Monday, April 28, 2014

The Quintessence of Life

Movie rec! If you haven't seen The Secret Life of Walter Mitty we highly recommended it. It is creative, beautifully shot, and probably the best movie we've seen in a while. (And bonus, only PG!)

In case you need more convincing… although I love sitting down to watch a movie I know nothing about, check out the trailer -


Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

31

So yesterday was my 31st birthday. And even though I am so blessed with loving family/friends who called or texted or video texted or Facebook'd me, and I enjoyed an awesome night out in Atlanta with Zach… can I be real for a second and say how weird it feels? Much weirder than 30. Birthdays have always been extremely joyous occasions for me, but birthdays are different now that Lindsay's gone. I haven't written much about her passing over the past few months simply because I don't have the words. I still find it shocking when something reminds me of her absence or pierces my heart with the truth of what happened. I just still can't wrap my mind around it.

Lindsay passed away less than a month after she turned 32. This age haunts me and the reality I will soon out live her. How is that possible?! It's strange how I now measure time by her tragic death. For months I have been thinking about crossing this threshold… making it to my 31st birthday without cancer, a feat she didn't complete. I know it might seem grotesque or something, but I can't help it. It's just strange. Strange to be in this place and more of life passing by that she's not a part of.  April 21st this year is a sober reminder of last year. Last year was the last birthday we celebrated together and the last time Lindsay got me a present. It was a piece of decor - a white, resin lion head I literally BEGGED her for because I had been coveting it on Etsy. Haha She begrudgingly obliged (preferring to surprise me with something than get what I picked out), but she half way got her way by sending me surprise cookies too. :)

I miss my sister so terribly, but trust God's plan. It's funny how often we celebrate birthdays, but we choose to ignore the inevitable opposite day, our death day. That day is actually more significant. Don't get me wrong, I don't think we should be consumed by thoughts of death, but we should let it keep us grounded, keep us focused on what really matters, keep us in tune with the reality that this world is fleeting, our time is limited, and that something else is beyond this world. For those like us who believe in Jesus, we can celebrate a new perspective on death because of not only what happened at the cross, but what happened in the tomb. Jesus defeated death. He rose again. He has power over all and because he paid our debt we now are not crushed by death, but alive and with him forever. I am so grateful for this truth and that Jesus came so we may have life - life to the full, life beyond our wildest dreams that is full of love, joy, and peace and stretches the length of eternity.

This birthday, I have found a new depth of understanding to the song Christ is Risen and renewed hope in it's lyrics…

(Christ is Risen excerpt)
Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave
Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with him again
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave
Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?
Oh Church! come stand in the light!
The glory of God has defeated the night!

Thank you Jesus for not just another year of life, but for giving me a new life - one that is not overrun with sin, selfishness, brokenness and death, but one that is being redeemed and restored and made into beauty one day at a time. That is the best birthday present of all!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

4th

So as previously mentioned, Zach and I celebrated 4 years of marriage last Friday. Wahoo!

We started off the festivities with a gym workout (boring) followed by some refreshing pops (I am obsessed with King of Pops.)

The real anniversary celebration began with a trip to Fernbank, the natural history museum in town.
Dinosaur stare down.



Every Friday night Fernbank serves up live music, food, drinks, etc alongside showings in their IMAX theater.
I have been anxious to see the National Geographic film on Jerusalem so we finally got to see it! It was beautifully shot and very educational. Here's the trailer so you can see for yourself.

After a walk through the whale exhibit and chowing down on some crab dip, we headed to our anniversary dinner destination - 4th & Swift.

4th & Swift is a fantastic upscale restaurant in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. Back in 2009 when Zach was planning to propose, he actually made reservations at this establishment for our engagement celebration since he knew I liked it.

After he proposed Zach told me of our plans to go celebrate at 4th & Swift, but he assured me we could change plans if I wanted to go anywhere else in the city. After weighing out all my options, I made the decision we would go to JCT Kitchen instead, a warm and cozy southern restaruant tucked away on the Westside.  Zach promptly called, cancelled our reservation at 4th & Swift, and THEN proceeded to tell me he had arranged for flowers, a card, etc to be waiting for me at our table at 4th & Swift! I felt horrible! I immediately wanted to stick to the original plan, but Zach wanted me to go where I wanted. So… we ate at JCT Kitchen and abandoned the flowers altogether. Lol. Isn't that sad?! Haha The waitstaff probably thinks I didn't accept his proposal because he didn't say why he was canceling. Haha! I wonder who got my engagement flowers...

Anyway because of all this and the emphasis on 4th… there was no better choice for our 4th anniversary celebration and it did not disappoint. It was totally amazing and Chef Jay Swift is truly gifted at creating unique parings and a beautiful dining experience.

Our anniversary menu included:

Maplebrook Farm Burrata with speckled ham and sourdough
(Zach's entree) Wood Grilled Heart of Ribeye, served with patatas bravas, king trumpet mushrooms, wilted greens, and spring onion chimichurri
(my entree) Pan Roasted Maplelead Farms Duck Breast served with Hakurei turnips, Romanesco, yellow foot mushrooms, fava beans, artichokes
(Zach's dessert) chocolate poundcake with sesame-nougat ice cream, orange caramel
(my dessert) Sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream and candied pecans
and a surprise complimentary anniversary treat - homemade chocolate crunch bar and ice cream!
So so so amazingly delicious. I was stuffed. And it was divine. If you have a special occasion to celebrate, I highly suggest 4th & Swift. I promise it will be worth it and will be a dining experience you remember for years to come!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Mawage and Tru Wuv

Today is our 4th anniversary. 4 years. Gosh.. a lot has happened in 4 years. We've moved from Georgia to Florida to North Carolina and back to Georgia again. We've lived at the ocean, in the city, and now the suburbs. We've watched my stepdaughter blossom into a teenager. We've lost my sister to brain cancer. We've had so many highs and definitely our fair share of lows, but God has been faithful and so kind -not only in our crazy (ever-changing) circumstances, but especially in our marriage.

As I spent this morning reflecting on the last few years I felt compelled to share a little more details about our marriage. Over the last 4 years I have gotten numerous emails and Facebook messages from people inspired by our story or encouraged by our love for each other. Before meeting Zach I promised God that if he gave me a great love story I would share it with others and give him the glory for it. I am so humbled to have that opportunity even though in the scheme of things 4 years is a really short time! We are no experts on love and have written no books on marriage, but I can share what rings true for us and has withstood some seriously challenging days. So... before I do our annual anniversary recap, I'd just like to take a few minutes to celebrate my guy and (in my humble opinion) share the secret to a strong marriage.

1. Spiritual unity 
I am sure nothing I will say in this post will be new, earth-shattering information, but being spiritually unified is the foundation of our marriage. Even when we don't understand what God is doing or feel confused by his ways, we always know who we believe in. The core of our belief structure is the same and it is rooted in the life-saving truth of Jesus Christ, his death on the cross, and his power over death through the resurrection. Our purpose in life is the same - to be true, followers of Christ that love God and love people above all.

2. Friendship
People say this all the time, but it's so true. Being best friends makes marriage so much fun! If you've gotta spend your life with someone, why wouldn't you want it to be your best friend? Being best friends doesn't mean you share all the same interests and passions, but it does mean you want to spend time together, confide in each other, and generally just enjoy each other's company.

3. Persistent communication
Communication is the key to any relationship, but especially marriage. Zach and I are blessed to be very similar in a lot of ways that makes communication easier. However, we still have moments when one or both of us is upset about something. In those moments, Zach keeps our communication open and issues from piling up by persistently pursuing me. He will know just by a look in my eyes or a slight change in my body language that something is wrong and he won't let up until I tell him why. Most the time it's really annoying because I'm not wanting to talk about it yet, but I need to. His constant barrage of "What's wrong? Something's wrong. ("I'm fine.") Nope. Tell me what's wrong," forces me to open up and keeps issues from piling up in my heart and going unaddressed for long periods of time. It is so freeing to have everything out in the open with no baggage.

4. Cuddling 
I know not everyone is a cuddler. I'm not really a cuddler, but Zach is a major cuddle bug. If cuddling was a sport, he would win a gold medal. He just.. loves to spoon on the couch. So so.. SO much. Ha!! I know I might be quasi revoking his man card for sharing this publicly, BUT - I think it goes a long way to just be close to each other on a frequent basis. I read an article once that said cuddling improves communication, relieves stress, and can actually lead to a longer life. I agree with all those findings. Haha

5. Faithfulness
So often relationships end because of infidelity. Someone (or some thing like porn) has come between a couple and broken their bond. Trust, security, and faithfulness seems to have vanished into thin air. For us, even though we swear we will never be unfaithful to each other, we take some really practical steps to ensure it. For Zach this means he is never ever alone with another woman. Not a co-worker, not a friend, not even a stranger in an elevator. He also does not watch any R rated movies (unless it's a historical film, like something about WW2) and does not watch sexual scenes in PG-13 movies or tv shows. Even if a sexual advertisement pops up on his computer, he immediately closes the window and confesses to me what he saw. He also often tells me when he needs to text a female co-worker about something just so I know it is going on. At first I thought all of this was a bit extreme, but I am so grateful he not only wants to stay above reproach, but is willing to go to such lengths to honor me. I have never once questioned his devotion to me because he's never given me reason to.

6. Sacrifice and service
As followers of Christ and husband and wife, we are called to serve each other selflessly. This is not exactly easy, however we do our best to look for ways to live this out. Sometimes it's in big ways, but often it is the smallest acts of kindness that go the farthest. For instance, I love having my hair brushed so Zach brushes my hair almost every night. It's so relaxing! Haha Embarrassingly, I can be pretty annoying about it, begging for a hair brush like a penniless junkie. Even in the midst of my annoying addiction, Zach (usually) complies even when this is the last thing he wants to do after a long day at work. I know without a doubt he is serving me and putting my wishes above his own.

Even though none of this is a secret per say, it's what keeps us happy, healthy, and having a marriage that gets better and better with each passing day.

I love you Zachary Kale and am so blessed to be your wife! These four years have been the most challenging of my life, but they have also been the best because I've spent them with you. Happy anniversary my love.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A World Within

So lately I have had the travel itch. Like bad. I desperately want to explore the big, beautiful world with the Z man, but sadly we don't have the time or resources to do this as often (and to the extent) as we would like. Sound familiar? I feel like many people are in the same boat- dreaming of future days spent galavanting abroad. Recently though, I snapped out of one of my traveling daydreams and realized that I can quasi satisfy my travel urge without stepping foot outside my city.

How you ask?! Easy. The Atlanta restaurant scene. Let me explain… Atlanta is literally drenched in AMAZING restaurants. There simply aren't enough days or meal times (or cash flow) to experience all the modern, eclectic, farm-to-table, American eateries tucked away in every neighborhood. However, nestled in all that gourmet goodness are fabulous little gems that just… make you feel a world away the second you step inside, almost as if you entered a time machine or one of those fancy shmancy teleportation thingies from Star Trek. Here are a few of my favorites so you can see what I mean...

Visit Ireland (Ri' Ra Irish Pub)


Beyond your classic fish n' chips and shepherd's pie, my favorite thing about this place is the decor which actually came from Ireland. Not sure if this is still the case, but when it's doors opened a few years ago all the wait staff was also brought over from Ireland to give this place a truly authentic feel.

Visit Vienna (Cafe Intermezzo)

Oh Cafe Intermezzo… such a fan favorite. This place is truly magical. Although it is mostly known as a dessert place, Intermezzo actually has an incredible and expansive menu of flavorful food, coffees, teas, etc. and bonus - it's open until 3 am. I guess that's how they roll in Austria…

Visit Morocco (Imperial Fez)
Eating shoeless on floor cushions, under candlelight, while watching belly dancers = just a few reasons Imperial Fez is a very memorable experience. Seriously… you gotta go to this place at least once.

Visit New Orleans (Parish)
Even though it's stateside, I couldn't leave Parish out of this post. It is such a unique place and considering the French/Spanish influences on New Orleans, I figured this qualified. If Parish is too pricey for you, check out the Parish Market downstairs. It's an awesome place to grab lunch, get a little work done, or just enjoy the rustic and raw ambiance.

Visit Greece (Kyma)

One of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group's little delights, Kyma feels like a seaside resort (even though it couldn't be farther from the truth). Bright white columns, crisp linens, and cobalt blue glass accents set the tone for their fresh Mediterranean menu.

Visit Middle Earth (Brick Store Pub)
For all you Lord of the Rings fans, to us, Brick Store feels like it belongs in Hobbiton and not Atlanta. This daylit photo doesn't do this cozy joint justice and the rugged atmosphere it boasts most evenings. If you visit here, try to hideaway at a table upstairs for a truly Hobbit house like experience.

Visit the 1920s (Prohibition)
And while I'm on the subject of fictitious places and time machines, why not go back to the 1920s (my favorite time period)?? This is the only place on my list I haven't been to yet, but I am totally digging this underground speakeasy and it's secret password/hidden entrance through an antique phone booth. Yes folks, this is for real. I'll leave the inside of the restaurant to your imagination since it is elusive after all. :)

So see what I mean? A whole world (and a few others) right here within the city limits of Atlanta. So who is gonna join me on my international/time traveling escapades around our fair city? Reservations can be made in the comment section below. :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Designer for Hirer

So I've gotten some questions about my recent "taking new interior design clients" post on Facebook. I figured I should clarify the details for inquiring minds and potential new clients. :)


#1. Who are you to sell interior design services? 

Good question. Even though I now work in professional ministry, my education (Go Noles!), background and training (Gensler) is in commercial interior design. From 2005- 2010 I worked in the design/architecture industry as a licensed designer/consultant before my whole life was turned upside down when I married Zach. :) Ever since, I have dabbled in residential design - in my own home and a few others when I've had time. It's a fun pastime and I enjoy helping people make their homes into spaces they can truly enjoy.


#2. What services do you offer? 

At this point, basic design services and mostly decorating. Since this is a side job, I don't want to get back into architecture and dealing with all the details, drawings, permits, etc that come with construction changes. It's just a hassle. :)

For now, I offer 3 tiers of service:

1. Design X
This is for people who need help deciding on the direction they should go with a space- general color palette, furniture arrangement, etc. but are up for the challenge of finding the right products and pulling it all together themselves. I help you figure out your target, but it's up to you to pull it off!

2. Design MC^2
This is for people who need help deciding on the direction they should go AND need solid guidance on what products to put where. They need the right formula - product recommendations to achieve the desired look and feel and visual aids so they know exactly what to look for when shopping.

3. Design DIT
This is for people who need all the help they can get! Ha! For people who need us to do it together - I not only develop the design, but spec out exact product, tell them exactly what to purchase, and take them all the way to the finish line/finished product of the space.


#3. What if I don't live in Atlanta? 

No worries. I can still offer services as long as you supply decent photos and dimensions of your space. Ideally I'd love to walk through it myself, but that is not required.

Some previous work: 

Sample: living room rendering
Sample: design details
Before: bedroom #1
After: bedroom #1
Bedroom #2
Bedroom #3
Bedroom #4 (book paper wall)
Bedroom #5
Seating area
Living room A
Living room B
If interested in any design services, please email me at shellyikale@gmail.com for additional details and pricing.

Thanks!!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sprinter - Part 2

Allie's spring break was not only full of fun times with friends at Lake J, but many adventures back home in Georgia. Allie was so helpful in preparing some goodie bags for an upcoming event I was hosting for all our volunteers. We stuffed and stickered and stapled hundreds of these little bags!
On Wednesday we had a girls day in downtown Atlanta - shopping, exploring, and having afternoon tea like proper English ladies. :) I also took her to Ikea for the first time and she loved it! (Who doesn't?)

Reading nook at Ikea.
Learning Swedish.
Fancy light
Allie said these sketches drive her crazy cause they are unfinished. She wants to finish them so bad! (Haha They are Picasso prints.)
In the cowhide
A trip to Ikea would not be complete without one of these. Shopping with cinnamon rolls = a win.


Our afternoon treat - a trip to Dr. Bombay's Underwater Tea Party!

Dr. Bombay's is an eclectic, eccentric cafe that feels a world away. In addition to providing a place to grab a tasty pastry or hide away to get some work done, Dr. Bombay's help support a project in India called The Learning Tea. The Learning Tea gives life scholarships (housing, education, etc) to impoverished women in India.
Dr. Bombay's decor is one of a kind- defined by antique furniture, wall-to-wall bookshelves, and many unique decorative details. 

My favorite art gallery in the shop. 
High tea menu
Giant scones
Mis-matched vintage china
and silverware.
We loved this sugar dish and sugar cubes!
Allie picked out apricot honey tea and it was divine!
(No I do not have a devil horn. Mug handle problem. Ha!)
High tea spread! 
We are so happy with what is happening right now. Haha

Clotted cream. So good. 
and fresh strawberry preserves on a lemon rosemary scone. I die.
Pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches (plus quiche, not pictured). 
Sweet treats.
Last course- mango sorbet.
We LOVED this place! And talked in British accents the ENTIRE TIME. And laughed profusely at our own silliness. It was seriously amazing and we just had the most… delightful time. I cannot say enough good things about our time here. It's definitely our new special spot!
After our tea adventure we headed to Kudzu, one of my favorite antique stores in Decatur, GA, to browse through all the treasures. 
100 yr old stoneware.


Portrait of a lady.
I love old cameras.
Cool letter books. Good luck reading them.
I've never seen a rotary like this one.
This display is amazing.
I love old books.
And this collection of silhouettes.
So much to explore.

Indiana Jones office?
Making words with Scrabble tiles. We had limited options. :)
I spy Allie.

There is a special place in my heart for raw cotton. Love this stuff. 
This book. Oh my.

Allie decided to buy this one and add it to her collection of coffee table books. So cute!
And after Kudzu I simply HAD to take her to the Dekalb International Farmer's Market. I loved shopping here when I lived in Decatur.
So pretty.

One of my all time favorite smells - fresh lime.
Least favorite smell - cleaning fish. HA!
Fruit tarts in the bakery.
And the most fun shopping cart. Well, I guess it's really like a basket on wheels, but so fun!
Also during spring break Allie and I explored the McDaniel Farm Park, a 128 acre park (previously a cotton farm) that has been restored to reflect a 1930's farm in this area. This place is like 8 minutes from our house and is so quaint and quiet even though it is surrounded by busy commuters and office parks. 
Growing up before our eyes. 







Breathing deep in the late afternoon sun.
Wildflowers. 

Love this girl!
In addition to beautiful park adventures, we had to go back and play pirate laser tag. Our family seriously loves this place. If only they had annual passes! Ha!
Getting into the pirate spirit.
Rainy spring break days = watching movies and nail painting for me and Al. 

Oh yeah!
And now for a few spring break details… One of my most treasured possessions is this shared journal between Allie and I. We try to write in it every time she is home with us and I love watching her grow through her entries. If you have a daughter (old enough to write and reflect on her life) I highly recommend this sweet book as a way to share your heart. 
And this week we added a few more touches to Allie's bedroom retreat-
including this handmade name banner. 
After Allie was back in Alabama I was tidying up her room and found this on her nightstand-
Do you see it? A half eaten, dry pancake. No plate, no napkin, just lying on the table. Haha! She cracks me up. Gotta have a pancake ready to go in a moments notice. I love this girl and every second we spend together. Our time is always precious, but this week just held some really special conversations and moments. I love spring break and just can't wait for summer! It's our first summer in Georgia and it's gonna be awesome!