Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fall Festivals and Events

We have had such a busy, fun October! true to my Autumn buck list I have been trying to do lots of the things I love most about Fall and we have been very busy visiting friends, enjoying the outdoors, traveling and attending festivals! Here are some belated photos from some of the things we've been to and it is just a sampling of a few of the great things Atlanta has to offer this time of year. I decided if I waited to share these with my regular monthly photo post it would be waaayyyy too long so here is a photo heavy post a bit early.

First of all we attended the "Fest of Ale" at the Atlanta Botanical gardens. We are definitely getting good use of our membership and are going at least two more times this month (after already having gone two or three times in October). The Fest of Ale is every Thursday evening in October (you still have time to go!) and it was such a fun and laid back event, I highly recommend it! It is a chance to enjoy the gardens at night while sampling a variety of beers and listening to some great bluegrass music. It also great if you have little ones because it gives them a great place to run around.

Next on my list of events is Flux night in Atlanta. This is one I had to miss last year because I had a new born and I was bound and determined to go back this year! I enjoyed a rare baby free evening since Eric parents were in town and they and Eric kept Echo for the night. It was fun to be able to enjoy the art while unencumbered by a baby but I was sure missing her by the end of the night and was rushing home to see her! For those of you that don't know,  Flux is a pretty cool installation and performance art event that happens yearly in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood of Atlanta. Unfortunately I lost my program for the event so I can't tell you much about the specific exhibits but here are some photos from the event in any case. 

This was a pretty cool performance pice about dementia, she would write on the wall with water and it would slowly disappear.  Then she would start the process all over again

These were the town criers, you could write or text them a message and they would call it out for the whole crowd to hear. 

We visited the lantern shop (it was free but still called a shop) where we were given two minutes to choose lanterns made from dozens of types of commercial packaging. I chose Coke to be a good Georgia girl :-) 

Lastly I have a few photos from the Sunday in the Park festival in Oakland Cemetery. This may be my favorite festival ever and that's saying something because I've been to a lot! It features a great kids area, fantastic music and dance, really cool art and other local vendors and a Victorian costume contest. The whole festival has an overall Victorian feel but there was also Irish dancing, bagpipe and bluegrass music and a lot of steampunk influence.

My only shot of some of the extraordinary costumes, I was too shy to take many pictures of people

Living statue

They opened up the crypts so you can go inside for one day only. 

Echo and I enjoying bubbles in the children's section

They have a teddy bear tea as well, I think she will really like this next year. Right now she doesn't seem impressed.

Mostly Echo loved running around the cemetery!
I also attended a BBQ festival in Marietta with some great friends but sadly I didn't get any pictures.  Even with All I've been doing in October there are still so many things I have wanted to do and didn't get to because of schedule conflicts. There is so much fun to be had it's hard to squeeze it all in!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Echo's First Painting

Oh my goodness I am so behind on my blog! October has been a really busy month for us and we have had company this week plus we are about to go out of town on a family road trip so I may not have a chance to post much until we get back. In the mean time here is a picture of Echo painting for the first time.

I love introducing her to new art materials! She had a great time with her washable paints and was very careful about dipping the brush in the paint pot. She made a huge mess but that is why she's outside and not wearing clothes :-) For clean up I gave her a small bowl of water to dip her hands in (my dad's genius idea!). This works so much better for us than trying to wipe off her hands for her, which she hates. If we just give her a bowl of water she will dip her hands in it and get herself relatively clean. She also loves her nightly baths so anything that didn't get cleaned up with her small bowl came off later in the bath.

I'm beyond excited that she is starting to enjoy making art. I can't wait to do many more art projects together in the future, I have so many plans and ideas!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

September Photos

Wow, September really got away from me! I almost totally forgot to post pictures from last month and here we are well on our way in to October. Fall is always such a busy time and packed with fun activities. Here's what we were up to last month.

A few more pictures from our Cumberland Island trip

A few more pictures from our Cumberland Island trip

A few more pictures from our Cumberland Island trip

A few more pictures from our Cumberland Island trip

One of Echo's favorite activities is helping me unload the dishwasher, she is getting pretty good at it and can even help me load it sometimes too

At our baby play group

Crawling in the front yard. She almost never crawls any more, preferring to walk

She still loves the cats

Marietta square

Marietta square

Marietta square

Marietta square

Make up fireworks for the ones that got rained out on July 4th

Make up fireworks for the ones that got rained out on July 4th

Outtake from one year photo shoot, we had to take some time to play on the swings

More pictures from our Birthday outing to the zoo

More pictures from our Birthday outing to the zoo

More pictures from our Birthday outing to the zoo

Walking in the park

Playing in the splash zone at the park

Playing in the splash zone at the park

Playing in the splash zone at the park
That's it for this month but we have lots of fun stuff happening in October too so I will have more adorable Echo photos to share soon :-)

Friday, October 4, 2013

3 Cheese Potato Pizza

This recipe is so gloriously full of carbs I could just die. I love carbs, mmmm...

I've been toying with the idea of a potato pizza for a while now but couldn't commit to a recipe. I ended up kind of making this one up and it turned out tasting amazing! I guess you can't go wrong with potatoes on a  pizza huh? Unfortunately I didn't write down exactly what I did to make this so this recipe is an approximation. My advice is to do what I do and just fiddle with it until it tastes good.

For the Dough you can use store bought or any recipe you prefer. I used the recipe for pizza dough that came with my stand mixer, it was easy and delicious.

For the the toppings you need..

3 new potatoes sliced extra thin (I used a mandoline slicer)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tbs goat cheese, crumbled
3/4 shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (the good stuff, not the Kraft kind)
A handful of chopped fresh herbs ( I used thyme, rosemary and oregano)
2 tbs olive oil

For the sauce you need..
1 tbs butter
one medium onion, sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine

Start by roasting your potatoes at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Before you roast you should brush them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. You'll also need to arrange them on a single layer on a cookie sheet, I had to do mine in two batches. Once the potatoes are softened set them aside to cool and make your sauce. To do this you just need to sauté the onions in butter until the start to get tender. Add your white wine and reduce liquid by half, remove from heat.

Stretch your pizza dough in to the desired shape and begin heating your oven to as hot as it will go (usually 500 degrees) with the pizza stone inside. To avoid a soggy crust you must preheat your pizza stone, I learned this the hard way. Spread your sauce over the pizza dough and arrange the potatoes on top in a single layer. Sprinkle with all three cheeses and chopped fresh herbs. Brush the edges of your crust with olive oil.

Carefully transfer your pizza to the hot pizza stone (this is so tricky! If you find an easy way to do this let me know!) and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

This recipe was really fantastic I must say, especially for a potato lover like me. It is however a bit of work so I probably will save it for when I'm trying to impress someone :-)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fun, Free and Easy Things To Do With Your baby

Time was that Echo was totally happy just to chill at home with me while I worked on a sewing project, made bread or did housework. We still have days like this but more and more Echo wants to get out and do stuff!  I've been making a mental list of things Echo enjoys doing out of the house that can be done for cheap or free. Here are some of our favorite activities.

Go to the Pet Store-
On days when we are searching for something to do visiting Petsmart is always a hit. Like most babies, Echo loves animals and enjoys watching the birds, fish and small rodents at the store. It's like going to the zoo for her, only free! It's also a nice inside activity for when it's rainy or super hot or cold.

Library Programs-
I've been taking Echo to the baby story time at the library since she was about 4 months old. She loves it and it gives her a chance to play with other babies. The program itself isn't anything stellar but she still enjoys and it it's fun to do something different. It's nice for parents as well since we all get to chat about our babies.

Play Place at the Mall-
A friend recently told me that our local mall has a soft, indoor playground for little ones. How awesome! We have now been several times and it is the perfect place for Echo to run and play without me having to worry about her getting hurt. Like the library it is also a great place for her to interact with other babies and young children.

Plant an Herb Garden-
This isn't really free but it is cheap and Echo absolutely loves it! She could seriously spend all day out on my back deck picking herbs. They smell nice and she can eat them without me having to worry. This is probably her favorite activity to do at home.

Feeding the Ducks-
We did this for the first time last week. She didn't really get the concept of throwing bread but she loved watching the ducks and chewing on some bread herself. She is fascinated by all kinds of animals and having bread was a good way to get them to come close to us.

This one is pretty obvious but it's a classic for a reason. Try exploring some different parks in your area, seek out some that you haven't tried before.

Your own Yard-
If you are stumped for ideas or just don't have the energy to get your baby in a car seat play in your own front or back yard. Being in nature is so important to kids and they love to feel the breeze blow and watch the leaves in the sunlight. Even if your yard is old hat to you it is still exciting for your baby.

If anyone has other great ideas for cheap baby dates I'd love to hear them! How do you keep your baby entertained?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

This and That

For those of you that are interested in knowing what we have going on in the way of fixing up our "fixer upper" of a house I wanted to share some the hard work that Eric has been doing. He has been and continues to be a very busy little bee and has been working so hard to fix and improve things around here.

For starters he has been working on fixing a roof leaking problem that has been around for quite some time. We hired someone to fix this back in January however they pretty much completely failed to fix the problem and although they replaced a lot of the rotted wood and shingles they didn't address the real issue of how the water collects and runs down the side of the house. Eric has fixed the gutter, put up shields to direct the way the water flows and replaced even more rotting wood and siding. He still has more to do on this including replacing the drywall that has been damaged on the inside of the house, but at least the water is going in the gutter now as opposed to running down the side of the house (and even getting in to the house) like it was before.  He is still in the process of of putting up new siding and it will need to be painted as well but he has accomplished so much already. I keep joking that he is rebuilding the whole house piece by piece, in another 10 years we will have a whole new house!

In progress on the side of the house, rotten wood replaced and plywood put up, siding part of the way done.

Added support under the chimney box
Our house is old and made of cedar which means we have a lot of siding and wood that needs replacing all over. A lot of the beams in the front of the house are water damaged and rotting as well and Eric recently replaced the worst of these all by himself! I was amazed to come home and find that he had completely removed one of the beams underneath our large front windows which he then replaced with weather treated wood and cedar facing.

A lot of our front wall is going to need replacing in the next year or two which will give us a chance to replace some of our cracked windows as well. We have had some pretty ambitious plans for the house since we moved in. We are looking at ways to make the front windows in to doors so that we can open up the house more when the weather is nice. The cool thing about about owning your own house is that you can get really creative and make it in to exactly what you want.

Rotten beam removed

Beam replaced, in progress

Finished beam replacement, so much nicer! There is still more rotten wood that needs replacing on the front of the house but this was the worst of it.

It's a lot of work but Eric doing it himself is saving us a ton of money and he is excited to be learning new construction and carpentry skills. I'm not really able to help him much because I am always watching Echo but I am really proud at what he's accomplished. We love our house so much and are happy that it is getting some of the long neglected TLC it deserves.