Sunday, March 29, 2020

Day 11 - Not Exactly Olivia Walton

Between the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and tending to the children, many times Olivia Walton could be found doing some hand sewing. But me today? Between the cooking and laundry and scrubbing of cabinets and washing of dishes I could be found with my feet up in the recliner, watching The Waltons marathon on the Hallmark Channel's free preview.
If you’ve never watched The Waltons, you should. It’s a TV series from the 1970's set during the Depression. The lessons they learned back then may wind up being relevant to our lives in these tough COVID-19 days.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Day 10 - Below the Clouds

Today should have been the day we would be looking at the clouds from above. We should have been on a flight to San Francisco on our way to join the Grand Princess tomorrow.  But as we know, not only were all cruises cancelled, the ship is still under quarantine and anchored off of San Francisco. Our crew member buddy is among hundreds still onboard, locked down in passenger cabins, with temperature checks twice a day.  Thankfully he’s stayed well (at least physically) throughout the ordeal. An ordeal with an unknown head-home date.

When I look at those I know around the world, I’m thankful I’m safe and sound in my own home. Whether I am able to see the clouds from above or below, I know I’m one of the lucky ones.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Day 9 - Cancellations x 2

As I mentioned on my weird Monday, the one where mayonnaise splattered everywhere at the checkstand (and on me) at the out-of-the ordinary grocery store trip, we had a plumber come out and take a look at our shower. We've had a leaky faucet for a couple years now. I've replaced it myself more than once and it seemed to help, but many months ago it started up again. Everything I knew to try (or read about on the Internet) told me the permanent resolution was above my pay grade. We've been traveling so much we're never home long enough to worry about a permanent solution. Since we're not going anywhere anytime soon it was time to tackle the issue.

The plumber tried. He really did. But even after running to the plumbing store for additional materials he couldn't get it. His only recommendation was a biggie, one we didn't expect to be such an expensive and time consuming solution. It would require working inside the wall behind the shower - from the other side of the wall. After being shell shocked at the $1,600+ price tag from the plumbing company we came to another arrangement. A plumber willing to work on the weekend, me doing some prep work beforehand, and a cash only job.

As much as we wanted the plan for tomorrow to go ahead, I had to cancel. I’ve thrown DayQuil and NyQuil and some antibiotics from Mexico at whatever it is making me feel not the greatest. As my symptoms don’t qualify me for you-know-what kind of testing I’ve decided to try and keep plugging along. And cancel any human interaction for now.

Cancel like the cruise line did on us earlier this month. (Which I completely support as the right decision, by the way.)  I check my account frequently to see if we've been credited for the cancellations. While no credit is yet showing, they really don’t need to be rubbing it in our faces. When I logged in today I see they are still showing the upcoming cruise on our account. Dang them!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Day 8 - Window Quiz

Back for the second week - Day 8 of my picture a day project - and I'm already having to tell on myself.

We purchased the house we're living in over seven years ago. My mom occupied it for the first year before we made the move, so technically we've lived in it for only six years. I need to say "only" six because it tempers the sting of how little I really know about it. Yep, if I took a How Well Do You Know Your House? quiz I just might flunk. Or at least flunk the window section.

Now I don't wash windows much in this house. We're either usually getting ready for a cruise, on a cruise, or just home and catching up on the must-do's before heading back out. When you travel all throughout the year, there are plenty of things getting pushed to the bottom of the list. For us, windows is just one of many things getting shoved to the bottom of that list. The list that never really gets completely checked off.

With lots of time at home, today was the day to put window washing at the top. With a full roll of paper towels and brand new bottle of Windex in hand I made a discovery as I tackled the very first window. The sliding part of the window comes out of the track so I can take it out and wash both sides. Surprise, surprise.

Some way, some how I never knew it was even a possibility in this house.  I can now pass the window section of the quiz! I can also now see the crazy tree out my sewing room window.
Believe me, it'll look better in the summer.
My goodness, what else don't I know about this place? Guess I have plenty of time to find out.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Day 7 - Vintage Sewing

Will you make me an apron?

It was a strange request coming from our hard-working daughter. Not the one to wear an apron or be much concerned about housekeeping or baking or cooking, she isn't the apron-wearing type. But she, like so many other people in American, has been laid off due to COVID-19. (Kudos to Kohl's for paying their employees two weeks' worth of pay.) To keep herself occupied during her empty days she's decided to focus on her home. (Kudos to her as well.)

That's where I come in. Any time an item of clothing needs repairing she calls on me. Need a wallhanging or pillow covering or appliance cover or quilt or something she saw on Pinterest? I'm on it. While I've gotten rid of so many patterns (not even close to what I had here!) I did find I still had a few apron patterns in my collection. After several back and forth texts and me sending pictures of the patterns and different fabric choices, she settled on one.

A vintage one. Like 1950's old. A falling apart, barely held together old pattern. Boy, following the directions in an old pattern is hard! It didn't help that I needed to add additional fabric to make up for the difference in female figures between then and now. And not surprisingly, kiddo requested the pockets be big enough to hold her cell phone. So an adjustment here and an adjustment there and just like that, she has a brand new apron.
She came by this afternoon to pick it up. We wrapped up in blankets, sitting under the carport while maintaining our 6 foot social distancing separation, as the wind blew and snow spit from the sky. Brrr, it was cold! We visited just as long as we could. Long enough to hear all her stories she's been holding onto since the last time we saw her. Long enough to even hear the story behind why she wanted an apron. During her time off from work she's being a tradwife. But without the submissive part. Huh? Tradwife? “Trad" as in traditional. This old lady had never heard of it before. It sounded like it's basically a stay at home wife. Rebranded by Milennials. Go figure.

I learn something new every day, and so glad she could explain it to me in person today. Because just a few minutes ago, Idaho has become the latest state to issue stay at home orders, whether sick or not. 21 days.

So thankful for being able to see our daughter when we did.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Make an Easter Egg Fabric Hotpad -Tutorial Tuesday

For today's Tutorial Tuesday I'm up with another Easter-themed project. It's somewhat similar to these Easter Egg Scrap Fabric Coasters I made earlier this month. While this hotpad uses a bit more fabric it goes together just as lickety-split fast.

Note: Some of my links are affiliate links. 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 the blog and allows me to continue to provide free content. Remember, I only recommend products I use again and again!

Along with your regular sewing supplies, for this project you will need:
  • 4" x 8.5" cotton fabric for middle, cut 1
  • 2.5" x 8.5" cotton fabric for top and bottom, cut 2
  • 1.5" x 8.5" contrasting cotton fabric for stripes, cut 2
  • 8.5" long piece of rick rack, cut 2 Caution...rick rack is has polyester - it'll melt under high heat
  • 8.5" x 10" piece of backing fabric, cotton
  • 8.5" x 10" piece of cotton batting
  • 8.5" x 10" piece of Insul-Bright
  • Egg template downloaded from here

Looking for more Easter-themed projects?

Ready for the directions? You can find the video right here:

Monday, March 23, 2020

Day 5 - What a Weird Day

Just as we always have toilet paper and paper towels on hand, we usually keep a well-stocked pantry. Rain or shine, summer or winter, we have plenty of food in our cabinets. We like being prepared for Idaho winters so we do our big pantry stock-up before winter and then do another after winter when our cabinets are again bare. With winter over it was time to stock up again.

Maybe it was a mistake in times like these.

Other than my disposable cup run the other day, we haven't been to the grocery store in a couple weeks. Yeah, I've read things about grocery stores on the Internet and have heard unpleasant stories from our daughter about what life is like in the stores now. Guess it had to be another one of those you have to see it to believe it things.

Our open 24 hours a day bag your own groceries store Winco, where we usually shop, didn't look like it did just two short weeks ago. Barriers at the door preventing more than a couple people through the door at a time. Someone counting how many customers were heading in. We didn't even have to ask why she was counting - the big huge sign outside told us no more than 200 customers could be in the store at a time.

Then even more signs once we got inside the second set of doors. So many it was a bit overwhelming.
Signs for new store hours and senior and vulnerable populations special hours. Social distancing reminders. Limits on purchases. A no-return policy for certain items. Another only 200 in the store notice. Notices about what they didn't have in stock. (We went first thing in the morning so the "out of the following" sign hadn't been updated for Monday.) The additional large bold sign about sanitizer tells me it must be an ongoing issue.

Once inside we saw those empty shelves we've been hearing about. Thankfully the type of things we were buying were plentiful. Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. Canned goods - beans and tomatoes and chicken and tuna. Pastrami and turkey breast and bacon. Greek yogurt and Special K and Stevia. And mayonnaise.

I hate mayonnaise. Like really hate it. Can't stand the look of it, the texture of it, and especially can't stand the smell. But Ed uses it as a base to make his salad dressing so we had to pick some up. Twice. Sort of. Once when I put it into the cart and the second time from the floor at the checkstand. As I was bagging the mayo it slipped onto the floor and busted. Splattered everywhere. Across the floor, up the side of the checkstand. And up and down my pants. Did I mention I can't stand mayonnaise?

Between the mayonnaise incident, the weird out-of-the-ordinary grocery store experience, and the plumber who paid us a visit to fix our shower (with a $1,600+ estimate), today was just downright weird.

Tomorrow will be Tutorial Tuesday so it just has to be a better day than today.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Day 4 - Sewing Room Sunday

I used to spend my Sundays - and lots of other days - doing sewing projects for charity. 203 different days worth, at least according to my blog. Just like anything else you do to the extreme, a break is sometimes needed. I've been on break since last August so I guess I should get back at it, but I'm dragging my feet.

I read these stories about the virus and soft surfaces. The virus and cash. All the unknowns about how it is spread and how long it lasts on surfaces has been keeping me from moving forward. I even stopped the Encouraging Words Project this month. While I still believe wholeheartedly in the project I don't want anyone to be worried about picking up germs from me. Or from anyone else who may touched something after I left it.

So now I have:
no sewing projects for others on my to do list.
no Encouraging Word money pockets to print and stuff with money.
lost 90% of my income for the next six months.
too much negativity to read on the Internet.
no kitties to foster because Simply Cats is closed.

Which makes it a great day to change up the sewing room to give me a better chance of compartmentalizing my work/home life. This past year I had things set where I had both the computer and sewing machine within easy reach of each other. A quick swivel of my chair and I was onto the computer. With the computer always being on and very close by I found myself on it more than I needed to be. Doing too much travel agent work and wasting too much time reading junk on the computer.

But that is changing today with a new sewing room set up. Now if I want to get to the computer I have to physically get up, walk around my cutting table, and sit down in a separate part of the room. I'm hoping I'll just decide to stay put at the sewing machine instead of making my way to the computer.
Fingers crossed for more sewing!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Day 3 - A Pizza Picnic

I may have mentioned this before, but when we're home we are in money-saving mode. No dinners out, no takeout, no cable TV, no going to the movies. We very rarely ever purchase anything new. All the fun stuff is saved for when we cruise. Things like eating out every day. Watching movies out by the pool and on the on-demand TV system. Heck, we even spend money on food and drinks in port. But not at home.

Which made today even more special. With no trips in the immediate future we actually spent money for a change. (A whole $12, including tip!) On a beautiful, sunny, still-a-little-chilly day we had a picnic in the backyard. Everything is still put away for winter but Ed scrounged some things out of the shed.
  • A small metal table.
  • A couple camp chairs.
  • Add in a couple paper plates.
  • Throw in a 50% off pizza delivered by Domino's. 
All set up in the grass that's now beginning to look more summer green than winter brown.

Such a nice out of the ordinary treat on a Saturday afternoon. How lucky am I to get to do something new at home?

Friday, March 20, 2020

Day 2 - Another Use for the Ocean Medallion Box

Back for Day 2 of Deb's Pic a Day Part II. Whew, that's a mouthful! Today I found a new use for the Ocean Medallion Boxes I've had sitting around. Typically I would have tossed them but they are nice, sturdy boxes and I knew I'd eventually come up with a way to use them. 

Anytime I have a spool of fabric getting close to being finished, I use it to fill a sewing machine bobbin. Have a spool of thread smaller or larger than the rest in my collection? It goes into bobbins. Thread I've had around for a while and want to use up? It goes into a bobbin. It works great because no matter what project I'm working on, I already have plenty of bobbins ready to go. But bobbin storage can be problematic.

I've been looking for a new way to store my bobbins after I got rid of my storage boxes on one of The Friday 15 days last year. I tried:
  • having several little containers, each with their own bobbin color. I found it to be too messy for my taste. 
  • a big divided plastic container but didn't like having to open and close it each time I needed a bobbin. 
  • cutting cardboard strips and placing them in a drawer to divide the colors. Every time I bumped the drawer, the bobbins jumped the cardboard strips and made another mess. 

I've now found a new option. I took some of my Ocean Medallion boxes from last year and cut off the lids.
Turned the lids upside down, and filled them with the bobbins.
Perfect fit.
Glue sticks are residing in the bottom of one of the boxes. The other two bottoms are empty, waiting for my next idea. Ready, set, GO!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Back to the Beginning - Day 1

It's time to get back to basics.

I started this blog as a personal diary nine years ago during a rough patch in life. Out of work, in pain, without much hopefulness or thankfulness in my system. I knew then I needed something to get out of my rut so I set a goal. A picture goal. A take-a-picture-every-day-to-see-that-you-have-lived kind of goal. My intent was to take a picture each and every day for a year. In the end I wound up with 1000 straight days of pictures and stories. (You can read about the project here.)

Over the course of the last several years the blog has morphed into many different things. Even though I've been writing a lot about cruising lately, I've had this feeling like I needed to get back to the basics. Back to having my eyes wide open. Back to looking for new and interesting and beautiful things around me. Things not related to cruising. (No one wants to touch that topic now anyway so I'm totally okay at pressing pause on it.)

With COVID-19 having closed down our schools and businesses while we sequester in our homes, it seems like the right time to shift the blog's focus again. (At least temporarily.) My picture a day photos may not be nearly as exciting as photos from my travels, but they will again give me proof that I am living a life. A life focused on hopefulness and thankfulness.

First up, a picture from my quick trip to the store. And of course, I have a story to go with it. 

We are people who always keep paper towels and toilet paper on hand. Always. We stock up every few years and then live off our stockpile. (Remember this picture from six years ago in our old house? We're still working on some of those paper towels.) So when our daughter kept telling us about not being able to find toilet paper and paper towels in the store I somewhat dismissed it. How, because of work schedules, she and her husband couldn't get to the store first thing in the morning. Which then meant there would be no product on the shelf when they got off work. She told me stories of people at her work having to buy tissues and wipes because there were no paper products. We rarely ever go down the aisle so we really had no clue.

Until I had to go grab some disposable plastic cups in the store (trying to stay away from hand washing our glasses right now - there goes my zero waste household) and saw this where the toilet paper and paper towels are usually found. Wow.
A quick apology was offered to our daughter, as was several rolls of paper towels and toilet paper from our home stash. Unfortunately we had to make the transaction outside as she works face-to-face with customers all day and E and I are both high risk. (He with his kidney disease and me with only one working lung.)

Not the positive picture I would have liked to share for the first day back at it, but I have to give my daughter credit for being right - and needed the picture to prove it. 

Crossing my fingers tomorrow's picture will be less stress-inducing! 

Sunday, March 8, 2020

A Cruising Update

As a blogger I sometimes write posts and post them right away. Other times I write them and save them to post later when I'm ready. And sometimes I write them and schedule them to be posted on a certain day and time.

Guess I should have been more aware of when yesterday's Ways to Keep Healthy on a Cruise was posting. Bad timing on my part. While I do believe those ways to keep healthy are valid no matter which germs are floating around, the current strain of Coronavirus is a wild card. So much is unknown, and the information out there is changing so fast it's hard to know what to do. Which leads me to an update on how COVID-19 is impacting cruises. Mine included. 

First, we have a dear crew member friend who is on the Grand Princess right now. (He was the one we were supposed to meet up with in Ensenada last month but their ship had to skip the port.) Since we didn't get to see him in Ensenada we were planning on a cruise to see him in May, but that won't be happening now. While the future cruises on the Grand (other than this week's) haven't been cancelled by the cruise line, I wouldn't be surprised if the ship is taken out of circulation for a while. Even if it wasn't, our buddy believes all crew contracts will be cut short and they'll be heading home. After a quarantine, period of course. I've been talking with him every day and I can hear fear in his voice. It's certainly a stressful times for all.

Then today we heard from two other crew members, one on the Royal Princess (the ship we just left) and the Regal Princess. Both ships have crew members who had transferred over from the Grand Princess. (Before anyone knew about COVID-19 on the Grand.) And now both ships are in a holding pattern. The Royal cancelled yesterday's cruise and the Regal cancelled today's. The Royal is empty of passengers and sitting at the dock in San Pedro but the Regal is offshore in Florida with a ship full of passengers needing to disembark. Without knowing what is happening next, it's more stressful times for all.

With everything happening, what did our crew members on those ships and other ships tell us? Again and again, they told us the same thing. Stay away from ships for a while. I gotta say, I trust crew members we've know for years over what I hear on TV or read on the Internet so we're following their advice. 

We're skipping our two cruises on the Star Princess, our two cruises on the Grand Princess, and the one cruise on the Coral Princess. There will be no March-April-May cruises for us this year. Many months ago we had already decided to skip Alaska this season so no June-July-August cruises, either. We're not giving up completely, though. We've gone ahead and booked several cruises for October and November this year. But if when the time comes we have crew members telling us not to go, we won't. 

It's a crazy time in the cruising world right now and things are changing day by day and sometimes hour by hour. We all need to do what we can to reduce risks of exposure, whether we are on a cruise ship or not. Be safe out there, and stay healthy!

Thank you to everyone who has been checking with us to see if we’re okay. We are home now, having left the Royal Princess not too long ago. We’re healthy and happy to be back home for a while.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Ways to Keep Healthy on a Cruise

As a frequent cruiser (88 cruises and counting!) I've picked up my share of germs on ships. Most cruises I come away A-OK. Other times it might be a sniffle or a cough or a good ol' cold. And then there are those times I wind up flu sick. Oh so very sick.

If you cruise enough, it's almost inevitable you'll pick up something at one time or another. You're exposed to new people coming from new places who may or may not use the same preventative measures that you do. You will find fellow passengers licking their fingers just before grabbing the tongs in the buffet. In the elevator you might find another choosing not to cover their cough. Any chance of seeing someone walking out of the bathroom without washing hands and then using the handrail as they go down the stairs? Yep.

While the cruise lines do what they can to encourage healthy practices and sanitize ship surfaces, it's really up to us as passengers to protect ourselves. Here are a few practices you may find helpful for keeping healthy on a cruise ship.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and am not dispensing medical advice. Instead I am sharing those practices I've found to be helpful in reducing my exposure to germs while cruising. 

1. Wash your hands.
It should go without saying, but you'd be surprised by the number of people who don't wash them. Don't be one of them. Wash those hands thoroughly with soap and water any chance you get and definitely before eating and after using the restroom. And it certainly wouldn't hurt to wash them before using the restroom, either. Just happen to be walking by a sink on your way to somewhere else? Wash those hands!

2. Use hand sanitizer. A lot.
See one, use one!
Cruise ships have hand sanitizer stations all around the ship. Along with handwashing use these sanitizers after holding the handrails, after touching other surfaces, and before and after eating. Even with the abundance of hand sanitizer stations on the ship we still carry our own. We also take our pocket sized sanitizer in port as handwashing facilities may not be available.

3. Keep your distance.
From other people, that is. Heard of social distancing? Leave space between you and the next person whether you are in the theater,
You'll never find a theater this empty so be particular about where you sit.
in any of the dining locations,
 or even when you're in a line getting on or off the ship.
Walk slower or faster if you need to, but leave some space
between you and the next person.
4. Seek out fresh air.
Choose outside spaces over inside spaces whenever possible. Fresh air is always a good thing and is preferable over enclosed spaces.

5. Assume every surface isn't clean.
You know how they place paper towels by the restroom door so you can use the towel to open the handle instead of opening it with your bare hands? Think about other ways you can protect yourself from surfaces that might not be clean. You most likely won't be able to carry paper towels with you everywhere, but you can be mindful of what you're touching. Hand railings and restaurant menus. Door handles, chair backs, and table tops. Even think about your cabin. The steward cleans the surfaces but sometimes the stewards themselves are coming down with something so think about those light switches, telephone receiver, and the TV remote. By assuming everything is not clean, you will find yourself washing your hands, grabbing the hand sanitizer, and spraying your cabin with some disinfectant spray before ever touching your nose, mouth, or eyes.

While these five ways can't guarantee you won't get sick, I have found them to help me in staying well onboard.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Make Easter Egg Coasters from Fabric Scraps - Tutorial Tuesday

Today I have a pretty quick Easter project for you.

Note: Some of my links are affiliate links. 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 the blog and allows me to continue to provide free content. Remember, I only recommend products I use again and again!

Along with your regular sewing supplies, for this project you will need:
  • 7" x 10" piece of backing fabric
  • 7" x 10" piece of cotton batting
  • 1.25" x 10" contrasting cotton fabric for stripes, cut 2
  • 2" x 10" cotton fabric for top and bottom, cut 2
  • 2.5" x 10" cotton fabric for middle, cut 2
  • 10" long piece of rick rack, cut 2
  • Egg template downloaded from here
Looking for more Easter-themed projects?

Ready for the directions? You can find the video 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!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Royal Princess February 2020 Wrap-Up

Sometimes I struggle with doing these cruise wrap-ups. I'll usually go back and see what I said on my previous wrap-ups and either try and write something different or new or exciting. Unfortunately, I happened to read my 2018 wrap-up before I started this one. Not the smartest idea.

Back then, on December 1, 2018 I wrote:
We had a great week on the Royal Princess and always love this itinerary. There were so many good things I don’t know where to start so I’ll just jump right in.

My, how times have changed. The itinerary is different (Caribbean then and Mexican Riviera now) and so is the experience on the ship. I guess that's what happens when you spend 72 days on the same ship within nine months time. The novelty wears off and the warts start to show.

Heck, we're not even done with this cruise yet and I'm ready to put it behind me. But as several of you have been asking how the new Medallion wrist band is working out, I need to you give an honest answer. First, I love the wrist band. It's flexible, it's stylish looking, lightweight, and much more comfortable than the sports band. Big plus there.

As for how well it's working? I still don't know what the deal is, but it took several tries to get it to scan as I was going on and off the ship today. And getting into the cabin? Well, after multiple trips to the Passenger Services Desk (I'm calling it what it is - a huge waste of my vacation time) and a Medallion reprint and hearing more than once there is nothing wrong with it, I still can't get into my cabin without waving my arms around the sensor. When I'm at the door I'm starting to look like a big ole' goose flapping some big ole' wings on takeoff.

Do you ever have one of those conversations where you feel like the person really isn't listening to what you are saying? I've had several of those conversations over these last three cruises, and obviously I'm not getting through to anyone because the most recent response from them was this:

Seriously, a cruise card? I don’t want a stinkin' cruise card. After 14 Medallion cruises and you're telling me I have to put my pretty new wristband away and stick a cruise card in my pocket instead? What the heck? Do you not know how much I really want the Medallion to work? How much time I've invested in making videos for other passengers, showing them how great it is? How I really believed it had great potential? (For everyone but me it seems. Mr. E, the anti-tech guy gets to breeze into the cabin just fine. No flapping wings required.)

It's not the Medallion update I wanted to give, but I guess it is what it is. I have three more days on the ship and while I'm crossing my fingers for a miraculous Medallion recovery, I'm not holding out much hope. 

Update: Finally after many more trips down to Guest Services over the past several days and begging and pleading and more begging and pleading they finally sent someone to the cabin last night. More Medallion reprints, the sensor panel taken apart, batteries checked in the door itself, and multiple system resets (I think it is what he called them) I can finally get into the cabin this morning. 

Except I no longer exist. Beggars can't be choosers, I guess. (And believe me, I was a beggar!)

Update to an update...
Now that I have a few days off the ship, my frustration and disappointed from the cruise is beginning to wane. (Sort of.) So let me share some of the better things we found happening around the ship.

Since one of the cruises occurred over Valentine's Day, our door panel was prettied up as was our TV screen.
You can now watch some of the on demand movies under the OceanView section of the MedallionClass app. I could only find a few and only on the app on my iPhone, not on my iPad app.
There is now a "deals" section in the OceanNow portion of the app. We found both drink and retail specials. The special drinks changed daily and were only $7 when ordered through the app. As the app gave me fits most of the cruise I hardly ever opened it so I didn't discover these until late in the cruise.

Other good stuff? We still had a good time, I pretty much finished the presentation for my upcoming Cruising with Confidence class, and we got ourselves a bit of a tan in the warmer-than-Idaho weather. And most importantly, we stayed healthy. 

We do have some other cruises coming up next month. (Not on the Royal Princess.) Not sure if I'll be blogging or not. If I do, I promise I'll work on keeping a positive attitude!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

An Exciting New Ocean Medallion™ Accessory

I said if anything positive came up, I'd be back to share it. Well, something has.

If you remember when I was in Port Kelang, Malaysia back in December, there was a weird smoke smell in the air. With the number of factories nearby it wasn't too surprising.

Once we got home I started researching the area and found Port Kelang had a significant number of illegal plastic recycling factories - factories that many times just burned the plastic instead of recycling it. As I continued to find out more about the difficulties in recycling plastics, E and I made a decision to start working our way towards a zero waste household. We have oh-so-far to go, but we have made some changes in the right direction.

So when a special little package from Princess Cruises made its way to me on the Royal Princess today, I was quite excited.

You know I like my Ocean Medallion™ accessories. I've used the metal clip and the plastic clip. I've used the sports band. And now I'm using a brand-spankin' new band for my Medallion.

Made from ocean recycled plastics.

Yep, you heard me right. Princess has created the first wearable accessory in the world made from 100% ocean plastics.

100% recycled from all kinds of plastics collected from the coastlines and oceans. The plastic casing holding the Medallion is made from hard plastics like shampoo bottles and plastic containers.

And the wrist band? Two water bottles removed from the ocean are combined into fabrics to make one wrist band.
Can't tell it's from recycled water bottles, can you?
The bands are even numbered in increments of two to represent their impact. With a number of 0084 it looks like I'm an early adopter.

Thanks to Princess, I'm the first guest on a ship outside of Australia to get to try it out. There's so much more to tell you about it, but here's the shortened version:

I'll be using it for this seven day cruise and will let you know how it works out. I'll also work on finding out more details of when we can find these showing up for purchase on the MedallionClass™ ships in the US.
Such an exciting development for Ocean Medallion accessories!
If you have any questions about it, let me know and I’ll work on finding the answers. (I’m still learning about this new product myself!)

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Royal Princess in Ensenada

Hello from a cloudy, windy, and chilly day in Ensenada. 

I wound up leaving E on the ship and went out by myself for a little bit. We have a favorite taco place ashore, but it was too cold to walk too far so I was back to the ship pretty darn soon. I was really looking forward to some great conversation with our crew member buddy from the Grand, but since they couldn't make the port I think I'm feeling a bit mopey.

Plus I knew I was going to have to give the Medallion update many of you have been asking for. I've not said much because I've been hoping things would improve. This was my 13th Medallion cruise over the last year and a half and some of the same issues keep popping up for me. Clearly 13 is not a lucky number for me.

Like most of the Medallion cruises I've been on, it doesn't want me to get into the cabin. Others can walk towards their doors and it clicks and unlocks, but not for me. I have to stand there and stand there and stand there while it keeps telling me it's verifying me. I'm eventually able to get in, but not without some delay.
Access being verified...being verified...being verified...being verified...
Not sure why, but starting last night it became even harder to get into the cabin. Now it won't even attempt to verify me. No matter how long I stand there, I have to take my Medallion out and place it onto the sensor and hold it there and then move it around and around and around. It must really be mad at me now. Believe me, the feeling is mutual.
Approach for entry?
Uh, I can't get much closer than this.
What can the OceanFront folks do for you? Tell you the battery might be dying and reprint you a new one. No thanks, not again. I'm hoping it's just a cabin sensor issue. I'll find out tomorrow as we change cabins again.

I wish it was the only sensor issue I'm having, but nope. While I was able to go on and off the ship in Ensenada today with no issue, at Muster Drill there most definitely was an issue. The gal scanning Medallions had to scan mine and rescan and rescan and rescan again. She finally decided to manually enter my cabin number but thankfully at that same moment I popped up.

And the new MedallionClass app? I still can't get the shipmates section to find E. Quits every single time I try. It happened in October and it's still happening now. I've updated both the app and the phone, restarted, deleted and reinstalled. If I want to find E I go to the elevator bank and use one of the portals there. But I can't get too excited about that, either. The location finder isn't really in real time. It'll show me where he was five minutes ago, but not necessarily where he is currently. But a good thing with the app is the first drink is free. At least that's what the cruise director keeps telling us. But for me? Nope, not on my app. Grr.

Speaking of drink orders... around the ship you'll find the crew asking for your cabin number instead of using your Medallion and their devices to place the order. Some crew members do attempt to scan the Medallions but some don't even waste their time and just ask for cabin numbers right up front. 

I am so over it.

Actually, I'm over a few things right now so I think it will be best if I stop blogging this trip. There are too many of those everything isn't perfect in the cruise world things impacting my life of joy. (Some days it's hard work to be honest, yet positive, ya know?) So it's probably best I just stop. A new cruise starts tomorrow, and another one five days later. If anything positive and pleasant and joyful worth reporting comes up in those two cruises, I'll be back to let you know. 

See you sooner or later. Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. You know where to find me!

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Royal Princess Sea Day

Yet another beautiful day, albeit one with some marine layer clouds floating around.
Unfortunately we thought our plan of spending the day basking in the sunshine on our balcony wasn't going pan out like we'd thought. Today was balcony maintenance so we wouldn't have access for a chunk of the day. We were instructed to keep our curtains drawn and our doors locked, and the dividers between all the balconies were opened. 
When someone tells you the Royal Class ships
have narrow balconies you can believe them. 
So we spent extra time on the Horizon Court Terrace. You know we loved this quiet outside spot in Alaska and we love it here off the coast of California. Fresh air, ocean views, and very few other people.
But step through the doors and you'll be confronted with this kind of crowd.
These two pictures were taken at the same time today. Huge difference, right? If you're looking for peace and quiet, head outside instead. (But shh...don't tell anyone else about it.)

We also wandered the halls looking at the 49ers decors. E liked this one the best. Being a big time sports guy, I think he probably wishes we had a door looking like this one.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the balcony was washed down and the dividers put back in place by 10:30 am. Woo hoo. Sunshine on my shoulders, here I come! But brr, was it cold. Since I couldn't shirk responsibilities like I did yesterday (which, by the way, felt so darn awesome) I stayed in the warmer cabin and spent a chunk of the day on the computer. I have my next Cruising with Confidence class coming up on March 2 and needed to get moving on revamping it. 
Only four spots left! Class is full. Waiting list is available.
Tomorrow we're off to Ensenada, Mexico. We were supposed to be in port with the Grand Princess and treat one of our dearest crew member friends to some food and drink and have some great conversation. But the Grand had to turn around and go back to Honolulu to disembark a sick passenger so they are now heading straight to San Francisco instead of making the way to Ensenada. We're so totally bummed.

We may instead take a walk down to the fish market and grabs some tacos at one of the places nearby. Or we might not. One thing to rule out is the balcony. We got yet another notice telling us tomorrow the balcony will again be unavailable because of another round of maintenance. Two balcony maintenance days in a four day cruise? Seems weird to me.

Flexibility might just have to be my middle name.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Royal Princess in Catalina

As we saw it, we had two choices today.

Take a tender AKA water shuttle into the town of Avalon on the island of Catalina.
Walk a ways to the Mexican restaurant.
Spend 60 or so dollars for some food and a couple drinks.
Do some people watching.
Walk back to the dock.
Take a tender AKA water shuttle back to the ship.


Sit on the balcony where one of us gets this view from a chair.
 And the other person gets this view from their chair.
With both people sitting in the warm sunshine, out of the wind, getting a nice big dose of Vitamin D. Since it is winter, the sun was in the southern part of the sky and was shining on the balcony all day long.

Where we could grab a taco salad and chips and beans for lunch. Add that to a quesadilla off the kids room service menu and we had free Mexican food.

Couple it with free drinks. No Captain's Circle parties on short cruises = one free drink voucher per person.
Instead of people watching, throw in some people listening. You'd be surprised the conversations you overhear from surrounding balconies when you sit quietly in the warm California sunshine. 

Then take a little nap with the sunshine splashing across the foot of your bed as you breathe fresh air and doze off to the sound of the water lapping against the side of the ship.
We've been to Catalina many times before and really have done all we need to do there. (Other than eat.) So of course, we chose B.

It was absolutely blissful. Couldn't have asked for a better day on a cruise ship, for sure. It's the great thing about cruising - you can do as little or as much as you want. And boy, did we do little today.

Tomorrow is a sea day and I have no idea what our plans are yet. If we had a repeat of today I'd be just fine with it.