Home Sweet Home

closing day

If you follow Drew’s or any of my social plug-ins, you’ve probably been bombarded with our “We’re buying a house!” shpeel by now, and this blog post will not be a huge surprise.  However, I think it’s worth mentioning exactly how we came to be homeowners, since we certainly weren’t planning to purchase a home this year.

The first weekend in August, during the drive home after a wedding in Kentucky, Drew showed me a house he’d spotted on Trulia, not thinking much of it.  I guess the fact that I really liked it surprised him, and on a whim we decided to contact the owner to schedule a tour.  The very next weekend, we met the owner and took a tour of the house.  5 minutes in, I knew this was the perfect place for us.  It gave me chills, much reminiscent of the first wedding dress I tried on…which also ended up being the dress I wore on our wedding day.  Coincidence?  I think not.

house

We loved the house but feared things would end there since the owner and his family were itching to sell after already purchasing another home.  Still, we couldn’t forget the house and decided to contact an agent.  After meeting with her, touring several other homes and finding out breaking our apartment lease wouldn’t be the financial catastrophe we were anticipating, we put an offer on the house.  I’ll never forget being in the meat aisle at the grocery store when Drew got the call that the owners had accepted our offer.  Could it really be this easy?  We’d heard horror stories from our friends going through the house buying process and assumed our situation would be similar.  Instead, it was 5 short weeks from the initial viewing to the first night we spent our new house.  I think we both walk through the rooms, in awe and still a bit baffled that this whole thing hasn’t been a dream.

front door

Since we’ve been married, this is without a doubt the biggest life event we’ve experience together.  At times it was exciting, scary, and frustrating, but in the end we know we we meant to have this house.  While the exact reason may still have yet to reveal itself, we feel beyond blessed by our circumstances.  Drew wrote a great post on his own blog about how much we learned from the process that’s definitely worth the read.  I have a feeling the next few months are going to be very exciting for us as we settle in and make this house our home.  So stay tuned!

 

 

A Last Hurrah of Summer

So this is a much delayed post…but as you’ll soon learn, it’s been a busy past few weeks for us!  Now how’s that for a cliffhanger?  Unless you’re know us well, then you obviously know what I’m hinting at :)

boat2

A few weekends ago we spent an afternoon boating on Lake Lanier.  One of our friends found an awesome deal on Groupon for a large group to spend several hours on the water, wake-boarding and just soaking up the last few precious rays of the summer sun.  I do no such thing as wake-board, but I definitely enjoyed the latter.   The weather was perfect with barely a cloud in the sky.  Even though it’ll stay relatively warm in Atlanta for another few weeks, it really was one of our final “hurrah’s” of the summer season.

boat1

The following afternoon we spent strolling the streets–literally–around Midtown.  Last May, the city put on an event called Atlanta Streets Alive, closing down Peachtree Street to traffic and letting people walk freely while checking out storefronts and pop-up events.  Drew and I had so much fun last time (climbing a rock wall was involved) that we were excited to find out they were bringing it back again so soon.  The weather was perfect and we spent over 2 hours walking several miles, exploring stores, running into friends and soaking up the sun.  We never doubted how wonderful it is to live in Midtown, right in the heart of everything, but it’s events like this that make me love Atlanta even more.

midtownlove

After spending several hours outside, where the temperature neared 90, we were quite grateful to be back in the AC.  The temperature has been slowly dropping since, and I can’t help but be lulled into the Fall season when my Pinterest feed is being overrun by Halloween decor and the return of Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte.  So, true to form, I made a breakfast cake that has Fall written all over it.  I want to eat this while sitting on the back of a hay ride, snuggled in a sweater and watching the leaves change colors.  Also, the accompanying frosting is not optional. 

applecake

Apple Spice Breakfast Cake with Caramel Frosting
Makes 1 bundt cake or 2 medium-size loaves

Ingredients
For the cake:
1 container vanilla or plain yogurt
3/4 cup apple butter or applesauce
1 large egg
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large overripe banana, smashed
1 3/4 cup apples, chopped
1 tsp each of the following spices: cinnamon, allspice, ground ginger, cloves, nutmeg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

For the frosting:
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease bundt or loaf pans. In a large bowl, stir together yogurt, apple butter or applesauce, egg, vanilla and sugars until combined. Add in banana, apples and spices. Slowly mix in flours and baking soda and stir until just combined, but be careful not to overmix. Pour into pan(s) and bake 40 min. or until inserted knife comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Allow to boil for one minute, add in brown sugar, and allow to boil for another 2 minutes while stirring continuously. Remove from heat, stir in milk and vanilla. Sift in powdered sugar, whisking until frosting becomes thick. Allow to thicken about 5-10 minutes before pouring over cooled cake.

Crafting (or just an excuse to go to World Market)

Drew and I spent last Saturday running several errands in the Buckhead area (after our usual breakfast stint at the Piedmont Farmer’s Market, of course).  Driving to Buckhead isn’t something I like to do regularly-even though it’s only 5 miles from our apartment, it can take up to 45 minutes.  I know, I know, can someone queue up the tiny violin?  Obviously I had to be bribed with candy a good reason to make the trip.  A.K.A., a $10 gift certificate to World Market, which can arguably be deemed the second Happiest Place on Earth.

I wouldn’t consider myself a jewelry fanatic, but I do have several pieces that I wear almost all the time.  I can’t remember the last time I walked out our front door without my pearl earrings (morning runs don’t count).  I also have several necklaces that I love, but constantly find them getting tangled in my jewelry box.  What’s the point of having a jewelry box if all the chains are still going to get knotted?  It couldn’t may possibly have something to do with my less-than-diligent storage….

Enter awesome DIY idea.  I’d seen several necklace holders on Pinterest that looked easy enough to create.  All I would need is a piece of wood or plaque, some decorative knobs, and PRESTO! A fabulous necklace holder.  Exactly how the idea would be executed, I wasn’t exactly sure, but I had a feeling it would take a little more skill and expertise than slapping on some Elmer’s glue and hoping for the best.  And that’s another reason why my husband is fantastic.  After picking out a slab of wood from Michael’s and the knobs from World Market, we headed home to put it together.  Actually, I worked on something else while Drew broke out the power drill.  Honestly, I don’t think it was too much of an annoyance to break out his tool box and play handyman for an afternoon.

photo 1

So while I may not be the craft extraordinaire, there is one thing that I can do well: bake.  Wanting to put a dent in the large container of blueberries still taking up residence in our freezer, I whipped up a batch of lemon ginger scones, throwing frozen blueberries into the batter last minute for an added sweetness.  I’d never added ginger to a scone recipe, but it sounded like a good idea at the time.  And thankfully, it was.

photo 3


Lemon Ginger Blueberry Scones

Makes 12 scones

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup chopped crystalized ginger
6 Tbs butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 Tbs lemon zest
juice from one lemon
1 egg
1 cup milk or half-and-half
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or fork. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Stir in the diced crystallized ginger, sugar and lemon zest. In a small bowl, mix the egg, lemon juice and milk or half-and-half. Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix the dough. Pour in the blueberries.

Drop the scones onto a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until scones are lightly browned on top. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack or parchment paper to finish cooling completely.

Our 2-Year Wedding Anniversary!

photobooth

Wow, has it really been 2 years already?  A part of me thinks that it feels more like one year, but considering all the things we’ve done since tying the knot, I guess it really isn’t that surprising.  We’ve been on a bit of a wedding marathon lately, attending the most recent one this past weekend.  It was great to see our friends Matt and Rachel tie the knot since Matt was a groomsman in our wedding and Rachel is his perfect match.  The bonus was being able to stay with Drew’s grandparents, and catch up with some family and college friends.  Drew and I are definitely at that age where all our friends are getting engaged or married.  And now they’re having babies now too!  A couple from our house church, Joey and Anna, welcomed a baby girl Logan last Saturday.

Celebrating at Matt and Rachel's wedding

Celebrating at Matt and Rachel’s wedding

Not wanting to be outdone by our wonderful first year anniversary trip to Chicago, we planned to extend the anniversary celebration a few days.  Tuesday night we went to dinner at The Lawrence, which we hadn’t been to since last December.  It was just as delicious as we remembered–how can one go wrong with chocolate truffle cake?  You know you love someone when you’re willing to share your dessert with someone without constantly wanting to jab their hand out of the way with your fork.  We wrapped up the night on the couch, looking through our wedding photo album and reminiscing.  I hope that’s a tradition we continue every year.

And we ate it all.

And we ate it all.

We continued the celebration last night, attending the Falcons vs. Bengals preseason opener at the Georgia Dome.  I hadn’t seen my Bengals play in quite a few seasons and Drew had never been to an NFL game before, so it was the perfect opportunity.  Drew did a great job picking out seats as we were just a few rows up from the field.  Just as I showed Drew my love by sharing dessert, Drew showed his loyalty by donning my old Bengals jersey.  That, my friends, is true loyalty.  As for converting him from a Packers fan to a Bengals fan, I won’t be holding my breath.

The couple that fends off angry mobs of Falcons fans together, stays together

The couple that fends off angry mobs of Falcons fans together, stays together

To avoid being too mushy, I’ll wrap things up there.  All I can say is that the past 2 years of my life have easily been the greatest.  There’s no one else on this planet better suited for me; I’m not sure if I completely believe in soul mates but I know that Drew is my perfect match.  I can’t imagine going through life with anyone else. So thank you to my husband for being my biggest supporter, encourager, confidante and friend.   Here’s too many, many more years!

 

Recipe: Blueberry Bread Pudding

blue donkey iced coffee

Apparently it wasn’t in the cards for me to sleep in this morning.  Not that I really mind, as I’ve had plenty of quality time with the couch this week trying to get over being sick.  Still, it would have been nice to sleep in past 7:30, but the garbage trucks outside and a whiny Theo at the foot of the bed were not having it.  Feeling more energized than I had all week, I headed over to Piedmont Park for my regular stroll through the farmers’ market.  The last time I went was with Drew when we celebrated our awesome 5K times with coffees and breakfast paninis, but I just couldn’t bring myself to have one without him.  The panini, that is.  Of course I got my iced almond coffee.

With my iced coffee fix satisfied, I headed back home to start tapping into the huge supply of blueberries that’s now taking up almost a third half of our freezer.  Since picking them with Mom last week, I’ve been trying to figure out the perfect ways to use them.  So far I’ve just eaten them overtop yogurt or cereal, but this morning I finally decided to bake with them.  The results?  A baked blueberry bread pudding, from scratch.  That’s right, no recipe was followed.  I have no problem doing this when I cook, but baking can be an entirely different animal if you don’t use the right ingredient amounts, follow the directions in the correct order, etc.  I’m proud to say it was a delicious success.

While talking to Mom on the phone this afternoon, I told her about it and was able to repeat the recipe quite easily.  I also wanted to post it here to share it with her again and for anyone else who has a gazillion blueberries on their hands that they don’t now what to do with.  The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a group as part of an awesome brunch!

blueberry bread pudding

Blueberry Bread Pudding, Serves 1
Ingredients:
2 slices of French bread
1 egg
1/2 cup milk or heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp each cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg
handful of blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and milk or heavy cream.  Add vanilla extract and spices.  Chop bread into cubed pieces and layer into the bottom of a small baking dish.  Sprinkle blueberries on top and pour egg mixture over everything until the bread is evenly saturated.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until blueberries and bubbling and bread is slightly browned.

Life’s A Beach

suitsDrew and I both took some time off work last week to head to the beach for a few days for much-needed rest and relaxation.  We left early Thursday morning for the six hour drive to my parents’ house in North Carolina.  It’d been just over a year since the last time we went, and the time before that was our unexpected, but nonetheless wonderful, honeymoon trip.  Every couple of months, no matter what time of the year it is, I get that old familiar itch that can only seem to be scratched by digging my toes into the sand and listening to the peaceful roll of the ocean waves.  After wrapping up one  of the busiest months I’ve had at work, and lots of traveling for Drew, it was the perfect timing to just plunk ourselves in beach chairs and just, be.

blueberries

scones
The weather was absolutely perfect the entire time we were there.  I was a bit nervous as Mom and Dad said that it had rained every single day for almost the first two weeks of the summer.  Crazy!  We’ve been experiencing an uncharacteristically rainy season in Atlanta, so I was all too happy to ditch the rain for several days of pure sunshine.  Taking advantage of the weather, Mom and I headed to the local blueberry patch to stock up on the freshest berries, and we enjoyed Mom’s famous lemon blueberry scones for breakfast the following morning.

beach1

We spent most of our time at Holden, playing bocce ball, searching for seashells and just enjoying the simplicity of a day at the beach.  Theo seemed to remember the ocean from last time and had no trouble heading straight for the waves.  It turns out that Dad and Drew are a pretty even match for bocce ball.  Mom and I, not so much, although we did have a few lucky breaks.  We spent Friday night in Southport, attending a wine tasting and eating dinner at Loco Joe’s, one of the restaurants Drew and I went to during our honeymoon.  Southport is home to some great seafood, but I think some of our best memories come from cooking back at the house.  Dad is the grill master and Mom is great in the kitchen, so we always eat well during our beach stays.  I must mention that Drew got brave and even tried a bite of grilled tuna, which had been marinated in teriyaki, that “tastes just like a steak!”  Imagine that.

Our departure came too soon (doesn’t it always when you’re in paradise with some of your favorite people?) and with the rainclouds moving in, it was time to head home.  Thanks to Mom and Dad for hosting us for the perfect weekend, we had a great time!  Already thinking about the next time we’ll be able to come for a visit :-)

beach3

beach2

Atlanta Beltline Southwest 5K Ver 2.0

race1I can’t believe it’s already been a whole year since Drew and I ran our first race put on by the Atlanta Beltline Running Series. Time flies! We actually procrastinated registering for this year’s race up until just about a week beforehand. Waking up at 6 A.M. on a Saturday is not something I want to do often, but I figured it would be worth it. Plus, no doubt I’d gotten faster than last year and really wanted to see what kind of time I could pull out. No offense to The Color Run, but if you’re trying to get a PR or run competitively, that is not the race to do it.

Race day arrived, and we literally rolled out of bed, laced up our running shoes and drove out to the course.  It was the exact same route as last year, which is both good and bad.  The first part of the race started off-terrain and while Drew, a former cross-country megastar, was excited for it, I’d much prefer all 3.1 miles to be on smooth, flat pavement.  Thankfully that part of the race went by pretty quickly and before I knew it, I was within reach of the finish line.  The race seemed to go by a lot quicker than last year and when I looked up at the clock to see my final time, I understood why.  I beat last year’s time by a whopping 3 minutes!

winnermug

It was great to see and hear Drew rooting me on from the finish line.  After running the race step for step together the year before, we both decided that we would queue up together at the start, but each try to do our personal best.  Drew finished with a 21:00, while I followed shortly behind in 21:56.  Sweaty and happy, we celebrated our great runs and headed toward the post-race party for some water and vendor swag.  As it turns out, I ended up winning my age group and placing 6th overall female.  I even got a huge winner’s mug to show for it.  Drew did great as well, placing 4th in his age group and 23rd overall out of over 300 runners!

After heading back home for some much-needed showers, we walked to Piedmont Park for yet another jaunt at the farmer’s market.  I was determined to get my precious almond iced coffee since I’d missed in the weekend before.  We also headed back to the Nectar food truck for their delicious breakfast paninis.  I ordered the tried and true egg, mozzarella and pesto panini while Drew changed things up a bit with the spicy chipotle chicken.  With another race day in the books, I’ve already set my sights on another 5k in September that several co-workers are running.  Should be fun!

nectarsign