Tag Archives: weekend activities

Barn Raisin’, not Barn Burnin’

16 Aug

From the moment we talked to Walt about moving from our old house, we made it clear that he would get a play set for his new yard. We wanted him to feel excited about this big change, and half the point of moving was to get more outdoor space to play in. When he spoke of his play set, he always made it clear that he wanted Pop, Mimi, Nini, Tashi, and Grandpa to come help us build it. And that’s exactly what he got!

A week before his 4th birthday, we had a good ol’ fashioned barn raising, complete with pizza dinner — just like in the olden days.

IMG_20160814_131121786And so it begins. It was a lot more not-put-together than I thought it was going to be. For example, the slide was just a long piece of plastic. Oh yeah, and there were a zillion wood pieces covering our yard.

IMG_20160814_133222308_HDRDuggy monitoring progress. He really enjoyed being outdoors All. Day. Long.

IMG_20160814_161037382When David saw Pop show up (his key partner in getting this thing built — I was in charge of water refills and picture-taking), his words were “Oh thank God.”

IMG_20160814_145112282_HDRMore helpers! Our picnic table was covered in hardware as well.

IMG_20160814_162422596The instruction booklet contained 20,000 pages. Luckily W’s cousin Ward showed up to help play.

Mimi shows the boys how to train for Olympic track meets. There was a lot of time for running around.

IMG_20160814_165324821Getting closer! We’re starting to see some structure!

IMG_20160814_165507259_HDRIt was a beautiful but hot day, even with the clouds and breezes helping us out.

IMG_20160814_202455511And it only took 7 1/2 hours!

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A happy boy’s inaugural slide ride! A fine end to a wonderful day spent with family. Couldn’t have done it without them!

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The Master of Weekends

5 Dec

I don’t usually post about how often I post, because I find that to be one of the most annoying clichés used in blogging, but it’s been so long that WordPress has changed in my absence. For anyone new reading my blog, there’s enough to slough through for days! I’ve been writing for over three years, and if you get through that – and you’re savvy enough – you can probably find some horrid livejournal account I wrote as a teen out there somewhere in internet land.

But for those of you who have been with me for a while, I just saw that I’ve only posted once in the last three months. This isn’t to say I haven’t been writing. I have 18 drafts waiting to be edited and put out there for the world to read, but a lot of them are of a somewhat political nature. And my personal posts usually involve photos, which has been hampered lately by my desktop crashing, along with my photos. I will post more, and soon, it just isn’t the right time yet. As Julia Child says, asked when her next book will be done: “When it is done.” She is my newest hero.

I recently had a perfect weekend. It was perfectly miserable outside every day (and was for at least a week straight), but I managed to find the only time it wasn’t raining on Saturday to photograph some very sweet girls I used to nanny. I really appreciate the chance to stay connected, to take these photos every year, and to see them grow up.

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The weekend really started on Thursday night, when I had a girls’ night out with Katye and Whitney at a Junior League event at the Williams-Sonoma in Ponce City Market. We had the babies with us, who were of course the talk of the party because they’re so stinking cute. I got to be Brady’s date — he fell asleep on me for 45 minutes! We also were given a coffee demonstration of a Nespresso machine, which I now want. The coffee was fantastic. Probably some of the best coffee I’ve ever had. And the tastings were delicious, but we still ordered from Panita Thai as soon as we got home. I feel confident saying that it claims the prize of most delicious Thai food in Atlanta right now.

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My mom dropped off Tashi, her adorable shih tzu, on Friday, which was great since it got very cold all weekend and we just cuddled in front of the fire all day reading, puzzling, watching movies, playing Legos, building with Magna-tiles… I love being stuck inside, because I love indoor activities. I could read books all day long every day. Saturday night we watched the movie Whiplash, which is a fantastic, well-done, very intense film about a budding jazz drummer. I loved it, and it also set the stage for our next and final evening of that fabulous weekend.

Sunday was the most interesting day. In the morning Dave and I made the most delicious breakfast burrito we’ve ever made before, which Walter of course refused to eat. Then we cleaned up a bit, puzzled some more, showered, etc. We again ordered Panita Thai for take out with my parents at my mom’s house. We needed to drop off the baby and my mom’s dog because we had a concert to go to!

The week before, I decided to check for Puscifer tickets on a lark, assuming there would be none as Tool shows usually sell out in a few minutes (or less) for much bigger venues. I had wanted to buy them a month earlier when they had gone on sale, but we didn’t have it in the budget at the time. Lo and behold, there were seats available for the cheapest price! And wouldn’t you know it, they turned out to be great seats! So of course I bought two as soon as I had cleared babysitting with Nini.

Maynard James Keenan likes to perform with Puscifer at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, which is wildly fantastic because the place was designed specifically for musical shows, and the seats and bathrooms are of high quality. So are the people working there, and the decor. It is where grown-ups go to listen to music. And, as it turns out, I am becoming one of those grown-ups who likes a decent place to see a show.

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Walt, on the night of the show, kept telling us that yes, he was 18, not three, and he should be allowed to go to the concert with mommy. Oh, children always want to grow up too fast!

It was dangerous driving around Sunday night, with the rain, temperatures, wind, and wet leaves everywhere on the road. We took back roads after making a pit stop at Lowe’s to buy a new doorbell and to use the restroom. I am nearly blind at night, but I had on my glasses and was trying to help. At one point we almost ran in to a deer. When we finally got to the theatre, I was frisked pretty good coming inside. It was 90% airport intensity.

Once inside we traveled up to the Grand Tier, stopping to grab a couple Monday Night Brews on the way. This very nice concession stand gentleman worker showed me a picture of “my baby,” by which I thought he meant grandbaby, since he looked pretty old. Whoops. There was a long moment of awkwardness as I congratulated him several times, and took off.

We got to our seats just as Maynard walked out and the show started. It then proceeded to be a perfect experience, except for the time a girl dropped her phone on Dave’s head, forgot to apologize, then interrupted us for several minutes shouting about getting her phone back as it had dropped down several rows. The man in front of us, who had been enthusiastically dancing to the songs in his seat (because in this place you sit when you listen to music), got yelled at by security for being on his phone, then he half stood up and shouted to his girlfriend about gosh-knows-what for half a song before leaving for a bathroom break. Sometimes people-watching is more interesting than the main act!

But what a show Maynard puts on!

To me, it is like church. The music he creates with others and the entire experience (when he cares, because I’ve seen how he acts when he’s just doing something to make money) is spiritual. It has always been this way when I see his shows — and really any other amazing live performance, especially music.

On the way home from yet another wonderful evening with Maynard & co., we stopped to get hot Krispy Kreme donuts and a decaf coffee. And one of their 2016 coupon calendars that features pictures of cute animals posed with donuts. Cause who doesn’t need one of those?

The weekend I tried out all-natural deodorant

22 May

A few weekends ago it was one of the first hot weekends in Atlanta, and we spent most of it outdoors. I had run out of deodorant, and while shopping for more I made a quick decision to try out aluminum free, all natural deodorant. Slowly but surely I’m headed toward being one of those crunchy, organic lovin’ mommies. But I guess some things are meant to be full of chemicals.

Luckily no one commented that I smelled yucky, except for my own nose. The first application I thought it was going to go well. By the end of the weekend, I was desperate to get to the grocery store to get my tried and true Secret Powder Fresh Invisible that I’ve used for almost two decades. What do they say? A leopard can’t change her deodorant?

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Braves Game. We had the whole section to ourselves and Walter just ran up and down the stairs for the most part.

Fin's first Mad Italian
Finley’s first trip to Mad Italian!

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Renaissance Festival where Walter only wanted to play on the playground. Should have just gone to the one in our neighborhood!

Whitney and Aaron's baby shower
Baby shower! I stayed later than my boys (and most all the other guests) and took an Uber home. I love the freedom Uber gives.

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I built the house with Walt and then put in the charming mulch bed, since the yard there has been a dirt/mud pit for about 7 years. About time we added some landscaping!

Despite what my armpits said, it was an amazing weekend. Similar to all my weekends (and truth be told, weeks) lately. Thanks world, for being so awesome to me! What is it about spring that is so hopeful?

#LongLiveLove

2 May

The past two weekends I have been grateful to live some extraordinary experiences. Two weekends ago Dave and I were witness to two great friends getting married. Not only are they awesome, creative people, but the bride is Indian, and I got to experience my first Indian wedding. I am totally converted. I am also convinced that if you want a dance party, there better be Indian music playing. It’s better than booze to get people going.

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They had two events at the Howard House, which is right around the corner from us.

Everything about the weekend was extraordinary. Even the rain didn’t slow us down. Friday night was Mehndi night, which is typically when the bride and other female family members get henna on their hands (and feet). However, since it took the bride 7 hours, she had hers done the day before. But any guest could get henna, and it was so much fun. I had mine for about one minute before the groom smudged one of my fingers. I only gave him a little bit of grief about it since it was his big day.

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My father-in-law is convinced it’ll stay forever. I wish!

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I love all the color!

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Best Indian food ever, and at a wedding too! I suspect it’s because the bride and groom are foodies (as well as graphic designers and musicians). You can only imagine the party they threw. The first night was a wedding in itself, and then the real weddings — they had two — were the next day!

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I love that they’ve been friends since they were Walter’s age.

My only regret was not getting a sari to wear. I was colorful enough, but next time I will be all over that. Because there will be more Indian parties in my future.

Walter was, while we were gone, staying at home with our next door neighbor.  She is a kindergarten teacher nearby and really sweet, so I figure it’s almost like paying a tutor too! Walter still tells me, “I have fun with Julie.” I love it.

We got to cuddle in the mornings though.

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Saturday was both the Indian ceremony in the morning, which we did not attend, and the American ceremony in the evening followed by a reception at Piedmont Park. Where, of course, Back Street Boys was blaring in the background across the lake during the very emotional ceremony (yes, I did cry). There was also a little Scottish flair thrown in there as well, and when they spoke their own vows — during a Methodist ceremony — they were actually quite great. The food buffet was amazing, and they had cakes (with the icing on top drawn by the henna artists from the night before) from Murphy’s, where I am going immediately to buy another one because those bites were the closest thing to heaven you can imagine.

11088941_947407045293285_2209941876127639056_oRuby’s Ruby Slippers

We were seated with Alex’s cousins, near the bride and groom table. We were flattered, and also Alex’s family is really cool. During the ceremony we sat next to Ruby’s cousin Prnay, who danced an ancient Indian dance, during the Mendhi night shindig, that he has spent years studying. When Ruby started crying, so did I! The fathers of the bride and groom also spoke wonderfully at the reception, both with humor and wisdom. It was a weekend full of awesome people, and I loved it.

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#rubyandalex #longlivelove

Fun in the 2015 sun

29 Mar

This weekend was great after the rain of the past couple weeks. Just in time for your normal spring activities, like spending time outdoors finding plastic, colorful eggs filled with treats and, of course, gardening.

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Friday was still too cold to garden outside, so we planted some basil and parsley seeds that we found at Target. Walt kept talking about “making dirt” because when you put water on these small pellets a whole lot of dirt came out of it. It was cool.

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When it’s too cold to play outside we do things like torture the pets.

Walter’s very first egg hunt was at the house of friend of Mimi and Pop’s. They had an easier side for the younger kids to do, but we took Walt to the big kid’s hunt, even though he had never done it before. He never really got into looking for them, though he really enjoyed when he would find one. His squeal of happiness (once he knew they were filled with candy) was priceless.

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I forgot to dress him up in Easter-inspired clothing. He still was mighty cute though.

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He ended up getting a lot of eggs because the other kids gave up pretty quickly, thinking they had found them all, but we stuck around and found all the better hidden ones. I think the 4 parents/grandparents to 1 Walter ratio worked out in his favor.

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It was a cold but pretty – and sugar filled – morning.

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Pop had to take a picture of the aftermath.

This afternoon I took Walt to the backyard to plant some Caladium bulbs. He loved helping.

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“Bye bye, bulbs! See you soon!”

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The Farm

8 Mar

Life is full of wonders. I have lived here for four or five years now and I never knew there was a farm smack dab in the middle of our neighborhood. A hero, Farmer Red, saved five acres of land in the heart of Ormewood Park, and he calls it UFO — Urban Farm Ormewood. It is my new favorite place, probably because it is a mile and a half walk away.

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Today was a glorious day outside, and our friends who found out about the farm took us there as a fun outing. Perfect weather. A little bit chilly so it made it great to run around. Walter is never bothered by the cold anyway, and baby Canon didn’t seem to care either. The sunshine was brilliant, and the calm open space a joy.

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Beautiful even in the winter. And there’s a tree swing!

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Never a better day was had.

The Party

7 Mar

Last Sunday we went to an old friend’s wedding kick-off event. It was a small group of really cool people our age, hosted by a really cool group of adults our parents’ age that all live in Ansley Park. We hired a babysitter for the night, a very sweet girl who lives literally across the street from us. This was the second time Walter has had a paid babysitter (besides preschool), and I have to say, it makes me feel like a grown up. Even though I haven’t babysat since Walter was born, it is an weird feeling to pay someone to do what you used to do for money.

Being around lots of other happy couples (mostly other couples had been invited) made me terribly glad that David has loved me so long. 6 1/2 years so far. It is incredibly powerful to know that someone has chosen to love you through thick and thin, no matter what, and then live up to that challenge. He’s from the hill people of Scotland. He sticks around and puts up a fight.

My only other relationship that has lasted longer than with my husband — besides with my parents and siblings and a few school friends — is with my cell phone number. I’m pretty sure I could make a legal case if someone tried to take that number from me. You’ve been able to reach me at that number since I was 16 — when I got my first cell phone. Man was that thing a giant, and all it did was call and text. I miss that.

For a while we had a second phone line growing up. It ran into the guest bedroom and was somewhat my dad’s number, but we all used it. One night as we were eating dinner, we let the machine pick up, and we heard “Hello, hello, are you there?” in what we thought was my late grandmother’s voice. Caller ID: unknown number.

I was chatting with a new friend at the party, and he was talking about how he had known his girlfriend since they were ten, but they just recently started dating. But the best part for him was that since they had known each other for so long, they didn’t have to get past the “representative”. He said something like, “That’s the worst part of dating. For the first couple months you meet someone’s representative, and then you finally get to know them.” And while I instantaneously thought that was true, I also realized that I think that’s what I’ve been doing for myself lately. Getting rid of my own representative. It’s as if a filter is shedding, and I am becoming free.

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Polaroids rock. So does this group of awesomeness. These guys have been friends since they were Walter’s age. And they have great arm candy now too.

And speaking of people that are awesome, have I mentioned lately how much I love Walter? Every day is an brand new experience of love like I never thought it could be. He’s absolutely my favorite person in all the world.

The Oscars, or Why I wanted Bradley Cooper to win

23 Feb

It has been a wild week, with the loss of the Marietta house, the possible sale of our intown house, and the feeling of being a little free-floating. The days culminated in a very creative-minded weekend.

Watching Walter learn things is so very cool. Much more fun re-learning with him, than it was learning all this stuff the first time around. I swear, the boy has gone from delayed speech to teaching himself how to read at 2 1/2 years old.

At dinner, we spoke of muses, and how to pull a poem out of you before it flows away. I also made my best pot of Killer Shrimp yet.

When I walk around with my phone in my back pocket, an album playing, it makes me feel like I have my own theme music.

I happened upon a spiritual healer, whom I plan on contacting. I am very interested to see what happens, what it is like to get a private reading or energy cleansing. I always love talking to people like that, card readers and other mystics.

I absolutely adored the Oscars this year. In years past, if I turn on the Oscars, I usually get hooked just because I am interested in which movies are nominated, as I normally don’t even have a chance to find out what movies are being released. This year, I felt like I had a stake in the game. I am a big fan of American Sniper and Chris Kyle. I find the story enlightening and heartbreaking, knowing that Kyle was murdered and his wife and children are currently undergoing their dad’s murder trial. I am reading his memoir right now and am basically learning all about Dave’s time in Iraq, as they were both in the Second Battle of Fallujah. Chris Kyle’s voice is unique, so much so that I am more compelled by him than almost any other book I’ve read, except maybe Margaret Mitchell in Gone with the Wind. And Sniper‘s story itself… there is such fodder in discussing a man who gets killed by the very weapon he so adores (and a deranged man, of course), after surviving four tours in Iraq. Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper brought the story to Hollywood superbly and with undeniable mastery of their craft.

I am also a big fan of Neil Patrick Harris. Dave and I both think that How I Met Your Mother is one of the most comedic and high quality sitcoms ever. I was amazed and delighted from the moment the Oscars started. Neil’s opening act was perfect. What a performance! The visuals were clever and stunning and nostalgic. And then he spent the rest of the show intelligently poking at the audience and the world, opening up even more intimate details of Hollywood. The speeches were wonderful to listen to. Political but not offensive. They hit all the high notes, such as gender equality and suicide, two subjects I’m passionate about. My favorite was the man who won Best Supporting Actor. I’ve seen him in a million movies but don’t know his name, even now. But he was the every-man, reminding us of family, and how we are an extension of the people who came before us. It was beautiful.

The show-stopping moment came when Lady Gaga performed a medley from Sound of Music, one of my top favorite movies of all time. I have never been a fan of hers, because I could never see past her gimmicks to the art. Sure, I heard a few songs on the radio, which might be catchy, but other than that I was not impressed. Gaga blew me away, however, with her simple yet glorious dress, makeup, and hair, on a beautiful stage, with the most exquisite and powerful voice. Thank you for that, my dear! I look forward to future such soul-awakened moments of pure art.

All in all it was an evening well spent. Onward and upward!

LADY GAGA

The Great Deck Adventure of 2015

29 Jan

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Two weekends ago our wonderful, handy friend Lloyd came over to help Dave build my privacy screen idea. They removed the current posts on the deck (very carefully — hello sawsall!) and put in 7 ft. posts. Then they fit in lattice supports, cut the lattice to the correct size, and slid it in to each slot.

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They finished just before the cold rains of last week, and it looked fabulous.

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Lloyd then recruited Dave to help on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend for the HOMES project (a yearly service project that helps elderly, poor people with home repair), and Walt and I went to brunch at Stone Soup Kitchen while he was gone. A little mother-son date!

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I quickly started adding my decorations AKA hanging lights and railing planters. I filled the latter with pansies.

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I began the final (and overwhelming) touches by painting one panel of lattice. It took about 2-3 hours, and I had to use solid color stain. Using a brush left thick drip marks down the other side of the panel. This got done right before our open house.

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The whole week after the open house was gorgeous, until Friday. It rained all day, of course. I was worried but Saturday was fairly sunny (even though not warm). I had to get down to business on Sunday just so I could finish this thing.

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I was really glad to be able to slide out the lattice panels and paint the posts separately. I had painted the first panel in place and that was a mistake. It was a sunny Sunday to get this work done, thank goodness.

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I realized if I made David buy me this lovely tool (oh no, something that requires directions!), my very huge project would become a very quick project. Thank you, inventor of the paint sprayer. It worked pretty fantastically but it ate through the rest of my paint and I had to finish with the brush. I’m not sure I had the settings correct or if I did it right, but I was in a hurry. And the sprayer-painted sides look much better than the brush sides.

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But it’s done now and it looks grand!!!

Why I don’t ever have to make lemonade because it’s usually sitting right around the corner.

17 Jan

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I love this photo for many reasons, most of all for the awesome photo bomb by dude in the chair. This photograph was taken by a random but cool Facebook friend of mine who just appeared in this particular restaurant in real life (I’ve only seen him one other time in the five or six years I’ve known him). Also, this is a great group of guys. My husband has known them for forever (since preschool and beyond), and I really appreciate how fun they are to hang out with. A couple extra friends came to brunch and they turned out to be psychologists and graphic designers and UX-ers, and it was very inspiring to talk to them about what I already love to do and would like to pursue career-wise.

Last weekend was really incredible. Following a recent blog post of mine about some of the serious things in life, a lot of people in my life came out of the woodwork to talk to me. And speaking of woodwork, my husband and our friend Lloyd built a beautiful privacy screen on our back porch this past weekend. They finished literally as the rain started, so I haven’t had a chance to stain it yet! I’m glad the sun was out yesterday to dry the wood. It looks extremely magnificent even unfinished though!

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Lloyd and his wife, my dear friend Leslie, also invited us to Morningside’s Couples Group dinner on Friday night where Dave and I were the youngest people by 25 years (except Leslie who is my oldest brother’s age), yet we really enjoyed chatting with everyone there. And they like to play a simple game every January where everyone writes a resolution for his or her spouse, and then everyone else at the party has to guess who it is about. It was silly and fun. I was talking with a wizened photo editor in the kitchen and could hear all the laughter in the background. He was telling me what I should do better re: the Christmas card I designed for our church. The whole night seemed to be about life, purpose, career, and calling, yet in a very fun delivery. Even the prayer about our current world unrest before our delicious pot luck dinner was beautiful.

Fast forward to Sunday brunch with our friends at Stone Soup Kitchen next to Oakland Cemetary, and I feel like the world is showing me my new path. There are constant signs in this world if you simply want to notice them. I personally like to pick out the good signs, the signs that bring me to calm and peace and happiness and art and adventure too. Otherwise the downward spiral is not fun. I’ve seen behind that curtain and try to avoid it as best I can.

Stone Soup Kitchen is by far the best breakfast place I’ve ever eaten at. Every dish looked amazing and I wanted my stomach to be big enough to eat the menu. After our table got all their beautiful looking meals, I got my plate and it looked like it was going to be disappointing. But I was rewarded for my choice by then devouring the best plate of eggs I’ve ever had in my life. Our table was in the hidden back porch and the ambiance was the coolest I’ve enjoyed at an in-town restaurant yet. I want to go back there every weekend until we move to the burbs.

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