Week One of Dating for Free 99

Chris and I are one week into our month of free dating and here's what I know so far:
- Not going on coffee dates is way harder than expected.
- I think we are now going on more dates because we're so excited about trying these free ideas.

This past Friday we actually went to Rome, GA, to see his mom, so we didn't go on a date but we did, in fact, become roomies.

Saturday night, I was babysitting, so we were determined to squeeze in a free date somewhere this weekend. Here's what we accomplished:

Free iced coffees Saturday afternoon, because the Braves won Friday (#20)

We played frisbee in the park (#22) with Sam Sunday before the rain moved in.

And then we got absolutely drenched!

We went to Trader Joe's and cooked stir fry with Sam.

We've gone on lots of walks, relaxed and have started a seriously aggressive list of things we want to try when we're back to non-free dating. :)

So that's what our first week of free dating has looked like!

This weekend, we're heading home to Indiana. That wasn't free. But it was pre-planned! :) Happy Friday!

25 free summer dates in atlanta

Happy day, friends! We're in this lovely little in between spring and summer phase in Atlanta, where the days hit the 90s, but the mornings are cool enough to drive to work with your windows down without even thinking about breaking a sweat. You can feel the city on the brink of summer - itching to break open into the 100s and become clothed in the thick layer of humidity.

But not yet!

Spring, sweet spring.

Chris and I decided that this month, we're taking on a challenge: 30 days of only free dates. Why? Well, we've spent a good bit of money lately with quite a few trips and weddings. And also? Because Atlanta has so much free stuff to do and the perfect time to take advantage of it is before it gets too hot.

25 free summer dates in atlanta - bucket list

Naturally, we have a few ground rules:
1. We are allowed to buy groceries to cook together
2. We are allowed to buy the froyo twice during the month. Because it's spring. And that's what you do in the spring.

The challenge began yesterday and will last until June 13. To make sure we don't just get lazy and cook dinner every night in yoga pants, I made a quick list of some things I hope we tackle:

free things to do in atlanta in the summer
{note a few of these places do sell things, so if you aren't on a total fast, I'd recommend buying a cup of coffee or drink :))

1. Bike (or drive) the Living Walls  - try to see them all
2. Go to the free coffee shop at the Goat Farm (though I do recommend tipping :))
3. Hike into the Bellwood Quarry
4. Play ping pong at Henry & June or Victory
5. Visit the Lilburn Hindu Temple

Free things to do in Lilburn
image via my friend megan :)

6. Peruse and {window} shop at all of the new, awesome places that have recently opened: Chrome Yellow, Young Blood, the little shops at Krog Street, etc.
7. Explore/relax by the dam at Lullwater
8. Hike Sweetwater
9. Brew up some {iced} coffee on a Sunday morning and drive Tuxedo Road
10. Check out books at the Atlanta library (or use the free e-books from APL), take them to a park and read under a tree

25 free summer dates in atlanta - bucket list

11. Picnic on the beach in Morningside Nature Preserve
12. Feed the ducks in Piedmont Park
13. Go to a Grady High School track meet with lawn chairs
14. Walk, bike, run or stroll the BeltLine. Stop in Paris on Ponce for free popsicles
15. Explore a new neighborhood on foot - whether its Cabbagetown, Decatur or Grant Park, get outside your comfort zone
16. Do a Saturday AM power session and try to hit as many farmers' markets as possible: FreedomGrant Park, Westside (and so many more!)

free dates in atlanta

17. String up some battery-operated lights in Candler Park and have a nighttime picnic
18. Go to Free Beer Friday at Diesel at 5:37
19. Grab a volleyball and play in Piedmont Park
20. Get free coffee at Dunkin Donuts the day after the Braves win (during the month of May)
21. Spend the afternoon gardening at Truly Living Well
22. Throw a frisbee in Chastain
23. Grab a blanket, drive out of the city (somewhere without big buildings - like Fairburn) and stargaze
24. Sit in the Adirondack chairs at the Chattahoochee Coffee Company and watch everyone float the river
25. Buy a bag of coffee at Dancing Goats (this is an essential grocery, right!?) and they give you a free drink. Make it a coffee date :)

So that's where you'll find us this month! Happy free dating!

And just like that, it's Christmastime!

This holiday season has absolutely flown by and I really don't know how next week is Christmas! I went from zero to 60 in the last week - I'd done pretty much nothing Christmassy to doing a whole lot in a short time. And it was lovely :) 

Last week, I went to Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens (ATL Bucket List #25)  with coworkers. It was so much fun and absolutely got me in the holiday spirit. Something about a spiked hot chocolate and shiny lights will do that to you.

(I found some Indiana corn in the gardens)

Over the weekend, I wrapped all of my Christmas gifts and packed them up for my trip home next weekend. I love, love gift giving but really, strongly dislike wrapping them. I rush through it and don't like to measure and it just isn't my scene. Duke and Sam entertained me (or more accurately, I entertained them with my poor skills), while we listened to Christmas music. It made the whole experience much livelier. 

On Saturday night, Chris and I went with his mom to Murphy's for dinner and a gift exchange, then back to the gardens to see the lights again. Even the second time through, they did not disappoint. They were lovely. 

On Sunday, a few of my friends and I went to lunch at Mary Mac's Team Room and the Nutcracker at the Fox (Bucket list #70 and #109), which I hadn't seen since I was really young. I didn't know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised. The whole time I just kept thinking about how athletic they all are - those legs! Impressive. 

To wrap up the weekend, Melissa and I exchanged Christmas gifts. And, of course, drank hot chocolate. 

And now, here we are, just one week away from the merriest holiday of the year. 

I hope your holiday season has been full of cheer!

where i want to live forever // atl spring break

People often ask me if I'll move back to Indiana any time soon and my response is always the same - that I really have no idea. One of the coolest and scariest things about life right now is that I'm just living. 

As somewhat of an obsessive planner, and as someone who has always had a plan for what 27 would look like - it can be scary at times. But it's also pretty amazing. For the first time since high school I've stopped worrying about what I want to be when I grow up, when I will have babies or who I will marry...

That's not to say I'm apathetic. I'm serious about my job. I can't wait to get married. I'm so excited to one day be a mom. I'm still taking steps every day to advance my future. 

But for the first time in years, I finally understand that it's not my plan and, even by constantly stressing and calculating, I can't make my plan come true. 

Do I see myself staying in Atlanta for a while and continuing to build my life here? Yes! But could I have told you at 21 that I'd still be here with life as it is now? Or, better yet, could I have told you yesterday what would happen today? Definitely not. Educated guesses - of course. But I don't have a crystal ball. 

And this weekend with my family gave me even more perspective. As I shared Atlanta with them, it reminded me how much I love this city. But it also reminded me that wherever they are - whether it be Atlanta, Indiana, Virginia, Colorado or Rome - is exactly where my home is. 

And this weekend, it was Atlanta:

We helped my dad surprise my mom on Wednesday when he showed up - she had no idea he was coming down.

We had a cookout Thursday night in the beautiful weather.

We went to the Aquarium (finally! bucket list #38) Friday, which was awesome. They did such an amazing job making it an experience. It's so much more than animals in water. If I were a kid, my mind would have been blown. 

I sold my car, which was a less-fun thing to do, but needed to happen while my dad was in town because we were both on the title. And it was at least productive! Bye, bye, sweet Jeep. You've been a great friend to me. 

We went to dinner at Tin Lizzy's to celebrate the birthday kids: Duke, Ryan and my mama. 

We spun the rock at the corner of 10th and Piedmont (bucket list #130 - so heavy!).

We went to breakfast at Highland Bakery, where I tried their GF Sweet Potato biscuit and about d.i.e.d. How has no one told me about this before? (NOW bucket list #131).

We went to the Goat Farm.

And played in an intramural volleyball game in Piedmont Park.

And went to dinner at Farm Burger to celebrate Duke's day-of birthday! With homemade cookies and ice cream for dessert. And presents!

And talked and laughed and loved and realized that home isn't a place at all, it's one another. 

I hope your weekend was wonderful!