Monday, July 10, 2017

Blog With Friends, July 2017: Cruise Packing Tips

Welcome to July's Edition of Blog With Friends!! 

Our last cruise was wonderful, but I needed to jot down some notes to remember for the next cruise in four years. Four years is a long way from now and I am bound to forget something before then! You are more than welcome to apply these tips to yourself as you see fit.

Eileen, pack light, but don't make it so you have to do laundry! The Carnival Magic is a huge ship that carries 3,800 guests. It only has THREE laundry facilities on board, and they are small. You were fortunate enough to get to the laundry room on Deck 2 just as someone was finishing up a load; you may not have that kind of luck next time. And if you happen to cruise on a smaller ship, you could find that there are fewer laundry rooms on board.

Eileen, do yourself a favor and make sure that each person only packs one suitcase (24" or less) and a carry-on. Getting on the ship isn't a big deal because you hand all of your checked luggage off to the porters (for $1 per bag tip) before you get on the ship. However, when you get off the ship, you have to claim your luggage before you go through Customs...that line is long! When you had four people to carry 7 or 8 pieces of luggage, it was stressful. Sure, there are porters there that could put your luggage on a cart, but they were busy and you would have had to wait a while for one, not to mention the cost of tipping the porter.

Eileen, while we are talking about luggage, invest in luggage tag holders that will hold the cruise line luggage tags, since Boo's fell off her suitcase before it ever made it to her room, despite the fact that you stapled it on there instead of taping it. If you hadn't seen it on the cart, going down the hall, it would have been a while before Boo had her suitcase because you would have had to track it down. 

Eileen, pack for comfort because you will gain weight on the ship. Think elastic waists, or like your friend did, soft and stretchy cotton dresses. Do not restrict your waist or anything else. You will do a LOT of walking and stairs (which still puzzles me as to how you gained weight) and you will be served a three-course meal every time you opt to dine in the dining room (that could be why). Don't forget the Elegant Dress Nights though. Some people were VERY spiffed up. Despite the dresses you packed, you didn't feel dressed-up enough.

Speaking of dining...opt for the early dining because it was after 10 p.m. before you were done with dinner and dessert. You missed all of the good shows and stuff! Plus there's the fact that you were going to bed not long after, that's probably another reason why you gained weight.

Eileen, remember the things you packed because you thought you might need them, but never used? Like the rain ponchos and the binoculars. Four rain ponchos (bought from the Dollar Tree) and three pairs of binoculars were unpacked, but never used, taking up space in the small cabin. There was also the four paperbacks you took to read but never cracked open. You were either having fun on the ship or succumbing to fatigue due to the anti-nausea pills you had to take. You did use your tablet once or twice. If you feel you cannot live without books, make sure that you have plenty downloaded to your Kindle app.

However, remember the things you wish you had packed. A hat and a small purse to carry the couple of things you carry with you at all times (phone, Chapstick). That wind blew your hair around your face and it was too short to put in a pony tail (another note to self: grow hair long enough for a pony tail before the next cruise!)

Eileen, figure out something for your hairy legs, other than shaving with a razor and shaving cream. Those showers are too small for you to try to shave your legs in, not to mention trying to maintain balance on a swaying ship. Not every trip is as rocky as your first one was, but we don't want any cuts, do we? Think about investing in a new wet/dry shaver. Then you can sit on the toilet or anywhere, really, and shave your legs. Better yet, maybe you could invest in a wax job before you go.

Eileen, you might want to consider taking more pictures next time you go on a cruise so you have some great pictures for your blog!!

Now for the other great posts!

Karen at Baking in a Tornado made Spicy Broccoli Slaw and Chicken Salad

Lydia at Cluttered Genius Repurposed a Porch Door and it turned out really cool!

Kia at Think in English shows us some Hot Fun! Activities that Keep Your English Classes Laughing and Learning! 

Dawn at Spatulas on Parade had a Mother Daughter craft day turning ordinary clay pots into lighted lighthouse porch decorations.

Southern Belle Charm shows us how to make a Red, White, and Blue wreath.

Rabia at The Leiber Family shows us how to have some Backyard Fun in the Summer.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Fly on the Wall-May 2017

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 9 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado                  
Menopausal Mother           
Searching for Sanity       
Spatulas on Parade          
A Little Piece of Peace       
Never Ever Give Up Hope         
Bookworm in the Kitchen        
Not That Sarah Michelle        

I officially closed my homeschool this month. I took Boo to the college and she is now going through their High School Equivalency Program. Let me tell you, it is such a relief to be finished with the stress. I don't have any regrets, but I was just burned out by it all. I don't know how people with more than two kids keep doing it year after year. They should be awarded a medal!


I called our insurance company to find out how much our insurance will go up when we add Clone of Bob so that he can get his license. I was so angry that I called another company for a second quote and their number was even higher than our current company! The rate is going to more than triple!!!! It's not quite as much as my car payment, but it's not far from it either!

We were given the advice by two different agents to buy a cheap car and add it to the insurance with liability only. Supposedly, this would bring our rates down because Clone of Bob would be "attached" to the liability-only car. Now we're pulling our hair out scrimping and saving and trying to find a decent, cheap, used car. Clone of Bob is saving, too, which will help, but it's still a very frustrating process. 

One thing about it...I won't have to take him to work anymore. I've been doing it for months and it would be nice if I didn't have to do it anymore. 


I've got a new project...I have not decided exactly what I am going to do with it yet. I'd seriously love to restore it, but everyone that I've shown it to thinks I should just clean it up and leave it be. 

I plan to gently clean it up and see what happens...I'll be sure to post an update once I'm done. A tutorial if I end up redoing it. 


I learned not to read a book while also watching the TV show based on said book. I got kinda frustrated the other night when I saw an ad for "James Patterson's Zoo" on CBS. I started whining to DH that I hadn't even had a chance to read the book yet! He pointed out that the upcoming season wasn't even the first one. This was news to me. Honestly. 

So, the next morning I found the book on my library's electronic app and borrowed it. I got 135 pages into it and decided to see if the show was on the CBS All Access app since the book was turning out to be pretty interesting. When I found that it wasn't there, I was then on a quest to find the series. I found it on Netflix and I was so excited that I watched the first episode and I hadn't even finished the book!

Needless to say, the TV series starts way different from the book and decided that I needed to finish the darn book before I watched any more episodes and got thoroughly ticked off. 

Does it drive you bonkers when they make major changes to a book for the movie? I can't count the number of times I was ready to tear my hair out after watching a movie based on a book. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Fresh Start for the Kitchen- BWF April 2017

Welcome to Blog with Friends the "Fresh" edition!

I seem to tire of the color of my kitchen cabinets every five years.

When we bought the house (double-wide) new in 2007, this was the kitchen.

It wasn't bad, just a little bland. I ordered the walls that cream color on purpose. I intended to paint them eventually. Sadly, we've been here almost ten years and the only thing that has been painted was the cabinets.

I painted the cabinets in 2012:

While it looked pretty when it was first done, I quickly grew disgusted with the color. I started painting another section of the kitchen a cream color, but that was worse because of the cream-colored walls. Then, a while later, Bob and I stripped the top section of cabinets above the this day, I don't remember what the reasoning was on this.

In the end, I had 3 different colored cabinets in my kitchen! I wanted to paint them last year, but I was convinced not to because we planned to rip it all out anyway. To do that, and put in new is way more money than we have right now. I know it'll be at least two years before we can even think about doing new cabinets, so I decided to move forward with my plans.

I started by painting the cabinets, yet again, black. I used about two quarts, about $20 worth of paint. Here, I'll tell you to learn from my mistake. I bought Rustoleum paint from Walmart and the stuff bubbled as it dried! I've never seen paint do that! I now have "textured" cabinets and I'm not thrilled with it. If you look from a distance you can't see it, so I just need to stay out of the kitchen. Maybe I'll lose weight.

I kept my original hardware (knobs) because that stuff is expensive! I'll replace it when we put in new cabinets.

I bought contact paper to use as a backsplash. I bought mine from the Dollar Tree. While I only spent $5 on it, it wasn't the greatest choice because you cannot match up the pattern from roll to roll. This is the obvious reason it was at the Dollar Tree. However, it's temporary for me, so I'll live with it.

To apply the contact paper, I used a razor, scissors, and a damp cloth (for smoothing).

Before applying the contact paper, make sure that the walls are clean and smooth. Remove outlet covers and other objects on the walls. I have seams like the one in the pic above due to the fact that I have a manufactured home. Not everyone will have to deal with those things. 

Carefully, and slowly apply the contact paper to the wall, keeping it even and bubble-free. Use your razor around the outlets to cut out the holes for the outlets and smooth in place.

I'm pleased with the results, and I might just leave this kitchen alone until we can completely gut it. I still have to paint the rest of the walls, but the bulk of the work is finished for very little money!

I probably spent less than $50, but I could have gone higher if I had bought the "diamond plate" self-sticking foil that I had originally intended to put in as a backsplash. However, Clone of Bob convinced me to put that on his furniture in his bedroom, so I decided it would be too much if I used it in the kitchen, as well.

Now take a look at all of these other great posts! There is a big group of us this month!

Karen at Baking in a Tornado made Springtime Waffles; Celebration waffles for a special occasion to celebrate Spring or just for fun.

Melissa at My Heartfelt Sentiments shows us how to make a Handmade Gift Bag.

Kia at Think in English gives us Seven Fresh Ideas Straight from the 2017 TESOL Convention in Seattle.

Tamara at Confessions of a part-time working Mom posted about Cutting Calories: losing pounds while keeping sane.

Kristin at Little Mama Jama writes about How to Start Fresh each day with your autistic child.

Minette at Southern Belle Charm made a Dollar Tree Wreath for Spring.

Dawn at Spatulas on Parade posted about Life Lessons-Starting Fresh and give us a recipe for Garlic Honey Rubbed Pork Tenderloin. 

Rabia at The Lieber Family gives us Starting Fresh: Tips and Thoughts on Moving.

Lydia at Cluttered Genius shows us an app for Daily Devotions to Start Your Day.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Fly on the Wall-March 2017

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 9 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

March has been pretty quiet around here. Well, I wouldn't call it quiet. We've been busy with the daily, mundane things that families deal with. Busy work, I guess you'd call it. 

Bob and I did, however, finish one of the never-ending projects around here!

Well, one phase of it is finished. Bob still wants to make and put pretty trim all around the front of those shelves and TV stand. I still have some boxes to go through and see if I have anything else to put on those shelves. I'm sure Clone of Bob will take me up on my suggestion of filling up those top shelves with Pops, lol!

We still need to paint the rest of the room and we want to put down a better floor. That floor is down the road, though. 

I've been feeling so scattered lately. I AM perpetually busy but never doing the things that I've been putting off. I wonder if I need to make a list of all of the things that I need to do and tackle them one at a time. Set a goal of completion or something? I just don't know. I spend more time doing none of the things that I should be doing because I just don't know where to start and in what order to do the projects that I need to do. Anyone have any good suggestions? All of this stresses me out and interferes with my creativity!

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

Monday, March 13, 2017

Blog With Friends: March 2017 Green Graduation Cake

Welcome to Blog With Friends March 2017 "Green" Edition!!

Last month Clone of Bob passed his High School Equivalency Exam and we decided to have a small party for him. It's hard to do a graduation party this time of year because it just isn't the season for it. DH and I didn't even find a graduation card!

Clone of Bob isn't big on cake. He'll eat a cupcake every now and then, but not regular cake, so I decided to make him an ice cream cake in his favorite color shaped like a graduation cap. 

I found that making an ice cream cake isn't that difficult, but it can get expensive. The items I purchased to make this thing.

  • 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
  • 1/2 gallon chocolate ice cream
  • 5 Reese's cups
  • 1 Large Kit Kat bar
  • 1 Oreo Cookie crust, or crushed oreo cookies.
  • Ingredients for Peanut Butter Ice Cream Topping 
    • 1/3 C water
    • 1/3 C sugar
    • 2/3 C peanut butter
  • Ingredient for Dream Whip Frosting
  • Hot fudge

I made the vanilla layer first:

  1. Scoop about 4 scoops of ice cream into a bowl and then using my mixer to blend it to the consistency of frosting.
  2. Line a round 8" cake pan with plastic wrap, leaving extra hanging over the edge. 
  3. Spread the ice cream into the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add your choice of stuff: I layered 1/2 of the crushed cookies, broken Kit Kat Bars, and hot fudge over top. 
  5. Scoop more ice cream into the mixing bowl and blend as before. 
  6. Spread over top, cover with plastic wrap and get it into the freezer.
I made the chocolate layer the same as above, except:
  • I used a 9" square pan
  • I put a layer of Peanut butter Ice Cream Sauce, broken Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and the other half crushed cookies in the middle.

Peanut Butter Sauce Directions:
  • Mix together water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for one minute. Remove from heat and add peanut butter. Stir until smooth.

I froze both pans overnight before moving on to frosting the cake.

  • I removed the round cake from the pan, using the plastic wrap, and flipped it onto a cake pan.
  • Then I put the square cake on top using the same method. 
  • I made the frosting linked above and added green food coloring. 
  • I learned that you have to work fast and keep putting it back into the freezer. The frosting actually smoothed out better when it was frozen.
  • I drew the tassel and lettering on with a gel frosting.
  • It will last for a week in the freezer, but would probably be better if eaten sooner.
It was so good that I forgot to take a pic of it after it was sliced into!

Now for our other projects!

Karen at Baking in a Tornado made Green, Egg, and HamA fun breakfast for St. Patrick’s Day or any day.

Lydia at Cluttered Genius gives us ideas on what to do with all those old crayons.

Melissa at My Heartfelt Sentiments made a DIY- A Nugget of Fun! Handmade gifts are best when filled with chocolate! This cute box and greeting card make for fun gifts during the holidays, for end-of-the-year teacher gifts, or any other special occasion.

Kia at Think in English tells us what Green really means in English.

Kristin Novotny at Little Mama Jama made Mint Mocha Cupcakes using a simple recipe.

Tamara at Confessions of a Part-Time Working Mom made a Leprechaun Craft: Tutorial on how to make a bunch of cute little leprechauns using toilet paper rolls

Dawn at Spatulas on Parade made Green Bunny Poop?!?!

Rabia at the Lieber Family shows you 10 ways to add more Green to your Pot of Gold