Friday Things 4/15/16

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these! With the whole full time job thaaang it’s gotten a bit more difficult to keep up with the old blog, but it’s nice to have as a creative outlet when I feel like pumping those writing juices.

1. So what exactly has been going on in my little little world? Besides awesome birthday surprises and anniversary cruisin’ we’ve been cooking up a storm! Every week Will and I are each responsible for one recipe, which has been a lifesaver since there’s noooo way I would be able to cook every night like I did when I wasn’t working. I’m so lucky that Will knows his way around the kitchen…and ENJOYS it! (At least that’s what he tells me! 😉 )

We’ve been making lots of tasty things, including Dashing Dish’s Pizza Pasta Bake

pizza pasta bake

Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas with homemade enchilada sauce! My first time ever making that 🙂

chicken and black bean enchiladas

Pollo Saltado with Cauliflower Rice

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

and a turkey taco quinoa skillet, which I served in a casserole dish.

taco quinoa skillet

(By the way, the separate cheeses on a lot of these dishes are regular cheese for Will vs. dairy-free cheese for me. Once in a while dairy wont kill me, but too much of it makes my tummy pretty cranky.)

2. Late meetings for work have been picking up BIG time. At first I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle the spontaneous schedule, but I’ve come to appreciate the socializations of my job and the nice restaurants we are privileged to enjoy. We allllllllllll know Ruth Chris will probably never be on a credit card statement of mine, so I might as well soak it up while I can!

Also, most of the restaurants we frequent have beautiful qualities about them. I’ll take this gorgeous sunset view that Enzo’s On The Lake is sporting 😀

enzos on the lake

3. How accurate is this? Thanks Annette 😉

a mans day a womans day

4. Our community group is still going strong! We love love love our Orlando group of friends. Before moving here, Will and I prayed so hard that we would find friendships that would support our interests and priorities, and the Lord has provided IMMENSELY in this area! I don’t know where I’d be without these folks 🙂

We meet every Tuesday, and share a meal together before some sort of organized discussion. Absolutely one of my favorite times of the week!

community group

5. Don’t worry. Popcorn is still being treated like a prince.

Here he is in Will’s arms

popcorn cuddle

in a pillowcase cover

IMG_4665_thumb.jpg

and in pants.

popcorn in pants

It’s safe to say he’s not neglected.

6. Speaking of Will, he did his first teaching a few weeks ago at our church’s youth ministry! He spoke about adoption in the world, and how it’s a portrayal of the story of OUR adoption as sons and daughters of Christ. And DANG, how good-looking can a husband be? 😀

will teaching

Aaaaand that’s all for now folks! I’ve been having computer issues (think 4 different laptops in 1 month…) so maybe once I get that squared away I’ll be back with some nicer photos.

Have a great weekend!

Any fun recipes you’ve made lately? What’s going on in your world?

Cruisin’ for Our One Year

It’s hard to believe that Will and I have been married for a YEAR already! Boy oh boy, does time fly! It seems like only yesterday we were meeting eyes at that altar

So what did we do to celebrate?? We went on a cruise of course! 😀

me will cruise pose

(Gotta love our cruise glamour shots 😉 )

We sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas through a great deal we got from Costco Travel. We left on a Friday afternoon from Port Canaveral, sailed to Nassau on Saturday, Cococay on Sunday, and back to Port Canaveral on Monday morning. Although the cruise was only three nights long, we had an absolute blast and felt rejuvenated and refreshed by the end of it. Not to mention the boat was AMAZING!

Enchantment of the Seas

I had never been on a legitimate cruise before, so I was blown away by the nonstop supply of free food, ongoing activities, and exceptional entertainment. Not to mention I got to spend the weekend with this hunk 😉

will smile

The Room:

We stayed in an ocean-view stateroom on Deck 3, conveniently located next to the main elevators. Our room was spacious enough to lounge in, and we never really felt cramped or uncomfortable.

Enchantment of the Seas ocean view stateroom

The Boat:

As I mentioned before, the boat was truly amazing! Everything was clean and well-kept, and there was always plenty to explore and do.

The Solarium:

Enchantment of the Seas solarium

Enchantment of the Seas solarium

The main deck:

Enchantment of the Seas deck

will glasses

reflection

The art gallery:

Enchantment of the Seas art gallery

The casino:

Enchantment of the Seas casino

Enchantment of the Seas casino

The theater:

Enchantment of the Seas theater

I was particularly a fan of the onboard gym (which I forgot to snap a photo of), and found myself enjoying its amenities each morning. It was such a cool feeling to be able to walk or jog on the treadmill while looking out at the ocean!

The Food:

Everything we ate was AMAZING. This was such a nice change from the Luxury Bahia we stayed at for our honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. At the resort, the both of us had food poisoning from the fresh vegetables and we were sooo nervous to eat certain things for a good portion of our stay. Cruising is so much different! Even though there is a constant abundance of food, everything seemed to be really well prepared and delicious.

At the buffet I ate lots of concoction salads–

salad

While at the more formal sit-down dinners I ate some sort of salmon every night. No shame.

salmon

Will ate lots of everything. And I mean EVERYTHING! Boy that guy can eat! I can’t believe I only captured these two photos of the mountains he ate, but he is sneaky I’ll tell ya!

prime rib

salad

The Towel-folding skills:

These can speak for themselves 😉

snail towel

dog towel

(We kept calling that one Popcorn <3)

Exploring:

We didn’t do any excursions on our cruise because it was pretty short, so we figured we could find enough activities to entertain ourselves in that period of time. I’m really happy that we made this decision– by the time we explored each of the ports, we were ready to head back in and eat/rest/get ready for dinner. Despite the multiple crowds of partiers on the boat, this was a laiidddddd back cruise for us. Totally rejuvenating!

Enchantment of the Seas view

us cruise pose

Us cruise kiss

The port at Nassau:

Port at Nassau

Senor Frogs Nassau

Nassau Port

will port of nassau

conch at port of nassau

me will sit

Overall, we had a FANTASTIC time. I mentioned before that we got a great deal through Costco Travel that also gave us a $250 onboard credit to spend on anything we wanted—including the daily taxes and fees. This MADE the trip for us because we felt like we had money to spend on extra things here and there like a spontaneous coffee at the Starbucks or the random Anne Klein watch I had my eye on… If y’all have a Costco membership, check out their travel deals! We loved our experience using them, and would so do it again!

(This isn’t sponsored by Costco Travel—although it sure sounds like it 😉 Will and I are Costco fans for life!)

Have you ever been on a cruise? Do you have a Costco membership?

The Best Darn One-Year-Old Cake

Sounds delicious, eh?

Per the tradition of saving the top tier of our wedding cake and cutting into it on our one year anniversary, Will and I broke into the ancient delicacy a few nights before heading out on our anniversary cruise. (More to come on the cruise later, but first—the cake 😉 ) Kudos to my mamma for wrapping this thing in so much foil and cling wrap that freezer burn didn’t stand a chance!

We were apprehensive upon unwrapping the covering and opening the box…

one year old wedding cake

But were impressed by how nicely the tier managed to hold together. Not bad!

top tier wedding cake

One year ago—

wedding cake

The ultimate test was the taste—would it be just as delicious as it was on our wedding day after living in my mom’s freezer for an entire year? We cut a slice and both shoveled forkfuls to our faces…

cake slice

Mmmmm… Just as good as we remembered 😀

mewillcake

And it’s lasted this entire week in our fridge while Will works on polishing it off! Nice work Mr. Bees 😉

If you’re married, did you save the top tier of your wedding cake? What’s the longest you’ve tried to preserve something by means of the freezer?

The Great Birthday Scavenger Hunt

As this being my first year celebrating my birthday in Orlando, I truly expected things to be relatively low key. We have a great group of friends here so I knew that we would probably end up doing something with them, but I had no idea what was really in store for me on my special birthday weekend.

Friends, this is the stuff dreams are made of.

On Thursday evening, Will let me know that we would be leaving at 5:15 PM on Friday night to an unknown destination. Being the planner that I am, I was not having this ambiguous description, so I tried to pry more information out of this husband of mine. “What should I wear?” “Will we be home late?” “You know I’m going to be tired after work…” “Will I have to exert energy?” You name it, I was asking. But friends, I wasn’t getting any answers. All I got was this card handed to me by my husband at 5:05 PM Friday night, right before leaving.

Birthday Clue 1

Huhh?! Will immediately let me know that this wasn’t his doing, and all he was told to do was drive me around to different spots that the clues led us to. Tears instantly started to well up in my eyes once we pulled up to the dog park at Baldwin Park (my favorite!) and saw our good friend Bri standing there with clue #2.

Bri Scavenger Hunt

Clue 2

I cried some more as Bri told me one thing she loved about me (my honesty!) and handed me a flower, wondering what the heck I ever did to deserve some sort of extravaganza like this? And again wondering, who the heck organized this whole thing? If it wasn’t Will—who was it?! We walked on over to the docks and saw Hannah, another good friend of ours, waiting near the water.

Dock

Hannah Dock

Hannah on Dock

Hannah then handed me another flower and the next clue, followed by a reason why she loves me (my hardworking nature) as I broke into more tears. Will and I also snagged the photo op like we were instructed on the card.

Will Me Dock

Me Will Dock

Clue 3

We knew this one was Trevor and Leah’s house, where we gather for our community group every Tuesday! Sure enough, our favorite hosts were sitting on a blanket in their front yard with their cutie Hudson.

Trevor Leah Hudson

Leah handed me the next clue, the flower, and let me know that her favorite thing about me is my transparency with others. Such a special compliment!

The next clue led us into their backyard–

Clue 4

Katie

Where we saw Katie! Yay! She gave me her clue, another flower, and told me her favorite thing about me is my smile 🙂

Then off to the downtown YMCA we went!

Clue 5

Jess

(PHOTOBOMBED 😉 )

Sure enough, Jess was there waiting for us at the front steps of my favorite gym! She gave me the next clue and told me that her favorite thing about me was the way I share my heart with everyone, regardless of how long I’ve known them. I love her!

The next clue led to us to our church!

Clue 6

Jacob Shari

Jacob and Shari were there at the front waiting for us (with silly faces)! Will and I love this couple so much! They both told me what they love about me (Shari- my kindness, and Jacob left me on a cliffhanger and he said he would finish on my real birthday… LOL!) and handed us our last and final clue.

At this point, I had an idea of who was behind this masterpiece. There was only one person in this city that I knew would go out of their way to plan something so extravagant for me, and know that I would LOVE it. As our last clue led us to my favorite Sunday sample spot, I was becoming eager to see my selfless friend.

Clue 7

And sure enough, two hours after we had begun, there Alana sat in the car with her husband Ben as we pulled up to Costco.

Alana Ben

Alana Ben

She handed me a vase to hold all of the flowers that I had collected throughout the evening, and a heartfelt birthday card. I broke into tears as the final couple told me the reasons why they loved me, because I truly can say with certainty that I had never EVER felt so loved.

I still don’t understand what I did to deserve such a fantastic surprise. I don’t get why I was blessed with such a wonderful friend who spent her evening coordinating a wonderful adventure for me, and I don’t think I ever will. What a beautiful picture of grace that is– undeserving love and favor from someone who has seen me at my weakest.

Thank you Alana and everyone else who participated! I love you all for making #26 a birthday that I will always remember.

Me Alana Ben

Me Alana