Saturday, April 28, 2012

Belizian Chocolate (that tasted alot like Hershey's...)

Day four took us to Belize; this is where we realized that we should've taken a Carnival-approved tour, because it wasn't smart or safe to try to navigate Belize City on our own (nobody mentioned this beforehand...). So we stayed in the tourist compound area, but still snapped a few neat pics!

The ship anchored quite a ways out from the port, so we tendered in. Anchoring so far out is necessary due to the series of coral reefs off the coast, second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The ship looks massive, doesn't it?!

Another tender getting ready to load up passengers!

The ride in took about 20 minutes, and was enjoyable. The ride on the small boat that took us back, however, was not!

Lee snapped a picture of these colorful buildings as we neared the port.

Look how far away the ship was! I wouldn't want to get left behind!

Bev and I looking like native Caribbean-ers : ) We had gotten some pretty good tans going!

Hmmm, chocolate? Yes, please! I had an iced mocha something (that tasted like iced Hershey's chocolate milk), and we sampled some chocolate. They had lots of neat handmade products: cocoa soap, cocoa bean earrings and small baskets, as well as truffles and cookies.

We brought back a dark chocolate bar for Jack and two dark chocolate bars w/salt and lime for me (one to share at work). They're very serious about their salted chocolate there...WOW! Big ole crystals that'll make your mouth and eyes water! Shoulda tried that one before buying... We also bought the fixin's to make Kahlua, all in a neat little bottle: coffee & chocolate beans, turbinado sugar, white sugar, cocoa powder and a vanilla bean. It's steeping as I write! 

The beans were roasting in a small toaster-like ovens outside the store (which smelled wonderful!), and I think these had just been done.
We actually did venture outside the walled area for about 2 minutes...definitely not worth the hassle!
: (

Jack doing his best Jim Carrey impression in the adults-only hot tub. He cracks me the heck up! The decks were empty since most folks were on tours, so we took full advantage of the best chairs on deck. Ahhhh!

The next day was our favorite: local beach and beers in Roatan!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fun with Jack in Isla Cozumel!

This actually was "Fun with Lee, Bev & Jack in Isla Cozumel", but Jack was a standout this particular day. This day was one of our favorites!

It was a busy day in the port! Lots of cruise ships were in, including Brian's Norwegian ship further up the row, closer to downtown. It's kind of a funny sight, seeing the colorful, built-up port, when just behind it looks like pretty barren.

Lee called this shot, with the ship in the background. Pretty! And I love the different colors of the water. (it was windy, I'm not into slicking my hair back...)

Is anyone surprised by this picture? I know I'm not! This was outside of "Fat Tuesday's" restaurant, which was at every port we stopped in. This was 11 o'clock in the morning, and folks were already drinkin' it up! (we waited till noon! ; )

Our own little Señor Juan Valdez! Jack was on the hunt for a hat, and this one didn't quite do...a bag of coffee beans and a mule would've finished the look, though!

The first of many "Drugs & Deli" stores that we would see. Need synthroid? No problem! A
Z-pack? Sure! Amoxicillin for that pesky sinus infection? No worries! Heartburn? They have Nexium! But this combo is the best..."I'll have a pound of pastrami, some potato salad & a 30 day supply of Viagra, please." Now THAT'S funny! (and seriously, it's all for sale, no script needed!)

My favorite new place: Carlos & Charlie's. I don't know which I like more: the sign behind Jack's head or the clown in the picture. Jack's line for the day was "I need to overcome my fear of clowns", and it cracked us up every time! This place was alot of fun: fake cockroach on a string on the table (I know, it could've easily been real), being blasted with cold air from a tank (ok, I didn't really like that one), shots being poured down your throat while they grabbed your boobs (no shots or boob grabbing for me or Bev, but it was funny to watch!).
The menu was in pesos, and when I saw fish tacos listed as $150, I thought, "Hmmm, maybe I'll just have a beer." When the waiter gave us the conversion for the day, I ordered them, and they were awesome!

See how much fun we had?! The local beers were wonderful (I ordered a Corona, which they didn't have ??? , so I had the Sol instead, and it was really good) We all thought our hats were very fitting to our personalities (I admit, I had to ask the clown to make me the tiara, but, hey, I felt like a queen that day!) He told us to say "tequila", and caught us in various states of shouting it!

What a fun day in Port #1!

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Traveler's Log: Time to Cruise!

We hadn't been on a cruise in nearly 8 years. When Lee & Bev suggested that the four of us get away for a vacation, a cruise sounded like a well-needed respite from...everything! And they were right! From tropical islands to pre-dinner martinis to bawdy (and hilarious!) comedians in the lounge, this trip was just what the doctor ordered! So trade in your work shoes for sandals, and come along with us!

Here we go! Port Canaveral looks much more tropical & exciting from the deck of a ship! And what a festive atmosphere with all the folks in the restaurants and bars at the port waving goodbye! (I think it was with their whole hand ; )

We got into our cabin by one. It was actually pretty darn spacious! The closets and desk drawers had plenty of room for clothes, and the suitcases fit right under the bed. Ok, time to explore the ship!

I'm guessing the decor of the Dream is art deco/Las Vegas/glitzy glam. Our cabin was on deck 11 forward, and pics like this lined the halls from ceiling to floor. We left the room and headed upstairs to the spa deck, as the spa & its amenities were part of our package; we weren't disappointed, it was awesome!

This is the Thalassotherapy pool, which "features jets of water that massage your body in a special formulation of ocean water rich with trace elements of vitamins". It really didn't seem salty to me...the literature differed on the actual benefits of the pool, but to us, it was heaven! Not too hot, not too cool. And when the ship went a'rockin', look out! That dang pool could white-cap!

This area led to the Oriental steam room, the aroma-therapy steam room, the Lanconium (body temp dry room), and the locker rooms. I've never tried a steam room till now (Jack loves the sauna at the gym), and it was more enjoyable than I thought. These rooms were all about "detox"; we even went to a detox class, where we made an appointment with a trainer to learn more. We learned that detox (don't get any crazy ideas here...not from alcohol!) comes from taking verrryyyy expensive algae pills and baths. Really?! For the $4,000+ that it would have cost for the both of us, we better have been pure as the driven snow by the end of it! Sheesh.

Our first day at sea took us unexpectedly to the Keys to drop off a sick passenger (that makes me so sad!). This view is looking through the "windscreen" at the bow. It's the closest I've ever been to the Keys...I wish we could've stopped here! The water color is crystally clear : )

Beep, beep! Another Carnival ship, the Ecstasy, passed by us in the channel, headed for Key West. It really didn't look like there was enough room for the two of us, but it turned out there was plenty!

A beautiful blue ocean, on the Straits of Florida. That's a Norwegian ship in the distance...Hi, Brian!!! Isn't this the most "ocean blue" you've ever seen?!

This is the Serenity Deck. Aaahhhh...don't you feel serene just looking at it?! I wish it would've stayed this empty, but, that's not possible on a ship of nearly 5,000 peeps; we were fightin' for a seat as the week progressed! Hawkeye (a/k/a Jack) kept an eye on the seats! (we were told not to save seats; after 30 minutes, any seat that looked "saved" was up for grabs! Jack was like a vigilante...)

Me & Jack on Sunday, April 15, 2012, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, with the Titanic staircase in the background! Pretty cool, huh?! (I'm cheap, I took a picture of the picture!)

Stay tuned for more adventures at sea! And on land, even!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Catching Up!

It seems like Easter was so long ago! I don't know why I've been so "busy" these last few weeks, but I haven't had time to do much of anything after work. I've been putting in an hour of overtime most days (which doesn't sound like much, but it seems to make for a really longggg day), so I guess that's it.

Anyhow, I wanted to show you the finished product of my fanatical cake plate obsession, so here it is! (along with a few photos from the day)

I really don't think this photo does justice to the beauty that is this three tiered plate! The plates are all Japanese, the pedestals are Candlewick juice glasses from an estate sale, and the top knob is an Ace Hardware find for $4.50. Now I just need a cabinet to keep this beauty in! LOL, my inexpensive craft now requires its own cabinet! The bunny was Mom's, maybe even Grandma's. Reminds me of being a kid ♥

I love this pic of Patti & Dave; they are part of our FL fam. Dave always brings a lovely wine to dinner, and Patti makes her fabulous foods...our pick for Easter was her famous deviled eggs! She has to bring two dozen to pacify the egg gobblers at our house!

We missed having all the chicks home...we're lucky to have Al, and Jax was here with Samantha; but Linds had to stay in Tampa and work her new job. I definitely know how that is!

I'll sign off for now, and see you in 10 days. Gulf of Mexico, here we come! Starting tomorrow, we'll be cruising toward Mexico, with subsequent stops in Belize & Roatan, then back to Mexico with a stop in Costa Maya, all the while collecting rocks and memories! Sunday while at sea, we'll celebrate the memory of the 100th anniversary of the Titanic! Prayers & crossed fingers for a safe journey, please!!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Jalapeño Popper...Sandwiches!

Jack and I watched a show last season, America's Next Great Restaurant, where contestants tried to win a three restaurant chain with their innovative idea; I loved the guy who wanted to run a gourmet grilled cheese place (I think it's been done, though), because I absolutely ♥ grilled cheese! I'm always looking for new ideas to change up this classic, and I found a winner...a Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese! Anyway, I know it's last minute, but here's an idea for Good Friday's dinner.

Here's the link:

I followed almost every direction; instead of using large slices of pepper, I chopped the sliced, broiled peppers into the sandwich sparingly, because they were, ummm...HOT! But, the heat got lost when it blended with the cheeses, so Alex and I decided to add more (which would have equaled what the recipe actually called for), and the sammies were fabulous! The sourdough bread is a must, and I would say the broiled (rather than just crispy fresh ones) peppers really add the "zip" (like Dad used to say) to the overall yumminess!

These are the complimentary Parmesan Oven Fries:

I don't think I'll make any other kind of "fry" ever! I doubled the seasoning recipe (you can never go wrong with Old Bay!) and made 5-6 potatoes instead of 3. Foozer got me hooked on rosemary potatoes years ago, and it's definitely a winning combination! They would be perfect with any sandwich or meat.

Ok, I'm going to bed. I didn't want you to worry about what you were going to make for dinner on the last Friday of Lent : )
Did my grilled cheese guy win the competition, you ask? was "Soul Daddy". But that food all looked good, too!

Monday, April 2, 2012

And So Another Weekend Goes!

Ohmygosh, what another fun, busyyyy, weekend! Let's just do this weekend's recap in pictures...

See Jack? Jack is really excited. He hooked up the ice maker only three years after buying our first fridge with an ice maker (I know, we're rocketing right into the '80's with that one). Now, every time ice drops into that tray, he says, "Did you hear that?!" It's the little things...but I love my handyman, he can do almost anything home-repair-related.

See the tv? It's new. And it's in our bedroom. You can insert the same expression from the above pic onto Jack's head. Pretend you don't see the uneven paint where the wall & ceiling meet, the wires (hint, hint, Mike Summerfield @ Advent Electric) or the piece of paper that covers the little tiny light (it keeps Jack awake....really?!) that's emitted from the wireless cable box (gotta love Uverse). Jack has now combined the two things he loves the most: watching tv & laying in bed. He is one happy guy! I like it pretty much, myself. We watched Celebrity Apprentice last night in bed. It's not everybody's idea of a fun night, but it suits us just fine : )

But I digress. On Saturday, we visited our buds by the beach,  Lee & Bev, for some suds, sun, and fun (this isn't them). However, these are their adorableeeee bulldogs, Angus & Winston. We were in ♥!

This is the monsoon that ensued right after we got there. It's literally the only rain we've had in weeks. -_-
We ate on the porch and didn't get any sun, but we had a blast anyway!

See these adorable faces?! Linds and our fave houseguest Jordan came home for the weekend, since Linds has to work over Easter (it's ok, waitresses make great moolah on the weekends, especially holidays! I definitely know this from experience : ) They came along down with Al to Lee & Bev's, and we all had a really good time!

Sunday warranted a trip to the beach! It was a fabulous day, so we soaked up the sun we missed on Saturday (check out the matching leopard bathing suits!). Back at home, Jack grilled us some grub, and off the girls went, back home.
Fun, family, ice makers, rain, friends, dogs, tvs, sun, and food = one wonderful weekend!
Hope you had a good one, too!

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