Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Serenbe, GA

If you read my previous post on the HGTV Green Home, you know that touring the home was my reason for visiting Serenbe in the first place.  I'd never heard of the community until I was invited down for the tour.  I was excited to see the home, but I had no idea that Serenbe would find a special place in my heart and I can't wait to share my experiences with others.  I already have big plans for an after wedding, weekend trip down to relax.

If you go to the Serenbe Portal Page, you can find all of the information on the community that you could ever need.  I hope to fill you in on my experiences in my short, afternoon visit.  After touring the home we had about an hour to kill before we had to be at The Farmhouse for our dinner reservations.  Because it's a small town and there isn't a constant stream of people on weekdays, the local business have some pretty weird hours.  A few of the stores that we really wanted to try were closed for the evening and it was only 5:00.

We drove from the house to the downtown area of Serenbe.  It's a more established area from the side with the HGTV home and the new General Store.  This part of town has restaurants and all the boutique shopping you would want on a lazy Saturday afternoon.  We were able to make it into two stores but would have loved to stop in more.

Our first stop was Blue Eyed Daisy Bakeshop, which was closed at the time, but we were able to get inside just as the shop owner was closing up and we were allowed to purchase a 4-pack of cupcakes.   I'm sorry I don't have a picture of those - we ate them too fast.

 Not only was the little bakery adorable, but the menu looked superb.  It would be the perfect place for lunch or brunch.  If your a foodie and watch some of the million cooking shows that are on TV these days, you may recognize the bakery for a little award they just won.

Yep, just a few days before we were there the show aired announcing them as the winner of Cupcake Wars.  Having tasted the cupcake recipes from the show I can tell you they deserved to win.  The place was packed full of 4-pack containers waiting to be sold.  The dining room was industrial chic with a giant fan overhead and exposed brick walls but it felt welcoming and warm at the same time.

With cupcakes in hand we drove another block (we were driving because we didn't know what would be open as we passed by - again with the weird hours).  We stopped at The Bilt House, an adorable little shop with clothes, gifts and items for the home.  They have two other locations in Atlanta and Roswell, mental note to check those out too.  I found the cutest Anniversary gift for my dad and step-mom while in the shop, I'll have to see if I can find it in one of the closer stores or I'll call in my order and make a drive down to pick it up.  Darn.

Some new town homes available in Serenbe.

Then it was time for dinner.  We were having dinner at The Inn at Serenbe where we were lucky enough to meet Steve and Marie Nygren whose vision started Serenbe in the first place.  They came down to visit a farmhouse for sale years ago and fell in love with the area.  They bought the land and continued to develop it.  With the help of the 1996 Olympics the Inn started and from there they developed the plan for a community that would create a sense of place for it's residence.  You really get the feeling that the neighbors really know each other and care about each other.  Marie was one of the nicest people I've met and to meet someone with such vision was remarkable.

The Inn itself has a few rooms and then little cottages that you can rent.  I'm not sure of prices, I didn't even look.  It felt so comfortable there that I'd be okay paying what ever it may cost for a weekend of relaxation, and we're not rolling in the money, believe me.  There are two saltwater pools at the Inn for guests to use, this one looked like the perfect place to spend a Thursday evening.

Before dinner, we stopped at the bar and had the BEST. PEACH. SANGRIA. EVER.  Would you look at these things!  I wish I knew what was in them, but I know the bartender made them that day, with fresh peaches in the mix.

We ate dinner on the patio section of the dining room.  The mismatched chairs at the table really made you feel like you were visiting the Nygren's home, not dining at a restaurant.  Our server knew every detail of the menu and was a delight the entire evening.  (The table in the picture below is not our table, I'm sitting at our table, so you can't see the chairs I just mentioned.)  The patio is enclosed in glass, so no bugs to worry about, you can't really tell in the photo.

The menu is fresh each week, they serve what is available at the farm in Serenbe or other local farms.  For our trip they were serving a trout or a steak.  I went with the steak, a salad to start and homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwich for dessert.  The serving sizes were perfect, not one of us left feeling over stuffed.  The food was cooked to perfection, I'm not sure any of us had a bite left on our plates either.

It was sad to drive away from Serenbe that evening, but the entire drive home we talked about how much we enjoyed it.  I brought a few goodies home with me: a magnolia candle that I wish I could have constantly lit in the house, the Fig Preserves that I'm obsessed with and the cupcakes from Blue Eyed Daisy.  (There are only three of the four pictured, I couldn't wait.)

I urge you to make the drive down to Serenbe or Like them on Facebook so you can keep up with the events going on around the neighborhood.  I know we will be.

Fig Preserves from Serenbe

Sometimes you get a gift or recommendation that you appreciate at the time but you have no way of knowing how great it really is until after the fact.  While we were in Serenbe to tour the HGTV Green Home, our host who has been to Serenbe a few times for other tours bought us some Fig Preserves.  They were made right there in town and sold at the General Market and we also saw them at the restaurant where we dined that night.  I'm not sure this blog post will be able to describe how much I love Fig Preserves, but I'll give it a shot.  I could be the freshness of the preserves, but I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that I'll love any Fig Preserves that come my way.  (When we were there we actually saw them packaging the Peach Preserves and putting them right out on the shelf for sale - that stuff is fresh!)

I've put the preserves on almost everything I've consumed at home.  For breakfast, I've added a spoonful to my Greek Yogurt - when it's mixed in with the strawberries and granola it adds a sweetness that I was missing before.  For lunch I've invented the best sandwich ever: a Toasted Fig and Cheese Sandwich with slices of Bacon.  OMG.  I started with just the toasted bread, fig preserves and a slice of
havarti cheese.  I was in love.  The next day I made it for Stephen and he suggested we add bacon, pretty male thing to do.  It made it even better!  I'm pretty sure I've had 3 of those sandwiches in the past 5 days.  I haven't tried it yet, but it was suggested to me to make a pizza with the preserves as the base.  On top of that you add arugula and feta cheese and I'd think some chopped walnuts or even some sliced almonds would be perfect.

I have to head home at lunch to take care of the dogs, I know I'll be having one of my favorite sandwiches again - just like yesterday.  Then we're out of bread and I have to come up with another plan.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The 2012 HGTV Green Home

Serenbe is a small community just south of Atlanta, about 35 miles.  Don't worry if you've never heard of it, I hadn't either until HGTV told my team at work that they were building their 2012 Green Home there.  Still I didn't do any research, I just thought it was a town like Dunwoody or Grant Park.  I had no idea how special, fabulous, peaceful, lovely, charming, I could go on, it was.  I think it's one of the best kept secrets out there.  I'm sure more people know about it now that HGTV has put it on the map, but I hope it keeps it's charm.  This is going to be a long post, so this post I'll focus on the Green Home and my next one will be about Serenbe, my new obsession.

I was invited to visit the HGTV Green Home with my rep from the network and then enjoy some time around town and have an early dinner before the trip back to Atlanta.  I accepted because I was so excited to see the home, little did I know that it would be only a small part of my trip, and to be honest, not even the best part!

When we pulled into Serenbe, which you'll miss if you're not actually looking for it, we first saw the brand spankin new General Store.  We had a few minutes to kill so we ran in to check it out.  I was immediately impressed with the store, the staff and all the goodies they had to offer.

After purchasing a few small items, King of Pops is there, yes!, we headed across the street to the Green Home to start out private tour.  Tours were open to the public (through this weekend) by appointment.  Next week the winner of the house will be announced and the family gets to move into their new home, or turn around and sell it - I'll be waiting.

I'll admit, that from the street the house doesn't impress me.  I'm one for a big, wrap around porch with fans and big chairs for drinking wine and watching the neighbors walk on by.  At this point, the house felt too modern for me.  When you walk in the front door you're in a small little entry way where there is a large closet and three rooms that HGTV left unfinished so the new owners have room to grow.  To get to the rest of the house you head up gorgeous stairs and you're brought right into the kitchen, from the view below.

The last of the three pictures above is the opposite view of the first one.  The dining room table under the white lamps is all reclaimed pallets.  The floors are all re-purposed too, and the counter is the coolest.  Here is a close up view:

The counters are concrete mixed with shells from the GA coast and pieces of recycled beer bottles from Georgia Brewery, SweetWater (where we are having our wedding reception!).  The house has so many surprise like the counters, it was the small details that made the house so special.  The entire house is about 2000 sq ft, but feels twice that size because of the enormous ceilings and the windows, tons and tons of windows.

On the other side of the table is the living room pictured above.  There isn't a TV in this room, that's saved for two other rooms in the house.  The entire kitchen, dining and living space felt giant, when it really wasn't that big.  Through the sliding glass doors in the above pictures is this patio below.

Again, it's the small details that make the house so great.  If you look at the two pictures above you can see how big the space can feel because of the huge windows, the outside is so much a part of this house.

From the living room we went to the master bedroom which was much smaller than the one we have at home, but felt so big, again because of the high ceilings, windows and paint from walls to ceiling.  Click here to go to the HGTV tour.

The headboard was handmade and there is a tutorial on the HGTV website if you're interested in making your own.  If you look through the window in the picture you'll see the middle patio and then into the Georgia room.  the Master bath is floor to ceiling tile.  I took the picture from the water closet side of the bathroom, picture of toilets aren't interesting, a I'm looking into the center area with the double vanity in to the dual headed shower.  Each side could be programmed to your personal preferences with a key pad outside the shower area.  It is big enough for at least 8 people.

The middle patio is really the center of the mail level of the house with the kitchen to one side, the Georgia room on the other and the Master to the third side.  The forth side of the patio is the grill for outdoor entertaining.

This is the view if you're coming from the master bedroom which is to the left, the Georgia room to the right. Here is the view from the grill.

Instead of having the grill on the other side of the wall, they moved to to the far side so the grill master can see into 3 rooms of the house and still face the guests who are mingling around the kitchen (by the lamp in the background of the picture or under the umbrella at the table.

The Georgia room had one of my favorite features, the drill lamp!  How great is that?

The final room on the main floor is the media room below, well that's what I called it.  Again, walls and ceiling were painted the same color making the room feel much larger than it really was.  The sofa opens to a sleeper and the coffee table rolls under the long metal table by the window.

You'll also notice a window to the left in the picture above, this is an indoor window, you can see the view below.

From the media room and through the set of indoor windows you look through the main staircase, into the kitchen and out to the back patio where the sofa and chairs are with the "&" pillow.  This creates what the designer called borrowed light.  There is only one small light in the media room, but it has the large window to one side and then the borrowed light from the kitchen and staircase on the other.  Brilliant!  The kitchen also benefits from the light from the media room.

Up another flight of stairs and you come to four more rooms of the house, the main laundry room (there was a small stackable washer and dryer on the main floor off the kitchen in a mud room area), a "do" room with a long built-in desk perfect for homework or a craft table, a guest room and the kid's room.

Check out the kid's room!  It's not a large room, like all the other rooms, but it's full of windows and it uses the height of the room for additional space.  I love the loft area.  I really hope the family who wins the house has kids or grand-kids who can use this room to it's full potential.

The community is built to be just that, community.  Neighbors should get to know their neighbors.  You can see from this front porch that you can see quite a few other homes, some still under construction and an empty lot just waiting for a buyer.  More on that in the next post on Serenbe.

So there you have it, the 2012 Green Home.  I didn't take pictures of every single room, and some rooms didn't translate well to a two dimensional photograph.  The HGTV page has a virtual tour of the home which will do the house much more justice.  One last note I want to make is on the art in the house.  Most of it was from local artists or photographers in the area, keeping everything Georgia focused.  I noticed this wall art in the main laundry room - how simple and easy.  You'll also notice that one wall of the room is reflective tile so  the space has a lot of light with very little power.

Over 35 million people registered to win the 2012 Green Home, I can't wait to see who wins.  I hope they like stairs and getting to know your neighbors.  Serenbe looks like an amazing place to live if your lifestyle can mold to fit to the community, because it is a special place.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Homemade Granola Recipe

Eating healthy has become a priority in our household.  A lot of people may think that eating healthy is expensive but we've found a bunch of ways to keep the costs down.  For one, we order some of our ingredients (Chia Seeds) online where they are FAR cheaper than they are at Whole Foods.  We also buy our most used items at Costco where we can get bulk sizes - Quinoa, honey, oats, eggs.  Another way for us to save on eating healthy is to make some of the food that we could purchase at the store.  We do this with pizza dough, cookies (not healthy, but you need a vice), granola and smoothies to name a few.

We eat a lot of granola.  I never thought I'd be one of those "granola eating healthy people" but here I am writing a post about making your own at home.  It's so simple and you can make a huge portion at once to save for a few weeks.  We eat granola almost everyday with Greek Yogurt and fruit which is pretty much a staple around here.  At any given time there is at least a tub or three of Greek Yogurt in our fridge.

A co-worker of mine said she makes her own granola using a recipe on Allrecipes.com and sent me the link.  I stared with the same recipe and I've since added a few things and changed a few of the amounts.  If you follow the recipe just as it it, it's delicious.  I don't want to take anything away from the original recipe, I just have a few other things on hand and added them in.  

The following recipe will make enough granola for our house for about 3 weeks.  I mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and the wet ingredients in a small bowl then mix the two together.  

4 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup each: sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, chopped pecans
1/2 cup of salted sunflower seeds
5 tbs of Chia Seeds
1/3 cup oil
1/2 or little more of honey (sometimes I do half honey and half maple syrup)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
palm full of ground cinnamon

Once it's all mixed together I spread it out on two large cookie sheets and bake at 300 degrees for 21 minutes, stirring every 7 minutes.  Sometimes I go a little bit longer, you'll be able to tell how crunchy the granola is at the end.  

With the bulk items that we bought at Costco we have enough ingredients to make granola for a year.  I'm dying to try this on some frozen yogurt or ice cream, but we haven't had any of that in the house in a long time.  And I'll be honest, there are plenty of days when I grab a handful of granola on my way past the pantry  because it's so good.  I wish you could smell how great the house smells after the granola is baked.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Costco's Great Customer Service

I wasn't feeling well today so I decided to rest up at home and get some stuff around the house done.  I got to sleep past 8:00 and laid around until lunch time when I went out to meet Stephen and pick up a few things we needed by his office at Costco.

We're huge Costco fans so far.  We've spent a lot of money there in the past month, but we have so much stuff we won't need to buy for a long time.  And things like strawberries and Quinoa are in bulk and we eat them in bulk.

Stephen left before I did so he could get back to the office and I got in line to check out.  We had a bunch of  food that needs refrigeration, Greek yogurt, milk, eggs, etc, and when I got out to my car, I had a flat tire.  There was no way I was going to make it home on the air that I had left in the tire and there was no way that I could go to a repair shop with all of my food, $186 worth of food, and wait an hour or more for either a new tire or a patch.

I went back into Costco and they offered to hold my items in their walk-in cooler while I dealt with the car.  Costco's tire shop won't do work on a tire that isn't one of their own so I had to go to Sears at the mall across the parking lot.  The customer service person that I spoke to when I went back into the store recognized me when I came back in.

I'm so grateful that Costco was able to help when I needed them to.  They could have easily told me it was "company policy" or something like that not to hold already purchased items and I would have been out a lot of money.  I don't mind paying an annual fee to be a Costco member if we get customer service like I did today.  A day that could have been a small disaster wasn't that bad and I made it back to the house in time to get a little bit more rest before Stephen gets home from work.

Oh yeah, and the lunch - a giant slice of pizza and a drink for less than $3.  Yummo.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

My dad doesn't read my blog (too busy?) but that doesn't mean he doesn't deserve his recognition on this day of his.  My dad is so much the reason I am who I am today.  When I need help/advice/to laugh/to cry/to talk about the game last night the first person I call is my Dad.  He's number 1 in my speed dial for a reason.

He never judges me and sometimes he just listens to what is bothering me.  When he knows I need it he dishes out the advice - even if it's something hard to hear at times.  He knows my good days and when I'm having a rough time.

Not only am I lucky enough to have Dad as my dad, my three sisters get to share him with me.  I'm not sure if they all have the same relationship that I do with my dad, but I know there are nights when he doesn't get to eat dinner for an hour after he sits down at the table because each of us needs something at the same time and he'll never ignore a phone call from any of us.  It's comforting knowing Dad is only a button away.

They always say you look for a man who reminds you of your dad, and I think I've done a pretty good job.  Stephen is strong, independent, gentle and loving at the same time.  He knows what I need and he's there with a shoulder to lean on or when I need a partner in crime.

A great Friday night is sitting on the couch watching the game or going out for some great food and wine.  I know I don't have to worry about so many things in my life because Stephen is there for me.  He'll never replace my dad, he's a great bonus.  And the one day, hopefully in many many years to come when I have to say good bye to my dad, I know Stephen will be more than able to take over the empty role.  And I know he'll be the father to our kids that my dad was to me.

Photo by Jenn Hopkins Photography

Daddy, thanks for always being there and never letting me down.  Happy Father's Day.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Atlanta Braves Alumni Weekend

Each year the Atlanta Braves host past players for an Alumi Weekend that includes autograph signings a softball game and some fundraising opportunities.  This year, the Friday night of the weekend was when the team retired former Atlanta Braves pitcher, John Smoltz's, number and inducted him to the Braves Hall of Fame.

This was special for me because I remember watching John pitch as a kid and I got to watch him my first few years here in Atlanta.  He was also a great player to watch and I always heard of the good that he did in the community, especially with kids.  It's rare that a team gets a player like Smoltz that is so well liked by teammates and loved by the fans.

Bobby Cox was there to talk about Smoltz, too.  It's always nice to see the old coach!  We had some great seats for the ceremony, too.

When the Braves retire a number it goes up on the wall of the stadium.  Number 29 was revealed that night.

That's some great company he's in.  John also gave a speech which he said would be short and consise, but it was neither.  He had a lot to say and said it well.  You can tell her really loved his time with the Braves.

The night was gorgeous, look at that sky!

Before the ceremony and the game, the past Braves were set up around the stadium in seven locations to sign autographs.  I got to the stadium around 5:00 and went right to the table with Sid Bream, Francisco Cabrera, Jay Howell, Mark Lemke, Andy Ashby and Curtis Pride so they could sign a 1991 pennant that Stephen has.  He went to the table with Ryan Kiesko, Kevin Gyrboski, Dwight Smith, Mike Bielecki, Mark Wohlers and Brad Clontz.  All the guys were very friendly even thought they had to sign over 200 autographs in just two hours.  After I got my autographs I went to a few other tables to meet some of the other player to get as many signatures as possible.  Definitely the way to do it, having two people in two different lines.  It's impossible to get to all of the tables if you're only one person.

Saturday before the game was an Alumni softball game: the 1992 team vs. all of the other alumni.  It was fun to see that some of the guys could still hit the ball.  Others, not so much.

The Braves took the series against the Blue Jays that weekend, losing the Sunday game.

Training for the Peachtree Road Race - Again

It's almost time for the Peachtree Road Race again!  I've mentioned that Stephen and I are both running this year and we're really excited.  Earlier this week Start Waves were released and I moved up from my W wave last year!  I'll be starting in Wave K while Stephen could start in Wave D.  Your waves are determined by other race, or last year's Peachtree, finish times.  Last year I ran the race in 1:16 and I am determined to do better than that this year.

Click here to see the qualifying times for each of the waves.   I used last year's Peachtree as my qualifying time since a 5K is a lot different than a 10K, especially in the heat of July.  Stephen used a 5K qualifying time since he hasn't participated in a 10K yet.  In Wave W last year I had to dodge a lot of walkers towards the end of the race, from my wave and the waves before me.  It will be nice to be further up in the pack this time around.

The Peachtree Road Race T-shirt is a big deal.  60k people will get this shirt and they've become collector's items.  This year the 5 shirts that made it to voting were:

Source: Peachtree Road Race official website

I'm actually a fan of shirts 3, 4 and 5.  Less than a month to find out who won!  I hope it's #5.

This link is a map of the starting area where all the different waves line up before they start the run and it also lists the start time of each wave.  This is the most helpful map for me because it determines what time we need to be at the start area and what time we'll be running.  Beginning the race at 8:15am this year instead of 8:55am is going to be a huge difference.  It will probably take me an hour to run the full 6.2 miles, so ending the race at 9:15 will be a lot cooler than 10:15 when I ended last year.  It will also be nice to end the race while there are still runners behind me.  I have no idea why I have this fear, but I have a huge fear of being the last one to cross the finish line.  I know that this won't happen unless I'm injured, but every race I start I get a sick feeling that I'll be last.  Weird.

Last year I ran the race alone and Stephen was at the finish line with my Dad waiting for me.  It was so special to have both of them there to cheer me on as I made that last sprint to the end.  Dad won't be here this year (his trip to Atlanta in August is more important than a race in July) but this year will be great because Stephen will be running, too.  Yes, he's in Wave D and will start 30 minutes before I do and will run the race about 20 minutes faster than I will.  That will put him at the finish way before I get there.  But because he's awesome, he's going to run the race with me.  In the Peachtree you can't run in a wave that starts before you're assigned wave, but you can run in a wave that starts after yours does.  I can't run in Wave D, but he can wait to run in Wave K.  He's going to run the race for fun so that we can run it together while I'll be running to better my time.  Having him there to motivate me along the way will be a huge help.

Training for the race is perfect because I'm also running a lot to get in shape for the wedding and honeymoon.  I trained a lot last year but didn't know what to expect come race day.  Now that I know what was the most difficult for me on the course, the huge hill, I can focus on that more in my training.
We currently run 3 miles on our runs and I want to push that to 4 miles three or four times a week.  (They recommend that the 6 weeks before a 10K you need to be running 20 miles each week - we're definitely not doing that.)  Here is the route that I want to start running.

You can see at the bottom the elevation changes of that route.  There are some pretty serious hills.  The route above is 4.3 miles and we get to run past Grant Park and Turner Field.  On the weekends (the three that we have left before the race) I want to run 5 miles.  This is what that route looks like.

It's pretty close to the 4.3 mile route, but we pass the house to come back to it with a hill right at the end.  The neat thing about this program is it also calculates (estimates) calories burned based on your weight and you can plot out your run before you go so you know you're getting the right milage.  In my head the routes seem a lot longer than they are so it's nice to see them on paper.  Running 4.3 miles will burn about 470 calories and 5 miles will burn about 535.  I know that I burn about 330 for my 3 mile runs based on my weight and pace, so the estimates aren't that far off, in my opinion.

Only a few more weeks until the big race and we have a lot of work to do.  Well, I do at least.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cork Board USA Map Craft

One of my passions is traveling.  I'm not quite sure when it started, but I've always loved going to the airport and boarding a plane of packing up the car for a long road trip.  I love getting away from everyday life and experiencing something new.  Growing up I was fortunate enough to have grandparents in different states so every summer we were off to Maine or Wisconsin and once I got to middle school I was on a traveling club volleyball team.  My team with Orlando Volleyball Academy, OVA, was good.  I don't mind bragging about us because we were that good.  We never lost a tournament in Florida and we qualified for the Junior National Volleyball Tournament every year we played together as a team.  With the volleyball team I got to see places in the US that I wouldn't have without playing, at least not in high school.

My Grandfather worked for Delta for 40 years and it was always special to me to get on a Delta plane and think about him.  Dad would make us dress nice for our trips, the airport wasn't a place to look sloppy, this is where Grandpa worked.  I think a lot of that is lost now, actually I know it is.  I still like to look nice when I board a plane for a leisure trip or a business trip.  There is no telling who you are going to meet or when you might need to sweet talk the gate agent and I strongly believe that how you look has a lot to do with what they can do for you.

It's not surprising that this love of traveling carried over to adulthood.   Luckily, Stephen and I share the same passion and we have big dreams of seeing more of our beautiful country and the world.  He and I have been to so many cities I thought it would be fun to plot all of our trips on a map so we could see our experiences visually.

The project was a pretty easy one, the most time consuming was waiting for the different layers of paint to dry - my least favorite thing to do.

I started with a corkboard, map of the USA, some painters tape, acrylic paints in a bunch of colors, paint brushes and some pushpins.

I decided on my colors and started painting, working on the boarder first.  Helpful tip - put a pushpin under your object that you're painting so you can paint the edges without having to lift them up.

I put painters tape on the cork to keep it protected while I worked on the yellow.  It took two to three coats of yellow paint to cover the wood with the yellow.  I'm sure a darker color wouldn't have required as much paint.

Once the yellow was dried, I mixed my light grey color, removed the painters tape and coated the cork in paint.  Once dry (I left it overnight and all day the following day) I placed my map of the United States and pinned it into place so I could outline with my Sharpie Pen.

Next, once the outline was good and done it was time to paint the inside of the map.  I decided not to try to outline the individual states because the northeast could be pretty tricky and I wanted a nice, clean map.

Painting the map was time consuming around along the coasts.  The borders with Canada and Mexico were my favorite because they were pretty straight.

Now it was time for the fun part!  I painted a quote on the corkboard to personalize it and we started pinning our travels.  We chose red for Atlanta, where we live now.  Green pins are Stephen's for places he's been without me.  My solo trips are yellow and the white pins are places we've been together.  There are quite a few cities that we have both visited, but not together.  We have a lot of the East Coast covered and we're pretty lacking out West except for California.

I look forward to continuing to fill up our map with more and more white pins.  If we move from Atlanta, our new city will get another red pin.