"Two are Better than One!" ~Ecclesiastes 4:9

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Amelia Island!!!

Todd and I had a free night at the Ritz Carlton (from our Marriott rewards) so we decided to go to Amelia Island for the weekend. We love the Ritz (of course) and really enjoyed our honeymoon there. However, we stay at the Ritz the majority of the time due to all of our (or should I say Todd's) stays at Marriotts throughout the year, and our Marriott credit card points. While we love these stays at the Ritz, and the service is impeccable, and the hotels are gorgeous, and the on site dining is great, we are getting more and more frustrated with Marriott...the means to the end. Not only did Marriott royally mess up the rooms and charges for our wedding, a waiter at a Marriott a few weeks ago also gave himself a handsome tip when he later charged us $20 for a $5 piece of pie, and so many other like issues. Thus, the bad luck continued on this trip.

We checked in to find out that our free night certificate was not on file (which we were promised by marriott it was two weeks prior). The Ritz staff was great, and said they would check on it for us before we checked out to make sure we didn't pay out of pocket if we truly had a certificate. In the meantime, Todd had a bad feeling about it due to our prior issues with Marriott so he called their customer service line when we got to the room. Over the course of 2+ hours wasted on the phone in our room, Marriott admitted to Todd it was their fault, but that they couldn't do anything to fix the problem; we would need to use points or pay for our room. The only reason we went to Amelia Island was to use our certificate before it expired, so at this point we were basically losing 2 nights (one for the certificate we wouldn't be able to use before it expired, and paying for our weekend in Amelia Island). Todd was hung up on and shuffled from person to person until he finally spoke with someone that seemed to be willing to fix the problem, and honor the original promise. However, they hung up, and a few moments later we recieved notification that they had went ahead and used our points (not the certificate) to pay for our room! Needless to say Todd was irrate! Of course, at that point they were closed for the weekend, and we were unable to get the problem handled. However, the Ritz came through and Kurt at the front desk told us he would handle the issue for us on Monday. So, here's to hoping Marriott honors it's own certificate!

After getting off to a late start, we had an amazing weekend! Yes, even in spite of our vacation curse. I am convinced we will not have a vacation free of sickness and issues! We do a good job of pushing through it though; we are always just happy to be so blessed to go on trips with each other and enjoy each others' company. On our honeymoon, Delta lost our luggage and we didn't get it until day 3 in Maui. Of course, hours after we got clothes, Todd was very sick with a 103 degree temperature. So, we kind of joked that this trip to Amelia Island was our "redo honeymoon".

The Ritz in Amelia Island was very much like the one in Maui. It did remind me a lot of our honeymoon. A little less touristy and more family friendly. In fact, we were reading that you could have a pirate (Amelia Island used to be a pirate port) come and read a bedtime story to your children in your room with milk and cookies, and would also tuck them in. Sounds fun, right? Yes until I read the fine print -- for the small fee of $45 per child!!! What?? Clearly, there are people with nothing better to do with their money staying at the Ritz for them to keep that program!

So back to our fun...we walked around on the beach, and just had a relaxing rest of the afternoon. We enjoyed some fried yukon potato wedges and arnold palmers at the bar with a great view of the beach and the basketball games! I'm sure you can guess who needed both views! About this time, our vaca curse struck again- and I was feeling nauseous and very sick! So, in true honeymoon style we went back to the room so I could lay down for a bit and ruin the fun! After an hour, I sucked it up to go to dinner. I was really in the mood for steamed crab legs, low country boil style. However, the concierge told us there was no such thing on the island! What?? What a travesty! So, we settled for second best, a wonderful seafood restaurant called Brett's on the water. We ventured out there for dinner and enjoyed driving through the quaint little "main street" full of gift shops, antique stores, bakeries, bookstores, and restaurants and bars. We were seated at a little table at the window right over the water. I had a great clam chowder, and Todd had the shrimp low country boil. Still not feeling well, I only ate about 4 bites of my clam chowder (but would have loved to finish it) and a few bites of toast. We decided to go back to the hotel to watch the Vandy/KY basketball game. We went to a fun bar and gameroom with pooltables in the hotel where we propped up on a couch for a little over an hour. Unfortunately, Vandy lost, but we had a great time watching that and the Olympics on televisions with some Kentucky fans who loved talking to Todd about their shared Kentucky roots. Oh, and we ordered a creme brulee for dessert while the game was on. It was a shame I only had a few bites of that too because I love creme brulee!

This is the view from our room.

This morning, we got up and had eggs benedict in the Ritz cafe. I was really looking forward to mimosas and brunch, but decided it would be best to not have acidic OJ and champagne after not feeling well last night. We walked around the resort, and played on the beach for a bit after eating. It was such a gorgeous morning - low 70s and just beautiful! We kind of regretted our decision to back out on staying Friday night earlier in the week. We had such a great time and would have loved to stay longer and rent bikes, and really see the island. However, we had to get back to Orlando, so we went back to our huge ocean view room, and packed to go home. On the way out of town, we decided to go back to the area with all the shops from the night before. We got out of the car for about an hour, and walked in and out of shops, and went down to the water and on the docks. We got out of Amelia Island not doing any actual shopping, which was probably a relief to Todd!

So, here we are almost home. We are on our way to pick up Breck from our friend Kendra's, who was so nice to watch him while we were gone. She has a new puppy also, and sent us the cutest picture of them before bed last night! I was so worried about leaving Breck for the first time overnight, I can only imagine what I will be like with kids! haha We will be rushing Breck home so that we can make it to our community group tonight. How ironic only hours ago we were loving the slowness of life on Amelia Island! We loved our short vacation, and have decided, we will go back very soon!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Taco Night in the Hood!

Todd and I thought it would be fun to invite some friends over for dinner. So, we did a pot luck taco night yesterday. We did the meat, and also salsa and guacamole. We didn't have a big turnout, but we had a great time with some good friends. Which also leads me to wonder, why is it that no one RSVPs anymore? I think that is one of my biggest frustrations! I know you don't get blacklisted, but if I ever forget to RSVP for something, I feel horrible about it! Someone is being kind enough to invite you into their home, shouldn't you have the same courtesy to give them the favor of a response? I could go on and on, but I wont! haha

Alright, so here is my recipe for homemade salsa:
In a food processor, combine a 1/4 of a jalapeno (no seeds), half of a sweet onion or red onion, 4 tbsp fresh cilantro, 3 cloves of pressed garlic, the juice of two limes, and one chipotle pepper (deseeded) in adobo sauce. The chipotle peppers are on the ethnic foods aisle of the grocery store. They are canned in the adobo sauce, and I add about a tablespoon of the sauce to the salsa in addition to the actual chipotle. The leftover sauce and the chipotles are good to use in things like enchilada sauce, or ground beef for tacos.

Pulse the above ingredients in the food processor about 5 times for one second until they are coursely chopped. Scrape the sides as needed. Then, add 8 vine ripe tomatoes. You will need to cut them in half and then in quarters and remove the core and seeds.

Add salt and pepper to taste. I used sea salt, it seems to do the job of flavoring the salsa without having to use a ton of table salt. Pulse the tomatoes, salt, and pepper into the mixture until the salsa reaches the consistency you like. This recipe is a pretty basic salsa, you can really use this as your base for any tomato salsa and tweek or add ingredients as you like. Put into containers and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. The salsa will stay in the fridge for 2 - 3 days, add a touch of salt and lime juice before serving to "freshen" the salsa.

Be sure to taste the salsa. It will be different every time since you are using fresh vegetables, so you may need to add more of something to make it tast right. You can see it made a good bit of salsa! Hope this inspires everyone to make homemade salsa, it is worth the work! Even Todd, my salsa connoisseur loves it!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tally Bound

It has been a crazy morning thus far...who knew! Well, let me start by explaining that this is the second time I have written this post since the first one did not publish, and when I went back to the saved version to repost and only one word was saved. I am no longer in the mood to retype my original post, or try to. So, here is the abriged version:

We are are leaving for Tallahassee this afternoon because Todd has to be there for work. So, I decided to go with him for several reasons, which I'm sure some would find silly. A) I do not like staying at home by myself overnight...this has never been a problem before so my theory is I am worried that if something were to happen while Todd was out of town, I wouldn't have the support system I would in Altanta, and I don't really know my way around Orlando that well say should I need to find a hospital. In addition, Breck is a good companion, but he also creates the need to take him outside to potty in the middle of the night sometimes, or even late at night. I'm not sure we have the best neighbors, and the two cops that live in our building don't seem to be overly protecting and serving so that's not comforting. B) I am newly unemployed, so why not C) I could use a break from things like filing unemployment via phone in the state of Georgia remotely from Florida (I'm sure you have guessed this has been inefficient and unproductive), changing my name on documents, consolidating accounts since we got married, trying to procure life insurance, changing my name and then changing my name on accounts and things, etc. etc. etc.

Todd has been scowering the house all morning for a projector he needs for one of his meetings tomorrow. I have no idea where it was put in our house when we moved here, and to be honest don't know that I have ever seen it. We may be looking for something that in actuality may no longer be in our possession...maybe the movers took it...I mean they have been known for doing that here oh and breaking furniture! That's a whole new story. I am afraid if it is in the house, it is in the pits of the office closet. I cannot put into words how bad the task of lookign through that closet will be, but I can tell you we have everything in that closet from boxes of copy paper, to Christmas decorations, a file cabinet, Todd's gold clubs, and even Todd's bike. Remember, we live in an apartment, and while Todd thought the bike was a good addition to the family room decor, I disagreed and with every bit of determination stuffed it in the upstairs closet a few weeks ago!

Long story short, I need to get back to helping him hunt this projector down, do laundry, and pack for our little trip! Happy Wednesday!

Monday, February 15, 2010

First Valentines Day!

I have had a huge epiphany this weekend! I am writing a newlywed blog, and have been horrible about keeping it updated. I don't update much, because I think well really, who is reading this...well who is going to read when I am not writing? Furthermore, we do so many fun things as newlyweds, and I am not sharing them! So, I have resolved to be better at writing about the fun things we do that make being a newlywed so great! Starting with Valentine's Day weekend...

This weekend, we were supposed to have some friends from Atlanta in town to have a fun couples weekend! However, Atlanta got some unheard of amounts of snow, and they were unable to make it. We had plans to go see Valetines Day the movie on Saturday and take a chocolate class Saturday night, and on Sunday we had dinner reservations. So, once we found out our friends would not be arriving, Todd and I decided to go the late movie on Friday night.

Saturday, we had a wonderful day at the house. We talked some friends into filling our newly vacant spots in our chocolate class reservation. They came over for dinner before hand and Todd grilled steaks on our Le Creuset grill pan which were amazing! We tried some new blue cheese herb butter on our steaks that the sample woman at Publix conned us into. It was actually pretty good, but a little pricey - still, you should try it! Oh, and I made an arugula salad with candied walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, and homemade balsamic vinegarette. That was pretty yummy too! We also went through a good deal of red wine with dinner! We love this red blend we found at a wine tasting called Trovicello... I think?? Anyway, we are now out, and I need to figure out how I can get my hands on some more! After dinner, we headed down the street a few blocks (yes we walked we love our little live-work-play neighborhood!) to the chocolate shop where our 9:00 chocolate class was being held. Much to our surprise, we arrived to find the shop had no record of our reservation -- which was very unsettling considering they charged a deposit to our credit card over a week prior. Long story short, it smelled amazing in there(even to this girl who does not love chocolate), everyone who's reservation wasn't messed up seemed to be having fun, the management seemed super unorganized (considering they couldn't even find our original charge in their "system" to credit us, as well as our reservation), and we felt silly for begging friends to come with us and couldn't deliver! haha Not sure if we will try to actually do this again...maybe we will find a more organized establishment to attempt this class at. So, we quickly got over the fact we wouldn't be making chocolate and walked back home to open another bottle of wine and eat the leftover chocolate chip cookies I had made for Bible study earlier in the week.

Sunday we woke up and went to the new church we have been trying out. I'm not going to lie - after realizing how much I had drank the night before, it took me a minute to check my vitals when my eyes first opened that morning. After all, I had inadvertantly drank 3 large glasses of wine the night before...what can I say, the wine and good times were flowing! Luckily, I felt fine. We came home from church and had such a wonderful "lay around the house" afternoon that included exchanging our $10 gifts. This is our new thing...we have been spending so much on completing our registries, and things for our home, that we have resolved to spending less on each other for holidays. So, for Christmas, we stuffed each other's stockings for $30 and it turned out to be so fun! We bought each other such thoughtful and creative gifts we decided to do it again for Vday (or as Todd calls it VD - hmmmmm venereal disease day may actually be fitting for some!! -- regressing!!)! So, I tried to think like Todd (PRACTICAL!!) and finally decided on a ceramic coffee mug he's been eyeing with shortbread cookies and the caramel flavor stuff he loves to put in his coffee in the morning. He on the other hand, tried to think like me - sweet and thoughtful. Those are his words to describe my gift giving technique, and I have to agree! haha To be thoughtful, he made me coupons for things like breakfast in bed!! SCORE! I will definatley be using these! Then, with his ten dollars, he bought something sweet...my favorite candies: Swedish fish and licorice. Our first valentines day may have only made my bank account 10 dollars lighter, but it will make me 10 pounds heavier! haha I will have to practice self control and pace myself!

Oh, and dinner last night was amazing! We kept our reservations at the Ravenous Pig (a gastropub) - yes this is the name of the restaurant. It seems to be a strange word to use with food...practically the predatory pig...makes me think they would have mad cow burgers on their menu! However, the restaurant is actually very good, and their cornerstone is based on all natural, locally grown, constantly changing menu items. Todd had a lamb burger and I loved my mussels with truffle fries. Of course, this girl could not pass up dessert, so we ordered the chocolate souffle with raspberry puree and sweet cream ice cream! Check them out... (and yes we are more than happy to take you when you visit us) http://theravenouspig.com/ .

So, here we are on this gorgeous Monday, and I just got around to washing the wine glasses and dishes from Saturday night this morning while still in jammies! Oh, and another reason I love being a newlywed: the UPS guy stopped at our house this morning with a wedding gift from Macys! How fun is that? Little surprises all the time showing up on our doorstep! Happy Presidents day to everyone, I'm sure I have given my play by play of the weekend enough! We are off to the outlets for the afternoon to find some good sales!