Thursday, May 31, 2012

Vacation Recap: Boston

I come from a super large family, my dad is the oldest of eight kids.  I'm not sure how my grandparents did it, but all of the kids are close which means we were all raised around lots and lots of cousins as we were growing up.  Cousins love you like siblings but go home to their own house like friends.  They are the perfect combination.

I'm one of the older cousins in my family, there are fewer older than me than younger.  A few months ago I learned that my cousin, Brian, was getting married.  Brian moved away from Florida to go to business school in Boston where he met his future wife, Michelle.  The last time the Brian and I really got to hang out together was before he was in high school.  After that I'd gone away to college and didn't go home too often and once I was out of college, he was away in Boston.  To see Brian all grown up was such a nice surprise.  He is a successful man, an actual man with a great career, a man who chose a woman to spend the rest of his life with him.  I think Brian is a pretty great

Stephen and I flew up to Boston for the long Memorial Day weekend where we met my dad, step-mom, sister and 12+ other family members - I lost count and the number changed at any given moment.  Our first stop once we landed was to meet everyone for lunch, including the bride and groom.  Look at that table!  I had a lobster sandwich and it was everything I had dreamed of.

After lunch we walked around the area before Brian had to head back to the rehearsal.  Brian took us through Boston Common and to a graveyard with some of the Revolutionary War heroes.

The Capitol Building.

Nothing in Atlanta is that old... we have some 1800s dated places, but not 1600s!

Our walk through the park.  Crazy to think that this land has been a public space longer than the country has actually been a country.

We love the Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta with Civil War era graves, we had to make the stop to see the older graveyard.  We weren't the only ones there, it was packed!

We saw quite a few graves including Samuel Adams, Paul Revere and John Hancock.

From the graveyard, we went to meet some more family at a hole in the wall bar where we met my sister right off the bus from NYC.

After getting back to the hotel we decided to head off to dinner with my parents and sister.  The hotel recommended we try Stoddard's, walking distance from the hotel.

OMG, so good!  The AC was out in the restaurant, so it wasn't the most comfortable meal, but the food far from made up for it.  For dinner I had oysters - Delicious.  The restaurant was decorated with old parts of Boston that were salvaged and put to new use.  From there we headed to meet the bride and groom and the rest of the bridal party and other side of family at The Black Rose.  From what I've been told, the Black Rose is the best Irish bar in all of Boston.

To stay in wedding shape, I drank vodka tonics instead of the Guinness that I really wanted.  We danced, sang traditional Irish songs and watched the Boston Celtics game, thank goodness they won!  I highly recommend The Black Rose for anyone visiting Boston for the real Irish bar feel.  We had such a great time with the live music.

Sunday was wedding day.  Stephen and I went for a run around the area and saw so many gorgeous parks.  One field was FULL of small American flags to honor all of the fallen Boston men and women from past wars.  It was such a pretty sight, but also sad that so many lives have been lost to war.  For lunch we headed to Marliave.

The restaurant patio is tucked in between two old, brick buildings.  We ate outside and enjoyed the cloudless day.  Again, the food was delicious.

From what I could tell, all of the family on both sides of the wedding were visiting from out of town.  That means a lot of people for the same event in one place.  Brian and Michelle needed to transport more than 70 people from the hotel to the church.  What a better way than a school bus!  Most of us hadn't been on a school bus in 10+ years and we all had a blast with the tiny seats and laughing at the person who had to sit by the wheel (me).

Words don't even describe how beautiful the church was.  Above is the inside of Our Lady of Victories Catholic Church.  Have you seen anything like that in the States?  Churches in Europe are that pretty, but I've never seen something so pretty in our country.  We were on the first bus trip to the church so we had some time before the ceremony started and Stephen and one of my cousins did some research on the church.  So much history!

Look how great we all clean up!

Yep, my aunt and I were wearing pretty similar dresses - great minds think alike.

The reception was held at our hotel which was so super convenient since 90% of the wedding guests were staying there that night.  We all danced late into the night and then closed down the hotel bar around 2:00am.    Notice I'm not wearing any shoes in the above picture, those were off as soon as the dancing started.

Overall, the trip was just perfect.  We got to spend time with my family and Stephen got to meet them all for the first time.  Such a treat.  Meeting so many members of my family could have been very intimidating, but he handled it so well and everyone loved him.

The weirdest thing that we saw while we were there... that's right, it's an oatmeal machine.  This was in a 7-11 that we stopped at on our way back to the hotel after the first night of drinking.  Really?  An oatmeal machine?  It's that hard to pour oats into a cup with some water or milk and then microwave?  Gross.

My New (and unusual) Fear

The other night Stephen was waiting for me to finish up some wedding planning stuff before we headed off to bed and he was watching The New Girl which happens to be one of our two favorite TV shows along with Modern Family.  The New Girl cracks us up every episode.  Same with Modern Family.  Finally, shows on network television that I can watch again.

Back to the story.  While he was waiting for me he would flip to PBS during commercial breaks.  When I was done with wedding stuff I joined him on the couch.  PBS was airing a program on koala bears.  Aww, so cute and cuddly.  NOT SO.  After 10 minutes or so, broken up between switching back to the other, good program, I now hate koalas.  They actually scare me.  We watched the program on Tuesday night, it's now Thursday and I can't stop thinking about the little, weird shaped animals.

Photo from Wikipedia

Up in a tree, munching on some leaves or sleeping they look so cute.  Then you get video of them walking on the ground.  WTF - they look so weird.  They are so awfully shaped.  Their butts are all brown from sitting on the branches and the males have these scent patches that they rub on trees to mark their territory.  GROSS.  The scent patches look like areas where skin has just rubbed away, like a bad rug burn.  The koala above is a female she doesn't have a messed up chest.  I bet all the pictures you've seen of koalas are female.

The other thing is the fighting.  I absolutely understand that to mate a male koala has to prove his superiority over other males to impress the females.  Their fights are vicious and only made worse by the fact that they are fighting UP IN A TREE.  While fighting they make these weird, growling noises and scratch at each other until one retreats, defeated.  The winner then announces his win to the entire forrest.  I had no idea that koalas made so much noise.

Koala babies are adorable.  All warm and safe in their mom's little pouch for 6 months where they develop.  Then they start to ride around on their mom's back all cute.  Then you watch them eat... their MOM'S POOP.  The eucalyptus leaves are highly toxic, so they have to get used to eating them.  The only way for them to do that is to eat their mom's poo.  They showed this, on tv, on PBS.  I realized immediately what was going on and closed my eyes while plugging my ears and singing Mary Had a Little Lamb, my go to retreat when there is something I don't want to see or hear.  It took Stephen about 5 seconds longer to see what was really happening.

So there you have it.  The cute little animal that we were taught to love as kids now terrifies me as a 30 year old woman.  Gross.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wedding Planning - Post #11 - Invitations

It's official-official now, word is out, we're getting married, invitations have all gone out in the mail.  No turning back.

One of the best parts of planning a wedding is the outpouring of love from friends and family.  So many people have special talents and that they are willing to share with us, we're smart enough to let people help us.  One of the most important things we'll do for the wedding is sending out the invitations.  They will be the first thing that our friends and family see in our wedding colors and style.  They will be a representation of us to everyone out there.  They needed to be perfect.  One of my very best friends is a talented graphic designer (and even better architect) and she offered to design our invitations for us.

I sent her a few different invitations that I liked on Etsy and she merged them together to give us our perfect invitation.  Here she is:

We're in love with them.  Thank you so very much Lindsay Clayton King for your fabulous design.  Check out her design page here.

In the process of addressing all of the invitations I realized just how lucky Stephen and I are.  We have so many friends and family who we want to share our special day.  We have so many that we aren't even able to invite everyone we love, a sad realization, but to keep the wedding small we had to make some pretty hard decisions.

We were able to invite 75 people from NINE different states across the country.  From California to New York to Florida and Texas.

For our RSVPs we decided not to send out a separate RSVP card but are asking guests to go to our wedding website to RSVP, a service that TheKnot offers for free.  I love the idea of driving guests to our site where they can get all the information they need about our relationship, our wedding and reception, hotel rooms, RSVP information and so much more.  Now we get to wait and watch as the responses come in - in real time!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wedding Planning - Post #10 - Wedding Night Dinner

Yet again, things with our wedding are exactly traditional.  With the ceremony being at the DeKalb County Courthouse on Friday afternoon we don't need to have a rehearsal or a rehearsal dinner the night before to run through any ceremony details.  With our reception starting at 9:00pm we are not serving dinner for our guest and in turn we're not eating at the reception either.  That leaves us with the need for a Wedding Night dinner versus a Rehearsal Dinner.

Stephen and I went back and forth for about a week as we tried to decide where we were going to have this dinner.  Dinner will be with all of our immediate family who we are inviting to join us at the ceremony at the courthouse, about 15 people.  I wanted to have dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Parish, and Stephen wanted our other favorite restaurant, Cypress Street Pint & Plate.  Both restaurants have absolutely amazing food.  We each have favorite dishes at each place and I'm 100% comfortable in each dining room.  Parish is more business casual, where you'd take someone on a date night, and Cypress is definitely a casual restaurant/bar.

Trying to decide where we would eat on our wedding night created what was probably the worst fight we'll have while wedding planning.  We were both so determined to get our way and we are both so stubborn, it was serious.  Ultimately, we talked it out and we decided on Cypress Street.

Photo courtesy of Cypress Street Pint & Plate website

I called to make our reservation and to see if we can have the side room for our private party and I was told I would have to email to make a large party reservation.  It took more than 5 days for them to respond, after I sent a follow up email.  That type of thing really makes me angry.  If I didn't respond to an email for a full work week I'd be fired, or at least given a very stern talking to.  Once i did get in touch with the person in charge, things moved smoothly.

We don't have enough people to reserve the entire side room, but we'll still get our tables with a white tablecloths to make it a little more fancy.  I even got to go through the menu to create our own Wedding Night Menu.  

We'll be at Cypress for two hours before we head over to SweetWater Brewery for our reception.  

Now that it's been a few days since we decided on Cypress, I'm absolutely happy with our decision.  Parish will always be my favorite, but Cypress will now have a special place in our heart.

Wedding Planning - Post #9 - More Reception Decor

Now that we have most of our big stuff out of the way we can really start focusing on the details that are going to make our reception more special.  My first post about reception decor is here.  I'm now moving on to more of the hands on DIY projects which means they're all taking a little bit longer.

For a baby shower I hosted a few months ago I wrapped a letter N in twine for the baby's nursery.  It was a HUGE hit.  Of all the decorations at the house that was the one people commented on the most.  I've seen tons of yarn wrapped letters on Pinterest and decided to incorporate the first letters of our first names into the reception decor as well.

We chose to wrap each letter in a different color using our wedding colors.  I have to give Stephen a big shout out here, he wrapped the S, all of it.  He did such a good job.  I think they look fantastic.  Right now they are on our mantle next to the Kiefer mugs and flowers.  I'm not sure where their final home will be, but I love looking at them.

We learned a lot while wrapping these bad boys.  You can never use too much hot glue on the back side of the letters.  And if you have to wrap over a section you've already wrapped over because of a curve or sharp angle in the letter, that's okay.  Not ever letter is shaped like a T which I'm sure is the easiest letter to wrap.

I'm also working on a bunting project for one of the outside railings that will be very visible from inside the reception venue.  Until a few weeks ago I'd never even heard the term bunting and here I am trying to decorate 35 feet.  It's a work in progress and I'll have a full blog post about that when I'm done with it, complete with tutorial.  This website is my inspiration.   Because I don't have a sewing machine yet, I'm going with the no-sew bunting.  I'm about 1/3 of the way through cutting the fabric.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Overnight Oats

Yesterday I wrote about Chia Seed and looking for ways to incorporate those into our diet.  One of the first places that I saw Chia Seed mentioned was on the blog Peanut Butter Fingers when she wrote about her Overnight Oats.  We have a giant bag of oats at our house and we go through $4 boxes of the healthy cereal faster than we can bring it in the house so giving the Overnight Oats a shot seemed like a good idea.

The recipe from PBF has the following ingredients:

  • Old fashioned oats (2/3 cup)
  • Milk (1/2 cup of milk)
  • Chia seeds (2 tablespoons)
  • Greek yogurt (6oz - about 3/4 cup - I eyeballed it)
I had all of that on hand at the house, and we were off!  Before we went to bed I mixed all the ingredients together and covered and put in the fridge for the night.  This morning, like PBF suggested, I added a splash of milk to the bowl to loosen it up a bit and to give it more of the oatmeal consistency that I like.  Stephen ate his cold and I warmed mine up for about a minute.  It wasn't hot, but not cold either - it was just right.  Our bowls were topped off with some fresh strawberries and breakfast was served.  

What another great breakfast!  The bowl was about 3 or 4 spoonfuls too much for me so I may cut it down a bit next time we make it.  I put it back in the fridge and I'll heat it up when I go home at lunch to let the dogs out.  

There are a bunch of Overnight Oats recipes out there so I'll play around with some and try adding new ingredients, but now I know I like it and it makes me happy.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chia Seeds

Has anyone else been hearing about Chia Seeds non-stop?  Maybe it's just the blogs I read or looking for super healthy recipes before the wedding, but I keep running into Chia Seeds with testimonials on how great they are for you.  So, being one to give new things a shot, I hunted some down at Whole Foods over the weekend.   The bag below was $15 at Whole Foods - ouch.  I've done some research and they're available online at a much lower cost.  If I buy into the health benefits of Chia Seeds we'll be purchasing that way from now on.

I first heard about Chia Seeds when I started doing research on Overnight Oatmeal.  Our mornings are super crazy now with a puppy who needs to constantly be watched which is cutting into my calm, relaxed mornings spent watching 10 min of the Today Show while eating a bowl of cereal.  No joke, I ended up wearing a bowl of Raisin Bran one morning after Goose decided to get my attention by jumping at me.  Check out this recipe for Overnight Oatmeal from one of the blogs I read regularly.  I'll try to remember to make some of those tonight and report back tomorrow.

Chia Seeds apparently have a TON of benefits.  They are extremely nutritious with a ton of protein, healthy fats like Omega 3 and fiber.  They expand when they soak up liquid around them, filling your stomach and keeping you full longer.  They also help diabetics and those suffering from acid reflux or even poor digestion.  See, wonder food!  They are gluten free and easy to digest.  The list could go on, do some Internet research.  Note: the bag is small, but a daily serving size is between a teaspoon and tablespoon, so it should last us a week or two.

In the Overnight Oats recipe the blogger mentions adding Chia Seeds to help the consistency of  the oats in the morning.  As I said, I plan to use them in the oats when I get around to cooking with them, but I also plan on adding them to the homemade granola that I make to add to my Greek Yogurt and I found a few other recipes.  Last night Stephen added the seed to his protein shake after working out.

This morning I made us a quick breakfast with the seed.  I also saw this recipe on the blog Peanut Butter Fingers.  For a quick breakfast full of protein and the chia seed, spread peanut butter on a whole wheat tortilla and top with a teaspoon of chia seeds.

I'm not a super fan of peanut butter and I think I went a little overboard this morning.  I'll cut back next time.  The next and final step is to wrap a banana in the tortilla and eat.  It is now lunch time and I'm still full from breakfast.  That rarely happens and it was a delicious breakfast!  I can't wait to do it again, but definitely with less peanut butter.  Stephen didn't have any complaints about his breakfast, he loved it.  

Any feedback on adding Chia Seeds to your diet?  I'm looking forward to seeing if I notice any health benefits of my teaspoon a day.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Avengers: Movie Review

We don't go to movies too often so when we do we want to make sure they're awesome.  (Let's be honest, I'd love to go to the movies far more often than we do, but I'll take what I can get!)  Saturday evening we had a few hours to kill and we were right across the street from a movie theater so we decided to check out what was playing.  I'd heard really great things about The Avengers so we decided to give it a shot.  To date, the movie continues to dominate the box office, not even giving new movie Battleship a chance at #1, probably because that movie is lame.... but I digress.

I'm not a superhero movie or comic book fan.  I enjoy the movies when they're done well (Ironman) but I'm not waiting in line to see the next one to come out... Spiderman.  Guys at the office have been talking about The Avengers for a few days so I thought it would be a good one to check out.

We went to the 3D showing of the movie, in my opinion the best way to see this movie.  I think you'll miss something if you see it as a regular movie and I think if you saw it in IMAX it would be too big and fast.  We even donated $1 to charity and we got our own Avengers 3D glasses.  We both chose Captain America.

Let's talk about the movie.  Wow, it was fantastic.  Each character had a great storyline and I loved how they all mixed together.  By far my favorite characters were Ironman and Hulk.  Hulk stole every single scene he was in as "the other guy".  I literally laughed out loud, uncontrollably at one of his scenes.  The script was also very clever.  Stephen and I caught at least 4 other movie references.  The best line in the entire movie, "Better clench up, Legolas!" was said by Tony Stark/Ironman.  I'm not sure if I was the only one in our theater who got that reference, but I couldn't stop laughing.  There were so many references that even Captain American at one time comments on understanding a reference.  Click here to Rotten Tomatoes for a list of the best quotes from the movie.  There were so many.

There aren't many movies that I want to rent or buy after watching in the theater, Harry Potter movies are really the only ones.  I will absolutely be watching this movie again.  No doubt about it.  This movie is worth the $15 dollars to see it in 3D, worth $30 to see it twice.

When you go see the movie, stay during the credits, you get a glimpse at what's to come for The Avengers.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

No more Boob!

When I met Stephen we were both drinking at a tailgate for the Braves.  There was a lot of flirting and walking away to talk to friends see if the other would come looking.  (Okay, maybe that was just me, but it worked.)  By the end of the game, I was hooked.  I wanted to know everything I could about this new, handsome and hilarious guy I'd just met.  What I absolutely didn't expect him to tell me was that he owned a house.  I didn't know many single women who owned a house, let alone a 26 year old, single man.

Fast forward 6 months after dating and I moved in to the home.  I love it.  It's an old home and definitely has some areas that could be fixed and improved, but that's what makes it special.  It has character.

One of the things about the house that I couldn't get over were the boobs.  Houses have boobs you ask?  Yes, you now, the dome lights that sit flush to the ceiling with the little nub to screw it secure.  You've all seen them:

We have four of those boobs in the house.  One centered over the living room, one in the dining room, one in the hallway to the guest room and one in the middle of the kitchen.  If you've seen our house you know that all 4 of these boobs are visible from anywhere on this side of the house.  It's a very open floor plan, with boobs.

So, we went to The Home Depot and bought a chandelier.  I've always wanted a chandelier in my dining room.  This morning Stephen went to work hanging it in the dining room.  To be honest, we've had it for over a month and it was way past time.

Once we had the boob off the ceiling we noticed we'd need to put a medallion between the light fixture and the ceiling because of the size of the hole that was behind the boob.  Off to Home Depot we went again.  I feel like we make a trip a weekend.  That's being homeowners!

So now we have our chandelier in the dining room!!  Stephen even switched out the regular light switch for a dimmer switch.  I'm so lucky to be marrying a man as handy as Stephen.  For those who need a side by side comparison of the room:

It's sooo much brighter (different time of day when the pictures were taken) and makes the space feel much more like a dining room.  One boob down, 3 more to go.

Love Your Block: Peoplestown Neighborhood Clean-up

One of the best parts of being homeowners is loving our home and neighborhood.  We take pride in our home, want to protect it and continually to make it better.  Not every resident in our neighborhood feels the same way about their home.  Because of this lack of pride that some people have for the Peoplestown neighborhood, some of us neighbors have to step up and do more than others.  There are parts of the neighborhood that look horrible.  When guests drive by, I'm sure they're not impressed with what they're seeing.  It's also not a good look for house hunters who are drawn to the in-town neighborhood.  A possible new resident isn't going to buy the house next to an empty, over grown lot or buy a home after passing a street where the sidewalk is almost impassable because of overgrown bushes and weeds.

The Peoplestown Neighborhood Association, which Stephen and I participate in, received money from the Love Your Block program that gives money to neighborhoods to clean up problem areas.  We split into three teams and tackled three of the most important problem areas - across the street from our elementary school, a stretch of Hank Arron Drive that is the east border of the neighborhood and an empty lot that is surrounded by about 8 other homes.  The lot has been such a problem, this is the 3rd time the PNA has cleaned it up.

Stephen and I were in charge of the Hank Arron Drive, about 2 blocks worth of sidewalk.  This is how some of the sidewalks looked before our team got out there with rakes, shovels, weed killer and determination. 

Look at the trash and the dead leaves piled up.  If your not familiar with this road, it's leads right to Turner Field where the Braves play.  So many people drive up and down this road and it wasn't making a good impression.

Look at that, half the sidewalk is unusable because of the leaves.  Nice work City of Atlanta.  

It's not only the leaves on the ground, but weeds and vines from vacant lots are starting to take over the space as well.  You can barely see the sidewalk below.  One of the good parts about this area is how walkable it is - these sidewalks weren't helping.

So, a team of 6 of us headed out with our orange vests on and got to work.  After three hours of hard work you could actually walk down the sidewalk!  We filled more than 12 lawn and refuse bags from The Home Depot with lead leaves and everything else that we found while cleaning.  Some of the leaves had been there so long they had started to turn to dirt and there were so many bugs living there it shocked me.  I've never seen earth worms like the ones I saw on the sidewalk leaf piles.

Stephen took pictures while we were cleaning and of the finished product.  Three hours of work and we're very, very proud of what we were able to accomplish.  I wish we had been able to clean all day or had had a team of 10-15 people to tackle the area.  There was still a lot of work to do.

Don't you just love sidewalks that you can actually use?!  I'm so proud of all the work we did.  The other two areas that were cleaned also look amazing.  It's crazy what just one morning can do when you dedicate some time to cleaning up.  Some areas only needed a quick pass with the lawn mower.  That's it!  But for some homeowners that seems to be too much.  We drenched the weeds that were growing down to the sidewalk with weed killer, I can't wait to see all of them die!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wedding Planning - Post #8 - We have a Caterer!

By far the most difficult thing so far has been selecting our caterer for the reception.  I went into it thinking it would be easy but in typical fashion, I was proven wrong.

Our reception will begin at 9pm and will last until midnight.  Every Friday the brewery has a brewery tour until 7:30pm and we can't get in until all of those people have cleared out and we'll still need time to set up the space with our decorations.  It is actually great for us for a few reasons - we don't have to serve everyone dinner and it's more relaxed like our entire day which is exactly what we wanted.

SweetWater gave us a list of vendors that they've worked with in the past and who they consider to be preferred vendors.  I started with that list and made a bunch of phone calls.  One of the caterers that I emailed didn't even respond.  How do people do business like that??  I narrowed our selection down to four caterers - Bold American, Proof of the Pudding and Soiree, all three preferred vendors from SweetWater and I was recommended A Divine Event from a friend who helped plan an industry event for a couple hundred people a month ago.

Every single proposal we got back sounded delicious and everyone understood the feel we wanted for the reception.  Because the venue is just a brewery, we needed to also rent tables, linens and hire a bartender to serve wine and soft drinks to guests who don't want beer.  We also asked for only desserts to be served at the reception.  For a party of 75 people late in the evening, desserts will be perfect.

The first two proposals that came back were basically identical in cost - $3400 for everything.  I almost curled up in a ball and cried.  I had no idea it would cost that much for just desserts and tables.  The venue with unlimited beer was half of that!  I went back and forth with each vendor trying to find ways to cut down costs, but it wasn't possible.  We couldn't seem to get around the food costs or the service fees.  With one of the two vendors, I had over $600 in fees and staffing costs that I didn't need but had to have.  Ultimately, Proof of the Pudding and Bold American had to be cut for budget purposes.  If I had an unlimited budget one of these caterers would have been selected.  They are both well known in the market and always serve quality food.  For what we were looking for for our night, they weren't the right fit.

That left me with A Divine Event and Soiree.  Both of their proposals were in the $2500 range while still delivering what we were looking for.  The contacts at both places were very helpful and we went back and forth with some revisions to the original proposals until we had exactly what we wanted.  The one sad thing that happened was that I was waiting for a final proposal from ADE and I never received it.  After almost a week we had to make a decision.  The two vendors were so close in cost and vision we don't feel we lost anything not having the final proposal from A Divine Event.  Yesterday afternoon we booked Soiree Catering and Events for our reception.  Stephen and I got to spend some time with the person helping us coordinate everything, Larry, and we both walked out of the building with huge smiles on our faces.  Larry walked us through how he sees the tables being set up, he served us some of the dessert options that we ordered and we talked through some other decor ideas we had for the night, outside of food and he was super helpful.  After that meeting I don't have any concerns when it comes to the food, drinks or coffee for the night.  Such a relief.

As a bonus for making it through the long post, below are some additional pictures of the event space at SweetWater Brewery.

Above is the view of the main room from the corner of the bar on the way to the bathroom.  Look at all of the windows!  In that corner where we see the windows coming together is where the dessert table will most likely go.

The second picture, above, is of the space from the entry.  That bar takes a turn and goes down the windows for a while and ends in a little lounge area with leather sofas.  

This is the outdoor patio that is also included in our evening.  It's huge!  Those black windows are the windows that you're seeing in the other two pictures.  I'm still trying to figure out how to decorate that railing... but I think I have an idea.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Eve6 - blast from the past!

You know how you feel old?  Your favorite band from high school is making a comeback and does a small show at a Hooters in Downtown Atlanta during lunch hour.  That's where I got to see Eve6 for the 2nd time.

When I was 16 I was lucky enough to get a car.  When I got that car, one of the very first places I drove was to an Eve6 concert at The House of Blues.  They were opening for Third Eye Blind.  Their song Inside Out is one of my all time favorite songs.  If it comes on the radio, I can't help but turn it up and sing along as loud as I can.  That basically goes for the entire first CD.

I really hope that they are able to make a comeback.  It's been about 8 years since their last album was released.  If they are anything like me, they've grown up a lot in that time and it will be interesting to hear what they have to say now.

The performance was okay.  They only played three songs, two new and the classic, Inside Out.  It would have been more exciting for all of us around 30-somethings to hear the old stuff we love.  They were also 40 minutes late coming on stage.  It meant we had to bolt out of there after their last song to get back to our meetings at the office.  Not cool, guys.  It was really fun to be at Hooters, at lunch, in business casual clothes listening to 90s flashback live music.

Bring it Eve6.

Victory Sandwich Bar + Emporium: Restaurant Review

I'm not sure I've mentioned how much I love Inman Park restaurants.  A few weeks ago when we dined out at two Inman Park Restaurant Week participating restaurants it was almost impossible for us to pick which two.  One worked out well, the other was delicious, but not the right scene for us.  Well, I just found yet another Inman Park restaurant that I'm obsessed with: Victory Sandwich Bar.

Located just off of what I would consider the main intersection of Inman Park, North Highland and Elizabeth Street, Victory is a large one room restaurant and bar with a great patio.  On my first trip to Victory it was a gorgeous night and there wasn't a single seat available outside.  Inside the feeling is ver industrial, but also welcoming because of the friendly staff.  I've not met a single employee at Victory that wasn't helpful or friendly.  Guests don't have to wait to be seated, find a table, someone will be with you shortly, with a smile.

The menu is great for those nights or afternoons when you're not ready for dinner or you've already snacked before heading out and it's also great if you're in the mood for a variety for dinner.  The menu is made up of 11 sandwiches, each just $4.  And that's $4 including tax.  They aren't the massive sandwiches you'll find at a chain restaurant, they're fit in the palm of your hand size.  Great if you're looking for a snack and 2 or 3 would be plenty for a full dinner.  Each comes with chips.  I had The Mulligan (smoked ham and pimento cheese) and it was amazing.  I wish I had ordered two, but two sandwiches after a full dinner isn't really on the wedding "eat right" diet.  The menu also has sides and snacks that range from Potato Salad to Hummus to Spicy Sesame Ramen.  Each look delicious and I didn't hear any complaints from any of the friends I was dining with.

Another fun part of the menu is the drink menu.  They have your typical bar offerings and then the Vics Picks which include my favorite, the Slushie, a frozen Jack and Coke.  It's a spiked slurpee!!  From what I could tell, and I didn't try all the offerings, but the bartenders seem to have a heavy hand and pour drinks that customers want to drink.

My first trip I walked out with a bill less than $6.  My second trip with two drinks and the Hummus was less then $15.  Did I mention the ping pong table in the back, I don't think I did.  Yes, there is a ping pong table.

The super casual restaurant is open from 11am to 2am every day.  Drinks aren't served on the patio after 11pm.  I'm not exactly sure the reasoning there... but I don't think there will be a problem for anyone.

Check it out.  It quickly became a restaurant that I've recommended to several people and has already entered the short list of suggested places for a Friday or Saturday night out with friends.  And because of the proximity to so many of my favorite restaurants it could easily be the second stop of the night, probably the last.

Oh, and a second location is coming soon to Decatur on Church St- a perfect fit for the Victory vibe.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wedding Planning - Post #7 - Reception Decor

I had the past weekend to my self when Stephen headed out of town.  I didn't have as much free time as I had planning to have with Goose around, but I still got a lot of wedding stuff done.

Before we get to the wedding planning info, let's update on Goose's progress.  They boy loves to play.  Friday he finally came out of his shell and started playing with Mabel.  She's been trying to get him to play for a week and he finally caught on.  When they get going they are a ball of black dogs rolling around on the floor.  Goose hadn't made a noise until Friday when he learned that he does have a voice.  It's not manly and Mabel just ignores him, but he'll "bark" at her to get her attention when she's ignoring him.  He also started paying attention to what Mabel was playing with and he started chewing on bones and the kong ball.  Whatever Mabel has, he wants.  Whatever Goose has, Mabel wants.  It's pretty funny. Here is a picture of the two of them, each with their own bone.  Super cute.  About 2 minutes later Mabel decided she wanted what Goose had and it became chaos.

Goose is blue, Mabel is red.  (please ignore the blue tape on the walls - I'm still trying to finish painting the bedroom.  Longest. Paint. Job. Ever.)

Okay, onto the wedding details!  We get to go to SweetWater tomorrow after work to meet with our coordinator at the venue to walk through the space.  We've been there so many times, but never while thinking about how to decorate for our wedding.  This will be fun.  I plan on taking a TON of pictures and asking how other people have decorated the space.

Saturday, I went shopping for reception details.  I got one of the final details for the favors and I got ribbon for our flower vases.  (I don't want to share details on the actual favors until after the wedding so guests don't find out before the wedding day.  They'll make a good blog post!)  Finding our colors was actually pretty easy.  I also found our "guest book" while at Michael's.  We don't want an actual guest book because nobody will really ever read it and we didn't have engagement photos taken so we couldn't do a book of engagement pictures as a guest book (my fave) so we decided on a frame with a large matte for everyone to sign.  I love how these look in the house after a wedding.  We'll put our favorite picture from the wedding day in the frame when we get them back.  It will look something like this:

Photo from Michael's website

I am also in love with monogram anything.  If I can monogram something, I want it.  I love making everything more personal.  I saw some wedding decor that focused on the couple's last name and I had to incorporate it into our reception as well.  

We are still 3 months from the wedding day, but I couldn't keep them all boxed up until then, so they've already found their permanent home on one of our mantles.  We'll take the mugs and flowers with us to SweetWater for the reception and place them somewhere.... that's what tomorrow's meeting will help us decide.  I got the mugs at Anthropologie for $6 a piece and the flowers are from Michael's where they were having a buy one get one sale on all flowers. I couldn't pass it up.  (You'll also notice my Florida craft with thread from this post!)  I love that the white mugs and flowers really stand out against the walls and work nicely with the white fireplace.  Ahhh, love.  Some may say it's bad luck to use your new last name before the wedding - BUT the house is technically still only Stephen's, so the mugs are for him until August.  

Still trying to nail down a caterer.  I'm tempted just to book one because the 2nd one that we're waiting to hear from is being very slow to respond.  I'll keep you posted.  

Lastly - I have a new favorite gift website.  See above when I mentioned monogramming being an obsession.  This site feeds that obsession.  Please check out In This Very Room.  It's a little piece of heaven for me.  I'd take one of everything - especially the casserole carriers!  There are so many great items on the site, I purchased two (a personalized platter and a monogrammed glass pitcher) as wedding gifts for a cousin who is getting married Memorial Day weekend.  I've never met his bride, but I'm going to hope she will like things with her new last name.  I mean, it's an awesome last name.  I've only explored the home goods section of the site and I love it all.  I think one of our next purchases after the wedding is over will be one of the coolers so we can take it to Braves Games.  Happy shopping!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wedding Planning - Post #6 - Things I don't need to Plan

I've been so focused on things that I need to plan and book and pay for that I haven't really reflected on what I DON'T have to plan.  Because Stephen and I are making sure our wedding day is about us and not the wedding itself there are a lot of things that we don't need.  Having only 4 months to plan the wedding, not having the following things to worry about is a blessing, too.

  1. Ceremony location and all of the decor that goes along with a large ceremony.  Getting married at the court house is easy - we show up, put our name on a list and wait until they call our name.  
  2. Rehearsal dinner.  There isn't anything for us to rehearse and we don't need a fancy dinner or special reason to see family, we'll see them because they're in town and we want to.
  3. DJ or Band?  We don't have to make that decision.  We've decided to save money on a DJ or hiring a band because we can just as easily pick songs and put them on my iphone and call it a day.  We know what we like.  We aren't going to need the DJ to run the reception with first dances, cake cuttings, toasts, bouquet tosses, etc - we can focus on having a good time with friends and family and dancing when we want to.  Nothing will be forced or corny.  
  4. Seating chart, not for us!  The reception won't start until 9pm.  That late at night nobody wants to start dinner.  We aren't having food-food, we're going to serve desserts only.  With that we no longer have to have a seating chart, table numbers, chairs for everyone or elaborate centerpieces.   We'll be at a brewery and it will be a cocktail feel.  There will be 30+ chairs for about 70 people.  I don't want everyone sitting down at once anyway!  
  5. Florist.  SweetWater Brewery is casual and so are we.  I don't see the need to spend hundreds of dollars on a florist.  Does anyone walk away remembering the flowers at a wedding?  I couldn't tell you the floral arrangements from a single wedding I've ever attended - sorry to all my friends.  I focus more on the bride and groom and remembering their special night together.  We found 10 matching glass vases at Goodwill for $1.50 each and we'll get flowers from Costo.  I'm thinking baby's breath and I'll tie a ribbon around the vase for a splash of color.  Done.  I haven't costed out baby's breath, but I have a feeling we'll spend less than $50 total on floral arrangements.  I found this arrangement and I love it:

What do you think?  Instead of a blue mason jar, we'll have a vase with blue ribbon.  The picture is the perfect inspiration.

I'm sure there are a few other things that I'm forgetting, but taking those 5 items off our list of To Dos and out of our budget make both of us very happy.  

My advice to anyone planning a wedding - focus on what is important to you.  What do you and your fiance like doing together?  How are you most comfortable with your friends?  Focus on those things.  Don't do something because that's what everyone else does.  Your relationship with your significant other is unique, make your wedding day just as unique.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Puppy far

We've had cute, little Goose for 5 days now.  If you want my honest opinion on how we are doing - tired. For me, being tired leads to frustration and laziness.  The latter is something that I don't have the opportunity to be anymore which is making being tired even more difficult.  I have also lost the "wedding hours" that I enjoyed at lunch everyday.  Now I have to go home to let Goose out, then Mabel then walk Goose in the slight chance that he decides to poop.

The good news is that last night he only woke us up once at 2:30am and went potty as soon as we took him outside.  He didn't walk around the backyard for 5-10 minutes like he did the first few nights.  It still takes him a walk to go #2, but if he doesn't do that in the house, a walk is worth it.

Walks are another thing - on the way out of the house he hates the walk, he fights me most of the way around the block.  Then when we're on the final 1/4 of a block home he tries to pull me along.  What's up with that?!  I've never had to train a puppy so all of it is new to me.

Don't get me wrong, I love the little guy, I just can't wait for him to be housebroken.  It would be much easier to only have to go outside ONCE with Mabel and Goose at the same time for potty breaks.

He won't be a puppy forever.  I know that.  I'm just being honest.  He's a handful right now.  In a month or two this will all be history.  And let's be honest, in the grand scheme of things, a few months is nothing.  I've said it before, Thank God for Stephen.

Monday, May 7, 2012

We're Officially Crazy

The weekend started out just as we had planned.  We woke up Saturday morning and drove up to Buckhead to participate in the Stache Dash at Tin Lizzy's.  It was an awesome race and all around event. I think it was much larger than they anticipated it being year #1, but they handled it well.  The only complaint I have was at the start and that we weren't individually timed.  We were about halfway back in the pack when they started the race, so we had to walk for about 15 seconds to even cross the start line and we were basically walking once we passed, too.  It was probably a good quarter of a mile before we could actually run at the pace we wanted.  That threw off our times a bit.  But after that, it was a breeze.  The course was fantastic and the hills weren't too bad.  And because we were running down busy streets, the miles seemed to go faster because you weren't just looking at house after house after house.

Here is the route:

According to my GPS on my iphone it was just under a 5k.  My phone also clocked me under 35 minutes, but my "official" time on the clock was 35:04.  So if I take off 45 seconds for the walking start and not actually crossing the start until after the clock had started, under 35 min is my best one yet!

After the race we hung out at Tin Lizzy's to have a few Mexican beers to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  It was great because we got a table right away and had finished our two beers and some guac by 10:30am.  Not a bad morning.  Leaving the race area we passed through a pet adoption group who was there with some puppies and kittens.  Of course we stopped.  This is where I think we lost our minds.  We ended up adopting one of the puppies!  Blog world, meet our new addition, Goose.

He is a 35 lb or so black lab (mix maybe) bundle of puppy happiness.  He's only 14 weeks and he's the size of Mabel.  Can you tell how giant his paws are?  If you can't tell, they are giant.  I always thought Mabel had a big tongue, Goose's puts hers to shame.  I think we have a giant on our hands.  (Pictures of him are hard because he's soooo black!  A lot of times you only get tongue or harness.)

Goose has been with us since Saturday afternoon and he's definitely coming out of his shell.  When we first brought him home he went to the dark corner by the fireplace and would venture out then run back.  He still goes there when Mabel chases him too long or he doesn't want to put on his leash, but he doesn't hide there anymore.  He also uses his crate as his safe place.  He slept in the bed with us the first two nights so he got used to us, but he'll be going into the crate until he is potty trained.  He woke us up at 2:30am to go outside so I took him out then he peed on the carpet when we brought him back in.  Cleaning up pee at 2:40 in the morning was not what Stephen wanted to be doing and I didn't want to spend 10 minutes outside in the dark.

Mabel likes Goose but I bet she'll love him when he starts to play with her as much as she wants him too.  She's such a noisy and fast player, he's not used to that yet.  And they are still working out who is the dominant one.  She definitely is, but because he's as big as her they have to work it out.  It should make for some fun videos.

So there you have it - at Tin Lizzy's you can run a race, have some chips and salsa and adopt a puppy on race day.  Not only will I have wedding updates to make, but I'll also be able to post about Goose's training progress.  Thank God I have Stephen.