Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Grocery Bag Holder Tutorial

It's Tutorial Tuesday! Today I have a new pattern for a grocery bag holder for you. It's better than the one I had years and years ago. (Well, six years and six months or so ago. Geez, I'm getting old.)

Looking for more sewing and crafting projects? 


In addition to the usual sewing supplies, for this project you will need:
  • 18" x 22" piece of fabric (also called a fat quarter)
  • Two 8" pieces of elastic
That's it! Enjoy corralling all those grocery bags.


While my patterns, templates, and videos are absolutely free, if you feel so inclined please consider a donation for their use. Every little bit helps! Your donation helps support the blog and allows me to continue to provide free content to crafters and cruisers all around the world.  

Rather not donate? No worries - go ahead and use them for free! If you do donate, thank you for your support!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

How to Sew a Quick and Easy Star Slipcover Pillowcase

We don't do much in way of extra decorative pillows anymore. But I have a pillow form and needed a project for it. I'm guessing it's too late for 4th of July, but at least it's not August yet!

Looking for more sewing and crafting projects? 


In addition to the regular sewing supplies, for this project you will need:
  • 1 ½” x 9” red fabric strips, cut 2
  • 1 ½” x 11” red fabric strips, cut 2
  • 2 ½” x 11” beige fabric strips, cut 2 
  • 2 ½” x 15” beige fabric strips, cut 2
  • 9” x 9” piece of blue fabric
  • 8 ½” x 8 ½” white fabric for star
  • 9 ½” x 15” backing fabric, cut 2
  • 8 ½” x 8 ½” piece of fusible paper-backed interfacing (I use HeatnBond no-sew UltraHold Iron On)
  • 14” x 14” pillow form
  • Star template from HERE

You can find the video here:

While my patterns, templates, and videos are absolutely free, if you feel so inclined please consider a donation for their use. Every little bit helps! Your donation helps support the blog and allows me to continue to provide free content to crafters and cruisers all around the world.  

Rather not donate? No worries - go ahead and use them for free! If you do donate, thank you for your support!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Travel Scooters on a Cruise


It's Cruise Ship Saturday! Today we're talking about travel scooters.

As people with limited mobility one of the places where we feel like regular people is on a cruise ship. Being in a business where the primary customers are retired people, cruise lines have experience working with less-than-mobile folks. From helping carry your plate at the buffet to providing assistance traveling up the gangway and everything else in between, a crew member is there. If you need a wheelchair or scooter there are rental companies working with cruise lines that can have one waiting for you in the cabin. If you use a cane or walker consider looking into this option. Being able to move around the ship and in port without having to worry about all the walking brings a freedom like no other.

Most travel scooters are narrow enough to fit through a standard door but a full size scooter requires a handicapped cabin because of its width. Handicap accessible cabins are near elevators and are much larger than regular cabins. If you need one, book one. Scooters are not allowed to be left in hallways.

Travel scooters are perfect for cruise ships. Whether in Glacier Bay...
 Or at sea...
Or in port...
having a scooter will pretty much guarantee a richer and more active cruise experience. If you use a walker or wheelchair, please consider a scooter instead. You won't regret it!

If you're ready to try out a Princess cruise, contact me. I'm a Princess Commodore, the highest level of Princess Cruises expert there is in the travel agent world. Let me help you put together a cruise suited just for you!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Where to Eat for Free on Your Birthday

Welcome to my Birthday Freebie Challenge!

The goal was to get as many birthday freebies as possible within a 10 mile radius of our home in Boise, Idaho. The only ground rule for the challenge was that it had to be completely free. No free dessert with entrée purchase, no free appetizer with drink purchase, and certainly no buy one get one free deals.

I found 29 restaurants that offered straight-up freebies. Most all required signing up online and/or downloading apps. I made a spreadsheet and numbered the restaurants in the order I would visit them. I left spaces to write down the time I visited, what the meal would have cost, and a spot for notes. Hubby tagged along with me, and we left the house at 5:45 AM and didn't return home until after 7:00 PM.

And yes, I did this all in one day and nope, I didn't eat all the food. Even though the birthday freebies were in my name, several places automatically brought a plate for hubby to share the food without me even asking. Some places we ate a couple bites then got a to-go box and some places we just got it to-go right away. I kept a bag and an ice chest in the car and used both all along the way. Since I went to places close by, I made several runs home to drop off leftovers.  (A picture of my fridge is in the last photo.) I've been sharing my leftovers with appreciative elderly neighbors all week.

You can either watch the video HERE or go ahead and read the list on this page. Either way, your tummy might start growling!

Here we go with my Birthday Freebies List, all experienced first-hand (by me, the birthday girl) in a single day:
  1. IHOP - Sign up for their e-club and receive a coupon for a free regular stack of pancakes. I chose a peach Rooty Tooty stack. 
  2. Krispy Kreme - I signed up online and had to download an app to get a free glazed doughnut. When I told the gal at the counter it was my birthday and I wasn't sure how to use the app for my freebie, she said I was entitled to any doughnut and a coffee for free. I went with a glazed raspberry filled and gave hubby my coffee. It’s only place where we ate the entire freebie.
  3. Denny's - A free Grand Slam breakfast on your birthday is their offer. No sign up, no coupon - just let the server know. They were out of sausage so I doubled up on bacon, and since I had leftover pancakes from IHOP I chose toast here.
  4. Black Bear Diner - Sign up and a coupon will (maybe) be emailed to you. I received a welcome coupon for a free bear claw and coffee, but my birthday email never showed up. I talked to the server about it not arriving - I even showed her the email on my phone to prove I was a member of their club - but she was still very curt with me. At that point I decided to just get the bear claw and coffee to go. While I've been there before and had good service, this visit left me feeling a bit bummed about the place.
  5. Cracker Barrel - Let the server know it's your birthday to get a free dessert. I asked the host at the podium about the possibility of getting a free dessert without ordering anything else and he had to check with the manager before allowing it. They don't have a stated policy about needing to order other food, but I wouldn't encourage going just for dessert. They seemed annoyed with me for even asking. Coca-Cola chocolate cake - hold the ice cream - was the dessert of choice.
  6. Sonic - Download their app for a free birthday milkshake.
  7. Del Taco - Sign up and get a coupon for a free premium milkshake for your birthday. You will also get an email for two free chicken tacos to welcome you to their club. They allowed me to use both coupons at the same time. They also allowed us to use our two free taco coupons we got from the Boise Hawks game. For a fast food place early in the morning the gal was nice and friendly. And they had a salsa bar. Score!
  8. Shari's - Sign up for their club and download their app for a free slice of pie. Marionberry, please.
  9. Panera Bread - Sign up for their club and download the app for a free pastry or sweet. Apple crunch muffin for me.
  10. Edible Arrangements - I signed up online and it said I was given $5 to use. The gal at the counter looked it up for me and said it was in their system but she also said I'd have to buy something over $5 to be able to use it. I asked her about other options and told her I was doing a birthday freebie thing. She gave me two chocolate covered strawberries, and let me still keep the $5 on my account.
  11. Cinnabon - Sign up and get a free iced coffee for your birthday. My location didn't have iced coffee (I'm not a coffee drinker anyway) so she gave me a large soda instead. You also get a coupon for four free bonbites for signing up so I picked those up, too.
  12. Wendy's - One of the birthday freebie websites said if I signed up for Wendy's email list I would get a free birthday Frosty. A coupon never arrived. Instead we had two coupons from a Boise Hawks game so we used those to get free small Frostys instead.
  13. Baskin Robbins - Sign up and receive a coupon for a free small scoop on your birthday. (This is the only birthday freebie I've ever used before.)
  14. Firehouse Subs - Sign up and download the app to get a free sub on your birthday. Most places I signed up for sent out birthday freebie emails at least a day ahead of the date but I didn't receive Firehouse's until my actual birthday. Steak and cheese sub was my choice.
  15. Pita Pit - Sign up and get a free soft drink.
  16. Flatbread Neapolitan Pizzeria - Sign up and get a free Margherita Pizza for your birthday. You will also receive a coupon for a free flatbread as a thank you for signing up for the email list. I had no problem using both at the same time. 
  17. Taco John's - Sign up and download their app to get a free meat and potato burrito. This was the restaurant that was farthest from our home at 7.5 miles.
  18. Costa Vida - Sign up and download their app to get a free birthday dessert. They also send a $4 bonus for signing up. I used both at the same time with no problem. An enchilada kids meal with beans, rice, and drink and a key lime pie dessert.
  19. Smokey Mountain Pizza - Sign up and receive a free personal pizza (unlimited toppings) or pasta entree on your birthday.
  20. The Counter - Sign up to get a free order of small fries.
  21. Kona Grill - Sign up and receive a coupon for $15 off any order. I asked if I could take something to go (it didn't specify on the coupon) and was told it is usually eat-in only. But the manager was standing there and allowed me to get the Cuban sandwich with sweet potato fries as a to-go order.
  22. Grimaldi's Pizza - Sign up and get a free one topping 16" pizza (a $17 value). You also receive a $5 bonus for signing up. It was quite a hassle (or so they made it seem), but they did allow me to use both at the same time.
  23. Johnny Carino's - Sign up and get a coupon for $5 off an order. The cheapest thing on the menu was half a lettuce wedge salad at $4.99. The coupon stated it could be used when placing or picking up an order, but they didn't want to do it as a pick up order. They eventually did, but charged me 30 cents in sales tax. It was the only place on the list that charged the tax.
  24. Culver's - Sign up and get a free one scoop sundae for your birthday. The gal behind the counter handed it to me messy, with the strawberry topping dripping all over my hands before I even got out the door. In my haste to clean up the mess before putting it in the car I forgot to take a picture of it.
  25. Jersey Mike's - Sign up and receive a coupon for a free sandwich and drink. This is another coupon that didn't arrive until mid-morning on my birthday. A roast beef and provolone was my choice.
  26. Noodles and Company - Sign up and download the app to receive a free crispy or cookie on your birthday. Yet another mid-morning coupon arrival.
  27. Red Robin - Sign up and get a free gourmet burger on your birthday. We did eat half of this burger (I love pineapple with no tomato and no lettuce on a burger!) and took the rest home.
  28. Sizzler - Sign up and receive a free classic burger. (Cheese would have cost extra, so none this time.) This burger isn't technically a birthday freebie but rather a sign up freebie. 
  29. Old Chicago Pizza - Sign up and receive $17 towards a pizza on your birthday. They found me in their system using my phone number and didn't know why my free pizza wasn't showing up, but they gave it to me anyway. Very friendly here.
Would I do it again? No way. As we only took bites of food here and there, thankfully we weren't overly stuffed. But it was a long and taxing day, requiring utmost patience on my part with some of the people working in the restaurants. It was clear some people were happy to be working a job and others weren't. Being we don't go out to eat much, I didn't realize there was such a difference in service from restaurant to restaurant. Boy, there sure is. 

As I visited the restaurants throughout the day I found that some places were quite welcoming and even wished me a happy birthday (yay to those establishments) and others seemed annoyed they even had a customer they had to wait on, let alone one with a coupon (boo to those places). I generously tipped those who were deserving using the encouraging words money pockets I made this week and even those not deserving were left with at least a dollar in the encouraging words money pockets.

As much as I don't like having extra apps on my phone, it really was easy-peasy to redeem my freebies at the places requiring the app. But the places where I had to print the coupon? It was a big old pain. They had to read the coupon a couple times, check with the manager, come over and talk to me again, check the coupon again, etc. It was like they had never seen the coupon before. More than once I pulled up the original email on my phone to prove I really did get it from their company. But not one single place asked for ID to prove it was my birthday.

I received $210.24 in food but paid only 30 cents of it (sales tax at Johnny Carino's). Hubby and I only drank water so no beverages were purchased. I did leave tips but didn't include those in my figures as I would have been leaving my encouraging words money pockets anyway. I did use more gas in the car than I expected as it was a 100 degree day so the air conditioning was running all the time and we were driving city miles, not highway miles.

If you decide to take advantage of any of the birthday freebies on the list (or are up to trying your own Birthday Freebie Challenge), I'd love to hear about how it went for you. You can email me using the little envelope icon on the upper right hand corner of this page. You can also email me if you'd like a copy of my spreadsheet to use for your Challenge Day.

And a disclaimer...Remember, these are current freebies as of July 2018 so check with your local establishments to see if they are valid when your birthday comes around. 

Happy eating! And Happy Birthday to you, whenever it is!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

5 Things to do in Juneau, Alaska

It's Wanderlust Wednesday! Today we're talking about what to do in Juneau, Alaska.


Juneau, the capital city of Alaska, is landlocked. While you can drive all around Juneau, the only way in or out is by boat or plane. It's also big. The Juneau area covers over 3,200 square miles and covers almost as much land as the states of Delaware and Rhode Island put together. With that much space there is plenty to do.

1. Take a seaplane to see the glaciers from above. Glacier flighseeing tours give you a birds eye look at the numerous glaciers in the area. They are quite popular - and a bit expensive.

2. If you'd like another way to see a glacier, check out Mendenhall Glacier. Ship excursions and independent tours go to Mendenhall. If you want the cheapest way to get there, a city bus can get you within a mile or so of the visitor center.
There are several trails around Mendenhall Lake, where the 13 mile long glacier ends. Our favorite one leads to Nugget Falls. More details about getting to Nugget Falls can be found here.

3. Take a ride up the Mt. Roberts Tramway. Soaring 1,800 feet in the air, you'll get great views of the Juneau and Gastineau Channels. At the top you'll find observation areas, a nature center, gift shop, theater, a place to eat, and hiking trails. 
View from the top
View from down below
4. Go on a whale watching tour. The area is abundant with whales. Flukes? Yep. Breaching? If you're lucky.

5. Eat like a local. Breweries and restaurants and cafes. Fish and pizza and local beer. The ship docks within walking distance to tasty food and drink.

How about a Dungeness crab BLT from the Rookery Cafe?


Enjoy Juneau!
Check out the video version of this post here:



Ready to try out a Princess cruise for yourself? Contact me! I'm a Princess Commodore, the highest level of Princess Cruises expert there is in the travel agent world, and an official Princess Alaska expert. Let me help you put together a cruise suited just for you!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

How to Make Money Pockets and Encouraging Words Labels - Easy Project

It's Tutorial Tuesday and today's project is one dear to me. It's probably not technically a craft project, but it's something you can make so maybe I can count it as one. I definitely count it as a project that helps make the world a better place. Or at least one that makes someone's day.

For the last several years I’ve been giving away dollar bills with notes of encouragement. I used to hand write notes on packs of Post-It notes but I found the adhesive wasn’t sticking in high-humid climates we were traveling to. A couple years back I switched to making my own little money pockets and printing labels for them. I’ve left them in restrooms and airplane magazines and sugar containers. I’ve left them in windowsills and tip jars and hotel room drawers. I’ve left them on buses and taxis and trains. Sometimes I place one somewhere once a day and other days I drop them off multiple times.

For this project you will need:
You can find the video here:

Looking for more sewing and crafting projects? 

Today I will be delivering my money pockets all throughout Boise as I make a birthday-freebie run today.  Happy Birthday to me! I'm taking notes today so come back on Friday to find out how the food-filled, freebie-filled birthday went. It's going to be a crazy one.

While my patterns, templates, and videos are absolutely free, if you feel so inclined please consider a donation for their use. Every little bit helps! Your donation helps support the blog and allows me to continue to provide free content to crafters and cruisers all around the world.  

Rather not donate? No worries - go ahead and use them for free! If you do donate, thank you for your support!

If you'd rather not make your own pockets, a library pocket might be larger but could be a nice substitute.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Cruise Ship Excursions


It's Cruise Ship Saturday! Today we're talking about cruise ship excursions.

An excursion can be a great way to see and do a lot in one port. Ship-sponsored excursions can be reserved through the cruise line’s website ahead of time. They may also be available once onboard at the shore excursions desk. The length and amount of activity on an excursion varies. Tours can run from a sightseeing trolley which requires no walking to hiking a glacier to snorkeling to a helicopter tour of volcanoes. Tour lengths range from 30 minutes to full day. Be forewarned – excursions can be expensive. You can spend $29 for a tour of the city or $599 for a bear watching trip. Shoppers, know that some of the longer excursions may not leave time for you to hit up the stores.

If booked on a ship-sponsored excursion there are procedures common to most cruise lines:

  • A tour ticket is issued with a number or number/letter combo.
  • Passengers are given a place and time to gather where representatives will have signs with corresponding tour name/number/letter combos.
  • After handing over the tour ticket passengers may be issued a sticker or wristband.
  • Early arrivers may be allowed to board the transportation or may have to stand and wait. Your transportation could be a bus, van, taxi, shuttle, trolley, ferry, boat, or train.
  • Some tours have several buses of passengers. Paying attention to the driver and bus/shuttle number can be important as you may be required to return with the same driver.
  • The smaller the group, the more individualized the tour.

Excursions can also be booked independently. Non-ship excursions can be cheaper in some cases. These can be booked ahead of time or at the port. Hiring a driver to give a tour of the area is another option. This may require some preplanning or may require nothing more than showing up at the taxi stand. Talk to the representative about what you want and agree on a price before leaving. You may be able to negotiate so don’t be afraid to ask. In some ports free or fee-based shuttles take passengers to and from shopping centers or town centers. If renting a car, reservations will need to be made ahead of time.

Both ship and private excursions may be canceled because of weather but some excursions operate rain or shine. 
Swimming with sea turtles excursion. Not canceled.
Yes, I was in the water.
Don’t feel obliged to keep busy with tours the entire time. In many ports wandering can lead to great restaurants and shops. Some of the restaurants may have free Wi-Fi with a food or beverage purchase. There is nothing wrong – in fact there is a lot right – with sitting at a restaurant in Cozumel with delicious margaritas, chips and salsa, banana leaf wrapped tamales, good music, and free Wi-Fi. A very relaxing way to spend a Friday.

Excerpt from CRUISING WITH CONFIDENCE: HOW TO BE A FIRST TIME CRUISER WITHOUT LOOKING LIKE ONE by Deb Pfeifer

If you're ready to try out a Princess cruise, contact me. I'm a Princess Commodore, the highest level of Princess Cruises expert there is in the travel agent world. Let me help you put together a cruise suited just for you!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Suck the Marrow Tour, Spring 2018


It's Wanderlust Wednesday! Today we're wrapping up our Spring tour.

With our health and mobility issues it is imperative that we make the most of each day we have. So each time we go away we adhere to my tattoo, a quote from Henry David Thoreau.

"Live deep and suck out all the marrow of life."

Between May 5 and June 4 of this year we:
  • Took three cruises
  • Rented two cars
  • Stayed in 12 different hotels
  • Visited four National Parks
  • Spent time in two countries
  • Traveled to four states
  • Traveled by plane, ship, converted school bus and converted prison bus, double decker bus, coach, train, taxi, car, and shuttle
  • Went to two Major League Baseball games
  • Won $1279.07 on a penny slot machine
Yeah, we sucked the marrow. But when we take these kinds of trips the same question comes up, a question that is hard to answer.

What was your favorite part?

Let's go with some of the prettiest views instead.

Harbor at Icy Strait Point, Alaska. There was a whale out there on the day we visited.

Flowers at Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Canada. 

Glacier Bay National Park

Moose in the road, Cantwell, Alaska

Penny Slot Win

Nugget Falls at Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska

Denali

Dogsledding Tour, Skagway, Alaska

Drive from Denali to Wasilla, Alaska

Island Princess

Just my prettiest views for the month.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

How to Sew a Quick and Easy Sunglasses Case

It's Tutorial Tuesday and I have a quick and easy project for you (and your sunglasses).

Looking for more sewing and crafting projects? 

In addition to the regular sewing supplies, for this project you will need:
  • 8 1/2" x 8 1/2" main fabric
  • 8 1/2" x 8 1/2" lining fabric
  • 8" x 8" fusible fleece like this kind HERE.
  • Something to make a rounded end, like a cup or glass
Check out the video for detailed directions. It's right here:

While my patterns, templates, and videos are absolutely free, if you feel so inclined please consider a donation for their use. Every little bit helps! Your donation helps support the blog and allows me to continue to provide free content to crafters and cruisers all around the world.  

Rather not donate? No worries - go ahead and use them for free! If you do donate, thank you for your support!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Suck the Marrow Spring 2018 Trip, Foodie Edition


It's Yummy Monday! Today we're talking about the best things we ate on our Alaska/Washington/Oregon/Canada road trip and cruise.

With our health and mobility issues it is imperative that we make the most of each day we have. So each time we go away we adhere to my tattoo, a quote from Henry David Thoreau.

"Live deep and suck out all the marrow of life."

Between May 5 and June 4 of this year we:
  • Took three cruises
  • Rented two cars
  • Stayed in 12 different hotels
  • Visited four National Parks
  • Spent time in two countries
  • Traveled to four states
  • Traveled by plane, ship, converted school bus and converted prison bus, double decker bus, coach, train, taxi, car, and shuttle.
  • Went to two Major League Baseball games
  • Won $1279.07 on a penny slot machine
Yeah, we sucked the marrow. But when we take these kinds of trips the same question comes up, a question that is hard to answer. 

What was your favorite part?

Instead of favorites, today I'm going with the best foods we had.

Best Breakfast - Razzy Cinnamon Rolls at the Talkeetna Roadhouse in Talkeetna, Alaska.

Best Dinner - Tacos from Carniceria Los Compadres (a butcher shop/market) in Mt. Vernon, Washington

Best Dessert - Marionberry Cobbler from the Halfway House restaurant in Brinnon, Washington.

Best Car Picnic - On the trunk of the car in a parking lot in Olympic National Park, Washington.

Best Cruise Ship Food - a mini lamb chop from the Most Traveled Passenger Party on the Island Princess.

Best Ballpark Food - Philly Cheesesteak at Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington.

Best Snack Box Provided on a Tour - The snack box we received as part of our Tundra Wilderness Tour in Denali National Park.

Best Drink - Hey Ya'll, a hard iced tea we had in Vancouver, Canada.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Sewing & Crafting Templates


Christmas Tree Templates for the tutorial found here.

Coupon Organizer Dividers for the tutorial found here.

Owl Template for the tutorial found here.

Heart Template for the tutorial found here.

Coffee Cozy Template for the tutorial found here.

Sleep Mask Template for the tutorial found here.

Money Pockets for the tutorial found here.

Star Template for the tutorial found here

Pan Protector Template for the tutorial found here.

Fabric Pumpkins Template for the tutorial found here

Owl Potholder Template for the tutorial found here.

Owl Ornament Template for the tutorial found here.

Applique Heart Ornament Template for the tutorial found here

Vintage Christmas Tree Ornament Template for the tutorial found here

Snowman Ornament Template for the tutorial found here

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

5 Things to do in Vancouver, Canada

It's Wanderlust Wednesday! Today we're talking about what to do in Vancouver, Canada.


This week we have a video version as well. You can find that here:

I can't even count the number of times we've been to Vancouver, Canada. It has been a lot. Here are the top five of things we've done.

1. Spend the day in Stanley Park. Lots of places to walk and lots of pretty views.

2. Head up to Grouse Mountain. Ski resort in winter and other outdoor adventures - hiking, biking, ziplining - in summer. Heck, they even have a Grizzly Bear Refuge.
And the views from high up are spectacular.

3. Visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge. It's high, it's long, and it moves when you walk on it. A bit scary but you'll get a certificate of completion when you're done!
Or try the Cliffwalk when you're there. Also a bit scary.

4. For something less scary, head down to Canada Place. You'll find the cruise port, convention center, and plenty of restaurants. And great views.

5. Eat, drink and be merry. You'll find restaurant, bars, and specialty venues all over the city.
Cupcakes?
Prefer a frozen Bellini?
Maybe a vodka iced tea?
Look at the horseradish and pepper rim
on this Bloody Mary.

Spicy shrimp and popcorn?

Or a peach Melba Pannekoeken (Dutch pancake)? 

No matter where you are in the city, you can find plenty to keep your body busy and your belly full.

Ready to try out a Princess cruise for yourself? Contact me! I'm a Princess Commodore, the highest level of Princess Cruises expert there is in the travel agent world, and an official Princess Alaska expert. Let me help you put together a cruise suited just for you!