Monday, October 31, 2011

Katie's Birthday - Agua

My birthday is only 10 tens after Brent's (technically a year and 10 days...can't forget I'm younger!), which means lots of fun and celebrations in October. Brent planned an awesome b-day get-together with friends the Friday before - he even made homemade lasagna for everyone! I'll post those pictures later...still haven't gotten through them yet. But in the meantime, here are pictures from our date to Agua on my actual birthday.

Birthday girl - 27 years old

We've been to Agua four times before this, twice for dinner and twice for Sunday brunch. The first time we went, I fell IN LOVE with the brandy lobster crepes. I got them again for our anniversary date last year. I was shocked when I found out they were no longer on the menu (and even more shocked when they said they changed the menu 9 months ago)! I told her it was my birthday and asked if the chef could still make them for me. She went to the kitchen, and amazingly, the chef said yes! I was so happy! Brent actually ordered something from the old menu too, and since we were special ordering we decided to get an appetizer to pass the time. I'm so glad we was delicious!

Grilled Shrimp served over Homemade Potato Gnocchi sauteed in a creamy Saffron sauce

After our appetizer, Brent gave me my present. This wrapping is always a good sign :)

I was really surprised because we agreed not to do presents for each other this year (yes, I'm the bad wife who didn't get anything for my husband's birthday, and then he gets me Tiffany's earrings for mine...) I have the world's SWEETEST husband.

Dinner arrived while I was still admiring my new earrings. Brent's Sauteed Shrimp in Champagne Rice:

My Brandy Lobster Crepes! You better believe I enjoyed every bite of these knowing it would probably be my last time tasting them.

So, when I told the server it was my birthday, she asked my name. I said "Katie" and she said, "Well, happy birthday, Kaley." I thought, ah, what's the point of correcting her? Then after dinner she brings out this:

Haha, Brent said this will teach me to better enunciate my name.

As always though, the service was above and beyond. I just love this restaurant. And I love, love, love this guy:

My second island birthday was a success. It's weird to think that we will be back in Cincinnati when we are celebrating next year!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Brent's Birthday - Lobster Pot

Brent's birthday fell on a Saturday this year, so we got to do a two-part birthday celebration last weekend. On Friday night we got together with seven of our friends for a pizza and Community Season 2 marathon. Jeremy and Sheena were nice enough to host since our apartment couldn't accommodate that many people. We had such a fun time. I think we got through eight episodes!

On Saturday, Brent and I were planning a relaxing day at the beach, but it looked pretty cloudy. So we decided to walk to the Westin and browse their shops and lobby. While we were there, it started downpouring, so we just claimed a couch and watched the rain. When it slowed enough to head home, we stopped at Cost U Less and bought a pumpkin. We were going to carve it that afternoon, but ended up taking a long nap instead. It was a very low key birthday!

That evening we went on a date to Lobster Pot. It was our first time there and I thought the atmosphere was very charming. It's a small restaurant with lots of windows that overlook the water. It was dark when we got there, but still had a nice cozy vibe.

The menu

Brent wanted to order escargot for an appetizer, and I couldn't refuse the birthday boy :) It was baked in herb-garlic butter and actually really tasty.

My favorite part of the menu was the "Famous Fufu Drinks." I got the Fresh Banana Kahlua Colada. It had Kahlua, Appleton Gold, banana rum, fresh banana, coconut ice cream, and pineapple juice. Brent and I both agreed it was our favorite thing we ordered!

For dinner I got the Lobster Bisque and an appetizer platter that had conch fritter, lobster-crab cake, and crispy fried shrimp in beer batter. Brent got the Surf and Turf platter with steak and lobster.

The steak wasn't great, but the drink and escargot ranked high in our book. And we had such a good time together, I would definitely like to go back.

Happy, happy birthday to my amazing husband! I love you so much!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy One Year

So yesterday was our 100th post, and today is the one year anniversary of our move to Grand Cayman. Big milestones around here people.

October 18, 2010...
I was waking up with swollen eyes after crying through sister goodbyes the night before. Unbelievably, we still had one more errand to run before our flight - getting the title for the car we sold to Lorren and Cole. Here's how Brent described the morning in a post written October 19, 2010: "After driving around aimlessly for quite a while, we finally found the right building....I'm fairly certain that the woman who helped us was an angel from God because she was so friendly and so helpful in a very stressful situation (trying to get a title to a car 3 hours before our flight to Cayman)....We arrived at the airport and the bags weighed 47.5, 49, 48.5, and 69 (oops $50 fee)." I remember sitting at the airport, feeling...everything. Excited, sad, anxious, worried, relieved to finally be on our way. Our first days in Grand Cayman were surreal, I felt bewildered that we were actually doing this. It was crazy that our wild island-living dream was really happening.

October 18, 2011...
I wake up to Walter jumping on the bed and putting his cold nose in my eye socket. Brent's getting dressed and says "Hey, waking her up is supposed to be my job." Then he proceeds to tell me that the toilet was running all night and we need to get a plumber. I walk out to the kitchen and realize that the quiche I made for dinner yesterday is still sitting on the counter because I wanted it to cool before I put it in the refrigerator. We are out of milk (again), so we eat toaster strudels for breakfast. Brent asked me if he could drink some of the orange juice, then says nevermind, it expired 5 days ago. Oops, I used it to make our green monster smoothies last night.

If that isn't an ordinary, slightly un-paradise morning, I don't know what is.

In light of how "normal" life seems now, it's amusing to look back and recall those first feelings. Every time Brent and I walk to Sunshine Grill, we are flooded with the emotions we felt our first two weeks at that hotel.

I think Lorren and Cole were surprised when Brent told them that I had a hard time adjusting to the move. Maybe I didn't document those emotions well enough on the blog. The first two weeks were like an extremity roller coaster. One moment I was beyond-words thrilled to be in this beautiful postcard paradise, and the next moment I was so, so sad with longing for my home and family. I was overjoyed to have such great friends from the start; I was hating living out of boxes and feeling "unsettled." I was loving having Brent to myself; I was missing the convenience of the good old USA. It was up and down, up and down.

Week three was probably the hardest for me. I was stressed trying to make a decision about a job offer in the States, we still had not found an apartment so we had to pay for an extra night in the hotel, Brent was starting work, and then we moved into a studio apartment that didn't have a desk so I was working at the kitchen counter. I was kind of mess. But I think that low point really forced me to turn around my attitude. I realized (and this is a perspective I have held onto for the last 12 months), that this time on island is limited. I only have 21 months here, and I want to make the most of them. I need to enjoy all the things things I love about the island while I can, and focus less on what I miss about the States. Because I 100% know that one day I will be back in Cincinnati, thinking "Man, I wish I was back on the beach!" Not only is this island beautiful, it is also represents a brief moment of our lives with little responsibility - no kids, no hectic schedule, no house to clean or weeds to battle. Just like God told me in that dream, it is a gift. A season meant to restore and re-energize us for what comes next.

So I have no fun pictures for this post, but just wanted to share my heart. I'll open up the floor to our readers now, if you want. If you have any questions you would like to ask about our life on island - what surprised us the most, what we miss the most, favorite things to do - leave it in a comment and we'll do our best to answer.

Happy one year to us!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lorren and Cole Visit - Part 2

I have to start by saying this is the 100th post on our little Grand Life blog. That feels like a bit of an achievement. Hope you've enjoyed following along with our adventure so far. I know it's been a blessing for me to be able to look back on old posts and fondly remember those first crazy weeks on island (and to realize how amazingly God has blessed us on this journey).

Now onto the purpose of this post...Lorren and Cole's visit - Part 2! After brunch on Sunday, we went snorkeling at Cemetery Beach.

Lorren asked me to hold her rings while she was in the water. I managed to snap a couple pictures before I got too nervous that a big wave would come and wisk them away!

We didn't have great weather for the week - it was pretty overcast with light showers throughout the day. On Monday is was rain, rain, and more rain all day long! We did have one really sunny day on Thursday, which provided the requisite Cayman sunburn. But for the most part it was on and off drizzle. L&C said they were glad it wasn't super hot and sunny, so I'm hopeful the weather didn't completely ruin their trip. I was only a little disappointed because we didn't get to do as many outdoor dining options for dinner.

Cole really enjoyed snorkeling, and spent a couple mornings on Seven Mile Beach. Here he is with one of his finds - a king conch! Don't worry, it was released back into the ocean.

On Tuesday we went to George Town. There were two cruise ships in that day (including the Disney cruise) so there was a nice festive feel.

The incredible "It's Sugar" candy store

It started drizzling so we stopped to get drinks at Breezes. I love the covered outdoor porch overlooking the water.

On Wednesday we went to Rum Point. I was thrilled - Rum Point is my favorite Grand Cayman spot. Love those hammocks!

On Thursday afternoon we went to Spotts Beach (I didn't bring my camera), and then went to Grand Old House for their $10 made-to-order Pasta Night. These pictures were taken at Lime Tree Bay before dinner.

Beautiful view

On their last night, Lorren wanted to do a dinner on the beach, so we got Kelly's Cajun Grill and watched the sunset. It wasn't the normal beautiful display of colors, but the dark clouds were pretty. We also got to watch some lightning in the distance which was really cool.

We had such a great time with Lorren and Cole. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to hang out just the four of us. We had some great talks and played games every night. It was a week I will always remember. Brent and I are very grateful that they took the vacation time, saved the money and left their kids for a week so they could visit us. We love you guys!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Lorren and Cole Visit - Part 1

Brent's sister and brother-in-law came to visit last week, and we had such a great time! I'm slowly but surely getting through my pictures. I'll break it up so I can share what I have so far.

We were so anxious to see Lorren and Cole that we got to the airport early on Saturday and waited on the overhang for the airplane to come in. Cole called us while still in the plane to say he could see us waving! Can you see them in this picture? Lorren is waving behind the stone wall...

We went directly from the airport to Triple Crown for lunch. They have the BEST veggie burgers there. Yum yum!

That evening we went to Camana Bay. We checked out the shops and browsed the book store. I'll tell you what, every time I go there I am more impressed with this place. There is such attention to details in the planning and architecture. The mosiacs from the observation tower are repeated in arches and bathrooms. It's such a fun place to explore.

Enjoying the view from the observation tower

We went to Abacus for dinner. Brent and Lorren got the seabass. My pork tenderloin is pictured below, as well as Cole's steak. Everything was delicious!

On Sunday, we went to Agua's brunch after church. Brent and I haven't gone since his parents' visit, and I was so excited to repeat the experience!

Cole and I enjoying our bottomless champagne

I didn't take many food pictures since I got so many last time. But I couldn't resist snapping a shot of these beautiful desserts!

Cole suggested we eat our dessert on the outside patio, and I'm so glad we did. It was great to lounge on the couches and just enjoy each other's company.

That's it for this post. I'll pick up with Sunday afternoon in the next one!