Monday, July 29, 2019

Join Me for a Cruising Alaska Event!

Don't forget, next week I have a Cruising Alaska event coming up. 

If you're in the Boise area, consider joining me for this FREE class. I'd love to have you!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

An Itty Bitty Break

  • Try making a dozen quilts for adults with a sad, old, doesn't-like-thick-material sewing machine. (My good machine? Oh yeah, the sewing machine place tells me it will cost more to fix it than it would to get a new one.)
  • Try filming any YouTube videos when five little foster kitties come running (and meowing) each time they hear you speak. They can be sound asleep, hear my voice, and BAM they are awake and in my face.
  • Try typing on the computer when those same said kitties think they should also be typing. And playing with your notes. 
  • Try locking those five little foster kitties out of the room and hear them meow-meow-meow-yowl on the other side of the door.
  • Try keeping multiple litter boxes clean and food bowls and water bowls full with five growing little squirts.
  • Try being creative when kitties think they should lick your hands and arms and hair and clothes when they are near you.
  • Throw in a Cruising Alaska class at the library to prepare for.
  • Add in a wedding anniversary next week and a husband's birthday the week after that.
  • Don't forget, I'm also doing the travel agent job, too.

What does all that equal? A tired gal. A gal having a difficult time getting anything written, taped, uploaded, or published. In the interest of my sanity, my time right now needs to be spent providing clients with personalized service and the foster kitties with positive interactions. To make that happen I'm taking an itty bitty social media break from the blog, YouTube, and Pinterest.

I'll be back. I don't know when, but probably not until the kitties grow up and go to their new homes.

See you soon, and thanks for understanding.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

5 Things to Know about Ocean Medallion™ on Princess Cruises


If you’re sailing on one of Princess Cruises  Medallion Class ships here are five things you should know about the Medallion.

Want to watch the video instead of reading about it? Check it out here:


1. It's free. 
Yep, it doesn’t cost you a penny. You can either order it ahead of time and have it delivered to your home (if you’re a US resident) or you can pick it up at the pier. Currently the Medallion comes with a plastic case, an insert, and a lanyard.

Don’t want to wear the lanyard? Ditch it and just keep it in the case instead. Don’t want to use the case? Ditch that and just keep the quarter-sized Medallion in your pocket.

If you do want to wear it and show it off, there are accessories like sports band, pendants and bracelets, and clips. Check out Vickie's blog at vickieandbernietravel.blogspot.com for photos of Medallion accessories available for purchase.

2. It replaces your cruise card, credit card, and ID when on board. 
You’ll find your name, date, and ship on your Medallion and it's color-coded according to your loyalty level.
Want to pay for your shopping purchases or even your t-shirts from the 2 for $20 sale or a drink at the bar? Just place your Medallion on the MedallionPay™  point. Just tap the sensors for going on and off the ship in port and at the Muster Drill, too. Playing in the casino? Just put your Medallion up against the sensor and it’ll recognize you and turn green.
You’ll also find servers have a little blue thingy on their devices. It’s a Medallion reader, too. They’ll place it up against your Medallion and, if things work properly, it’ll read it.

How about your cabin? Yep, it knows who you and will automatically unlock your door for you.

3. It knows where you are.
You can use one of the portals to find your traveling companions or you can download the OceanCompass app onto your device. This is an app I used every single day for one thing and one thing only. To find my hubby on the ship. He would tootle off to breakfast and I’d meet up with him after he already had a couple cups of coffee in him. Whether he was in the Piazza drinking coffee or at the buffet, I could find him.

If you need help navigating the ship, it gives step by step directions to get to your traveling companion. Adult passengers can turn off the location services if they choose. Kids can’t.

4. You can use it to order things no matter where you are on the ship.
Thirsty? Just look at everything I can order using the OceanNow app. Cocktails, nonalcoholic, beers and wines, sodas. Choose your drink, the order goes into the system, and a server will bring it right to you. They will be able to pinpoint where you are using their device.
As of now on the Royal Princess, that first drink is free.

What if you're hungry and don't want to stand in that pizza or fry line at the pool? Use the OceanNow app to order them up.
Hungry for room service? The OceanNow app has you covered there, too.
Need a robe, ice or extra hangers? Spa products? Medallion accessories? Check, check, and check.

5. It’s optional.
Don’t want to use a medallion? You don’t have to. Just know, if you choose to stick with your cruise card you won’t have access to all the features of the Medallion.

Interested in booking a cruise on a MedallionClass ship? Contact me HERE. Along with having been on over 75 cruises, I am now also a Princess Commodore, the highest level of Princess Cruises expert there is in the travel agent world. I have access to deals you might not be able to book on your own. I’d love to help you put together a cruise (or any vacation for that matter) suited just for you.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Foster Friday

I'm not sure why kitties think it's okay to pull fabric out of my cubbies. Need a hidden space for a nap, perhaps? Can't ask Crepe. She's a bit tired.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Where to Eat for Free on Your Birthday

Today's my birthday and I'm spending it working on quilts for the assisted living center. My sewing machine went down and is in the shop being diagnosed so I'm having to use an old backup machine from my daughter. It's frustrating and slow and not working out so well. I'm ready to lighten the mood here so I'm reposting last year's birthday adventure.
Did you know lots of restaurants will give you free food on your birthday? They sure do! Take a look at the places I ate for free on my birthday last year. 
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.

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!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

How to Make Bottlecap Flower Magnets - Tutorial Tuesday

Thanks to a shop in Cabo San Lucas and Joffrey the cruise ship bartender, today's Tutorial Tuesday has us recycling bottlecaps to make a flower magnet. 

You can find the video directions 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!
 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Pan Pacific Hotel, Vancouver, Canada

In all our visits to Vancouver we had never sprung for an expensive hotel, but last year after a week of bumming it in cheap hotels around Washington we decided to splurge for one. The Pan Pacific Vancouver is right there at the cruise port and was the only pricey hotel we had in mind.

We were lucky enough to be upgraded to a Club Level Room for free. The Club Level has a lounge for guests right down the hallway. You can always find food and drinks in the lounge.
 

Beautiful views can be found from there, too. (Apologies for the glare on the glass)

Now here is where I have to tell an embarrassing situation about that Club Level room upgrade. We found out the next day the upgrade did not include lounge access. We had snacks and dinner there the night of our stay. Took drinks back to our room. Only when we showed up for breakfast and the person manning the room asked for our room number did we find out we weren't supposed to be there. Talk about embarrassing! Hubby hurried and finished his cup of coffee and we slithered on out of there. 

So this year when we knew we were heading back to Vancouver we made reservations at another hotel instead. But I still was watching rates at the Pan Pacific, just in case. Rates dropped significantly just a couple weeks before our arrival. Wound up being just a few dollars more than our other reservations, even. So we got to spend our Royal Princess pre-cruise night after our Ruby Princess trip (that cruise wrap-up can be found here) at the Pan Pacific. No Club Level upgrade to confuse us, thank goodness!
Standard Pan Pacific room.
Can't find the glasses in the room? Check the drawers. 
No purchasing over-priced mini bar items for us.
We love how close the hotel is to the cruise port. Like, it's right there. Here I am, sitting on the deck of the Ruby Princess looking at a tall building. Yep, that's the hotel.
Here's a look from the other side. Can't get any closer.

One of the nice things about the Pan Pacific is they take your luggage to the cruise port for you. Press a button on the phone, the bellman comes up a few minutes later, and off it goes. You don't have to touch it again until it shows up at your cabin. Just awesome. Then for us passengers it was just an elevator ride down to port level to board the ship.
View outside Pan Pacific's restaurant shows us our next ship, the Royal Princess.

Pan Pacific breakfast menu.

Would we stay at the Pan Pacific again? If the price is right. We will continue to book other hotels and then keep a close eye on the price as the date gets closer. Just hope our embarrassing Pan Pacific days are in the past!

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!