10 Oct


This weekend was just one of those insanely gorgeous Atlanta fall weekends with the perfect temperature and breezes. We had a relaxing Saturday morning in the backyard and walking the dog, then we headed off to Chalktoberfest in Marietta Square.

It is by far my favorite street festival that I’ve been to in Atlanta. Not too crowded, a great cover band, food trucks, awesome chalk artists, a long row of craft beers (which I will partake in next year), and clean and cleverly painted porta-potties (these were important for my six month pregnant belly).

chalktoberfest-1We sat and played for a long time on the shaded grass in the middle of the Square listening to the band and watching the sun flicker through the trees. We brought sandwiches to eat, but others had full-on picnics and camping chairs. Good ideas for next year.

img_20161008_150658280Some people had barely started their chalk drawings, but others were well on their way. They were pretty amazing to see, even unfinished. Next year we’ll go on Sunday so we can see the completed works!

img_20161008_150840485_hdrI especially loved anything with folded cloth. There were three streets on the Square filled double sided with groups doing the chalk art. I had been hoping to see those really cool perspective chalk drawings, but they were pretty much just fine art replicas. Still, pretty incredible.

img_20161008_151913556Walter finally found what he was looking for! This was his favorite chalk drawing.

img_20161008_161040772Their loot from the Soda Pop Candy Shop store. Dave said it would have been his dream store when he was 12 years old (though his enthusiasm didn’t seem diminished 20 years later!). There was an entire wall of taffy, so much so that Dave took pictures so he’d know what they were eating once we got home. I was, meanwhile, looking around the Local Exchange next door, which is definitely more my kind of shopping experience. Marietta Square is awesome and we’ll be heading back often, festival or not.

One of Those Perfect Days

9 Oct

Friday was a really glorious and fun day. A friend turned me on to Goldstar, and it’s quite great to buy cheaper tickets to an event you want to go to. I saw the listing for Disney on Ice, and I thought that Walter and I would probably enjoy that. So I bought some seats.

I debated with myself if I wanted to drive down there and park at Philips Arena, but I truly despise navigating through downtown and trying to find (and then pay for) parking. Walter had never been on a train before, so I opted for us to ride MARTA as part of the all-day experience. I knew he’d enjoy the very long escalators at the stations too, and I wanted to stop at Dua Vietnamese for lunch on Broad Street after the show since we’d be in the area. It’s our #1 favorite restaurant; Dave and I used to eat there 3-4 times a week when we attended GaState.

img_20161007_101209He thought maybe the train was never going to leave the station.

He drew a map of the tracks and Five Points station where we’d be transferring. He was also very interested in what MARTA does and does not allow to happen on the trains.

I didn’t take any pictures while we were there, mainly cause it was so awesome I never pulled my phone out. I loved the show, and Walter never took his eyes off the rink (except to stare at the colorful whirly toys that kids around us had). I love when Walter enjoys himself like that.

Afterward we walked from Philips Arena to Dua, which was only about half a mile away. I love walking through Georgia State campus in the early fall because it reminds me of meeting and falling in love with David in the fall of 2008 and all the fun we had in college together. Dave met us at the restaurant, where the bun bo hue was fresh and as delicious as it’s ever been.

We rode with Daddy back to his office, then continued on to our car, where Walter fell asleep on the way home. I was jealous. It was a great day for a great boy.

The Dining Room

8 Oct

One of the things we had the hardest time figuring out at our old house was where to put the formal dining room. For a while we had it smushed in with everything else in the living room, where you couldn’t push the chairs out all the way or you’d bang in to something. Then when we remodeled we turned our master bedroom into a pub room (dining table, piano, dart board, pub table, and TV all in one), and that was kind of awesome, but it turned our three bedroom house into a two bedroom. So when we looked for a new house, we knew we needed a separate dining room.

Voilà! The perfect size room for all our dining needs. And the door on the right leads to the kitchen.


If you look closely you can see how old the carpet was, and that once it was some kind of shade of pink or maroon. This carpet was so gross that when Walter played on it (despite us telling him to please quit doing that), his skin would turn red. My mom’s dog got an eye infection (she’s a small dog and thus had more contact with the carpet). Walter even christened it once when we were in due diligence with projectile vomiting the day he came down with strep. Luckily though, the carpet hid beautiful hardwoods underneath just waiting for the floor guys to labor over and make perfectly smooth for us.


This was their dining room, which I planned to use for our regular kitchen table, since we were removing the eat-in area in the actual kitchen.

Ta-da! And talk about vintage wallpaper and light fixture put to good use!


The whole glorious room. The bigger part had been their second, formal living room.


We frequently puzzle on this table and love inviting friends and family over for dinner, so it really does need its own space. This blue accent wall was the first thing I painted one night after we bought the house, and when I finished, I was pleased and excited for how the house would turn out (aka however we wanted it to!). Because we always knew we were going to sell our old house, I never felt like I could make it uniquely my own. This little gem, however, I’ve clearly gone to town with my design decisions.


In a couple weeks we’re going to pick up antique chairs from David’s aunt that date back in his family several generations to put in each of the corners. Let’s just hope the cat doesn’t ruin them right away.

DIY Postcard Backsplash

6 Oct

Because my husband has the coolest family, I got the idea for our backsplash from his aunt. In her kitchen she has several photos in the same color scheme repeated like tiles, which I always thought was funky and cute. When Dave and I were trying to figure out what we wanted to do and our kitchen budget was running low (thank you awesome farmhouse sink… and all the other things we thought were must-buys before purchasing a backsplash), I thought, I could do like my aunt-in-law! When I asked her about it, she said she slapped them up on the walls with some Elmer’s glue 25 years ago as a temporary backsplash until she figured out what tile she wanted (ha!).

One of the biggest appeals for me (besides the cost being under $100 total for the project) was that if I ever changed my mind, tile could just be put up on top of the cards. No big deal.

I didn’t want to use personal photos, so I bought sets of Paris-themed photo postcards from a seller on Etsy. I used 8 blanc (white) sets, 3 gris (gray) sets, and 3 vert (teal, really) sets for some variety while trying to keep the photos as neutral and un-busy as possible. I unfortunately found out that the postcards were sold out and not going to be printed ever again (apparently) when I was running low and wanted to buy some more mid-project. I had to get creative to finish!

img_20160924_090847438I find it necessary to always have a supply of Mod Podge and foam brushes handy in case of any impromptu projects. I foolishly thought it would take a night to do all of this, but in reality it took three days. If you’re going to do something unique, you better be precise and make it look as good as possible. I glued them on and then after they dried I covered them in another layer of Mod Podge (matte finish). I plan on polying around the sink and coffee maker for extra protection once I’ve verified it won’t turn anything yellow.

dsc_0043I honestly wasn’t really sure how it would turn out, but I like it more than I thought I would. And the key was that my mom didn’t come into my kitchen and immediately notice that she didn’t like it — in fact she didn’t notice at first that I had done anything at all! When I had originally told her of my idea, she told me I shouldn’t do it, and she’s pretty good at design decisions, so I was happy she approved of the final product.

dsc_0044I wasn’t sure if Dave should caulk the bottom of the cards where they meet the granite with white or clear, so for now it’s bare. Gosh I love our kitchen sink.

dsc_0047It took me a while but I finally figured out how to use our new Nespresso machine. Délicieux.

dsc_0046No Parisian kitchen is complete without a little Julia Child sign-off decal! Bon Appétit!

dsc_0045To save on postcard usage, and because I had the idea mid-project and I’m totally in love with accenting our house with Deep Sea Dive, I had Dave help by painting the wall behind the vent hood. I love that we did that. It was the perfect final touch.

Our Total Kitchen Remodel

5 Oct

The biggest thing we did to our new house before moving in was gut and remodel the kitchen.

Because it looked like this. Not the worst, but not what we wanted

We had our contractor remove everything of course. Only took him a day! Walter thought the kitchen fell through a tiny hole in the floor into the basement.


I ordered white, wood cabinets from ProSource that are made by the Amish in the United States (thank you to Bobby for helping me design the new kitchen!). They also have soft close drawers! And they were only a week late on delivery!


I had everything so tightly scheduled so we could move in in a month, that both the flooring and granite people ended up at the house at the same time. No, that month wasn’t stressful at all!


The house started coming together. It was fun to watch the process. It was slightly less fun to make sure everything got done on time and done right, but luckily I’m Type-A enough that I did enjoy that too.


And then, suddenly — oh yeah and a few extra months of work later — it was finished!

As a reminder, it looked like this:


And now!!! I love having the kitchen and living spaces together. Makes for cozy, comfortable living.


The dog and cat happily posing.

Who doesn’t want all their appliances crammed in together?


Ah, nice and bright and open! And our awesome woodworking friend Alex made and installed our floating shelves for us.


They had a little eat in area (and a window we made disappear).


Which we turned into the fridge/pantry area.


Lovely giant wall in the middle of the room!


Brought up to the 21st century! I kind of have a Parisian café/1950’s diner theme going.


It’s much, much smaller than our kitchen in our old house, but once I got everything organized and realized I don’t need a million cabinets to store stuff I rarely use (hello basement storage!), I love it.

Apple Picking

2 Oct

October 1st in Atlanta and you can smell Fall in the air. You can also smell neighbors burning their yard refuse in Cobb County, as it’s the first day to legally do that since summer ended, and of course we joined in. But first we went apple picking.

Ellijay, GA is one of my favorite places in the world. We spend two of my favorite days every year there: birthday tubing in the summer and apple picking in the fall. And it’s just beautiful; mountains in the distance, trees, and lots of glorious sky. If we ever went really rural and didn’t move to the Canadian West, I think we’d choose Ellijay.


It’s just so pretty.

We stopped at the first tree in the orchard to eat a golden delicious.

dsc_0012Two years ago Walter was in an apple coma from eating so many apples. This picture represents the extent of Walter’s apple eating this time.

img_20161001_140332205_hdrWe found the Red Apple Barn the first year we went picking. Last year our choice was crowded and not very pretty, so we knew we’d head back here this year. I love this one because of the way it is laid out, they give you a wagon ride to and from the orchard, and the cold apple cider and an apple cider donut when you’re done. Yum.

img_20161001_135227174Just getting started.

img_20161001_140208279He was equally interested in picking flowers as he was apples.


img_20161001_140823209Walter wanted to make sure his apple was in the picture too.

dsc_0018David promises he’s going to can most of these.

family-shot-editedThe three and a half of us had a really fun day in the country.

Orgasmic Birth?

27 Sep


Before I even got pregnant with Walter, I had studied to be a doula and was really passionate about it. The mothers I nannied for had had unmedicated labors, I was a fan of Ina May Gaskin, so I knew what I wanted for my own birth experience. Despite many people telling me how hard or awful it would be, I knew what I knew, pretty much ignored any nay-sayers, and ended up having the labor with Walter that I wanted.

Sure it was hard, sure it was painful, sure it was scary, but I did it. I knew I could, and I did. Thousands (millions?) of people run marathons, and I don’t think any one of them describes that as easy, but they do it for the rush and the sense of accomplishment.

Given all that, I don’t really know why, with #2, I am mostly filled with fear and anxiety about the birth. I don’t want an epidural or narcotics — and I’m mad the US does not support gas and air during labor! But I think it would be terrible to continue to feel this way up until the birth. Our minds play such an important role in how we labor… so I figure I need to study again. To delve into the world of births.

I just ordered a book on Orgasmic Births (wouldn’t that be nice!??), and I’m hoping it’ll jump start that feeling I once had that despite any fears, this is doable. More than doable.

Gosh I’m excited to meet little boy. You know, after that whole giving birth thing.

Science Experimenting

16 Sep

Walter’s most frequent request since we started homeschooling is, “Can we do another science experiment?” I bought a kit online that shows you how to do 11 different things, usually involving changing colors with acids and bases and making things fizzle. Yesterday we did a really fun one that I had never experienced before. I’m pretty sure no science teacher has ever talked to me about non-Newtonian liquids — or if they did they never showed me this really simple experiment that would make it stick in my mind.

I suggest even adults should do this one night if you haven’t already. Or if you are talking to your child about solids and liquids, this is something fun to play with.

In a bowl:

Take 1/8 cup of water (add a couple drops of food coloring if you want. We didn’t have any and it was fine without it).
Mix in 5 tbs of cornstarch.

Now, as you play with it and squeeze it and drop it and softly touch it and knock on it and try to stir it with a spoon, ask yourself, is that a solid or a liquid?

Apparently even scientists don’t know yet why it does what it does!

newton5Homeschool is cool for everyone.

The Immortal Life

13 Sep


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was an incredible follow-up book to Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. I am so glad I read Bryson’s book first, a book which David had told me to read pretty much the entire eight years I’ve known him. I recently discovered Immortal Life after listening to Bahni Turpin’s amazing narration of Yellow Crocus while searching for more of her books. Even though I wish Henrietta’s whole story was narrated by Bahni, she unfortunately only reads about two paragraphs of the entire thing. It was, instead, narrated by none other than Cassandra Campbell, who is a decent speaker but does so many books and never changes her voice, so it’s quite irritating to listen to her in every audiobook I download, apparently.

If I hadn’t just finished Bryson explaining how insanely miraculous it is that even just our cells are alive, let alone humans and the earth and the universe etc., I’m not sure I would have felt the same way about Rebecca Skloot’s book. But I did, and I was blown away by what HeLa cells have done for the world since 1952. Not only that, but what Henrietta and her family had to go through to even be able to “donate” the first line of immortal cells. It is hard for me to wrap my head around how the universe creates these situations, seemingly lucky and merely coincidental.

I really wanted to read this book for one of my two book clubs, but I eventually just couldn’t wait, not knowing when I’d be able to host again and get to pick the book everyone reads. Instead, I’ve told all my book-reading friends to read or listen to it, and gave a paper copy to my parents. I want to discuss this book with everyone I know.

Marriages Aren’t Easy: The Fable of the Incense Burner

10 Sep

But if you’re lucky — and you work hard, yada yada yada — they’re good anyway.

The weekend of July 4th we got in a huge fight. It was one of the more difficult times in our marriage, with me being so sick and blaming David (I don’t get mad during labor, I get mad during first trimester!), David working all day and then going to work on the new house every night, us living with various parents and a 3 year old, all our stuff in boxes scattered around the house, and suddenly switching from battling 2-year infertility to dealing with medical bills and un-Godly nausea… Let’s just say it all came to a head that holiday weekend. Why is it that vacations are often good times to get sick or in a fight?

While we weren’t speaking to each other, and we had just moved back in to the house for the second time, I went to buy incense to try to get rid of the horrible, poisonous smell of the house that apparently no one else could smell (thank you first trimester). I came back home and mentioned to Dave that I didn’t have any way to burn it, and without comment he then went and made an incense burner for me.

This is how I know I married a good man.


I had no idea what he was sawing in the basement — I rarely force myself to go down there because it is very messy and dirty — prepping that 1,700 sq ft space for habitation will certainly be another fun, multi-weekend project! The loud noise made me curious (obviously), but I was patient (which is unlike me). He then came upstairs with a piece of wood with a hole cut at just the right angle and a groove for all the ash. It was hard not to feel loved, even if the fight wasn’t resolved yet.

Walter loves burning incense too since that’s one of the many fun things he learned to do at his Nini’s house. He also made me a burner later with this play-doh-like toy he has. Like father, like son, and I’m glad about that!