Thursday, January 31, 2008

Reminiscing - Labadee, Haiti

Our last shore tour was to this beach in Haiti, and it was the most relaxing. Unfortunately we really didn't get to see the real Haiti. So, no taste of Haitian culture, but we also didn't have to worry about political unrest. At any rate, this part of the island of Hispaniola looks very different from the other part which is inhabited by the nation of the Dominican Republic. The beach was amazing, and it was huge - many different sunning spots. You just picked out your place, and the beach workers would pull up some chairs for you (then wait for a tip). The drink-staff from the ship would wander around and you could order drinks. At this point we were so bloated from all the booze that we had moved on to virgin drinks. No matter. We were so relaxed you could have dropped a coconut on us and we wouldn't have cared. This is my new happy place!

And this is the last set of pictures from our trip that I'll post to the blog. (Sigh.) Time to move on! Live in the now! On to the adventure of life!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Healthy Bake Night

TH is working the Weight Watchers for men, online, and has lost about 12 pounds so far. Go baby go!! So he requested a healthy bake night. These scones are only 2 points each.

With craisins substituting for currants. Yum!

Oh, my, they are light and fluffy and delicious.

Something British to go with the scones.

Here's to good health!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

BVI and DR

Tortola, BVI.

Yes, British Virgin Islands - so traffic flows differently.

Today's adventure: an "eco tour."

Most of my pictures from Tortola are on a waterproof, non-digital camera. But, I can say that it was a gorgeous, hot, sunny day on the water. We learned about the mangrove tree. Pretty amazing. This tree is incredibly adaptive, and if it doesn't take root, it will set itself free on the waves and get washed to another island. (Just one more reason I believe there must be a Creator.) We also snorkeled and saw some pretty cool fish, including possibly a stonefish or scorpion fish. Reports seem to vary whether stonefish are found in the Caribbean or not. Either way, it was a cool fish.

The next day we docked at Casa de Campo, on the Isla Hispaniola (Dominican Republic). This was not the best stop, because once you got off the ship, you had to take a shuttle or taxi to get anywhere. But we had a shore tour on the River Chavon, so we were set.

Breakfast, via room service. (The croissants are not as good as in France. They never are - is there something in the French water??)

Beautiful bougainvillaea, just onshore.
This picture gives me such joy - the beauty, the colors, the feeling of being somewhere tropical - if I didn't have such a black thumb, I'd try my hand at growing one of these.

Our cheesy amphibious vehicle tour! Excellent.

The river is beautiful.

Cuba libres for everyone!! Bleagh - cheap rum, cheap cola. Ours got "accidentally"dumped overboard. (But we saved the cups for proper disposal. Natch.)

Let's get the tourists tipsy on cheap rum and coke, then make them dance to impossibly fast merengue. Who am I to say no to a merengue? Good times!!

I love how relaxed I look in this picture. I don't allow myself to have this kind of fun except on vacation. Why is that? There was something so delicious in just letting loose and boogying.

Adios, Rio Chavon!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Reasons why today is excellent.

In no particular order:

1. FRIDAY!!!

2. Tonight for dinner TH is making cheeseburgers and french fries.

3. I'm spending some quality time with Clinton and Stacy tonight.

4. Missing Camera Quest:

Yes, Virginia, there are still good people in the world.

4. My husband saved a baby's life today. He's my hero.

5. My day consisted of an awesome unit development day, and I spent it truly appreciating my job and coworkers, all of whom work so hard to serve people in ways that really matter.

6. We're planning future exciting vacations. Even though they are years away, I love the planning as much as the doing.

7. My photos from the Caribbean trip are here. I love the ease of digital, but ther's nothing like holding your pictures. I can't wait to start working on the scrapbook!!

Yup, today is as good as they come.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Bake Night Returns

For tonight's bake night: a recipe from O Magazine for gingersnaps with orange-ginger cream filling. Sounds good, right? They taste good - but don't look at all like the picture. Oh well! It was fun to make them.
Spicy ingredients and spicy music

Ooops, I think I flattened these too much.

Well, the orange-ginger-cream filling looks good.

I guess they're not too bad, after all!

A Woman Should Have....

Elizabeth forwarded this to me via email, and I love it. It's by Maya Angelou (genius).

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE . . . enough money within her control to move out and rent a place of her own, even if she never wants to or needs to .

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE . . .something perfect to wear if the employer, or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour .

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE . . . a youth she's content to leave behind .

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE . . . a past juicy enough that she's looking forward to retelling it in her old age .

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE . . . a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra .

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE . . . one friend who always makes her laugh, and one who lets her cry .

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE . . . a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family .

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE . . .eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a recipe for a meal, that will make her guests feel honored .

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE . . .a feeling of control over her destiny .

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW . . .How to fall in love without losing herself .

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW . . .How to quit a job,
break up with a lover, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship .

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW . . .When to try harder and when to walk away.

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW . . .that she can't change the length of her calves, the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents .

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW . . .that her childhood may not have been perfect, but its over .

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW . . .What she would and wouldn't do for love or more .

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW . . .How to live alone -- even if she doesn't like it .

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW . . . Whom she can trust, Whom she can't, and why she shouldn't take it personally .

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW . . .Where to go . . . be it to her best friend's kitchen table . . . or a charming inn in the woods . . . When her soul needs soothing .

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW . . .What she can and can't accomplish in a day . . . a month . . .and a year .

Love to the women in my life!!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Scenes from Old San Juan

Our first port was San Juan. TH and I decided to explore the streets on our own. It's beautiful! And while certainly not the center of the oldest activity in the area (that distinction belongs to the indigenous peoples of the islands), it is definitely one of the oldest sites of European influence in the Americas.

More pictures of the fortresses will come later.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Recipe for Planter's Punch

This was a drink I tried for the first time on the cruise. I really liked it! But then, I'm a sucker for a drink with an umbrella in it.

Planter's Punch
2 oz. Dark Rum
2 oz. Orange Juice
2 oz. Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz. Lime Juice
Dash Grenadine
Orange Slice & Cherry for garnish

Combine 3 juices and Rum in a shaker with ice. Shake well, and strain into an ice filled Collins glass. Top with grenadine. Garnish with an Orange slice and a Maraschino Cherry.


More Travel Tales - Caribbean, 2008

Our cruise left on Sunday evening. We spent the first day at sea (Monday). TH and I had booked massages for first thing Monday morning. Oh, yeah. We both had the hot stone aromatherapy massage. Heavenly. The massage therapist used the heated stones to massage, then would place them on key body areas (ie low back), where they would sit, radiating. Awesome.
I also did Pilates on Monday. And we ate, and drank. Here's me enjoying a sangria. TH was at the movies (yes, there was a small movie theater on board).

Here's sunset from Monday:

Taken from our balcony. Ahem, our veranda.

Monday was also our first Formal night. We dressed to the nines, of course. (Emily - you may recognize the dress!)

More drinks anyone? Martini? Planter's punch?

Wood. Cliff Wood.

The food was phenomenal. Here are my choices for dinner:
Crab cocktail, creamy chicken soup, salad. Then, a wine sherbet to cleanse the palate. Then, tournedos of beef (filet mignon with a small toasted round of bread, with pate on top. OMG) Dessert? Warm apricat tart, pistachio ice cream, and housemade caramel sauce. It was so beautiful (sniff).

More pics and stories to come.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Thoughts from the Caribbean Adventure, 2008

We arrived in Florida after a somewhat harrowing trip:
1. We drove out of northern California, in some of the worst winter storms that I can remember. High winds up to 100 mph, airports and freeways completely shut down, rain and flooding of local streets, uprooted trees, and businesses closing shop to let people get home.

2. Our flight from SFO was delayed, getting us into LAX late. Actually we made it to LAX pretty much on time, but were stuck on the tarmac for 2 hours. Mind you, this is all at night - the middle of the night.

3. By the time we could get off the plane, it was about 1:30 am and all connecting flights but ours had left. We thought we wouldn't make it, in part because we had an elderly gentleman in the aisle seat next to me that used a wheelchair to get on the plane (and thusly, off again). But he recognized our plight and blocked the plane's aisle with his cane, let us climb over him, and didn't wince as we crunched his toes.

4. I did see Kimora Lee Simmons and her children, with Djimon Hounsou behind her (apparently they are an item), at LAX. I guess this part was not so harrowing, but I thought I'd throw it in there.

5. Our flight was late out of LAX, leaving at about 2:15 am. Yes.

6. We got to Fort Lauderdale around 10:30 the next morning, and called our hotel for the shuttle. The driver was in an unmarked van and passed us twice until it occurred to him to get out and verify we were his pick-up. We mentioned, slightly irritated, that if his van was marked it would have helped (later we saw him get the large magnetized sign that goes on the side of the van).

7. Of course, due to all the cruisers, we couldn't check in till 2:00 pm. Luckily there was Mama's Latin Cafe, a hole in the wall place where we could get some food.

MMMM, plantains!! Fried up good, with some salt. And the best Cuban sandwiches!!
More travel tales and pictures tomorrow. I plan to milk this for days. :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

AI Season 7

Is anyone watching American Idol tonight? Lord have mercy. Some thoughts:

1. Who names their little precious baby girl "Temptress?" It's like a bad porn star name.
2. When did shouting = singing?
3. WTF is up with Alexis (she of the weird sparkly look)? Simon was actually polite to her and she freaked out. Next, she says, she is going to try "actressing." Um, OK.
4. Does anyone sing straight anymore? I mean why, why, why do people need to sing all over the map? I realize this makes me sound really old, but...come on.
5. Why do the worst singers have the most confidence?
6. How creepy was the stalker song? Am I the only one who wasn't laughing?
7. Chest hair is nasty. Period.

(Back to more travel pics tomorrow.)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Back from Sunny Caribbe

TH and I just got back from the Caribbean, a beautiful part of the world. We were cruising, which means we were livin' large: massages, food, drinks, sleep, and sun (not all at one time, but almost). The five pounds I brought home is not a welcome souvenir.

On the beach in Haiti.

Sunset from our balcony.

TH coming back from a shore tour .

Our trip took us from Ft. Lauderdale to San Juan (Puerto Rico), then to Tortola (British Virgin Islands), then to Caso De Campo (Dominican Republic), then to Labadee (Haiti), and back to Florida. Lovely.

I'm working on my pictures and will post some more soon, along with travel commentary. Stay tuned.