Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Paws To Enjoy

Meet Asher, our new ragdoll kitten!

a little blurry...

The weekend before Chad and I left for Florida, we drove just outside of Harrisburg to visit a little cutie we had our eyes on.  Chad and I have talked about getting a ragdoll kitten since before we were married.  In fact, if you were at the wedding, you may remember these cool cootie catchers we made! Instead of telling fortunes, our Cooties Catchers had trivia about us including this this little tidbit:

When we meet Asher for the first time, we nearly died of cuteness overload.  This was just a tentative visit to see him in person and see what his personality was like… However, we decided very quickly that he was going to be ours.  We really wanted to take him with us right then, but since we were leaving for Florida in only three days, we were worried that he would be confused and scared to move and then be left alone.  So we hesitantly left him there.  However, we made plans to come pick him up as soon as we were home from our vacation.  In fact, we drove straight to get him from the airport after we landed in Baltimore.

Asher loves to be on laps

The first week was all exploration and getting used to us.  He was a little shy at first, but warmed up to us really quickly!  Ragdoll cats are a lot like dogs.  The crave attention.  They want to be in the same room as you all the time.  They are extremely playful with lots of energy, but will also simply go limp as soon as you pick them up, falling asleep in seconds.  Even as I type this Asher is laying on my desk, batting at my hand.

Every day he got a little braver and started exploring new areas, taking on one room each day until he’d been everywhere expect the basement.  He was terrified of the stairs.  I have no idea why, except I’m wondering if the breeder we got him from simply didn’t have any and he just didn’t know what they were.  We tried to get him to go down on his own for almost two weeks, and he just wouldn’t do it.  We carried him down there a few times, and he really liked to explore that area, but even when we held him on the steps he was very afraid – he would cling to us, claws digging in, like he thought we were about to throw him the whole way down.  So I came up with this brilliant idea to put his food on the steps.  He loves his food.  We feed him twice a day (we wanted to just fill his bowl and let him eat when he is hungry, but he was having some really nasty messes in the litter box because he wasn’t moderating his intake correctly – so we had to put him on a “diet”, poor thing).  Each time we fed him, we moved his food a little farther down the steps until it was at the bottom, and that solved our problem in 2 days!  Now the steps are awesome.  They are just another obstacle course for him.

He loves obstacle courses.  He always takes his toys under the dining room table or our bar stools, and kicks it around under there so that he has to jump through and around the legs of the chairs to get it again.  As can be witnessed here:

So anyway, we are loving Asher!  He’s a great little kitty, and I’m sure we will have many more stories to tell about him in the future! Stay tuned!!!

I'll leave you with a bunch of cute pictures of Asher sleeping on my desk. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

First Flight: Florida Vacation!!

It’s a new year! And we’re already almost through February!  And sadly this is my first post since we switched to 2012.  I can’t believe how fast time flies! 

Speaking of flying… I totally went on my first plane ride a few weeks ago!  Chad and I left for Florida on February 7th (Happy Birthday, Momma Frey!) and it was a quick 2 hour, 20 minute flight to Orlando.  

On the Plane!!

I was probably much more nervous about this than the situation warranted.  I’m a semi-expert on planes now.  I read pretty much every Wikipedia article I could find in anticipation of leaving and watched a ton of youtube videos people took of taking off and landing (which they were definitely NOT allowed to be doing).  I was pretty convinced something awful was going to happen.  My logic for this is that it feels like that every time I’ve tried something new, something goes wrong. (The first time I did the haunted house ride on a band trip, the machine broke down and they had to come lead us out through the emergency exits.  The first time I rode a roller coaster it detected something was off and we sat at the top of Apollo’s Chariot, 170 ft in the air, for an hour… Although, I will say that my first ride on Apollo’s Chariot was not as bad as Fabio’s) But seriously, I’ve never made myself that nauseous before strictly out of nervousness.  I really thought I was going to vomit right there on the jet bridge! 

Waiting at BWI

I was actually pretty nervous, too, about going through security, simply because I didn’t know what to expect.  I had this minor fear that something would somehow materialize in my bag that I wasn’t allowed to have, even though I went through my purse like 40 times before we left for the airport.  But anyway, that all turned out to be a breeze!  It didn’t take very long at all!  We flew Southwest (which is a really cool airline – the stewards are funny!) and they don’t have assigned seating, so I was nervous about getting a seat with Chad.  It was a full flight so there was really no room to spare.  We had a lower number “B” boarding pass so that let us board fairly quickly, but we still had to go almost the whole way to the back of the plane to get a seat together (which Chad said was a good thing because, “Have you ever seen a plane back into a mountain?”). 

It felt like it took forever to actually get in the seat and buckle myself in, but after the plane started moving, I felt much better.  It was just a crazy experience to be that high in the air, above the clouds.  Terrifyingly beautiful.  

I didn’t mind it much when we were moving steadily.  I didn’t like the turbulence.  It probably only lasted a total of 15 minutes but it felt pretty bad.  Chad said it was some of the stronger turbulence he’d felt before.  And I didn’t like it when the plane had to bank and change direction.  It made me feel funny in my head to see the clouds and the ground at such weird angles.  But, overall I didn’t hate it.  I’d definitely do it again, although I’m not sure how I’d do on a trip longer than 2 and a half hours… I was really ready to be done after that. Haha.

A family friend of Chad’s was sweet enough to pick us up at the airport and then let us borrow her car for the rest of the time we were down there so we didn’t have to get a rental car.  We stayed at The Beach Club Resort which is directly beside Epcot (probably half a mile walk), which was great because that was one of the places we were planning on going while we were down there.  Tuesday night, after we were settled in the hotel, we ate at Olive Garden and it was delicious! :)

Wednesday, we went to the Builder’s Show, which was the main reason we took the trip.  Chad’s business sells Eldorado Stone which is a large stone veneer company that usually has a booth at this show each year.  This year they provided the stone for the concept houses that were available to tour, which is how we spent most of our day there.  Wednesday night we had dinner at the Melting Pot, because I had always wanted to go there.  I love Chocolate fondue.  Love it.  So now I will do a quick (I promise) mini-review of the Melting Pot:
Atmosphere: Pleasant and interesting.  Our table was weirdly “L”-shaped and the burner was way up in the farthest corner from the seats which made it hard for Little-Short-Arms here to reach the food without dripping and dropping it everywhere before it got back to my plate.
Service: Very good.  The waiter was really helpful.  Since we had never been there before and it is such a different experience we needed a lot of help figuring everything out.
Price: $$$$ (that means expensive).  Their popular 4-course meal is $80 for two people.  Without drinks, or any of the optional specials, or tip.
Food: This is the big one.  The 1st course was our choice of cheese fondue.  We got the Spinach Artichoke and it was really good.  It comes with some veggies, bread cubes, tortilla style chips, and apple pieces to dip in it.  Although, honestly, it was nothing super special.  The waiter makes it right in front of you, and I really probably could have made it myself at home.  And it would have probably been more suited to my tastes, since it had a little kick to it and I am not one for kicks.  The 2nd course was a very good House Salad with a yummy dressing! :) The 3rd course was about 4 to 5 bite-size pieces of each (and I stole this right off the menu – definitely don’t have that good of a memory) “Sesame-Crusted Sushi-Grade Ahi Tuna, Tender Shrimp, Seasoned Choice Angus Sirloin, Herb-Crusted Chicken Breast and Teriyaki-Marinated Sirloin”.  You then choose the “cooking style” you want which is basically a type of broth.  We did Court Boullion which was seasoned vegetable broth.  (Again it had a definite kick to it).  So anyway, they bring you out the meat raw and you have to cook it in the broth… I didn’t know that’s how it worked.  We weren’t huge fans of that method.  It feels like you spend a ton of money and then you have to make your own meal.  The food was definitely good, but it feels like a lot of work.  Didn’t think that part was really worth the money.  Anyway then the 4th course was dessert, which was by far the best thing we had.  We chose the Cookies ‘n Cream Marshmallow Dream which was “Dark chocolate topped with marshmallow cream, flambĂ©ed, swirled together and garnished with crushed Oreo® cookies”.  YUM! They bring you out little Rice Krispies Treats, brownies, cheesecake, strawberries, bananas, pound cake, and marshmallows to dip in it.  It’s very good.   The nice thing about this is that so long as you don’t run out of chocolate fondue before your dippers are all, they will bring you out more of whatever dippers you want.  It is amazing.
So my overall recommendation of the Melting Pot is to try it at least once for the experience and then after that just go for dessert.  The chocolate fondues are $16 for 2 people - slightly expensive, but not too bad if you saved some money and had dinner at home!  It’s a very tasty treat!  [UPDATE (03.22.12): Chad and I just went to Harrisburg for the day a few weeks ago and had dessert at a Melting Pot there.  We got the same chocolate fondue and it was only $12.50, so price varies by location!!]

Okay, back to the rest of the vacation.  On Thursday, we went to Universal’s Islands of Adventure, which was probably the thing I wanted to do the most while we were there because I’d never been there before, and let’s face it… Harry Potter.  

It was amazing.  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was packed with people, though.  Everyone in the park that day seemed to want to go to the same place.  

But I got to try a butter beer and go to to all the wizarding shops! 

We went all around the rest of the park, too, and went through "Jurassic Park" and saw a Sin Bad show, and rode all the roller coasters a few times!  It was very fun!  Now we are craving to go to Hershey Park or Busch Gardens (we have our 1 year anniversary coming up in April… Hehehe…) Thursday night we had dinner with a few people from Eldorado Stone at a Restaurant called Capriccio Grill which was at The Peabody.   I tried Seafood Pizza and Chad got a steak!  It was pretty yummy!

We went to Epcot on Friday and that was fun, too! Definitely not as many rides to do there, but we really enjoyed walking around the “World Showcase” and going in all the shops.  We had lunch in China. Haha!  And then we darted in some shops while it rained for 20 mins or so, and when it stopped, we walked back to the Resort to get some dessert.  There is an ice cream and soda shop there called Beaches and Cream, and it was delicious!

They also have a huge dessert called the Kitchen Sink which really does come out in a sink and it is basically every flavor of ice cream they have, covered in every topping they have and a whole can of whipped cream.  It looked amazing!  They brought out 3 of them in the half hour that we were there!  After that we went back to Epcot and went through the rest of the park.  We had a very small snackish sort of dinner since we were so full from our ice cream still, and then we went back to our room to get our showers for the night and just relax.  (our feet were killing us!! We did so so much walking every day!  We are out of shape!!) And then we made our way back to Epcot to watch the fireworks show which was pretty cool!

Our last full day was Saturday, and we just spent this day exploring.  We went to The Florida Mall and The Mall at Millenia, Disney’s Boardwalk, and Downtown Disney.  I wanted a candy apple, so I got that and shared it with Chad and it popped off one side of his permanent retainer on his lower teeth, so that sucked, but at least it happened on the last day.    

We also saw Chronicle, which was a really great movie.  We both liked it a lot!  Then we met the friend who let us borrow her car and her husband at Wolfgang Puck for dinner.  It was packed in that restaurant!! The food was pretty good though.  I got 4-cheese macaroni.  Then we went back to the resort and let them have their car back :).

Sunday, we woke up pretty early and got all our stuff together.  We took a short walk around the resort again and witnessed this:

Yum. Ketchup.
But we didn’t stay out long because it was actually really cold that morning.  It had been really nice the rest of the week, and in fact, I had a bit of a sunburn. Haha! We took a taxi to the airport and had lunch after we got through security.  I was much less nervous about flying this time.  The flight was pretty much on schedule and there was less turbulence overall on the way home.  I distracted myself by reading almost the whole time.  The landing was really bumpy because it was so windy in Baltimore.  But I just kept reading until we were firmly on the ground, cozied up next Chad and I was fine! :)

So that is our vacation in a nutshell!  We made a little pit stop on the way home (which wasn’t really “on the way” home… it was in fact a little out of the way… haha) to Harrisburg to pick up my “reward” for being such a good flier.  :) more to come on that in my next blog.  This one is already too huge!  (Hint: it has whiskers.)