featured:: Shake Shack

My roommate Laura is from St. Louis. She loves to talk about how the best burger ever is at Steak 'n' Shake. She wasn't wrong, because the first (and only) time I had it, it was delicious. Then we found out they were building a Steak 'n' Shake near us! Oh joy!

Except it still hasn't shown up yet. They haven't even started building. You can imagine the disappoint from two burger lovers such as ourselves. But Baltimore saved the day and put a Shake Shack in the Inner Harbor! It's not Laura's beloved Steak 'n' Shake, but we decided it will have to do.

So Saturday night we trekked into Bmore, paid way too much to park because we were impatient and starving, and braced ourselves for a crazy St. Patrick's day crowd. Laura was convinced she wouldn't like it that much compared to Steak 'n' Shake. I had no expectations whatsoever because at this point, if it's not a sit-down restaurant and it's not McD's, then it's pretty much all the same to me.

WRONG! It was so good, you guys. A delicious burger with fresh ingredients is the best thing ever. Laura gets hers plain but I had lettuce and tomato on mine, and couldn't stop shoving it in her face to show her how fresh it looked. Also, we have a strict "no crinkle fries" policy in our house, so we had already prepared ourselves for disappointment. But once again, we were proved wrong. They were super crispy, not mushy at all, and with a sprinkle of Old Bay and some ketchup, they were the perfect accompaniment to the burgers.

Finally, we had our hearts set on getting concretes. I had never heard of that before but Laura explained it to me so I wouldn't be "that person" in line with no clue what they were ordering. A concrete is a dense frozen custard ice cream blended at high speed with things you can mix in. Laura got plain chocolate, but I went all out and got one of their signatures: the Shack Attack. It was basically death by chocolate. Chocolate custard, fudge sauce, chocolate truffle cookie dough and dark chocolate chunks, topped with chocolate sprinkles. We definitely didn't finish them and have been enjoying them this week! Leftovers are always nice. Dessert is the one thing that Laura will forever say Steak 'n' Shake is better for, because she is obsessed with their chocolate malts. I can't blame her.

Overall, we had the best time eating there and we have already been talking about going back really soon. It was super delicious and the new Inner Harbor location wasn't overcrowded, even though there were a lot of people there. We were able to get a table right away and enjoy our food without a wait. And they seem to have something for everyone... they have a portobello mushroom "burger" as a vegetarian option, which I'd like to try at some point. Everything is customizable, too. We can't wait to treat ourselves again! (I have my eye on a double burger the next time!)

music monday :: bri lamkin

I've been a fan of Bri Lamkin's blog for a long time now (both her old and current one). She is honest, real, and hilarious. She's the type of girl you'd like to be friends with in real life, you know? Well, we are not real life friends, but I already feel like I adore her. She has a sense of humor, is Aubrey Plaza's twin, and talks openly and poignantly about important issues. 

But the one thing I love her for most is the beautiful music she creates. Her YouTube channel is amazing, Whether she is playing music by herself, with her sisters, or covering songs we know and love, she brings such a unique quality. Her voice is angelic, and though she is often armed with only a ukulele, she can fill up a room with her quiet demeanor and mystical tone. Add in her younger sisters, and you have one of the most magical trios I've heard in a long time. These girls are still young but have voices beyond their years. There is something very special about the way their three voices combine. Also, Bri's writing is as gorgeous as her vocals. The first time I heard "Someone New", I couldn't get it out of my head for days.

Also, her vlogs are hilarious and I love them. I quote: "Dried cranberries are nature's fruit snacks... but raisins can go to hell" haha! (Also, pretty true.) So yeah, you should find that on her YouTube.
Quite simply, she's lovely and you should read her blog and listen to her music. You don't want to miss out on this. Check out her Soundcloud as well as her YouTube.

currently :: 009

image via weheartit

:: crazy excitement for spring. winter has been so very long.
:: going to see Twin Forks tonight. And to berate Chris Carabba with a story about how we have a mutual friend and we were supposed to hang out with Chris the last time we were in Florida but he was covered in bee stings (true).
:: dealing with my mother's issues.
:: coffee date Saturday morning, Shake Shack plans Saturday night. my kind of day!
:: apparently we need to start watching Dig, according to my roommate's mom.
:: i'm just going to accept the fact that my closet will never be uncluttered.
:: i got to visit with a friend from England that i love and miss! 
:: 10 years late, i started watching Grey's Anatomy on Netflix. of course i love it, and wish i had started a decade ago.
:: loved having a mid-morning coffee date with my friend Sarah when i was working from home this week. Atwater's is my new go-to. 
:: trying to spend more time praying and less time worrying. it's funny how the bible says "do not worry", yet that feeling is something that we will always have inside of us as humans. there's no getting rid of it, but we can contain it.

And lastly:

Laura and i had a field day with this one. we said we are going to start a revolution and call it CDFA-- Casual Dating for All ;) our motto is "Date whoever you want, whenever you want." mission statement: "CDFA strives to start the walk toward marriage by, you know, dating people." We joke, but really, there is such a weird stigma in Christian churches about dating and the "right" way to do it. i personally know people who are so focused on marriage and meeting the right person that they lose out on relationships because of pressure. pressure that the church puts on them, and that they put on themselves. PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: dating is not a sin, and dating is the only way you will find out if you are compatible enough with a person for marriage. let marriage be your goal, not your obsession and immediate "make it or break it". also, guys of the church who are almost 30: stop dating 20 year olds. it's not easy for us single 28-ers to watch you do that. at least we solved the mystery of why there are no single guys, though...

currently listening

The playlist these days:

I've been loving All Sons and Daughters' 2014 album, as well as my old favorites. They have such a way of speaking truth through their songs and bringing me into a spirit of worship. 

I'm sure you've heard Walk the Moon's new single, "Shut Up and Dance"... it's so fun and my roommate and I are obsessed with it. The rest of their music is good too, so make sure to listen to the other tracks!

I've posted about Milo Greene's "Control" already, but it's worth repeating. Can't wait for this show on Sunday!

I've listened to Caroline's music as The Red Headed Indian since I was told to by a friend who knows her. He was right-- this girl brings some serious talent and passion when she plays.

all images via google

Kate Nash is a character. I love to listen to her when I need to cheer up... her music is so unique... silly but she takes seriously, wild but she contains it. Just let yourself run away with it, she's crazy in the best way.

Happy Thursday! xo

a personal challenge

image via weheartit

I've been thinking that what I need to focus on this week is a personal challenge. A challenge to step away from distractions and spend my time after work away from the couch. I have such a tendency after a work day to come home, lay around, eat dinner, but virtually do nothing. There are always things to be done: chores, cleaning, organizing, etc. But there are also things I need to do that are necessary for keeping me sane and embracing my creative spark. I lost that spark in 2014. I avoided writing and playing music (besides worship for church) pretty much the entire year. It saddens me that I've drifted so far away from the person I used to be. I used to write and record whenever I had a spare moment. Some of those tunes are still my very favorite. I lost confidence along the way, and let it go on until now. But I know it's not too late; change just needs to happen. I want to get my old self back.

Which brought me to this thought process: I am embarking on a challenge this week to come home from work and not pick up the remote or settle on the couch. I aim to pick up my guitar and, even if I have nothing to say at the moment, play  through my old favorites and revisit the times when I was a constant writer. I am going to finish reading the books I checked out of the library but just keep renewing because I don't make time to finish them. I am going to carve out a little time for chores that need to be done. I am going to let the DVR fill up and not watch it until the weekend. And secretly, I'm hoping that maybe I won't want to go back to television as a means of relaxation altogether. I want to equate my relaxed state with music and prayer and workouts and things that don't make me sedentary. I will allow myself to watch shows that my roommate and I view together at the end of a long day, but I won't be sitting in front of the TV for hours on end. Change is good, and in this case, change is necessary.

music monday :: milo greene

image via google

It's been a while since I've listened to Milo Greene, but when my friend Meghan invited me to go to their show this Sunday, I knew I had to. Let's just get something out of the way: Milo Greene is not named after a person in the band ;) They came up with the fictional name Milo Greene as a fake booking agent, a persona created by the band to help them get gigs in their starting days. They're cheeky like that!

I always have a soft spot for bands that are mostly guys and one girl. I enjoy being that girl, it's fun! I'm excited to see Marlana sing her heart out surrounded by some of her best guy friends. It takes a strong girl to tour in a band full of dudes. Besides that, I like how every member of the band sings and plays instruments. I've seen a few bands where the girl in particular will be the only one singing and she doesn't play anything. I love the band's dynamic as a whole-- sharing vocals, mixing harmonies, playing all together. They truly share the stage; no one outshines or dominates the others. It's special, and I can't wait to experience it in person!

Check out their new album as well as their older music, it's so good! If you're in the DC area, tickets are still available here.

snowshoe :: an insane trip up a mountain

Last weekend, a group of friends and I decided to take a trip to Snowshoe in West Virginia. We were looking forward to a wintery weekend away, catching up, drinking wine by a fire, and snow tubing. So fun, right? Well, we left last Saturday. The day of the massive snowstorm. Had we left by 5 AM like we planned, we might have missed it. But we ended up leaving around 7 instead, and hit the snow as we got into Virginia. At first, it wasn't too bad. But it started getting worse, and long story short, here's what happened.

With spotty cell reception in the mountains, we gradually got texts from our friends in the other two cars. One of them got stuck and they had to stay overnight at a small town, sketchy motel. The other car also couldn't make it up the mountain, but they hitched a ride with two other guys in a bigger car. My car (which was me, my friend Elizabeth and her boyfriend James) stopped in a tiny town and checked at four auto stores for tire chains before we finally found some. We got the chains on and continued the drive. (I prayed a lot that we wouldn't die or become stranded.) With no phone service at this point, we just crossed our fingers that our friends were okay.

We started the crazy climb up the steepest part of the mountain, and we were making it... but it was nerve-wracking. Overall, the drive took us 10 hours when it should have taken five or six. With five miles left to go, one of the chain links on a tire broke. More praying ensued. We finally made it to the lodge and began searching for Elizabeth's sister, brother in law and niece, who were the ones who had hitched a ride. Luckily, they had arrived a few hours before us, so they were safe and sound. 

At one point during the drive when we stopped for gas and Elizabeth was in the bathroom, James told me has was planning to propose on the trip. I was so excited! But then we ran into some issues:

1. We didn't know if our friends who stayed in the seedy motel overnight would even be able to make it up the mountain the next day.

2. Elizabeth's sister was supposed to hide and take pictures with her nice camera's long lens while James proposed on a cute bridge out in the snow. The camera was missing. It was either in their car, which they had to abandon to hitch a ride, or in the stranger's car they rode with. Long story short, the dude ended up finding it in his car, but after he had left the resort to go home. So, no camera.

3. Plans kept changing with all the chaos, so we didn't know when the proposal would even happen. But James was still determined to do it!

So, the next day (Sunday), the weather was much better and our two friends were able to make it up the mountain. We were supposed to go tubing and then James would take Elizabeth for a walk, but tubing didn't open until later, plus James and Elizabeth's brother in law decided to make the drive to retrieve his car so they would have it to leave the next day (about a two+ hour drive to get it). So we just headed out into the snow to play with Elizabeth's niece before coming in for lunch. The boys arrived back a little after that and finally, went back outside to start the proposal plan!

We were on the 8th floor of the condo building we were staying in, so James had the idea to write "Will you marry me" in the snow outside our window. With all the insanity that had happened and since we weren't out tubing like he planned, he came back upstairs after writing in the snow, took her over to the window, and just did it! It was hilarious because his line was, "Babe, look what some idiot wrote in the snow." Haha! It may not have gone as originally planned, but it was still so special to witness and she was so surprised. Seeing her face was the best part. (Shortly after, she asked me to be a bridesmaid, so that was also the best!) 

Naturally, we snapped a ton of photos with our phones. Here are a few of my favorites:

The ring is amazing-- it was James' grandmother's. She actually designed it for Tiffany's, and her husband bought it from them and proposed to her with it. So special and beautiful! After the proposal we finally went tubing while Elizabeth's sister made dinner and decorated the condo for a surprise engagement party. We had a great time despite all our setbacks and we did make it home in one piece :) Seeing one of my best friends get engaged was such an incredible experience and I was so happy to be part of it. I can't wait to stand up with her as she gets married! 

Cheers to adventures & engagements!