Sunday, April 26, 2015

32

So Zach and I celebrated my 32nd birthday this past week. I left the bday planning up to him and he surprised me with a night of foodie fun in the city. This is particularly special for me right now because I am currently on a VERY strict diet to better care for my auto immune condition. I am basically being sustained on fish, nuts, and limited veggies and I'm not gonna lie... it's not easy day in, day out, especially when you are someone like me who loves CARBS - rice, potatoes, gluten free bread... give.it.to.me. Our anniversary and my birthday were really my only excuses to eat amazingly flavorful food with little to no regard for what it was so I definitely took advantage of it. Ha!

After work, Zach took me to Canoe, one of our favorite restaurants in the city. The food is great, but nothing compares to the beautiful setting along the Chattahoochee River.
Isn't it ridiculously gorgeous?!
It was the PERFECT day to sit riverside and enjoy a drink and pre-dinner snack. Our favorite appetizer is the salmon cakes. 

After an absolutely lovely and relaxing time at Canoe, we headed back downtown to try the best new restaurant in town - Gunshow. I have been wanting to come here for awhile and was thrilled to try it out for my birthday.

Gunshow is a really unique restaurant created by the ever talented chef Kevin Gillespie. 
The whole menu is a la carte and the chefs literally bring the food to your table themselves. They describe the dish and then you have the option to take it or leave it. Each dish comes by your table only once so you have to make quick decisions on your feet!
One thing I love about this place is the variety of dishes. Each chef's cuisine was unique to them and unlike any of the others.  I'll be honest and say you feel a little bad for turning away beautiful dishes, especially when you have  to do it to the face of the person who made it. Ha! Nevertheless we had some seriously great food including...

Argentinian style beef empanadas with chimichuri aioli
 Okonomiyaki (Japanese style white shrimp and bacon pancake with katsuobushi (best thing we had!)
 Revival fried chicken and cornbread (the skin was crispy, crunchy perfection)
 Seared diver scallops, artichoke barigoule, roasted asparagus, truffle.
Nom nom nom.

After a great time at Gunshow, we came home and continued celebrating with the classic birthday treat - cake! I had stopped by and picked up a slice of my favorite cake - strawberry layer, from Southern Sweets Bakery in Decatur. It did not disappoint. 
All in all it was a great birthday spent with my favorite human and I am so grateful to God for another year of life! Cheers to 33!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Take 5

So last weekend the Z-man and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. Can you believe it?! 5 crazy yet amazingly glorious years with my favorite human on earth. I am one lucky duck!


(Yes, we try to flick each other in the throat like every.day. Hahahaha! Never a dull moment with this guy!)

For the story on how we met, our wedding details, OR our thoughts on keeping a marriage strong check out the links!

Our dream for our 5th anniversary was always to go to London. Clearly, that didn't happen this year LOL. In fact, we didn't even leave home! We have a few upcoming trips in the next few months so we need to keep things a little low key this year. That however did not stop Zach from making the weekend special and surprising me with a great anniversary weekend.

Our actual anniversary was Saturday, but due to Zach's strict singing regimen (he doesn't eat certain foods a few days before singing or spend much time outside (allergies)), we couldn't really celebrate the way we wanted to - WITH FOOD. haha I has assumed we would just go out for a nice dinner Sunday night, but when I got home on Friday Zach informed me we had reservations at Bacchanalia. BACCHANALIA people. I never even mention going here because it's ridiculously expensive and consistently ranked one of the best (if not the best) restaurant in the city. It has always been on my bucket list to experience, but I had not even considered we would be going there! We got dressed up and drove back into the city for a really fun night. I know some people might not get behind fine dining or appreciate exemplary food, but here's why I like it - I really enjoy fine dining not only because it is a great experience and tastes amazing, but because it slows me down. It heightens all my senses and causes me to stop and really focus on what I am seeing/tasting/smelling and more importantly, who I am with.


Bacchanalia was a great experience. It's a 5-course dinner - 3 savory courses followed by a cheese course and dessert course. It also is served with 3 delightful entremets along the way (ours included a chilled asparagus soup prior to the first course, a rich smoothie served after the cheese course, and a tray of macaroons, truffles, and cake served with coffee). Zach and I both loved all of our selections which included chilled lobster, red snapper, the most amazing crab cake I've ever tasted, duck, prime NY strip, oh and fresh sourdough bread, GLUTEN FULL. :) So so so good. I really love the pace of a full course dinner and if I was rich enough to hire a chef, this is how I would eat all my meals! Hahaha Oh to live like kings and queens. :)
One thing I love about this place is how high quality the ingredients are, most of which come from their farm - Summerland Farm.

Zach and I had a wonderful time and I thoroughly enjoyed my extravagant surprise. :)

On Saturday, after a few small gift exchanges, we decided to drive up to Athens (a city I've only visited once, late at night, for a quick bite) to check out and spend the day somewhere off our beaten path.

Fresh blossoms
 Zach got me Downton tea since we weren't in London hahaha
 And my card to Z... isn't this hilariously accurate?! :) haha
Unbeknownst to us it was "G Day" (Georgia's spring football game day) so the town was a bit busier than we expected. Oops! It was still fun though and we had a great time together.
On Sunday after church, Zach and I rounded out the anni weekend by going back to where it all began - Decatur. We relived the first time we ever hung out (we went to lunch at Raging Burrito with a group of people from church and then walked over to Yogurt Tap). This was also what we did for our rehearsal dinner so our family and friends could relive it too. :)

After grabbing a nostalgic bite or two of yogurt from Yogurt Tap, Zach and I both set our sights on a more enticing way of topping off the day - he got a King of Pops popsicle and I got a decadent cone of delight from Jeni's (my fav flavor - Brambleberry Crisp!). AH! We are spoiled! :)

Even though we had great food and a great weekend of adventures, the best part about it all is having a great love. Zach and I are so grateful for each other and that is truly the best gift of all. Soooo.. a big giant high-five to Jesus for makin' the love we have possible! Haha :) Happy anniversary babe! Here's to hoping we get at least 50 more together!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Take a Break

Well, it's Good Friday and a business holiday for me. Even though we just returned from vacation last Saturday, I am loving some time off at home to take a break and catch up on a few things including ma' blog! The last week of March was Allie's spring break. Even though it was called "spring" break, it wasn't exactly as spring-like as we would have liked due to a cold front crossing the southeast. Nevertheless, that didn't stop of us from having a wonderful week together.

On Sunday I drove to Alabama to pick Allie up. This was actually the first time I have driven to get Allie by myself so naturally, I wanted to make it fun and special.
I threw together a little gift basket for the drive home including some Anthro magazines (I seriously don't even look at them myself anymore, I just leave them in her bedroom haha), some mail to go through including info on Liberty's worship school (since currently that is where she wants to go to college), her phone, some fresh flowers, and a little treat- a chocolate chip cookie dough cupcake from Gigi's and a boxed water.
Gigi's never disappoints. Allie gobbled up this goodie in 10 seconds flat I think. Haha! She loves her some sweets.
Zach also had a big surprise for Allie when she got home - a guitar! Zach had traded one of his guitars to get Allie this little mini Taylor that's just her size. She loved it!
We got back to Georgia just in time for her to attend student ministry at our church. As soon as Allie walked in the room another girl ran up and said, "Allie! Come sit with us!" and they hurried to find their seats. Thank you Jesus! Clearly Al left an impression on her last (and also very first) time at this gathering a month prior. We are so so so grateful Allie is already finding community here and look forward to the summer where she can hopefully deepen these new, budding friendships.

On Monday, I went to work and Allie joined Zach at the church for a few meetings and worship team prayer time. It was very special for Z to have her there and introduce her to a lot of folks. Later on, she and Zach's mom went to lunch in Decatur (Al's fav spot - Sun in my Belly) and then a little shopping around Little Five Points (another favorite area for Allie). She was as happy as a piglet in a puddle! Haha They had a great time and even shopped AGAIN on Tuesday. Ha! We are so thankful Allie is able to spend time with Zach's mom and that they have such a close relationship. Again, so many blessings during our treasured time with Allie. We always pray that God stretches our time with her and he ALWAYS does.

Monday evening kicked off vacay for me (I took off the remainder of the week to spend time with Allie) and we spent it over at Avalon with our friends Alex and Whitney. Avalon is a new live/work/play development over in Alpharetta that is really nice. This was our second time over here and it was so fun!

These two cuties waiting outside Antico Pizza.
Al is growing up before our eyes. AHH. So scary, but she is such an overwhelmingly lovely, beautiful person inside and out. We could not be more proud.
Antico Pizza is a little bit of legend around these parts. The original location in Midtown Atlanta was voted "best pizza ever" by Food Network in 2014. It is truly an Italian experience - mostly due to the fresh, quality, Italian ingredients used in making the pizza and their classic wood-fire oven.

The restaurant is simple - there are no plates, no cups and in true European fashion - no ice. They bring your pizza to the table on baking sheets and bottled drinks (like Pellegrino and other Italian delights) are purchased from the cooler. The dining area is equally as basic with plain wooden benches and stools circling family-style tables. And if that weren't Italian enough, the menu shows prices in both $ and €.
 (Uncle Ian's doppelgänger making pizza here)
So ridiculously good. One thing I really love about this place is all the fresh ingredients - if you want to add more basil to your pizza, you literally go get a stalk of leaves and tear them up yourself. (Look at all that bufala mozzarella chunks in the picture above!) Amazingly fresh garlic, parmesan, and other toppings are also available to sprinkle on at your discretion.

So. Good. After enjoying Antico, we headed next door to Caffe Gio- the dessert and coffee counterpart to Antico. Isn't this place adorable? 
What's even more quaint and cozy about it is that it faces the plaza draped in string bulb lights and a sky full of stars.


 I treated myself to a little gelato, Zach got coffee,
and Allie went all out and got a fresh cannoli! 
Such a fun night!
After a leisurely day around home on Tuesday, we packed up the car and headed south to spend the remainder of the week at our favorite beach town - Rosemary Beach, FL.

 I adore all the architectural details here, especially the balconies of the Pearl Hotel
 and all the honeysuckle and vines growing up white-washed facades. It's all just so beautiful to me.
Oh yeah and of course there's the beach!
This year we tried a different carriage house rental- a two bedroom, one bath cheery, modern hideaway. 


Besides being in a great location, it was the perfect amount of space for us this time. 
First stop after settling  in-  COFFEE. 
The size of his cup seriously cracks me up. I mean really? What a coffee snob.
One of the many lovely features about Rosemary is all the outdoor dining. We enjoyed dinner outside each night with our first stop being the new SK Cafe near the western green. This picture does not do the patio justice. It is so charming! Allie and I are 99.9% sure that ugly fluorescent lighting does not exist in this town. :)

 If you go here, get a burger. You won't be disappointed.
Thursday morning we picked up our bikes since we LOVE riding bikes together. 
 Testing it out...
(If I didn't have a bike, I think the next best way to cruise Rosemary would be in one of these vintage Scouts! My sister loved these old cars. Isn't it so awesome?)
Naturally, our first destination on the bikes was The Donut Hole. It's become tradition now for us to ride bikes to this local restaurant just beyond the boundaries of Rosemary, pick up sugary pastries, and bike back to our house to devour them. 
Done and done. 
Thursday's weather left much to be desired. It was dreary and rainy most of the day so after we had lunch in Seacrest, we stayed in and watched a movie until it cleared up late afternoon. 
Racing Daddy
Some of my favorite times to go to the beach are either at sunrise, at dusk/evening, or after a storm. 
The peaceful solitude is so refreshing to me. 

Beach girl
 A sea of possibilities for this girl!

Thursday night we got cleaned up and went to La Crema for dinner.
La Crema patio
La Crema is a tapas restaurant and chocolatier (more on the dessert side later..). We shared many Spanish-inspired small plates including a cheese platter, maple glazed eggplant, empanadas, amazing scallops, and crispy potatoes.
We had the perfect table tucked into the corner of the patio.
Afterwards, we headed back to what is probably our favorite dining destination - Caliza in Alys Beach. (For more on Caliza, see our experience from last summer here.)
This pool-side dining experience is one of a kind and we absolutely love our special time here.
Allie's caramel pudding cake (best dessert on the menu!)
On Friday we ventured back down to Alys Beach on bikes to explore the developing community.

I absolutely love ivy/ japanese creeping fig/ jasmine/ honeysuckle/ anything that will cover a facade like this.
Tunnel riding
In Rosemary, we love riding through all the paths that wind between the beach homes and gardens.


 Many of them lead straight to the ocean.
After lunch at the Summer Kitchen Cafe, we headed down to the beach to get some much needed sunshine!
 Even though it was a bit cool, nothing could stop this brave girl from getting some time in the waves! (She is crazy, but I love her for it! haha)

Birds of a feather...
After some fun in the sun, we headed to the pool which was much warmer.

We all took a dip and Zach even gave Allie some swimming lessons to improve her speed in the water.
I had dreamed of laying out and getting loads of sun on my winter-weary skin, buuut nature had something else in mind and I spent my pool chair time wrapped in towels. Oh well... things could be worse right? Ha!
After Zach and Al had some one-on-one daddy daughter time at the coffee shop and biking down to the Donut Hole (again :)), we all enjoyed lounging out in the grass and throwing the football in the late afternoon sun. 
actual rosemary



Our last night in Rosemary was spent at Cowgirl Kitchen, entertainment provided by Wally the golden doodle.


 This dog was so funny and soooo fluffy!
Afterwards we headed back to La Crema for chocolate fondue!
 The milk vs dark chocolate battle continues on...
 Soaking up every beautiful second with this girl!
Besides all of our typical Rosemary activities, much time was also spent on music during the week. 
 Zach gave Allie a few guitar lessons and these two also began songwriting together.
By far, our favorite memory of the trip was out first night in Rosemary when Allie sang the song she had written for her dad on the balcony of our rental. This was really the first time we had heard her sing and honestly... I know you will think we are biased, but as objectively as I can say it - she.was.amazing. We had NO IDEA she was able to sing like that and it really blew us away. Allie has always been interested in lots of things - drawing, writing, animals, etc. etc. and you never really know what will be your child's "thing" when they are small - ya know, the thing they really excel at and our meant to do. Clearly, after hearing Allie and seeing this passion for singing erupt within her, using her voice is "her thing." It warmed our hearts to see Allie so passionate about something. I mean, the nights they spent singing together and writing together - it was like crack to a junkie. Allie could not get enough (and I don't think Zach could either. :)) These two have such an amazing bond - unlike any father-daughter relationship I've ever seen, and it just makes it even more magical that they share this passion for music and worship.

On Saturday before heading home, we got in a final bike ride before heading to brunch.
Checking out the new amphitheater stage.

Brunch was spent on the roof top patio of the Pearl Hotel
 Clear blue skies and ocean view? Yes please!
The ocean was on our left and down below, the Pearl pool, patio, and cabanas were on our right. 
Cuban-style french toast. 
 And a final farewell to the beach...

 Until next time Rosemary! We love you!
Before driving back to Alabama Sunday afternoon, we spent Sunday at church, Chipotle (Al's favorite) and hanging out at home. I love watching these two goofballs together.
And if you are curious what the other side of Zach's mid-century mod inspired office looks like, here you go! (The elk mount will be hung on the wall one of these days!)
As usual, we had such a special week, but the most important moments are the unphotographed ones - the countless conversations shared between us. I cannot even begin to explain the joy in knowing Allie's heart and mind and getting to see her grow in so many new ways. The sky is the limit for this amazing young lady! More and more we realize that we are the luckiest parents ever and I cannot wait for our summer together. It's gonna be like none other!