Monday, February 27, 2012


Happy birthday (and 8 month anniversary!), Husband!

It's been a fun birthday weekend with Cori.  He finally caught up with me in age, so I have 6 more months before I go back to robbing the cradle by being the older woman.  ;)


We went super classy on Friday night by having dinner at Taco Bus.  We've heard about this place for a while- and yes, it is a food truck with a restaurant built around it- and Cori's birthday seemed like a good time to try it.  I know, I know, it doesn't really scream 'special occasion,' but we'd spent beaucoup for our passes for Busch Gardens the next day, so yummy Mexican at a great price was the perfect way to celebrate on a budget.  Our neighbors, Nick and Shera, along with their two cutie kids, Jaxon and Jude, joined us and we enjoyed chatting as we enjoyed tacos, burritos, and the so yummy butternut squash centro.

Then it was back to our place for cake.

I know I'm biased, but isn't this guy handsome?!

Jude helped blow out the candles.  Adorable!  Seriously, this 4 year old is one of our favorite people in Tampa.

Cards from Jaxon and Jude.  And yes, Jaxon's card does have ninjas on it.  These little boys LOVE ninjas.  The only surprise here is that zombies didn't make it on the card, too.


We had decided beforehand to enjoy our Saturday morning and not feel the need to rush out to Busch Gardens.  Season passes were only $10 more than a day pass, so we figured, we'd get there when we got there and what we missed out on we'd catch next time.  Definitely a wise choice as it allowed us some quality down-time together.  We slept in, spent some time with Jesus, and of course, opened presents.

My sweet parents got these books for Cori.  They definitely know their son-in-law!

Finally, it was off to Busch Gardens!  Cori had the fun idea to skip out on paying for parking and ride our bikes the mile or two from his work.  I'll be honest, I was slightly terrified- today was my first time riding a bike in over a decade- but it turns out, you really can't forget how to ride a bike.  And don't worry, Mom- we were riding on sidewalks the whole way. ;)

As for the park, it was definitely a good time.  I amused Cori by getting absolutely terrified before every roller coaster ride- 'get me off of this right now' terrified- screaming the whole ride, and then saying, "That was fun!" afterwards.  What can I say?  It's my M.O.  We also took a skyline ride and a train ride and saw lots of animals.  

It's so sad... we have such a hard time fitting into pictures together.  Silly 13 inch difference in height...

bumper cars!

We capped the day off by coming home and watching The Bourne Ultimatum.  


Our first stop on Sunday was church.  We were thankful for the opportunity to fellowship and to praise our sweet Lord from whom all blessings flow.  :)  After church, Cori headed out with guy friends from church to do one of his favorite things in the world: play frisbee golf.  I was so thankful he was able to go with these men; while I would have been more than willing to play with him, the truth is pretty simple... I'm awful at it.  Good eye-hand coordination is a must, and I am sadly lacking.

I picked him up several hours later to make our last stop of the birthday weekend: IKEA!  During our initial trips to IKEA in August, Cori found a chair that he loved.  Unfortunately, at the time, our priority (and finances!) lay with more important pieces of furniture... you know, like a bed to sleep in and a dresser to put the clothes that had been exploding out of suitcases in.  I suggested to Cori a few weeks ago that we make this chair his birthday present, and he readily agreed.

Here he is, contentedly sitting in his Poang chair.

We had such a wonderful weekend celebrating Cori!  The only downside was realizing that the weekend was over and that it was time to gear up for another work week.  I'm so thankful for the adventures we went on and the time we had together.  Love you, boo!

And just to leave you with one last picture of our weekend...

Haha, is anyone surprised that it's a picture of Willow?  We're just a little obsessed with our kitten. :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

adventures in baking.

Today marks the third year I've celebrated Cori's birthday with him.  Each year has marked very different stages in our relationship- dating, engaged, married- and that progression is also evident in the cakes I've made for him.

Year One: Cori and I had been dating for just over 2 months.  I attempted to find out his favorite type of cake- facebook messaging his best friend's wife- but when this failed to bring an answer, I just went with my favorite type of cake- vanilla with chocolate icing.  From a box mix, obvi.  Our Bible study that Cori led was that night, and one of my closest friends from Richmond was visiting, so we arranged to bring the cake to study that night.  Sweet, humble, never-thinks-of-himself- Cori  was so surprised and pleased to have a birthday cake.

Year Two: At this point, I was the fiancee, so it was time to kick it up a notch.  By then, I knew that Cori's favorite cake is his mom's red velvet cake. 

Let me take a minute to share just how much Cori likes this cake.  He LOVES it, to the extent that when we were trying to figure out a wedding cake, he wanted his mom to make her red velvet cake.  I had to inform my sweet future hub (who obviously never watched A Wedding Story) that baking a cake for 150 guests is usually not something that mother of the groom does.  (Side note: We ended up having our wedding cake made by one of Cori's close friends from college- and groomsman's wife- Tram Taylor.  She had recently started a catering business, and let me tell you- our cake was delicious and beautiful!  But I digress.)

So I made Cori red velvet cake- from a mix again- even going so far as to call my future mother-in-law to figure out what type of icing she used.  (Cream cheese with chopped pecans)  As far as I remember, it turned out well.

Year Three (present day): By now, I'm the wife, and I knew I had to figure out this red velvet cake thing.  I had his mom's for the first time over Christmas, and let me tell you- it's worthy of all the adoration Cori had for it.  It is delicious and addicting.  His mom gave me the recipe- it's actually from her mother- and I've been waiting for Cori's birthday to roll around so I could give it my first try.  I'll be honest, I believe this is my first cake I've made from scratch.  After a few snafus- three trips to the store over the course of the week, and I STILL had to run to our neighbor's TWICE to borrow ingredients- the cake was made.

I know it doesn't look pretty- presentation is certainly something I need to work on, but my judgement was that it was pretty darn good for a first try.  Cori's thoughts?  That he wished he didn't have a head cold so he could actually taste it.  Poor thing!  But we've still got the majority of it left, so he's got time to get his tastebuds in order.  Our neighbors joined us for cake (more on that later!) and they agreed that it was yummy.  The only downfall?  Finding out how many calories are in just one piece of red velvet cake.  Yikes.  Shouldn't be surprising considering the icing alone is made of a stick of butter, a stick of cream cheese, pecans- and oh yeah, an entire pound of sugar.  But it was delicious, and so worth it!  Also, we got to use our cake platter and cake plates that we got for our wedding- always a fun thing. :)

it arrived!

Monday was an exciting day in our home...

My bike came!  Cori was wonderful and spent hours on Monday night and then again on Tuesday putting it together.

Willow likes the bike... and by the bike, I mean the box it came in.

She's supervising!

Such a pretty kitty!

Love my kitten.  And my husband!  It's all put together and I get to try and ride it today!!

In other news- much bigger news, actually, than my bike- today is Cori's birthday!  Pictures and updates to come :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dear Mardi Gras,

I love you.  I love, love, love, LOVE you.  You are a combination of multiple things that I love and am very good at: lots of time with friends, being loud, jumping up and down, enjoying yummy food, and laughing.  It doesn't hurt that the city pretty much shuts down and when I was teaching, we got 3 days off school.  I love the parades that start about a month in advance, with the last 2 weeks before being the busiest.  I love the joy there is in celebrating life during this season.  It's no surprise that I blogged about you here last year.

But this year... I have a confession to make.  I'm trying not to think about you much.  The truth is, I'm pretty devastated to be missing you this season, and I'm thinking it's a good thing I've been away from facebook this month- seeing friends post statuses and pictures might just make me spiral downward into homesickness.  I celebrated 5 beautiful years with you, and each year I thought, "I can't believe that everywhere else is just having a normal work day!"  This year, that's me.

Except I had to bring a little of you into my life.

Publix had these cute little king cakes for $5.  I'll admit it, I bought 3- one for me and Cori, one for my kids to try during snack tomorrow, and one for my Bible study on Thursday.  Cori thinks he'll get one for his coworkers, too.  (Wife fail = thinking about my work and Bible study and not Cori's.  Oops!)

Because Mardi Gras, people here just don't understand your beauty.  And while I understand I can never fully communicate to them how wonderful you are- and also that they will think I'm nuts if I start gushing about how much I love standing outside on the sidewalk for hours, shouting "Throw me something, Mister!"- I have to at least give them a taste.

I love you.  


Sunday, February 19, 2012

my current obsession

So excited that these are coming in the mail in the next 5 to 7 business days...

I've been obsessing over getting a pair of TOM's for a little while now, and I absolutely fell in love with this pair.  Of course, I fell in love with the shoes that are out of stock, so thus commenced a search for another store that did actually had them.  Finally, I had success, and a surf shop all the way in Oregon is sending these puppies my way.  I can't wait!  I've had some hesitation about whether or not I'm a TOM's shoes kind of girl, but after all I hear about how comfortable and amazing they are, I've decided to find out. :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day...

My sweet husband sent me flowers!  Tulips are my favorite, and I felt so special having them delivered to me at work.

 Aren't they beautiful?

 Yum!  Our Valentine's Day dinner was delcious.  Pork Marsala, garlic bread, mashed potatoes, and bacon-wrapped asparagus.  I'd never done the whole bacon-wrapped thing myself, but it seemed like the fancy touch our meal needed, so I went for it!  I think we'll have to do some tweaking as far as how to cook them, but for a first attempt they turned out great.

 Pear Woodchuck is a great addition to any meal!

And for dessert?  Chocolate eclairs from Publix!

Cori was so wonderful about making me feel especially loved- he left me post-it notes in my car, my jacket, and even in my pbj sandwich!  (In the bag- not the actual sandwich!)  After dinner, we cuddled up with a movie- Chaos Theory with Ryan Reynolds.  It wasn't the greatest movie, but getting some quality time with Cori was what it was all about.  I'm so thankful for this day with my husband! :)

Monday, February 13, 2012


Valentine's Day is right around the corner.  Cori and I will be celebrating twice this year, not because we're so sweet and romantic, but rather because I'm pretty lame.  I told Cori that while I wanted to do something special to celebrate our first married Valentine's Day, I knew I wouldn't enjoy it as much if we went out on Tuesday night.  I love my job, but it's exhausting, and with two days of work behind me and three ahead, I knew I wouldn't be in the mode to go out for a night on the town.  So we decided that we'll stay in for the actual Valentine's night; I'll cook one of our favorite dinners (pork marsala + mashed potatoes) and Cori will pick up a bottle of wine.  My prediction is that we'll enjoy our dinner, relax on the couch, and be in bed by 11.  Our bigger celebration will be next Saturday, and it's actually a combination of celebrations.  December 18th we celebrated two years since our first date, one year since we got engaged, and (almost) 6 months of marriage.  I had told Cori that this was a big deal to me (hey, communication is important in marriage!) and certainly responded!  He found a living social deal for a dinner yacht cruise, but found out after the fact that it couldn't be used right away.  So, for our actual anniversary, we went out to a nice restaurant and saved the cruise for another time.  Well, that other time is here!  I'll definitely post pictures after the fact.

I was thinking through the other Valentine's Days we've spent together.  This year will only be our third, and it's funny to see how each one marks completely different stages in our relationship.  This year we're married (obvi), last year we were engaged, and the year before we had been dating for less than 2 months.  It's sad, but I have fuzzy memories of last year; I'm pretty sure that we dressed up and used a gift card from my parents to go to a swanky restaurant in NOLA.

Our first Valentine's Day together revolved around surprises.  I love being surprised, and Cori has always embraced that.  Example: our first date, he blindfolded me and took me to a park that had tacky lights.  He had made a list of items (like Santa in a helicopter, a big bow) for me to find.  That blindfold was used on several dates, and I always loved getting in the car having no idea where we were headed next.  So of course, that night, Cori blindfolded me and took me to a lake where we could watch the sunset.  The downside?  I had taken too long getting ready and we missed the majority of the sunset.  However, it was still beautiful AND Cori had bought a rose for me! We got a few fun pictures... 

After our photo shoot, Cori surprised me again by taking me out to Semolina's- Semonlina's being the restaurant that makes shrimp roban, which if you've read any of this blog at all, you know I'm obsessed with.  I'd mentioned it to Cori before but we had yet to go together.  After dinner, Cori indulged me by taking me to see Valentine's Day.  

It was a wonderful night, and I think this last picture captures how I was feeling about Cori then.  I was one smitten kitten!


I'm so thankful that I get to spend the rest of my Valentine's with this man!  I love you, Cori*.  :)

*hahaha... so, just for fun, I linked to Cori's 'blog.'  I put blog in quotations because he created it before he went to Ecuador for the summer a couple years ago.  He had great intentions but obviously didn't keep up with it.  My favorite part is his first blog entry where he's talking about how he got to New Orleans and the beginnings of his life there.  It's kind of a 'part 1 of 2' entry, except he never got around to part 2.  He mentions meeting me and thinking that I was loud.  That's it!  Not, 'loud but I knew one day she'd be the woman for me,' or 'loud with a beautiful spirit so I knew I would one day pursue her.'  Just 'loud' and then a brief mention of how I was intriguing but he was busy with school.  Oh, Cori... so thankful we got past the fact that I'm loud.  :)  (Which, for the record, I totally am- but he loves me for it!)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

bikes & Busch Gardens.

If there's anyone out there that reads this blog consistently, you'll note that my blogging has gone way up recently.  Part of this is due to my goal to blog more.  The bigger part, however, has been my goal to spend less time on facebook this month.  I've been checking every few days to make sure I don't miss out someone's birthday or a comment on my wall, but I have refrained from my typical obsessive daily stalking.  This has been a good thing in my life; however, it has made me run to the blog more to share things I normally would just post in a status.

Tonight, I want to share about two purchases Cori and I made recently.  (And by recently, I mean, in the last hour.)

1.  The first one is this:

Cori and I have been talking about wanting to get me a bike so we can explore Tampa together.  Thanks to a Wal-Mart gift card from his parents, we finally went for it!  We checked out several in stores, but the selection was much better online.  We tried out the men's version of this bike and liked it a lot, so we have high hopes that when this gal arrives in a week or so, she'll be a winner.  I'm loving the shiny white and pink!

2.  Our second purchase was two tickets to Busch Gardens.  Cori suggested this when I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday- February 25th!- and we decided it was the perfect thing.  Plus, for just $10 more than a day pass, we'll be able to go as much as we want for the rest of 2012.  Score!  We've been wanting to go to Busch Gardens since we moved here (although I'll be honest, I've been pushing Disney World the most!  and we WILL get there someday- but for now, Busch Gardens is the closer, cheaper, more practical- but still very fun- option) and nothing says special occasion like my hubby's 27th birthday.  :)  

At first I thought this was the first married birthday we'd spent together, then remembered that we celebrated mine back in August.  Cori definitely tried to make it special, but we'd been in Tampa for 4 days, and spent the night before in a Super 8.  We did move into our new home that day, but the AC hadn't kicked on yet and it was hecka HOT that day.  We also didn't have any furniture yet, so we spent the night (and many nights afterward...) on a pile of blankets on the hardwood floor.  Cori did take me out for a yummy dinner and we had celebrated in New Orleans before we left... but remember that part about the Super 8?  And the no AC?  And no furniture?  Haha, all that I'm saying is that in comparison, Cori's birthday just has no choice but to be fabulous. :)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

dinner at Ella's

Cori and I had lived in Tampa for less than a week when something happened to make my heart sink.  I was chatting with the cashier at Wal-Mart and asked her what some good restaurants in the area were.  Her reply consisted entirely of chain restaurants.  I could have cried right there in the check out line!  Don't get me wrong; growing up in the suburbs of Richmond, Applebees was my favorite restaurant, and the chicken and gnocchi soup from Olive Garden is pretty much the best thing in the world.  And if New Orleans lacked anything, it was Panera- seriously, a tragedy to not have a single Panera!  But after 5 years of living in a city that specialized in local restaurants, the idea of living off of chain restaurants in Tampa was a pretty depressing thought.

Thankfully, the more we settled in here, the more we realized that the 'no local restaurants at all' thing wasn't true.  Cori and I haven't ventured out too much during our (almost) 7 months living here (see: newlywed hole), but we've received multiple recommendations for good places to eat.  We found that Ho Ho's Chinese is just as good as the Yummy Yummy Chinese we frequented in NOLA.  We've fallen in love with the Holy Hog, both for their barbecue and their Southern specials, like chicken and waffles.  And last night, we discovered Ella's.

We've had several people recommend this place to us, and last night we finally decided to try it.  I had high expectations, and I was not disappointed in the slightest.  It's right near where we live, and it capitalized on the unique, funky feel of our little slice of Tampa.  We live in an area called Seminole Heights, and we absolutely love it.  The neighborhoods are full of unique architecture and the whole area is just different- no cookie cutter houses and shopping centers here!  Anyway, Ella's is a huge house, filled with booths made out of couches, art, and a band that plays at 10pm.  We got to eat outside on their huge porch, and loved it.  

We decided to get an appetizer called CB & J, which consisted of star shaped cornbread crostini with bacon Granny Apple jam.  It was such a unique flavoring, ad it was delicious!  For an entree, I ordered the Filet Medallions  (Two 4.5-oz beef tenderloin filets with roasted garlic goat cheese, drizzled in port wine reduction served with garlic mashed potato cake and bacon wrapped asparagus).  If you know me, you know that I was so not going for that garlic goat cheese, but I got it on the side so that Cori could try it.  Let me tell you, this meal was AMAZING!  Every bit as yummy as it sounds.  Cori went for the Chicken Spidini (Chicken Breast rolled in Herbed Breadcrumbs, Stuffed with Pancetta, Fontina Cheese & Portabella Mushrooms served over Spinach Fettuccini Alfredo) and was also a big fan.  We both agreed that this was the best meal we'd had in Tampa, and the only downside was that we didn't save room for dessert.  Not that we needed it, but that just gives us more reasons to plan a trip back!  Especially when we heard that they have Soul Food Sundays, including every yummy and southern food you could want.  Sign me up!

The entire night made up one of our best date nights.  We loved the food and the atmosphere, and had some quality conversation.  We are so thankful that we finally checked out this gem of a restaurant!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


8 things that are making me smile this february 8th:

1. some of our favorite meals for dinner this week: chicken parm on Monday, shrimp roban tonight, and tuesday was a yummy new find: potato crusted fish
2. mardi gras is coming up, and while i'm SO sad to not be in nola, we found out publix sells king cakes!  i think i'm going to buy several and bring them into different aspects of my life here- Bible study, work, home- to help us celebrate!
3. cori's birthday is February 25th and we're going to go to Busch Gardens!  also excited to celebrate his birthday for the first time as his wife :)
4. these fun blogs that my sweet bff sent me:
5. dancing in the kitchen to pop songs like flo rida's 'i get a good feeling'
6. catching up with my two best friends, katherine and kim, this week (via the phone, obvi).  seriously, i miss these two ladies SO much!  i'm still developing friendships with girls here, so the chances to talk to kim and katherine this week- women who just know my heart and who i just love so dearly- have been absolutely beautiful.
7. my sweet pre-k kids.  this week has been exhausting (per the norm- that's the nature of being a teacher!) but my kids are just so much fun!
8. cuddles with willow!  she's taken to sleeping on our bed, and by that i mean, she often sleeps actually on top of us.  to be honest, it doesn't make for the soundest sleep, but she's so stinkin' cute that it's almost worth it.  love her!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

super bowl twenty-twelve.

Cori and I watched the Superbowl at our neighbors' house tonight.  It was low-key and fun; none of us were super invested in either team, but we decided to pull for the Giants.  Cori had predicted they would win in a (free) poll at his work, and I like the Manning family, primarily because Archie Manning lives in New Orleans and used to play for the Saints way-back-when.  So, we were happy with the end results, but also happy just to watch the commercials and be entertained by 4-year-old Jude's ramblings.  I learned that he has a new bike (he got it for Christmas and I've heard about this at least a 100 times), the back of his mom's phone is really cool (still not sure why), and he's going to Dinosaur World on Tuesday (not actually true).  Seriously, this kid is adorably hilarious.

Commercials were pretty good, although it seemed like they primarily revolved around cars and Budweiser.  I was definitely a fan of the Ferris Bueller commercial, but it's no surprise that my favorite commercial was this one...

I know, I know... I'm obsessed with all things Saints.  But it was so very sad that we didn't make it to the Superbowl this year, so I was thrilled to still get to see my buddy Drew tonight.  Alright, alright, football season is over, so I'll shut up about dem boys.  But one more thing... I just have to put it out there- next year, the Super Bowl is in the Superdome.  The Saints are all over that one, just you wait and see. ;)