Monday, May 2, 2016

Bloom and Grow

The sweet, song Edelweiss from Sound of Music is on my mind today as I think back on the last month. April has been a beautiful month with lots of growth - literally and figuratively. We've had beautiful weather, exciting celebrations, and just lots of rich moments for our family. Amidst a very busy schedule, I did manage to get my April goals accomplished. Wahoo! I don't usually make monthly goals, but this month I did and ya know, it really helped me stay on track, get things done, and bonus - feel accomplished when I finally got to check everything off my list!

One of the bigger goals was reorganizing all my files at home and this was no small task. Confession: I am somewhat of a hoarder when it comes to paperwork. I had held on to like, um, everything for the past 10 years that just needed to be sorted and shredded. Like really, every monthly utility bill from 2009? Maintenance receipts for cars I no longer owned? Um, time to purge! Another reason for this big spring cleaning was because it recently occurred to me: If I were to drop dead or get hit by a bus tomorrow, Zach and Allie would not have a clue where certain important things are, especially information that is only neatly tucked away in my ol' noggin. Things like online passwords, when certain bills are due, etc. I really felt an urgency to get things in super tip-top order (and in true type-A fashion, make Zach a spreadsheet of every single piece of info) - not because I am expecting to kick the bucket, but just to make sure they are taken care of in case of emergency. And if that weren't enough motivation, I went and got these new, adorable gold/blush file folders to make super boring stuff like life insurance and health records, happy and snazzy. Ta-da!
My second goal for the month was to read Annie Downs new book Looking for Lovely.
And guess what? It was very lovely. Ha! ;) Seriously though, such an easy read and it's very relatable. So many little nuggets of truth and deep reflection. It also has kept my eyes open for "lovely" this month and it's no surprise that it has been just around every corner. I have since passed this little gem off to Allie who really enjoyed one of Annie's other books, "Let's All Be Brave."

And speaking of books, I FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY finished Allie's 2015 book. Praise the sweet Lord Jesus for giving me the willpower to bring this project to completion! It has been a long time coming (4 months to be exact), but I am so relieved it is done! This was by far my biggest goal accomplished I can't wait to get it back from the printer and share it with you guys.

And now, speaking of Allie, she has had quite a busy month herself! In addition to school and youth group, she's had a lot of other exciting things going on this month. For starters, now that the weather is warm and the trees are blooming, Allie has taken to the woods just beyond our fence to create her little woodland wonderland.
She loves coming down here to explore (especially the creek) and she has been working hard to clear out all the natural debris along the bank.
We have been rather shocked to see her signficant progress, especially since we don't have a lot of outdoor tools/equipment to help with the process. She has also been working on a path from the creek to the steps in our yard, using rocks from the creek bed to line each side.
Even Zach, who is usually Mr. Anti-outdoors because of his allergies, got Allie's eno hammock all set up for her and look- I even caught him enjoying it himself! Haha
Also, have I mentioned that Allie is slated to be the next President of the Garden Club at Pisgah? Most of the current members are graduating seniors so Allie is stepping up to the plate to lead this group. I love seeing her put this interest/hobby to good use and to benefit others! I continue to be so proud of her and all the many ways she has grown and matured this year.

In addition to staying busy in the great outdoors, Allie has had numerous special events with school this month. Can I just say, I LOVE that she is getting to have so many new experiences? It is so awesome to watch - even small, seemingly insignificant things like riding on a bus to her choral performance at Six Flags for the Southern Star Music Festival.

(A number of the photos below are taken by Allie so enjoy some of her photography interwoven with mine.)

Allie and I also had the privilege of going to a luncheon at St. Ives Country Club with a few of her 9th grade classmates and their moms.
This was really my first opportunity to meet some other parents and I am SO glad we went!  

A selfie, before the wind got the best of my hairdo. Ha!
Allie and I both had such a nice time with these lovely ladies. We are thrilled to be a part of the Mount Pisgah family.
Pisgah girls, Class of 2019!
We continue to be so grateful and blessed by Allie's school and the opportunities she has here.
One example would be the volunteer serve day she participated in this month. Every year the middle school and upper school students spend one week day serving in the community at various organizations. Allie's group went to a clothing/food bank and spent the day sorting and organizing donated items.

 This month she also attended Flourish- a special event hosted by Pisgah for all the upper school girls.
The event was held at the Roswell Historic Cottage and Allie absolutely loved the setting, not to mention the sweet treats!

The actual program for the night included worship and a guest speaker who encouraged and inspired the girls in their faith. It was a very special night for Al and we are just over the moon she is able to experience things like this at her school. Thanks MPCS!
At the end of the month, Allie had her final chorus concert. This time, I wasn't racing home from a business trip so I was able to be there for the whole thing!

She did it! Chorus complete!
I honestly can't believe how soon this year will be over and she will be a SOPHOMORE. Holy moly! As I was sitting there - watching all the seniors be recognized it hit me like a ton of bricks: This will be her. In just the blink of an eye Allie will be the one graduating, the one moving on, the one embarking on a big, brand new season of life. Raising a teenager is just so bittersweet. I want her to grow up, become independent, and have an amazing life all her own, but at the same time I am grieved with the thought of this happening and her college-bound absence leaving a big gaping hole in our life. Ugh... PARENTING. :)

Anyway....In addition to school-related events, Allie had an unexpected visitor this month. Her mother came over from Alabama for a day visit so Al got to put her hostessing skillz to the test! I helped her pull together a simple tablescape/light breakfast for them to enjoy before venturing off for the day. I think Allie was happy with the finished product and I was super proud of her managing all the details flawlessly.
Al also celebrated her fellow nature-loving friend's 16th birthday this month. Allie and I assembled a planting gift box containing a handmade terrarium kit and some seed bombs.
Allie really enjoyed attending Emma's birthday party, especially since all the girls got to make container gardens!

Allie, the birthday girl, and their beautiful container gardens!

And as if all that weren't enough, we have had a number of other special events going on this month including Zach doing the music at two weddings. One ceremony Allie and I did not attend (because we did not know the bride and groom), but we did have the pleasure of attending Rich and Emily's blessed event and I am SO glad we got to witness their wedding!

Since Zach was doing the music we had to be there pretty early. Allie passed the time by trying out every seat in the entire auditorium, looking for the best one. HA! She cracks me up...
This wedding was a little unusual in that Zach got to play with his close friend/old roommate Nathan Angelo and, as luck would have it, Chris Tomlin, who was also a friend of the groom.
I don't know if I have ever seen a happier bride, groom, and wedding party at a ceremony before. It was seriously such an exciting day and we are SO happy for these two amazing people.
Congrats Richardsons! We can't wait to see what the future holds for you. After popping by their brunch reception, we headed into town for a quick bite at Delia's Chicken Sausage Stand. They serve chicken sausage in every way - links, shredded, patties, and even between two Krispy Kreme donuts! Although we did not indulge in the KK donut menu item, we had some great stuff and their potato wedges are on point! Atop the restaurant is a shipping container (called the chicken coop) that houses additional outdoor seating.  
We took to the roof/coop to enjoy our late lunch and had a fun time dancing to the music and laughing the afternoon away.

The next day, Zach and I headed over to Ponce City Market for another rooftop event hosted by our friends, the Kyle Korver Foundation and Plywood People. See the big sign up there? 
Zach is standing on the back side of it! The roof top of PCM has been transformed into carnival-themed mini funland with various games, a 3-story slide, mini golf, and more. This was the very first event on the PCM roof and it was a blast!

This special event/put-put tournament was to benefit various non-profits in Atlanta and give them a platform to share their causes.

KK doin' his hosting thang.

Two of my favorite organizations were: Carver Neighborhood Market and Bearings Bike Shop. Check them out!
Also this month, Zach and I celebrate 6 years of marriage! Wahoo! We took our party of 2 to Serenbe and you can check out all the details from our trip on my previous post.

After our getaway, we headed back into Atlanta so Zach could introduce me to Krog St. Market, one of his favorite places in town.
I love The Merchant, a curator of gifts, stationery, and vintage goods. It's one of my favorite shops in Atlanta and I was thrilled to visit this location for the first time.
Afterwards we headed into the market for lunch.
Lots of vendors fill this open market. We ate at Fred's Meat & Bread...
which has a killer burger and also Philly cheesesteak.
Oh and not to mention really unique, herby fries.
After chowing down we swung over to King Plow (our wedding venue) to reminisce about our special day 6 years ago.

Throw back wedding pic! Best moment of my life. :)
And of course, Zach can't step foot in the city limits of Atlanta without getting a coffee at his favorite spot, Chattahoochee Coffee Co. I never get a drink, but I love the space. 
I too had a special visitor in town this month - one of my best friends/old roommates was visiting from Denver for work and I was so happy to get to spend a few hours with her one evening at one of our favorite neighborhood spots- Treehouse.
Treehouse is nestled in the Peachtree Hills neighborhood of Buckhead (where we use to live) and in addition to great food, it has a fabulous patio. You are hard pressed to find a better casual appetizer than their tequila lime hummus. It is THE BEST. Period. No contest.
We also got to make some new friends this month as Zach played an intimate night of worship for a few families from our church. There is something sweet and refreshing about gathering together in a home and singing praise and worship.
The celebrations continued into my birthday week. I'm 33 y'all. How did THAT happen?!
This year I wanted to do something different for my birthday. Yes - I still wanted to celebrate it with my friends/family and eat lots of yummy things, but I also wanted to spend it doing something creative while encouraging people I love. I decided to embark on a notecard project - creating a custom little paper package for a handful of friends. Why? Because I believe you shouldn't just get pretty paper in the mail when someone is getting married. Snail mail is a lost art and something I love sending, but don't do enough of. I love working with paper, making beautiful things, and celebrating treasured people in my life so this seemed like the perfect project for birthday week!

Each day leading up to my birthday I worked on the notecard project little by little - cutting paper into envelop liners, designing/printing an encouraging art print, writing the letters, etc. It was really deeply fulfilling to spend the week on something special for my friends.
So the finished product? Each little 3-sheet bundle was wrapped in a customized belly band and included decorative watercolor paper (just cause it was pretty), a graphic print I designed and had professionally printed, and a handwritten note on blush pink cardstock. I will admit, tears did run down my face as I wrote each letter, so overwhelmed with gratitude for the people God has brought into my life.
This print was an idea I had eons ago when I was working on some custom care packages and I loved actually making it a reality and designing it for my friends.
As previously mentioned I did celebrate my 33rd bday with family/friends and food... honestly, probably a little too much food that I am now trying to recover from! Ha! But it was super fun and I got to go to some of my favorite places.

I took my friend Tina to The Optimist, one of my favorite restaurants on the Westside.

Super cute outdoor area with putting green.
The interior of this restaurant is perfection. I just love all the natural daylight flooding the dining room and every detail that makes this place the perfect blend of casual and sophistication.
Corn milk hushpuppies, beignet style.
And now for the main event - the lobster roll!!
I mean it is SO GOOD.
I also love the basmati "fried" rice, which boasts bold, Indian flavors and is a menu highlight.
And of course...DESSERT. Their homemade ice cream sandwiches are the bomb. The flavor changes regularly, but we got double chocolate cookies with oreo ice cream and were spoiled rotten.
Thanks Tina for hangin' with me on my bday and for being my friend! :)
My birthday dinner was at another Westside establishment called BarTaco, which is just a few steps from The Optimist. I have become obsessed with this place since about 95% of the menu is gluten free. 
I also adore the back patio and dreamed of us eating out here under the string lights, but sadly, due to weather, the patio was closed that night. :(
Nonetheless, we enjoyed ourselves immensely in the dining room and filled our bellies with the best Mexican. Here are two of my three dinner dates!

Everything is so fresh and absolutely delicious.
And for a sweet treat back home, we indulged in some assorted Cami Cakes cupcakes. It was definitely a happy birthday to me!
To my utter surprise, the birthday festivities continued into the following week as mom and her friend/my old Sunday School teacher stopped to have lunch with me on their way to Kentucky.
 I took them to another one of my favorite places, JCT Kitchen.
 We all ordered my favorite dish- the fried chicken salad which is just, the perfect lunch.
 JCT also surprised me with sweet (literally, they were made of chocolate) birthday well wishes and candles on all 3 of our desserts! I had the strawberry creme pie and it was divine.
 Thanks mom for the birthday lunch and oh - for my birth! :)
This month I also got to check out a tiny house in real life! If you live under a rock and don't know, tiny houses are becoming very popular - not so much to live in full time, but to vacation in.
GA Tiny Rentals had their 269 st ft. towing tiny house on display at Ponce City Market one weekend and I just had to take the opportunity to check it out. It felt surprisingly large inside with two queen bed lofts and a FULL bath (with tub!). To see the interior of the tiny house, check out their website!
That same weekend, Zach and I had the pleasure of having a small dinner party with two of our favorite couples. I needed to whip up some dishes to take and I was thrilled to in corporate these beautiful radishes. I mean really, aren't they just the prettiest?
 I ended up making these crostinis, which are so beautiful and SO simple.
The three types I made were: tomato basil with whipped ricotta cheese, the best chicken salad EVER (which to my knowledge, is only available at the Medlock Bridge/States Bridge Publix), and Boursin cheese topped with sliced radish and a sprinkling of sprouts.
We love these peeps!

The last weekend in April Zach was away leading worship in Arizona so Allie, my MIL, and I had a girls weekend! On Friday we had breakfast for dinner (Allie's fav) and I even spoiled her by experimenting with Twix pancakes.
 In turn, she and my MIL spoiled me by re-planting the hanging flower baskets on the back patio. They turned out so beautiful and I can't wait to enjoy them all summer long.
 n Saturday night, Al and I headed into town for a little adventure. I had been wanting to take her to Tom+Chee, a very casual grilled cheese and tomato soup restaurant.
 Although they have lots of crazy combinations (like mac and cheese on a grilled cheese and even grilled cheese donuts), we stuck with the basics.

Afterwards, we headed over to the opening of Hathaway David, a new contemporary art gallery where our dear friend Whitney had a few pieces on display.
Whit is so talented and such an inspiration to us. We loved visiting her studio in Brooklyn last summer and I was thrilled to bring Allie here so she can experience even more of the art world.

Allie with one of Whitney's pieces.

 Here are a few other pieces by different artists we enjoyed...
 (This is wood veneer and paper.)

 Al, me, and the radiant Whitney! So proud of my friend!
Needless to say, April has been awesome and now with only four weeks left of school, we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of summer. The countdown has begun...let's get this party started!