Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Food is always good.  I really like food.  But the food on a cruise is something else again!  There were several dining rooms with sit down service and cloth napkins.  There were restaurants where the meal had to be paid for and reservations were highly recommended.  There were cafes dispersed throughout the ship where you could pick up a meal or a snack.  There were small areas where you could grab ice cream and there were lots of bars.  

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  And the Windjammer Market buffet dining rooms were where I headed every day but the last.  

Kathi captured this view one very early morning.

The buffet had all of my favorite breakfast (or for that matter, any other meal) foods.  The hot bar held the oatmeal I usually eat every day, complete with a pot of hot milk right beside it.  Walnuts, dried fruit and a box of granola cereal to mix into the oatmeal and I was set.  However, I also had smoked salmon every morning (protein, you know).  And they had the most incredible bread.  I asked and asked about it and for the recipe.  All I got was what they call it:  German bread.  I'd do somersaults for that recipe.  It was dark and had seeds and oatmeal and I don't know what else because they wouldn't give me the recipe!  I make bread at home every week and I really like my recipe.  I add oatmeal, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, oat bran and wheat bran and whatever seems to work.  So I am not putting down my bread when I say that this bread was outrageously good.

They also had a breakfast goodie table and anything and everything (I don't lie) that you could imagine using to get a start on your day!

Usually Kathi and I had lunch separately because of the scheduling of classes.  The last class day we were able to dine together in the Adagio 3 dining room with waiter service and an unbelievable buffet.

Lobster gratin was on the buffet which we visited with joy.  In addition, I had a lovely small portion of tomato risotto (with something else but I can't remember).  And I was able to meet several people in the group I hadn't met yet.  That was even lovelier!

However, the main show was in the Adagio 4 dining room where we had dinner every evening.  Talk about lovely!  Our main dining room steward's name was Erimel but he told us immediately to call him Mel.  I don't remember the name of the assistant waiter but I do know that he was from Ukraine and had a very complicated and fascinating family history.  Both of these gentleman treated us like queens and kings.  Napkin placed in the lap kind of thing.  And after my request on the first night they made sure that I had a plate of lemon slices for my water.  I only had to ask once!

This is Mel.  He always had that beautiful smile on; well, except when badgered by the one bad apple in the entire bunch.  But enough about that!

On formal night Kathi and I insisted that he have a picture taken with us.

We felt pretty snazzy that night.  There were two formal nights but, as often happens, we forgot to get a picture.  But wait!  I have one from the last cruise where I am wearing the same dress I wore for the first formal night on this cruise!

As an all-included cruise package was in place, one could order whatever and as many of whatever as one wanted.  And we did.  Now to the promised pictures of delicious, spectacular food. 

Caprese salad 

Crabcakes with wasabi aioli

Fish with capers and raisins in tomato sauce

More lovely fish . . . I believe this was called corvina.

Gorgeous roast duck!

Lamb chops!

I don't remember what this was but it was delicious!

The piece de resistance was available on Friday's formal night.  Remember the part about as many as you want?  People partook particularly on this night when we could have lobster tails and shrimp as our entree.

Oh, my, the most perfectly prepared lobster I've ever had was on that plate.  The shrimp was perfectly prepared every night, particularly in the shrimp appetizer.  Your usual shrimp cocktail with 4-5 huge luscious shrimp and a wonderful cocktail sauce.  One of our crew ordered two every night because it was superb and because, well, why not?!

This was shrimp with crostini and artichoke spread.  OMG!

 And of course, as mentioned before, there was The Cupcake Shop.  Just a reminder of the cupcakes we had . . . 

Because it is a cruise, by golly, and of course I came back several pounds heavier.  What kind of fool would I have been otherwise?

We insisted on hugging Mel the last night because he had been a total sweetheart.  We also hugged the Ukranian-who's-name-escapes-me.  They were so wonderful, at full tilt boogy full time and and never forgot a preference.  We had two tables, one with six seats and one with around 14.  So they were nonstop busy and never lost their cool.  Not once.  

I miss them.

Monday, April 21, 2014


We have been going about 1.5 hours away to spend holidays with our friends, Julie and Rich and their children.  This holiday we got to spend time with Julie's mom, Barbara, as well.  Let me introduce you to most of us.

These two gorgeous sprites are Jonas and Livvie (and the beautiful purple watering can I covet and might steal one day!)  They are beside the comma garden that Julie created this year.  Unfortunately the local Bunny Dude loves the kale!

This is Jonas of the incredible eyes.

And this is Livvie, oh, Livvie . . . of the brilliant scientific mind and the master of Legos!

We brought Ginny a very, very large bone.  Here she is halfway done but the entire bone disappeared pretty darn quickly  A lovely day to lay outside with a snack.

The photographer (my husband, Butch) wasn't able to capture Rich this time but I'm sneaking one in from last Thanksgiving . . .

Rich doesn't hold still long enough to get many pictures and he wouldn't allow one with the crazy pink visor I brought him from my cruise.  Said he might get shot!

Here is my Julie, my beautiful Julie!  We had a lovely time sitting out on the porch with Barbara.

Barbara lives in New Jersey now (and forever before now) but she is in the process of moving down to live next door to Julie and Rich.  She purchased a mobile home last week to go on the land that Rich and Julie just recently bought  next door.  It is cleared and fenced and wonderful!  So green and wide open.  Jonas loves to run down there and stand in a special place and watch the world go by.  So Barbara will be moving down soon to be close.

Barbara is a fascinating lady.  She has lived through many spotlight times in history and worked as a school secretary.  She also worked for Campbell's Soup.  Butch and I love talking to her and hearing her stories and her wisdom.

Legos rule in the Teat household.  And Jonas loved to play Legos with Butch.

Julie is an avid gardener and I really, really enjoy seeing what she has done every time we visit.  The house is out in the country and there are woods all along the back.  It's beautiful and peaceful.  And I love the way the backyard is laid out.

But I think my favorite thing about this particularly visit was the greenhouse.  I love this greenhouse.  I WANT this greenhouse immediately!

This really tickled me.  Rich developed together a balance beam that the kids can put together.  And then they "walk the plank"!  Over and over.  Outside.  That is so refreshing!  These children really love being outside.

Butch and I did contribute to dinner.  Deviled eggs . . . 

And fruit salad with bunnies romping around on top.

I don't know how the bunnies got in but they seemed very comfortable . .

We also took huge oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies that Butch made.  Forgot pictures but they are wonderful!  It's Martha Stewart's recipe and I've pinned it on my Pinterest Board under the "Food" file.  Well worth checking out!

Butch and I have been talking all morning about how much fun we had.  The conversations were really great and being around the little ones always lifts my heart.  Butch, a former elementary school teacher who now works for DPI as a regional accountability coordinator, feels real joy playing the kids.  He does it so effortlessly that everyone can feel how much he loves young ones.  Visiting our lovely friends always makes us want to go back for more!  

I hope your Easter was as great as ours was!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


I think I mentioned (numerous times!) how amazing the Allure of the Seas is.  At this moment in time it is the largest cruise ship in the world.  And it more than lives up to the "hype".  Today let's take a walk through Central Park.

Central Park is on Deck 8.  It is open to the sky so one can look up to see the other 9 decks.  Yes, if I didn't say it before, there are 17 decks.  The top deck is comprised of a chapel and the luxury suites for those with very deep pockets.  I have been told that there are 2-story suites, one complete with grand piano.  Anyway, Central Park is set up as just that.  Live trees and plants, bird sounds and lovely places to sit.

And these gorgeous glass birds were an absolute delight!

Here is a view from above:

And another:

There is an amazing cafe in Central Park where they make panini sandwiches and salads to order right in front of you, including the tossing of the salad after you choose your ingredients from a big case full.  The first time I visited at lunchtime I had a shrimp and Asian noodle salad and a sugar-free strawberry mousse.  There was a case of beautiful desserts and fruit everywhere.  I sat outside.

And I had an unexpected guest for lunch.  Butch would have been so excited to see him.

Remember we are on a ship!  Lovely stores and restaurants for $ line Central Park.  My favorite was the Coach store.  I've always coveted a Coach bag and I found the one I lust after.

To die for!

It was now Monday and the ship pulled into Nassau, Bahamas before daylight.

It was always fun to see the other cruise ships docked beside us and believe me, it is amazing to see how closely they are moored and how they parallel park.

When we got off the ship, the Disney Dream Cruise was parked next to us.

And a really fun activity was to watch other cruisers on their own ships from the vantage point of the Allure.  I saw people playing basketball, swimming and just running around.  It was like watching another city with binoculars!

Kathi and I had been to Nassau last July so we didn't take very many pictures but here are a few from that first trip.

This is the Nassau Masonic Hall.  I was a Rainbow Girl in high school and college so I was very excited and moved to see the Hall here.  After walking and walking and walking towards the Fish Fry, a collection of very small and locally owned restaurants housed in one area, we were exhausted.  We had been told that the walk would only be about 15 minutes.  45 minutes later we hailed a cab, a lesson we took with us on this trip.  However, we lucked upon Junkeroo Beach and Kath took this picture of me bathing my poor tired, hot feet.

And I, of course, caught one of Kathi.

This trip, after shopping along the main street (more about that later) we decided to go back to the Fish Fry for lunch and were told by a store clerk that we could grab the public bus for $1.25 instead of paying $5 each for a cab.  The buses are open air and the weather was absolutely perfect.  After awhile I asked the driver when we would get to the Fish Fry.  His reply was that we had passed that stop and that he would drop us off after we had gone around the regular route in a loop.  It was an early shore day, meaning that we had to be back to the ship by 1:30.  At this point it was 11:00 so I didn't panic but I could feel Kathi getting a little tense as the ride went on and on around the island.  We were able to get the "3-hour" tour for very little and the scenery was really beautiful.  But obviously the trip took far longer than we had expected!  We finally stopped at the Fish Fry at 12:00, just in time to have conch fritters made fresh when we arrived.

I LOVE conch in any form or fashion.  And the price was certainly right.  For two appetizer plates of conch fritters with fries and Diet Cokes we only spent $12.  The above picture is from last year because this time we were intent on eating and making sure we made it back in time to board.  The plates of conch fritters this time included about 12 each!  And the waitress was kind enough to hail us a cab.  The driver was waiting outside when we finished and got us back to port at 1:00.  Perfect timing!