Local Atlanta: walking the Beltline

Visiting Laura has always been fun – we’ve had our share of adventures when she lived in D.C., and now that she’s relocated to Atlanta, there’s a whole new city to explore!

She and her husband Armando hosted me for a weekend this spring, and their number one recommendation for a Saturday morning was exploring the Atlanta Beltline. I had no idea what this was. Eager to check it out, we set off for a morning outside at one of Atlanta’s less touristy attractions!

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Exploring the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta!

Exploring the Georgia Aquarium

Part of my travels this spring took me down to Atlanta, home to my friends Laura & Armando. Atlanta is one of those cities with so many things to do and see, and I knew we couldn’t do it al in one weekend! So I did the smart (read: lazy) thing and let my hosts tell me what they most wanted to show me.

Their top choices: the Beltline and the Aquarium! While I didn’t know anything about the Beltline (stay tuned for more soon!), I had hoped they would want to see the Georgia Aquarium. So off we set for a fish-filled day!!

Exploring the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta! Continue reading

Some of my latest favorites in the DC food scene!

DC food finds

The hardest thing for me about living in a small town is the lack of ethnic food. I could eat Thai food twice and week and never get sick of it. Sushi is my love language. There is nothing quite like great Italian pasta. So when I headed east for a few months this spring, good food was on the top of my list! Luckily, when visiting my friend Catherine in Washington DC, she had a ton of great places to hit up, including several things I’d never had before!

Some of my latest favorites in the DC food scene!

Watching the snow from a coffee shop = perfection.

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The Newseum is one of my favorite museums in DC! Check my blog post for a few more favorites.

Swapping favorite spots in DC

When visiting my friend Catherine, she and I spent a lot of time comparing our favorite things to do in D.C.. I realized when visiting her that I’ve come to the city at least every year since my sophomore year of college, so I’ve got some serious love for Washington D.C.!

Today, I’m sharing a few of Catherine’s favorites that I’d never explored as well as some of my old standbys I can’t seem to pass on whenever I visit.

The Botanic Gardens is one of my favorite museums in DC! Check my blog post for a few more favorites.

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Springtime snow in D.C.

By March of this year, I’d ditched all my cold weather gear in Alabama. Living out of a suitcase meant I wanted to shed as much unnecessary gear as possible, and after a month of unusually warm weather in the south I was ready to get rid of warm layers. So when I visited my husband in sunny Alabama, I ditched the gloves, hat, and snow coat. Because March in the south means daffodils and dogwoods, right?

Apparently not. Days after leaving Alabama, my trip to D.C. came into question because of snow. Not wanting to miss the chance to visit, I headed up a day early to beat the weather. The joy of crashing with my parents means that I borrowed my mom’s snow boots and my lovely host Catherine lent me a coat, but it cracked me up that my winter gear got left in sunny Alabama when I’m snowed in here in the District of Colombia.

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While I’ve been snowed in in D.C. before, it’s never been during the same time the cherry blossoms were predicted. This time, I was visiting my friend Catherine, and she and I spent a few days comparing notes on our favorite D.C. So here’s a few bits of our snow day adventures!

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What I’m reading: Carry On, Warrior

“Have you heard of Glennon Doyle Melton?” carryonwarrior-1my friend asked me one day last month.

I hadn’t. She followed up by telling me she’s the founder of Momastery, which I’d heard of and assumed was a “mommy blog,” and yes I was a touch judgmental about what I thought air-quotes-mommy-blogs are. My kidless self made some assumptions and have been properly chastised. Turns out it’s much more – and much better –  than I’d thought. My apologies.

So I’d heard of Momastery but I hadn’t ever read anything on that particular piece of the internet. But my friend recommended Melton’s first book, Carry On, Warrior, and then lent it to me with strict instructions to read it. [Don’t you love friends like that, who put the book in your hands because she knew you probably wrote it down and promptly forgot about it? They are just the best.]

Within the first two pages I was sucked in. By page 5 I laughed out loud. On page 8 I cried. The scope of this book blew me away.

In a memoir essay style reminiscent of Anne Lamott or Shauna Niequist, she talks about life. It’s the style I aspire to: honest, raw and funny, all the while telling an everyday story that’s both relatable and awesome.

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In her “Sister” essay, I cried. I don’t even have a sister but I hurt for Sister and imagined myself loving my college roommates the way Melton does.

“Airing Our Dirty Laundry” cracked me up extra because I’d forgotten a load of not-fully-dry laundry just that week and had broken her SAME Wednesday rule.

The threads of faith, family and marriage run throughout, and she rarely talks about one without touching the other two. Even if Christianity isn’t your thing, it’s a great book about life – of facing the hard things and the day to day and living life for real. She describes it this way in the first chapter: “That was going to be my thing. I was going to make people feel better about their insides by showing them mine. By being my real self.” She’s candid about the parts of her that’s messed up and funny without making light of them.

My latest book obsession: Carry On Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

That, to me, is the crux of this book. Her faith is real and part of life in the big things and the small things. She talks to God as the best friend you call to tell that ridiculous thing that happened today or about the intensely hard decision you’re grappling with.

Peace isn’t the absence of distraction or annoyance or pain. It’s finding Me, finding peace and calm, in the midst of those distractions and annoyances and pains.

There’s something to the essay style books that read like a conversation for me. They soothe and encourage and push and love me in a way that speaks to my soul.

Melton has also written a more recent book focusing on marriage that I haven’t read yet, Love Warrior. It’s definitely on my wish list this Christmas!

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Do you have anything on your holiday reading list that you’re especially excited about? What should I read next??

Opinions are my own and I didn’t receive compensation for my writing. The links above contain affiliate links, which means I get a few cents (at no extra cost to you) if you book or buy something via that link. This helps me keep costs down and posts up! All images copyright Teaspoon of Nose.

Our meal!

What I’m thankful for.

Happy thanksgiving!

Since we just got to Oklahoma, we didn’t head home for Thanksgiving this year. It’s only the second time I haven’t been home for it, but Logan and I got to do our own meal this year, even roasting our own turkey for the first time ever! It went well! Logan found this recipe and  I’m pretty proud of how tasty our first time efforts turned out!

I may have gone a bit overboard and cooked as if I was feeding six people instead of two. But that’s how I roll. I’ll share some recipes soon, most of them make great Christmas dinner options as well!

Our meal!

Homemade everything except gravy and cranberry sauce!

Not to be too cheesy, but the past few months have really highlighted how much I have to be thankful for. Logan and I have been absurdly blessed in so many ways, but today I want to acknowledge one category in particular.

I’m so thankful for my people. My family and friends. My tribe.

I cannot express the absurdly wonderful amount of love and support I have felt through this moving process.

When I called people with the news, they all celebrated that we finally knew where we were headed. They asked questions, they encouraged. Many went to their laptops and googled and mapped and searched for housing or job opportunities for me and recommended attractions within the hour of me telling them where.

At least 70% of people said they were glad to know where they’ll be coming to visit us. And even if 99% of them aren’t able to actually come, the love they offered so naturally, so unthinkingly, made it the best possible response they could’ve offered.

The number of people that called or texted in the first few days of arriving. Even people who I don’t get to see that often checked in, asked how our place was, if we were meeting people. (We like our house a lot, and Logan’s office has wonderful people.)

To say that these people are the best feels like a massive understatement. I have felt so loved and cared for over the past couple months, and I couldn’t ask for a better community.

Things will look and feel different going forward, I know that. But I’m grateful for the ways that these friends and family have cared for me so far and I know that 1000 miles doesn’t change one speck of the love there.

I am so thankful for you!!

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all images copyright Teaspoon of Nose

Operation: Huntsville Is Awesome was a smashing success!

Operation: Huntsville is Awesome

As part of our pre-move travels, we headed down south to Huntsville, Alabama! My friend Lindsay moved down there earlier this year to be with her husband and we hadn’t been down to visit yet.

Operation: Huntsville Is Awesome was a smashing success!

Operation: Huntsville Is Awesome was a smashing success!

One of the things I love about Lindsay and John is that they are game for anything. Lindsay and I got into a number of shenanigans in college, and John pushes it even further! So I always know when we’re hanging with them, we’re going to have a blast. I didn’t know much about Huntsville or the surrounding area, but they pretty much treated the weekend as three days of Operation: Huntsville Is Awesome.

We spent our Friday night at Lowe Mill, and it was the best. Think food trucks, live music and cool art. If I lived there, I would be here every. Friday. Night. Plus, not too far away are a couple of bars opened up in an old middle school, which makes for a nostalgic craft brew. The beer was fantastic, but the atmosphere was the main attraction!

Operation: Huntsville Is Awesome was a smashing success!

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The Atlanta History Center is a one-of-a-kind local museum!

Exploring the Atlanta History Center

Since we’ve had an unexpected lag with our move date (welcome to military life!), we decided to take advantage of the time by squeezing in some visits to friends and family! One such place that caught our attention was Atlanta, where my friends Laura & Armando moved recently. Laura had a few days of freedom before starting her new job, so Logan & I jumped at the chance to take a quick trip down to Georgia!

We only had a couple of days, so in between giggling on the couch, eating Chinese food, and checking out Sweetwater Brewing Company, we did manage to head to one museum: the Atlanta History Center!

Like the name suggests, Atlanta History Center focuses on Atlanta-specific history in most of its exhibits. One thing I loved here was the mix of clear rich history demonstrated in a modern context.

The Atlanta History Center is a one-of-a-kind local museum!

The most popular exhibit follows the history of Atlanta. There’s sections on the Olympics, city maps, the civil rights movement, religion, even clothes! Best of all, there’s so much to touch and interact with: everything from digital timelines to a recreated barber shop. My favorite exhibit, however, was called “Atlanta in 50 Objects.” It covered everything from an iconic meal at the Varsity to a world series ring to a speech from Martin Luther King, Jr. To see a city choose 50 items to represent it’s hundreds of years of history, culture and identity fascinates me.

Beyond the traditional exhibits, the museum has a pretty extensive outdoor presence. The land itself used to be one piece of private property with a home called the Swan House. When the local historical society bought it, it eventually turned into a museum! (One fun effect of all this is that the museum backs up to a high end Buckhead neighborhood, so the drive in is gorgeous!) Along with the Swan House, the museum moved an 1860’s farmhouse and an 1890’s cabin onto the property for exploring.

The Atlanta History Center is a one-of-a-kind local museum!

The Swan House, of course, was the favorite of Laura and I. Set up as it would’ve been in the 1930’s,  complete with tables set and books left open. Even the grandchildren’s rooms are askew with toys, there for the playing with for any visitors who want to! The kitchen’s recipe books list things like boiled brains and aspic. The museum staff outside are all actors, playing roles of the inhabitants or staff of the home. From the costumes down to their word choice, they fit their roles and are full of info about the house. Parts of the home have been featured in Hollywood recently: the grand staircase is used in Vampire Diaries, and the back of the house is President Snow’s home in The Hunger Games!

The Atlanta History Center is a one-of-a-kind local museum!

The Atlanta History Center is a one-of-a-kind local museum!

The farmhouse had more than just actors; they had animals! Sheep, goats, chickens, and even a turkey  made the place feel like the owners had just run into town for the day. It did host a working farm, including the biggest zucchini I’ve ever seen in my life! Apparently lots of school groups come through here, so if you’re visiting on a weekday keep that in mind.

Hungry after a few hours of exploring, we decided to check out the museum cafe. It seems like museums often capitalize on the fact that clientele won’t leave to overcharge on bland food, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Souper Jenny’s offered soups, salads and sandwiches with fresh ingredients – many from their own gardens – and had more options than your traditional turkey sandwich or chicken noodle soup. I went with a chipotle sweet potato soup and farro pear grain salad, and loved it! Everything tasted freshly picked, and my combo was less than $10! Locals stopped in for lunch even if they weren’t seeing the museum, which is always a vote of confidence in my book.

The Atlanta History Center is a one-of-a-kind local museum!

We loved the museum! Next time you’re in Atlanta, plan a stop here.

What about us? Where should we check out next time we’re in town??

The links above contain affiliate links, which means I get a few cents (at no extra cost to you) if you book or buy something via that link. This helps me keep costs down and posts up! All images copyright Teaspoon of Nose.

Bread & Wine by Shaun Niequist

What I’m reading: Bread & Wine

Friends.

This book.

I don’t even know where to start about this book.

This book got passed around my friend group like wildfire. I’d heard about it for a couple of years, but never got around to buying it (and let’s be honest, I love my public library but they’re not quick to buy Christian books written in the past 5 years unless they make some “religious bestseller list”). Then suddenly, 3 of my Monday night friends had read it and lent their copies to another three, who were raving about it mid-book.

So I got in line and when someone finished it, I snapped up a copy.

And y’all, it’s just as good as they said.

Don’t you love that feeling? When books are just as good as you heard they were?

It’s like salve to a thirsty soul, it is.

Bread & Wine by Shaun Niequist

Bread and Wine  is a series of essays by Shauna Niequist. The premise sounds amazing as it is: a book about God, community, and food. Three of my favorite things, in order.

I keep trying to summarize it and doing it poorly, so I’ll pull a quote to let her speak for herself:

What’s becoming clearer and clearer to me is that the most sacred moments, the ones in which I feel God’s presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, take place at the table. The particular alchemy of celebration and food, of connecting people and serving what I’ve made with my own hands, comes together as more than the sum of their parts. I love the sounds and smells and textures of life at the table, hands passing bowls and forks clinking against plates and bread being torn and rhythm and energy of feeding and being fed.

This was the kind of book that I didn’t want to read too much at a time because each chapter spoke to my soul so deeply that I didn’t want to rush my absorption of it. The first six chapters in particular spoke to deep core needs within me, or resonated with a place I’ve been in the past couple years. Even the chapters on areas of life I haven’t yet experienced – motherhood, some types of loss, or some other piece of real life – I deeply appreciated her honesty, her rawness, her clearness on compounding truths of the messiness of life and reality of Jesus in those moments and situations.

So I’ll leave you with the way she closes her introduction, as a taste of the goodness that exists in this book:

When you eat, I want you to think of God, of the holiness of the hands that feed us, of the provision we are given every time we eat. When you eat bread and drink wine, I want you to think about the body and the blood every time, not just when the bread and wine show up in church, but when they show up anywhere – on a picnic table or a hardwood floor or a beach.

Yes. That is what I want for my life too – that the bread and wine would make me think of Jesus in whatever context. Because that’s real life? A walk of faith that’s daily, in the inconsequential and the profound, in the celebrations and the mourning and the mediocre. It all matters in our lives with Jesus, with community, around the table.

The links above contain affiliate links, which means I get a few cents (at no extra cost to you) if you book or buy something via that link. This helps me keep costs down and posts up! All images copyright Teaspoon of Nose.