London Town

It’s the Holiday season!  My favorite time of year!  Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Food and Presents.  Cold weather and cute clothes.  What’s not to love?  It’s also a special time of year for Kevin and I as we get ready to celebrate our 1-year wedding anniversary.  This time last year we were tying up all the loose ends and preparing for our big day and now we’re preparing to jet set across the country to spend Thanksgiving and our anniversary in Denver Colorado.  Home to the Denver Broncos and what we hope to be delicious food and fun times.

As you know, Kevin’s spirit animal is a plane, boat or train.  He loves to travel.  I love that I get to tag along, even though I’m admittedly a very whiney traveler.  I’m basically a child and unless I’m fed, bathed and napped, I will probably be grumpy at times.  Travel isn’t my forte, but I love being with him nonetheless.

Over the summer we spent 2 weeks in Europe which was quite an adventure.  We went to London, Scotland, Amsterdam and France.

London:

After an overnight flight direct from Orlando to London, we arrived groggy from all the wine and xanax necessary to sleep on an 8-hour flight.  We got checked into our adorable little flat, where I changed clothes and put on a brand new pair of converse.  At the time I thought I looked awesome, but neglected to consider sightseeing in brand new shoes.  London is a fairly walkable city, so we walked.  And we walked.  And we walked.  I ended the day with blisters on every toe.  Day 1 Fail.

Day 2, I spent in flip-flops.  More comfortable?  Yes.  But the looks I received from the locals were furrowed brows of confusion.  Given that I was the only person in the entire city wearing flip-flops, the dirty looks were justified.  I’m the dummy. I get it.  That evening, new comfy shoes were purchased.  We saw Les Miserables on Broadway which was so incredibly amazing.  I can’t say enough good things about it.

Our third day in London we had the greatest experience of our entire trip and it’s one I must get into in great detail.  While visiting with some of Kevin’s friends he’d met during his many travels, it was recommended that we do a proper tea.  One place in particular they raved about.  We made a reservation and at the time I didn’t think anything of putting down our credit card to secure the reso.  In hindsight, we should have seen this as a gigantic red flag.  Given that this was a casual trip and most of our time was spent walking around enjoying London, we dressed in clothes befitting of walking.  Basically, workout clothes.  Kevin had on jeans and a hoodie with converse and I think I was wearing tennis shoes, yoga pants and a t-shirt.  We arrived at our proper tea.  The entrance was covered in flowers which we admired as we approached the hostess stand.  We informed the hostess we had reservations and she ushered us farther into the establishment.  “Why is the staff so dressed up?  Why is everyone in suits and ties?  Should I have worn my ball gown?  BOLLOCKS!”  We had to proceed because we’d be charged for the full service if we didn’t.  We walked down some steps through the “champagne parlor”  (Yes, thats right.  A champagne parlor) and into the room to the right.  Oh, how to describe the room to the right?  It was pink.  The walls were pink, the chairs were pink.  There were chandeliers.  It was every little girls tea time dream come true.  Obviously, Kevin and I stuck out like a sore thumb.  We weren’t dressed for tea, but rather, a jog.  I played it cool and Kevin completely stopped talking.  I was now married to a mute and I was on my own to repair this disaster.  We were seated next to an elderly couple who gave us similar looks to the ones I received while wearing flip-flops.  I wanted to say, “Oh don’t mind us…  I mistakenly packed my ball gown in my OTHER bag….  Trust me, I would have fit right in”  We were given the menus and after a quick once over, I was convinced we’d been given the wrong menu.  “$100 per person for Tea?!  Is this for real?”  Since Kevin was suffering from sudden onset muteness, I had to tell the waitress we’d been misinformed and thought we could have a spot of tea for a couple bucks, not a tea and crumpet feast that would cost as much as an actual ball gown.  We gathered our things, gave dirty looks back to the elderly couple and were ushered into the front parlor with all the normal people having tea.  We were still underdressed, but we were out of the twilight zone, so we felt a little better.

We enjoyed our tea and then Kevin had to pee.  He was gone for about 5 minutes and came back and told me I had to go to the bathroom.  I told him if I had to walk back into the cotton candy pink room filled with dirty looks and disgust, I’d hold it.  Again, he said, I had to go to the bathroom.  I thought this was weird, but knew it’d be something worth the walk of shame.  I cooly and casually walked back through the room and up the stairs (yup) to the next set of stairs to the bathroom.  Remember in Willie Wonka when they walk into the factory for the first time through the very tiny shrinking door?  That’s the best way I can describe this bathroom.  I’ll save the description because I won’t do it justice.  Here’s a picture of the pink parlor and bathroom.  Classic…. HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

bathroomsketch-restaurant

—-> Marriage and all that.

I realize as I’m posting this that our blog jumped from engagement, to almost one year post nuptials.

***Small recap- we got married on 11/27/15- We had the best time with our friends and family.  We honeymooned in Jamaica and it was paradise.  We came home and fast-forward, here we are now.  I promise to post more often.  I love to write and hopefully you love to read what I write, so it’s a win-win, right?***

As we approach the one-year benchmark in our marriage, I’ve spent a great deal of time reflecting on how we did.  If there was a marriage competition and we were graded on various aspects such as compromise, or discussing finances, how would we measure up?  Would we get a gold star and a pat on the head, or would we get sent to the Principal’s office with a big F-U?  I hope we aren’t that bad!

Kevin is my very best friend in the world.  He isn’t perfect, not even close.  But he has his strengths and his weaknesses.  What God knew when he picked Kevin for me, was that he would be strong in the areas where I am not and he would be weak in the areas where I am strong.  God knew that it was this man that would lead the life of our family, be my rock and provide a balance to keep us steady.  God understands balance better than any person and it’s in his timing that things works out to a peaceful resolve.  Isaiah 40:12 says, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the Earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in a pair of scales?”  God did all that and he did it perfectly, so it should come as no surprise that he aligned my stars to meet this crazy cute guy that would be the ebb to my flow.

This year has presented us challenges.  Big challenges.  We are a work in progress and we will be a work in progress until we are celebrating together in our super awesome golden palace in the sky.  But for now, our life here together is just as it should be.  There have been laughs, struggles, conversations, debates, disagreements, arguments, cold shoulders, kisses, loves and time spent together filled with tears and filled with joy.  This is life.  It can’t be any more real than anything we’ve experienced.

I consistently seek self improvement outside of Kevin and outside of our marriage.  I’ve struggled this year to be a better person.  Marriage has a funny way of outing your most unattractive qualities.  It’s like a dirty magnet, and our bad attitudes are the metal shavings.  My new years resolution was to go with the flow, not take things so seriously and to work on having a more positive attitude.  Let me tell you, this was not easy.  I am an uptight control freak who can be opinionated and angers easily.  I have attitude and go from hot to cold in a second.  I am not passive aggressive and I will tell you how I feel.  The list goes on and on, but these are my admissions of areas where I knew I was failing and bringing down our dynamic.  Our dynamic is something I’m incredibly proud of, so to know I was putting this into jeopardy really scared me and made me really sad.  Me?  Guilty?  Yup.  We just click and that’s something I will tell anyone who will listen.  We’re on the same page and we got married because we welcomed the challenge of ‘till death do us part.  We affectionately refer to ourselves as a “unit.”  “You jump I jump, right?”  Exactly.  But we are a unit because we fight for it.  Because we communicate ad nauseum and we say the hard things that need to be said.  Because we don’t just work on our marriage from a collective standpoint, but also an individual one.  We are still our own selves, after all, and we bring our unique sets of qualities to the table and it’s this puzzle that marriage works to put together in just the right fit.

I say all of this for me and for us, but for others who we cherish and we ask to hold us accountable in our daily walk together.  We admit that we aren’t perfect and that our smiles and pictures on Facebook are shrouded by sadness sometimes.  But when I look back at our year, we wouldn’t be the people we are without marriage.  We are better people because we got married and because we’ve had to fight so much harder at creating a new environment where we live as a unit.  I am his, and he is mine and as difficult as things can be, the reward is so great.

We will be celebrating our first Thanksgiving as husband and wife and first wedding anniversary in the vibrant city, Denver Colorado.

Just call me a future Mrs.

I’m the worst at keeping up a blog. Can it be a mid-year resolution? To blog more? Let’s see…

Since my last post in March, I’ve really done a lot of working. But that’s not exciting at all, so what else has happened….. Yup, Kevin and I got engaged! I of course said YES, and soon enough I’ll be a Benson. Kevin proposed on August 28th, in Aruba at an ocean front restaurant called Old Man by the Sea. It’s a long, very romantic story that is told much better in person. I’d be very very happy to tell it to anyone who would be willing to listen. I have never been so surprised in my life and he pulled it off without a hitch. He’s such an amazing man and I consider myself to be a very lucky girl.

We haven’t set a date, or picked a location, but my pinterest page would indicate this wedding is planned. Have you ever planned a wedding? It’s stressful. Like, really stressful. There are literally about a million decisions to make and no clear direction on how to make them. I was never one of those girls that dreamed of this day, so I feel almost clumsy in my attempts to decide on even the smallest little insignificant detail. I know I want a pretty dress, an amazing photographer, and a sexy groom waiting for me at the alter. 1 outta 3 so far aint bad, mmmmk?

Throughout the wedding planning process, I promise to share in the experiences that lead us to choose blues and greens, versus grey and yellow… or whatever. Kevin and I think we’re funny, so I’m sure our year of planning will be humorous. We’re venturing into this with excitement and with positive attitudes that I can only assume will deteriorate rapidly over time. My greatest hope is to not be the world’s most haggard bride when it’s over.. Wish me luck!

Another fun surprise: We close on our first home tomorrow! Housewarming post to follow!

CHEERS!

proposal

Long, loooooong hiatus! Kash is back!

Hellloooo everyone! Holy cow what a crazy couple of months. As anyone who at one point was following this blog knows, I haven’t posted in a very long time. I do apologize, as I’ve been told by several different people, on several different occasions, that people actually read this thing! I last posted right around Halloween and oh boy! Things have changed.

Kevin and I are both employed! Yippee! He’s been working since November and I started my job on January 6…… I was hired by Geico as a field claims adjuster, but had to complete 3 months of training before getting to do my actual job. I have 2 weeks left and couldn’t be more excited! The training process is very intense, very stressful and I probably have a million more grey hairs now than I did when I started because it was seriously one of the hardest things I’ve ever done… Seriously……… I had 1/3 of my colon removed and this might have been more difficult, just to give you an idea.

Anyway, the first 3 weeks were spent in Tampa and I spent the 2nd portion of the training (all of February) freezing my BUTT off in DC. We had “graduation” last Friday before flying home in which the students with the top 5 scores were announced and I am pleased to announce that yours truly, was NUMBER 4!!!!! Given what I’ve been through, and how hard I worked, I couldn’t have been more excited! All I did was study, study, study and now I get to throw my hands up! And they stay there…….!

Anyway, I’m back in Tampa this week and next and then I finally get to come home for good and start on the job training. This has been a once in a lifetime experience, but I am truly ready to lead a normal life again.

Kevin has been so supportive and my biggest cheerleader throughout this experience which has helped me to press on when I was on the verge of breaking down. I know this has been difficult for him as well since our longest conversation during the weeks was maybe 15 minutes and I was rushed to chat because I needed to continue with my studies…. He flew up to visit me for valentines day and we had the most wonderful time. Second valentines together and it was perfect!

This past Friday after scooping me up from the airport, we enjoyed dinner together at The Ravenous Pig….. Ummm… If you’ve never been there, you gotta go. It is super good, and by super, I mean THE BEST! I love dinner dates with Kevin and love that we’re getting quality time together again. I’ve missed that sexy man!

Saturday we did a little shopping and Saturday eve, drove to the beach! We had dinner and margaritas, turned in early, then were awoken by the most beautiful sunrise!!! We made some coffee and were out the door for fun in the sun! The sky was clear, the air was light…. Until the FOG rolled in! Not 20 minutes after we selected our sunning chairs (@ 10am), the stupid anomaly-almost-afternoon-fog decided to block all the sun and make it kind of cold. This apparently NEVER happens so go figure it would happen the first time we visit the beach in months. We left and 2 minutes inland the skies were completely clear and beautiful… “Um, beach? Next time I visit, could the fog rise at a normal time? Like before the sun? Ya, thanks…”

Now that my crazy schedule is getting a little more normal, I promise to post much, much more! This weekend, we’ll be heading to Epcot for the flower and garden festival…. Post to follow! Have a wonderful week everyone!!

-Ashlee

20140303-195449.jpg

20140303-195458.jpg

Trevi Fountain.

Trevi Fountain is a fountain in the Trevi district in Rome, Italy.  It was designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Pietro Bracci.  Kevin and I were lucky enough to visit this amazing beauty on our visit to Rome.  Given that everyone else visiting Rome was also there that day, it was difficult to get a really good shot of the whole thing without people heads everywhere, but I’m super stoked about how these turned out.  If you ever get a chance to visit, you should.. And don’t forget to make a wish!!

-Ash

Trevy Fountain (1 of 1)

Trevy Fountain (2 of 1)

Charleston, Ya’ll.

Hellllo blog followers! Sorry for the radio silence, but I’m ready to get you all caught up on what we’ve been up to since I last posted! We’ve been back from our travels together for two months now and I think we’re finally getting into a groove and getting settled in… I think…

The holidays are upon us which is so EXCITING! I absolutely love this time of year. Kevin and I started dating this time last year and on Thanksgiving he informed me for the first time, that he was basically head over heels in love with me… So yes, this is the season for LOVE… I love Kevin, and pumpkins and spice and leaves and cool weather and Christmas decorations (which are already being put in various places all over Central Florida) and Christmas music and Thanksgiving food and presents and spending time with loved ones, and the list goes on and on. Do any of you have fun plans for the Holidays???????

Anyway, I digress….. Here’s a brief update of some things we’ve done and some upcoming plans in our lives:

Kevin decided several weeks ago that we should take a trip.  He’s being the most diligent student ever, studying daily to prepare for his upcoming GMAT and I’m just bored most days because I’m still not working (Hopefully a job on the horizon soon….  YAY!!), so I was more than agreeable to get away for a good time.  We decided to visit Charleston because neither of us had ever been, and we’d heard only amazing things about it. It was settled, and we were South Carolina bound.  We spent two days sight seeing and indulging in the GREATEST food EVER, and as always, enjoyed spending quality time together talking, and laughing and experiencing such a beautiful, magical place.

As I mentioned earlier, Kevin has been studying and studying and studying for his GMAT, which coincidentally, is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 7am. I’m so excited for him to take the test so he can put this behind him! I’m so proud of him and all of his hard work preparing and I know he’s going to do great! WISH HIM LUCK!

As for me, I’m excited about a possible job opportunity that I’m interviewing for on Wednesday. I’ve worked in the insurance industry for about six years and this would take me out of sales and put me into a corporate setting working within the claims department as an analyst. I’m super excited about the opportunity and pray all goes well!

For now, I say farewell and close with this photo montage… HAPPY MONDAY!:
DSC00144
DSC00146

DSC00164

DSC00173

DSC00175

DSC00176

Fall and Spice and Everything Nice.

Kevin and I have been home for a little over a month, and we’re finally adjusting to normal life together. We signed the lease on our apartment, got it all decorated and it’s turning out to be quite a cozy little place. We’re both actively seeking employment and hope to see some results from our efforts REAL soon….. “God, please give us jobs.. We’re bored.” We’re also both researching plans on continuing our education… Me finishing up my bachelors, and Kevin embarqing on his masters. I have at least one more semester at Valencia, but will be applying to UF and if all goes to plan will be starting there in the Fall of 2014. FINGERS CROSSED!

Since coming home we’ve visited with friends and family and were lucky enough to attend a Gator game two weekends ago. As Fall is upon us, and THANKFULLY the weather is changing, I’m fully embracing this amazing season. I love to cook and love to bake even more than I love to cook, so let the experimenting begin! I’d be lost without pinterest, as this is my new and very favorite go-to for the best recipes EVER. It’s also helping me plan for the future home I’ll have, as well as how I’ll be decorating it and filling up my wardrobe with endless perfect outfits. A girl can dream, right? Anyway, Kevin had some out of town family visiting recently and we were asked to bring a dessert for the family dinner. I love pumpkin and I love spice and I love cookies and I love sugar, so it was obvious what I should do… Stalk pinterest to find something that incorporates all of these things, and find it I did! Pumpkin spice sugar cookies, with a sugary frosty glaze. Oh, yum yum. They are seriously delicious. If you can bake, and want a tastey treat to impress everyone you know at an upcoming office party, or just to eat because you’re craving a yummy cookie, do it. Even if you don’t want cookies, bake them because someone will devour these little gems.

We met most of our neighbors last night and were invited to Thursday nights, monthly “neighbor party,” so I’ll be making another batch as it will surely gain me lots of new best friends.

Try these!! DO IT!
Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies

Soft Glazed Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

Until next time! Happy Pumpkin Spice Everything!
-Ash