I am so excited and honored to present my first guest blog post! My friend, Andrea, is my go-to gal for all things Guntersville, as she has lived here nearly all her life. She is a wonderful writer, which you can see for yourself if you check out the blog she started in order to chronical her recent home renovation at RENO1432.com. I honestly don't know how she had time to fit this post in her busy schedule, but I am so thankful she did. One main goal with my blog is to highlight all the amazing things our little town has to offer. While I am still new to the area, I love getting some inside scoop from a local perspective (and good friend). Keep reading for some great ideas to pul yourself out of the usual small town weeknight rut.
Hi! I’m Andrea and so excited to be sharing some of my insight as the token “hometown girl” on Sweet Tea and Sunshine! My husband, Michael, and I were both born and raised here in Guntersville. We met as middle-school sweethearts, dated forever, went to Auburn, got engaged, married and moved right back home. It’s honestly something I never thought I would do and when I did, it was something I didn’t think I would be happy doing.
But I was so wrong. We love our life here which sometimes feels like a place of respite from the fast and furious world. There is so much to be said for small town way of life and the pace at which it moves.
Sure there are some days when I crave Zoe’s for lunch and wish for a Target, but most days I’m just thankful for this beautiful little place we call home and the people who make it so. Both sets of our parents are also here which makes raising our two children while working two full-time jobs actually doable (most days).
So, I’ll be doing some guest commentary centered around some of the finer points of small town life and helping navigate this community from a home-girl's perspective.
For my first post, I decided sharing some local weeknight suggestions might be fun.
If your family is like mine, weeknights can be crazy. By the time one or both parents get off work, get the kids, get them fed, get baths, play for a minute - it’s suddenly time for bed. And now as Alice (3 years) has gotten older we’ve added activities in the mix: VBS, soccer, dance, swimming lessons. And I realize we still have homework to look forward to. The lunacy never ends!
But, there are still those weeknights that are open-ended and usually come with a text message around 4:00 pm that says, “What are we doing tonight?”
To help you answer that question, I give you “Weeknights Your Way.”
Door #1: Monday Family Night
I have a love-hate relationship with Mondays. Sometimes the weekend has been so crazy that I’m ready to get back to our regularly scheduled programming. Other Mondays I can only tolerate by drinking 6 cups of coffee before 10:00 am. Am I right?
No matter what, after being spoiled with lots of quality family time over the weekend I’m just ready to see my girls on Monday night. We are lucky and have a standing Monday-night dinner with Michael’s parents (much like the Gilmore Girls but with less pomp and circumstance from Emily). We go straight to his parent’s house after work where his mom cooks a delicious meal and we all hang out by the pool in the summer or watch a movie in the cooler months. Alice always helps make dessert and takes pride and joy in serving it around the table. It’s so nice and I love the slow, relaxing end to one of the hardest days of the week for everyone.
If we didn’t have our standing dinner at my in-law’s, I would 100% commit to staying in for Monday family night at our own home. Over the weekend, you can prepare a menu that’s easy for everyone to execute without spending all night in the kitchen. If you really have it together, you can do a crock pot or freezer meal and have it ready to go when everyone gets home. Or, you can do something easy and fun like homemade pizza where everyone can be involved.
After dinner, go outside and play or watch a movie you’ve seen 100 times (Moana, Trolls, anyone?). Make it a low-key, no stress night to combat the crazy day I’m sure everyone had. Skip bath time, snuggle up on the couch and go to bed a little early so you don’t have to drink so much coffee the next day.
Door #2: Tuesday Date Night
A few weeks ago we dropped our oldest off at VBS and headed to Old Town Stock House for a little date night. (Eleanor - 8 months - actually came along, but she is at the easy stage where she’ll still nap in her bucket seat.)
Usually OTSH is a splurge for us, but Tuesday makes it a little more palatable by being… Burger Night! They still have a full and delicious menu, but also offer gourmet burgers with all the accoutrements. I went the pimento cheese route – always, always pimento cheese on everything – and Michael added an egg to his. Burgers are served with a bag of Golden Flake potato chips and an ice cold domestic beer all for $15.
Ok, I see you Burger Night.
Personally, I love this restaurant and think Chef Crystal McKone has done a phenomenal job since opening a few years ago. The menu changes seasonally and I’ve never eaten anything that wasn’t amazing. You can enter from Old Town Street – “back street” for you natives – or take the door and the stairs from Gunter Avenue. You don’t have to dress up on a Tuesday, but you might want to make a reservation. It’s a small place and better safe than sorry if your mouth is already watering.
After, if you’re feeling like more fun, you can head over to Old Town Tavern which just opened a few weeks ago. They’ve remodeled the old Bogey’s Sports Lounge (RIP Bogey’s) and opened with an updated and more… sophisticated flair with promises to have all the football games on their multiple large TV screens this fall.
Disclaimer: We have NOT been good at date night since we’ve had children. Especially since Eleanor was born. Because our girls split the weekdays between our moms for childcare (for which we are so thankful!) we battle guilt over asking them to watch the girls after-hours. But, we do have to take time for ourselves and are working on it. If you need to work on it too, head to OTSH and try out Burger Night. You won’t regret it.
Door #3: Thursday Girls Night Out
Let’s be real: Girls need each other for sanity’s sake. If nothing else, we need to get together to regroup, reconnect and remind ourselves that we are not the only ones whose children had Paw Patrol gummies for breakfast before school last week.
I’m part of a several groups who try to do regular GNO’s. We aren’t always good at it, but when we get together we tend to stick around for hours at a time laughing and catching up. It’s always good for the soul.
My favorite GNO spot in town is Rock House Eatery. Specifically on a Thursday night when they have live music on the patio under the glow of string lights or in their “greenhouse” in the back if the weather isn't cooperating. You don’t have to get fancy for dinner here, but if you want to step it up a little you won’t feel out of place. I recommend calling several days in advance for a reservation, especially if you have more than 4 in your group.
It’s a cute literal rock house that was built right on Gunter Avenue in 1924 and has since been a home, gift shop, flower shop and now restaurant. They will have nightly specials, but their core menu doesn’t often change, which means you can expect good service and consistently delicious food ranging from great salads to wood-fired pizza to steak.
In fact, they’ve been featured on AL.com for best steak from a “non-steakhouse” and as the best restaurant in Marshall County. They also have a killer Bloody Mary complete with bacon, shrimp and fried green beans, if you ever find yourself there on the weekend for a Girls Brunch Out. ;)
So, there are my three tested and approved weeknights. Of course you can switch up the nights to fit your family's schedule and make it your own. Just don't be afraid to use a weeknight to spice up your routine!
Admittedly though, I’m really working hard to not live for the weekend around here, so I’d love to hear what your favorite weeknight activities are. We are always up for new ideas!
Thank you again, Andrea, for such an informative (and entertaining) post. I hope you're prepared to become a ST&S regular. And I also hope your in-laws don't mind if I invite myself over for what sounds like the most perfect Monday night ever!