Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Tim & Andrea's honeymoon cruise - Day 1

Tim and I were married on May 1, 2011  in Key West. You can read all about the wedding planning here, and you can read about our awesome private beach wedding here.

All caught up on our awesome wedding?? Good! Now we can move on to our honeymoon cruise!!

One thing about our cruise, we were booked on a Carnival cruise for a 10 day cruise on the ship called The Carnival Destiny. Our 10 day cruise was actually 2 five day cruises that we were taking, one after the other. People do this all the time, and the cruise term for it is Back-to-Back, or B2B. The 2 cruises we booked had different itineraries, so we wouldn't be repeating the same cruise twice.

The 2 cruises we were taking would take us to 5 islands in 10 days:

FIRST CRUISE - May 2 to May 7
1. Grand Turk (Turks & Caicos Islands)
2. Half Moon Cay (Carnival's private Island in the Bahamas)
3. Nassau, Bahamas

SECOND CRUISE - May 7 to May 13
4. Ocho Rios, Jamaica!!
5. Grand Cayman Island

The B2B cruise we were taking would travel to the first 3 islands and then dock back in the Port of Miami to unload passengers and load new ones for the next cruise. Tim and I would stay on the ship during the loading/unloading on May 7th, and we would even get to keep the same cabin for both cruises.

I'll begin where we left off: Tim and I spent our wedding night at The Intercontinental Hotel at the Port of Miami. This hotel was SO nice!

Our room was just awesome! and the view of the Port of Miami from our 24th floor room was to-die-for!


Tim and I were up early, around 6:30AM.

We were both SO EXCITED that we were going on a cruise that day. Neither of us had ever been on a cruise before.

The sunrise from our window was beautiful and we sat in the large windowsill and watched Miami wake up.

Around 6:50 AM we saw THE DESTINY (our ship!) pull into port.

We wouldn't be able to board the ship for several hours and we wanted to do a few things before boarding time so we tore ourselves away from the window and we both showered and dressed.

We left our hotel room around 8:30 AM and set out to explore our hotel.

The Intercontinental hotel is situated right on the water.
Here, it's the shorter building in the middle

Here is the front entrance

and the lobby

We found the pool and an outdoor walking path.

We spent some time walking around a little and then decided we wanted to walk to a nearby drug store for some last minute items.

We walked the 2-3 blocks to the store and picked up a few things, including toothpaste, bottled water and candy.

When we got back to the hotel, we still had some time to kill before it was time to meet Norma and Brian down in the lobby.

We could have had breakfast but we didn't want to eat anything for 2 reasons: 1, Food at that hotel costs a fortune, and 2, we knew we would be on the ship very soon and we would be eating for free. We weren't trying to be cheap, but we decided we could both wait to eat. So we went back up to our room, packed our suitcases, and got ready to go. We sat down to watch the morning news and guess I took a quick catnap.

At 9:30, Tim woke me up and told me it was time to go. YAY!! FINALLY!!! I freshened up and we grabbed our bags and headed down to the lobby.
We saw Norma and Brian at our designated meeting spot and Tim and Brian went to the desk to check out of our rooms. Norma and I made sure we had everything we needed for the cruise check-in (boarding passes, passports, etc...).

In case you forgot, Norma and Brian are a couple from New Jersey that we met online. Norma and I found each other on the CruiseCritic website and we were most excited when we realized we were not only going on the same B2B cruise, but we were also staying at the same hotel the night before the cruise. Tim and I actually met them in person for the first time the night before the cruise, on our wedding night. We all hit it off, and spent several hours talking in the hotel lobby.  If you haven't already, you can read about that here, in our beach wedding post. We had made plans to meet Norma and Brian in the lobby at 9:30 on the morning of the cruise and share a cab to the port.

Sandra and Hameed, the other couple we met the night before had slept in. They would join us later on the ship.

We left the hotel around 10:00 and the taxi ride to the port took about only a few minutes. We were at the port around 10:15. We were dropped off outside the port building and the porter took our luggage.
At this point I was way too excited, and I may have skipped into the port building. The next hour was just a blur, and we were so lucky to have Norma and Brian with us. Norma led us through all of the steps involved with the check in. I can't remember all that we did, as we went through the lines so fast. We were there so early there weren't really any lines to stand in. The porter had taken our luggage and would put it on the ship. It would be delivered to our cabin later that evening.

 We had our carry-on's with us, so we put them through the security thingie, we showed our boarding passes and passports, we filled out health questionaires, and a few other things I can't think of. Like I said, it all went so fast at this point, it just seemed like we were running through all of the check-in steps so quickly. (and we were actually running from one desk to the next).

Before I knew it, the check-in process was over and we were directed to these seats to sit and wait for our boarding number to be called. With 2500 people trying to board the ship before 3:00PM, they need let people on in groups. We were in group number 8

Notice how I'm not even looking at the camera? I was in la-la land looking out the huge wall of glass windows of the port building and OUR SHIP was right there! And it was HUGE!!!

Here are Norma and Brian

We sat for about 20 minutes and they called number 8 around 11:00. We all jumped up and headed upstairs to board the ship!

Before we walked on the ship, Carnival took our embarkment picture.
The 4 of us took our boarding picture together. We could choose to buy a copy of this picture later, or not. We did.

And then we boarded THE DESTINY!!! WOW!! I was amazed and thrilled and I had a hard time taking it all in.

We entered the ship in the lobby area, and we headed to the Excursion desk to finalize our Cabana booking for one of the islands. Tim and I had already booked our cabana, we just needed to pick which cabana we wanted.

Next we headed to the dining room to try to ask the Matre D if we could change our dining room seating arrangements. Tim and I had a 6:00PM dining time, which was the time we wanted. Our problem, was that we really wanted a table for 2 so we could eat dinner in the dining room by ourselves. Carnival usually seats two or more families together at the dining tables, and Tim and I thought we would rather eat alone. After all, it was our honeymoon.

We found the dining room (with help from Norma and Brian) and the Matre D was happy to change our table to a private table for two. So far so good!!

It was now around noon and we headed to the Lido deck for food and music!!! We wouldn't be able to go to our cabins until 1:30PM, as the room stewards were cleaning all of the rooms from the previous passengers, who had just gotten off the ship that morning.

The 4 of us found a table, and we took turns going after food. There was a ton of food, and it was all FREE!!!  We had our choice of  eating from the buffet, ordering pizza, or we could get sandwiches at the deli. Tim and I decided to go to the deli for corned beef sandwiches.

I ate half of my sandwich before I remembered to take a picture

Then I ordered a Drink of the DAY (DOD!)

After lunch we walked up to the top deck and found a few lounge chairs to sit in. By this point we were all 4 on our cell phones making last minute calls and texts to let our friends and family back home know we had made it on the ship and say our goodbyes.

Around 1:30, Tim and I decided we would go find our cabin. We said goodbye to Norma and Brian, we would see them in an hour at our roll call meeting.

I had picked our cabin months before our cruise, I was hoping I picked a good one. It's hard to know what you are getting from looking at a paper, but I did great! We were on deck 6, which was pretty much the middle deck. Deck 6 was the lowest (cheapest) deck where the rooms had balconies.

We found deck 6 and our room was close to mid-ship. We loved our cabin!!

It was perfect for the two of us

Tim checked out the balcony

Looking off our balcony at the port building

Our bathroom in the cabin (these pictures of the bathroom were actually taken later, after we had unpacked)

That weird thing on the wall was a hairdryer

And the shower

At 2:30, Tim and I went to find the Serenity Deck, the adults only area at the back of the ship. We had made arrangements before the cruise meet some people there for a meet-n-greet. We had all agreed on a time and a place to meet, and we all decided we would wear mardi gras beads so we could all find each other.

Norma and Brian were there, as well as Sandra and Hameed. Also at the meet-n-greet were a mother/daughter duo, Mary and Cassandra.

Pics from our meet-n-greet on the serenity deck

Everyone except Tim and Hameed wearing our Mardi Gras beads

We really had a lot of fun with this group of people, so glad we met them! It was nice to have new cruise friends, and we spent quite a bit of time with all of them during the cruise.

 At 3:30 we heard the announcement for the Muster Drill. We said goodbye to our friends after we made more arrangements to meet again after the drill, and Tim and I headed out to find our Muster Station.

The Muster Drill is mandatory for all passengers on the cruise and only lasted about 15 minutes. We learned how to work the life jackets, and where to go to board the lifeboats in case of an emergency.

At the end of the Muster Drill we heard the ships horn, signaling we were ready to sail!

We went up to the very top deck of the ship, and then to the very back. Are you wondering how we were managing to get around the ship? We had a map! Also, there were a lot of staff all over the ship and we could ask directions to wherever we were trying to go. Tim was better at getting around the ship than I was. I was constantly turned around and trying to go the wrong way.

Once we made it to the top and back of the ship, we found our new friends, and we all stood at the back railing to watch our sail-away.

After we sailed past South Beach and got out to open sea, Tim and I said goodbye to everyone and went to find our cabin to get freshened up for our 6PM dinner time. We wondered if our luggage had been delivered to our room yet??

Every night of the cruise, we could choose where we wanted to eat. We had our assigned table in the Universe dining room, where we could order off the menu and be served our dinner every night at 6:00PM. If we didn't feel like a sit-down dinner we could go to one of several buffets. There was always the pizza place, and the deli. We could also order room service 24 hours/day. There was A LOT of food on the cruise, all free.
On our first night, Tim and I wanted to eat in the dining room.

We found our cabin again with no problems YAY! our bags had arrived to our room!! We unpacked, and found there was plenty of room to store our things. There were 3 big closets, 3 big drawers, and a few closed cabinets with shelves inside. We had a feeling the dining room would be cold (air conditioning) so we changed our clothes and had time to sit down and watch a little TV before dinnertime.

Our room steward came by to introduce himself, and ask if we needed anything. He was very nice! His name was " I Wayan " , but he asked us to call him "Y". Easy enough!

Just before 6PM, Tim and I made our way to the Universe dining room. I thought it was very confusing to figure out how to get around the ship that first day, but within a few days we learned which elevator to take to get to our favorite areas of the ship. To get to the Universe dining room from our room, we had to walk to the far back elevator bank on our  (6th) floor, and go down to the 4th floor. The doors opened up right in front of the upper entrance to our dining room. It's easy if you know which elevator bank to take.

We were shown our table, number 517, which was a little booth for two tucked in along a side wall. We LOVED our little booth for two!! Our server was "Achmed", and he was very funny, and very sweet. He took care of us very well every time we ate in the dining room, and we just loved him.

While we were in the dining room that first night, Tim and I were surprised at how much rocking and motion we felt. We wondered how we would be able to eat with all the rocking. It was a strange sensation, and we both hoped we wouldn't become seasick.

For dinner that night, I ordered the St Louis style ribs, and they were very good! I don't remember what Tim ordered, but I am certain it involved seafood. We were actually fine eating dinner while swaying back and forth that first night, although we were amazed we weren't sick, and I want to add here that by the end of the 10 days we were onboard, we both grew to LOVE the swaying feeling.

Tim and I were exausted by the time dinner was over, and we were stuffed. We had had a busy day with a lot of running here and there. We decided to skip dessert that night and we left the dining room early.

On the way back to our room, we stopped and looked through a few of the shops on the ship. The 2 floors above the lobby were set up like a little shopping mall. 

We stopped in the formalities shop and ordered a small cake to be delivered to our table for dinner the next night. This was going to be our wedding cake. It was $8.00, very reasonable, and we ordered chocolate. While we were in the Formalities shop, we both spied the bins of candy, our weakness. Tim and I both have a sweet tooth. I made a mental note to re-visit this shop for candy!

Back in our room for the night around 8PM or so, we found our bed turned down and looking SO comfortable. Our room steward had also left our FUN TIMES newsletter telling us the goings-on for the next day, which would be a sea day. There were 2 chocolates left on our bed with our newsletter, but there was no towel animal that night, something I wanted to see, but I figured our room steward must be pretty busy that night.

Since we knew we had plenty of time to explore the ship over the next 10 days, we changed into more comfortabe clothes and settled in to our cabin for the night.

That night, we decorated our door to our cabin. Yes, I brought decorations with us! This turned out to be a good thing, and for the rest of the cruise we easily found our cabin without having to read every cabin number along the hallway. 

The sign had a tacky back and I had it made before our cruise. It said:
KEY WEST - MAY 1, 2011

We watched the news, lots of news about Bin Laden, who had been killed the day before (on our wedding day!)...................we ordered room service (chocolate cake and a fruit plate). I downloaded our pictures from the day onto our laptop.

We stood out on our balcony and watched the sea in the darkness. We were sailing along at a pretty good pace and it was a strange sensation to be floating across the ocean in such a big ship. 

Tomorrow would be a Sea Day, and we would be sailing out on the open sea all day. Tim and I planned to kick back and relax, we had been "running" now for 3 days. We were also excited to check out more of this huge ship.

We were both in bed by 10:30 that night, and the gental rocking of the ship put us to sleep like little babies in a cradle.


Ready to read about Day 2??? You can find it HERE!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

DIY Bookshelves

Making bookshelves is super easy, but only if you have a handy man for a husband.

I'm so lucky to have Tim here to make them for me!

I've been in need of a bookshelf for awhile now. I've been keeping my books in one of the cabinets of our hutch in the livingroom for about 3 years now. My book collection is growing, and I needed a better way to access them, so I asked Tim to build me some shelves.

Our house is FULL, and every available space in every room is taken.

But, I found a perfect place for the shelves, a small unused wall in our bedroom by the door.

Timmy took measurements and went to work on my new shelves.

First, we went to Lowe's to get wood.

Since the garage is full of motorcycles, lawnmowers and tools, Tim set up shop in our driveway

Within a short time, I could see progress

And finally, the finished bookshelves!

Since the space is so small, I had a hard time getting good pictures

Perfect fit!! And a great way to use up the space beside our bedroom door.

Don't look at this room! Yes, thats hunter green paint on the walls, left over from the previous owners. We've been overhauling the rest of the house, and saving the bedroom re-do's for last since we are really the only ones to see the bedrooms.

I can't wait to re-do this room (and yes, I'll post about it!). We're waiting for our last little bird to leave the nest so Tim and I can move into the 2nd bedroom while we renovate this one. We need to replace some drywall and then paint and decorate. We have a whole bunch of great ideas and we can't wait to get started!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fall and Halloween at our house

Fall is already here, and Halloween is just around the corner.

Here is what fall looks like at our house this year:

Outside, we filled cute orange trash bags that look like pumpkins.

Jack is posing on the front steps with the flowerpot that has a pumpkin decoration. I can't believe we still have flowers blooming this late in October.

A wreath made of plastic leaves and tiny pumpkins hangs on our front door. Do I really spend hours and hours raking the leaves from the front yard and then hang fake ones on the front door??

Come on inside, let's see whats going on in the livingroom:

Our coffee table is ready for fall

I don't love these glass candleholders, because they don't go with our livingroom. Next year I will look for some wooden ones.

I really love this ceramic pumpkin. I found it at a garage sale about a month ago for only $1.00

Across the room on the hutch, we have a cute little Halloween display.

The picture is just something I printed from the internet and stuck in a frame I painted orange.

I made the Apothecary jars myself from candleholders and jars with lids that I found at garage sales. Here is my post about how I made them. This month they are filled with candy corn and candy pumpkins, but by Christmas time, they will be filled with green and red goodies.

The yellow glass pumpkin and the cut crystal pumpkin were both garage sale finds.

I posted a tutorial here about how I made the taper candles look like they have blood dripping from them.

Over by the TV, I put a few things on this shelf:

I painted the small pumpkin black with craft paint.

The haunted house picture is another free online printable I put in a black frame.

The teddy bear witch came from Joanne Craft and Fabric store.

We also have a basket of plastic pumpkins and gourds:

And here is Jack again, this time he is showing off our plastic leaf garland. This leaf garland moves around the room almost daily. Some days I'll put it it on the hutch, and other days it's hanging from the curtain rod.

So thats our fall house decoration tour. Some of the more Halloweenish decorations will come down after Halloween but the fall stuff will stay up through Thanksgiving.

I'm really ready to get the Christmas decorations out on Thanksgiving weekend.