Cinco de Mayo! Ole!

Cinco de Mayo.

Cinc-o. De. May-o.

CINCO DE MAYO!!!

Cinco de Mayo has to be one of the most fun fiestas.  It’s fun to say.  The food is delicious.  The décor is festive.  The drinks are cold.  I really just don’t think it can be beat.

This year was our very first Cinco de Mayo fiesta, and I am hoping it will become an annual tradition.  We’ve got our annual Christmas Eve Eve Dinner in December, and Cinco de Mayo seems like the perfect reason to have a party in the summer.

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For Cinco de Mayo, we lit up the backyard with colorful twinkle lights and festive decorations.  We served the food and ate outside at tables covered in butcher paper and mix-matched chairs. The weather was great.  The conversations were better.

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While Dan was manning the grill for the fajitas, we had snacks and drinks ready to go. Including a make your own margarita bar.

What I learned is that Pioneer Woman doesn’t hold back in her blackberry margaritas!  We experimented with the recipe, and eventually landed on the one you see written on butcher paper. They were delicious, especially when layered with traditional margaritas.

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When your friends volunteer to bring their own blenders you know you’ve got good friends.  Don’t ever let them go. Especially if they’re got a professional grade blender.

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And for all that is good in this world, try this lime sugar for the rim! It’s simply sugar with lime zest, but it is oh so good.

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The drinks were delicious, and went perfectly with our snacks!

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We served guacamole (thank ya much, Publix), Pioneer Woman Restaurant Style Salsa, and a super easy fruit salsa with cinnamon pita.

For dinner we served tacos, steak fajitas, black beans, and rice.  I could tell you that I didn’t get a picture because it was a little dark outside, but the real truth is that we gobbled it up too fast.  No judgment please.

I did manage to get a picture of these perfect little ice cream sandwiches!  We served sugar cookies with raspberry sherbet and brownies with dulce de leche ice cream. Ole.

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And when one of your friends just happens to be celebrating a birthday at your Cinco de Mayo fiesta, you throw some candles in the ice cream sandwiches! Then you run outside because you realize they’re melting in the Alabama heat.  And, you get a blurry picture.

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Dinner was delicious.

I loved the decorations.

But, do you know what my favorite thing was? Our friends! We played Can Jam, ping pong, ate lots of food, made more margaritas, and had great conversations.

It was a great start to an annual tradition!  I admit that I had big plans for the decorations.  There were lots of things I wanted to make, more recipes I wanted to try, and I had my eye on some dishes that would have been perfect.

I did take some time to set up a small table earlier just to see what things could look like.

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At the end of the day though, I wouldn’t have traded our paper covered tables and Hawaiian print chairs for anything.  It doesn’t matter what you’re sitting in.  It matters who’s sitting beside you.

Cru Mystery Dinner

My friend, Alice, is really fun.  She’s a big dreamer, and she loves people so well.  We worked together at Auburn Christian Fellowship, and I quickly learned that we’re a great team.  We both love ideas and especially love ideas that involve a party.  At ACF, we helped organize the Christmas Ball, Halloween Party, and Spring Fling.  Alice is great at coming up with the  ideas, and she’s great at sharing her vision with other people.  When you hear her ideas, you want to be a part of the plan!

Alice works part time at Campus Crusade (Cru) here in Huntsville, and one of her ideas has been to host an annual mystery dinner.  The mystery dinner is a really fun way for the students to all work together.  But, beyond that, it’s a time for students to share about how the Lord has used Cru to impact their lives and the Cru staff to share fundraising and tangible needs.

The mystery dinner theme is new each year, and this year was  Medieval Murder Mystery.  Several months before the event, Alice asked if I’d help with ambience.  She described that as “setting the mood.”  Meaning people needed to grasp, as soon as they walked in the doors, that this was a medieval themed play, and that the room and table design should make people feel like they were in a medieval banquet hall.

Alice also shared some other criteria: Along with making the room feel like a banquet hall, we had to incorporate items from the skit.  Each table needed a map, catapult instructions, clues, and a way to write out their final guess at “who done it”.  We also had to do this while being good stewards of our resources- meaning a very small budget.

The event venue was a local church that graciously allowed us to use the space. Students, Cru staff, and our husbands (thanks Dan and Michael!) made all of the decorations.  When you’re working on a tight budget, it is so helpful to have lots of volunteers!  The students came over to Alice’s several nights before the event and painted, sewed, burned, hammered, organized, laughed, you name it- they did it!  Without them and their endless college energy, we would not have been able to pull this off with such success!

Here are a few of my favorite parts of the room:

Guests were able to sponsor a table, or request to sit with other guests.  When the guests arrived, they were shown which table they’d be sitting at using the scroll seating chart.  Several students found this knight in a storage room just before the guests arrived, and thought it would be perfect.  I agreed, and he stood guard over the seating chart!

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Guests were seated at banquet tables.  To make the tables feel like long, grand tables, we used two tables for added length. So, table 1 and 2 on the seating chart were pushed together to appear as one  long table.

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Each table was marked with a table number that coordinated with the seating chart. I hand painted the number onto logs that came from my family’s land. My dad, husband, and cousin, Luke, spent their Easter cutting logs and gathering greenery (smilax) so that we had enough for all 20 tables!  Then, my dad made a special trip to Huntsville to deliver the logs and the greenery you see on each of the tables. I could not have done this part without them!

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Each table also had a map, catapult instructions, and a packet of clues.  We placed these things on a wooden charger, and used a burlap bag to store the clues.

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Tables were decorated with greenery and candles.  Many of the candles and lanterns were donated by students or members of the church that allowed us to use this space for the event.

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Crests with fabric draping were used to add height to the room.

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Each place setting also had a Welcome note that shared more about Cru and instructions for the murder mystery.

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It’s a blurry and “candid” picture, but this was my favorite part of the room!  Guests filling each table to see their children and friends perform in a dinner theater!

These guests laughed and clapped and supported these students so well!  And, they got to hear more about how the Lord is moving in their campus, and how Cru has impacted these kids’ lives.

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This was a really special night, and I was honored to be a small part of it! If you’d like to learn more about Cru, you can visit their website:

http://www.uahcru.com/

 

 

Paper Fan Garland

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Hey, Friend!  I recently shared with you a little about my friend, Leah, and the most precious baby shower that we hosted for her.

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It was a children’s book themed shower, and each of the guests brought a book with a sweet little note written inside.  The menu was created around children’s books, and I made a bacon and spinach quiche for Green Eggs and Ham. The food was delicious, and the decorations were really precious.

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One of the decorations I made was a garland for the mantle. I wanted to incorporate children’s books in the decorations so I chose to make a garland out of paper fans. The fans were made using pages from children’s books.

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I purchased all of the books from a local thrift store which was a huge money saver. I also stumbled upon this classic, and seriously considered changing the theme of the shower. Bieber Fever, y’all.

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Making the garland was so super easy, and I’d love to show you how I made it!

To start, you will need: book pages, scissors/box cutter, hot glue gun and glue sticks, ribbon, buttons, needle, and thread.

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To begin, cut out book pages.  For this fan, I wanted to make a large fan, and  used four book pages. I wanted the garland to be colorful and eclectic so I chose pages that had similar colors.

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Make accordion folds in each of the pages.  Each fold is a little over one inch and made about 5 folds. This will vary depending on the size of your pages and the size of your folds. You can fold pages together to make things go a little faster, but this can be difficult if the pages are thick.

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Fold each of the accordions in half.

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Then, glue these center fold of each fan together.

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This will create four separate parts of the fan.

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Glue two quarters of the fan together creating two halves.

Continue making as many fans as you would like for your garland using the steps listed above. I chose to make fans of different sizes by using different size pages and creating some with only two fan pieces rather than four like this one. Once you have the number of fans you’d like, you can begin assembling the garland.

Cut your ribbon to the length of garland you would like, making sure to leave excess to hang on the mantle or wherever you choose to hang your garland. Space out your fans along the ribbon to make sure it’s as full as you want it to look. When it’s arranged the way you like, begin attaching the fans to the ribbon.

Place the ribbon between the fan halves.

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Glue the ribbon to one side of the half, and then the other.

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Don’t worry if the fan doesn’t look full yet. It will be fuller when you finish!

Now, repeat this step with the other half of the fan. Gluing one part of the top half to the bottom half, and moving on to the next side.

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See how much fuller the fan looks now that you’ve finished?

To really complete the look, add a button! To save time, I glued the end of the thread to the back of the button, then looped the thread through the holes using the needle. I made 4-6 loops on this button to make sure the thread could be seen.

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Then, I glued the button to the center of the fan.

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Once your fans are attached to the ribbon, your garland is ready to hang!

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This really was so easy, and such a fun way to incorporate more children’s books. I hope you enjoy it at your next party!

Leah’s Shower-Bacon and Spinach Mini Quiche

I met Leah when I was a senior at Auburn.  I was just getting more involved at ACF, and Leah had been there for a while.  One day, Leah and another mutual friend, Laura, asked me to get frozen yogurt at TCBY. Which is literally the best, especially at Auburn.

Over fro yo, Leah asked me to be her best friend.  If I had to compare that to a feeling, it’d probably be what it feels like to take Cam Newton to formal. I said yes, and we’ve been friends ever since.

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That’s truly how we became friends.

Looking back what Leah was really saying was, “Hey, I’ve noticed that you and I have lots of similar interests.  We’re both growing in our relationship with the Lord, and we want to invest in this thing called ACF.  Because we have such similar values, let’s walk through life together as friends, encouragers, and supporters.”

But saying something like that is too wordy, especially in TCBY.

Leah and I became fast friends, and when I saw her at Dan’s apartment I knew this guy had to be okay.  Leah started dating Dan’s roommate, Eric, about the same time that Dan and I started dating.  Leah got engaged to Dan’s roommate just a few months before we got engaged. And, Leah also married that roommate just a few months before we got married.

Leah and I also lived together in Tuscaloosa while I was in graduate school and she was completing her pharmacy rotation.  If you’re going to live in Tuscaloosa, you should take an Auburn fan with you.  While we were in Tuscaloosa, the boys came to visit often and we went on lots of double dates.

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Two years into our marriages, we also took the boys on a weekend getaway where we talked them into doing a tree top ropes course. Because we just wanted them to have a great time.

This is me and Leah quickly turning our harnesses back in.  Turns out we’re not tree top ropes course kind of girls.

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The conversation prior to this picture went a little like this:

Me (who is terrified of heights) yelling to the instructor below the zip line: I’m going to need you to talk me through this.

Him (yelling back to me): you’re just going to sit back like you’re in a chair, and push yourself off the platform.

Me (after about 10 minutes of consideration and prayer): I’m going to  need another option.

Turns out there’s not a lot of options when you’re literally in the tree tops.  Thankfully, they’ve seen people like me before so they set up a few check points along the way so you could get down. As soon as we saw another girl (probably a lovely, supportive girlfriend who just wanted her boyfriend to have fun) get down at one of those checkpoints, we knew we’d found the ticket out! We moved through those next few obstacles faster than we thought possible just so we could get our feet on the ground.

Leah is a great friend, and I’m so thankful she’s in my life!  When she and her husband called us to let us know they were expecting a babe, we were thrilled!  And, when I was asked to help with her shower I didn’t hesitate to jump in!

Leah’s sister in law, Corey Kate, is truly amazing, and she organized the shower! She has great taste and a great sense of humor. I value those two things over many other things.

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Corey Kate proposed that we do a book themed shower since we don’t know the gender, and each guest brought a book (lots brought booksssss) for Baby. By the end of the shower, you couldn’t even see the table!

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We used Oh the Places You’ll Go as the guest book. You just really can’t have enough books.

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All of the food was inspired by children’s books too. There were cookies with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, chicken salad sandwiches for Chicken Little, a cheese plate for The Stinky Cheese Man, you get the idea.

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I signed up for bacon and spinach quiche to go along with Green Eggs and Ham. A Classic.

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There was plenty of food, and lots of love for this little babe. We had such a fantastic time at the shower! It is such a blessing to see the people you love be showered with love and be made to feel so special. This little Babe has a pretty special mom and dad!

We also had some pretty cute decorations at the shower that I’ll share more about later this week! You can expect to see more children’s books.

I used  this recipe as a guide for the quiche.

You can make your own mini spinach and bacon quiche this way:

pie crust

1 (10 oz.) box frozen spinach

1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled

4 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

2 oz. feta cheese

¼ cup grated parmesan

½ cup shredded mozzarella

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

to taste salt & pepper

a mini muffin tin

baking spray

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Thaw and drain your spinach removing as much liquid as possible. If needed, press the spinach between two paper towels to remove any excess liquid.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs until smooth. Add the milk, parmesan, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Set aside.

Using a small round biscuit cutter, cut rounds of pie crust. Spray the mini muffin pan and place one round of pie crust in each muffin tin. Press the pie crust round into the tin to shape the crust for the mini quiche.

Sprinkle a small amount of spinach in each muffin tin. Top that with a small sprinkling of feta and then the bacon crumbles.

Pour the egg mixture over each of the mini quiches. You will use a scant tablespoon of egg mixture for each quiche. Sprinkle mozzarella over the egg mixture.

Bake the quiche in the preheated oven until the top is golden and the center is set. This took approximately 15 minutes, but will vary depending on the oven.

The egg mixture will make 24 mini quiche. You will have a small amount of egg mixture left along with all of the fillers (spinach, feta, mozzarella). I made a second batch of egg mixture and made a total of 48 mini quiche.

46 of them made it to the party. I take quality control seriously. Enjoy!

Our Trip to D.C.

We had a fantastic trip to D.C., and my parent’s did a great job on the flight!

This had to be their first flight in at least 25 years, and they rocked it! Check in was not quite a breeze, but not quite like herding cats. So, I’d call that a success.

Once we got on the plane, they were right across the aisle from us so we could keep an eye on them. Mom loved looking out the window.  Dad loved when the plane landed.

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Once we got to D.C. lunch became the priority.  We ended up at Legal Seafood, and let me say

It. Was. Delicious.

So delicious that there’s no photo evidence to share for it.  There was really no time before devouring the bowl of cream of crab soup. So. Good.

We walked around the world to get there, according to Mom. Reality is that we walked two blocks and went back to the hotel for a nap before the rehearsal dinner.

The centerpieces of the rehearsal dinner were so lovely, and incorporated the language of flowers.  Did you know that daisies can mean loyal love and bells of Ireland can mean good luck?

On Saturday, we took a taxi to Mount Vernon.  We visited Mount Vernon many summers when I was growing up, and it was so fun to be back!

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It was rainy, but we had a fantastic time! And just look how cute they are!

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After a trip to Mount Vernon, we went to my aunt and uncle’s for lunch and the best cakes ever!

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Family time is really the best time.

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It’s always special when all of my dad’s brothers are together.  This doesn’t happen often, so it’s so fun when they can all be together!

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We made it back to the hotel with just enough time for a nap. We really know how to relax.

The wedding was at the National Museum of Women in the Art’s. It was such a neat venue, and everything was beautiful!

I love all those special little details at a wedding. The bride is a librarian so our seating chart used the Dewey Decimal System. Our table was 941.5 for Ireland, one of their vacation spots.  That’s just the special little detail I love!

They also had a “Treat you self” pie topper and the favors were doughnuts. I’m not really sure you can beat that.

All in all, it was a great weekend! We are so looking forward to being back in Mount Vernon this summer for more family time!

Things have not slowed down since we got back. Last weekend I got to help with a shower for a really precious friend, and this weekend we’ll be hosting Sunday Brunch.

Check in again later this week.  I’l be sharing a recipe and craft idea from the cutest children’s book shower you’ve ever seen.  

And, we’re off!

Today, we are headed to D.C. for my cousin’s wedding! Mom and Dad drove up to Huntsville last night, just in time to have Mexican food and a little frozen yogurt!

We’ve been so excited about the trip, and this photo added to my excitement.  My aunt sent me this photo of one of our trips to the area. Clearly, I’ve always had a flare for fashion.

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Don’t worry. I won’t be wearing my Minnie Mouse dress to the wedding. Just the rehearsal dinner tonight.

Today, we’ll explore the city and spend time with family at the rehearsal dinner.

Saturday, we’re headed to Mount Vernon and lunch with family! Then, back to D.C. for the main event!

I have such fond memories of spending time with family in the Washington area.  It has been too long since we’ve been there, and I’m looking forward to being back.

This will also be the first time that my parents have flown in at least 25 years, and I’m still not sure how I convinced them to fly.

I’ll be documenting the trip through Instagram, and I hope you’ll come along with us! You’ll get a full recap of the weekend when we get back!

Amy’s Moving to Huntsville!

Let me tell you about my friend, Amy.  This sweet friend who I met when I was a pretty vulnerable freshman at Auburn with a pretty terrible hair cut.

Amy and I became fast friends when we found out we lived in the same dorm and played for the lacrosse team.

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Amy’s the one on the far right that looks like an athlete.  I’m the one in the middle that looks like she’s just happy to be there.

Any time we had a lacrosse game in Georgia, we stayed with Amy’s parents.  They immediately welcomed me into their family, and her dad made sure I had an atlas in my car anytime I left their house.  Always be prepared…to make a fire because there’s no way I knew how to use that thing. Thank ya much, GPS.

Amy and I stayed friends throughout college. We had lots of adventures, and went on lots of trips.

This time we went to New Orleans where we conquered the art of beignet eating. We are dedicated to our craft.

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This time we went to Savannah where we mastered made it through crab cracking.

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Notice the look of hesitation on my face.

This time we went to dinner for Happy Birthday Crème Brule, and we took this picture every year after.

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And this time, we spent Spring Break in a retirement community.

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We also took a senior’s water aerobics class at said retirement community.  We did not have a swim cap, and we did not wear lipstick so we clearly stuck out.  We were however introduced to a lovely lady who attempted to set us up with her grandsons.  They don’t dance, but they’re handsome. Or so we’re told.

We went to lots of Auburn games.

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And, I belly laugh every time I’m with her.

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She’s really funny.

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Needless to say, we’ve had some pretty great times.  She is a constant source of encouragement and spurs me on.  She’s always helped me make a goal whether it’s for a trip or running a half marathon. And, she’s just really great.

And now, I’ll get to see her any time I want.  Because she’s moving to Huntsville!!

Last weekend, Amy and her husband, Austin (who is also great) made the trip to Huntsville to start looking for their new home. I know moving to a new place can be a little intimidating.

We didn’t feel completely at home until we found “our” Mexican place.  It’s the little things. The everyday routine things. That make you feel more settled.

In an effort to help them find “their” things and places, I made them an unofficial but equally great Welcome Basket.

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I made a trip to  the Visitor’s Center to get a few brochures. Who knew it would be so informative? P.S. The Chamber of Commerce has a relocation basket! So there really is an official Welcome Basket.

I filled the basket with information about things they can see, do, and taste.

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The basket would not be complete without a copy of the Huntsville Entertains cookbook. I bought this one at Harrison Brothers Hardware. I go there anytime I need a local gift.

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This is a beautiful cookbook that includes such great information about Huntsville.  I bought one for myself for Christmas, and one for my mom.  I can’t wait to start cooking my way through this one!

Amy’s basket also had some goodies from the Green Street Market. It was the first time I had been to the store. I told the person in the store that I wanted to get something “local” for friends, and she motioned to the entire store.

Every thing is local like this book. It lists all of the farms in Huntsville along with what they grow and their hours. I may have bought one for myself too.

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And, this little satchel of deliciousness is the Briar Patch Brew from a local favorite, Piper and Leaf.

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I included a few of the larger magazines on the bedside table for some bedtime reading.

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All in all, it was a pretty thorough welcome basket!

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We had a fantastic weekend with them, and I already have some goals for this summer. Amy is an expert goal maker, and I have a  feeling she’s going to love things like the Farmers Market, Concerts on the Dock, and kayaking with nack.

So, Welcome to Huntsville, Austin and Amy. We’re so glad you’ll be here soon!