Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Meet our Pumpkin!

We are not cat people...never have been and were sure we would never be. Things change, I guess. Last week, we happened upon a stray little kitty late one night on the road that runs behind our house. We brought her home and kept her through the night (we called her Pumpkin because she was white, orange and black). The next morning we called the local animal services about bringing her there since they have an adoption center on site. We knew that she had a cold (or Upper Respiratory Infection as they told us)... because of that they said she would be euthanized because they can't risk getting the rest of their population sick. Also, she had scratched us when playing and because she was a stray there was the risk of rabies. I was heartbroken and we didn't know what to do. We left her there thinking we were doing what was best for her and for us. By Sunday, 2 days later, we missed her and wished we would have made the decision to at least take her to a vet, get her well, and then give her up. We drove to animal services that night at 9 p.m. and left 2 notes on the various office doors saying that if they still had her, by chance, we would love to have her back and give her a good home. They called me Monday morning and apologized saying it was too late. Again, crushed! We thought long and hard and decided we would look into adopting a kitty.

So, here's how Pumpkin (v.2) came along. That same day, Monday, I started looking at adoption website and decided to look at Craigslist. I came across a tiny little orange and white kitten that someone else found as a stray and were giving away for free. I emailed and they wrote me back saying he was still available. So, last night, we went to see him and we left with our little Pumpkin. He's a doll...the sweetest little guy. However, he was infested with fleas...which we noticed when we got home. We had asked the lady and she said she hadn't seen any. Anyways, we spent 2-3 hours cleaning him and picking 80-100 fleas off the poor little guy. I took him to the vet first thing this morning and they said we did a great job as they didn't seen any fleas at all. They gave him a vaccination, a little amount of flea treatment just in case, a checkup, etc....we have a healthy little kitty...weighing in at a whopping 1 lb 4 oz!! We picked his birthday to be September 20th so he's 7 weeks old!

We can't wait to get home and play with him since we're pretty sure he thinks we were torturing him last night...he was drenched, freezing, being picked and pulled at... but it was all worth it and he loves us today!

**next to my foot (size 7) to show you how small he is!

Monday, November 3, 2008

1 Year of Wedded Bliss

We recently returned from a 1 week roadtrip to celebrate our 1 year anniversary. What a great trip. On Friday, Oct 10th, we drove from Tampa to Atlanta where we would spend our first two nights at the downtown Atlanta Marriot Marquis in a room with a great view.

The first night we had an amazing dinner at Chin Chin - a chinese restaurant that I had found online and saw that it had good reviews. Well, it was absolutely delish. The location we went to was deceiving from the outside, but was a charming little modern place on the inside. And the food was to die for. Here's what we had: appetizer - crab angels (rangoon); dinner - Mike had Hunan Chicken - a light dish that was very hot but so good; I had the combo Tangerine shrimp/chicken which was served over roasted peppers and orange peels - unbelievable how good it was.

On Saturday, we drove to Stone Mountain Park and did a morning hike to the top. Great workout to start the day then walked around the little village. Cute place!

Saturday night was dinner at Legal Sea Foods. Another fabulous meal. Appetizer - Hot Crab Dip; dinner - Mike had the Grilled Swordfish with seaweed salad and broccoli with cheese; I had the Tortilla, Apple & Goat Cheese Salad with orange chipotle dressing (topped with grilled scallops). Dessert - personal pecan pie with vanilla bean ice cream, whipped cream and caramel bourbon sauce. Oh my...what a meal!

On Sunday morning, we got up and hit the Georgia Aquarium where we spent about 2 hours. Then, it was back in the car and on the up, Charleston!

Anniversary Trip continued...

Enjoying a really cute little Coke Zero bottle on the road...

Second stop - Charleston. We arrived on Sunday afternoon and spent 3 nights at the Mills House Hotel - charming, historic hotel that we enjoyed very much. Great location too! We did a little walking around just to loosen up our stiff legs. For dinner, we wanted something simple and easy so we went to Charleston Crab House. Appetizer - she crab soup - thick, creamy and very good. Mike had a crab cake sandwich - the crab cake was dwarfed by the bun so he just ate the crab cake. I had the bbq shrimp & grits because I had to try it. Not my favorite dish - good, but not something I can eat a whole bowl of.

The next day, we went on a carriage tour of the city and then had lunch at Sticky Fingers BBQ. Mike had the Ribs & Wings Combo and I had the Smoked Chicken Potato Skins with BBQ. Very good meal! Here's a great action shot of Mike enjoying his.

We may have taken a nap after this meal (I'm guessing we did) to get ready for the next meal, which was going to be our biggest anniversary dinner compliments of Mike's company, Deloitte...which was a pleasant surprise. We did our research to come up with the best place to dine at so we were very much looking forward to it.

We chose Oak Steakhouse, which is located in an old bank. We were given a very private table and immediately were given 2 glasses of pink champagne. Very nice, unexpected touch. We started out by ordering a bottle of Franciscan Magnificat, one that Mike has had before and said I really needed to try. I'm not a red wine drinker at all, but gave it a shot. Oh boy, now I'm a fan. That is a delicious wine!

Here is what we had: appetizer - Beef Tartare served with crunchy shoestring potatoes for Mike and a Roasted Beet & Boston Bibb salad for me. Yum! For dinner - 7 oz filet with gorgonzola cream sauce for me and a 16 oz new york strip for Mike. We ordered the Lobster & Shrimp mac & cheese to share as our side, and it seriously rocked our world! For dessert, Mike ordered 2 dessert wines for us to try and I ordered the Apple Torta with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (that had been mixed with honey). A meal we will not soon forget!

The next day it was off for some more sightseeing...this time, by bike. We rented two bikes and set out for an adventure....first we headed to this beautiful bridge, which kicked my butt and I could barely breathe by the time we got across it. Then on a water taxi back to downtown Charleston so we could explore the historical streets. Gotta love our helmets.

After a couple hours, we headed back to the hotel to re-group. I had the idea of grabbing our books/magazines, getting on the bikes and heading down to the Battery to hang in the park for awhile. That was nice, peaceful and relaxing and we're glad we did it.

Our last meal was at Jestine's Kitchen. We knew we needed to have some real southern comfort food and Mike had been wanting fried chicken. This place has a great reputation for simple southern food. We started with the cornbread which was served with butter that had been drizzled with honey. Yum! I prefer sweet cornbread and since it wasn't sweet, the butter with honey did the trick. Mike had the fried chicken basket with collard greens and fries. I had the pecan crusted fried chicken breast with mac & cheese. This chicken was awesome. Then for dessert, the coca cola cake with vanilla bean ice cream...very rich but so good!

The last morning, we spent a couple hours by the pool before packing up the car and heading out again...this time to Savannah, for our final stop. Isn't he handsome?

Last Stop...Savannah!

Our third and final vacation spot was Savannah. I was most excited about where we would be staying...I talked Mike into trying a B&B for the first time...I couldn't wait. I did some research and settled on the Green Palm Inn. We arrived in Savannah on Wednesday afternoon, just in time for some snacks and wine that was provided by the inn. Diane is the innkeeper and Tammy is her assistant. They were awesome. The place is absolutely adorable, a touch of modern mixed in with traditional furnishings. There are only 4 guest rooms and ours was the Sago Palm Suite. It was perfect!

My favorite part of the house was the front porch. It was so beautiful with so many flowers and tons of greenery. I wish the front of my house looked like that.

On our first night, we went for a walk down to check out River St. and then to City Market. We stopped in a pub for dinner, the Moon River Brewing Company. An appetizer caught my eye so we just had to try it....Sweet Potato Crinkles. Let me just tell you....they were so yummy. They are basically crinkle french fries (but made with sweet potatoes, obviously) and they were served with 3 dipping sauces (raspberry vinaigrette, chipotle ranch and a cinnamon sugar glaze). I preferred the ranch but every now and then would dip into the cinnamon sugar was more of a dessert that way. Mike ordered a Grilled Chicken Salad and I had the Chicken, Bacon and Swiss sandwich. Both were great. Oh, we also ordered a sampler of their beers that are brewed in-house...we got 7 of them which was very cool. A couple of them were very good and a couple were not so good. But here is Mike getting excited about trying them. After dinner it was off to City Market where I found Savannah's Candy Kitchen and had some delicious butter pecan ice cream.

I was very excited about our first breakfast at the Green Palm Inn. We awakened to an absolutely glorious smell coming from downstairs. When we sat down at the table, Diane served us each a plate filled with blueberry bread pudding, brown sugar baked bacon, and a side of pineapple, strawberries and papaya. Oh my goodness, what a good way to start the day. Then, we decided on a roadtrip out to Tybee Island where we would check out the beach and the lighthouse.

The view from the top...

It was such a beautiful day but there is not a lot to do on Tybee Island so we headed back in to do some shopping. Then, Diane made reservations for us at the Olde Pink House, where Lani said we must go while we are there. What a beautiful place. Lani had mentioned to me that she remembered the scallops being great so that's what I decided to have. They were served with mashed potatoes and a mix of green peas/beans (sugar snap peas, green beans and edamame). Mike had the special that was offered which was Red Fish over black eyed peas and red cabbage. Mike's dinner was very good but mine was fantastic. I savored every bite of those big, succulent oh my. I did order the chocolate pecan pie with ice cream for dessert. It was good but the texture was almost all nuts. Good but different.

From there we headed to Molly MacPherson's pub for some drinks (Mike wanted to try a scotch or two since they supposedly have the largest selection in the east or something like that) and to watch the Rays playoff game. Cute little pub...good atmosphere!

On the second morning, we were once again greeted by a phenomenal breakfast. Diane had made scrambled eggs, chicken spinach asiago sausage, biscuits, hash browns and fruit salad. Delicious! For our last day, we decided to visit the actual mall as we were worn out from walking around outside. We did visit Bonaventure Cemetery though which is beautiful and full of history. I really enjoyed seeing that...Mike, not so much. Ha! That afternoon, we returned to the inn for snacks and wine. We opened a bottle that Mike had bought especially for our trip and had a glass. Then our pedicab arrived to take us to our final vacation dinner.

We had settled on a place called Noble Fare, a fairly new place but when we asked, Diane said we were doing ourselves a favor by going there. Mike had his heart set on trying veal sweetbreads (a young animal's pancreas or thymus gland or something crazy like that). In a google search, I came across this place and we decided to give it a shot. We carried our bottle of wine with us since they knew it was our anniversary and we just crossed our fingers that they would let us drink it. They did and didn't even charge a corkage fee. Awesome! We were given the special table by the first window...the only table in the place with red chairs. Nice touch for our anniversary! The place is small with only 10-12 tables but it has black walls with fuschia/red accents and damask accents as well.... very chic!

Mike, of course, ordered the Crispy Sweetbreads with a balsamic reduction for an appetizer. For dinner, he ordered the Elk Tenderloin served with carrot puree and potate pave and pinotage reduction spinach. I had the House Rules Salad which was bibb lettuce, goat cheese, dried cranberries, candied pecans and raspberry viniagrette. Another absolutely fabulous meal! Mike saw that they had an absinthe martini on the menu so he had to try it even though he has had absinthe several times and each time it's worse than the last...well, that doesn't stop him. And sure enough, it was not easy on the palate.

One last breakfast in Savannah and then it was back in the car and heading home to Tampa. For our last morning, Diane served a banana french toast casserole, chicken sausage and fruit. That french toast was amazing. The Green Palm Inn is amazing. Our vacation and anniversary was....yep, you got it, amazing!!