Saturday, January 6, 2018

Introduction to Cruising with Confidence

"We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came."  ~John F. Kennedy

Despite hearing the passengers' first-hand accounts of how bad things were when sailing through the east coast storm this weekend, it won't deter me from cruising. For us it all started in 2004. The following excerpt is from Cruising with Confidence. (It is available on Amazon here.)

Nothing could prepare us for the pitter patter in our hearts upon seeing the enormous vessel we were about to board. 20 years of marriage had led us to this once-in-a-lifetime trip. A cruise to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Seven days roundtrip from Seattle to Alaska on the Diamond Princess. 

While we liked to travel, we weren’t cruisers. We took short road trips from our home in Southern Idaho to Central Idaho. We ventured to the Oregon Coast for Spring Break. Occasionally we would get on an airplane. But a cruise? Until this celebratory trip we hadn’t even entertained the idea. Cruises were for the rich – which we weren’t. Cruises were for those who liked to dress up and go to fancy dinners and cocktail parties – which we didn’t. Cruises were for people who liked the finer things in life - things we didn’t care a bit about.

If we had only known. We’ve had to rethink our beliefs about cruising.

Here’s what we’ve come to know.
Cruising isn’t only for the rich. On one of our most recent cruises we paid a total of $549 (not per person) for seven nights – and received $250 in credit to use onboard. What vacation can you take for that kind of price? Wake up a few mornings on a ship in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Then wake up one morning in Costa Maya, Mexico and another morning in Belize City, Belize and another in Cozumel, Mexico, all in the same week.  Gotta love a floating hotel!

Cruising isn’t just for those who like to dress up and go to fancy dinners and cocktail parties. On a 15-night holiday cruise from San Francisco to Hawaii our luggage was lost by a shuttle company. We made a mad dash to a discount clothing store on the way to port and picked up a few things. No fancy clothing, only some basics. We spent the next two weeks wearing and re-wearing the same items and still enjoying good food, shows, and the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. (If the thought of wearing the same clothes more than once grosses you out, apologies. We did do laundry, if that helps.)

Cruising isn’t only for those who like the finer things in life. The only jewelry we wear is our wedding rings. We drink tap water. We live in a two bedroom manufactured home. We no longer need to impress anyone with anything. We like adventure and have found cruising to be a cost-effective way to visit places we never imagined we’d ever get to see. 

Discount clothes and all.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Cleaning up Photos on the Phone

"Refuse to keep photographs that serve no purpose. You wouldn’t put bad photos in a physical photo album. Likewise, you don’t need to keep them just because there is space on your hard drive." ~ Joshua Becker.

So here we go. Time to clean up the photos on the phone.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Passport to Your National Parks Program

"Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books." ~Sir John Lubbock
I can't recall the first time I visited a national park as a youngster. Pinpointing the first visit with hubby and kiddo is just as difficult. I think (?) we started around 1996. Back then we didn't know about the Passport to Your National Parks Program. When we found out about it we purchased a big huge book of maps and descriptions and checklists and plenty of space to stamp the pages at each park visit. As we downsized we moved to a much smaller version of the huge passport book. Which required chopping up the pages of the big book and gluing the passport stamps into the new book. But we still had years of visits we hadn't documented with stamps.

So how to get stamps for the national park visits from way back?

Make your own. Microsoft Word + searching old pictures to pinpoint dates + hours of WordArt insertions - many deletions - jammed printer = sheets of individual, dated passport stamps.
More cutting and glue stick action and our National Parks passport book is downright pretty with stamps that look darn close to being official.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Digital Junk

"Do you really need to keep everything that is in your Documents Folder? Doubtful. In fact, you could probably delete half of those documents and never regret it." ~Joshua Becker

Two laptops. Two flash drives. Two memory cards. One external hard drive. Many, many hours spent over the last few days erasing our past work lives. Gee whiz, we had a bunch of crap that used to be important to us.

No more. I feel so free.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018


"Imagine what it would be like to have a bookshelf filled only with books that you really love. Isn’t that image spellbinding? For someone who loves books, what greater happiness could there be?" 
~ Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Five years ago we had over 15 large bookcases throughout our house. Our hundreds of books have made their way out the door, on their way to homes where folks can appreciate them. We've shifted to ebooks, relying heavily on our public library. Don't even have to leave the house to check those out. Yay, Boise Public Library! Now we have three small shelves, holding only those few things we love.

The other shelf-hoggers on our bookshelves were photo albums. I used to do the whole scrapbooking thing. Large colorful and decorative pages with fun, cute, embellishments. Many, many photo albums with many photos and many pages. Until today.

Finally, our explosion of photo albums has been eliminated. Thank you, Shutterfly and Snapfish. Each one of our big, bulky, shelf-stealing photo albums has been reduced to its own photo book. How much of a difference in shelf space? Take a look.
On the left, one of the new books that came today. On the right, the original scrapbook pages from the photo album. No more bulky photo albums here. Just beautiful, lovely books.