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.

Friends + Food + Floating + Fireworks!

I hope everyone had a safe/fun/relaxing/exciting weekend! We traveled to Mt. Juliet, TN for the 16th annual 4th of July weekend at our friend’s family lake house. As with most of the Southeast, we had a pretty rain-filled holiday, but we made the best of it! We got some games (Sour Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, and Heads Up for Iphone) and had the most entertaining time waiting out the rain. We had a much smaller group this time around… around 12 or so compared to 30+ in past years, but we had a fabulous time, as we always do!

We set up a giant tent so we could at least enjoy the outdoors while we played all afternoon. 

BFFs since high school, and the mister on the left is the reason we met! They also love America. 

Every year, we have a big, fancy dinner at the Cherokee Steakhouse. Meaning that it’s an all-you-can-eat steak and bring-your-own-cooler type of place. 🙂 It’s always a great time. And I hear it’s for sale with the marina behind it for a cool $6 million if any of you are interested. 





Last year, we started a new tradition of going into Nashville to celebrate our friend Hunter’s birthday. This year, we stepped it up a notch with a party bus, complete with a dance floor, which came in quite handy for travel entertainment. 

Nothing but magic.

Downtown at the honky tonks — this is Craig’s favorite, The Stage. I love the giant mural of country legends along the wall. 


On our last day, we finally got a break from the rain and were able to take the boat out. Perfect way to end our weekend!


Actually, this was the perfect way to end the trip — a private fireworks show by the neighbors. So pretty!

Despite the less than stellar weather for the 4th, we had a fantastic weekend because we were with wonderful friends. You can’t beat a trip  filled with friends, food, floating, and fireworks!

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

beach essentials

Who is ready for the first beach vacay of the season? I am really wishing I was a teacher or a student right about now so I’d get to enjoy a week-long spring break like so many people on facebook seem to be doing. I do take some solace in the fact that we’ll be heading to Seaside, FL for the wedding of two friends at the end of the month, and we have a couple other really fun beach trips to look forward to throughout the summer.  So I guess I can’t complain. Being the planner that I am, I have of course already been putting together a list of items to pack for our beach trip. Here are some of my favorite beach essentials for the summer!

beach essentials 2013

sunscreen // swimsuit // flip flops // sunnies // beach towel // tote bag // scarf (sarong)

Sunscreen:  I was reading through the March issue of Lucky Magazine this weekend, and came across this powdered sunscreen called Tickle Time. It was created by Anne Heche for her kids and is made from 100% all-natural minerals. I know most people despise putting on suntan lotion (me included), so I’m very intrigued. It’s $35 per tube and says it lasts for more than 300 applications. I think Ima’ have to get some.

Swimsuit:  Everyone needs a cute swimsuit for their beach getaway. I prefer to get a few new ones each year, so I usually shop at Target and mix & match my suits for more versatility throughout the season. I actually got the top shown above (just $14!) and picked up some pink bottoms to match the ties. I’m really enjoying the separated from Victoria’s Secret as well — they’re just a little more pricey.

Flip flips:  I’ve been eyeing TB’s fun, patterned flip flops for a couple years now, and I just might have to break down and get myself a pair before our beach trip. They’re $50, which seems a little steep for plastic shoes to wear with your swimsuit, but they’re just so cute. And if they’re anything like the TB flats, they’re well-made.

Sunnies:  I love a good pair of sunglasses, but these are fun for summertime and definitely won’t break the bank. I love the mint green accent, and I love the price, too — they’re just $12.99 at Target.

Beach towel: I recently stumbled upon Haymarket Designs when looking for custom koozies I wanted to have made for my SIL’s bachelorette party (seen in the post from last week). Their website is sort of cuteness overload with all the different options for customizable gifts. The $55 beach towels are so preppy and fun — they kinda make me want to drive straight to the beach right now just so I can use one of them. And with your name on your towel, you’ll be sure nobody steals your pool chair!

Tote bag: You’ll need something to carry all your beach supplies and goodies, and what better than a fun summer tote? This “How Does She Do It” tote just debuted this week with Stella & Dot’s Summer Collection. It comes in several patterns, but the bold blue ikat pattern is sure to turn heads. The bag has a top-zip, snaps on the sides to make the bag smaller, the lining is a gorgeous green with several pockets (even one for a water bottle!), and it’s a steal at only $89.

Scarf:  Why would you need a scarf on your beach vacay? To use as a sarong, of course! I LOVE this new Stella & Dot turquoise ikat summer scarf! It’s just $59 and can be worn several ways as a stylish swimsuit coverup during the day, and then you can wrap up in it at night if the weather turns breezy!

in a new york minute

As an early birthday present from Craig, he and I spent last weekend in New York City visiting Charlotte, one of my best friends from college. I love getting to visit friends in other cities, and NYC takes the cake as one of the most fun. It’s nice to visit such a huge, busy city (with a rather intimidating subway system compared to MARTA in Atlanta) and know we don’t have to worry at all about where we’re going or what to do because we’re with a local. I’ve visited Char many times, but this was the one of the first trips that involved almost no sightseeing or touristy activities — just going to hang out with our bestie in one of the most amazing cities there is.

We decided to visit from Friday night – Monday morning so we’d have the most amount of time to spend with Char while she wasn’t working. After a delayed flight (thanks to too much air traffic at LGA), we had a surprisingly quick cab ride to her apartment in the Financial District. And as a random surprise, I ran into Sara, one of my sorority sisters and summer roommate from college in the bathroom at the airport! She had just flown in from Rome and we happened to be in the same place at the same time. I also found out that she just opened her own boutique candy shop in Brooklyn called Sugar Shop. We didn’t end up making it over to check it out, but it looks amazing, and I am so excited for her. I mean… isn’t that every kid’s dream to own a CANDY shop??

Charlotte promised to take us to her favorite pizza place in New York, so we walked to dinner at Adrienne’s Pizza Bar in Financial after we got in. One of my favorite things about New York is how accessible everything is by walking on my own two feet. It makes me not feel so bad about myself when I spend the day eating brunch, pizza, and cookies. (Adrienne’s was mentioned in this week’s restaurant review post, along with La Bottega, where we also ate last weekend.)

We also went to one of her other favorite places, Brother Jimmy’s, which is a Southern BBQ restaurant/bar. They are all over the city, but she and her friend Erin used to work at the one we went to all weekend. Craig liked it so much that we had to go every day. The karaoke on Friday night was less than impressive, but the live band on Sunday afternoon was great.

Mimosas and brunch was a big favorite on Saturday and Sunday. I looooved my nutella french toast from the Russian place across from Charlotte’s apartment. Ironically, it was an Italian restaurant — just run by a bunch of nice Russian folks.

Our one touristy activity for the weekend was riding a shark! No, no… not a real shark… just the shark speed boat. There were all kinds of rules for not being able to ride the boat. One of them was that if you don’t like getting wet, don’t ride the boat. We didn’t think too much of it, but we got a big surprise when all of us were SOAKED on the way back — Charlotte, especially. It was so hot out, though, that the water (although sticky with salt) was kind of welcome.

Charlotte, Craig, and me at the South Street Seaport before boarding the shark::

The Freedom Tower, which stands in place of the World Trade Center towers::

Up close and personal with Lady Liberty::

Under the Brooklyn Bridge::

Before we were drenched. I’m being nice and not posting the after photo here::

Oh — and we also got to see Craig’s Chartis office building in NYC — big timers. He had to show a work ID and tell them about where he worked just so they’d let us in the front door to take this::

There was a massive food fest going on with more food trucks than I’ve ever seen. I thought Atlanta had a lot, but that’s nothing compared to this. Steets and streets of ice cream/yogurt/shaved ice, pizza, chicken… and ice cream sandwiches! We got the bourbon ice cream/ginger cookie and the cinnamon ice cream/snickerdoodle cookie… although I really liked that bright green guy.

Touristy shot by the Brooklyn Bridge::

Yummy group dinner at La Bottega in the Maritime Hotel. I love al fresco dining::

Night #2 at Brother Jimmy’s::

Sunday Funday started with brunch at Essex and ended at Brother Jimmy’s::

Craig says we need this sign for the entrance to our basement::

As always, it was sad to leave New York and our favorite person there, but it’s so nice knowing we can go back and visit. And Char’s moving soon, so next time we’ll be going to Brooklyn!

beach vacay in the old city

Last week, we took a much-needed vacation with my parents to one of my most favorite places in the world — St. Augustine, FL. My mom’s family is from Jacksonville (Andrew and I were also born there) and we grew up visiting mom’s family’s beach house. I have so many fond memories of summers spent at the beach house with cousins and friends.  We have photos of me as a baby crawling along the beach EATING sand. Maybe that’s why I love the beach so much now.

We are lucky if we can make it once a year now with jobs and busy schedules, but when we do, it’s like Heaven. You can walk out of the house and right onto the almost completely empty beach. You can hear the waves crashing on the shore from the front 2 bedrooms. I always try to stay in one of those rooms because of that and the front row view of the beach. This house burned to the ground when I was very small, and my dad (along with a team of other people) re-built it — it’s now aptly named “The Phoenix.”

We brought Coco this time, and it was her very first trip to the beach. While at the lake last month, we found out the Coco does not under any circumstances like moving bodies of water. So walks on the beach near those big, crashing waves were not her idea of a good time. Any time we’d go near them, she’d pull as hard as she could (and she’s quite strong at 90lbs.) and sit down so she couldn’t be pulled near the water. We finally convinced her to check out the water when the tide went out in the afternoon. Then she was all about splashing and biting the water…  until tiny little waves rolled in, and she wanted nothing to do with them again. Who would think that such a big, “scary” looking dog would be terrified of moving water?

We took the opportunity to drive into Jax to visit my cousin Alli and her 3 kids, as well as my grandmother, Nana, for lunch one day. We haven’t seen them in 2 years since we last came down for our 1st wedding anniversary. It’s amazing how time goes by so quickly. I love getting to visit with Alli — I always thought she was so cool growing up, and she’s still pretty awesome now. 🙂 The kids were in full-on playtime mode when we got there, so Craig and I took turns admiring all of their toys and reading some books with them — Craig also got the brunt of some of Tripp’s karate moves. He’s such a good sport!

Alli, Tripp (7), and me::

Happy Baby Anderson (1.5)::

Princess Addy (5)::

My beautiful, smart, adventurous 86-year-old grandmother, Nana::

Craig, mom, and me after a yummy lunch at Alli’s::

Much of the rest of the trip was spent sitting on the beach listening to Jimmy Buffett tunes, eating out, and watching movies.

Flagler College downtown::

This is what Coco did most of the time since she couldn’t sit out on the beach without trying to eat every bit of sand in sight::

Perfect day. Can’t wait to go back!

15th annual lake trip at camp maskill

We have a standing reservation at Camp Maskill every 4th of July. Our friend Hunter’s family is gracious enough to offer up their lake house in Mt. Juliet, TN for all of our friends to celebrate the 4th as well as Hunter’s birthday every year. His parents are the best — not only do they allow us to stay at their house, they cook every meal for us, let us bring our crazy/wet/hairy dogs, and don’t seem to mind us traipsing through their house till the wee hours of the morning.

2012 marks several things — the 15th anniversary of this lake trip, Hunter’s 30th birthday, and his mom’s 60th birthday… needless to say, many reasons to celebrate! Since the holiday fell in the middle of the week, we went early (as I had to fly out to Hoopla on Friday), and several other people came and went throughout the week. We spent our time floating in what felt like 90 degree water, playing washers/pictionary/silly word games, eating lots and lots of cheesy rotel dip, and sleeping on air mattresses/chairs and in cars/tents with 30-40 of our closest friends. We also got to meet our friends Cole and Angie’s newborn baby, Jackson. He slept during most of the visit, but he was still perfectly adorable.

On Thursday night, we added a new activity to the lineup — a trip into Nashville to celebrate Hunter’s Dirty 30. Craig lined up a trolley party bus to take us back and forth, and I think the bus trips were the favorite part of the night! The late night snack at Paradise Park was top of the list, too. If only I’d known to get the corn dogs…

I’m sad to have missed out on the trip to the “steakhouse” with everyone on Saturday. It’s the funniest place — all you can eat steak and potatoes, BYOB, and amazing wood-paneled walls. Ah well… till next time!