Monday, December 22, 2008

Stranded in Seattle...


This about says it all... We were one of the MANY that had plans cancelled, stood in the longest line I've ever seen (probably a mile long at least) and spent hours and hours on my cell phone trying to get things rebooked. We have now made it to Los Angeles, but EVERY flight to Hawaii is booked. Just getting to LA on our rebooked flight due to Saturday's cancellation was interesting. Our flight was supposed to leave at 9am, and 7 hours later finally did take off. We were very lucky - as most all the flights Sunday were cancelled. We were the last plane they de-iced, as they were OUT OF DE-ICER! Can you imagine?

The first available flight to Hawaii is on Xmas Eve, so we are still going. Instead of 2 islands, we will do one; instead of 8 nights, we will do 5. We will still see the sunshine, and see some of Hawaii. I've done a lot of traveling, and have never experienced anything like this. Wow!

Here is an article about the fun conditions of good old SEA TAC
Karen Ducey / P-I
By MOISES MENDOZA
P-I REPORTER

Hundreds of tired travelers lined up at ticket gates Sunday at Sea-Tac Airport hoping to find flights and leave the airport, where many had been stranded for more than a day.

Crosswinds at the airport led to the cancellation or delay of dozens of flights Saturday night and Sunday morning, leaving thousands of people with nowhere to go.

The cancellations hit Alaska Airlines particularly hard, and may continue into Monday. Alaska and Horizon Air canceled all flights at Seattle-Tacoma International and Portland International airports as of 2:45 p.m., in part because of a lack of de-icing fluid. Passengers with local residences were told to go home for the evening, and others were told to make their own hotel arrangements.

A port spokesman said the airlines are responsible for keeping their own planes de-iced, which is why some planes were still making it out of the airport on Sunday. Two runways remained open.

"It's kind of a perfect storm," port spokesman Perry Cooper said. "I've had people here for 20 years and they have never seen anything like this."

While a lack of de-icing fluid made the situation worse, Horizon spokeswoman Jen Boyer said the stretch of bad weather had exhausted the airlines' crews and equipment during the holiday rush.

"We've just been playing catch-up with the weather. ... We're running out of fresh crews and running into maintenance deadlines for the aircraft," Boyer said. "We still have three days to get everyone home for Christmas, and we're trying to get everyone there."

Passengers booked on a canceled flight may rebook on the next available flight without penalty or apply for a full refund of the unused portion of their ticket.

Akiko Onuma, a 21-year-old Scripps College student from California, flew into Sea-Tac on Saturday night from Ontario, Calif. She had a 9 p.m. Saturday connection to Lewiston, Idaho, on Horizon that was canceled.

"There were hordes of people -- literally hundreds of people -- trying to figure out what to do," Onuma said.

By the time Onuma got her bag at midnight Saturday, all the hotels were booked, she said, so she spent the night at the airport.

Onuma is now hoping to get out Monday morning on a flight to Walla Walla.

Terry Haybert of Tacoma was at the airport with his wife and 5-year-old daughter. He had a 1 p.m. flight to Portland on Sunday, which was canceled.

"This was the biggest mistake ever. We should've just driven," Haybert said of his holiday plans.

Joseph Gudall from Blairstown, N.J., flew from Newark to Seattle, hoping to get to Fairbanks, Alaska, on a 9 p.m. Saturday flight. The departure time kept getting pushed back until the flight was canceled at 1 a.m. Sunday, he said.

"It was a sheer disaster," Gudall said. "I never thought this could happen."

Gudall was booked on a 9 p.m. Sunday flight to Fairbanks. He was heading to Alaska to visit his daughter.

Alaska Airlines spokesman Paul McElroy said cancellations may continue into Monday if the weather doesn't improve.

"Since we're dealing with Mother Nature, it's really uncertain," he said. "We're hopeful that we can resume our schedule Monday, but we'll have to see."

On Sunday afternoon, airport staff handed out blankets and pillows to travelers, who were sprawled out over any available space.

Passengers should contact their carriers for flight status before heading to the airport, spokeswoman Terri-Ann Betancourt said.

Passengers whose flights are scheduled to leave Monday should allow extra time to get to the airport and they should expect long lines once they arrive.

People whose flights are canceled should rebook from home, Betancourt said.

Cooper said heavy winds had died down by early Sunday. But poor weather at airports in the Northwest and around the country remained a problem, he said.

"It's that systemwide domino effect," he said.

While airport restaurants and stores did not receive their deliveries Saturday, trucks were able to drop off goods on Sunday morning, Betancourt said.

"We should be OK with concessions," she said

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hawaii Here We Come!


Well, this is the week to get ready for our trip. I really only have 2 nights to get ready - Thursday and Friday. The rest of the nights I have late meetings this week (wouldn't you know). Wish me luck. It will come together, it always does!

So, off to the land of warmth, sunshine, and tropical showers.

Aloha!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Weekend in Chicago!


Well, we had a great weekend in the windy city... The weekend served 2 purposes; first was for me to see the cardiologist for a check up (clean bill of health); and the second was to enjoy Larry's birthday.

We got there on Saturday afternoon to light snow and high 20's. Weather was comfortable, and we headed out to walk Michigan Avenue - the Magnificent Mile. Oh my - how extremely busy was that street and every store on it. Wow! I compare the crowds to that at Disneyland in December after a parade. Can you picture it?

Saturday night we went to a jazz club - very fun experience. We heard a sax player named Frank Catalano. He was awesome! Yes, we bought a CD.

Sunday was shopping day. The weather had cooled... it was 6-8 degrees and windy. Brrr! The crowds of Saturday were gone, and it actually was the perfect day to shop. The cold weather kept most people indoors. However, if you were dressed for the weather, you were fine. We did our share of ducking in and out of stores and were fine.

Sunday night we went to one of our favorite hang outs - Banderas. Such yummy food - and they have an appetizer called Queso Appetizer that is to die for.

Monday was the appointment, then it was a lingering lunch at the Melting Pot; a little more shopping and then off to the airport. A whirlwind trip in a whirlwind of a city!

So, one quick trip and lots of fun!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Smoked Turkey - Great turkey repeated!

Well, we did our smoked turkey yesterday complete with cajun injection. Wow - it was great. Even my son ( who doesn't really like turkey) said it was the best turkey he has ever had! The secret ingredient is Tony's Creole Injection. I used TWO BOTTLES and injected the turkey until it was very "full" (oozing out full). Then, buttered the turkey and used lots of granulated garlic, lemon pepper, and Emeril's Essence to season. I stuffed the cavity with onlons and garlic cloves, and basted it every hour.

It was wonderful. I think we have a winner!! I was going to take a picture, but wouldn't you know - my camera batteries were both dead... story of my life :)

Thanksgiving Poem

Be Thankful
Author Unknown

Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don't know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you're tired and weary,
because it means you've made a difference.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Ours is a quiet holiday. Grant is here for a "short" visit (leaves Saturday afternoon). Larry is working today...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hawaiian Christmas falling into place


Well, our plans are coming along... We have our 2 full days on Oahu figured out. We arrive on Sunday afternoon, so will have Monday and Tuesday as our full days to explore. On Monday, we will spend the day at Pearl Harbor. Everyone says this is a must do experience, and can take much of the day. Our second day, Tuesday, we are taking "The Surf Bus" to the north shore of the island where the big waves are, and the cute little surfer towns. We will have a few hours on a beach to kayak and play. So, we will experience the big city in Waikiki, and the quaint villages of the north shore.

On Wednesday, we fly to Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. We will have a rental car while on Hawaii. Since we are going to our condo, we need to stop at the market and pick up provisions for our 5 days. I've already ordered our prime rib for Christmas dinner! Christmas Eve we are eating out (and already have our reservations).

So, plans are falling into place, and in less than one month we will once again feel the warmth of the tropics!

Do Ahead Turkey Gravy

As Thanksgiving approaches it is time to shop for the big cooking day! I saw last week that Costco had turkey gravy, and had decided that I would just got the easy way this year. Well, not going to happen as Costco is now out! So plan B goes into effect.

Last year I ran across this wonderful recipe for make ahead turkey gravy. It is a bit of work, but very tasty and I LOVE having gravy done ahead of time! I have never been a gravy maker - never seems to turn out, so usually resort to having someone else do it, or a jar. This gravy is wonderful and now I know I can make gravy! I hope this can help you too...

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy
from Alrecipes.com
Makes 8 cups

This can be made ahead of time. You can even freeze it in an airtight container - it will keep for 3 months!

Ingredients:
6 turkey wings
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
1 cup water
2 quarts chicken broth, divided
3/4 cup chopped carrot
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange a single layer of the turkey wings in a large roasting pan. Scatter onioins over the top of the wings. Roast in preheated oven for 1.24 hours, or until wings are browned.
2. Place browned wings and onions in a 5 quart stockpot. Add water to roasting pan and stir, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour the water from the pan into the stockpot. Stir in 6 cups broth, carrot, and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and summer uncovered for 1.5 hours.
3. Remove wings from the pot and place on a cutting board. When the wings are cool, pull of the skin and meat. Discard the skin and save the meat for another use. Strain contents of stockpot through a large strainer into a 3 quart saucepan. Press on the vegetables to extract any remaining liquid. Discard the veggies and skim off the fat. Bring the contents of the pot to a gentle boil.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk flour into the remaining 2 cups chicken broth until smooth. Gradually whisk the flour mixture into the simmering turkey broth; simmer 3-4 minutes or until the gravy has thickened. Stir in the butter and pepper. Serve immediately, or pour into containers and refrigerate or freeze.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Prime Rib - new recipe

Well, I'm in the planning stages for cooking a Christmas dinner in Hawaii. It is always hard to cook a big meal in someone elses kitchen, much less a condo we have never been to before. So, we will see how this goes! I found a new recipe for a "foolproof" way to cook a prime rib. So, today is testing day - I'm testing out the new recipe to see how it works. It goes something like this...

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees for 10 minutes.
Step 2: Season the roast with a mixture of seasoning salt, garlic salt; Emeril's Essence; and onion powder; (equal parts). Press the spices into the roast.
Step 3: Put roast on a rack in a roasting pan. Put it in the oven.
Step 4: Set timer for COOKING TIME... To figure your cooking time, it is time to multiply the weight of the roast by one of these numbers (dependent on the amount of done-ness you want). 5 (very rare); 6 (rare); 7.5 (medium rare); 8 (medium). For example, your roast is 5.0 lbs, and you want it rare. You would multiply 5.0 (weight) x 6 (rare) = 30 minutes cooking time.
Step 5: Once your "cooking time" is over, turn OFF the oven - DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR!!!!! Set your timer for TWO HOURS.
Step 6: When the two hours is up, and timer has gone off, turn on your oven at 375 degrees for 15 more minutes. STILL, DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR.
Step 7: When the timer goes off, this time it means your prime rib is done! You may open the oven door, take the roast out and wrap in foil to keep it warm.
Step 8: Do all your last minute preparations, call everyone to dinner - you are ready to eat!

My roast is almost done resting (12 more minutes), close to turn on the oven time (Step 6). Salad is ready; asparagus is ready to steam and horseradish is made! I'll let you know how it turns out. This has been incredibly easy, so I hope it is good. If so, it will be a great holiday dinner away from home kind of meal! I made enough to have leftovers - prime rib tostadas!

The results: The prime rib turned out great. I choose rare for cooking time, and next time I will choose medium rare (it was quite rare). Delicious, easy and a great way to cook a prime rib.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Broccoli Au Gratin

Well, our pretend/practice Thanksgiving turned out great. I mentioned Kalyn's Broccoli dish in my earlier post - and oh it was YUMMY! You have to give it a try. Here is the recipe (adapted slightly from Kalyn)...

5 cups broccoli florettes
4 oz. grated swiss cheese
About 6 Tbsp of mayo (you can use a mix of light + regular; all I had was regular)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp. dijon mustard
Ground black pepper to taste (I used quite a bit)
3 Tbsp chopped green onions (very finely chopped)
Parmesan-reggiano cheese (to top the casserole - I probably used 4-5 Tbsp)

Preheat your oven to 375. Trim your broccoli into florettes (bite size pieces). I did not use much stem at all, mostly all florettes. Boil large pot of water. When water is boiling, put in your broccoli and cook 1-2 minutes, until they turn BRIGHT GREEN. Drain in a colander well.

Spray a 9x13 pan with olive oil Pam. Put the broccoli into the bottom of your casserole, spreading into a single layer.

Stir together mayo, lemon juice, Dijon, pepper, green onion, swiss cheese. I used a spatula to smear this mixture of the broccoli. It won't cover it completely, just cover as much as you can spreading it out evenly. Last step is to sprinkle the top with parmesan - reggiano.

Bake 20-25 minutes, uncovered. You want the cheese to be melted slightly and nicely browned.

Very yummy! This will be our Thanksgiving veggie. For pictures and more suggestions about healthy Thanksgiving, visit Kalyn's website. BROCCOLI GRATIN WITH SWISS & PARMESAN

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Practice Thanksgiving!

Well, today turned out to be a practice Thanksgiving. I injected a turkey with a cajun spicy mixture (store bought), and then we smoked it in our little smoker. We are going to smoke our turkey this Thanksgiving and are trying to perfect the process. This time, I injected the bird with Tony's Cajun Flavor Injection. I had a 12 lb bird, and used 1 and 1/2 bottles! I then melted a stick of butter and made sure the turkey was covered well. I filled the cavity with onions and garlic. And finished it off with Emeril's seasoning (BAM!), granulated garlic and lemon pepper. I poured a bit of chicken stock in the bottom of the roasting pan to mix with the butter (for basting purposes). We basted the bird every hour.

I also made a wonderful veggie casserole: Broccoli AuGratin. This recipe came from Kalyn's Kitchen. You blanch broccoli; spread it out in a 9x13 casserole dish. Mix 6 Tbsp of mayo (Kalyn recommended to use part low fat; and part regular... I had no low fat, so used all regular mayo); ground pepper; sliced green onions (very thin) and grated swiss cheese (I used about 4 oz). Using a spatula, you smear the creamy mixture on top of the broccoli. On top of the broccoli mixture, you top with shredded parmesan cheese and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Kalyn gives lots of tips, so here is her link:
Broccoli Au Gratin ala Kalyn

The turkey is done, and in the process of being carved right now. VERY YUMMY! I think we found a winning combination. Even the white meat is juicy and tender, and the cajun flavor is just the right spice. Now if we can only recreate it on Thanksgiving Day!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Hawaiian Christmas!


Well, we finally figured out our plans for Christmas... Hawaii! We will be lucky enough to see 2 islands, Oahu and Hawaii. We lucked out on some air fare (big sale), and have condos for the three of us at the Hilton Grand Vacation Club. Should be very fun!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A new blog find!

I was browsing the net this morning (as I made my shopping list for this week) and found a blog that is GREAT! It is called A Veggie Venture, and filled with wonderful sounding recipes (more than just veggies!). I will be a frequent visitor here to be sure. She even has a section for weight watchers and low-carb cooking. If you are in the market for some new recipes, check it out!

A VEGGIE VENTURE

Saturday, October 25, 2008

First Snow!


Well, I knew it would come eventually, but was surprised it came so soon... Yes, yesterday we had our first snow of the season. Some hail started mid-day, the kids thought it was snow. During our staff development time, hail again began - but before long, the bouncy hail turned to soft light snowflakes. It was short lived, and was gone quite quickly. By the end of our Fall Festival, about 9pm, it was snow and it was sticking. I got half way home, it turned to heavy snow, several inches already on the ground, slowing traffic down to about 25mph! It is beautiful though, I just want it to melt fast as I'm not wanting to shovel snow... Isn't this a pretty picture? This is the gorgeous view today after our night of snow...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bunco Tonight... Not Sagna for dinner

Well, school has formed a bunco group - our first get together is tonight at my house. I'm serving a favorite recipe - quick, easy and yummy too! This is a recipe I've adapted from Rachael Ray, and is an easy version of lasagna (without all the work). I use Dreamfields pasta brand, as this brand has a low glycemic index; but if you were being true to South Beach, you would use whole wheat pasta.

"Not" - Sagna
based on Rachael Ray's recipe
I've tried to make it South Beach friendly

1 # pasta (I use Dreamfields penne - or whole wheat short pasta)
Sea Salt
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 # lean ground beef
6 cloves garlic (smooshed)
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. Worscesteshire
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup beef stock
28 oz can Organic Crushed Tomatoes
12 oz low fat ricotta
1 cup fresh basil (about 20 leaves) - cut up into small pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Shredded Parmesan to top

Boil water for pasta, add sea salt, add pasta and cook. You will want to save a ladle full of the pasta water for the sauce!

Heat your evoo in a large nonstick skillet. Add your meat and break it up as you brown. Add garlic, onions and red pepper flakes. Add salt, pepper, allspice & Worcestershire. You will want to cook about 5 minutes. Then, add your wine - cook a minute or two, then add your beef stock. Add the tomatoes last, bring to a the boiling point, then reduce heat to medium and simmer about 5 minutes.

Get your pasta bowl ready. Put ricotta in the bottom of the bowl. Add a ladleful of your boiling starchy water from the pasta pot. Stir to combine your ricotta and water. Add your 1/2 cup of parmigiano-reggiano cheese and mix.

Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with the cheeses. Add half of the meat sauce to the pasta/cheese mixture. Toss. Add the torn basil. Toss. Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, put pasta on plate, top with a spoonful of meat sauce, and top with parmesan cheese. Yum!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Birthdays...

I guess we all have to have birthdays... beats the alternative as they say. But, it is so funny comparing how we feel about birthdays now vs. how children think of birthdays. Remember as a child how exciting birthdays were? Well, this week was my birthday. My students at have been so excited - it is quite funny. I've had a variety of birthday songs being sung by different groups of students; my door is plastered with cheerful birthday cards, class books and greetings; for days they cheerfully wish me a happy birthday (even though my birthday was Tuesday), I still continue to have birthday wishes. I wonder if we adults should take on the attitude of children when it comes to celebrating birthdays! It is quite fun I must say...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sailing Trip, June 2009


After playing in the land of the rich and famous, Mustique, it will be time to set sail for a favorite area - the Tobago Cays. One of the cays, Petit Tabac, is also called Jack Sparrow's Island. Remember the scene where Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth Swann were marooned on a tiny deserted island? They spent their time sitting on a perfect beach drinking rum! Sounds like the perfect Caribbean vacation, doesn't it? That is where we will be in eight months! Time flies, it will be here before we know it!

The whole island group is now a protected marine national park. The last time I was there it was not protected. I understand the snorkeling in the area is now much improved. I'm hoping to see lots of turtles here. Also, with this being a deserted area, there will be no light pollution, meaning we might have a great night of stargazing!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

SEARED SCALLOPS WITH WINE BRAISED LEEKS - New Recipe Search...

Well, it is Saturday morning and time to build a menu for the week, as well as a shopping list. So, I've been on the prowl for a new recipe or two. Requirements: South Beach Friendly!

SEARED SCALLOPS WITH WINE-BRAISED LEEKS
(adapted from stephencooks.com - trying to make it a bit more South Beach friendly)
http://www.stephencooks.com/2006/01/seared_scallops.html

1 lb. scallops (about 12)
1 large leek (white and pale green parts only)
1 cup dry white wine
1 chicken boullion cube
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup fat free cream
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp fresh tarragon, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
whole wheat pastry flour for dredging
salt, hot sauce, lemon juice (all to taste)

Check out the website listed above for the directions, and a picture of this creamy dish. I am substituting olive oil for butter; whole wheat flour for flour; fat free cream for whole cream and added a little more garlic - as we LOVE garlic! I have not made this yet - but it sounds wonderful and will be on our menu this week! I will let you know how it is.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pumpkin Bread Recipe - healthy of course

I took some of my pumpkin bread to school today for a series of meetings. One person suggested I post this recipe on my blog... so here you go! (Well - not exactly South Beach, but it is pretty healthy anyway...)

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup water
1 cup Splenda/Sugar blend
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Nuts and mini chocolate chips, optional

Preheat oven to 350. Grease (I used Pam) and flour 3 loaf pans. Using the mixer, mix together pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, vanilla, water and sugars until well blended. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, pumpkin pie spice. Spoon the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl/pumpkin mixture until blended. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips (or whatever else you decide to add) if you are adding them at the very end. Pour into the prepared pans.

Bake about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. I had to bake them about 7 more minutes for the loaves to be done.

Delicious! Makes wonderful gifts as well... You can even poke holes in the top of the loaves, melt butter, mix with sugar & cinnamon and pour over the top. Very tasty - but of course doing this would take the semi-healthy label away completely...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

It is smoked PRIME RIB day!



Well, hubby bought a beautiful prime rib at the store yesterday. We are going to smoke it in our little smoker for dinner tonight. We will have enough leftover to make our tostadas for dinner later in the week, and me to have some yummy lunches at school!

Here is our recipe:
1 bottle of kitchen bouquet
2 cups of kosher salt
2 Tbsp vinegar
Lots of granulated garlic

Mix together the above ingredients, and coat the outside of the roast. We are going to get the smoker to 225, and smoke the meat (apple, cherry or oak is best) until the temperature comes to 128 (rare in the center). We bought a thermometer that is great - a probe with a wire running to a main unit, which beeps at us from a remote unit we keep by us in the house! We can "watch" the roast from the comfort of inside the house... We will take it off at that point, wrap the roast in foil, then wrap in a large towel and put in a small ice chest for about 30 minutes. The whole process should take about 2.5 hours from start to being ready to eat.

It will then be time to knock off the salt crust, slice and eat! Yum...

We are having my favorite side dish - twice baked cauliflower, a little horseradish and a salad. Can't wait for my leftover lunches this week!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

First day on the sailboat...


Once we leave the peaceful island of Bequia, we will most likely sail to the island of Mustique (home of the rich and famous). Mustique is a 1400 acre private island owned by shareholders of the Mustique Company. The island has 100 private residences, and 72 villas which are available for rental. We have been there before, but never have taken an island tour. This trip, we will absolutely tour the island! We can do a little shopping, walk up the hill to the Firefly for drinks and perhaps lunch, have a swim at Macaroni Beach, and finish our island exploration with happy hour at Basil's Bar. We will then head back out to our catamaran for a wonderful dinner...

How many days?

Spaghetti with Italian Sausage & Arugula

Comes from my favorite website: Kalyn's Kitchen (Thanks Kalyn!)
Makes 2-3 servings

2 links Hot Italian Sausage (can use chicken or turkey)
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 box Dreamfields Spaghetti
3 oz arugula
1/2 cup pasta cooking water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Parmesan Cheese (for tossing with the pasta and to top at table)

In nonstick frying pan, heat olive oil, and cook the sausage (squeeze out of casing). Brown well, breaking into pieces. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook spaghetti 8-9 minutes, or until barely done (al dente).

Pur arugula into large bowl. When sausage is browned, drain well. Pour sausage over arugula. Put pan back on stove, turn heat to low, add garlic and saute about 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup pasta cooking water and lemon juice. Heat two minutes.

When spaghetti seems done, scoop out 1/4 cup of pasta water (in case you need it. Drain pasta, put in bowl with arugula and sausage. Let sit 2 minute to wilt arugula. Then, add water/lemon juice/garlic mixture from pan. Throw in some parmesan cheese and toss.

Serve hot, with parmesan sprinkled on top if desired.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Trip planning continues...


Well, June just won't get here fast enough. I wrote on September 20th about our plans to fly into Grenada, fly to St Vincent, and then ferry over to Bequia. I guess we could call that part one of our adventure in paradise, as it is an adventure - much like the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles with Steve Martin (a classic).

Once we are in Bequia, we will probably spend the night at the same small, cute inn - The Sugarapple Inn, that we did last year. It is still early though, so we haven't booked. After a day and a half exploring this cute small island, it will be time to board our sailboat for the week and begin sailing the Grenadines!

This will be our first time sailing on a catamaran, and I think it will make the perfect home for our little motley group. So far, we have a couple of friends and my son coming along. It will be so much fun!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pizza on South Beach? You bet!


I absolutely love this pizza! Easy, tasty and good for you too. This recipe comes from Kalyn's Kitchen, http://kalynskitchen.blogspot.com/2005/10/kalyn-makes-tonys-low-carb-pizza.html , and Tony's, http://tonyskitchen.blogspot.com/2005/10/mini-low-carb-pizza.html ...
Here is what we do to make individual pizzas...

Toast whole wheat flour tortillas in a hot oven. Put tortillas on a piece of foil in the hot oven. Bake until most of moisture is gone, and it starts to turn a light brown. The ends will begin to curl up. Seems to work well cooking 5 minutes on one side, then flipping it for another 5 minutes on the other side. However, you want to watch it carefully - as they do burn rather quickly. I know from experience!

When the "crust" is crispy, blend a can of organic pizza sauce, one cup of sun dried tomatoes, dried basil and dried oregano. I use the food processor.

Spread this in a thin layer on each "crust" (tortilla), then top with cheese and pepperoni, onions, and sliced olives or whatever you would like to use to top your pizza. You can even let people make their own, since you are making individual pizzas! Bake at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes, till everything is crispy and slightly browned.

Just make a salad to accompany this healthy pizza and wah-la... you are all set with a great and healthy dinner! Thanks to Kalyn's Kitchen for the recipe idea! I flipped back and forth many times between Kalyn's two recipes, and Tony's before we got this down... Now it is our Friday night dinner!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ok, well healthy doesn't always work!

So, sometimes when we cook we have a flop, right? Last night was one of them. I found a great sounding recipe for Macaroni and Cheese - a healthy version made with some pureed squash! I thought it would be a great way to hide veggies. My hubby went on a mission looking for "winter squash". He followed the recipe exactly as written pureeing the squash and adding it to the milk to make a cheese sauce, (well added a little more cheese - yum we both thought). This was the very first time ever that I had a only one SMALL serving of mac and cheese (as did hubby), and we threw the rest away. Never has that happened before. So, guess our healthy dinner won't be made again - at least not in this house. Good try though!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Time to plan a trip!


I just love the beginning stages of trip planning. It is time to dream - dream about what you want to do, where you want to go, and about the exciting places you will experience! So, after a very rainy summer here in Alaska where you could probably count the number of times the sun actually appeared on one hand, it is time to start the initial stages of planning an exotic, tropical adventure to take place next June.

Sailing... we are excited to be planning this sailing charter in the Grenadines. We seem to be stuck on the Southern Caribbean, don't we? Quiet, relaxing, peaceful are words that come to mind. There are no mega resorts, no all inclusives, just plain old Caribbean like it used to be probably 30 years ago.

Our trip will begin flying into Grenada for just one night. Thanks to American Airlines beginning a new route to Grenada from Miami (direct jet service), as opposed to flying into San Juan to take a turbo prop, we were able to take advantage of a great sale price for air fare. Awesome deal!

From Grenada, our journey to Bequia will begin. Journeying to Bequia is a fun experience all on its own. We will fly in a small plane from Grenada to St. Vincent - viewing the beautiful islands of the Grenadines along the way. Once in St. Vincent, a short taxi ride to the ferry terminal - and you are off on the hour long ferry ride across a usually rough patch of ocean to the tiny island of Bequia (population 6,000). Bequia truly has a magical charm about it - and I can't wait to get back to the most friendly place I have ever been!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Yummy breakfast for dinner!

Here was one of the great dinners we enjoyed last week. It was a very busy week, and breakfast for dinner always tastes so wonderful! (I still lost 1.5 lbs!)

Egg Burritos To Die For
(Makes 10-12 burritos, recipe created by Kalyn many years ago and made over and over at Lake Powell. Kalyn's Kitchen is my favorite cooking website! Great ideas, and healthy meals...)

1 dozen eggs
1 red bell pepper, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
1 green, yellow, or orange pepper, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
1 can diced green chiles (4 oz. can, these are Anaheim chiles, which are relatively mild)
2 T olive oil (more or less, depending on your pan)
2 tsp. Spike seasoning (optional, but recommended)
12 whole wheat tortillas (see recommendations below)
1-2 cups grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (I used four cheese Mexican blend)
light sour cream, for serving
Salsa, for serving (I used a yummy fresh salsa from the deli - mango/peach.)

(If you're making burritos for a crowd, you can wrap tortillas tightly in foil and warm them in the oven while you cook the eggs.)

Use a good nonstick frying pan for this recipe. Heat small amount of olive oil in pan, then add diced peppers and saute until slightly soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add green chiles and Spike seasoning and saute about 2 minutes more.

While peppers are cooking, break eggs into mixing bowl and wisk until whites and yolks are completely combined. Add a little more olive oil to frying pan, add beaten eggs, and immediately lower heat and cook until eggs are barely set, gently stirring and scraping side of pan with rubber scraper or turner the entire time, about 8 minutes. They should still be slightly wet-looking when you turn off heat.

To make burritos to eat immediately: Inside each warmed tortilla put a line of egg mixture, top with cheese, sour cream, and salsa, fold together and enjoy.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Pasta with Cauliflower, Walnuts & Feta

(SERVES 6) This made for yummy leftover lunches! Excellent taste & healthy too... Thanks to the Smitten Kitten blog for this wonderful recipe. It has become a favorite!

2 HEADS CAULIFLOWER (I used one)
1 MEDIUM ONION
4 CLOVES GARLIC
1 POUND WHOLE WHEAT PASTA (or use Dreamfields Pasta - low carb)
EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
SALT & PEPPER
1 PINCH RED PEPPER FLAKES
WHITE WINE VINEGAR
1/2 LEMON
1/2 CUP TOASTED WALNUTS
4 OZS FETA CHEESE

PUT A LARGE POT OF WATER ON TO BOIL. CUT THE CAULIFLOWER INTO SMALL FLORETS. SLICE ONION VERY THIN. PEEL AND FINELY CHOP THE GARLIC. PUT PASTA ON TO COOK.

SAUTE THE CAULIFLOWER IN OLIVE OIL IN A LARGE SAUTE PAN. WHEN THE CAULIFLOWER BEGINS TO SOFTEN, SEASON WITH SALT AND PEPPER AND ADD THE SLICED ONION AND RED PEPPER FLAKES. SAUTE OVER MEDIUM TO HIGH HEAT UNTIL THE VEGETABLES ARE BROWN AND TENDER. THE CAULIFLOWER SHOULD STILL BE SLIGHTLY CRUNCHY AND SHOULD NOT TASTE STEAMED. ADD THE GARLIC AND REMOVE FROM HEAT, TOSSING AND STIRRING SO THE GARLIC DOESN'T BURN; IF IT STARTS TO BROWN, ADD A SPLASH OF WATER. ADD A FEW DROPS EACH OF VINEGAR AND LEMON JUICE AND THE TOASTED WALNUTS. TASTE AND CORRECT THE SEASONING. WHEN THE PASTA IS DONE, DRAIN AND ADD TO THE CAULIFLOWER, ADDING ENOUGH EXTRA OLIVE OIL TO COAT THE PASTA THOROUGHLY, TOSS TOGETHER AND SERVE, WITH THE CHEESE CRUMBLED OVER THE DISH.

First week blues...

Well, the first week of school has ended. Phew! What a fast paced week it was. We made it through very smoothly I must say. Our only little glitch is our new lunch program. The food is great, the kids love it and are eating healthier than ever before - so that is great news! However, we still don't have the necessary equipment and have been serving off Costco tables until the hot and cold tables arrive. Day one - I did the cooking! Yes, for the entire school. No food service employee arrived, so a team of us sprang into action - cooked the pizzas; found the food and set up a buffet line all in time for the first class to arrive. I was impressed at our ingenuity! The rest of the week we did have an employee thankfully, so no chef hat for me. But, serving spoons every day to help the kiddos make it through the buffet line.

Here are a couple cafeteria jokes...

Did you hear about the mean cook?
She beat the eggs and whipped the cream!

What's worse than finding a caterpillar in your lettuce?
Finding half a caterpillar!

Ha, ha... enjoy your day!

Monday, September 1, 2008

School Starts Tomorrow!


Well, I'm going in again today to make certain everything is ready to go for our young children who will come back to school tomorrow. Tonight will be a night of restless sleep for many... for kids who are nervous as well as for teachers! Yes, it even happens for teachers.

While teachers are anxious about the uncertainties of the first day (did I remember everything?), parents will be doing the happy dance shown in this cartoon! I saw this and thought it was a funny one.

Wish us all luck!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Best Deviled Eggs Ever!


I was looking for a yummy snack the other day and came across a wonderful recipe on the All-Recipes website. It is easy enough to modify and make it South Beach friendly. VERY YUMMY! "Try it, you'll like it!", as the old commercial would say...

Ingredients:
12 hard boiled eggs
1/2 cup mayo (I used low fat & I used less than 1/2 cup - sounded like a LOT!)
4 slices of bacon (I microwaved till crisp and blotted very well; you could use turkey bacon here)
2 Tbsp shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Tbsp mustard (I used Dijon, and probably more than 1 Tbsp)

Directions:
Crumble well drained and blotted bacon. Set aside. Peel the hard boiled eggs and cut in half. Remove the yolks to a small bowl. Mash yolks with mayo, crumbled bacon & cheese. Stir in mustard. Fill the egg white halves with the yolk mixture; refrigerate until serving. YUMMY!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

School is heating up!!!

Well, as always this time of year I'm swamped.  Back to working seven days a week; lots of hours every day; and exhaustion...  My body is craving comfort food, hot baths and sleep!

Larry is so great!  He made a batch of my Favorite Breakfast Muffins so I'd be set for the week, as well as a big pot of homemade turkey soup yesterday!  What a great dinner last night - true comfort food, which is just what I need right now.

So, off to get ready and go in again today.  New teachers come in tomorrow for an orientation, and tomorrow night the school will be flooded with incoming kindergarteners for our Kinder Kick Off!  Woo-hoo...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My Favorite Breakfast Muffins

Cottage Cheese & Egg Breakfast Muffins with Bacon & Green Onions
Adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen  
(makes 9 muffins)

2/3 cup low fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup almond meal (I have only found Bob's Red Mill brand in health food sections - sometimes it takes some searching)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp water
4 eggs, beaten
4 strips bacon (cooked in microwave till crisp; blot with paper towel to get off as much grease as possible; crumble)
1/4 cup sliced green onions
Shredded Cheddar Cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In mixing bowl, mix cottage cheese, parmesan, flour, almond meal, salt, water, and beaten egg.  Mix well.  Mix in bacon and green onions.

Spray silicone muffin tin with nonstick spray.  This works really well - and you won't go back!  Fill cups about 3/4 full, top with a pinch of cheddar cheese.  Bake 25-30 minutes until muffins are firm and lightly browned.  

I made a batch of these on the weekend for a quick breakfast during the weekdays of work.  My routine is a to throw a muffin on a plate, stick it in the microwave for about 30 seconds, and pour a V-8.  I eat this just before I walk out the door.  Great healthy South Beach breakfast!  Yum.  I need to make these up for the very busy week ahead.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cuban Flank Steak

Tonight we are going to grill flank steak for dinner.  I found this recipe on Kalyn's Kitchen (my favorite website).  It sounds quite tasty!

1 large piece of flank steak (2-3 lbs)
Marinade:
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground chipotle chile powder (or your favorite hot sauce - I used Chalula's)
2 tsp lime zest (optional)

Marinate meat up to 24 hours.  Take meat out of fridge, and let come to room temp before grilling.  Preheat grill to medium high.  Grill meat to desired doneness, approximately 4-5 minutes per side for rare to medium rare; or 6-7 minutes for medium to medium-well.  Time will depend on the thickness of your steak.  Remove meat from grill and let it rest about 5 minutes covering with foil to keep warm.  Slice across the grain and serve warm with salsa.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

TOP 10 Beaches...

Well, I just found the Weather Channel's Top 10 Beaches.  Looking at their list (and the pictures that go with it) I think I need to add these to my list of possible vacation destinations!

1.  Anse Source d'Argent, Seychelles
2.  Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos
3.  Ipanema, Brazil
4.  Lanikai Beach, Hawaii
5.  Manly Beach, Australia
6.  Paradise Beach, Greece
7.  Plage Malendure, St. Kitts and Nevis
8.  Plage de Tahiti, France
9.  Trunk Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands
10. Tulum Beach, Mexico

Well, out of this list (there are many), I have been to two of the beaches.  Looks like we have a number of beautiful beaches on this planet!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Turkey Results...

Well, the Best Ever Turkey was great.  However, for some reason it did not taste like the first one we made, but I'm beginning to think it is all in my head!  I believe I have probably exaggerated that first smoked turkey to the point that nothing will be like it - ever!  This turkey was delicious, moist and had lots of flavor.  I do highly recommend giving it a try.  As for our next turkey experiment, I think we will be trying to brine our turkey and see what that does.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Our Best Turkey Ever!


Today, in the midst of our foggy dreary day, we are planning to smoke a turkey.  The second time we smoked a turkey, we stumbled upon this combination of ingredients.  It was truly THE best turkey either of us have ever had (and I'm not usually a huge fan of turkey).  So, today we are going to attempt to recreate this delicious meal!

Injection Ingredients:
1 can chicken broth
1 Tbsp salt
Garlic Powder (LOTS)
3 Tbsp Worcestershire

Turkey:
Turkey (we have an 10 pounder)
1 stick butter
Seasoning salt
Herbed pepper
Emeril's Essence Seasoning
2 onions
3 cloves garlic
Chicken broth
Apple wood for smoker

Start by injecting the turkey.  Do the night before if possible.

Put turkey in the water pan from the smoker.  Ours fit perfectly.  Melt one stick butter, rub it all over turkey.  Use it all.  (OK, not South Beach here!)  Sprinkle with seasoning salt and herbed/seasoned pepper.  Sprinkle Emeril's Essence over the bird.  Be generous.  Cut up 2 medium onions, add 3 cloves of garlic, and place inside the turkey cavity.  Add a little chicken broth to the inside of the cavity, and pour about 1/2 cup into the pan that the turkey is sitting.

Baste using the juices from the bird about once an hour.  Add more chicken broth if it becomes dry.

We used apple wood in the smoker.  Make sure you keep the smoker above 220 degrees.  Cook until turkey reaches 180 degrees.

I'm making twice baked cauliflower, and a recipe I found for whole wheat double mushroom stuffing that sounds quite tasty (and is South Beach legal).  I'm hoping that this turkey turns out just as well the second time around...  

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Blackened Tuna Steaks

Want to make a delicious dinner that is super easy?  Well, here is a simple recipe that you will love...  Enjoy.

Blackened Tuna Steaks

Marinade
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tuna steaks

1 Jar of Mango Salsa (or make your own)

Rub for tuna
2 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper (we only used 1 1/2 tsp and it was quite spicy)
1 Tbsp onion powder
2 Tsp salt
1 Tsp pepper
1 Tsp thyme
1 Tsp basil
1 Tsp oregano
1 Tbsp garlic powder
4 Tbsp olive oil

1.  Whisk together the marinade ingredients.  Rub the tuna steaks with the mixture.  Marinate for 3 hours.
2.  Stir together the rub ingredients.  Remove tuna from fridge; gently rinse with water, then dip each side of each steak in the spice mixture to coat.
3.  Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Gently lay the tuna in the hot oil.  Cook for 3 minutes on one side; remove to plate.  Pour the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil in the pan, heat till oil is hot.  Lay the tuna uncooked side down into the skillet and cook another 3 minutes; remove from heat immediately.  Do not overcook.
4.  Spoon about 1/2 cup mango salsa onto each of 4 plates.  Lay the tuna steak on top of salsa.  Serve immediately.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sunny Isles Beach, Florida




Our trip ended with a stay at the Le Meredian Resort in Sunny Isles Beach.  We arrived from the ship early, and our room was not ready (sound familiar?).  Well, we had quite a different experience waiting for our room this time.  They suggested we change into our swimsuits and enjoy the beach - which we gladly did.  The beach attendants set up chaise lounges and a nice large umbrella for us.  We immediately got in the water - it was warm and clear, hard to believe that this was the Atlantic Ocean!  We had a lovely day at the resort.

The next day was my shopping day!  The Aventura Mall is a large two story mall with wonderful major department stores, and many upscale smaller stores.  We enjoyed the cool indoors (as outdoors was quite hot, humid and complete with thunderstorms).  We shopped and had lunch, I bought a baby gift (the cutest little girl outfit) and a new first day of school outfit, all on sale I might add.  After lunch, we headed back to the resort with the plan of enjoying the beach again.  Thunderstorms started up again however,  so much for another beach day.  We found a wonderful Italian restaurant within walking distance for dinner - which was the perfect end to a perfect trip.

Our flight was at 7am the next day, so lots of flying and our Miami trip seems a world away.  We wanted to turn around and go back to the warmth, the pampering, the sightseeing and that beautiful, warm clear ocean!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to Work I Go!

Well, after a wonderful summer of travels, relaxation and fun, it is time to go back to work.  Yesterday was my first day.  I'm excited for the new school year, anxious to see all the staff and students again.  It is always fun to see the new kindergartners as they experience school for the first time.  They are so much fun.  I know this year will be a busy, fun, productive and positive year!  Wish me luck...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Back to the U.S. - Key West


Thursday was a day completely packed with activities.  After a very brief interaction with customs, Larry and I were one of the first to get off the ship in the morning.  It was already incredibly hot and humid, little to no wind at all.  We had an afternoon excursion planned, so only two hours to explore this colorful town.  We took the advice of various frequent visitors and decided to take the Conch Train Tour - 90 minutes of seeing all the major sights in Key West.  Those 90 minutes gave us a taste of Key West, enough of one that we want to return and spend some time exploring the Florida Keys.  What a great area!

Our afternoon sail and snorkel was the perfect activity for a hot day - sail to a reef (well, not enough wind to sail, so motor to a reef) and snorkel (unfortunately it was with 100 other people - too crowded).  However, most of the snorkelers stayed around the boat, so Larry and I swam away from the crowds and enjoyed seeing the beautiful, colorful fish!


Once we returned to the Majesty of the Seas, we spent a couple of hours sitting in the pool - drink in hand.  How very relaxing!  This was our last day on board the Majesty... just when we were getting into the swing of "cruising" it was already time to go.  Proof that vacations are never long enough!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Our Own Private Island - Coco Cay




Wednesday was a great day! We started out with our own private tour of the galley by the Executive Chef. It is quite amazing how they can prepare 15,000 meals a day in such a small area. There was a small group of chefs on duty, prepping items for the dinner menu. The chef said the key to making all these meals is "organization". You could see that was true just from spending one hour in the galley. Size is also important - they have HUGE soup pots, HUGE mixing bowls and mixers; HUGE ovens... So, when it comes to serving 4,000 passengers and crew three meals a day - size does matter!


After our galley tour, we went ashore to spend the day in the water floating. What a gorgeous beach. Once we arrived on the island, the first and only thing you could see were a massive amount of people! We actually thought about going back to the ship - it was that crowded. But, we followed a path to the right (as an internet source suggested) and the crowd started to thin out. We got our floating mats, and spent the afternoon in the beautiful warm water. Before we left for the day, we continued on this path to the right, and came upon THE most gorgeous uncrowded beach! We just had not gone far enough... next time we will know. This beach was pristine and everything you imagine when you think of the perfect Caribbean beach!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Majesty Of The Seas... Nassau




We were able to slip onto the ship with ease thanks to the organization of Royal Caribbean's check-in process.  This trip (since our trip was free) we decided to upgrade to a junior suite - a room with a balcony.  Oh my - how nice was that!  It will be difficult to go back now that we have had the luxury of an outdoor space to call our own.

Our first day was spent in Nassau.  It was an extremely busy day in town with three big ships and a smaller ship in port.  We took the ferry to the Atlantis Resort to meet our dolphin friends.  What a gorgeous place!  It is truly like another Disneyland (for adults and kids alike).  We experienced two of the dolphins in a shallow water setting.  They are amazing creatures and we enjoyed our time in the water with them.

Tip #1:  If I were to do it again, I would sign up directly through the Atlantis Resort ahead of time (not through the cruise line) for their actual "Swim with the Dolphins" experience or their "Trainer for the Day" six hour program.  Both of those give you many more interactions with these magical dolphins and would be amazingly fun!  The cruise line does not offer either of these experiences as an option.

Tip #2:  The resort is HUGE with many different ways to spend your time.  However, the day was SO busy and crowded!  I understand that there are days in Nassau with only one ship in port.  I believe this would be the best day to actually experience all that Atlantis has to offer.  So, before I do a cruise like this again, I will be doing a bit of research to find the least crowded ship day when I'm selecting my cruise date.  It was very fun, but we spent much of our day trying to find a place to hang out that wasn't mobbed with people (which we finally did do at the very end of our day).  It was a little overwhelming to say the least!  You couldn't find a chair to put your things (all saved), you couldn't find a spot to relax that was not overly crowded.  I bet by 4pm, the resort was a totally different experience as all the cruise shippers would have gone back to their various ships and the resort would have only had guests...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Art Deco in South Beach









Well, we made it back to Juneau on time and are at home trying to stay awake.  Our body clocks are still on east coast time + we got up very early to leave our warm weather beach getaway for Miami International Airport to catch our 7am flight.

Our first experience was the "interesting" South Beach.  Wow - what a great place to people watch!  We had to wander for about six hours, as taking a red eye flight and getting into Miami at 5:45am, our room was not ready at our hotel.  So, we got in our fill of major heat, humidity and thunderstorms and showers.  We also had time to look at all the beautiful art deco buildings in the area.  Once we finally were able to check in to our hotel, I had three new blisters...  That was wearing my comfortable shoes!

The best part of our SOBE stay was having a fabulous dinner at Emeril's Restaurant in South Beach.  Wow!  We decided to go all out and order from his "tasting menu", complete with wine pairings with each of the six courses.  It was wonderful, and I wish I had kept notes of what we had.  There was so much food I have already forgotten!  You definitely want to go on an empty stomach...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Off to the Bahamas we go!!!


Well, this will be my last post as we leave for our "free" trip this afternoon at 2pm. We are on the "red eye" to Miami out of Seattle, arriving in Miami at 6am. 

I'm hoping our hotel has a room for us at that very early hour, but they may not and we may end up taking a very early morning walk.  It would be good to stretch our legs I guess, but I think after our long overnight we would prefer to be in our air conditioned room!

LAST MINUTE CHECKS:
1. Packing - done
2. Reading Material - got it
3. Passports - check
4. Camera & charger - got them
5. Cruise Packet - got it
6. Bahamas weather report - High 90's; Low 74ish; Thunderstorms daily (doesn't sound like any big storms are coming)
7. Boarding Passes - printed and have them
8. How to care for Abby notes - printed and on counter
9. House - clean
10.Beds & Towels - switched & clean
11.Fridge - cleaned out

So, I'll post when we return on August 10th. And, to my Juneau friends - I'll try to bring some of that sunshine and heat back to town with me! We need it...

Friday, August 1, 2008

And there she goes... Mandalay's transit through the Canal!


As I have learned through Mandalay's adventure, the transit of the Panama Canal takes about 11 hours to complete. Wednesday night she went through the first set of lockes - the Gatun Lockes. The slower (smaller) vessels usually have to sit on a ball overnight about 27 miles past the first set of lockes. Mandalay went through the last set of lockes late last night - the Miraflores Lockes. We captured a picture of her as you can see!

Mandalay will continue her journey (with our beloved Captain Neil at the helm) all the way to Ecuador for her refit. She will be hauled, her complete hull repaired, the engine room will be totally redone with new machinery, the deck cabins will be replaced with an enclosed saloon. She will be converted into a 32 passenger luxury vessel and spend her days cruising the Galapagos.

I have looked at the Angermeyer Cruises website, and they look like a "class act".  I think S/S Lady Mandalay will have a good life (and I will be saving my pennies to go on her Galapagos adventure).


Here she is sitting on the ball, waiting to go through the second set of lockes...
GOOD LUCK S/V LADY MANDALAY!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fair Sails and Gentle Breezes Mandalay!


If you know Larry and I well, you know how we loved the experience of the Windjammer sailing ships.  We were lucky enough to have gone on the Yankee Clipper last year (June 2007), just prior to the company beginning to cancel their cruises, leaving passengers stranded, and finally - the company's demise.  Between Larry and I, we spent about 25 weeks on these lovely ships.  Such a sad thing for those who loved the casual, fun atmosphere on these beautiful sailing ships, as well as the wonderful crew that were like family and worked so very hard!

The Mandalay, a gorgeous 236 ft long, 3 masted tall ship, is in the process of making the Panama Canal transit on her way to her final destination - the Galapagos Islands.  She was auctioned off from the bankrupt company Windjammer, and purchased by Angermeyer Cruises.  This lucky lady will have an extreme makeover, and hopefully will have a good life cruising the Galapagos Islands.  She was built in 1923 for E.F. Hutton.  Each of these ships have such history!

 So, Mandalay - as you leave Panama, where you have been for almost a year, we will always remember the wonderful times we enjoyed with you and your sister ships.  Please teach the new owners and passengers about hermit crab races, jumping off the top deck into the "pool", the PBLT Party, and Swizzle Time.  As you sail into the sunset of your new home, know that many hearts and souls will be on the back deck enjoying the wonderful sunsets and watching for the green flash!

Look very closely and you can see what looks like a ghost ship - Mandalay under partial sail. Isn't she beautiful! Fair Sails and Gentle Breezes Mandalay!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Grilled Spicy Tuna - a hint of sunshine means time for a BBQ!


Well, about half way through our day, when the fog cleared, the sun made a guest appearance. Although it was relatively brief, at least the rain stayed away! I decided it was time for a BBQ... I found this wonderful recipe from my very favorite website - Kalyn's Kitchen.

Grilled Tuna Steaks (one per person)
Marinade:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp garlic (I used much more!)
1 tsp fish rub or seafood seasoning
1 tsp hot pepper flakes (I used more of this too)

Mix marinade ingredients. Put tuna into zip loc bag, marinate for 1-3 hours - no longer! Oil grill with olive oil. Preheat grill to high. Drain marinade and grill fish. We like ours medium rare, so grilled 4 minutes per side. It was perfect!

The taste was moist, and spicy. I highly recommend it! We had a simple salad, and some cheesy zucchini with it. Very yummy dinner (and healthy too).  Thanks Kalyn!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Baggallini Anyone?

If you are in the market for a nice organized bag, purse, or piece of luggage - check out Baggallini!  The company was started in 1995 by two veteran flight attendants who recognized the need for functional tote bags, but fashionable as well.

I purchased their Expandable Tote for our upcoming trip.  So, instead of carrying my day pack, I will have a stylish tote which will be perfect for cosmetics, jewelry, travel documents and my book.  There are pockets for a water bottle, sunglasses, and your book on the outside.  I love the organizational elements woven into each bag or purse style, as well as their light weight!  Hmm - you can tell that women designed and made these.

This company has wonderful colors as well - many fabric and color choices to choose from.  They even have introduced a new eco-line of products where 100% of the outside fabric used to make the bags used to be PET plastic bottles!  Way to help Mother Earth Baggallini!

Check them out! For my Juneau friends - Foodland Super Drug has a few left... not in the pretty colors though.
    BAGGALLINI

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Packing Test.... the bundle method - does it work?

Patty's 22" Carry-On

Well, yesterday was packing day for our trip.  I had the brainstorm of an idea that we should carry-on.  Trying to carry-on for a cruise is next to impossible!  I started with my well put together list, assembled all of the clothing, and followed the directions of STEP BY STEP PACKING LIGHT METHOD exactly.  Their site not only has step by step directions, but diagrams to assist visualizing what they want you to do.  Very helpful!

By the time I got everything carefully layed out in/on my suitcase in the proper order - it looked immense!  Larry told me there was no way everything was going to fit.  He shook his head, made fun of me (some comment about when pigs fly) and actually went downstairs to get the large rolling duffel.  Well, we continued following the directions, folding this layer on top of that layer, forming bundles within this huge heap of clothing.  At that point, I agreed with Larry - it couldn't possibly fit.  However, the directions said to not give up hope, to keep going, to trust them.  So, we did.  Lo and behold - everything did fit and when the bundling process was complete, the suitcase closed with no problem!  Actually a bit of room to spare... Totally amazing!

Contents for Patty:
4 pair of shoes (yes 4!)
Undies and socks
2 capris
3 shorts
3 skirts
3 dresses (one of them a long formal dress)
3 bathing suits
1 sarong
8 shirts

After being reenergized with success, we tried Larry's bag and clothing.  His bag is a little smaller, and a bit oddly shaped.  The task here was even more difficult - we had to pack a suit and a man's pair of dress shoes!  Could it be done as carry-on?

Again, we followed the directions exactly, making our basic bundle.  Once that was complete, the suit went on the top forming its own bundle.  It worked and we are packed for nine days, including clothing for a cruise using only carry-ons!  Woo-hoo...
Larry's 21" Carry-On

Contents for Larry:
2 pair of shoes
Undies and socks
2 shorts
8 shirts
2 swimming trunks
1 pair of workout clothes for Patty
1 suit
1 small steamer (just in case there are wrinkles)
1 medium size duffel rolled up to bring back souvineers

I'm impressed!  We both will carry a small daypack with toiletries, cruise documents, reading materials, camera, etc.  If you too want to try this amazing "bundle method" of packing, visit the Packing Light website.  You will be amazed - I know we were!

THANK YOU PACKING LIGHT!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Carrying off the art of one carry-on!


I just found an article written in 2006 by the San Francisco Chronicle.  In it, the writer gives tips and a variety of reason why carry-on is the way to go.  His reasons seem all the more appropriate in today's times of airline restrictions and fees.

General thoughts & tips:

The amount of items you think you need is directly related to the size of your luggage.  Get a smaller bag, and you'll make do with fewer things.

There is really no difference between packing for a week and packing for a month.  (Boy, I'm having a hard time with this idea...)

Carry-on allowances vary by airline.  A bag measuring 9 by 14 by 22 inches fits the most restrictive rules.  You are also allowed one "personal item", such as a day pack.

Some international carriers are getting more rigorous about enforcing carry-on weight limits of around 15 pounds - so be careful.  I saw some carriers make customers put their carry-on bags on the scale.  Luckily - they did not do that with mine!

If you think something "might" come in handy, leave it at home.  If you know you can't live without it - bring it.

Make a sensible packing list and stick to it!  Resist those last minute urges to toss in an extra sweater.

Pay close attention to matching clothing.  Make sure every top can be worn with every bottom!

Limit yourself to one pair of shoes.  (Oh-oh.  I cannot do this!)

Don't worry if you needed that extra sweater.  You can buy it there!

After you return from your trip, examine each garment and decide if you could have done without it.  If so, leave it off your packing list next time!  Keep your old packing list (complete with notes and comments) for your next trip.  It will make life much simpler than starting from scratch!

Now for a little airline travel humor...
YOU KNOW IT'S A "NO FRILLS" AIRLINE WHEN...
The Captain asks all the passengers to chip in a little for gas!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

HERE COMES THE SUN!


I knew the sun was still there!  We in Juneau have not seen the sunshine for weeks.  Instead, we have been seeing a lot of the "liquid sunshine" as Juneau residents like to say.  It is time to mow the lawn and work in the flowerbeds - the question is will the sun stay out long enough to dry things out a bit?  What you can't see from this picture are the dark clouds from the south - blowing our direction!  We need three hours of sunshine to do our yard chores.  The race is on...


Well - it is 1:17 - the sunshine is gone, clouds are here - but so far the rain is holding off.  The yardwork is almost done :)  Thanks for sending "dry weather" thoughts our way!