Saturday, April 12, 2014

Coming soon: an insider's guide to biking, beer and Atlanta

Sip and cycle... bike and imbibe... pedal and pour (©2014 CLBoudreaux)... Names be damned - this plan is destined to be sweet (or hoppy)! O&I have spent a couple of weekends working out the route and the logistics for a project that combines our favorite things about this great city. Stay tuned for details!




Friday, April 4, 2014

Brussel Sprouts in the garden

It's been almost 8 months since I planted brussel sprout seeds in the garden. They sprouted quickly but I made the mistake of waiting way too long to thin them out (we're talking months too long). When they were finally thinned the remaining plants began to take off. Those with the most hours of sunshine clearly growing the fastest. The snow and ice storms didn't phase them at all and by February we finally began to notice little brussel sprouts forming between leafy stalks. Unfortunately, the warm days have caused the plants to bolt and looks like our chance of eating any these is officially over. Even without the tasty homegrown meal I still consider the experience (perhaps it should be called an experiment) a success. We'll try this again in late summer, implementing what I've learned, and hopefully finally getting it right!

















Sunday, March 30, 2014

Unexpected happiness. Thank you.

I had a birthday this weekend. Normally, I'm quite the birthday person - but this year has been different. Before I go into detail, I'd like to emphasize (for the first time) that I truly have no idea who reads this. Friends, co-workers, people who hate me, people who like me, possible employers who want to hire me? I don't know. The ambiguity has slowly begun to influence what I'm likely to share. That said, it's been over a year since I gave up the hope that this blog would influence people to live more heart healthy lives. While I have stopped trying to help other people eat and live better - my own healthy lifestyle has become intrinsic.

The aforementioned birthday has been an unwelcome, looming, milestone. The last year feels like a 365 days of failed starts. In every aspect of my life I am stuck in the mud - and as an oldest child, Aries, who graduated from an Ivy League school - the lack of traction has been eating me alive. I hesitate to type this because I am very aware of how pathetically cliche it will sound: my daily loneliness is so isolating. Had someone told me that the panacea was a birthday I'd  have rolled my eyes. But - it's true.

Several weeks ago I challenged myself to find the small bits of genuine happiness that must exist in every single day. To help me focus I quit Facebook and started a Tumblr  that allowed me to tally happy moments. Both efforts helped but they have paled in comparison to the simple acts of unexpected kindness that those around me have recently shown. Those simple acts have been so important to me that I'd like to sit and write each person a thank you note. 

Without giving away too much of my friends' privacy - if you spent time with me between Friday morning and Sunday night - you SPECIFICALLY - made a really big impact on my well being. Thank you. Thank you for your cards, your cakes, your gifts, your surprises, your time, your texts, your songs, your smiles, your hugs, your listening... It's impossible to walk away from the last 76 hours feeling lonely. But - it's not just that I no longer feel lonely. It's more that I finally understand that a lot of the people who I'd previously been holding at a distance have long been my very real friends. I entered the weekend feeling stuck but I leave it feeling the most optimistic I've felt in a very long time. And this time, I owe that feeling to the wonderful people around me.

Thank you guys. Your patience and sincerity is huge to me. Thanks. 


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Happy Things

The first day of March is finally here! For Atlanta that is ALMOST officially springtime - and springtime in Atlanta makes me very happy. Here spring is synonymous  with daffodils, dogwoods, azaleas, cabbages (okay that might just be me and my garden), the Inman Park Festival and reopening of Farmer's Markets.


This morning we're heading to the grand opening of a new Atlanta farmer's market. This one is the Freedom Farmer's Market and now through the week before Christmas it will be set up every Saturday at the Carter Center. While there a few things that set this market apart from the others around town the one that excites me is accessibility by bike. This location is easy to ride to on both the Freedom Park Bike Trail and the Beltline. I love that!




While I'm on the topic of loving things and springtime and bikes - I have to share this project I found on Kickstarter: Type Rider II: The Tandem Poetry Tour by Maya Stein. Everything about it inspires me. I wish it was me and my idea! The Kickstarter campaign only lasts for 3 more days; as of now they only need another $1500 to reach their goal. If you love the project as much as I do I hope you'll donate a few dollars to help make it a reality. I sponsored JULY 17 Indianola→Altoona (which I'm pretty excited about).

Okay, time to clean up and hop on my bike! Gotta get to that Farmer's Market! Happy almost-springtime!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Historic Grant Park

When the Grant Park neighborhood was under consideration for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places an inventory was taken of all buildings and homes in the area. The information was compiled into a series of notebooks - and those notebooks have recently resurfaced. Paul Simo, historic chair of the Grant Park Neighborhood Association, brought the heavy stack to a recent board meeting. Looking up my home and those around me was exciting!

Turns out our house was built in 1920, making it 94 years old! Our next door neighbor's house (where we were married in 2011) was built in 1889. Most exciting of all - I finally found out more about the gorgeous, overgrown Victorian home across the street. It was built in 1871 for/by (the) Lemuel Grant. The rumor I've heard is that his 2nd wife didn't want to live in their original home after it'd been used as a hospital during the Civil War. This was his home until he died in 1893. His wife lived here until 1912 when she passed (the same year the Titanic sank - and the fictional Downton Abbey begins). Now I'm dying to see inside!! 

If you live in the neighborhood and want to see what the inventory says about your home please contact Paul at historic@GPNA.org.








Saturday, February 8, 2014

Atlanta's 2014 SNOW DAY!

Two weeks ago Atlanta made national news for it's "unexpected" "snowstorm". I sarcastically use both words because the snow was neither "unexpected" nor really a "snowstorm". Rather, the Weather Channel (which is based in Atlanta)  had predicted the couple of inches of snow which (as always) caused an ice problem. 

Friends who live outside of Atlanta continue to ask me if this storm was really any different from those of past years. My answer is, yes definitely. The Storm of the Century in March 1993 was a real snowstorm (by Atlanta standards); my suburb received half a foot of powdery snow! When Atlanta hosted the Super Bowl in 2000 we were hit with an ice storm that caused tree limbs to snap and create power outages all over the city. This time a dusting of powdery snow seemed to instantly freeze onto the roads (possibly because the city had been experiencing single digit temperatures in the weeks leading up to the storm). As the snow was falling the city closed schools. This prompted everyone in the city to simultaneously get into their cars and act like half a million little zambonis. Working together, Atlanta's infamous rush hour commuters transformed Atlanta's highways into a massive ice skating rink. It's not that Atlantans don't know how to drive in the snow; it's that we don't have cars equipped to drive on solid ice. And in a matter of three hours the roads went from snow to ice. 

People in my office were forced to either abandon their cars and walk or sleep in their cars on the highway. I was lucky: I left work at 4pm and had a really easy drive home through a mostly abandoned city. Just another perk of city living I suppose!

Photos from Tuesday evening/night
Driving home from work: the opening shot from the Walking Dead.













Looking East on 1-20 at midnight on Tuesday





































Photos from Wednesday morning

Looking North on Hill Street.







Looking West on 1-20 at 8am on Wednesday (traffic is a stand still).

Looking East on 1-20 at 8am on Wednesday (traffic is a stand still).










Sunday, January 5, 2014

ROAD TRIP!!

To celebrate the New Year, Oliver and I took a road trip to Texas. We spent New Years Eve in Austin and then made stops in a few different places during the drive back to Atlanta. Austin didn't quite live up to it's self proclaimed status as "weird" but there were a lot of cool things about the city that I thought Atlanta could learn from. In particular, public support for bicycling and beer. I was so impressed by the amount of bike parking. All over the city there were entire parking spots devoted to bike lock ups (in Atlanta we're lucky to find one tiny lock up on the sidewalk). The beers laws are also more progressive then those in Atlanta. In Austin the growler shops doubled as bars - something currently illegal in Georgia. 

Instead of writing about our favorite spots from the road trip I've made them into "pins" so be sure to check out Pinterest page! Happy New Year!




Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Crafting

Nothing says "happy holidays" quite like glitter and pinecones! To thank everyone for their continued to support for And Topher Too I wanted to share a few Christmas craft projects that I did this year. Enjoy!


How to make
Snowy Pine Cone Ornaments
• Gather newly fallen pine cones. (Be sure they are not crushed or too fragile.)
• Spray with High Performance Enamel white spray paint. 
• Once dry screw in tiny hook eyes. Thread with a 7 inch length of .125" satin ribbon. Tie ribbon into loop.
• Paint the the bottom of the pinecone (around the hook eye) with opaque white gesso. While wet sprinkle gesso with glitter. (For this project I used a chunky glitter that I think resembles snowflakes.) Repeat this step for the tips/sides of the pinecone. Hang to dry (I balanced a chop stick on pint glasses and dangled the ornaments from there).
• Finish your snowy pinecone ornament with a bow (wait until the gesso is completely dry). I used a lot of different bows on mine: black satin, red grosgrain, green grosgrain. Some of the ornaments were personalized with "2013" or an initial; for that I used the Martha Stewart glitter glue. To permanently attach the bow in front of the hook eye use hot glue.

How to make
Retro Tinsel Stars
• Purchase paper mache stars. These are from Michaels Craft & Hobby store but you can also buy them online.
• Prime with opaque white gesso. 
• Once dry paint stars with metallic silver acrylic paint. Let dry overnight.
• Working in sections, coat the star in clear PVA glue then sprinkle your preferred glitter over glue. Using your finger tip lightly pat the glitter into the glue. PVA dries fast so don't make your sections too big! I used Martha Stewart "tinsel" glitter.
• To personalize each ornament I added a black velvet chipboard letter. The ones shown here are from the Anna Griffin Darcey collection. Hot gluing the letter to the center of the ornament was a little tricky; be sure to think through how the letter's individual shape will sit on the convex point of the star's belly. 
• Once the letter is securely in place add the ribbon. Tie an 8 inch length of 1" ribbon into a pretty knot. Tuck knot between letter and ornament and hot glue into place. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Atlanta Holiday Highlights

The holiday season is here and Atlanta's diverse creative community is ready to celebrate with an impressive variety of performances! With so much to choose from there really is something for everyone. Feeling traditional? Go see the Christmas Carol at the Alliance Theater or the Nutcracker Ballet at the Fox. Looking to validate your holiday cynicism? Head to Little Five Points for Santaland Diaries and the John Waters Christmas (one night only, one man show). Prefer a little nostalgia during the holidays? Make plans to be at the Plaza theatre for a screening of It's a Wonderful Life. Comedy? Dad's Garage offers a fun twist on the Christmas Carol. Scary? Krampus Crawl cannot be missed. Excuse to dance the night away? Annual Merry Y'all Tide with Blair Crimmons and the Holiday Hootenanny at Terminal West. ( I don't think I can twist O's arm to join me for all of these so if someone wants to join me for a girls' night out just say the word!)

11/21-11/24 Urban Nutcracker at the Ferst Center. "Urban Nutcracker" takes place on Atlanta’s own Sweet Auburn Avenue in the 1940s. "Urban Nutcracker" is to "The Nutcracker" as what "The Wiz" is to "The Wizard of Oz." 

11/22-12/31 Santaland Diaries at Horizon Theater. The annual performance of beloved NPR satirist, David Sedaris's tale of working as an elf in Macy's Santaland. 

11/25-12/23 Invasion: Christmas Carol at Dad's Garage.  Every evening the audience will choose a new "invader" (who a is complete surprise to the cast and can be anything from a big purple monster to Paula Deen) to infiltrate the world of Scrooge. It's up to the cast to keep the story on track, but because this year will be bursting with even more improv flavor than last year, things are guaranteed to get even nuttier than a Cornish game hen!

11/29-12/29 Christmas Carol at the Alliance Theater.

12/5-12/29 Nutcracker Ballet at the Fabulous Fox Theater

12/6 It's a Wonderful Life at the Plaza 

12/7 Krampus Crawl in Little Five Points.  Krampus is the rarely mentioned counterpart to Santa. While Santa is bringing treats to good boys and girls, Krampus is punishing the bad ones. The horned beastly creature is pretty scary and the costumes that accompany his pub crawl are well done. This event is not for the young or conservative! 

12/7 5th Annual Merry Y'all Tide with Whiskey Gentry and Blair Crimmons & the Hookers.  (Same night as Krampus Crawl - really interested in seeing how these two subcultures interact on the streets of L5P!)

12/12 John Waters Christmas at Variety Playhouse.  An unforgettable one man show! John Waters pokes fun at the holiday season with adult-appropriate humor, effectively “putting the X in Xmas”.

12/14 Gremlins at the Center for Puppetry Arts. (Asking yourself how Gremlins relates to Christmas? Gizmo was a Christmas gift! Aw, poor little mogwi.)

12/21 Kingsized Christmas with the Big Mike Gier and the Dames Aflame. The all-ages 90-minute show features Holiday favorites by the likes of Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Heat Miser, The Grinch and more!

12/22 3rd Annual Atlanta Holiday Hootenanny at Terminal West. Featuring:  Randall Bramblett, John Cowan, Col. Bruce Hampton, The Mosier Brothers, Grant Green Jr., Caroline Aiken, Count M'Butu, Donna Hopkins, Jeff Sipe Trio, Yonrico Scott, Mark Van Allen, Bobby Miller, Jeff Autry, Diane Durrett, Gaurav Malhotra, Leah Calvert, Ralph Roddenbery. 


Thursday, November 14, 2013

A short history of baseball and mass transit in Atlanta

The recent announcement that Atlanta's Braves plan to leave the city center in favor of a new suburban stadium has caught the entire nation by surprise. While I am not in favor of the move, the decision reminds me of the various roles transit has played in Atlanta baseball. In my mind, the two have always been intertwined: Atlanta's earliest organized baseball team, the Cracker's, played in a stadium accessible by streetcar. Ivan Allen chose the location for Atlanta Fulton County's Stadium based on it's proximity to "the Georgia State Capitol, downtown businesses and major highways". (Turner Field was built beside the original Braves stadium - but I don't know enough about the Olympic plans to say if consideration had been given to building elsewhere.) 

With all of that in mind, a brief (unofficial) history of baseball and mass transit in Atlanta:




• 1866 - Georgia’s General Assembly charters the Atlanta Street Railway Company.
• September 8, 1871 - The first horse drawn trolley line begins operation. Tracks extend from the city’s center to Peters Street near the present location of Spellman College. The “West End” line goes along Mitchell and Forsyth to the Fort McPherson Barracks.

• January 1872 - Service added from Marietta Street (downtown) running northwest to North Avenue
• May 1872 - Service added from Decatur Street (downtown) running east to the north entrance of Oakland Cemetery (no longer an entrance)
• August 1872 - Service added from downtown running north along Peachtree Street to Pine Street.
• 1874 - Peachtree line is extended further north to the present intersection of Peachtree Street and Ponce de Leon Ave. "Since the Ponce de Leon Avenue did not exist at the time, the rail line traveled east on a private right-of-way to Ponce de Leon Springs, a popular seasonal recreation spot in the lands beyond the city" [1].
• February 11, 1885 - the south's first organized, professional baseball league is formed by Henry W. Grady. At the end of the 100 game season Atlanta narrowly defeats Augusta to win the first Southern League pennant [2].
• 1899 - Southern League officially disbands but is credited with making baseball popular in the south.
• 1901 - Southern Association is formed. Atlanta's team is the "Firemen"[3].
• 1903 - Atlanta's baseball team changes it's name to the "Crackers". The Crackers become one of professional baseball's most successful franchises, winning more titles than any other team except the Yankees [4]. They play at various parks around Atlanta. 
• May 23, 1907 - Ponce de Leon Ball Park opens; the Crackers finally have a home field. The wooden stadium is built in the amusement park at the end of the streetcar line. 
•  September 9, 1923 - The stadium burns down. Uniforms, trophies and records are lost. 
• 1924 - A new steel and concrete stadium is built by RJ Spiller, a wealthy concessionaire. "The new park debuted in time for the 1924 season, and was widely hailed as the finest minor league stadium in the nation." [5] The outfield is noted for having a pair of magnolia trees in center field; as of 2013 these trees are still standing along the access road behind Whole Foods. 
• 1940's - the proposal to build an interstate cutting through downtown Atlanta begins
• 1954 - Atlanta Cracker, Montag hits the longest home run in baseball history. "It landed in a coal car passing on the railroad tracks beyond the right field fence at the Ponce de Leon park. A few days later, after the train had gone to Nashville, Tennessee, and back, the conductor asked Montag to autograph the ball, which by that time had traveled more than 500 miles." [6]
• 1958 - Interstate development maps outline a path alongside current-day Turner Field.
• 1961 - As part of his campaign for mayor, Ivan Allen Jr promises to build a sports facility that will attract a Major League Baseball team. After winning office, Allen chose a 47-acre plot in the Washington-Rawson neighborhood for the building site, citing its proximity to the Georgia State Capitol, downtown businesses and major highways [7].
• April 15, 1964 - Groundbreaking ceremony for the future Atlanta Fulton County Stadium
• 1965 - MARTA is formed by the Georgia Legislature
• 1965 - Atlanta Crackers play their final season in the new Atlanta Fulton County Stadium.
• April 9, 1965 Milwaukee Braves play an exhibition game against the Detroit Tigers in the new stadium.
• 1966 - Both the Atlanta Falcons football team and the newly minted Atlanta Braves baseball team move into Fulton County Stadium. Both teams share this facility for the next 26 years. (In 1992 the Falcons move to the Georgia Dome).
• 1968 - Construction for MARTA fails city of Atlanta, Fulton County and DeKalb County referendum.
• 1969 - Construction on 285 begins.
• 1971 - Voters pass MARTA construction referendum 
• April 8, 1974 - Hank Aaron became baseball's all-time career home run leader by hitting his 715th home run
• 1975 - Marta ground breaking
• March 29, 1997 - First Braves game in the new Turner Field (formerly the Olympic Stadium)





* This is a work in progress but I didn't want to delay sharing it because of the topical nature. I'll be back this weekend to fill in more details. Thanks! Cullen