Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Chocolate Oatmeal No Bake Cookies Recipe - Tutorial Tuesday

Looking for a quick and easy cookie recipe? Take a look at my daughter's no-bake cookies. Chocolate, peanut butter, and oatmeal? Yum!
Looking for more sewing, crafting, and food projects? 

For this recipe you will need:
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. butter or margarine
  • 1/3 c. cocoa
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 c. quick cooking rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. coconut
Want to watch the how-to video? 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!
 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sewing for Good Sunday

I'm getting closer to jumping for joy. All the batting has been trimmed off, the quilt top edges are straightened up, and the backing is the right size for me to use as a binding. Yep, on all 12 quilts for the Quilts for Kids charity. All that is left is turning that backing into a binding and stitching it down. Whew, it's been a long process.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

5 Things NOT to Pack for Your Cruise

Do an internet search for cruise packing list and what you find will be overwhelming. And not necessary. Do you need multiple outfits every day? Nope. There are also other things you don't need. Today we're talking about those things you really don't need to pack, including some of those things banned by cruise lines. 

1. Potential fire-creating materials.
Some items are pretty much standard no-no’s and banned by the cruise lines – candles and open flame items, irons (many ships have laundromats with irons and ironing boards for passenger use), kettles, coffee pots, and hotplates.  I've also seen blenders taken away. (Although years ago we took a juicer and had no problem. Today we probably couldn't get away with it.) And power strips? Good luck with that one. Power strips with surge protectors may be confiscated. Do you plan on taking a power strip without a surge protector? It still might be taken away. Personally I haven't seen a consistent power-strip policy enforced. Confiscated items are typically returned at the end of the cruise. Unless it is...

2. Hard alcohol.
While some cruise lines allow passengers to bring a limited amount of wine and champagne onboard, bringing hard alcohol and beer is not allowed. Whether it's in your carry-on or in your suitcase it'll be discovered and confiscated. Alcohol won't be returned at the end of the cruise - it will be discarded. Don't risk it.

However, alcohol purchased in port is allowed to be brought on the ship - but is not allowed to be consumed on the ship. It will be collected and stored until disembarkation. If alcohol is purchased in one of the onboard boutiques personnel in the shops will assist with the storage. No drinking those bottles until you get home, either.

3. Beach towels.
On most ships pool towels are provided on a shelf near the pool or are checked out by deck attendants. Pool towels can be taken off the ship to the beach or excursion as long as you return them. The ship has plenty of pool towels so save the valuable space in the suitcase for other items. (Just don't do what I did with my ship towel during a flood in Costa Maya. Click here to read that story.)

4. Hangers.
Your cabin will have hangers already in the closet when you arrive. If you need more, just ask your cabin steward for extras.

5. Expensive jewelry.
While our experiences in port have been safe ones it is important to be cautious. Be conservative in your jewelry so as not to draw attention to yourself. If wearing jewelry is your thing, stick to the cheap watches, bracelets, necklaces, and rings, particularly when in port.

What do you think? Is there something you saw on a packing list that you would never pack for a cruise?

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Friday 15

I know I say this a lot, but some day I'm going to run out of items to send off. But today's not that day. Seriously, how can I keep finding things to get rid of? And why do I embarrass myself by posting pictures of the junk I own used to own?

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Button and Felt Flowers - Tutorial Tuesday

For today's Tutorial Tuesday we are using some felt scraps and buttons to make these cute little flowers.

Looking for more sewing and crafting projects? 

For this project you will need:
*Buttons of assorted sizes and colors. (I used buttons from my collection but you can also buy bags of buttons of different sizes here.)
*Felt scraps
*Floral wrap
*Floral wire
*Scissors
*Flower template. You can download mine from here  and make it smaller/larger or create your own.

You can find the video tutorial 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!
 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sewing for Good Sunday

I really like the stitching with variegated thread. I need to use the thread more often. But I won't on this round of charity quilts. Why? Because quilting of all 12 quilts is now DONE. Yahoo! Next up, trimming the edges and trimming the excess batting. Yeah, another ugh step coming up.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

5 Mistakes First-Time Cruisers Make and Tips to Avoid Them


*Overpacking
When people start packing for a cruise they do so with their ideal cruise life in mind. They might see themselves starting their day by working out in the fitness room (need workout clothes), then grabbing some breakfast in the dining room (need daytime clothes), heading to the pool for a bit (need swimsuits), go on an excursion or do some shopping in port (need comfy clothes with comfy shoes), head back to the ship for dinner (need fancy dinner clothes), and then to the lounge for the show. It could result in four or five outfit changes per day. Repeat that day after day for the length of your voyage and you’ve got yourself a lot of luggage. Of course you wouldn’t want to wear the same thing twice – other cruisers would notice, right? But the reality is that once you are on the ship, you’re not going to care nearly as much as you thought you would. All those shoes you brought won’t be worn, you’ll wear those pants more than once, and you’ll find everyone else on the ship is doing the same thing.

TIP: Pack half as many clothes and twice as much money as you think you’ll need and you’ll be better prepared.

*Not putting cell phones into airplane mode
While cell phones can often be used on the ship at sea, high roaming charges may be incurred in international waters. Even if you have an international roaming plan, be aware that roaming rates at sea are a lot higher than regular international roaming rates.  For example, I pay 20 cents a minute for calls all around the world. But once at sea the cruise ship rate kicks in and charges me $5.99 a minute. That cost is set by the cruise line, not by my carrier.

TIPS: Keep your phone in airplane mode, particularly at sea. The alarm, clock, camera, and any stored or downloaded music, movies, games, and books will still be available. If you must use your phone, contact your cell carrier before leaving home as they can advise you on the best plans for voice and data while in port or at sea. Many a passenger has come home to an outrageous cell phone bill because they didn't understand how it worked on a cruise ship.

*Trying to do it all
Keeping a few thousand people busy on a ship requires a myriad of activities. Each day you will receive a copy of the ship’s version of a newsletter/newspaper with the scheduled activities and events. It’s the place to find out about everything happening around the ship. You’ll find trivia, games, and sports. Movies, dance classes, and arts and crafts. Seminars on the history of the region. Comedians, bands, and productions shows. Throw in meals and swimming and visiting with family and friends and you’ve got yourself a busy day. You may be wondering how you will fit it all in. You won’t.

TIPS: Mark the activities you’d like to attend then play it by ear. Balance your activities so you don’t go home needing a vacation from the vacation.

*Not paying attention to the time when in port
While on the ship you can somewhat release the need for a clock, but when in port timekeeping becomes crucial. Some ports are in a different time zone than the ship. Sometimes ships match the local time but sometimes they don’t. Cell phones on airplane mode may or may not display the ship's time, either. Before leaving confirm the time and keep on the ship’s time, not the port’s time. All aboard for passengers is usually 30 minutes before the ship’s departure. This time is listed in the daily paper, announced on the ship, and usually posted somewhere near the gangway.

TIP: Keep on the ship time, not the port time, and allow plenty of time to get back. The ship won’t wait for you to return if you made a mistake in timekeeping.

*Taking food off the ship
If you’re planning on grabbing some food from the ship to take into port for a picnic, forget about it. Fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and cheeses, nuts and seeds, and even baked goods aren’t allowed off the ship. Some ports won’t even allow a cup of coffee. Certain ports have dogs checking every single backpack, bag, and purse, just to be sure.
Black trash bags of confiscated foods
TIPS: If you want to take snacks they have to be prepackaged and sealed by the manufacturer. Granola and protein bars, prepackaged cheese and crackers, and small boxes of cereal are okay. If you are diabetic, plan accordingly.


Follow these tips and you'll be on your way to not looking like a first-timer.

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Friday 15

Goodbye to 15 more items. I can't believe I'm getting rid of my bird watching book, but it's got to go. Sad.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Roll-up Cord Organizer Sewing Project - Tutorial Tuesday

Looking for a way to store your charging cords when you're traveling or at home? Check out this organizer/holder that you can make yourself.

Looking for more sewing and crafting projects? 
Click here to see all my tutorials!


Along with your regular sewing supplies, for this project you will need:
*One piece of main fabric measuring 10” x 18”
*One piece of fabric for the lining measuring 10” x 18”
*One piece of fabric for the pocket measuring 10” x 10”
*9 ½” x 17 ½” piece of fusible fleece
*9 ½” x 4 ½” piece of fusible fleece
*5” long piece of Velcro
*26” piece of elastic cut into two equal pieces
*30” ribbon
You can find the video directions 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, April 15, 2019

Join Me!

Remember, if you're in the Boise area and you're looking to learn more about cruising - or cruising to Alaska - join me for one of my classes. 

Register today!


Sunday, April 14, 2019

Sewing for Good Sunday

Got more quilting done on the charity quilts. While I think I need more practice on my outlining, it'll do just fine.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Grand Princess California Coastal Cruise Wrap-Up


As promised, here is the wrap-up of our California Coastal cruise on the Grand Princess. I'll jump right into it:

Food:
  • Breakfast for hubby was usually oatmeal and for me just a blueberry muffin. Unlike other ships I was able to get a blueberry muffin every single day but one. Sometimes it would have to come from the buffet, sometimes from International Cafe, and sometimes the guy working the IC would go grab one from the back. They were really good muffins on this ship, moist and chock full of blueberries.
  • We ate lunch in the dining room twice but never ate there for breakfast or dinner. The lunch menu had enough choices and we had absolutely no problem getting a table for two. 
  • We did Alfredo's just once. Remember, as long as they have the ingredients they can make you a pizza not on the menu. We went with pepperoni, lots and lots of garlic, and extra cheese. Their idea of lots and lots of garlic must be different than ours because there was barely any on it. We shared that one, then ordered one more and asked for even more garlic but it looked about the same as the first.
  • We ate at Slice, the renamed/revamped pizza place on deck. One time it was a slice of pepperoni and another time it was the Stromboli with some marinara on the side. This was at the end when we started coming down with the flu so we couldn't judge whether it tasted good or not. 
  • The rest of the time we ate at the buffet. It was the same standard Princess foods at the buffet dinner. Meat, mashed potatoes, pastas with some of the same Princess theme nights thrown in. (If you've only had the buffet on the Royal, Regal, or Caribbean Princess you will be disappointed.) 
  • Our last cruise on the Grand a few months back we did the Crown Grill and didn't have a great experience so we skipped any specialty dining this time around. We also didn't order room service this trip.
  • One note about embarkation day dining...we received a note when checking in about all the food venues open for the first day. Now that they've added the dining room to the list, the place was packed. Busier than any first day dining room lunch ever.

Cabin:
  • We booked this cruise the week before it left so the lowest of the guarantee cabins, an interior F, was all that was available. A couple days before departure we received an IA cabin assignment. 
  • We stayed on Caribe deck, just two cabins down from where we stayed in December. Unfortunately, we wound up having the same not-so-stellar cabin steward. Having experienced his lack of attention to cleaning last time (even with a supervisor being involved) we decided to just overlook it this time. Instead we avoided the sticky desk, stayed away from the corner above the fridge where there were roll crumbs, threw away the empty water bottle someone had left behind in the safe, and didn't use the pink and sticky section of the night stand. If it was our first time with him (and the supervisor) we would have been more insistent upon getting those things cleaned up. But experience taught us to keep our mouths shut because nothing will change.
  • In the recent dry dock the TVs have been upgraded to the larger ones. But still no on-demand system.
Ports:
  • All of the ports - Santa Barbara, San Pedro, San Diego, and Ensenada - were ones we had been to several times before. 
  • Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara is a tender port and you need tender tickets. Passengers were asked to pick up tender tickets in the Explorer's Lounge then wait in Michelangelo's dining room until the number was called. We wound up staying onboard because it was our bartender buddy's last day on the ship. We stayed the entire day at his bar and hung out with him. 
  • San Pedro: Usually the Grand docks in Long Beach when it's a port stop but for some reason the ship wound up in San Pedro this time. It confused both passengers and crew. We walked around and rode the free hop-on, hop-off bus to the fish market for lunch.
  • San Diego: We went to see the San Diego Padres were playing the Arizona Diamondbacks. We walked all the way to the park and back. (Padres won.) Something to know about San Diego - the Broadway Pier where we docked had stairs, no escalator, and just one elevator. Even though hubby is disabled we weren't allowed to use the elevator. We'll be in San Diego again next month and now know we will have to be much more forceful in order to be allowed to use the elevator. 
  • Ensenada: We had every intention of heading out for fish tacos, but all the days of walking had both of us feeling pretty worn down so we never got out. (Looking back now we realize we were also coming down with the flu.) It appeared most people stayed onboard when we were in Ensenada as the ship was super-busy that day.
Weather and seas:
  • This was the smoothest sailing we've ever been on. It wasn't until the early morning when arriving back in San Francisco did we even notice any movement. The last day of the cruise was also the only one where we had rain. Otherwise the days were spectacular:
Embarkation Day in San Francisco
Santa Barbara
San Pedro
San Diego
Ensenada
Other things:

Grand Princess Dry Dock Updates, March 2019


When we joined the Grand Princess on March 30 we were on the second sailing post-dry dock. Some of the changes we saw were obvious and others not-so-obvious. I'm only sharing information on those things I saw first-hand. There were other items - wiring, plumbing, sofa swap outs, and new bathtubs - that occurred, but I didn't see those things so I'm not reporting on them.

If you're interested, you can find my wrap-up of the March 30 cruise here.
You can find my day-to-day live trip reports here.

Here are a few things I noticed had changed from our time on the ship just a few months back:
  • Mailboxes were gone and Medallion screens are now in place. They aren't yet functional, but they are there - and the mailboxes aren't. Instead the papers being placed in the mailbox they were placed on the bed, folded in the door handle, or slipped under the door.
  • Carpeting has been replaced throughout. I saw new carpeting in some of the cabins/hallways but ours was the older carpet that we had in December. (We were on the same deck as before.) The buffet carpeting was replaced but was shedding fuzz terribly. They also had some pretty bad stains already appearing. Double whammy for the cleaning crew.
  • Along with new carpeting, chairs have been reupholstered as well. Here's a look at the Crooner's redo.
  • Pools were refinished. Unfortunately the Neptune pool had an issue and was drained the first night. A crew worked in the empty pool all week and it was refilled before the last day.
  • The Movies Under the Stars screen looks nice and bright now. 
  • The cabins have the nice, big TVs but no on demand systems yet. 
  • Wheelchair lifts were added to the entrance to the Princess Theater, at the steps to the Terrace pool, and up to the putting green and upper deck.
  • The pizza place is now called Slice and has an expanded menu. All items continue to be free.
  • The hamburger/hot place is now called the Salty Dog Grill. You can get all items for free, except for the Ernesto Burger and Ernesto/beer combo. 
  • Mermaids Bar - the one between Slice and Salty Dog Grill - has been renamed The Mix. No signage was in place so some passengers were a bit confused. All the open deck bars are using the same drink menu.
  • Hull paint has been updated.

We expected the Internet to be faster (thinking they would be set for MedallionNet) but it was just as slow as it was in December. Like almost dial up slow.

Have you been on the Grand Princess since the March 2019 dry dock? What did you see that you didn't see before? Let me know and I'd be happy to add it to the list!

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Friday 15

Today needs to change from the Friday 15 to the Friday 1500. I went through our nails, screws, nuts and bolts and washers, picture hangers, hooks, and well, about 1,500 other little items we had. I came up with 15 full bags worth of things we don't need. Away they go.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Grand Princess Resources

Princess Patters - Daily Cruise Activities

Looking for information on the types of activities happening around the ships of Princess cruises? Take a look at the Princess Patters from some of my recent cruises!