Saturday, April 30, 2011

Good Bye Saint Louis!

It's hard to believe that it's time to move back to Knoxville!!! This is definitely a bittersweet time for Alan and I as we have had a BLAST living in Saint Louis. This past week we were able to spend some time with our closest friends. On Thursday night we went to Anthonino's on The Hill which is actually kind of where our friendship with the Frenches and Stegmanns began.
We had a great dinner and time together. For those of you who haven't met our STL friends:
Back row left to right is Ben Stegmann, Alan, Mike French
Front row left to right is Lacy Stegmann, me, Laura French
After dinner we went to Laura & Mike's house for dessert...gooey butter cake: a delicious Saint Louis tradition!
the girls :)
our thoughtful friends gave us a beautiful cross which I cannot wait to find the perfect place for in our home to remind us of them
We squeezed in as much time with friends as we could and on Friday night the six of us went to the Chocolate Bar...another fave of ours
Cheers to sweet lifelong friends, road-trips to Saint Louis, and future vacations together!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday = Studying

For Alan- today kicks off his final exams! And these really are his FINAL exams, in just 2 short weeks...he will be done with school for life!!! Please pray that he will not get too stressed out over them and that he will do GREAT!!!For me- today (tonight actually) is Bible Study with the girls. I was so lucky to get plugged into a ladies small group pretty much right after we moved to Saint Louis. Oh...now this is something I'm really going to miss! Hopefully, I'll be able to get connected to one in Knoxville because there is nothing like spending time with other women who know exactly where you are in life and studying God's word together.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday

He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

It was a pretty Easter morning in Saint Louis today despite the past couple of rough days. I picked up Alan from the airport at 9:40am (he was coming back from Ethan's wedding in Knoxville) and we headed straight to church. God was so faithful in leading us to the Kirk and we have truly been blessed by our church home away from home.
pretty flowers on the front doors of the church
After the service, Alan and I went to brunch with Laura and Mike at Granite City Food & Brewery. Delish! We then headed home for a much needed nap. We woke up in time to catch the matinee of Water for Elephants at the Galleria and then did some grocery shopping for the week before heading home. We have a busy week ahead (it's my last week in Saint Louis, I fly back to Knoxville for good next Sunday) so we're about to call it a night. Happy Easter!

Tennessee Saturday Night

This past Saturday was Ethan Norman's wedding. As I said at the rehearsal dinner, Ethan and I are a true testament that through God anyone can be friends because we are classic opposites. I wear polo shirts, Ethan wears T-shirts, Ethan has artistic talent, I do not; however, there are now two things that we have in common: God and Marriage.

Ethan met his wife, Rachel Winfrey Norman, while working at Second Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, TN. Ethan is the contemporary worship leader there and Rachel also works at the church. It was a classic, boy meets girl type story where he fell in love and was ready to marry her before he even asked her on a date. Lucky for him, she would feel the same way and now they are quite the outgoing, artistic couple.

The weekend began with a bachelor bonfire on Thursday night where the cops got called while we were doing nothing wrong. Apparently the owner of the property, who gave us permission, forgot to tell his son that we would be burning a 10 foot tall pile of wood, so when he saw a car parked on their land and a fire in their backyard (which is a cow pasture), he decided to call the cops instead of his father. After clarifying who we were and that we had permission to be there, they left and all was good.

The next day we had an early rehearsal as the pastors had to get back to Good Friday Services that night. On Friday night we had the rehearsal dinner cook-out where I met all of Rachel's family and got to give my speech in hopes that people laughed (they did of course...). The night ended with all of the groomsmen throwing Ethan in the pool and everyone had a great time.

On Saturday morning we went to IHOP where I think our waitress was more excited than Ethan that he was getting married. She told the whole restaurant and even offered us moonshine which she had in her car. I know that the last part of the last sentence is a bit odd, but it is true, she really did, of course we declined for more than one reason.

The wedding was an outdoor wedding held at the "White-House" (the White's house) which is a beautiful home on Loudon Lake. The backyard has a great little point where they set up chairs and a sound system. The wedding was a traditional picture wedding, meaning we wore tuxedos and the girls wore long dresses, HOWEVER, the wedding itself was far from traditional. There were 4 different people who spoke and several musicians who played and sang both traditional and original songs. The bridesmaids danced down the aisle, which was choreographed by Rachel, and we all danced out when the service was over. Rachel was a beautiful bride and Ethan wore his tux quite well. All in all the wedding itself was great.

The after party was wonderful as well: great food, great dancing, great drinks, and lots of fun. Overall it was a great weekend and after flying back to St. Louis on Easter morning, I miss Knoxville already...we'll be back soon though!
Check out this video Katie got of the bridesmaids!
video
the ceremony...can you see me??
the fam...minus Erica
cutting the cake, they had a little cake and lots of cupcakes
first dance
great night for a great party

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bummed

For those of you who may not have heard yet, several really bad tornadoes came through Saint Louis last night around 8:30pm. I was pretty scared since I was alone (Alan is in Knoxville for a wedding) but was looking forward to flying out of the city today to go to my friend Amanda's wedding in Nashville. As you can see from the pictures below, that won't be happening. The airport is closed! I am so bummed! This past week, I got a hair cut, spray tan, and mani/pedi in anticipation of seeing all my girls. I realize how shallow this sounds as I write it, but I can't help but be disappointed. Now, the News is forecasting floods! When will this end?! I will say that it does make it easier to think about moving back to Knoxville. I know that when we move I will miss all of our sweet friends terribly, but right now I just want to get out of here!
tornado damage at Lambert International Airport
my friend Amanda and her fiancée Zach who are getting married today

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday, Earth Day, and Rumba Time

"But he was wounded for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned—every one—to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all."

Isaiah 53: 5-6

Today is the climax of Holy Week as we remember the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made for each of us through His crucifixion so many years ago. I am amazed and humbled when thinking of how great is the Father's love for us.

Also...Today is Earth Day. Don't stop reading...I am NOT about to start talking about global warming or genetically altered food. I will admit, I still do not know enough about organic food to convince myself to pay more for it when the food I've been eating for the past 27 years has been just fine. All I will say is that Earth Day is a reminder to me to celebrate the BEAUTIFUL EARTH that the Lord has made. And this is not a plug, I don't get anything for doing this, but...if you bring a reusable mug to Starbucks today, you will get a free coffee or tea!

Lastly...

My sweet husband gave me my Easter present early! It is a Rumba Time watch. I know you are probably thinking, "Erica, what in the world..." So I will explain. I have been on a mission to find a watch for a while. But not just any watch, one made of plastic or rubber that I like. You see the thing is, is that I can only wear 14K gold. All other metals irritate my skin. What can I say, I have expensive taste. Anyways, I found these cute little watches a little while ago, and decided that was just what I was looking for. This is the one Alan gave me:
Happy and Blessed Friday everyone!!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cyrano's

I have the best friends ever. My good friend, Laura, gave me a gift certificate to a restaurant in Saint Louis called Cyrano's. It is a little cafe in Webster-Groves, a little community right down the road from where we live, which has received several local awards for their delicious appetizers and desserts. Following Laura's advice, Alan and I got several appetizers for our actual meal and then split a dessert. Alan and I have decided that Cyrano's has the BEST bread pudding we have ever put in our mouths. If you like bread pudding...you gotta go!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Grant's Farm

Sunday = fun-day and after church this morning, Alan and I set out to see Grant's Farm. The farm takes its name from Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States, who founded and farmed a portion of the 280 acres the farm is on. It is now preserved by the Anheuser-Busch family who has opened it up to the public...and admission is free!
God was so good in giving us another beautiful day!
This cabin was built by Ulysses S. Grant and is one of the few remaining structures in America that was built by a President
this "picture spot" reminded Alan and I of Dollywood so of course we had to take a picture here
Alan had fun feeding the baby goats, he even let them nibble on his hand
Here I am close to one...smiling too...but not touching it. Does this really surprise you?!
we went to a show where elephant Bud did lots of tricks for us
Alan also liked the mini-horse
towards the exit there was a hospitality area where we got 2 free drinks courtesy of Anheuser-Busch!
After going to Grant's Farm, we went across the street to the Historic Site which is actually considered a National Park
The house on the property "White Haven" was the family home of Grant's wife, Julia. Can someone please tell us why "White Haven" is GREEN??
After a busy day of exploring, Alan and I went down to Soulard (Irish community in Saint Louis) for dinner at McGurks...another place we have wanted to "check off the list" of places to go.
Dinner on the patio was a great way to end the day :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Niche

Thank goodness it's Friday because Friday means Date Night and Date Night means dinner at Niche with Alan. Niche is a restaurant in Saint Louis that was voted by Food & Wine magazine as having "Americas Best New Chef" in 2008...Gerard Craft. The restaurant has had a lot of publicity since then and Gerard Craft has recently opened up several other restaurants in the city. Ever since we moved here we wanted to go and tonight we finally got the chance. Alan talked me into getting dressed up and making a night of it so we did! The food was very fancy (shmancy as Katie would say) and it was delicious! Here are a few pictures from our night:
lobster appetizer

my entrée...squab (similar to quail or duck)
Alan's entrée...filet (classic)
it was a fun way to enjoy one of our last weekends in Saint Louis!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Saint Louis Science Center

After lunch, Alan and I went to the Saint Louis Science Center. The dork in me will admit that there was a lot of really interesting things there!
Alan and I built this arch, the style of the arch is a catenary arch which is the style of the Gateway Arch here in Saint Louis
Here is Alan expressing his musical talent on a harp with laser strings...the Stokes would have been impressed
There was a prehistoric exhibit while we were there, here is Alan with the T-Rex
This is us standing in the footprint of a T-Rex

The Boathouse in Forest Park

This afternoon, Alan and I did something that has been on our "list" since visiting Saint Louis over Memorial Day weekend last year...we had a lunch date at The Boathouse in Forest Park. The Boathouse is perfectly situated right on the water of a small lake in the park and is surrounded by beautiful flowers, trees, and many trails that lead to other places in the park. It was a gorgeous sunny day so we opted to wait 20 minutes or so to get a table outside on the water. It was worth it! The food was great and the experience was probably up there as one of the most relaxed and enjoyable ever.
There were some of the most beautiful tulips I've ever seen right outside the entrance
The man that was taking care of all the paddle-boats was nice enough to take a picture of us while we were waiting to be seated for lunch
There were lots of ducks wandering around...we think they were looking to see if anyone would feed them
Spring has definitely (and finally) sprung in Saint Louis...the park is abloom in all its glory
The Boathouse behind us, we had to take a little walk after eating so much at lunch :)