Halloween, GaTech Homecoming and Chomp & Stomp!

Halloween weekend was the kind of weekend that highlights how wonderful life is in in-town Atlanta. The more I hear people comment on how "safe" they feel in the suburbs the more I realize they have no idea what they're missing out on. Friday night, after handing out candy to over 100 trick-or-treaters in Grant Park, we headed to a friend's costume party in Reynoldstown (costumes, with hints, below). Bluegrass band and BBQ from DBA? Perhaps I can overlook the sudden freezing temperature!

At noon the next day we hopped on our bikes and braved the frigid headwinds to join friends tailgating the Georgia Tech Homecoming game. After a couple of hours we jumped on the Beltline and cruised over to Cabbagetown for Chomp and Stomp. There we hung out with my brother and a few former co-workers. The transition from engineer friends to artist friends was barely noticeable as both events were so full of lively, happy people (and beer). Next weekend is MothBall - after that I'm hanging up all my costumes until 2015!!

EAV and Grant Park Criterion, Summer Shade Fest

This time of year always makes me thankful for Atlanta's fantastic intown neighborhoods. The East Atlanta and Grant Park Criterion were held last weekend. Friends with homes/businesses along the courses hosted leisurely front porch parties with neighbors drifting in and out. Today and tomorrow are the annual Grant Park Summer Shade Fest. In a couple of hours we'll walk to the park with a blanket, cooler and hopes of running into my brother. (If you go to the fest be sure look for his t-shirt booth, Wandering Line.) And of course next weekend, Labor Day weekend, is my favorite Atlanta 3-day weekend. Bring on Dragon*Con and SEC football!

Beltline Bike Tour 2014

Today was the annual Beltline Bike Tour. 30 miles roundtrip - starting at the Old Fourth Ward Skate Park and making a clockwise loop around the city of Atlanta. The bike ride took the Beltline everywhere it's paved and completed; the rest of the route was street cycling through neighborhoods where the Beltline will someday connect. Two thumbs up to the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition for organizing this impressive event! (If you're not already familiar with this organization please look them up. They are doing so many important things for street cycling in the city of Atlanta.) 

1. DAMN ATLANTA IS HILLY. Yeah, okay, I know we're technically the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and Peachtree Street is a ridge that was once a native American footpath - but all that information became real life when I was pedaling up a couple of crazy hills. Specifically the vertical incline just after Ardmore Park. But I was high fiving a million angels after I made it up in granny gear!! No pushing the bike up the hill for me! Sweet.
2. Going into today's ride I was anticipating the route's uncomfortable contrast between blighted low income neighborhoods and posh "1%" parts of town. The southwest side was worse then I imagined: so many boarded up and burnt out homes. But it made me happy to see that despite the disadvantages, southwest Atlanta still has some of the city's best bike trails and parks. If you haven't been there before it's definitely worth a ride (during the day - with a map and plan, with friends - not alone). 
3. Don't underestimate your ability!! When I signed up for the ride I wanted to be in the "quick" group but O hesitated and thought it best if we hang with the "intermediates". To the surprise of us both - we ended up "breaking away" from the intermediate pack and pushing well into the fast group. We even had time to stop at Mellow Mushroom on Peachtree and share a Bells Two Hearted Ale! Ya know, for the carb loading... 

Riding bikes in Atlanta: just the facts!

Thanks to the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition for compiling this helpful info! 

• Bicycles are vehicles under Georgia law, with the same right to travel on the road as other vehicles (with the exception of limited-access highways). 
• Sidewalks are for walking: It is illegal for adults (over 12 years of age) to ride bicycles on the sidewalk in the state of Georgia. Your risk of being hit by a car is actually higher on the sidewalk than in the road. Bicyclists on the sidewalk are less visible to drivers, especially at intersections and driveways.
• Take the lane: If the bike lane is too narrow or next to on-street parking, take the lane (ride in the middle of the traffic lane) at your discretion.
• When riding in groups, ride no more than two abreast, and as a courtesy, ride single file when faster traffic needs the space to pass you. 
• Light up the night: Every bicycle, while being used in the dark in Georgia, must be equipped with a white front light and rear red reflector, each visible from 300 feet.
• Wear a helmet: Bicycle helmets are required for everyone under age 16 and encouraged for everyone else.

• Expect the unexpected: Never assume a motorist sees you. Anticipate parked vehicles pulling into traffic, vehicle doors opening in front of you, and debris or other hazards on the road. Respect right of way rules.
• If you encounter an irate motorist, be polite, regardless of her/his behavior. To report an aggressive or harassing driver, or if you are involved in a car-bike crash, call 911. Please report all crashes, as this data contributes to bike improvements in Atlanta. Be ready with
a vehicle and location description, a license plate number and state, and an account of what happened.
• Scout your route to find streets that work for you. Remember, your driving route might not be the best way to get there by bike.
• Download this map here.

Links to great stuff:
AJC article about bike lanes
• ATL's 1st Cycling Festival
• Sopo Bike Co-op
Beltline Bike Shop
• An ATL bike blog

Bike Beer Repeat

Thanks to  our friend Emeline for organizing today's Ride Bikes, Drink Beer, Repeat - Westside Edition. Most of the group met at 10:45am in Inman Park and then cycled through downtown Atlanta to the westside of town. First stop: Redbrick Brewery. Second stop: lunch at the Atlanta Food Truck Park (O&I shared a fried avocado BLT and BBQ pork tacos). Third stop: Monday Night Brewing (let me just say: damn, their space is so great - major kudos for creating such a trendy yet welcoming atmosphere). On the ride we met some cool folks that I hope to see again and the slower pace allowed me to appreciate a lot of historic architecture that I had previously overlooked. Thanks again Emeline!

Total ride (from home): 19 miles • map at bottom

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!


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!

Atlanta is pretty awesome

I'm swamped with MothBall details. We lost our venue with less then three weeks to go. We've found a new venue and now I'm revising contracts and following up with all the performers, vendors and sponsors (so they don't go to the previously planned, non-inspection passing old location). As soon as all these loose ends are tied up then it'll be time to get to crafting. If you haven't marked your calendars and bought your tickets - PLEASE DO SO NOW! Click here. 

Even though MothBall has taken over our lives, there were two events this weekend that O&I just couldn't miss. Oliver's favorite beerfest: Hotoberfest. My new favorite thing to do: the Great Bicycle Parade as part of Atlanta Streets Alive. 

If you haven't already noticed I'm slowly building a small contingency of Muppets. MUPPETS TAKE ATLANTA! I've decided that each time we do the bike parade I'll add one or two more muppets. This time I added a speaker with a Muppet play list to my bike and I made Fozzie's costume better (added ears). For next time I want to make Beaker and the Swedish Chef. Stay tuned for Spring 2014!

*Muppet photo credit to Erik Voss

Time flies when you're....

If I manage to write this post in under an hour then I'll be able to say it's only been a month since I last checked in.  For the first time in three years I've been too busy too go to the gym regularly or make time for my weekly trip to Your DeKalb Farmers Market. Folks - if you know me, you know skipping those lifestyle commitments is a HUGE deal. So what gives? Festivals, party planning, costume making and print designs. Yet despite the hectic schedule, I haven't been this proud to be an Atlantan since 1996. 

Anyone who has lived in the city of Atlanta  (proper, not 'burbs)  knows that Atlantans LIVE for their spring and fall festivals. For me, fall festival season started 3 days after I planted the late summer garden. First there was the Decatur BBQ, Blues & Bluegrass Fest; a week later was Grant Park's Summer Shade Fest and the following weekend is what I'm officially declaring "the best weekend to be in Atlanta" - LABOR DAY WEEKEND! 

My Labor Day weekends in Atlanta are highlighted by my bicycle. Everything we do for three days is within biking distance:  Braves game Thursday or Friday night. Dragon*Con Parade Saturday morning always followed by lunch with friends at Elliot Street Tavern in Castleberry Hill before heading to the Georgia Dome to check out SEC Football kick-off weekend tailgates. Saturday night, Sunday and Monday are chocked full of unusually awesome party options. Our 2013 Labor Day weekend was so perfect that it was impossible to imagine the next weekend was going to be even better.

The following Saturday was both the Porter's 5th anniversary and the Beltline Lantern Parade. Sunday, Street's Alive and the NFL kick-off game between the Falcons and Saints. Saturday morning I woke up early to finish costumes for the the #GothMoths, then I put those costumes and my bike into our pick-up truck. I drove to Cabbagetown where I dropped off the costumes. Next I drove to Midtown, dropped off the truck, hopped onto my bike and took the Beltline to Little Five Points just in time for the Porter's 5th Anniversary. A few hours later: Little Five Points to Inman Park where we met up with the #GothMoths and participated in the jaw dropping Beltline Lantern Parade. At the end of the Beltline everyone hopped into the truck (which I'd purposely left in Midtown earlier in the day) and headed back to our side of the city. Sunday my Mom joined me for the Bicycle Parade along Peachtree Street. That night was the Grant Park Neighborhood Association monthly meeting - which leads me to the next part of being so busy.

I'm quite flattered and proud to say that I'm now the VP of Fundraising for Grant Park - my primary role being the subcommittee Chair of the annual MothBall celebration. When I accepted the nomination I anticipated party planning; I did not expect the world of contracts and licenses and meetings and notes that followed!! Regardless, this has been an invaluable learning experience and I look forward to sharing more of the details - when I have time!! If you don't already like gpMothBall on Facebook please do so now; it means a lot (read: too much) to me!

(More Dragon*Con parade photos on our FB page!)


Atlanta's Streets Alive & the Bicycle Parade - Spring 2013

Inspired by the Great Muppet Caper, we decided to join the 2013 Atlanta Bicycle Parade as Muppets. I made both of our costumes from things we had around the house (felt, headbands, styrofoam balls and a foam Braves tomahawk). Sadly, the hour leading up to the parade was full of thunder, lightning, hail and flash flood warnings. Just when we were about to bail ten of our neighbors biked by our house, in full costume, on their way to the Downtown start line. It was just the push we needed! The wet weather kept most spectators at home but we still had fun. I'll use any excuse to dress up as Miss Piggy and ride my bike down the center of Peachtree Street! Our thanks and appreciation to the organizers of Streets Alive and everyone in the Atlanta bicycle community!

Atlanta Streets Alive

Bicycling New Orleans, Louisiana


Thursday O&I each packed a small suitcase, locked our bikes into the pick-up and headed to New Orleans for a long weekend. Good Friday 2013 marked not only the annual family reunion but also my 35th birthday: two reasons to get away! During the four years we've been together we've visited NOLA at least half a dozen times but until last weekend it'd never been just the two of us following our own agenda. 

Friday day was spent with family at the St. James Boat Club. As usual, the food (crawfish, oysters and shrimp) was exceptional; if you want to read more about it be sure to check out last year's post. That night we drove 45 minutes into New Orleans and checked into our AirBnbWe picked this particular AirBnb because of it's location and price: Garden District, walking distance to both the St. Charles streetcar as well as the shops along Magazine Street. We were satisfied to find even one AirBnb that fit our criteria and since beggars can't be choosers we agreed to be happy there regardless of it's condition. Walking in with medium expectations we were blown away by how much this AirBnb over-delivered (since we booked it has posted all new photos that more accurately document the home). More about this amazing home at the bottom of this post. 

Saturday morning O&I were eager to hop on our bikes and get started on the 15 mile route I'd mapped out back home. The morning was spent visiting boutiques, antique shops and vintage clothing stores on Magazine Street (it was my birthday so he indulged my shopping kick). Just before lunch we picked up a sandwich at the French bakery, La Boulangerie, and continued towards Audubon Park. Outside of the zoo we climbed into an ancient Oak tree and shared our sandwich. 

From the park it was back the way we came and onward to Avenue Pub (a world class beer bar on par with Atlanta's Porter). From Avenue Pub we went weaving in and out of rick-shaws and streetcars on St. Charles to riding down the tracks on Canal Street. Canal Street to the French Quarter.  Near the French Market we darted between tourists and stopped traffic occasionally glancing back to make sure the other hadn't been lost in the thick crowds. Left on Esplanade. A few laps around Royal and Bourbon (with a stop for to-go beers at Verti Marte) and then back to Avenue Pub. It was here that I came face to face with a man on a motorcycle with an adorable pup in his sidecar (photo above). Avenue Pub back to the AirBnb. 

Back at home base we cleaned up and prepared to head back out for a night on the town. This time we walked to the St. Charles streetcar. The sun was setting and the breeze was warm; I was in heaven. We disembarked at Canal Street (the same spot we'd biked through earlier in the day) and walked to Galatoire's. (Galatoire's - there's so much to say about this historic restaurant - so much that I think I'll finish this thought at a later date.) Galatoire's to Arnaud's French 75 to Frenchmen street in search of live music. On Frenchmen we enjoyed a small art fair, bought a triptych of painted oysters, eggs and a bottle of hot sauce and then headed into the Blue Nile for fun. Very late in the night we rode the streetcar "home" again. Everything was wonderful.

More about the Parks Bowman Mansion
The "Parks Bowman Mansion" is everything an outsider hopes to find in an antebellum New Orleans home. Imagine a mash-up of Interview with a Vampire, Tim Burton and Dia Dos Muertos. The two nights we stayed there we had the entire third floor to ourselves; this included a library, private balcony and very comfortable bed. To top it off our hosts were far and away the most generous, warmest and most interesting AirBnb hosts we have ever encountered. (Thanks again to Adrienne, Bill and their lovely menagerie). If you go, be sure to visit at least one of the two timeless and romantic restaurants just blocks from their home (Commander's Palace and Coquettes) and tell them we sent you!

Biking the Beltline

Saturday morning O and I had an amazing bike ride: 14.3 miles in 72 degree "heat" under a bright blue sky. Starting at our house in Grant Park we headed North towards Piedmont Park. Crossing over Edgewood Avenue, I was excited to catch construction workers laying some of the very first tracks for the city's new electric streetcar. It felt like I stumbled into a special moment in history. I snapped a few photos and imagined them being printed in an Atlanta history book 100 years from now. 

Entering Piedmont Park we encountered a film crew shooting something. (What to expect when you're expecting was filmed here and Anchorman is currently in the city filming the sequel). We continued to wind our way North through the park and Atlanta's St. Patty's Day 5K. At the North end of the park we tried to jump on the Beltline's Eastside Trail but the path was loose gravel and too hard to bike on so we turned back and re-entered on Monroe across from Park Tavern.

Sidenote: This section of the Beltline continues to blow my mind. It feels like the game changer Atlanta has desperately needed since we landed the Olympic Games in 1990. The idea that the Beltline and the Streetcar are finally becoming realities thrills me the way Santa thrills a 6 year old. I feel giddy at the prospect of my hometown finally living up to it's potential. (More details about both of those projects at the bottom of this post). 

The path was packed with bikers, runners and rollerbladers. With the aid of my little bicycle bell we were able to keep up a quick pace and weave around the crowds. When the trail hits Inman Park the pavement ends so we jumped off and headed South through the always fun Krog Tunnel. Krog to Cabbagetown to Memorial Drive, south on Bill Kennedy to Glenwood. Glenwood east to East Atlanta Village then further east to a friend's house where we had plans to pick up a dozen fresh eggs. Eggs in the pannier, back to EAV and stop at Midway for a much deserved beer! Then West on Glenwood to get home again.

I started biking with O four years ago this spring. We joined the gym three years ago in February. Last year I got the new bike. This ride felt like four years in the making. And by that I believe I'm mostly reacting to the comment my best friend from high school left on my Facebook page after I posted our route. She said "Bet that hurts!". But I can honestly say it did not hurt. In fact, it was almost easy. My butt burned a tad towards the end but a day later I'm not even sore. 

Three years into making our health our day to day priority it no longer feels like work. We instinctively eat real food and are not tempted by fake, processed foods. We exercise because enjoy it. Being healthy comes naturally now. And that makes me really happy.

More about the Streetcar

The streetcar will loop through one of the nation's most important - yet almost completely ignored - historic areas: Sweet Auburn. After the Civil War and before Civil Rights, during the height of segregation in the South, Auburn Avenue was the heartbeat of Atlanta for black Atlantans. It had more financial institutions, professionals, educators, entertainers, businesses and politicians than any other African American street in the south. But since the 1970s this historic and beautiful part of the city has become mostly abandoned. The only visitors are those coming to pay homage to MLK's tomb and history center. My dream is that the streetcar will revitalize this important part of our nation's history. (http://sweetauburn.us/intro.htm)

Street car info: 
• Route: 2.6 track miles with 12 stops.
 Vehicle: a modern electric streetcar made by Siemens with an overhead power system (single trolley wire) that operates on-street in lanes shared with other traffic
 Frequency: planned service anticipates a 15 minute frequency (average) and 10 minute one-way running time
 Hours: service will operate 7 days a week; 5:00 am to 11:00 pm weekdays, 8:30 am to 11:00 pm Saturdays, and 9:00 am to 10:30 pm Sundays*
 Fares: will be consistent with MARTA fares and will use the Breeze smart-card technology
• The first planned expansions are anticipated to extend from the Downtown Loop to the Atlanta BeltLine.
• Download a PDF with great details click here

More about the Beltline 

At it's core, the Beltline is a rails to trails project that encircles Downtown, Midtown and 45 intown neighborhoods. I think of it as an ITP 285 for bikes. There are plans to incorporate a light rail along the path - but I think that is solidly two decades away. The official website does a better job hyping it up then I can. So check it out here: CLICK

Brick Store's Yard Sale Breakfast

*This post is only moderately heart healthy! Everything in moderation, including moderation!

This morning Brick Store hosted their second Yard Sale Breakfast. What is a yard sale breakfast? Well, for this internationally recognized beer bar it is a chance to sell off their extra glassware while also serving an exceptional selection of breakfast-centric beers. (Think: beers made with coffee or maple). Oh, there are also pancakes.

Oliver and I set our alarm for 6:30am and by 7:00 we were on our bikes with a thermos of coffee in the pannier. Knowing a late arrival would jeopardize our place in line we took the seven mile ride at a fast pace. Even so, when we arrived there was already a queue around the block and our Twitter beer friends were on their second tastes of shared bottles. When the doors opened at 8:00 we high tailed it to the Belgian bar upstairs. Breakfast was the typical American fare (pancakes, sausage or bacon, grits or fruit) but the beer and comardiere were fantastic. I started with a Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout then moved to the Terrapin Wake n Bake and finished up with a Great Divide Espresso Yeti. In addition to seeing some (but not all) of our favorite Twitter beer geek friends we also met some awesome, like-minded new friends. By 11:30 most of the beer list had been 86ed and we knew it was time to head home. Thanks to the Brickstore for providing an awesome alternative/pregame for the East Atlanta Beer Fest!

Next up: finding something green and fiber-rich to eat...

Happy Saturday everyone!

New bike and chicken salad on a biscuit

I bought a new bike! After test riding both a Trek and a Specialized I went with the Trek because it's what Oliver already rides and I hoped having the same brand would make tunes up easier on him. To break it in we took the same ride to Piedmont Park on which my last bike blew it's tire. Back home I checked our ride into the website www.VeloRoutes.com to see how far we rode (about 9 miles round trip). It's cool website that I recommend for anyone interested in knowing the elevation, hill grade and distance of their bike trips. 

Lunch was chicken salad on a homemade biscuit (from yesterday's breakfast). After lunch we added a few more plants to the garden: two types of peppers, three types of tomatoes, eggplant and parsley. Now we're resting up before the much anticipated Mad Men premiere! Since we don't have cable we're heading up to the neighborhood pub to watch it on their big screen. Can't wait!

Bye bye bicycle

The beauty you see before you is my trusty bike. A 1997 original. A gift from parents when I went off to college. It was too awkward to carry up the narrow flight of stairs to my college apartment so it spent those years chained outside in the rain and snow. Have I mentioned it's very heavy and exceptionally slow? I get passed on the street by senior citizens riding featherweight bikes. For years Oliver has been suggesting I buy a new one. I've refused. My unexplainable loyalty to this bike has been going strong for fifteen years - but sadly I think our time together has finally come to an end.

Yesterday, while riding around Piedmont Park, my front tire blew. Neither of us even considered fixing it. We just looked at each other and knew. Oliver cycled home and came back with our pick up truck to ferry the old girl to the house. That means it's bicycle shopping time; I have no idea what I'm looking for. I'm could use some suggestions. The majority of my rides are in the city and Atlanta has a decent number of steep hills so keep that in mind. (Guess I'll need some new stickers too.) What kind of bikes do you all ride? Do you like them?