Archive for January 2017

Perfectly Port Travels: Caribbean Cruise Days 3 & 4...

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

This week I am recapping our Caribbean Cruise, if you missed yesterday's post click back and start there!

Our next two stops we had planned all day excursions!  First stop was the beautiful island of St. Thomas for a catamaran sail, snorkel, beach lunch and beach afternoon.  The catamaran ended up being a pirate ship complete with a gang plank and I walked off of it twice #whynot.

We started off the day snorkeling off the coast of St. Thomas at Buck Island.  A 2 foot shark swam by us, we saw huge conch shells (like 12 inches) and we swam with about 8 sea turtles.  They would surface to breathe right next to us.  It was unbelievable!  There were also lots of beautiful fish including a Dory look-alike!

We then sailed on the pirate ship (pictured in the background) over to Honeymoon Cove where we had lunch on the beach.  It was delicious, especially the ribs.  After lunch, we hung out in the water because it was warm and laying out. 

We finished with a sail back to the ship and rum out for the rum punch #enoughsaid.  Anytime I can be on a boat with the wind in my hair, I am a happy camper. This was one of my favorite days!

We saw a bunch of iguanas sunning themselves by the pier at every port!

At this point, we had no idea just how fried we were.  I never, let me repeat, wear a bikini #selfconcious but I did for our cruise and my skin didn't know what to do!  We went back to the ship and ordered room service to enjoy on our balcony while we watched the sun set.  Then we got gussied up and headed to dinner and a show (the shows are so good) before turning in for the night #waytoomuchsun.

The next day, we were off to sunny St. Kitts!  We ordered room service to enjoy on our balcony before heading out for another all day excursion.

We met up with our native guide Javin and his sidekick monkey Diggy!

First we went hiking in the rain forest where he showed us all sorts of plants from wild basil to avocado trees, bamboo that grew 12-24 inches a day and over beautiful brooks.

The monkey was always ready to take a free ride...

That bamboo grew by 12-24 inches a day.  I felt like Honey I shrunk the Kids next to it!

After our hike in the rain forest we drove through some villages before stopping by the lava rock beach.  The volcano is now dormant but this beach was beautiful.  It's closed to the public but our guide fixed up a rope and we scaled down ;).  

After this we headed to an old cotton gin to talk about the history of the island.  It's under the English commonwealth and at one time was a huger manufacturer of cotton and sugar.  Now they mostly survive on tourism.  We had the best picnic lunch with empanadas from a local bakery as well as fresh sweet was SO good!

We then headed to the other part of the island for some snorkeling and beach time.  This half of the island is much more commercialized and he said soon will be full of hotels and resorts.  Nevis, St. Kitt's sister island is in the distance, home to Oprah and Bill Gate's vacation homes!  This island was breathtaking!

We hopped out of the open air bus and got geared up to head out toward thats big rock.  A big ship sunk in the late 1800's there and its full of fish and sea life.  It was a bit of a swim and the water was a bit chilly at first!

We saw more sea turtles - so cool!

...and even our guide monkey went swimming!

Look at that sea star...they were littered all over the ground.  It was more great snorkeling and we were the only ones there!

After snorkeling, we spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach soaking in the sun, enjoying the view and more empanadas and a little rum punch #welearnedourlesson.

Late afternoon, we headed back to the ship!  We weren't the only boat in town and it's crazy how big these ships are.  We hopped into the hot tub for a bit before changing and heading for dinner, a show and watching the ISU mens basketball game.  Why yes we did!

Next up a full day at sea, Curacao and Aruba to wrap up the trip!

Perfecly Port Travels : Cruise Day 1 & 2...

Monday, January 30, 2017

Oh my goodness, I am still daydreaming of the cruise.  Everyday there was sun, there were
margaritas, there were lots of sun-drenched naps, dips in the ocean and food, lots of food.

Scott and I have been away from our kids for short stints here and there for weddings and little getaways but never for 9 days.  9 days.  I really wondered if we would get sick of each other after 9 days, would we have enough to talk about, would we get homesick?  The answer to all of those questions was - who are you kidding Erin? Ha!  We of course missed our kids but it was an awesome trip celebrating 10 (and 1/2) years of marriage.  We love cruising.   We love vacations.

Cruising is like a Caribbean island sampler platter!

We have always traveled on Royal Caribbean and used our same amazing travel agent (I can hook you up if you need someone).   Our last cruise I was pregnant with Solon!  This was our first cruise departing from San Juan, Puerto Rico (but we had been there as a port of call on another cruise) and we like the 7 day cruises.  It takes me about 2 days to decompress and decompress I did :).  At one point I thought I am not thinking about a dang thing...when has that ever happened?

We like to fly in the day before we are sure not to miss the boat due to travel complications, the cruise leaves on time and doesn't wait.  We flew 2 one-way tickets and it was WAY cheaper to do so.  We flew down on Delta and back on United and we use Kayak to scope out prices and then book with the airline directly.

So we travel on discount airlines frequently because there are 5 of us and they fly direct to the places we need to go so I was kid giddy when I could watch movies on our long flight to Puerto Rico (I watched Bridget Jone's Baby on the way down - so cute and Bad Moms on the way back - ignore the strong language and its relatable).  

Meanwhile back at home the kids were having the time of their lives.  True story, Vera said when we got back, I missed you but I had SO much fun!  We are so thankful for our parents and friends stepping in and holding down the fort while we were gone!

We got in late to our hotel.  We stayed the Holiday Inn Express Condado Beach and it was clean, well-priced and a quick taxi ride to the pier with complimentary breakfast and wifi!

The next morning we were up and ready to go and ready to board the ship by 11am when they opened the doors to start checking people in!  We wanted to enjoy the ship all day long.  I was feeling festive in navy stripes for the occasion!

Every.single.time we approach the ship I am in awe of how HUGE they are.  Ours was a middle range ship and had 3200 people on board (max of 3800) and 1200 crew members.  I mean thats an Iowa town floating in the ocean!  

SO ready to vacation...we got on board and took a tour, we had strict instructions from the kids to take pictures of a few important (to them) places!

First stop adult only pool area (no kids allowed, I love kids but when my own aren't present I am good with adults only ;).  

Of course they wanted to see the main pool deck and kids water park area...

Before checking out the sports deck complete with rock climbing wall, flow rider, 2 water slides and mini golf!  I had my eyes set on the flow rider!  I am holding my dress in all of these photos because it was WINDY...I was trying not to flash our new friends ;)!

After lunch in the buffet area (hello nacho bar everyday with guacamole and queso :) we headed back to the adult only pool area and got us some fruity drinks.  Momma's on vacation - margarita please!

Then the vast portion of the rest of vacation had me lounging in said position...#vacationgoals

We walked into our state room late in the afternoon and I was like "Um this isn't it, ours has a window only!"  Our awesome travel agent got us upgraded to a balcony room and I was kid giddy again.  Vera was worried something might fall overboard but I can say nothing did #railingwenttomyboobs.

We enjoyed the view and the lights coming on in Puerto Rico before we got our bags and unpacked.  The rooms are, you know, compact so I prefer to unpack.  There is no light packing on cruises.

Then it was time to get dressed for dinner and head out for the evening with as much entertainment as we could handle.  We love the piano bar!  Good tunes and sing alongs ;)!

I'll be back tomorrow with Day 3 & 4 - St. Thomas and St. Kitts.  We were heavy on exploration on those two days ashore so more picture overload and spoiler alert, more selfies #sorrynotsorry. 



Friday Favorites...

Friday, January 27, 2017

It's Friday and oh my word...I am so so happy to see you!  The week after vacation has me SO tired.  I was all refreshed you guys but Mom-ing is like a sport, you take a week off and you get out of shape.  I am out of mom shape.  Today, I have some Friday Favorites and then next week is ALL CRUISE all week long.  Cruise fashion and Cruise Recap #sorrynotsorry.  I was not on top of my game this week and I needed a moment to get this hot mess express on track!

So let's grab our a cup of coffee and share the randomness that is my Friday Favorites...

I try really hard to dig into the word everyday, I am going to be honest, it doesn't always happen.  Most days I send my oldest off to school with my husband at 7:45am and while the girls are eating breakfast, I sip coffee and read my bible.  The last few January's I have kicked off the year reading through 1 proverb a day.  I also started dating my notes so that when I come back to a book of the bible I have already studied I can see what stuck out to me.  If you were to see my Lamentations 3:22-24 section, it's all about our miscarriage and difficulty getting pregnant, my mom's cancer scare, etc.  It's a great way to see where I have been and what I have learned during different seasons.  I don't color but I date!

This is my go to meal to take to people.  I hardly ever post recipes on this blog because there are people far more gifted in this arena BUT this one is a fan favorite and hard to screw up (although I have a time or two, sigh!).  It's a pinterest recipe my sister-in-law Raquel made for us when we got home from the hospital with our last daughter.  It was so good, I quickly adopted it.

Italian Chicken Bake

4-6 Chicken breasts cut in half/boneless chicken thighs (or combo) 
1 lb fresh or frozen whole green beans
3-5 yellow potatoes diced into 1/2-1 inch cubes
1 stick of butter cubed
1 package of zesty italian dry dressing mix

Make 3 lines - 1 for green beans, chicken in the middle and potatoes on the other side
Place cubes of butter intermittently
Sprinkle italian dressing over all
Cover with aluminum foil
Bake for an hour at 350 covered
Check softness of potatoes and chicken should be cooked through

I started a new bible study with my bible study ladies and's good.  Jen Wilken can teach!  It's a book with a video session each week and she just lays out scripture so succinctly.  So far I love it!

It was giant day at preschool and I tootled around town with this HUGE panda bear as my passenger #thelooksIgot.  My sister (with no kids ;) got one for each of my two older kids, she thinks Lucy needs one too.  I think 2 in my house is plenty.  I cannot wait to repay gift her back someday!  

Okay so this last thing is more of a poll!  I have been getting back into tip-top Mom shape this week which has required additional caffeine consumption.  I ran out of pop on, oh Tuesday, so I am down to one random bottle of pepsi in my pantry and desperate times call for desperate measures.  Why do regular pepsi products taste flat compared to regular coke products?  I LOVE (like really really love) diet mountain dew but regular mountain dew and pepsi just taste flat.  Anyone else????  Anyway that was quite random, but hey that's where my brain is at, coasting on caffeine fumes into the weekend! 

And for you football fans....

We dressed the part but yikes it was a rough game...The Seahawks (Solon's team) and the Steelers (Grandpa's team) are all out.  I guess we will just gorge our way through the super bowl instead!

Have the best weekend my friends!  Thanks so much for stopping by...


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