Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend part 1 - Atlanta History Center

This past weekend was not only a holiday, but it was Steve's Birthday weekend as well! We had his mom and her boyfriend up from Savannah to celebrate with us so the weekend was absolutely packed full of fun stuff.

Although Savannah isn't very far from Atlanta (just a few hours in the car) there were a few big tourist destinations here that Glenda and Gary had never been to (and, as it turns out, some that Steve and I hadn't seen either) so we invested in an Atlanta City Pass for the weekend. If you are not familiar with City Pass, it is a type of all-in-one ticket that allows you to visit several attractions in one city for one price rather than paying individual admission prices. Ours turned out to be an excellent value for the price.

I decided to break up the post about this weekend into two smaller ones since there is so much to share!

The fun started on Saturday shortly after Glenda and Gary arrived. We pretty much jumped right into the car again and headed to Buckhead to the Atlanta History Center. This was the one attraction I had not been to before. I didn't even know it existed until about a week ago when we looked into the city pass. We had the option to either go to the Zoo or the History center and, since so many of our group are history fans, we chose the history center. The center is made up of a main museum with several different exhibits revolving around life in the Atlanta area. Then, outside the museum are gardens, the Historic Swan House (as seen in the upcoming movie, Catching Fire), and a working Antebellum Farm!

One thing that impressed me about the museum itself was the amount of things available to touch! They had signs like the one in the above picture asking people to touch various items throughout every exhibit. This one was a scale model of a home in Atlanta designed by the south's first woman architect.

My favorite part of the museum was the wing dedicated to the 1996 Olympics which took place in Atlanta. Those games occurred the summer after my family moved to Atlanta and our entire first year as southerners was full of Olympic preparations. We saw the torch being run through the city, my girl scout troop used the Olympic Mascot, Izzy, as our troop pen pal mascot, and my 3rd grade class did tons of Olympic related projects. The 1996 games really stand out in my mind as significant and it was so cool to see so much memorabilia. For instance, some replicas of the medals given at the games and a pair of shoes worn by Michael Johnson during one of his record setting runs at the games.

They had a separate display for each day of the Atlanta games in succession going around a track and I found this one particularly cool as it mentioned the Olympic Park bombing and the overwhelming amount of volunteers who showed up the day afterward to make sure the games could go on as planned. 

Another display showed the torches from all modern Olympic summer games since the beginning of the modern Olympic movement through the Atlanta games. Many of them were replicas or images, but a significant portion of them were actual torches. Steve called me a nerd when I got excited about the picture of the Dream Team from the 1992 Olympics in Spain. Clearly, he wasn't as much of a fan of Space Jam as I was. :)

Finally, I just want to remind everyone that this is how America chose to represent itself at the opening ceremonies of the 1996 games. Yes, that is a fanny pack in the official fashion design of the athlete uniforms. This is 90's fashion at its finest! lol

After we finished in the museum we explored the Smith Family Farm on the grounds of the center which was similar to historic Jamestown in that they have people acting out various roles on the farm so visitors can see how the place would have functioned. I felt so bad for the blacksmith and the cook since they had to stand over hot fires all day in those heavy clothes!

We picked a great weekend to visit the center because they had tons of war reenactors on site to answer questions and share historical information. People reenacting everything from the Revolution to Vietnam! We spotted this guy giving a talk in the barn on the farm.

The house on the farm and several other buildings are actual historical buildings that were brought from their original site and placed at the center once the family stopped living there in the 1960's. I thought that was so cool! The other buildings are replicas of the original outbuildings from the farm.

Our last stop at the center was the historic Swan House.

We found out after our tour that this house is being used in the movie Catching Fire as the location of a party for the returning victors in the Capitol. They will likely be using the more dramatic front of the house (the above picture is the back side of the home if you can believe it). We couldn't see the front of the house that day because there was a wedding rehearsal going on!

Anyway, the home itself was beautiful and reminded me a lot of Downton Abbey with the antiques and general grandeur of the home. I was really impressed because the tour is set up as if the participants are interviewing for a position within the household. The tour guide was dressed as a butler from the time period when the home was built and gives the entire tour in character! We even had to use the servant's stairs to go to the second floor. It was awesome!

Unfortunately, we could not take pictures inside of the home, but I highly encourage anyone in the area to visit! We could, however, take pictures of the gardens. Aren't they beautiful?

There was also a little Victorian style playhouse near the home where the grandchildren would play.

We left after our tour of the Swan House because we had tickets to Medieval Times for dinner. Glenda and Gary had never experienced the cheesy and hilarious dinner theatre style event, and Steve and I love that type of thing, so we could not pass up the chance to go. They loved it! Our knight got beat in the first round, but it was fun regardless.

I'll put up another post later about the rest of the weekend fun!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

slightly unsettling

I have noticed one issue with the new place that might prove to be a real problem. There is a beautiful mature Oak tree right in front of our home and several mature Oak trees throughout our neighborhood.

Normally this would be a good thing. Mature tree are awesome and they keep our house in the shade a good portion of the day. The problem with these Oak trees in particular are the little friends the Oak trees attract.

I'm talking about squirrels.

I am terrified of squirrels.

I realize this is a ridiculous thing to be afraid of, but really, I hate them. Not in an "I hope you die" kind of way... more of a "put down the crack and get some help so you don't eat my face" kind of way.

When I was in school at Columbus State I read an article about drug dealers in suburban areas hiding crack rocks in garden beds when they were trying to make a speedy getaway. Then, squirrels would dig up the crack rocks and eat them, thinking they were the nuts they buried. The squirrel would then get addicted to crack and attack people looking for their next fix.

This story is completely silly and, in all likelihood, entirely untrue. However, my brain latched onto that concept of drugged up squirrels attacking people and my fear was born. However irrational it may be.

The drinking in college did not help this fear.

Between the squirrels in the front yard and the giant green spider by the trash can, going outside here is rough on my nerves. I should get bonus points in life for going running around here!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Settling in

So much has been going on at our new home! My laptop got lost in the shuffle and I had no idea where it went until we cleaned out some of the boxes and found it tucked under some things in the kitchen. Now I can finally update!

The move went fairly smoothly. Our movers were incredibly efficient and polite. If anyone in the Atlanta area needs movers, let me know. I would recommend those guys in a heartbeat.

Our first night in the new place we decided to treat ourselves and celebrate with some ice cream. Since the kitchen had not been unpacked yet (besides the silverware which was a last minute grab and rode in the car with us) we ate our sundaes out of red solo cups. We're classy like that. They still tasted great though! Birthday cake flavored ice cream with chocolate syrup and maraschino cherries. Yum!

Once we got everything into the new house I fell in love with the colors we chose for the paint even more than when I was actually painting. Our bedroom looks fantastic and I just need to find a new comforter and put up the artwork before I post the before and after pictures I promised. The living room also looks amazing. It only needs some artwork and some sort of chair in the corner before that before and after shot gets posted. I can't wait to show them off!

Upon inspecting the patio and consulting my friends, I discovered that there is a beautiful Jasmine plant growing on the lattice separating the trash bin from the rest of the patio space. It just bloomed for the first time yesterday and I am in love. I had been debating on switching out the Jasmine for some wild Honeysuckle I found recently, but these blooms quickly changed my mind. Check it out!

Aren't they beautiful?

Lastly, my parents and siblings came over yesterday to see the house and hang out for a bit. My mom, sister-in-law, and I all went to historic downtown Norcross to browse the shops a bit before picking up lunch for everyone. I fell in love with the most amazing shop at the end of South Peachtree street. My mom bought me some ceramic polka dot measuring cups as a housewarming gift there and I know I will definitely be going back very soon.

When we got back and had our lunch, my dad and older brother took Steve to Home Depot and picked out HIS housewarming gift... a grill! Ever since we bought the house (who am I kidding, since we had to give away our grill the first time we moved almost 4 years ago) Steve has been talking about being able to grill again. My dad bought him a huge grill that has one side for gas grilling and another side for charcoal grilling, with a side burner to use for sauces, baked beans, etc. He's just a little excited.

Steve grilled a couple steaks for dinner last night in celebration of his new grill and we have plans to make bratwurst tonight if the rain will let up. I think I will love not having to cook for a while. :)

Please ignore the junky looking tables and grill next to Steve in the above picture. Those were left by the previous owners of our place and are awaiting transport to the dump. They are not in good shape at all and I refuse to even donate them for fear they will fall apart any minute. You can see a bit of my Jasmine behind them though!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

the positive and not-so-positive parts of moving

I forgot how much work moving can be.

I have also never moved into a home that was previously occupied, at least not when I was old enough to remember, so I have never dealt with the mess left behind. Let's just say there was quite a mess in our case. Steve and I spent a full day on Monday cleaning the house from top to bottom and there is still a lot of work to do.

Not everything left behind was trash though. The previous owners were nice enough to leave us all of their window treatments and four bar stools like the ones below for the breakfast bar/peninsula in the kitchen.
I have spent the rest of the week packing the apartment and painting a few rooms in the new place. We had not planned to paint prior to moving, but the walls really needed a refresher and we wanted at least the living room and master bedroom taken care of before putting all our furniture into the rooms. 

Honestly, I feel that the ability to take a break from packing to go paint has been really helpful in keeping me from feeling burnt out. My sister in law even came over this morning to help out and keep me company!

I'll post some before and after pictures once the rooms get finished.

The movers are coming Friday so we will be running around getting last minute things put into boxes and bagging up the donations. In the midst of the craziness I will keep thinking about all the great things to come once we get through this transition: the housewarming party, gardening on our little patio, canning with my mom and sister in law in my awesome kitchen and taking a well deserved steaming hot bath in my big Jacuzzi tub!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

My bank account just got a whole lot smaller

Yesterday was a really big day for Steve and me. We closed on our first home!

We own this beautiful townhouse as of 4:30pm yesterday and we will be moving in next week.

It has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a 2 car garage, and even a back patio where we can have a grill and a small garden. Basically, I'm in love.

One of the priests from our church is going to meet us at the house on Monday to say a blessing and then we will be doing all of the fun things that come with moving, like packing and cleaning.