Cocktails in the Garden

We love being members at the Atlanta Botanical Garden… especially because of their evening events!  Tonight, we went to Cocktails in the Garden and it was so much fun!  Each Thursday night, the garden is open from 5:30-9:30PM from May through October for drinks and a variety of entertainment.  The garden staff does a wonderful job of planning so many activities to appeal to all ages:

We saw several of the “Imaginary World” exhibits

We listened to live music, danced to the DJ, and helped with a collaborative art project.

We watched a man do fire breathing and magic tricks!

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We played lawn games- including giant connect four, jinga and corn hole.
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We visited the tall Chihuly installation at the reflecting pond.

 

 

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And of course, all of the gardens were open for exploration.  Check out these super cool pink bananas growing near the Earth Goddess permanent exhibition!

 

 

 

Such a great night!  But… who wants to be my (21+ up) date ?  I’d love to do some reviews of the cocktails next time!  Also, looking forward to cooler weather!

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live, Brooke

May is a Marathon

For many, May is the slammed together book ends of school ending and summer starting.  It’s full of overlapping sports seasons, teacher appreciation gifts, dance recitals, swim team practices, graduations, Mother’s Day gifts/gatherings, Memorial Day travel prep, and end of school parties.  It’s exhausting just writing it all.

So today, I salute you parents who make it all happen…

…Those that make sure that their daughter’s bangs are glued to her head with a series of butterfly clips and level 6 hair spray.

…Those that stay up late making egg free cupcakes for the last day of school party even though the egg free kid won’t be there.

…Those that hold their two year old while also nursing their six month old so everyone is quiet and happy during the dance recital.

…Those that set an early morning alarm on a Saturday for a kid’s swim team practice meet.

…Those that drive around to 5 different stores to purchase gifts for each child’s teacher.

…Those that make grocery lists and shop so that you can pack it all up and take it with you to the beach to prevent going to a store once you arrive.

…Those who construct a homemade bamboo structure for VBS decorations.

…Those who show up for swim team practice every day with twin ten month girls in tow.

…Those who plan an end of the year party craft that the kids don’t want to make.

…Those who decide to paint their entire basement the last week of school because childcare will be limited in the coming months.

What are you doing this month that’s totally insane and deserves mad props?!

laugh,

brooke

 

Nashville Newbie on Broadway

Somehow, I made it 33 years without a visit to Nashville. (*I did attend a high school conference at the Opryland Hotel but this does not count.)

I knew there was a lot of live music in Nashville but I didn’t know there was a LOT of live music. At 10:45am, I was walking down Broadway and heard an extremely loud band playing in Nudie’s. No other bars had live music playing and it was especially exciting to hear as the weekend was quickly approaching. I was dressed in running shorts/shoes and I hesitated to enter, but I’m so glad I did. A five piece band was blaring tunes while folks cracked cold ones at the bar, kids danced and I swayed to the rock n roll.

Wait, it’s not even 11am, and I paid zero dollars to enter a bar with great live music. This is some kind of heaven. My first thought is, “we need to move here.” Followed by, “we need to retire here.” Then, “where can I go in Atlanta for live music before lunch time with my son?!” I was hooked and couldn’t wait to come back later that day after a lunch commitment.

Here is how it works (from what I can tell):

1. Bands play for tips at most of the bars on Broadway. They split the tips evenly among themselves.

2. They play their asses off to entertain and make as much in tips as possible. They don’t take breaks and often loop songs together to prevent lulls (aka giving people an opportunity to leave).

3. Twenty bucks buys you a song of your choice. Most bands have a huge playlist and many have phones/iPads strapped to their mics for lyrics when needed.

4. If you don’t like a song or band, then move along. We managed to hit ten bars in a 3 hour period.

5. If you like a band, tip them. I was in amazement of performers musical talent AND ability to also entertain.

6. Most bars play today’s country, but a few- especially Layla’s and Robert’s- play “authentic country”- think Merle Haggard. These are the best places to see a steel guitar at work.

7. Go early. The talent was great at 11am and got better throughout the day. The bars started getting crazy crowded around 10pm- think drunks and lots of body heat.

8. Wear whatever the heck you want. Everyone else does. Cut offs, flip flops, cowboy boots, jeans and dresses are everywhere. Don’t dress to impress. Dress for dancing your butt off and being sweaty.

9. It seemed that most bands played 4 hour sets. When they are done, they try to get the next band set up as quickly as possible so the bar doesn’t empty in search of other good music.

10. We only paid cover ($5) at one place- a dueling piano bar. There, your song choice and cash tip get lined up in order of amount paid. Want to hear something quickly? Ante up $20 or more and your request usually jumps to the top of the queue.

11. Bachelorette parties are everywhere. And they all have matching t-shirts or tank tops. Keep your distance.

12. The people watching is amazing. I’ll leave it at that.

That’s what I learned as a Nashville Newbie on Broadway. Can’t wait to go back!

Experiences Over Stuff

I have been thinking a lot about Christmas gifts this year.  Most of you know that I try to declutter, clean out and donate as frequently as possible.  In an effort to buy less stuff and experience more in life, I did some deep thinking about what experiences mean the most to me in hopes of being able to focus on those things more in 2018.

Quality time. When I think back to some of my favorite memories this year, I think of trips with friends, game nights, dance parties with my son, girls night out, tailgates, football games, celebrating birthdays, time with family, and being in a small group.  All of these times together have strengthened relationships, built memories and brought so much joy to my life!

Travels.  Some of the coolest places I have stayed while traveling are at airbnbs.  I stayed in someone’s basement in Alaska… doesn’t sound fancy… but you could see the Northern Lights from its window.  Pretty damn cool.  Or the house that we spent 4 days with good friends in Ireland… that was built over 200 years ago and every inch of architecture was amazing.  Traveling makes me have a greater appreciation of others, how small we all are in this big world, and a better understanding of geography/cultures/food/etc.

Sunsets.  Anyone who knows me well, knows I love a sunset.  You can watch a sunset every day for a week and none of them would look the same.  My favorite part is once the sun is down seeing all the colors reflecting off the clouds.  The best.  And if I can watch a sunset over next to a body of water, even better.

Fishing.  This experience is one that I don’t do nearly enough.  I love the feel of the sun and the wind blowing as I cast out my line and anxiously wait to see what I may bring in.  Fishing at low tide is my favorite.  You get to see so much in the water- blue crabs, sharks feeding, stingrays, and occasionally dolphins will swim by.  

Tennis. I can’t believe I am this old… but I have been playing tennis for over 25 years.  I love the competition, the sweat, the strategy, and the fun.  Plus, this year my baby sis has been my partner- so QT too!  I love that you can play 42 deuce points in one game and then when the next game 40-0.  I love that you might lose today but beat the same opponent tomorrow.  And the best part is it’s a lifetime sport- from young to old.

What experiences mean the most to you?  How can you fill your life with more of those and focus on less stuff?

love, brooke

Ode to My Bean Boots

In the beginning, I was so hesitant to buy them.  They are definitely a financial commitment but every time I got ready to go on a trip that threatened rain, I would get frustrated by my shoe options.  I wanted a pair of truly waterproof shoes (many of my “rain” boots had sprung leaks after long term wear.  I wanted something that could go with jeans or with leggings.  I wanted something that would last and I finally was at the point that I didn’t care what I spent to make this dream come true.

My mom has a pair of waterproof LL bean rain shoes that she has had for over 30 years and it was a good reminder that they last a long time.  I knew if her LL bean investment was still paying off, then it was ok for me to pull the trigger too.  So, after years of wishing/wanting a solid pair of waterproof boots, I decided to make the financial jump to bean boot ownership.

I celebrated a year of boot ownership a couple weeks ago and thought it would be fun to remember all the fun that we have had together over the last year!

Ireland- September 2016

FullSizeRender (22)I bought the boots right before this trip because I knew it was going to rain a lot… as it does in Ireland.  I was nervous pulling the trigger so close to a trip and taking up valuable luggage real estate for shoes that I had never worn before.  Thankfully, the shoes did their job and kept my feet warm and dry.  It was POURING down rain on football game day (Boston College vs Georgia Tech).  We had to hike through Trinity College to wait in line to catch a shuttle to the stadium, then march to the stadium… all in soaking wet conditions.  FullSizeRender (23)We were prepared to continue to be soaked DURING the game.  (Mind you we had JB with us too) and I almost cried when we got in the stadium and we learned that our seats were covered and we were dry!  The game was incredible and drinking cold Irish cider while watching college football is also a pretty nice thing too!

 

Alaska- October 2016

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My sister, Jackie, and her husband moved to Anchorage in September.  I decided that I REALLY wanted to visit them BEFORE the snow set in for the winter… so with about 5 weeks notice, I booked a flight to go visit them.  Well, I didn’t quite beat the snow as it snowed the day that I arrived, but thankfully it did not snow more while I was there.  So, I got to experience seeing snow but not a lot of driving/maneuvering through it.

7927289F-F5AA-4C07-B69B-173F61B2A535Of course, this was the first time the bean boots got to meet snow.  I prepared for this by buying boot liners and wore thick wool socks (thankfully I bought a half size up so they would fit) and my feet stayed warm the whole time.  That is pretty impressive considering the temps were between 8-28 degrees during the my visit.  The boots got to watch the sunset over Denali, hike along the Turn Again south of Anchorage, and visit a rescued moose.  The boots also got to wear Yaks which were awesome in preventing me from busting my butt on icy conditions.  (The boot soles are rubber and can be slippery/dangerous on wet/icy conditions).

6723EF59-0795-4849-963A-25E83F8C97F2 (1)Denver- December 2016

We flew to Denver for a friend’s wedding and of course the boots had to come.  The temps were moderate- but I knew they would keep my feet dry and I could walk miles in them with no problem.

 

The Women’s March- January 2017IMG_0275

These boots were made for walking… and that’s just what they did.  The morning started out as a monsoon and mud EVERYwhere.  It ended with 60,000 people calmly walking through the great streets of Atlanta to support women’s health, refugees, education, and numerous other causes… while the sun was brightly shining.  Hearing John Lewis speak in front of the Civil and Human Rights museum was pretty powerful as well.  Here is my post for more on this special event.

Manitou Springs- April 2017

The boots were perfect for this trip!  We had snow twice, did a good bit of walking/hiking, and they even took the train up the cog railway to the top of Pikes Peak.

 

Happy Birthday to my Bean Boots!  We have done so much together and I don’t regret buying you at all.  Can’t wait to see what other adventures we have in store together!

love, brooke

$h*t Happens

The reality is our brains are often in a million places not including where they really should be- here, in the moment.  Because of this, groceries get left in the car overnight, pumped milk gets left on the counter, and keys get locked in the car.  In the grand scheme of life, these issues are pretty minor but nonetheless very frustrating.

One of my friends couldn’t find her keys this morning- so she had to Uber to work.  After I heard about her rough morning, I started thinking about all the other things that have happened to me, family members and friends.  Most of these memories are unfortunate when they happened, but now in hindsight, are pretty dang funny.

  1. whoopsOne year for Christmas, we got a lot of fun sporting equipment- roller skates, a ping pong table, and a basketball goal.  My dad set up the basketball goal on the edge of our driveway.  The next day, he backed into it with his truck and the pole was bent pretty badly.
  2. A family member once left one of his two children at a McDonald’s.  Big whoops.  Thankfully, the child was fine… and the dad too, eventually.
  3. At some point in my childhood, I thought there was a mouse in my room because I kept hearing strange noises that were unpredictable.  Four days later, I realized my mom’s pager was in my dresser.  She had only been missing it for a week.
  4. Several years ago, my dad decided to move the mailbox from one side of the driveway to the other.  The next day, he promptly ran over his new mailbox and then put another one back on the original side. (Notice any trends?)
  5. When I was in high school, I was pretty good about losing my keys.  My dad got tired of rescuing me, so he had a spare key made and managed to rig it up underneath my car for emergency situations.  His only caveat was that as soon as I got my original key back, the spare had to be re-rigged underneath the car.  It worked well… more times than I care to count.
  6. In a three year span, I managed to drop two cell phones into toilets.  That’s enough of that expensive memory.
  7. Post college, I had gone to a bar with a friend for a few drinks in Athens, GA.  When we got back to her car, she decided she wanted to wait a while longer before driving and drink some more water.  We sat in her car listening to music and talking.  All of the sudden her car turned off and we couldn’t get it to turn back on.  It was 1AM and her car battery was dead.  Whoops.  Wish I could say I learned my lesson this first time, but this happened to me again in November while there for a football game.  The third time is the charm, right?!
  8. A year ago, I lost my purse and couldn’t find it anywhere.  I had convinced myself I left it on the roof on my car while loading JB into his carseat, then drove off with it on the roof.  I visited the businesses in the shopping center, combed through my house/car many times, and called the on duty security company for the shopping center.  Two days later, I walked into the bathroom in our basement and found it sitting on the kitchen counter.  Ever since that, we are the proud owner of dozens of tiles. (https://www.thetileapp.com/)
  9. Last week, I tried to crack some (older) eggs to cook breakfast.  They weren’t cracking, so I decided they were frozen from being in the back of our fridge for so long.  A few hours later, my husband called and wanted to know why I threw his hard boiled eggs in the trash.  Whoops.
  10. On Monday, I left our front door wide open for 4 hours while we went to the zoo.  When I got home, our dog came walking out on the front porch.  And no, he wasn’t wearing his collar that day.  Thankfully, he didn’t realize the door was open til I got home.

I don’t really have lots of advice to give on this topic- just try to realize when you are in the thick of it, realize you will probably look back on this time and laugh.  It’s much more fun than crying.

laugh, brooke

What She Wore… Fishing

 

FullSizeRender (5)The essentials:

  1.  Pearls.  These are only mandatory when fishing in the south.  They make your teeth look whiter in fishing photos.  I’d recommend a pair that you bought at Target as part of a 3 pack… you know, the fancy ones.
  2. A shirt.  On this trip, I am sporting a Magnolia tank top that I bought in Waco while visiting the Silos.  On it’s second wash, it got two holes in it.  I hope their renovations are higher quality than their shirts.
  3. A Hat.  I prefer to wear a ten year old Masters hat that is showing its age via fading and fraying on the brim.  At this point, I am not sure I could give it away.
  4. Sunglasses.  Many people go the expensive route when buying fishing sunglasses… something with UV protection and polarization.  I, however, go the complete opposite route and buy my sunglasses from the Dollar Tree.  Yes, they cost $1 per pair.  Don’t be jealous.  They are probably going to end up at the bottom of the river/lake/ocean anyway… no matter how much you spend.
  5. Croakies.  My croakies are a free set from Southern Tide that I received at a tailgate party 8 years ago.  They are old, ratty and tattered but this prevents others from stealing them.
  6. Shorts.  These (non) fancy shorts are a pair that I found at the C Shack that someone abandoned and never reclaimed.
  7. Waterproof shoes.  My chacos have helped catch plenty of fish.  Bonus point is they don’t fall off if your boat flips over.  Not that I would know anything about this, though.

FullSizeRender (6)As my husband always reminds me, the most important part of any sport or activity is how you look.  Thankfully, this outfit actually helped me catch something (*I do not guarantee it will work for you though).  So, the next time you go fishing… head to the Dollar Tree, pull out your hole-iest clothes, find a free t-shirt and be ready to rock an awesome fishing style too!

laugh, brooke

Ode to Stinky

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When I was 9 years old, my parents were blessed (and surprised!) by another little pink bundle of joy.  She joined my parents, me, and Jackie as our baby sister… the youngest of three girls… and was named Alexandria Jennings Cadle.  I remember Jackie and I (dressed in matching cat t-shirts that said “Big Sisters”) coming to the hospital to meet Alex.  I was immediately in love.

We used to sing her baptism song to her on repeat.
“Alexandria, Alexandria, sent from Heaven above.
Alexandria, Alexandria, sent for us to love.
Alexandria, Alexandria, we love you.  
Alexandria, Alexandria, we love you!”
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I felt like she was my baby.  I changed her diapers, put her down for naps, put her in her car seat, got her dressed, and helped feed her.  To this day, I still feel like she is partly mine.

When I was twelve, my parents would leave me home to babysit her and Jackie each Friday night.  I’d make us all a frozen 99cent Totino’s pizza for dinner and we’d watch TGIF together on ABC.  We’d wear Alex out for bedtime by getting her to run up and down our bedroom hallway.  She would run around in just a diaper with so much glee. Jackie and I would spin her around and then get her to run back again.
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As Alex got older, she was a bit of a wild child.  I remember one time- in the span of just a few weeks- she managed to cut her own hair (at the top of her crown) and cut the straps off her bathing suit because she wanted a strapless suit.  She also told our mom that she had put a button in her nose one afternoon.  My mom couldn’t figure out if Alex was telling the truth or not.  So after some prodding and investigation, mom decided that she was telling a lie and gave up on the button search.  About three hours later, we were at a neighborhood cook out, Alex sneezed and the button popped out in front of everyone in attendance.  My parents were just grateful it came out on it’s own without involving a doctor.

As she got older, my first nickname came out for her… “Stinky”.  You may be wondering why.  Well, it’s because she was very active, sweaty and smelly most days.  So, “Stinky” fit the bill.  Eventually, she began showering more regularly and using deodorant.  But, I also felt she was very spoiled- so I kept calling her Stinky… as in spoiled rotten.  Now, it’s a very affectionate name that I still use without even flinching.  The altered version, “Stinks”, also easily rolls off my tongue.

Eventually, I went off to college and left home.  I wasn’t very close to Stinky during this time but I’m glad she came to stay with me in the dorms some and go to a few football games.
Wedding077I got married at 23 and Alex was only 14.  Still a baby.  She was a wonderful bridesmaid in my wedding.  It took some time, but she and Peck became good buds.  Thankfully, she
decided to move to Decatur for college and we reunited.  We were together 2-3 times a week with lots of shared meals.  I enjoyed spending time with her friends and roommates too.

She would come over and sit on my bed while I cleaned out my closet to donate what I no longer needed.  We’d have long talks and I enjoyed the company while doing such a boring task.  Somehow, she’d end up taking all of my clothing donations with her in a giant black trash bag for her own personal use.

When I got pregnant with JB, Alex was extra helpful in “ladysitting” me.  This is a term my husband uses to describe my need of having someone around while completing a task.  Alex helped with the nursery, registering, and documenting my ever growing belly through unflattering, candid photos.  She came to all of my showers and even a sonogram.  AlexandJBhosp2She along with Jackie and my mom, were at the hospital when JB was born and immediately began loving on him too.

That’s when the newest nickname started.  I called her AA for Aunt Alex.  As JB got older, he couldn’t say AA so he called her YayYay.  This eventually morphed into RaRa.  Not exactly sure how, but it has stuck.  The amount of love that JB has for RaRa is super special and they are great buds.  I am thankful to still have her so close and such an important part of our Atlanta family.

When Alex got married, I cried like a baby when she walked down the aisle.  One reason 12238294_10153725404214814_1356554656216976054_owas because my dad was walking her down the aisle and I love my dad so much and appreciate him working so hard to raise three daughters.  The other reason was because I felt like my baby was getting married.

In the last year, I’ve been able to witness Alex’s take on life and faith in action.  We supported each other emotionally after our candidate lost the Presidential Election.  I had the pleasure of marching with her in Atlanta with 60.000 others at the Women’s March.  I began witnessing her passion for art and being a creative maker each week.  She has turned into a beautiful adult and I’m so proud of her.
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This morning, Alex and I played our first competitive tennis match together (and won!).  It’s crazy that it’s taken this long in life for us to play on the same side of the net together (thanks 9 year age difference!).  I’ve never been more proud to have her as a partner and look forward to more matches together.

As I think about the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday, I think of Alex who I jokingly call my first born.  She helped me prepare to be a real mommy much later in life and is now one of my best friends.
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So, I raise my glass to you, Alexandria: Alex, Al, Ali, Stinky, Stinks and RaRa…

I love you so much and am glad you were sent from Heaven above and sent for us to love!

love, brooke

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