Spring 2016 To-Do List

Who else is ready to welcome in Spring?!  I’m so ready for warmer weather and sunshine after all this rain here in Atlanta. With having a small baby at home, I don’t always get out of the house as much as I used to every day, so nice weather is key to at least getting in a good stroll with Leighton.

1. Try a few new restaurants from March through May. My sweet mom is always willing to babysit Leighton so we can have regular date nights, which we so appreciate. It’s really nice to go out together for a couple hours every week or so, and I just love trying new places… we can barely keep up with all the great options around Atlanta! (update: ‘Cue BBQ, Taco Cantina, Seven Lamps, Porch Light Latin Kitchen, Zama Mexican, Paces & Vine)

2. Visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s newest Chihuly in the Garden exhibit with my mom!

3. Revamp the living room to better suit our baby needs, which means finding a softer ottoman/coffee table as well as a larger rug to give Leighton a larger, safer place to play on the main floor. (update: DONE!)

4. Take more walks at the Beltline and nearby trails, have picnics in the park, and visit farmer’s markets on weekends… and just enjoy the spring weather with Leighton as much as possible.

5. Celebrate Leighton’s first Easter with Craig’s family in Nashville. I’m almost done helping the Easter bunny find fun things for her basket and I have the most beautiful little dress for church, which I’m so excited about! (update: DONE!)

6. Go to a wine tasting and check out a local brewery on one of our date nights/days.

7. Participate in a weekly class at The Music Class with Leighton. We’re signed up for a 10-week session that I hope we’ll both love! (update: DONE!)

8. Take a trip in April with Craig, Leighton, and my mom down to our family’s beach house in St. Augustine (which we missed out on last year). This will be Leighton’s first trip to the beach, and I can’t wait!! (update: DONE!)

9. Finish up the last round of painting in the house. We’re going to update the main floor to a light grey, and we plan to paint the guest bathroom, as well as update the fixtures. I can’t wait to finally rid our house of all the beige!

Fall To-Do List 2015


I’m sure most people would think I’m nuts for making any sort of to-do list when I have a 3-week-old baby at home. But I have a thing for lists, and there are so many fun (and a few practical) things going on this season that I don’t want to miss out on or forget to do. Here’s my list of things to do this fall::

1.Pick out pumpkins! We likely won’t make it to an actual pumpkin patch this year, but as long as we have some by our front door, I’ll be happy.

2. Find a Halloween costume for Leighton. We have a great neighborhood, and every year, we all celebrate with an outdoor potluck and kids parade through our streets for trick-or-treating. I’m so excited to finally have a little one to dress up this year!

3. Scarecrows in the Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. For the past several years, I’ve gone to this event with my puppet coworkers, and it’s my favorite fall tradition. This time, I’m meeting up with them for the Thursday night Fest of Ale and am planning to bring my mom and Leighton along for some outdoor fun!

4. Celebrate Craig’s 33rd birthday in October — his first one as a dad!

5. Eat lots of pumpkin bread (from local Smyrna bakery, McEntyre’s).

6. Go back to the Center for Puppetry Arts for a spooky adult puppet show! The Ghastly Dreadfuls show is back, and it’s my absolute favorite! If you’re in Atlanta in October, I highly recommend getting tickets.

7. Make Craig’s delicious chili recipe and several other soups and stews this season.

8. Make Leighton’s birth announcements and work on her baby book.

9. Take Christmas card photos and send them out before Thanksgiving.

10. Visit the Center again in November for the grand opening of the newly expanded Museum! This project has been years in the making, and I’m really looking forward to going back to my old stomping grounds to see the finished product. It’s such a huge accomplishment for everyone involved!


summer 2014 bucket list


Summer may not officially be here yet, but it sure feels like it in Atlanta. Earlier this week, I was out grabbing lunch at a local deli, and the place was packed with kids who had clearly just left the pool to come in for a quick bite before heading back out to their fun summer plans. Since we adults don’t have the luxury of an actual summer break, I want to make an effort to fit in more fun outings and activities than we normally do the rest of the year. It was fun trying to cross everything off my bucket list last summer, so we’ll see if we can do it again this year. Happy summer, y’all!


1. Install new light fixtures, frame out the mirror, and paint the guest bathroom. It’s a beige world we’ve been living in, and I’m slowly but surely remedying that.

2. Photograph TWO weddings! Never thought I’d have something like that on my list, but I’m so grateful and excited for where my MHP business is taking me. I’m also looking forward to getting in lots more family/baby/newborn sessions as the summer rolls on. Those really are the best kind! — DONE, and they were fabulous!

3. Make homemade popsicles! There are so many delicious-looking recipes on Pinterest, and I especially love the ones with fresh fruit.

4. Hoopla in Orlando! This will be my 5th year in a row attending Stella & Dot’s annual conference. It really does get better every year, and we have some really exciting things on the horizon, so I’m sure this year will be no different. — DONE!

5. Cookout with friends and smoke some meat on our fancy new Kamado Joe ceramic grill! — DONE!

6. Get back to the gym. Or at least exercise more in general — even morning or evening walks/jogs would be better than what I’ve been doing, which is nothing! — working on it!

7. Hike Stone Mountain — meant to do that last year!

8. Try a handful of new restaurants in Atlanta. I have a running list on my iPhone that is broken down by neighborhood, and there are still lots that we want to check out. To me, trying new places in my own city almost makes me feel like I’m on vacation, which is always fun. — Folk Art (AMAZING brunch!), Ink & Elm, Watershed on Peachtree (fried chicken night on Wednesday is the bomb), The Pig and The Pearl, Bad Dog Taqueria

9. Read more books. I have two brand new books downloaded on my Kindle just waiting for my attention. I would prefer poolside reading. — Finished “Crazy Rich Asians” and really enjoyed it. Now working my way through “The Vacationers”

10. Go to the beach! While we likely will only make one trip to the ocean this summer, I could not be more excited. We’ll be taking some friends down to my mom’s family’s beach house in St. Augustine, FL just before my birthday in late August. St. Augustine is my favorite place in the world — it’s where we grew up vacationing, where Craig and I got married, and where I would love to retire one day.

travel:: Scottsdale, AZ

For the last leg of our anniversary trip, we headed down to Scottsdale for 3 nights of resort living. We stopped by Old Town on the way in, and it was just the cutest place — even more so at night once the streets and trees are lit up with what seemed like millions of tiny white lights. Old Town is filled with tons of great restaurants and bars, and even more jewelry and souvenir shops.

It was so hard to choose a resort — there were too many that all looked fabulous. We ended up at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch… largely because of that water slide below! The resort had something like 10 pools (some tiny, but who’s measuring), including an adults-only pool, and that giant slide, which was so fun! I may or may have not been the only adult in line with a dozen 5-year-olds. We sat by the pool for 2 solid days, which I think we earned after our rigorous hiking excursions. 😉


What I loved most about the resort property was the huge open courtyard and open-air lobby area. The view was so inviting for breakfast, lunch, sushi/cheese/wine happy hour, and for nighttime entertainment. Southwest Bistro was my favorite restaurant onsite — I got the southwest chicken caesar salad both days for lunch, and I kinda wish I had one right now.  
In between laying hanging out at the pool and hugging cacti, we tried a few really great restaurants, with our favorites being The Mission and El Chorro. You know I’ll have a blog post coming soon. 
The last full day of the trip, we were up at literally before the crack of dawn to do something I’ve been wanting to do for years — ride in a hot air balloon!! This was the 2nd item I was able to check off my bucket list during this trip, and I’ve been so excited about it since booking it a few months ago. We had to call the night before to ensure that the weather would be good enough to fly, and thankfully it was. After reading tons and tons of reviews, I chose 2 Fly Us Hot Air Balloons (if we were going to float thousands of feet into the air in a tiny basket, I wanted to at least make sure we were choosing a SAFE tiny basket and a great pilot).

Kevin is the owner of 2 Fly Us, and he was our pilot and tour guide of the open air. He and his “chase crew” — an ex-Seattle Seahawks player named Gene — were so professional, friendly, and really made us feel comfortable. The cool thing about these companies is that they  coordinate take-off sites so that their customers get to see all of the other balloons being blown up and photograph them while they’re flying near them in the air. Our basket held just 5 people, which we really liked, but one of the groups had a basket holding 20!

It was so neat to watch each team quickly but very carefully unroll the balloons, connect them to the baskets (which were lying on their sides on the ground), and then turn on the fuel to essentially air up the balloon and lift it upright. To me, the only really unnerving part of the process was hopping into the half-upright basket and having it wobble around until it righted itself with the flow of the wind and took off into the air.

Once up in the air, the balloon just sort of goes where the wind takes it. The ride was surprisingly incredibly smooth and stable. We reached a height of about 5,300 feet and then (very) slowly swooped down in between mountains so low that I thought we might end up on top of a cactus… and then before we knew it, we’d be heading right back up into the sky again.
Our pilot and chase crew communicated via radios to determine a landing spot. I was a little worried about crash landing, but it was so smooth. Kevin really knows what he’s doing. Once we disembarked, Gene quickly rolled the giant balloon back up into its container. I would most certainly have had that thing in a colossal knot if that were my job. 
And another fun part…. a champagne toast to celebrate a successful flight! We held our glasses toward the rising sun and Kevin recited what is called “The Balloonist’s Prayer,” which goes like this:
May the winds welcome you with softness.
May the sun bless you with its warm hands.
May you fly so high and so well that God
joins you in laughter and sets you gently
back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.
I can’t say enough how much I loved our hot air balloon experience. Flying peacefully through the sky, between mountains, above cacti in the desert, and next to several other giant, glowing balloons was one of the single most amazing things I’ve ever gotten to do. It was the perfect cap to an incredible trip celebrating 5 wonderful, joyous years of marriage. I’m excited to see where we end up for our 10th!

travel:: the Grand Canyon

From Sedona, we drove up to the Grand Canyon National Park, which has been a longtime item on my bucket list. The 2.5 hour drive up to the park was really pretty, with a good bit of the first half being through the mountains. I don’t know what I expected, but I certainly didn’t think we’d be taking a drive through the forest in Arizona.

We aren’t incredibly outdoorsy people, so instead of staying several days to hike down to the bottom of the canyon and camp (and then hike back out!), we opted for a night at the historic El Tovar Hotel, positioned at the South Rim. You couldn’t get much closer to the rim unless you slept on the sidewalk. There are several lodges and cabins located in that area of the South Rim, but I really liked staying at El Tovar for our first time there. From the moment you step onto the large, rocking chair-filled front porch and enter through the wooden double doors into the lobby, you can feel the rustic, turn-of-the-century charm. The hotel was built in 1905, and I would bet that a lot of aspects haven’t changed since then. The rooms are somewhat small, but they’re well-equipped with modern amenities (even a Kuerig coffee maker) — and I loved the tile work in the bathroom.


We arrived late in the afternoon and took a scenic drive out to Grandview Point (thanks to a suggestion from our Canadian friends in Sedona) to get our first glimpse of the canyon. It was so incredibly impressive — photos we’d seen just did no justice to how magnificent the sheer size is.


Bright and early the next morning, we started our hike down the Bright Angel Trail, which was only about a quarter mile down from the hotel. Like I said… we’re not hikers. So going about 1.5 miles down into the canyon and 1.5 miles back out was PLENTY for us. Add in the high altitude, and we thought me might not make it out. I will say that it’s supposed to take twice as long coming back up, but we did it in equal time… so maybe we were going a bit faster on the way out than we should have. We must have looked tired, because there were several people who passed us and asked if we’d gone all the way to the bottom — HA!


The trail itself, though, was quite peaceful. It was neat to just stop every so often and take in the grand view and how far we’d made it down. We decided afterward that we liked the hiking in Sedona better, but I’m so glad we did the GC.


After cleaning up (we were COVERED in orange dust!) and checking out of the El Tovar, we hopped back in the car to make the 4 hour trek down to Scottsdale. Once out of the park, we came back by this bizarre little place called The Flintstones Bedrock City. It has been around for over 45 years and consists of a campground, diner, and theme park. Craig was just dying to check it out, so we took a chance on it and stopped for lunch. While the place was pretty deserted, the lunch was a nice little surprise. It was nothing fancy — burgers, hot dogs, and the like (all with Flintstones-themed names) — but it was well-made and much better than stopping at McDonald’s. We didn’t end up paying to go through the theme park, but I’m sure it would have brought back many fond memories of one of the best cartoon families there ever was.


spring 2014 bucket list


This list has become pretty standard for me each season now. I’m a perpetual list-maker, and I love the satisfaction of crossing things off of those lists. It’s also a fun reminder to try new things. So here’s my list for Spring 2014!

1. Try 2 new restaurants each month or take one another to a place we have yet to try together (March — Hammock’s Trading Co., Village Taqueria, Bar Meatball; April; May)

2. Visit the Grand Canyon and road trip it through Arizona!

3. Find a place to volunteer together (I’m in the process of signing up with a great non-profit called Preemie Prints, where I’ll be able to donate my photography services to families who have a baby in the NICU. We have a few friends who have been through this trying time as new parents, and I’m so excited to give back to this very special, brave group of people.)

4. DIY project — design and build a wooden “live edge” table for our deck — in progress

5. Take more walks in the park… and picnics in the park… and just enjoy the spring weather as much as possible

6. Continue advertising and growing my photography business by booking newborn, maternity, couples, and spring mini sessions

7. Continue learning Lightroom editing software

8. Visit Craig’s family in Nashville and hopefully my family in Florida — Nashville visit done!

summer bucket list


Memorial Day has come and gone, and summer is officially here! And while we’ll still be working all summer, I can’t help but want to squeeze in more fun outings and activities than we normally do the rest of the year. I was inspired by this summer bucket list from my friend Natalie and decided I had to have my own. I hope we’re able to cross everything off the list by the end of August!

1. Day trip to Zoo Atlanta (where we were on our 1st official date back in 2005!)

2. Take friends out on our boat on Lake Lanier — DONE

3. Beach trip to St. Augustine for our 4th Anniversary — DONE

4. Braves game — DONE

5. 4th of July at Old Hickory in TN — DONE

6. Try 2 new restaurants each month — DONE

7. Hoopla in Vegas! — DONE

8. Have a big ‘ol breakfast at the Original Pancake House— DONE

9. See the Center for Puppetry Arts’ new show, Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat. It’s going to be awesome! — DONE

10. Cookouts with friends and hanging out on the new patio and pallet bed — DONE

11. Lots of Saturday pool time — DONE, but will do again

12. Tuesday night picnic at the Smyrna Food Truck Park — DONE

13. Figure out the curtain/valance situation for Craig’s office windows and guestroom #1 — DONE

14. Hit up the Peachtree Road and Marietta Farmers Markets

15. Make a summer sangria recipe like this one — DONE

16. Hike to the top of Stone Mountain

17. Build a cabinet to update our master bathroom counter/mirror space

18. Finish the projection screen project in the basement and break it in with a Bad Boys screening (just for Craig)! — DONE

19. 30th birthday trip to Cabo!!! What better way to end the summer? — DONE

travel bucket list

We love to travel. It’s one of my most favorite things to do, and we do it often. There are so many places I’d love to explore for the first time, and another large handful of places that I can’t wait to go back to or take Craig to for the first time. Being the list-maker that I am, it makes sense that I should create a travel bucket list to keep track of all the adventures I’m going to take one day! It’ll be fun to cross them off one by one and add more as we go. Where in the world is on your travel bucket list?

1) Drive the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to San Diego in a convertible.

2) Go whale watching in San Diego on a Navy SEAL Rigid Inflatable Boat.

3) Hike to the top of Stone Mountain, just outside of Atlanta
(this should have been done a long time ago given that we’ve lived here since 2006!).

4) Hike the Grand Canyon.

5) See the El Arco de Cabo San Lucas (Lands End) —  DONE, August 2013

6) See the La Sagrada Familia and all of Antoni Gaudí’s work in Barcelona, Spain.

7) Take Craig to Cinque Terre and hike between the 5 towns. Most gorgeous place I’ve ever been.

8) Pet a Kangaroo in Australia.

9) Visit the Acropolis in Athens and island-hop through Greece.

10) Travel through Scotland, Ireland, and Great Britain.

11) Ride in a hot air balloon in Arizona or New Mexico. — doing this in April 2014!

12) Tube down the river and play in Austin, TX with friends.

13) Revisit (and take Craig to) Innsbruck, Austria, where I studied abroad in college.

14) Take a big anniversary trip to Bora Bora / Tahiti / Fiji. Probably won’t be able to afford it till we’re 75, but a girl can dream, right?

15) Maybe we could swing a trip to Maui more easily? Our family went when I was in high school, but I’d take any opportunity to go back!

16) See the tulip fields and take a boat tour of the canals in Amsterdam.

18) Go on an African safari.

17) Stay at the Biltmore during the holidays — and check out all of the amazing food in Asheville!

18) Spend a weekend in Savannah and do a “slow ride” tour. How have we never been there?