Visiting friends in Florida

Reporting live from back in the Bay Area …

Dave and I arrived in San Francisco in the evening on New Year’s Day. Our travel back was relatively seamless. After dropping our bags and heading out to the grocery store, we were showered, fed, unpacked and watching TV by 9 p.m. Not too shabby.

Friends in Florida

The last few days of my time in Florida included visiting friends allover the state.

In St. Pete, Dave and I had lunch with my college roommate and matron of honor, Yolanda, and her husband, Adam. She’s pretty darn pregnant, and they are looking forward to welcoming their first little boy in February. Yolanda and I met at University of Miami while pledging a sorority, roomed together, transferred to University of Florida together and have been best friends ever since. Yolanda and Adam live in St. Pete, and we get together every time I visit.

Ashley and Yolanda

My Mom typically goes with me on my friend visits, not only because I like to maximize my time with her, but also because she’s always had good relationships with all of my friends too, many of whom I’ve grown up with.

In Sarasota, my Mom and I had dinner with my gorgeous and crafty friend Stefanie, her husband, Jonathan, and sweet little baby, Kyla. Stefanie and family live in Sarasota, but used to live in Orlando when I did. We went to high school together and were in each other’s weddings.

Ashley and Stefanie

Stefanie and Kyla

Also in Sarasota, my Mom and I joined at the tail-end of my friend Shannon’s dinner with her husband Kyle and caught up. I haven’t seen Shannon since she visited me in March for our fun girls weekend. She is also pregnant, expecting her first little girl in May. Shannon and Kyle live in Tampa, and they drove down to meet us halfway so we could spend a little time together. They are fellow Gators, and we met in college. Shannon and I studied abroad at the same time. She was in London, and I was in Florence, and we met up to tour each other’s cities that summer, which was when I got to be the first to meet her future hubby, Kyle!

The Howrys

Next up, my Mom and I drove out to Punta Gorda for our usual dinner at my good friend Kristen’s parent’s house. Kristen and her family all still live in my hometown, so they get together for family dinners on Sundays. Whenever I am in town, I try to join for these nights. Kristen’s parents (as well as Kristen) are amazing cooks and hosts. We always have plenty of wine, food, and laughing. Kristen and her sister have little ones, so there were tons of funny little kids running around, which always makes dinner enjoyable. Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures this night, but I can attest to the fact that it was a good one.

I’ve known Kristen since elementary school, we were bridesmaids in each other’s weddings and have remained close for so many years. I’m hoping one day I can get her out here to visit San Francisco, because I know she and her husband, Mike, would love it.

New Year’s Eve in Orlando

Finally, my Mom took me up to Orlando on New Year’s Eve and we picked up Dave, who had gone one day earlier to see some friends.  The three of us went to lunch at an old favorite restaurant, White Wolf Cafe, to catch up with my dear friend Judy and her husband, Adam. And yes, Judy is pregnant too, welcoming a little boy in February just like Yolanda. Judy and I met in high school, she was a bridesmaid in my wedding, we went on an awesome trip to Mexico together (which we still laugh about) and were very close when I lived in Orlando.

Delaneys at Lunch

After lunch, we visited another friend, Lindsay, who just had a baby, and I got to hold the little newborn, who is only three-weeks old.

See a pattern here? It’s baby season!

Basketball game

To celebrate New Year’s Eve, we started out the festivities by attending a great basketball game: the Orlando Magic vs. the Golden State Warriors. How convenient that game would take place while we were in Florida, since it represents our old team and new team.  

Dave was able to say hello and catch up with a few of his old coworkers, including his former boss, who is always nice to see.

We went to the game with friends, met up with friends, ran into tons of friends and didn’t actually watch much of the game.

At one point, I was walking the hallways heading to the bathroom and almost didn’t respond when someone was calling out my name from afar. I’m not used to running into familiar faces these days.  🙂

Magic vs. Warriors

Magic vs. Warriors

Magic vs. Warriors

Yes, Dave got a lot of flack for his Warriors shirt, but he wanted to represent his new team. And they won.

The game was done by 8 p.m., so after a drink at the Amway Center’s rooftop One80 Grey Goose Lounge shown above, we ended the night with a nice Italian dinner in Winter Park at Armando’s on a double date with Jess and Amanda. Not only do we always stay with them when we return to Orlando, but they drive us around, take us to the airport, and remind us of the awesome relationships we still have in Central Florida. Love those two!

After dinner, we went back to their apartment to drink champagne, play an awesome iPhone game called Heads Up and ring in the new year in our pajamas.

Amanda made the trip to my favorite dessert place in Orlando, The Dessert Lady, before we arrived and surprised me with this little gem and spread, photographed after I removed the birthday candle …

Red Velvet cake

I’ve never met a dessert with cream cheese frosting that I didn’t like, and red velvet has always been one of my absolute favorites. In fact, at our wedding, Dave and I even had a layered cake featuring two big layers of red velvet. Colorful and delicious.

That was that. Dave and I flew out in the morning on New Year’s Day.  

For now, it’s back to work, back to the gym and back to City living.

As usual, I left Florida with a little bit of sadness, but I also left feeling an even greater sense of appreciation for my incredible family and friends, who may be far away in distance, but are always close to my heart. Until next time, Sunshine State!

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