Wedding Registries Part Deux: Off Registry Gifts

Gifting off registry. This can get tricky.

As a guest I typically don’t recommend it. If you know the couple very well and genuinely believe that they’ll love what you’re gifting them, I’d cautiously say go for it. However, they made these registries to help guests who don’t know what to get them and to help stock their new home together with essentials (and some non-essentials). And if you do decided to gift off registry, try not to be hurt or insulted if they choose to return or exchange your gift for something else (assuming you give them a gift receipt).

If you choose to make a gift for them, I’d do some research and ask the couple if they’d want, enjoy, or have use for what you’re making for them.

As a couple, remember these gifts and gift registries are just guidelines. They aren’t hard-fast rules for guests, that they must buy off of, and you shouldn’t expect to get everything off of them. If someone chooses to gift you something off registry, regardless of how much you do or do not like it, graciously accept it. They put the time and effort in to deliberately choose (or make!!) something that they thought you would like, want, or need, and you should thank them kindly for it. If the gifter chooses to give you gift receipt for the item and you genuinely don’t want or need it, then you can certainly return or exchange it. But be prepared for any potential follow up questions, like why, from the gifter. If there’s no gift receipt, hold onto it and use the item as often or infrequent as you desire, or choose to donate it appropriately.

Couples, please do not be upset or offended if someone gives you something off registry. Not everyone is tech savvy and can navigate your online registry. Sometimes that older relative believes you need these crystal wine glasses or paisley serving dish for holidays rather than that Amazon Echo you’ve been eyeing. Depending on what you put on the registry, your friend or family member might not be able to comfortably afford anything on there.

One friend of ours was always so offended and upset when someone would send them something off registry because “she had no use for it” or “it was ugly” or “what was the point of making these registries if you’re not going to get something off of it” and “at least we’ll be able to get the money back, or at least store credit, and can get something we actually want.” Every time she ranted on this, I would cringe. Be thankful you’re getting these gifts at all! Be grateful that they thought of you when buying these items, that they thought you could use them well. Even if you don’t like them, send a thank you note and gush over how wonderful, thoughtful, and kind they are. This is doubly true if you created only a money fund or honey fund (whichever platform you choose) and didn’t register for physical gifts at all.

If money is extraordinarily tight for your guest, remind them that their attendance is gift enough. I know I’d rather celebrate with you in person than you send your regrets and struggle to get something for us. Weddings are about celebrating love, not getting everything off the gift registries.

I know I’m repeating myself but I needed to get this off my chest.

Shabbat Shalom

Wedding Registries: Brainstorming & Beginnings

Kass and I have been engaged for about 7 months now and we’ve finally gotten around to start making our wedding registries. This has been a small struggle for us for a handful of reasons. First of all, it feels awkward and almost selfish to list out specific gifts that we would want people to give us. Secondly, we already live together and have a lot of housewares already, so what do we include? Third, asking flat out for money (whether cash or money towards a honeymoon registry) we feel is tacky (although we know not all agree, you do you folks) so we’ve decided against that. Finally, we’re doing a small ceremony and then reception/dinner a few months later for those we couldn’t invite to the ceremony, so any wedding registry we make needs to stay open long enough for both events.

The Knot’s Wedding Registry Etiquette breaks a lot of these registry and gift rules, do’s/don’ts and such down pretty clearly (and has some honestly solid advice). I’d definitely give it a solid read-through before you begin creating any registries.

So on topic #1: Asking for gifts. We’re not including the link(s) or store information for our registries in our invitations (again tacky/rude), but we will include information to our wedding website. (I’ll be writing a separate post on that, so stay tuned.) From there friends, family, and guests can get more information on the registries and everything else related to our wedding. If there’s anything we don’t get (of which we assume a lot) we can buy it for ourselves at our convenience. All of the items one here are wants/it would be nice if, rather than absolute needs.

Where do you even register? What should you include? It honestly gets overwhelming pretty fast.

Picking a place or multiple places has been honestly a small challenge. In my research, blogs, magazines, and websites all have varying pieces of advice but boil down these few key pieces:

  1. Register at at least 2 places but no more than 5 or so
  2. Make sure the registry incentives/perks work for you
  3. Include storage (especially for any china you may add)
  4. The way you entertain now will not be how you entertain in five or ten years, so plan ahead!
  5. Timeless timeless timeless (if it’s too trendy you might not want or like it in five years!)
  6. Include things that you’ll actually use (ex. if you’re really into camping, include things like that)
  7. Keep your guests’ budgets in mind. Have things for all price points (broke college friend who can barely afford to come vs rich relative who wants to buy you some crystal candlesticks or something like that).
  8. Charity. Make donating an option. Choose a charity or organization either you want to donate to or give your guests a series of options of where to donate.

First we settled on an Amazon registry. We already have AmazonPrime so I believe a shipping (and shopping) discount is included. It’s also a universal registry, so you can easily add items from outside of Amazon if there are better deals elsewhere or if the item isn’t found on Amazon. It’s also helpful if you only want one or two items from a store and it’s not worth it to create a separate registry. What I love about Amazon in general you can read all the reviews to see if something is good quality, will last etc. which you can’t really get in stores. The full list of Amazon Registry benefits can be found here.

We’ve created a second registry at Crate & Barrel for things like glassware and tableware. We have everyday table settings already, and are inheriting a set of china from my grandmother (which is incomplete so when we take inventory of that, we’ll add to it to complete it), but what we have isn’t lasting very well (thanks IKEA). That and we hate our silverware and how old and beat up it is (sorry mom). I absolutely recommend going into stores like Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, Target, or Bed, Bath, & Beyond in person because you have an opportunity to touch and feel items to make sure you like them in person rather than seeing them solely online.

To help you start figuring out where to register, I’d check out these places:

The Knot’s Top 26

Vogue’s Top 22

Bride’s Top 27

Bride’s Rewards & Perks Breakdown

So on what to include:
Well, the easiest place we found to start was the kitchen. We’ve included some kitchen gadgets, like baking items and a food scale. We have a Kitchenaide stand mixer that I inherited from my grandmother that was made in the 1960s I believe. The only reason we included one is because the one we have is a bit small (only 4 or 4.5 qt, rather than 5 or 6qt which is today’s standard) and since our current one is so old, it needs some maintenance to function safely, as it sat on the counter for many years (honestly probably about two decades) collecting dust.

I asked one of our chefs at the restaurant I work at for recommendations for knife sets, because that is something that can get very pricey very quickly if you’re not careful. His favorite brand is Victorinox, which he uses both at home and in the restaurant kitchen. They’re not crazy expensive, especially compared to some other brands out there, and are NSF (National Sanitary Foundation) approved which is pretty neat. We settled on this 15 piece set which includes a set of stake knives, which we absolutely need.

Outside the kitchen, we included more sheets and towels. We love board and card games so we included a few of those, like Jenga and Scrabble, to expand our ever-growing collection. Our splurge item is an iRobot Roomba to help keep the cat hair/dander and dust down.

After speaking to my mom and a few more observant friends, we’ve (I’ve) decided not to register for any Judaica at this time. Not that I don’t want any, but rather would like to pick out the pieces myself. I might create a Judaica-specific registry in time but most couples, at least according to my mother, use the money gifted to them to purchase their Judaica together. My other friends were gifted much of their Judaica at their bridal shower and only registered for home essentials/decor that they didn’t already have. I’m still rather torn, truth be told, over the issue. What do you recommend? I’m not really finding any solid advice online.

To start brainstorming your own list (and to take inventory of what you already have) I’d recommend starting here:

The Knot’s Ultimate Wedding Registry Check List

Buzzfeed’s Compilation of Ultimate Registry Items

FrumBride’s Wedding Registry Check List

Wedding Yenta’s Very Jewish Wedding Registry List

OneCountry: 50 Things You Didn’t Know You Needed

Emmaline Bride: 9 Things I Wish I Had Included
Young House Love’s Registry Dos & D’ohs

Charity/Tzedakah
Kass and I love Morikami Museum & Japanese Garden in South Florida and on our wedding website have asked our guests to consider donating there. We are members there and plan on making a donation there as well.

Hope this helps you as you start customizing your registries. Happy planning!

Shabbat shalom

My DIY Wedding Planning Binder

In order to get organized before we get really into planning our wedding, I decided to create a binder. This way we could really organize and consolidate all of our research, contracts, documents, notes etc. After doing some research, I finally had an idea of what to include and how to do it. Gloriajoy’s blog post from 2013 helped me the most.

What I made sure I had:

All the links are either the item I actually purchased or a comparable one.

Tabs & Organizing

Kass and I have decided to do a very small, intimate ceremony at Walt Disney World and then do a separate reception/dinner a few months later for all the guests from up north and around the country we would have loved to invite but for various reasons can’t. This has significantly influenced how I organized this binder. I can’t break it up in a traditional method because we’re essentially having two events! So it made much more sense to divide it up by event rather than item. So here are my major tabs:

  1. Budget
  2. Calendar
  3. Disney
  4. New England Reception
  5. Honeymoon
  6. Thank Yous
  7. Registry
  8. Miscellaneous

I color coded everything as well in order to attempt to keep everything organized. I more or less used our wedding colors (Purple, Yellow/Gold, Grey) but used green and blue to complement and divide appropriately.
Budget – Green
Calendar – Yellow
Disney – Purple
New England Reception – Blue
Honeymoon – Yellow
Thank Yous –  Purple
Registry – Blue
Miscellaneous – Grey

Gloriajoy’s blog post inspired me to create my own tabs rather than using store bought. So, my (ambitious) game plan:

  • Watercolor each card stock page my desired color
    • Have some fun with it
    • Don’t get the page too wet. Since these are card stock rather than water color paper, the pages will start to deteriorate if you’re not careful
    • Tape the pages down keep as flat as possible (and go back over the corners after the rest of the page has dried)
    • Watercolor an extra page in small swatches (one page, multiple colors/patterns) for the tab circles that you’ll make later
    • Truth be told: this took me a while. I had to experiment to figure out what colors and patters I liked, and then if something messed up while printing I had to do it all over again! Instead of water coloring, if that’s not your thing, go to the craft store and get fun patterned scrapbook paper/card stock. Your binder, your choice!
  • Run the page through your computer printer to label (I found that easier rather than using my Sillhouette Cameo for this part)
    • Be careful. The watercolored paper is no longer completelu 100% flat so the printer left some ink residue along the bottom edge of the page
    • If you don’t want to run the paper through the printer (or it’s being a pain in the tuchas, get clear labels and print/sharpie your text onto them)
  • Laminate the full page following the directions of the laminating pages/box
  • Design and create circle tabs in your Silhouette Cameo or Cricut Explorer (or by hand if you don’t have either of these machines)
    • Create 2 circles, one inside the other. Text only in top half/third
      • Mine were 2 inches wide for the outer circle. The inner circle was just small enough to have an an exterior boarder in the solid card stock color that matched
    • Use the gel pens (or sketch pens) to write out the text of your circle tab on the color swatched card stock.
      • To make the text attach smoothly, once you’re settled with it, weld it! That way the pen will glide over each letter, connecting them, with a seamless transition
    • Heres what my tab circles looked like on the computer before printing themBinder Tab Dividers.jpg
    • Use the blade tool to cut out the inner circle on this same page
    • Use the blade tool on a solid, matching color to cut out the outer circle
  • Glue the two circles together
  • Once all the circles are done, laminate them on one page with enough space to cut out between them
  • Cut out each individual tab circle
  • Space them out on each page before hot gluing down to make sure they are spaced evenly and not overlapping and are about the same height/depth within the binder
  • Hot glue down to the full laminated page
  • Hole punch and add to binder

The fonts I used were:
Waltograph for the Disney Font
SNF Sunday for everything else

So here’s an example of what mine looked like when complete:

IMG_20170206_131619.jpg

Within each tab, I added some sheet protectors for future documents. Under the Disney and New England Reception tabs I included the business card sheet protectors as well. Any spare/remaining pages are kept under the Miscellaneous tab.

Documents & Stationary

Budget
So I made a budget tracker (in green of course) to keep track of all our spending. In my personal copy I have each category labeled as “Disney Event,” “New England Reception,” “Honeymoon,” and “Other.” The copy I have uploaded for you all is a bit more universal, but still by event rather than item. Whether you choose to use this for yourself or use it as the basis for your own budget tracker I hope it is useful to you.
Budget

I have also created a “running total” spreadsheet to track how much I’ve spent in total so far on everything. This way I can track it chronologically, sort by event or category subtype.
Running Total Excel Spreadsheet

The fonts I used were:
SNF Sunday for the front page header & for the headers on the documents below
SW Par-tay Thyme for the internal headers of the budget tracker
Chocolate Covered Raindrops for the tables & main text of the documents below

Calendar
I really wanted an undated calendar because my wedding planning and events will span over more than one year. So I created this for us to use. Feel free to print out onto your favorite card stock or craft paper.
Calendar

Invitation Tracker
To track my invitations, I used the “Wedding Invite Tracker” template from Microsoft Excel. Technically I’m using two of them (one for each event) and color coded them to match the binder. I found it the most simple and convenient way to keep track of whom we wanted to invite, when things are mail, addresses/contact information etc.

Planning Timeline
I combined and modified several timelines I found on Pinterest in order to develop two personalized timelines, one for the Disney Ceremony weekend and one for the New England reception. I found it easier to create my own and use the ones I found online as guidelines and reference points.

Additional Stationary
Thank Yous
Questions & Notes

 

Hope this was helpful. For more wedding related ideas, check out my board. Don’t forget to follow along here for more stories and tales as Kass and I try to plan our wedding!

Shabbat Shalom

Car Woes

So about a month or so ago I finally took my car in for some routine maintenance. Let me preface this by saying I drive and older car with a lot of rust underneath the surface. It’s my little baby tin box on wheels that will fall over in the wind if you blow on it hard enough.

So I took it in for a typical oil change, tire rotation, etc. and the 120,000 mile scheduled manufacture maintenance. I should have known better than to take it to the shop I did (they’re overpriced), but I wasn’t expecting to do much work to it. That was my first mistake. My car is like 16 years old, of course it’s going to need more work. When they came back to me with the list, there was additional axle and boot work, which on top of everything else, was almost $1900. My car is worth about $1000 on a good day and I’d be lucky to get $800 as a trade in. I decided against the additional work and doing only the bare minimum to keep it street legal both because of the upfront cost and because my car just isn’t worth the amount needed to put in it (admitting this to the shop was my second mistake).

Well, so they do the work and I’m out like $650. What infuriates me the most that not even 36 hours later, my check engine light turns on. I had just taken it in, there was absolutely no reason for it to turn on! We were going out of town the next day so I didn’t have the time to take it in and get it looked at again. And to be honest I still haven’t brought it in 2 months later.

I feel like the shop scheduled the light to turn on not too long after leaving in order for me to come back in and do the work I originally decided against. That is so frustrating and dishonest it infuriates me. I am lucky to have an incredibly short commute so I don’t drive very far in my car and I do have AAA in case anything seriously bad happens but I’m at the point both emotionally and financially where I know I’ll need to get a new car soon. I’ve never had to choose my own car before so I’m not 100% sure what I want or should look for (I inherited this car). I know I want a hatchback with really good gas mileage (especially in local/mixed driving) and standard features like cruise control, power windows, mirrors, and locks, a rear windshield wiper, bluetooth/audio of some sort so I can play music and GPS etc., and a sunroof (though that I can live without but it would be nice to have one). I honestly don’t need much, except air conditioning (that’s a non-negotiable here in Florida). Got any recommendations internet?

Now the serious debate: leasing or buying? New or used? Stick with a smaller car or go a bit bigger? Brand? Additional features? Am I getting a good deal? Is it reasonably priced/can I afford it? Will the dealership even give me any money for my car? Especially with the check engine light on. Is it worth taking my old car to the dealership (or another shop) just to diagnose why the light came on to begin with (when it was never on previously)? The list goes on.

Help.

Shabbat shalom,

On President Trump’s Election

I wrote the following in my journal back on November 10, 2016 after learning that Donald Trump was elected President of the United States:

So election day has come and gone. Donald trump is now president elect. Hillary won the popular vote but failed to get enough Electoral votes. This is the fourth time in US history that this has happened.

Yesterday my emotions were running strong. Donald Trump has run on a campaign based on lies, hate, and fearmongering. My Facebook status summed up my feelings:

“Becky is feeling hopeless. I am shocked. I am scared. I am hurt. This isn’t what I wanted nor dreamed of, not for myself, my friends, my family, or my country. In many ways I feel abandoned and betrayed. ‘How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back.’

I want things to change. I want to get involved so that we don’t undo all the progress and positive changes we have made. However, it feels too daunting, that no matter what effort I put in, it won’t make a difference. Where do you begin when you feel so hopeless? I’m all ears to any ideas.”

I am scared that millions will loose access to healthcare and their prescriptions when the GOP-lead Congress and Trump repeal the Affordable Cafe Act (aka Obamacare). I am scared that women all over the country will be denied access to birth control, safe abortions, and healthcare. I am scared that my LGBTQ+ friends will no longer have the protection of their government. That their right to marry or use the restroom of their choice will be revoked. Our boarders will close to all immigrants and refugees, denying them to the American dream that asylum seekers and dreamers have come here for over the decades. How will we have freedom of religion when Islam could become banned? How will we have freedom when businesses and hospitals can discriminate based on religion, gender, sexuality, or immigrant status?

This is what I fear Trump’s America will look like. The Democrats are now the minority in both the House and Senate. The changes that the Obama administration has successfully implemented over the past 8 years might be for naught. I am scared this will be a dark time in US history, but I will stay and bare witness to its unfolding. Protests are already occurring throughout the nation. Hopefully some compromises will be reached and his presidency won’t be as bleak, ugly, and detrimental as I fear, but right now it feels like progress is being (or could be) set back a good 50-75 years in one fell swoop.

Trump has since been inaugurated and is now officially the 45th President of the United States. My fears haven’t been wholly unfounded. Many of his cabinet nominees (and now members) are completely incompetent and unfit for their positions. He seeks to dismantle the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency by the end of 2018. A poorly worded and implemented immigration ban was put in place. It has since been declared unconstitutional but many people who shouldn’t have been caught up in the ban were not allow into the country, even with valid visas. Deportations are sweeping across the nation and the Dakota Pipeline has been pushed through. Bills are being written and presented in state congresses that, if passed, would revoke a woman’s autonomy if pregnant, as she is solely the “host” of the fetus and men should be able to dictate what she does with her body. Trump’s alleged ties with Russia are coming to light and calls for impeachment are already being shouted from coast to coast.

I am grateful that our government has a checks and balances system in place, but this system is not infallible. The balls are already rolling and these changes scare me. Facts, knowledge, and research are being replaced with “alternative facts” (or as I like to call it for what it really is: propaganda) and resources are being stripped away from the public eye.

Long since before Donald Trump got the Republican nomination, he made me nervous. His patterns of speech and choice of words echoed pre-Holocaust speeches and propaganda. I saw the warning signs. He sounded (and still does) like a narcissistic abuser with hate in his heart and a longing for power.

And I’m not the only one. Charlotte England’s article title Donald Trump using Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ playbook, says world expert on Nazi leader from the online edition of the Independent (UK) describes Trumps rise to power on the coattails of Adolf Hitler, playing the same game of bluffing and distraction in order to be elected. Full article can be read here.

History is repeating itself and we’re falling for the same trappings over and over again.

I’m not saying this will lead to another genocide, and with our checks and balance system in place hopefully our freedoms will remain intact. What scares me is our country’s ignorance. We must educate ourselves on what Trump’s executive orders and goals are. We must educate ourselves on the issues at hand. Not just things like global warming, but on topics like the environmental and cultural impacts of the Dakota Pipeline. On the business practices and budget breakdown of Planner Parenthood and similar services. On immigration and terror statistic and any/all correlations. On religion, history, genetic engineering, and any and all topics that are up for debate.

Check your sources. I admit it is difficult in this day and age to understand what is fact and what is not. Statistics can be manipulated however the interpreter sees fit in order to draw the conclusions that they with and articles don’t always make their sources clear. We are in a day and age where discussion and debate are put aside for opinions and shouting matches. Remember, the loudest voice isn’t always the right one.

Everyone need to put aside their egos and work together to make this country and government work. This isn’t about hurt feelings or who is right or wrong but rather continuing to function as a society. I understand education to be the starting point for all of this. It is time to set aside our reluctance and expend the energy needed to get back on our feet.

This is daunting. Just thinking about even attempting this makes me feel drained to the point of despair. I can barely breathe without wanting to burst into tears at how hopeless it feels. Who am I to try and stand up? Who am I to try and make a difference? No one will listen to me.

But maybe if I start small, my actions will snowball. Maybe if I start small, others will join in. Maybe together, our voices will be heard and our actions felt across the nation. And together we will be that change.

So even if you feel small and insignificant just like me, remember you are not alone.

Shabbat Shalom

Disney Cruise

This past spring, right before I started working at Disney again, Kass and I went on a Disney Cruise! It was our first proper vacation since our first trip to Disney World together back in 2012. We did a 7-night Caribbean cruise on the Disney Fantasy and we absolutely loved it. We got an indoors stateroom, which was cozy and absolutely adorable. There’s a TV portal in there which allows you to see the camera feed outside and occasionally shows some magical surprises!

Before we left I made some magnetic Mickey door tags for us to decorate our door with. I made a Rapunzel/Tangled one for me and a Pascal for Kass. We love Tangled and it’s our favorite Disney movie. I also made drinking tumblers for us. I decorated them with the Disney Cruise Line logo, “Disney Fantasy” and they have our names on it too. This way we weren’t wasting cups every time we wanted water or something to drink. They ended up being crazy useful. However, instead of using the straw it came with, for health/cleanliness reasons, we decided to bring our bag of IKEA straws to use. One reality of being on a cruise ship, everyone is in tight quarters in relation to each other. Normally I wouldn’t use disposable straws like this, but to prevent any potential illnesses from spreading, we decided this was the healthier option, rather than washing our reusable straw constantly.

So first of all the ship is gorgeous and the food incredible. There are several absolutely stunning bars and lounges through out the ship that are perfect to relax in, especially if you’re traveling without children. There’s a few areas and pools that are 18+ so adults can escape and get some peace and quiet.

There’s tons for kids of all ages to do too, beyond just main pools on the upper decks. They have the Aquaduck, which is a tube ride/coaster that flies high above the ship. The are splash areas (Nemo’s Reef!) for the little ones and Goofy’s sports area if you want to play basketball or similar sports. There are age appropriate lounges/playspaces for everyone from toddlers to teenagers where parent’s aren’t allowed.

There are events, programs, and tours happening all over the ship all the time so on sea days you can always find things to do. If you want to stay in bed, watch Disney movies, and get room services (which is already included in your cruise package) you can do that too! Go to the spa or nap on a chair on the upper deck? Go for it. Meet characters like Peter Pan, Cinderella, or Mickey Mouse? Hang out in the atrium and they might say hi to you instead! Peter Pan, for instance, loved running around the floor and playing with kids once he was done signing autographs. He even took an older lady’s teddy bear, climbed into a window, and hung out for a bit just talking to the bear. It was little moments like these that made the trip really special.

Let me talk about a cast member named Alan for a moment. Alan was our housekeeper during our stay on board. This man knows how to create magic, and not just with crazy awesome towel animals. He knew who we were and greeted us before we even made it to our room the very first time. He would clean, fold, and organize basically everything in the room, including Kass’ dirty boxers! I’m not even kidding! He made Kass and I want to be better people. We wrote him a letter and everything expressing how amazing he is. His is one of the major reasons (or at the very least our primary reason) why the Disney Fantasy was so magical. Next time we’re on board we are absolutely requesting his section (and you totally should too). He is a remarkable one-of-a-kind cast member that creates genuine magic just by being himself.

On our trip we didn’t do much while in port. In St. Thomas we did go zip lining, which was crazy fun, but looking back I’m not 100% sure it was worth the cost. It’s something that you can do all over the place for a much cheaper ticket price than what we paid. When we were in Tortola, we stayed on board and finally got to go on the Aquaduck while most people on board were out on the island. Castaway Cay was the best day in port. Although we didn’t do the Castaway Cay 5K, we walked most of the path in order to get to the adult only beach, where we hung out for most of the day. The beach was amazing. The water was so pretty and the beach was so quiet. We just got to hang out and enjoy ourselves. The food is included but shopping (which is cash only) and alcohol of course isn’t. Jack Sparrow was also walking around/hanging out by us for a bit. He spent a lot of time talking to a service dog named Holly, who was on board with another family. After having a very relaxing morning, we did the adult only snorkeling excursion, which happened to include one of the couples that we went zip lining with (so that was pretty cool). It ended up being more intense than we (more Kass than I but I wasn’t wholly prepared either I guess) thought, because instead of being in a shallow pool and sticking our faces in the water, we were taken out on a boat in the middle of the ocean by a rock and just swam around for like 1.5 hours. Saw a barracuda which was pretty cool (albeit scary). We had bought an inexpensive Go-Pro which caught some cool footage of both snorkeling and zip lining, which was perfect because Kass can’t see much without his glasses. Before we made it back, our guide found a conch which he butchered right in front of us (with like a butter knife) and we got to try it. It was the freshest sea food ever (#notkosher, though admittedly I don’t keep kosher. Topic for a different post). I’m not big on raw seafood to begin with, and to be honest I’m not even sure if I liked it, but it was cool to try it. We tried some Bahamian rum and soda drink, which was very nice, as we partied back to shore (all 8 of us). It was seriously one of the best days on the whole trip.

Although Disney Cruise Line is insanely more expensive than most other cruise lines out there, for us it is worth the cost. We love the atmosphere and the extra mile Disney goes with their ships, team, and adventures. I’m more than willing to try less expensive cruises, but my heart will always belong to Disney. I could spend all day talking about the food and dining rooms, the specific lounges, the spa, shows and entertainment, but I won’t. I’ll leave some for you to discover on your own Disney Cruise. Hopefully we’ll see you there when we’re on board again this summer!

Shabbat Shalom ❤

PS Check out my instagram (which you can access from the Social Media page). There pics from our cruise including our door tags and tumblers! Okay, there’s fewer pics from the cruise than I thought, but there are the door tags and tumblers!

Moving Back to Orlando

Last spring, Kass got a new job and basically had to start almost immediately so I put my notice in at the shul and in a mad dash (more or less) we’re moved back up here to Orlando, together this time.

Since we still had two months left at the old place, we left some non-essential items behind that we would then grab on subsequent trips. Honestly, we began to dread these trips. The thought of driving back to South Florida still fills me with anxiety. We were so unhappy there I never want to feel like that again. AND our old complex charged us even MORE money to clean it (even though we were coming back to clean it before we left entirely but oh well).

Our apartment search went rather smoothly and we settled quickly into our new place. We did basically all the heavy lifting and driving by ourselves though, which wasn’t fun. This included hitching one car to the moving truck which Kass drove, while I drove my car with the cats (Ying & Yang).

Side note: we adopted two sisfurs from the Broward Humane Society! They had been their for about 3 weeks before we fell in love with them and chose to rescue them. They have since settled in with us (almost at our 2 year adopt-aversary!!) and love to play and cuddle (including with each other).

Our current apartment is so much nicer and newer than our old place. It’s smaller, but we’ve managed to fit everything from our old place pretty comfortably. We got rid of our dining room table, but we have a massive kitchen island and we rarely used that table anyway. And we’re saving so much money here in rent, utilities, and insurance compared to our last place! With all the added amenities (including being minutes from Walt Disney World & Universal Studios) it doesn’t even compare.

When we moved back I didn’t have a job lined up in Orlando yet because it was so short notice. I took about 2 weeks to get everything unpacked and take a small breather from my last job before applying anywhere. When I did start applying, I came right back to Disney. In less than a month from reapplying I was lucky enough to be rehired (part-time) in Food & Beverage working at a new restaurant in one of the parks. I’ve since put in for full time and have opened my availability so that way I can try to get at least 32+ hours a week. I enjoy my location, my fellow cast members, and the schedule flexibility to be able to pick and choose when I want to work (more or less).

Some might say I have arguably taken a step back in my career, especially since I took a pay hit coming back to Disney and am not using my degree in a way that would be typically expected of me. To that I say, I am happier here and still earning enough to get by. I plan on using my degree to further my personal life rather than career and engage in Judaism that way. I will always love Judaism and Jewish education, but can’t see myself making a career out of it. If I do, I fear I might start resenting it. That doesn’t mean I don’t plan on using my degree and education every single day to combat ignorance, celebrate life, and carve my own path living a meaningful and Jewish life.

Shavuah tov l’kulam