Monday, May 26, 2014

Birthday, bagel, boat, and beach!

It was a fun filled weekend I must say. Saturday was my birthday so my mom came over.  S, my mom and I had lunch and then we decide to take a drive to Topsail Island.  When we got there we walked around a few of the shops. The traffic was crazy! Beautiful weather and a holiday weekend  but the drive was still nice. When we got back to the house we had vegan cupcakes from Wholefoods. They were so adorable, I loved them         (see the picture above). They always do such an amazing job. After mom left S and I sat on the porch swing for the rest of the evening. All in all a great birthday. 
The balloon and flowers were pictures sent to me by S's very good friend. S and I always say that's the best kind. ;)

Sunday Funday also known as bagel, boat, beach and bath day for Bella. S got up and went to the local bagel shop and got bagels for the three of us (yes Bella gets a bagel, not the whole thing, just the egg and a little piece of the bagel). After we ate we loaded up and took the boat out for the first time in 2014. We timed our trip so the sandbar we like to walk on is exposed. The only time we can walk on it is during low tide, any other time it would be under 6-8 feet of water. 

I am standing by the boat in water almost up to my knees looking back at the sandbar. Last year we went to the sandbar 1-2 times and each time we were the only ones, this time 4-5 other boats showed up and a total of about 30 people were there. They really didn't come to the side we were on so Bella was still able to get out and run and boy did she run. Last year I found a few sand dollars that were already dead but I found a ton that were still living so I didn't take those. This year I was on a mission to see if I could find more. As I walked along  the shore of the actual underwater sandbar that shares it's space with us for brief moments at a time I think I see something in the ripple of the water. As I wait for the water to settle my excitement builds and sure enough it was the gem I was searching for, the sand dollar. No sooner had I picked that one up another one was almost right next to it. They seemed to be one right after another. Then nothing.  S and I both continued to look and together we found over 40. A few were very brittle and broke and we found several that were still living so I took them where the water was deeper and set them down gently. 

We found a few more after I took these pictures and then we decided to just sit and relax for a bit. After that we took the remainder of the sand dollars to the boat and went back to the beach to just walk around and let Bella run some more. I could tell the tide was starting to come in, where we were once walking was being covered with water. As we were headed back to the boat I happened to look down and found and empty sea urchin shell. So cool !

Never in a million years when I saw sand dollars and sea urchin shells in the beach tourist shops did I think I would be walking on the beach and finding them myself. How amazing. What an amazing day. 

Bella always has a great time. Next time I'm going to post a video of her running. She still isn't sure about the boat but she will get there. I don't think she will ever like bath time. 

Memorial Day Monday was an uneventful day. I spent 98% of the day in the house. S and I watched some TV shows and he did spend part of the day in the garage piddling. Rest and relaxation before another workweek starts. 

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend as well! Bye for now!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Cirque Du Soleil and More

This was a really great long weekend. Wednesday one of my best friends, Allison and her mom, Joyce came for a visit for a few days. It all started months ago when S and I told Allison how much we enjoyed seeing Cirque Du Soleil Quidam. She said if they came back to Raleigh and we decided to go to let her know because she would like to see them. In January I received an alert that Cirque Du Soleil Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour was going to be in Raleigh, NC. Fast forward to Wednesday April 2, 2014 S, Allison and me sitting in the PNC Arena waiting for the show to start. 

This was a great show and we all really enjoyed it. Allison said she wished they would have done more acrobatics. I will say I am not a Cirque Du Soleil expert this was only my second show but this one did seem to focus more on the music and dancing. Having said that I would still reccomend seeing it. I did notice there are a lot of stupid people out there. It is made very clear several times and an announcement is made right before the show that cameras and videos are prohibited. It does not matter the reason. They are the ones performing and could possibly hurt themselves. They ask that you do not take pictures or video and I sat in my seat and watched grown ass adults taking pictures. They knew it was wrong because they were looking around and holding their phone in hopes it couldn't be seen. I was just sitting in a seat watching the show and the lights from the phones and cameras were distracting to me, can you imagine what it could do to your consentration if you were in front of a huge crowd suspended from a wire 25 feet above a stage with a million other things going on?  So yes it really pissed me off. Come on people think about it they aren't trying to be mean they are trying to keep these performers in some pretty dangerouse situations safe. Grow up!!  Back to the show the performers were top notch and the band was amazing. It would be really hard to pick my favorite part. They did a really nice job of honoring Michael Jackson and his music.  I found myself , along with most everyone else in the audience singing along to one or more of the songs. There was such a great vibe. 

There was video of Michael playing on a large screen and clips from the videos that they would recreate. I was expecting them to do a little longer version of Thriller but what they did was still really cool. I am a fan of Michael Jackson's music but I am not what one would call a super fan so having said that I think they covered the majority of his major hits. The show with a twenty minute break was about two hours. If you have a chance to ever see a Cirque Du Soleil show do it. 
Thursday S, Joyce, Allison, Bella and I went to Topsail Island for a walk on the beach. It was in the 80's and windy so we had sweatshirts on. In some parts the water was a beautiful blue, green. We all picked up some shells. I also like to pick up the smooth stones. 
 Bella had a blast running on the beach. Only a few more weeks and she will have to stay on her leash. 
We also came across a sea buoy, inlet marker that washed up on shore. You don't see something like that washed up on the beach every day so of course we had to have our picture made with it. 

After we left the beach we decided to stop at a local bookstore/gift shop that also serves coffee and has a wine bar. We wanted to get a cup of coffee and Joyce and Allison needed to use the restroom. Well needless to say not only did this establishment lose
 J and A's coffee business but there were a couple other items they liked as well that they refused to buy. This place did not have a public bathroom. They did however offer you the use of a city supplied port-o-potty. Allison made a very good point. If you are paying $5 for a cup of coffee and $30 for a pair of cotton lounge pants, not to mention you have a wine bar you better damn well have a bathroom for your customers. I knew when they really wanted coffee and then they were told they didn't have a bathroom that when they said they didn't want anything it was because they were pissed at the shop. I ordered my coffee. We took Bella home, went to dinner and then to Costco to pick up stuff to grill out Friday. Later that evening we are all sitting around watching TV. S goes outside to turn off the lights and goes to the other door. I happen to look up, not realizing he went outside, and just see eyes staring at me. I scream. It takes a few seconds for Joyce to look up and realize why I was screaming and when she did she said a few choice words and they said she looked like she was going to try to climb the wall. As a result of laughing so hard, S stepped back and twisted his ankle. He said he didn't mean to scare us. All in all Thursday was a great day. The walk on the beach was so relaxing and just what the doctor ordered. Friday we decided to take another walk on the beach. My mom came over for the day. S decided to sit this walk out. I was concerned about taking Bella for a walk on the beach without S because she doesn't listen to me as well as him. He likes to point it out to me frequently that he is pack leader one, Bella is pack leader two and I fall somewhere after. Well let me just say we BOTH did amazing. I relaxed and let her play and she came to me when I called her. I was very happy. It was a little warmer but still windy. We picked up more shells and stones. Another relaxing and much needed walk. 

After we left the beach, we did not stop for coffee, we headed home because J and A had to leave after we ate. On the way home Bella curled up in my lap and went to sleep. Two days of walking on the beach and she was pooped. 
Great times had by all. Sad to see J, A and my mom go. S and I didn't do much the remainder of the weekend. We did watch Gangster Squad. This was a really good movie. We both enjoyed it. Check it out.  Sunday has been in the 50's and overcast. S did yard work earlier today while I did some laundry and made soup for this weeks lunches. Weekend almost over went by way too fast, but don't they always?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fajita Salad

We decided to make taco salads for dinner and I made a vegan version for mine of course. First I mixed some spices    to sauté my veggies in. 
Chili powder 2 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Paprika 1 tsp
Onion powder 1/2 tsp
Garlic powder 1/2 tsp
Cayenne pepper 1/4 tsp
Ground cumin 1/2 tsp
I put all of the spices in a small jar and added some water. Shook to blend. I cut up an organic red and green bell pepper and halved some cherry tomatoes. I added a little coconut oil to a pan and once it melted I added the veggies. 
I cooked the veggies until they were slightly tender and then I added a tsp of sweetener (sugar, honey, or maple syrup) and the spice mixture I prepared earlier. I cooked the veggies a little longer and then set aside. 
To make the salad I started with lettuce then I added some black beans, the cooked veggies, fresh cucumber, sliced black olives and half of an avocado. 
No dressing needed. This salad was amazing and so quick and easy to make. Use any type of lettuce and add any veggies you would like. Now S of course cooked hamburger meat in taco seasoning and he didn't cook his peppers and tomatoes. S also left out the beans and avocado but added Fritos and salad dressing. See, meat eaters and non meat eaters alike can eat this. 


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Second “Fun Day at Sea” and Debarkation

Second “Fun Day at Sea” and Debarkation
Sunday December 2, 2012 and Monday December 3, 2012
Sorry no pictures.
Well Sunday was the last full day on the cruise ship.  Sunrise was at 6:57 am and Sunset was at 5:13 pm.  As usual we woke up and went to the Windows on the Sea on the Lido deck to eat breakfast.  We walked around the ship and then made our way to the Universe Lounge to see the Towel-Folding class.  We didn’t participate we just watched.  It was neat to see how some of the more common items were created.  After the towel-folding class there was a silent debarkation presentation in the Universe Lounge which we decided to stay for and I am glad we did.  We learned exactly what we needed to do to have a speedy debarkation the next day.  I would recommend attendance if offered on any cruise.  After this we stopped in the gift shop to pick up some of the last minute items I had my eye on and then it was back to the cabin.  We packed all of our stuff and then went back to the Lido Deck for some lunch.  This day was very uneventful.  We basically just killed time.  Later we went to the Universe Lounge to see The Game of Love, Carnival’s version of the Newlywed Game, yet not so newlywed contestants.  Back to the room to find our final towel creation which was a large heart.  I have no idea why my pictures were not saved.  By day one I had already learned the entire layout of the ship so I pretty much knew where everything was and since S and I don’t really drink and we don’t gamble there wasn’t much else for us to do. 

Monday is here and all good things must come to an end.  Our time on the Carnival Fantasy was officially over.  We gave our amazing steward an extra tip the night before and I ask everyone do this because these people do not make a lot of money.  We got up early to get breakfast and then back to our cabin to collect our things.  We got in line and waited until we were allowed to disembark.  You do have to go through customs so keep that in mind.  Honestly I was happy to get off the ship.  It wasn’t a bad trip and I loved visiting the two ports of call, but I did find myself getting cabin fever no pun intended.  If we had better weather and had been able to sit by the pool or on one of the decks it may have been a different story.  I wish we had a balcony in our room.  I would have sat there and stared at the water and/or read a book all day.  This was not the case and as a result I got bored quickly.  A word to all future cruise ship travelers, if you are not big on gambling and/or drinking, spend that money on getting a cabin with a balcony, it would be worth it.  Everyone kept telling me to not spend the money because we would never be in the cabin.  Guess what, this was not the case.  There are only so many things to do before you run out of things to do and as a result S and I ended up spending a lot of time in our cabin.  It really depends on what you like to do and what ship you are on.  We didn’t have the best weather, so sitting out by the pool or on one of the decks really wasn’t comfortable and we didn’t have that liquid courage like what I would consider the majority of the other passengers.  I will never say never, but sitting here now I don’t think I would take another cruise.  I am so happy I had the opportunity and experience but I realized I am not a cruise person.  S realized, although he had been on a cruise before and felt he would enjoy going on another one, he is not a cruise person either.  By no means am I suggesting you not take a cruise.  If you have never been on one give it a try.  I would suggest you figure out what you like to do and cater your cruise to what you like to do.  We picked that cruise because it was a quick drive to Charleston, SC, S wasn’t sure I would like being on a ship (this one wasn’t a long cruise) and it was fairly inexpensive.  So this was it, the end of the journey.  I hoped everyone enjoyed it.    

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Second Port of Call Freeport Bahamas!!!!!

Second Port of Call Freeport Bahamas!!!!!

Saturday December 1, 2012
Wow! It has been over a year since we took our cruise to the Bahamas and I am so slack because I am just now finishing my posts about the last two days.  So no more procrastinating here it goes.

Well it is our second port of call and I must say this was by far the best day of the trip for me.  According to our Carnival Fun Times, Sunrise was at 6:44am and Sunset was at 5:17pm.  After learning there wasn’t as much to do in Freeport as there was in Nassau we decided we would sign up for a tour.  We looked at the Fun Ashore guide to select which one we would enjoy the most.  We picked three, and the Western Heritage Tour won out.  This 5 hour tour was described in the Fun Ashore guide as “Discover Grand Bahama island’s natural wonders, history and culture as you visit 5 heritage sites.  You’ll travel through the western part of the island aboard an island bus.  Visit Mermaid Pond and the historic Pinder’s Point Lighthouse that served as a guide for mariners during the 17th century.  Continue on to Hawksbill Creek and the famous Boiling Hole to learn about the island’s geology.  At Holmes Rock, an inviting nature trail will lead you to Josey’s Cave.  Walk along a boardwalk into the cool environment of Fern Gully, the perfect place to admire ferns and other wetland vegetation.  Your final destination is a beautiful beach and one of the top snorkel sites on the island.  Directly from the beach, your guide will lead you on a snorkel adventure around a pristine reef teeming with fish and other marine organisms.  Relax in your comfortable lounge chair and enjoy lunch at the beach, prepared fresh from the grill.”  How amazing does that sound? Now you know why that tour won out.  Believe me it was just as perfect in person as it was on paper.
So we met our tour guide Dwaine and we all boarded the island bus.  As soon as he opened his mouth I knew I was going to like him.  He was so entertaining and he kept you interested in all the island history.  He was such a great tour guide and if he is still a guide I would HIGHLY recommend him for any tour.

So off on the tour we ended up at Pinder’s Point Lighthouse and we got off the bus.  Dwaine told us the story of Freeport and how the natives were the only ones that knew how to navigate the tricky waters. 

He also showed us the difference between a piece of coral and limestone.  As we learned coral is turned into limestone when the coral is above sea level and dies.

While riding on the bus we saw a bunch of conch shells which they use to line the roads to help protect against flooding.  Dwaine stopped and let us pick a conch shell to take with us.  There was a guy out there who had some on his boat and he gave S and me 2 really big ones.  They are so beautiful.

Next on the trip was Hawksbill Creek and the Famous Boiling Hole.  This was so beautiful and amazing.  This spot was a dive site that Jacques Cousteau explored.


Now it’s on to Holmes Rock where you will find Josey’s Cave and Fern Gully.  It was interesting to learn that Josey’s Cave was where the locals would go during a hurricane for protection.  I didn’t go in but S did.  As you can see from the pictures it was fairly big.

Then we walked through all the beautiful vegetation of Fern Gully.  There was a really neat tree trunk that looked like an elephant head.  There were also a couple of other neat statues.

Finally, the last part of the tour, the beach.  Now I must tell the entire story.  Throughout the day on this bus tour I would casually ask about the snorkeling and what kinds of things you would see.  Well once we got to the beach and I got my snorkeling gear I felt I had made the point of no return decision to at least get into the water.  I decided to ask Dwaine if there were sharks out where we were going.  Let me say before I go on, in my mind I am hoping there is some sort of net up to keep the sharks out because this is such a hot dive spot and there were kids on this tour.  In my mind I’m thinking how dangerous could this be?  Well at the time my dear husband was behind me when I was questioning Dwaine on the shark population and unbeknownst to me my dear husband was standing behind me shaking his head no.  Why you might ask, well I am somewhat of a chicken shit when it comes to certain things and being eaten by a shark is the top of the list and S knew nothing on God’s green earth would get me in that water if there was any chance I would come face to face with Jaws.  Ok maybe not the Jaws but something large enough that I would be his/her next meal.  So back to me standing in front of Dwaine, wide eye, hoping with everything I have that he was going to say no to my question.  Are there any sharks out there, his eyes briefly flash past me and I think nothing of it, he looks back at me and says oh no there is nothing to worry about.  Whew!!!! I mentally jumped for joy.  Now as I said earlier S was behind me shaking his head so when Dwaine’s eyes briefly left mine I am assuming he understood what it was my husband was trying to do.  To be fair Dwaine didn’t lie, he told me there was nothing to worry about, he had done this a million of times.  So with my new found confidence I marched off to the water with my husband.  The water was chilly but once we got in it was perfect.  We started off and yes Dwaine was right there with us.  There was a total of 9 of us to start.  We swam until we got to a sand bar and it was not even deep enough to cover my legs when I stood up.  Dwaine told us we were going to swim to a point in the ocean and then back.  When he pointed to this magic spot we were to swim too I put my foot down.  I let it be known that was a little too far and he said ok how about we go to the next closest point and he showed me where that was.  I agreed.  At this point my husband told me he knew it went from being a group tour to a JoJo tour.  So we start off and we had been in the water for a few minutes when a guy from Germany started screaming help.  Oh my gosh what in the hell is going on?  First thought SHARK, and don’t look under water because I was getting ready to see something I didn’t want to see.  I looked around for my husband as I was slowly making my way back to that safe sandbar and what did I see?  My husband swimming towards that man.  Oy Vey what was he thinking?  Right behind S was Dwaine.  Almost immediately Dwaine starts yelling its ok, he just got a cramp.  It took a minute for my mind to register this because my fight or flight had kicked in and I was flying.  I was making my way back to the beach.  Well once it sunk in that this man just had a cramp I quit my journey back to the shore and stayed where I was.  Come to find out this guy was not a very good swimmer and he had his young son with him.  His wife and other son stayed on the beach.  Well once S and Dwaine made sure the guy was ok they sent him on his way back to the shore with his son in tow.  So back to our snorkeling adventure, now there were 7.  Once we all got our masks back on and started toward our destination all was well.  Dwaine got my attention and pointed at the squid that were swimming below us.  They were so close I could touch them.  S said he could hear screams coming from my snorkel.  He didn’t realize what was going on until I pointed the squid out to him and then he knew I was just excited.

There were so many beautiful and colorful fish and vegetation.  I just couldn’t get enough of what I was seeing.  Dwaine stayed by my side the entire time pointing out different things.  Well before I knew it we were at the destination.  I brought my head up out of the water and looked at Dwaine with my eyes opened as wide as I could open them and a huge smile on my face and asked where the other point was that we were supposed to go to.  He pointed to the spot and I said “Let’s go”.  Everyone else was now gathering around and they were asking what we were doing.  I told them we were going on further and with my bossiness that I try to suppress reared its head when I let everyone know to basically let’s get the show on the road by yelling Ok People let’s go!   So this time we make it to the point and then we were swimming on the other side of the rock barrier, i.e. deeper ocean.  As we were making our way around the rock barrier Dwaine starts pointing at something.  As I look I see huge gray manta ray fish.  Again with the screams.  S is still behind me, which I later find out it was because he was looking at all the underwater surroundings and if he did happen to see a shark he was going to try to steer me in the opposite direction or be there to slap some sense into me so to speak if I saw one.  Any who back to the manta rays, I was in awe, and they were beautiful.  I didn’t want to move.  I just wanted to hover above them and watch them for as long as they would stay in that area.

As we move on Dwaine said once we get around the rocks back on the beach side there are usually sea turtles hanging around.  Unfortunately we didn’t get to see any but, we did see a huge barracuda.  I have been told time and again they are what you need to watch out for but for me I am still more scared of running into a shark.  Who knows it could be a different story if Jaws (the movie) had a barracuda as the star instead of a Great White Shark.   There were more beautiful fish and vegetation and as we made our way closer to the shore.  I didn’t want to leave this underwater oasis.

Once we got out of the water we sat outside and ate our lunch.  The weather was perfect and this was an amazing way to spend the day.  I am glad that in my mind there were no sharks out there.  I would hate to think that my fear would have kept me from experiencing something so beautiful and amazing.

The tour was over and we were now at the dock.  There were some shops and booths selling food and trinkets.  We saw a booth where they were making drinks using local rum and they were putting the drink in a coconut.  What?  How much fun, a drink in a coconut and there was a lady right outside the booth preparing the fresh coconuts.   I just had to try this.  I got one with coconut and I think banana.  Let me just say they do not skimp on the rum.  It was strong.

We walked around a little and just had to take our pictures with the Senor Frog.  From what we were told there were, and I’m sure to this day, many drunk people leaving this place trying to make their way back to the boat.  We actually got a picture of Senor Frogs before they opened when we were waiting to leave for our tour.  It was packed that afternoon.

Freeport was by far my favorite part of the trip.  I’m not saying Nassau wasn’t a nice place to visit and I may have felt different if we had signed up for a tour there as well, or if we had never signed up for the tour in Freeport.  I am so glad we did though.  I didn’t want to get back on the ship I really loved being in Freeport.

Once we got back to our room we had a surprise waiting for us and when I walked in it scared the shit out of me at first.  Once my eyes focused and I realized what it was I laughed my ass off.

I hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane.  I would have been so much more informative if I had finished this blog shortly after the trip as I intended to.  Next up, the last day on the boat.