Wednesday, October 31, 2018

And Away We Go...

If you remember, back last year we realized we didn't want to do a bucket list. We followed the lead of Scott Jones (you can see his inspirational Ted Talk here) and decided on a f*** it list. You can find our list here.  If you notice, the first thing on our list is no early mornings. But we had to make an exception today. 

While we were originally going to use this early morning flight to get us a long stopover in Amsterdam on our way to Rome, our flight was changed a couple months back and we were being rerouted through LAX. We could have used those hours in LA to take a tour or head to the beach, but with security the way it is, with traffic the way it is, and with the way hubby's mobility is, we thought it best to just stick close. So a relaxing breakfast, relaxing lunch, and lots of people watching was planned. We found ourselves a quiet corner and did just that.
And also watched construction.
Had some delicious wood-fired pizza.
Left an encouraging words money pocket in a restroom.
Now away we go!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Make a Fabric Owl Ornament - Tutorial Tuesday

It's Tutorial Tuesday and today we're making an owl ornament you could use year 'round. Not just for Christmas!

Homemade Fabric Owl Christmas Tree Ornament Sewing Project

For this project you will need:

Looking for more Christmas ideas? Check out some of my other projects?

Disclosure: Deb's Days is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to affiliated sites. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you new sewing and crafting content.

You can find the step-by-step how to video for the homemade fabric owl Christmas tree ornament sewing project here:

Monday, October 29, 2018

Yummy Monday - Pig'n Pancake, Seaside, Oregon

It's Yummy Monday! Today we're talking about the Pig'n Pancake restaurant in Seaside, Oregon.

We were driving outside Astoria, Oregon a few months back and saw a billboard for a place called Pig'n Pancake. My mind went right to pigs in a blanket. Which I can't stand. I may have even said gross out loud.

Then a couple days later we were in Seaside, Oregon and I was searching on my phone for a place for breakfast that had good reviews.
We needed to make a stop at the local bank and saw that the Pig'n Pancake place was about a block away. And it had great reviews.
It was so not a pigs in a blanket place. (Thank goodness.) We had probably one of the best Denver omelets we've ever had. Chock full of bacon and onions and peppers and tomatoes and cheddar cheese. Oh, yum.

We also had lingonberry Swedish Pancakes. A double yum.
Look at their cute plates!
I'm always surprised by the amazing - and delicious - things we run into by chance. 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Cruise Ship Saturday - A New Adventure and Extended Travel FAQs

It’s Cruise Ship Saturday and we have a new extended adventure coming up next week that'll take us a while to get through.

  • Fly Boise to LAX to Rome.
  • A couple days in Rome.
  • Board the Crown Princess for an Italy-France-Spain-Portugal-Ft. Lauderdale transatlantic voyage.
  • A Florida Keys road trip.
  • Board the Royal Princess for a Caribbean cruise.
  • A flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Atlanta to San Francisco.
  • Board the Grand Princess for a Mexican Riviera Cruise.
  • Stay onboard for another Mexican Riviera Cruise.
  • Fly home.

  • I'll be blogging live the whole trip so keep an eye out for new posts each day!

    But before we head out next week for that lengthy adventure I’m covering some FAQs about traveling for an extended period of time. It's a long post, but pretty darn thorough. (I had a lot to say.)

    You used to spend all your time Alaska; now you’re all over the place. Did you get bored?  What changed?
    We definitely didn’t get bored with Alaska! Hard to believe that we’ve been 15 times and we still want to go back. But now we aren’t working and can move around any time of the year from ship to ship, place to place, in order to meet up with our crew member friends. That’s the reason we do so much ship-hopping – to get to as many of our crew buddies as we can.
    How do we choose which itineraries to cruise / regions to visit?
    We don't care where we go. There hasn't been a place we haven't liked! So for us, it starts with price. When something pops up with a great (and sometimes unbelievable) price, we then look at other cruises before and after it. We also look at the list of our National Parks we still need to visit to see if we can tie it into the trip. Then we go from there. We'll be able to get three new National Parks in during this upcoming trip.
    What’s the best part of extended traveling?
    Being able to be completely immersed in travel mode. It takes several days to finally relax once we’ve left home, and having an extended time away lets us really get into the relaxing mode. No worrying about meals and cleaning and sprinklers and grocery shopping. It’s like running away from home and living in a different world. Who wouldn’t want a trip like that to last as long as it could?
    What’s the worst part of extended traveling?
    The organization it takes. We really don’t like having to stick to a schedule, but when planning for an extended trip there are so many moving parts – flights, taxis and buses and shuttles, ships, hotels, rental cars, specific places we want to visit – so we need to have some sort of structure. I make a spreadsheet that shows where we are every single day (that part is set in stone) but thankfully the rest is flexible. We like being able to wake up in the morning before deciding what to do for the day. We can't predict how we'll be feeling on a specific day a month from now (heck, we don't even know about tomorrow) so we don’t book many tours ahead of time.
    Here’s what part of our May-June spreadsheet looked like.
    One of the other things hard about extended traveling is we don’t really get to relax when we’re home. When we're not traveling we're either hurrying to get things done around the house before we leave or trying to get the house back in order after we get back. And let’s not even talk about how furiously fast I have to work to pre-tape Tuesday Tutorials before we leave again! This year we traveled Washington and Alaska in May and June, the Caribbean in August and September, and now another trip in November and December. It has almost been a year of too much traveling spread out too much throughout the year. (If there was such a thing.)
    Have I always had the travel bug?
    Hi, my name is Deb and I'm a travel addict. I used to camp with my grandparents every summer so it started young. A couple months back my mom brought one of my old school papers dated February 10, 1976. In my fifth grade handwriting I had included this in a poem:
    Looks like I had adventure on my mind even back then.
    Once my husband and I became a two-career family we started traveling together with our daughter. Almost every Thanksgiving break, Christmas vacation, spring break, and summer vacation since then has been spent traveling. We even traveled all 50 states with her before she went off to college. Thanksgiving in Iceland? Christmas in Hawaii? Spring Break in London? Easter in Mexico? 4th of July in Alaska? Been there, done that. 
    How much longer will we do this?
    I’m not sure. Every time we take a trip I think it’s going to be the last one. Hubby’s cerebral palsy is continuing to make movement harder for him and it will only get worse. And the falls he's had aren't helping things. My rheumatoid arthritis isn’t improving, both knee replacements are wearing out, and having only one working lung continues to make things a bit of a struggle. I’m not certain how adventurous we can be anymore. In fact, I just canceled a month-long trip to South America. I think it’s time for us to stop planning ahead and instead live a day at a time. I say that, but yet we talk about living in Alaska for the summer. Go figure.
    What do we pack when we cruise?
    Still using the one shared suitcase and shared backpack.
    Hubby struggles enough walking on his own so we make sure his hands and arms are always free. If we want to take something I know I’ll be the one responsible for carrying it through the airport or into the hotel so we keep extras to a minimum. Just call me the pack mule! We only take one set of nice clothes in case we wind up at the Most Traveled Guest party. Otherwise it’s casual all the way. Nothing exciting or unusual can be found in our suitcase. Other than being loaded with a bunch of snacks for crew members.
    One trip required an extra suitcase just for crew snacks.
    And my encouraging words money pockets that I'll be dropping off each day somewhere along the way. I have Euros for some of them, too.
    Cut, glued, labeled, stuffed, and ready to go.
    How do I prepare my blog posts, and how long do I spend writing them?
    I usually type them up in a Word document, copy and paste, and then add the photos. When we were on the Caribbean Princess for the month they had the amazingly super-speedy unlimited internet so I could work right within the blog post. But alas, these next couple months will be spent on ships where super-slow internet is the norm. Most likely I won’t be able to post many pictures until we get to some speedy land-based internet. Probably a good thing as I work way too much on blog stuff when I’m traveling. (And I still wind up with mistakes.)
    Do I blog while I’m home?
    Unfortunately (or is it fortunately?) I do. For years I did a post a day based around a picture I took. 1000 straight days of pictures and stories. (That’s the Pic a Day Project tab at the top of this page.) Then I took a break. At the beginning of this year I decided it was time to get all my travel “stuff” off my computer and do something with it. This year my new content schedule has been crazy.
    I’ve had to work hard to get information and photos posted several times a week. At the end of this year I’ll be re-evaluating things. I’m not sure what next year’s blogging will look like yet, but I need to cut back a bit on something.
    What travel apps do I recommend?
    For someone who used to teach technology classes to teachers, I’m a pretty boring app person. Just a few months ago I figured out (with my daughter’s help) that I could download Google Maps for offline use. I use Mobile Passport every time we go through Port Everglades to get us into the super-short Global Entry line. I do use WhatsApp a lot because that's how we communicate with our crew member pals. Looking at the home screen on my phone you can tell how boring I am.

    What are some of my favorite travel websites and blogs?
    There are two blogs I use as resources for every cruise we take. If we’re heading to a new port or are even going to a port where I’d like to do something different, I head to both sites to do my research. 
    *Yellow Fish Cruises (Pescado Amarillo) has been writing about winters at sea for nine years now.  Look at all the cruises she's written about! And I can't even get all her port information into one photo. She just headed back out for a trip most of us could only dream about and boy, does she have plenty of ports coming up in the next few months. And thanks to her, I’ve borrowed stolen most of these FAQ questions from her blog. (Thanks, J!) If you want to see how a seasoned cruiser with over 1,000 days on a ship answers these questions, check out her FAQ post here
    *Vickie and Bernie Travel is my other go-to. Vickie blogs all about Princess Cruises but also has a bunch of port information there. Just look at it all! Vickie is going to be the South America destination expert for the Royal Princess next year so I'm sure her resource list will continue to grow. I was able to meet Vickie on the Caribbean Princess in August and she'll be on our ship these next couple weeks. We have something in the works for both our blogs, so stay tuned.
    Since they’ve both been blogging live from cruise ships for the last several years they have a ton of great information on ship life, too. They are also are fun to read when I’m stuck at home with nowhere to go. They both have great connections with crew, staff, and officers. We love it when others love and respect the same people we do. Be sure to check out both of their blogs. You'll see why I like reading them so much.
    *I use Viator quite a bit for when I do need to book things ahead of time. We’ve used companies on Viator for both tours and transfers around the world. We're using them at least a couple times (so far) for this coming trip.
    Book now on Viator
    *If you haven’t signed up for the USPS Informed Delivery service, do it. You’ll get to see a scan of the mail being delivered each day. Even though we have our mail held while we’re gone, it still shows us what is coming. How did we travel without this?
    Does extended travel like this still excite us?  Is taking one long cruise better than several shorter ones booked back to back? Are four cruises in a row four times as much fun as taking one cruise?
    We much prefer the extended traveling over the one-cruise thing we had to do when we were working. We are comfortable on the ship and when we visit the same ports again and again, those begin to feel like home, too. But I think one of the biggest plusses for us in repeating the same itinerary is the flexibility. When we hit a port just once we feel like we have to cram in as much into a day as humanly possible. We want to see it all. Which leads to exhaustion. Makes the vacation feel like work. I surely don't want that so I like revisiting the same ports several times. But four cruises in a row aren't really four times more fun; they are just more relaxing. 
    We’re not big on the longer cruises. Passengers on longer cruises are typically more well-traveled and can be a bit more "particular." Just like I shared in September:   
    An older lady saw my black (Elite) card. Then she looked at me. Then she looked hard – really hard – at the number of cruises on my card. I could see her mind spinning, trying to figure out how someone looking like me (younger, chunkier, wearing shorts and a t-shirt) could even be in her “Elite” group. The judgement eyes were upon me. Big time.
    Those instances happen more often to us on the longer cruises so we don’t do more than one every couple years.

    Whew, that was a lot. Now, off to finishing up trip preparations. See you next week from Rome!

    Friday, October 26, 2018

    The Friday 15

    15 more items are gone from my home.
    • Old, holey tennis shoes I should have stopped wearing long ago.
    • My favorite two piece swimsuit so faded and stretched that it should have been tossed out even longer ago.
    • A pair of sweats, a dress, a top, and a lace cover up.
    • Three magazines.
    • A calculator.
    • An attempt at a Christmas tree for a tutorial.
    • Three Christmas tutorial projects. (Tutorials to be posted in the near future.)

    15 on their way - some to the trash and some to Idaho Youth Ranch.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2018

    5 Things to Know: Labadee, Haiti

    Today we're talking about the cruise port of Labadee, Haiti. Learn about five important things you need to know about the private Caribbean island.
    5 things to know about Labadee, Haiti cruise port

    1. You can't leave the port area. Seriously, you really can't. No going off on your own to see the real Haiti, no independent tours, no taxis. The property is fenced off from the surrounding area. It's leased by Royal Caribbean for use by Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Azamara cruise ships and they want to be sure to keep their passengers safe. 

    2. Lunch is served - for free. But the tasty drinks will cost you. Try a Labadoozie, a frozen rum and juice combo. Comes with a reusable cup, even.

    3. Lounge chairs are free, too. Move them where you want. 

    4. For the least-busy beach, head to Columbus Cove. It'll be a (bit) quieter than the rest. 
     Want more activity? Check out the roller coaster, zip line, or aqua park.

    5. You can get to and from the ship and around the compound by using a tram that runs continuously. But if you're up before noon and want to head from the ship to the area, catch the free ferry. It's docked right next to the ship. If you're not careful, you'll walk right by it. It's one way only - ship to shore - and doesn't operate all day.
    This photo was taken while sitting on the ferry. It's that close!

    Whatever you decide to do on Labadee, make it a great day.

    5 things to know about Labadee, Haiti

    Monday, October 22, 2018

    Yummy Monday - The Best Marionberry Pie in the West

    It's Yummy Monday! Today we're talking about the best marionberry pie out there.

    In April 2012 I publicly declared the marionberry pie from The Gallery Restaurant in Sisters, Oregon the best pie ever. You can find the declaration here. I had that belief for years and even with all our traveling - and all our marionberry pie eating - we never found anything that came close.

    That has now changed thanks to a restaurant called the Halfway House, set alongside the road in the small town of Brinnon, Washington.

    My title of the Best Marionberry Pie in the West now goes to them. Although, technically it is a cobbler. But oh my, what a tasty cobbler it is.

    Served in a bowl, brimming over the top. Piping hot with a big scoop of ice cream.
    But the thing that sets it apart from the previous best marionberry pie? See the filling that has bubbled over? Scrape it off and eat it. It's chewy and tasty and sweet and oh-so-heavenly!
    Can't believe I have a new number one!

    Saturday, October 20, 2018

    Communicating with Travel Companions

    It's Cruise Ship Saturday! Today we're talking about communication with your travel companions.

    Cruise line brochures give the impression that your vacation will be perfect. People laughing at the railing with blue skies and calm seas in the background. Families hugging each other. Waiters dropping off drinks by the pool. Nothing but glorious nights and fun-filled days. It'll be just like that for you, right?

    Maybe. And then again maybe not.

    Cruise ship behavior isn't much different that behavior found on any other vacation. Except that on a cruise ship people tend to get tired and frustrated and impatient, get tunnel vision, and forget their manners. Even on a cruise ship some people get mad over little things. Their angry dispositions affect children and spouses, other passengers, and the ship’s crew. We have seen it too many times to count.

    If you are cruising with family members or friends, plan ahead. Make sure your travel companions know what you are expecting from them and what they should expect from you. If you want some alone time let them know. If you’re used to being the one who plans everyone’s days and feels responsible for entertaining them perhaps a cruise is the time for you to relax. Being the travel planner/booker/arranger/idea person in my family, a cruise is actually the best chance I get at having a vacation. My work is done ahead of time and the ship does the rest. No having to pack and unpack multiple times. (Once and done.) No needing to decide what movie the family is going to watch. (There are many choices throughout the voyage.) No worrying about getting dinner ready. (Food is everywhere.) No worrying about being stuck together in the same room on a rainy day. (There is an entire ship to roam.) No making beds. (Cabin stewards do that.) No trying to find a babysitter. (That’s why cruise ships have kids clubs.)

    If cruising with kids, discuss expectations with them ahead of time as well. They will be participating in what are generally considered adult-type activities so prepare them for the dining room by practicing proper table manners. A cruise is the opportune time for them to practice how to behave when attending a show or performance. It’s a perfect time for them to learn about giving up seats to the elderly. Experienced cruise passengers will be much more tolerant when kids are well behaved. While kids don’t have to be perfect, people will judge them (and you) when they misbehave, especially if the behavior goes unaddressed. Just a heads up.

    But remember, this is your vacation, too. Ships have staffed youth and teen centers with activities for different age groups. Use them and you might find your children enjoy going. Group and individual babysitting may also be available for a fee.

    Despite how long the lines are, how your steak was under cooked, how your children aren’t listening, how the toilet won't flush, or how your husband won’t leave you alone, remember these important must-do’s for a great vacation:
    • Relax and go with the flow.
    • Be patient and flexible.
    • Look for the good in everyone.
    • Know there will be lines. Chat up the folks standing around you.
    • Be prepared for pools being closed and ports being missed.
    • Smile at other passengers. Smile at the crew cleaning your tables, the ones varnishing the rails, the ones handing out pool towels. Talk to the them about their lives. Ask them about their contract, about their family back home, and about how they spent their time in port.
    • Be open to new ideas. You will be cruising with people from different countries with different customs, languages, and backgrounds.
    • Know that everything won’t be perfect but you’ll still have a great vacation. Cruising is what you make of it. If you see the positive in everything it will be amazing. If you see the negative, you will find things wrong. Remember, a bad day on a cruise ship is better than a good day at work! 
    Please don't be one of those passengers who throw a little tantrum because you're not happy. All the rest of us will remember how you treated your companions. I know you won't see us again, but you will for the next seven days.

    Friday, October 19, 2018

    The Friday 15

    It's another get-rid-of-stuff Friday where I discard or donate 15 items.

    Today we have a posters, magazines, clothes, and tutorial projects all going to our donation place, the Idaho Youth Ranch store. At the community yard sale we also gave away a BBQ, grill basket, and a couple BBQ tools.

    15 items in total. Yay!

    Wednesday, October 17, 2018

    5 Things to do in St. Thomas

    It's Wanderlust Wednesday and today we're talking about five different activities when visiting the cruise port on the island of St. Thomas. We've been to St. Thomas several times over the last few years. There is definitely plenty to keep you busy.
    5 things to do in St. Thomas

    1. Head to the beach. With over 40 beaches it will be easy to find at least one to fit your needs. Consider visiting Magan's Bay for a beach with clear and gentle water. 

    2. Go snorkeling. Nothing better than seeing these guys swimming around you on a Wednesday morning. 

    3. Take the Skyride up the hill to Paradise Point.
    Get some great views from above. And even from below.

    4. Visit a US National Park. The Virgin Islands National Park is part of the United States National Park system. Take the ferry over to St. John to the visitor center and get your National Park Passport stamp.

    5. Eat, drink, and be merry. Remember those conch shells you put up to your ear so you could hear the ocean? Well, folks actually eat the meat out of them. Fritters and stews, salads and sandwiches.  And authentic BBQ in St. Thomas? Oh, yeah.
    And don't forget about the rum drinks. Can you guess the number of rums in this one?

    Lily the bartender at the Smoking Rooster will show you. Go ahead and count.

    5 things to do in St. Thomas