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.

winter bucket list

I’ve decided that I really like making bucket lists for each season. Sometimes, the days and weeks go so quickly that each season is gone before we know it, so this encourages us to make the most of them!  The winter tends to be a little quieter around here after the hype of the holidays, so hopefully this list will inspire us to get out and do some fun things between December and February!

1. Try 2 new restaurants each month (Dec  / Jan / Feb) — Dec: 1Kept, Seed, Coast, Pallookaville; Jan: missed the boat on new places; Feb: Mali Thai, Ecco, Slice & Pint, drinks at Ink & Elm)

2. Drive around Atlanta to look at Christmas lights — DONE!

3. Beer tasting at Monday Night Brewing — DONE!

4. Bake Christmas cookies! (didn’t get to this one, but we did make brownies and peppermint ice cream! 

5. Plan our annual girls Christmas dinner + ornament exchange — DONE!

6. Find somewhere to volunteer together

7. Have exterior of house painted, trim fixed, and possibly add street number to front door — DONE!

8. Visit the million+ Garden Lights at Atlanta Botanical Garden — didn’t make it here thanks to the rain

9. Learn Lightroom photo editing program — in progress

10. Go to the gun range and practice shooting (my first time!) — DONE!

11. See another improv show at Dad’s Garage Theatre — DONE!

12. Have fondue and movie night — DONE (did this for Valentine’s Day)!

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?

date nights for you + your favorite


I’ve started keeping a list of my favorite date night ideas to spice up our weekends and free time. There are so many fun adventures to take around Atlanta and the surrounding areas, yet we usually end up doing the same things.
So here’s a list of some of the fun things we have done or want to cross off our list!


1) Spend an afternoon at the zoo or aquarium.
2) Go bowling – loser buys dinner!
3) Play putt putt golf & celebrate the winner with ice cream.
4) Go-kart racing!
5) See an improv comedy show.
In Atlanta, we love going to late night shows at Dad’s Garage Theatre.
Relatively cheap tickets, buckets of beer, and gut-busting comedy. Can’t beat it.
6) Have a picnic in the park.
Bring your blanket, wine, and cheese… turn on some music on your phone and watch the sunset!
7) See a drive-in movie.
Perfect for those warm spring and summer nights. Pack drinks and dessert to enjoy during the movie.
8) Have movie night in with a popcorn bar.
Pop in a movie, light some candles, and make your own little popcorn bar,
complete with butter, m & m’s, peanuts, or whatever other fun toppings strike your fancy.
9) Take a cooking class.
10) Visit an art, history, or science museum.
11) Spend a Saturday morning at the local farmers market.
Stock up on some fresh goodies and make a meal together when you get home.
12) Visit a local festival or fair.
So many option – food and/or beer festivals, craft fairs, music festivals, and even BACON fests (if your city is so lucky).
13) Attend an outdoor concert.
14) Take a day trip to a nearby town.
Always wanted to check out a nearby beach or mountain town? Hop in the car with a map (or your GPS) and turn up the tunes.
Visit a mom and pop diner, specialty boutiques, wander the parks… and be sure to pick up a little souvenir to remember your day.
15) Take a bike ride around the city.
16) Go on a winery tour.
17) Go thrifthing/antiquing.
Find something to re-vamp and make your own.
18) Get tickets to a professional baseball / football / basketball game and cheer on your home team.
19) Volunteer at a local animal shelter or organization of your choice.
20) Have a backyard bonfire with s’mores.
21) Get all dressed up in your finest and see a show at the theater.
22) Take dancing lessons. Learn the Waltz or the Tango… it’ll be fun to practice in your kitchen later!
23) Go to a Mystery Dinner Theater.
24) Get pedicures together! You know there are lots of guys out there who would love it.
25) Keep a list of restaurants you both want to try. Take turns picking a new place every couple weeks.
26) Go sky high with a hot air balloon or airplane ride over the city.
27) Get a hotel room.
Put on the plush robes, order room service, and stay in for the night.
28) Have lunch at a food truck park.
29) Visit a pumpkin patch in the fall.
Decorate your pumpkin together when you get home.
30) Hit up the driving range or the gun range.
He can show you how to perfect your swing/shot… or you can show him!
31) Go to the county fair.
Act like kids… ride the rides, overload on corn dogs/cotton candy/funnel cakes, have your faces painted, play games and win a goldfish.
32) Test drive a car just for fun.
33) Specific to Atlanta, go see a children’s puppet show at the Center for Puppetry Arts (shameless plug).
Wander the Museum and make a puppet to take home as a souvenir of your day!
34) Go on a quest to find the city’s best dessert… so what if you have to try 2 or 3 places in one night?
35) Re-enact your first date. Go all out and have fun remembering what it was like when you first started dating!

My Unofficial Guide to Atlanta:: things to do

Continuing my unofficial guide to Atlanta is a list of some of my favorite activities and attractions.  There are so many cool things to do around the city and in outlying areas, so there’s no way I can cover everything… these are just some of my faves. Enjoy!


Center for Puppetry Arts::
I can’t very well make a list of my favorite things to do in Atlanta and not mention my workplace of more than 6 years. The Center is currently the nation’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to the art of puppetry. There are original performances and guests artists who visit from around the world, a global Museum and Jim Henson exhibits (come see Cookie Monster and Big Bird!), and an award-winning Education department that offers Distance Learning, outreach, and the oh-so-fun Create-A-Puppet Workshop. If you’re around through the holidays, I’d highly recommend seeing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which is based on the classic television show that many of us know and love from childhood. There are shows for families as well as adults (like Tales of Edgar Allan Poe in February 2013) throughout the year, so there’s always something interesting to check out!


Dad’s Garage Theater Company::
Affectionately just called “Dad’s” — this place is legit funny.  They offer improv comedy shows as well as original plays and are located in Inman Park, so it’s perfect for a “dinner and a show” date night. The improv shows are our favorite ones to attend — we loved the Japanese-style game show Samurai Davis Jr. and Dim Sum’s Super Mega Happy Fun Time Improv Show!, Invasion: Christmas Carol, and Ask Dr. Frapples (a Dear Abby-style improv show). You can also buy snacks and buckets o’ beer.


Atlanta Botanical Gardens::

Two great times to visit the Garden — Scarecrows in the Garden (October) and Garden Lights Holiday Nights (November/December).

Every fall, tons of local businesses, organizations, and even families create their own scarecrow to be displayed, and it’s a really fun early evening activity to bring your kids to or just visit with some friends. Every Thursday is the Fest of Ale (featuring autumn-themed beer) and local banjo player (and friend of mine) David Stephens performs original songs with his band, Banjolicious. It’s a festive good time to get you in the mood for fall!

A new tradition we started last year is visiting for the Garden Lights Holiday Nights when my family is in town for Christmas. This year, there are over one million lights in the gardens, along with trains, musical orbs (so cool!), and beautiful flowers. It’s like being in an enchanted, glowing forest. You can have cocktails and cider at the Glow Bar and even buy “Make-Your-Own S’mores” kits to toast by the fire pits! Be sure to bundle up — last year, it was freeeeezing!


Piedmont Park::
Our own mini version of Central Park… it’s a wonderful green oasis in Midtown. Although the parking is terrible, once you’re there, it’s such a great place to jog, walk your dog (and visit the HUGE dog park), or just lay in the grass with a picnic lunch. In the summer, you can attend Screen on the Green, where a different film plays on a huge screen out on the lawn each week, and in the spring, the Dogwood Festival is one of the most popular festivals of the year. Last March, we ran our first 5K, the Color Run. It started and ended in Piedmont Park and was a big party of colorful dust!

Zoo Atlanta:: 

I love the zoo. Not just Atlanta’s, but most any zoo will do. (Like that rhyme?) Watching animals is just so entertaining. In fact, mine and Craig’s first official date was to Zoo Atlanta! I haven’t been in years, but have it on my list to visit in 2013.  It’s a smaller zoo than say, San Diego’s, but it’s still a nice place to visit. Two annual events that I think sound really fun are Boo at the Zoo (for kids at Halloween) and Brew at the Zoo (for adults sometime in the fall). Who doesn’t want to play among the pandas and elephants and monkeys?? And they have free parking… a hot commodity in the middle of the city.


Taste of Atlanta Food Festival::
We love food, so a food festival is the perfect place to take my parents when they’re in town. The Taste of Atlanta Food Festival is a weekend-long festival that takes place in October. There were 75+ restaurants, ranging from fine dining to Waffle House, that had booths set up around the streets of GA Tech’s campus, and there were cooking demonstrations throughout the day. With admission, you receive a number of tickets to exchange for food tastings. The cone of pomme frites below was from the JCT Kitchen booth. Yum! Although it’s only once a year and is usually very crowded, I’d go again… who doesn’t love the opportunity to taste treats from some of the best restaurants in town — all in one place?


Food Truck Parks:: 

There are 2 locations that I love to visit when the weather is nice — Atlanta Food Truck Park & Market on Howell Mill in the Midtown area and Taylor-Brawner Park in Smyrna. The food truck wave hit Atlanta a while ago, and now they’re everywhere… which is not a problem with me. I love the variety of the trucks at each park, and it’s so nice to have an excuse to sit outside with some friends for a couple hours while we try out an assortment of food surprises. The one drawback about the Smyrna park is that it’s only open every Tuesday (now closed for the winter), so it’s PACKED every week with every person who lives within 15 miles of the park, but I guess that means it’s popular and here to stay. Some of my favorite trucks that frequent the parks are Yumbi (a blend of Asian and Mexican flavors), King of Pops (amazingly fresh, all-natural popsicles – esp. the Chocolate Sea Salt!), Sweet Auburn BBQ, and Champion Cheesesteaks (they also have a small restaurant in Smyrna called Roy’s Cheesesteaks, and they’re the best ever).