Friday, September 24, 2021

Five Loves on Friday // First Week of Fall, Puppy's 1st Walk, Mom/Daughter Fun, and Pumpkins

Happy first Friday of the greatest season of all, FALL!  I hope you've had a good one!  In the midst of all the heaviness of the times we are living in, it was refreshing to enjoy a week filled with simple pleasures.  I found myself smiling and laughing more than in recent weeks.  Friends, Proverbs 17:22 holds true, "A joyful heart is good medicine."  I'm looking forward to sitting down in my comfy new computer chair (so thankful for that thoughtful birthday gift from my awesome hubs) and reflecting on the goodness of it all with you now, my sweet readers and cherished friends!  If you aren't in full fall mode yet, perhaps this post will help with that. ;)  In any case, I hope you leave here inspired to enjoy the little things of life.  Let's get to those loves now, shall we?

One  //  Fall Has Arrived!

I shared this in my Instagram stories in celebration of the start of fall this week.  I must admit I've been ready to add Nat King Cole singing 'Tis Autumn" to a story for months now. :D

I'm always giddy when I first see fallen leaves scattered on the ground this time of year!  While out this week we enjoyed all the sights and sounds of fall.  I spotted a tree shifting to a brilliant shade of burnt orange.  I soaked up the sounds of leaves being blown by a gentle breeze as other fallen foliage crunched underfoot.  There was a crispness in the air as temps dipped down into the 60s.  (I'm trying not to think about the 90s in the forecast next week.  I'd rather reflect on this perfection instead. Ha!)  I spent the first day of fall cozy in a mustard yellow sweater paired with a velvet burgundy headband, listening to a Fall Coffee Shop Bookstore Ambience video on YouTube while surrounded by home decor in all the shades of autumn and pumpkins a plenty.  My heart could not be happier!  

Two  //  Toffee's 1st Proper Walk

This week our sweet Toffee hit the two week mark after completing her puppy shots meaning it was officially safe to take her out for a walk in public!  (I think we may have been as excited as she was! :))  The very first stranger we passed on the trail said, "That is the cutest puppy I've ever seen in my life!"  So sweet!  

Three  //  A Sweet Autumn Mom/Daughter Night

On Wednesday evenings during weeks that Jason plays guitar for our church's Sunday services he meets with the other musicians for practice.  Our youngest daughter is also at church for high school youth group during that time.  This gave my firstborn and I the perfect opportunity for a fun first night of fall mom/daughter night!  We planned to watch Hallmark's Sweet Autumn and did start it, but paused for a moment and ended up chatting through the rest of the evening.  She broke out a new puzzle and we talked to our hearts' content.  We'll finish the flick another time.  Gabbing with my girl will always take precedence. ;)  I loved every bit of the night!  These precious hours of one-on-one time are priceless!

(Side note:  I have seen Sweet Autumn before and it's a super sweet movie!  Definitely DVR-worthy if any of my fellow Hallmark fans wanna keep an eye out for its next airing.)  

Four  //  A Sweet Snack Date

If you've been around for a bit you may be familiar with my fondness for trying Limited Edition Oreos.  My youngest daughter is my favorite taste testing buddy.  She's also been a longtime Pokémon fan making these new limited edition goodies the perfect fit for some mom/daughter snacking fun! 

When new Oreos come out we're typically excited to enjoy a new creme flavor, but this time around it was all about the cookie.  They created 16 unique designs.  We took our cookies out one by one to see which we "caught".  We ended up with 14 Pokémon.  Not bad for one package!  I may have bought a second package at the store last night.  We'll see if we have a complete set yet.  Either way we'll have some dunkable yumminess ahead!  Anyone else having fun with these cute cookies?

Five  //  A Replacement of my Beloved Glass Pumpkin

Lastly I'll conclude this week's loves with a story of adoration, heartbreak, and restoration.  Okay, it's really just the tale of a glass pumpkin dish that I used to own and enjoy using each fall, until I clumsily dropped and broke that beautiful vessel for seasonal sweetness.  Every autumn since I have missed it.  I've kept an eye out for a replacement for years, but didn't see any in-store anywhere.  This year I became more dedicated to the hunt.  I spotted some overpriced on eBay.  I also tracked them down from the official brand (Anchor Hocking) on their website for $26.99 plus shipping.  I was just about to purchase it when lo and behold I spotted the same gorgeous glass gourd on Target's website for only ten bucks!  I scooped it up immediately!  I seriously opened the package with such joy singing, "Reunited and it feels so good!" haha! :)  Ten dollars well spent in my opinion.  It's the little things, my friends.   I haven't filled it yet, so I'll include a pic from 2015 of my last one, that's now resting in pieces.  Things are just things and in this case it could be replaced.  I have no doubt that seeing it will bring me more smiles than even the goodies inside!

That year it was filled with Pumpkin Spice Oreos.  This year my new one will hold another limited edition fall flavor, Apple Cider Donut Oreos.  I could put the Pokémon cookies inside, but apple will be more perfectly themed for a fall treat jar, don't you think? ;)

Thank you for stopping by today to hear about a handful of loves from my week!  I hope that you'll take a moment to reflect the goodness that was sprinkled throughout your own as well.  Always remember that a week doesn't have to be extraordinary to be great.  Our lives are made up of many ordinary days.  God's goodness can be seen in them all and for that I'm truly grateful!

A Note on Comment Replies:  

I've started replying to all comments right here on each blog post rather than via email.  Many of the sweet comments I've been receiving come from no-reply blogger accounts (simply meaning there isn't an email address visible for me to reply to) and I'd like to be able to respond to all who take the time to leave me a comment.  If you are so kind as to say, "Hello!" in the comment section below, I invite you to pop back by that post the next time you're here to see my response to you.  I aim to reply to each comment within one week of receiving it.  Thank you for reading, and if you have a moment and care to comment before you go, please know that hearing from you adds a smile to my day!  Either way, I appreciate you being here!  You are always welcome here in this corner of the blogosphere. :)  Take care, sweet friends!

Now I'm linking up with Andrea and Erika for another round of Friday Favorites!  

Earlier This Week on Chatting Over Chocolate:

Direct Link to Post - Trip Report Tuesday: Throwback Edition // OUR 20th ANNIVERSARY DAY!

Join me in the adventures to come!

Follow along on Bloglovin for future blog posts and on Instagram for snapshots and stories in between!

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Trip Report Tuesday: Throwback Edition // OUR 20th ANNIVERSARY DAY!

Welcome to an extra special edition of TRT, friends!  Today I will be recapping one of the most special days I've spent on Disney property, the day that Jason and I celebrated two decades of marriage!  I am immensely thankful to God for the gift of marriage and grateful that He has enabled us to love, learn, grow, forgive, and become stronger through all the storms of life.  He's shown us grace and enabled us to extend grace to each other.  Through trials we have grown in our relationship with God and have seen our marriage strengthened, far more than would've been possible had life been all smooth sailing.  When we took those vows for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness or health, we had very little understanding what that would look like.  We've now walked through each of those types of challenges and by God's grace we have come out the other side rooted firmly in Christ, hand in hand, hearts united.  I have no doubt many hardships that we cannot yet imagine await in this life to come, but I don't fear those days as I know the man I'm married to and the God whom we both place our trust in.  My life is richer and fuller because of the man who gave me his last name now nearly 23 years ago.  He loves me well, and strives to honor God in all he does.  He is a man of integrity and honor which is rare and wonderful.  His strong shoulders and loving arms have comforted me.  He makes me laugh like no one else.  His company cheers me.  His personality delights me.  From our girls' first cries to growing into adulthood, he's parented our darling daughters with such love, care, and wisdom.  He's my very best friend for life, the one I want to tell anything and everything to at the first opportunity.  Falling asleep and waking each new day at his side is a gift.  To sum it up simply, life is sweet, because he is mine.  God is so very kind.

Thank you for allowing me a moment to gush over my guy and praise our good God for the blessing of marriage!  Now, care to see the way we celebrated?  

Day 6 - Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Our Twentieth Wedding Anniversary

With wide smiles and celebratory Disney buttons, we were ready to begin this beautiful day!

We started our 20th anniversary at the park that was also celebrating its own 20th, Animal Kingdom!

I spotted this "20" photo op early on in our trip, but we saved our PhotoPass pics for this special, perfectly appropriate day!

It's always fun hopping in the AP entrance line! :)

We headed straight to my favorite section of the park, Pandora!

Lunch at Flame Tree BBQ

Selfies with Mount Everest

Hmm... what looked better, my man or my favorite meal at Animal Kingdom?  Sorry Flame Tree BBQ, you don't stand a chance in this match! :D

In our opinion, the best tables for dining at Flame Tree are located waterside with a view!

His and hers Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Pulled Pork.  I get mine sans slaw.

We also shared a pulled pork fries with cheese - YUM!  

Christmastime cuteness!  I absolutely adore Disney Parks holiday cups! 

Apple Cider Donut Holes from Isle of Java for a sweet lit'l post-lunch treat.

If you look closely you may be able to spot a Donald hat on this dino in celebration of Donald's Dino-bash.

Time for a blast from the past at Dinosaur!

A peek at the deets in the queue...

Extra Photopass pics since it was an extra special day! . . .  

We couldn't leave without a pic in front of a "20" banner!

Back home sweet vacation home at the Jambo House of Animal Kingdom Lodge!

Here's a candid view as we relaxed in our room.  You'll notice our "vacation candy", peanut butter M&Ms.  (We only buy those to take on vacay, so they basically taste like vacation by the bite. :))  You may also notice a couple purple party plates.  I always bring disposable plates from home and like choosing ones for any holiday or occasion we'll be celebrating while there.  This trip I picked purple and silver as those were our wedding colors.  Lastly I spy a cute Christmastime rapid refill mug that's likely filled with one of my two Disney faves, Coke Zero or Cherry Coke.  Shoes kicked off as we enjoyed some R&R.  Just beyond our balcony you can see the long neck of a gorgeous giraffe beckoning us outside.  Of course we obliged. :)

Time to get ready for a wonderful night out celebrating!  I brought jewelry from my late Grandma Pat who loved celebrating and taught me to make the most of every sweet occasion life brings.  I'm such a sentimental girl and this little touch felt super special.  It's the little things. :)

If you've been around here a bit, you may remember that Hollywood Studios is my favorite WDW park for Christmas decor.  We didn't originally have any evening time planned there this trip, but Jason graciously granted my wish to see the park in all its evening glory on the night of our 20th wedding anniversary.  There was only a half an hour window of time when the lights would be on before we needed to head to our dinner reservation, but Jason made it happen!

Further proof that my man loves me, although he's not a fan of having pics taken he didn't turn me down once whenever I requested a PhotoPass pic.  He's a good one, that Mr. of mine! :)

Our time there that night may have been brief, but it was one of my favorite moments of the trip.  Just as we approached the lake the tree lights came on - so magical!  We enjoyed such a sweet stroll around the lake.  I soaked up the beauty of those gorgeous glowing ornaments and left with a thankful heart that even after two decades together this man of mine is still making my wishes come true!

Good ol' Gertie was in the spirit too!

Pretty poodles after dark

Soon it was time to dash off to Disney's Contemporary Resort for our special celebratory dinner.  The night just kept getting better and better!

We chose California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort for our twentieth anniversary dinner.  This would be our first time enjoying a signature dining experience at Walt Disney World.  When you arrive at the Contemporary for a California Grill dining reservation you check in with a cast member and are then escorted on a special elevator dedicated to taking guests up to the 15th floor to the restaurant atop this deluxe resort.  From the start the tone is set that this is going to be a special experience.

We were escorted to a table that had been specially prepared for this occasion.  We found festive foil Mickey confetti scattered upon the linen tablecloth and a card wishing us a Happy Anniversary.

Our meal began as all good ones do, with warm bread.

Sourdough and dipping oil

We shared an appetizer of Braised Beef Short Rob Wontons.  They were delicious!

Jason went with an entree called Duck Two Ways.  The first course was served with tortillas on the side.  He really enjoyed the duck dish itself, but said if he had it again he'd skip using the tortillas as they only hid the flavor.

In keeping with my continual aim for transparency and honesty in sharing my thoughts on this blog, I will mention that the tables here were closer than I'd prefer.  Thankfully we were on the end so we didn't feel "closed in", but had I been seated one table over where the gentlemen a few feet from me was (seen in the lavender shirt in the bottom left corner, just to my right) I'm not sure I would've enjoyed it quite as much.  When splurging for a signature dining experience, being this close to the next couple isn't ideal in my opinion.  All that being said, it did not hinder our enjoyment of the meal or our time there celebrating.  I just thought it's worth noting in case someone reading this may consider a special meal there in the future too.  Just be aware that if you're dining as a couple or small group you'll likely have table within an arm's length of your own.

Jason's second course of duck was also much enjoyed.  My entree was incredible.  I'm having trouble finding exactly what it was called (the problem with sharing such a delayed trip report, the menu has long since changed).  It was a bison filet with gouda macaroni and cheese and was scrumptious!

That view.  Swoon!

The sight of Cinderella Castle and Space Mountain from our table was swoon-worthy too!

Time for sweets with my Sweet.

Naturally I went with the dessert with the most chocolate involved. ;)  Look at that warm chocolate sauce flowing from the middle.  Be still my heart!

Jason went with a perfect choice for his taste too, a pear crème brûlée!

A complimentary treat in celebration of our anniversary was also brought out with dessert, gourmet gumdrops.

A happy hubby on a very wonderful night!

We left the Contemporary fully satisfied and ready to continue this celebration one monorail stop away at Disney's Grand Floridian.  If you've read my previous trip reports you may remember that we visited their lobby earlier in our trip and learned that the gingerbread display would be officially opening on November 14th for it's 20th Anniversary too!  I requested that we visit on the evening of both our 20th and the 20th anniversary of the Grand's gingerbread display.  This visit was another gift to my heart. :)

Here is the view as you walk off the monorail and into the Grand.  We looked out at the band (which sadly Disney has since let go) and the gorgeous gingerbread house!

We relaxed and happily soaked up the sweet atmosphere.  It was bliss!

We concluded our night at Magic Kingdom.  After all, that stunning, sparkling castle needed to be part of our special day too!

If you've ever had a good laugh in person with me you may know why I posed with this pic.  Haha!

We took a sweet evening stroll out of Magic Kingdom and back to our rental car parked at the Contemporary.  If you look at the top floor with those lovely lights you can see where we enjoyed our anniversary dinner.  What a night to remember!

Thank you so much for visiting today and allowing me the joy of sharing this milestone day of memories with you!

In Case You Missed It:

Direct Link to Previous Trip Report Tuesday Post - 

TRT // 20th Wedding Anniversary WDW Trip Day 1

TRT // 20th Wedding Anniversary WDW Trip Day 2

TRT // 20th Wedding Anniversary WDW Trip Day 3

TRT // 20th Wedding Anniversary WDW Trip Day 4

TRT // 20th Wedding Anniversary WDW Trip Day 5

Join me in the adventures to come!
Follow along on Bloglovin for future blog posts and on Instagram for snapshots and stories in between!