Friday, April 1, 2016

Marchin' On

March has come and gone with a fury. What a busy month for us! I seriously cannot even believe we are in April already. Although our plates have been rather full I am excited for what is ahead in April. It's my birthday and our anniversary month so lots to celebrate for sure.

So what's been keeping us on our toes this past March? I hit the ground running (or rather flying) with a business trip to Toronto for my company's worldwide sales mtg.

Toronto train station
The weather was still very wintery and snowed pretty much the entire time we were there. I have to say, the prettiest site I saw was from the train riding into downtown. There is a horse track on the other side of these trees and while we were passing, jockeys were riding by through the snow-covered wonderland. It was seriously picturesque!

Our hotel and conference center was right downtown adjacent to the space needle and had gorgeous views of the city and Lake Ontario.

The days were filled with meetings and the nights with fun social events.
What was NOT fun was walking through the snow in heels to the awards gala Ha! Yes, I barely lived to tell the tale, but my coworkers look cute making the trek to the venue in their warm coats. :)
(The following pics of the event are from the event photographer, not me!)

The second night we had an awesome party in Teknion's new Collaboration Hub in downtown. The space is lovely, and the food/drink was superb!

Me with some of my Southeast Team!
And even though all my time was busy with Teknion stuff and not site-seeing, I did have a chance to try some authentic poutine, a popular dish in Quebec. I only had one bite, but it definitely gives American fast food a run for it's money!
After arriving back to the States, I sped off to the burbs to catch Allie's first chorus concert at Pisgah and luckily, I made it in time to see her last song! :) 
(A huge gargantuan THANK YOU goes out to my MIL for making all the necessary alternations on Allie's dress. I mean really... what would we do without you?!)

After barely catching my breath from the business trip, I loaded up the car and headed for a quick overnight trip to Charlotte. The trip was motivated by a check-up with my holistic doctor, but I squeezed in as many friend visits as I could in 24 hours. One of those included spending some play time with ma girl AG.
I met this little lady when she was 4 months old and she has had a special place in my heart ever since! I love her and her precious family so much. They are "my people" and I am so grateful God brought our paths together back in 2010.

The second week of March was Allie's spring break and she spent it back in Alabama with her mother. I will admit, it was kinda nice to be off the hook for spring break and not have to plan anything! Ha! You'd think I would have tried to take it easy and just enjoy the week, but nope... instead I got over zealous and scheduled about 9 coffee/lunches/dinners with people, most of which occurred in a 4 day period while Allie was away. Although it was A BIT intense, I am so grateful for the time I had with all of them. It was much needed, revived my heart, and encouraged me in countless ways.

Naturally, these social encounters took me to some great establishments. One of my favs that I am mildly obsessed with is BarTaco.
I love the ambiance, but the best part is that almost the entire menu is gluten free!

We also got to return to PCM/The Mercury for a full dinner with some new friends.
I was so excited to finally sit here - in that big beautiful banquette right in front of the bookshelf/kitchen window.
In addition to time with friends, I got not one, but TWO dates with Zach during Al's spring break. Wahoo! The first was a early evening coffee date at the original Chattahoochee Coffee Co. The shop is situated right on the bank of the Chattahoochee and it is SO relaxing and tranquil. 

We sat in adirondack chairs sipping on hot drinks, enjoying the breeze, the roaring river, and most of all, each other's company. I also finished up reading Emily's new book. Since Zach and I caught the tail end of this story in real life, I was curious about what all came before. It's not easy to put your heart and history out there for everyone to see, but I am so glad Emily decided to share her story so that others will also come to "say yes" to the God who is constantly pursuing their heart.
Our second date was a dinner date in Buckhead thanks to a lingering gift card burning a hole in our pocket. Zach and I met up at the restaurant since I was coming directly from work and I couldn't help but snap this pic of him walking towards me. Me = lucky. :)

We had a nice time, but honestly, I could be happy sitting in a garbage dump with that guy! :)
The following weekend Zach was off leading worship for the Perimeter Church Mens Retreat at Calloway Gardens so I was home alone. Again, I probably should have just... taken it easy, pampered myself, but what did I do with time to myself? Besides pounding some Chipotle? I furiously cleaned the house. And I'm not just talking about making things tidy. I'm talking the OCD type of cleaning that includes the vacuum, the refrigerator, all bathroom cabinets and drawers, medicines, etc. I wanted the house immaculate for Allie and Z's return home after their travels.

However, I did find some time to pamper myself the following week, squeezed in-between early morning work appointments and evening design work. I took to the Westside and found myself blissfully happy walking in the sunshine with a to-go order of my favorite salad (JCT Kitchen's fried chicken salad... yes, there's fried chicken hiding under all that lettuce!)

and a cup of Jeni's ice cream in hand!

(My scoops were 1: black and white cookies & 1: brambleberry crisp.)

The following Friday Zach played his first show in about 2 1/2 years. I know, it's been WAY too long! Luckily, we didn't have to go far since the show was at the Red Clay Music Foundry in Duluth. He was asked to open for another band (most of which volunteer on the worship team at our church) and I was thrilled to finally hear some of his original country hits from the stage.

Al as the merch girl. Looks like I've been replaced! :)
So so proud of my guy - his talent, his heart, his music, and his easygoing way with an audience.
The following week at work was full of events, leading up to our big showroom party Wednesday night. Although it was incredibly busy, everything was a great success and I am so thankful to everyone who was a part of making it happen! Since I love product packaging, I had to share our party favor for the "Shake it Up" showroom event, showcasing our newest product - Upstage. These colorful branded boxes were a collaboration between corporate marketing and our local team here.

Since 18.21 Bitters was providing our cocktails, the favor included a cocktail kit featuring a few 18.21 products and recipe cards. Cute and classy right?
After wrapping up all the excitement at work, I switched gears and got ready to receive guests for Easter weekend. Easter celebrations began with an intimate Maundy Thursday communion service that Zach led and Allie and I attended together.
On Friday my family arrived (mom, dad, and grandma) in time to attend Good Friday service in the beautiful Day Chapel. This venue at Perimeter is rather enchanting and always special to worship in.

Afterwards, we did lunch and a little "tour of the town" so the family could see Allie's new school and grandma could experience some of our life here.
And speaking of school... on Saturday we ventured into the city and made a little detour to this historic school in Buckhead. This little neighborhood gem was built in 1923 and was designed by renowned architect Philip Shutze. Interestingly, my grandma attended the 7th grade here back in 1941 when her family briefly moved to Atlanta. Last Thanksgiving, she was telling me about her childhood and she mentioned the name of the school she went to while living here. I was thrilled and rather surprised to find it still standing!
After our little walk down memory lane, we headed over to Westside for burgers. Yeah Burger is my second favorite burger in town (after H&F), but I really love the kale mint salad! It's very unique and definitely worth a try, as well as the truffle parmesan fries. :)
Westside is full of some really amazing shops and restaurants. We popped into this amazing flower shop and I was overwhelmed by all the natural beauty.

This is the face you give your stepmom when you find her creeping on you from behind some flowers. HAHA :)
After admiring all the lovely plants, we headed to Jeni's so the family could try out some inventive flavors.
I tried two new ones - brown butter almond brittle and honey pistachio.

Easter morning was a bit of a whirlwind as I got up early to whip up a breakfast casserole for everyone. I didn't get pics of the dish, BUT I did snap a photo of the charming Easter basket my MIL brought for Allie. Is this not the cutest Easter basket you've ever seen?!
Not only is the basket/box itself so adorable, but it was filled with lovely treasures such as a journal, picture frame, necklace Allie had been wanting, and a chocolatey treat. Clearly, Allie is spoiled rotten by her loving Nana. :)

Easter Sunday at Perimeter was awesome - so full of joy and gratitude for who Jesus is and what He has done. It was great sharing this time with my family.
Me and the 'rents.
Best pic we could get of all these kids. :)
While Zach was leading for the last service, the rest of us enjoyed lunch together at Ted's since I was planning a more traditional family dinner at home that night.

Ya know, given how busy I was leading up to Easter I told myself I would take it easy and not over-do the hosting. Just keep things simple and easy. HA! Who am I kidding?! I ALWAYS over do it and this holiday was no exception.

I guess since I had about 2 weeks of March off from preparing weekly dinners, I put all that pent up cooking energy into Easter weekend. A few of the highlights include:

Martha Stewart's cinnamon strudel coffee cake. It's a lot of work, but worth it for this beautiful bread that doubles as breakfast/dessert.
Since the family was in town, I found it necessary to make Grandma's chocolate chip cookies from scratch.
Easter dinner desserts included this springy sweet - lemon blueberry cupcakes with vanilla buttercream icing, sprinkled with lemon zest and Pink Himalayan sea salt.

My family are HUGE chocoholics so I had to whip up these rich, cookies and cream oreo fudge brownies.
And lastly - in addition to all the sweet treats, this year was my first attempt at deviled eggs (thanks mom for helping with the hard-boiling part!) They turned out well, but next time I think I will try a more... inventive recipe. :)
The tablescape remained rather simple -
Just my usual candle/glass decor with some fresh flowers and greenery.
All in all it was a very nice weekend with the family and hey - our very first Easter with Allie! How bout that? :)
We are so deeply grateful for all the big things God has done (like sending his son Jesus to pay the penalty of sin by dying on the cross) and also all the small, yet very personal things (like making a way for Allie to be here). Through all circumstances he continues to bless us and show us his infinite love and grace.

In celebration of Easter, I wanted to close with this awesome new song, written by some folks over at NorthPoint. We have sung it a few times at Perimeter - including Easter (of course!) and I love it. It perfectly portrays what immeasurable joy and freedom we have, all because of Jesus! Hope you enjoy. :)
Happy Easter!

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