowing and loving their neighborhood.  The only way they will grow up to understand the importance of community is to show them what a community is.

Save D.H. Stanton Elementary School.

UPDATE:  I forgot to mention above that APS does not have a single plan in place for what they will do with our school once it's closed.  The very last thing we need in our area is a large, vacant building to be a home for illegal activity.  If the school is going to be maintained yet vacant, I don't see how that is saving money.  It will still need security, maintenance and utilities to run the maintenance.  If the school is closed and shut down completely, it will cost even more to get it up and running again.  Yet another example of the poor decision making of APS.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Masters 2012

I was beyond lucky enough to get Monday Practice Round tickets to the 2012 Masters.  You can watch the tournament on television, but until you are walking the grounds at Augusta National, you don't quite understand how gorgeous it really it.  It truly is one of those places on the planet that can't quite be captured in a photograph.  During the actual tournament cameras aren't allowed but they are Monday - Wednesday during the practice rounds.  Lucky us!

We left for Augusta in the morning and got to town just at 11:00am and found parking pretty quick and headed through the gate.  One of the best things about The Masters is how well they treat their patrons.  If you get to the club early enough you can get free parking just outside the gate.  How rare is that?!

Going through security was a breeze and every person we encountered was more than pleasant.  NOTE: cell phones or pagers are NOT allowed inside the gate.  They do provide free phones in a few places inside so you can call home/work if needed but you'll be turned away at the gate if you have a phone on you.  I was very concerned with what to wear Sunday night.  Temperatures were expected to reach 90 degrees so I wanted to be cool, but I also wanted to be conservative and appropriate for Augusta National.  For guys it's easy - shorts and a polo shirt.  Hats are a-okay.  Flip flops are okay.  For ladies shorts and skirts are acceptable and we saw all types of tops from tank tops to long sleeve shirts.  I wore a sleeveless shirt, but I avoided the spaghetti straps that we saw a lot of around the course, it just didn't feel right.

Food at The Masters is also SUPER cheap.  I'm not sure I've seen food prices like they are at the tournament anywhere else, especially with a crowd of people who are forced to eat concession stand food.  All of our food was $17.50.  That's 2 beers, one domestic and one light, a sweet tea, 4 sandwiches and 2 cookies.  We were so full and happy.  Pimento cheese sandwich - amazing.  Cookies - Heaven.  Sweet Tea - just perfect.

We spent the afternoon walking around the course, watching the players practices their tee shots, practice multiple shots from green and practice at different places around the green.  We didn't get to see Tiger Woods because he played 9 early in the morning before we got there.

Above is just behind the green of the 10th hole looking up towards the tee box.  How gorgeous is that??!

Amen Corner was as beautiful as ever, even without the blooming azaleas.

After we walking the 18 holes of the course we headed over to check out the Par 3 course.  It was wide open with only a couple people wandering around the course.  They hadn't even roped off the fairways yet.  It was breathtaking to be on the course, in the absolute quiet, just me and Stephen.

The experience at The Masters was excellent.  There really isn't another word to describe it.  It was a day full of memories that we'll keep without forever.  I hope we get to go back soon.