Archives for July 2010

{Wedding Photography: Lima, Ohio}

The hubby and I do wedding photography.  Did you know that?  Probably not.  Because we’ve only done 3.  The first was…not so good.  The second…cute and effective.  The third…definite improvement.  Nicole was a June bride, and the couple incorporated their children into the wedding (all 6! of them).  They held both the ceremony and reception at a place just outside of Lima, OH called “Just Something Different”. 

These folks are fabulous—they take care of everything—the cake, the decorations, the DJ, the food and even all of the fun.  They have a huge lake, where kids (and guests!) can swim, repel, rope swing, and paddle boat.  They also have volleyball nets, cornhole (that may be an Ohio thing), and the DJ held a line-dancing tutorial for all the guests.  The setting was beautiful, the food good, but the only thing lacking was a photographer.  Enter Greenhouse Studios (aka the hubs and I). 

 

(The coordinator arranged for the the groom to arrive on horseback…without the bride knowing!)

 

The feedback was extremely positive, and the folks at Just Something Different has promised to invite us back.  Happy Bride=Success!

{The Vacation Chronicles: Serenade of the Seas)

Even without having four ports of call (Curacao, Dominica, Aruba, and St. Thomas), the trip would have been fun.  There’s so much to do on the ship.  We splurged for the balcony room (I tend to get claustrophobic), and it really makes a difference.  I mean, who wouldn’t love to wake up to this?!

 

Instead of running around trying to find something to do, many nights we just hung out on the balcony, listening to the waves, and enjoying the humidity warm air.

After being thrown overboard hanging out for awhile, we would head off the nightly show.  The after dinner shows were good—ventriloquists, jugglers, show tunes, and comedians.

 

(the poor old gent didn’t realize that the juggler was joking about throwing a machete)

(the he juggled in the dark)

There are tons of planned activities throughout the day and early evening, too.  In fact, when the stateroom attendant makes the bed at night after an afternoon nap (cause he’ll make it in the morning, too), they’ll leave a Cruise Compass on the bed—a little newsletter and schedule of all of the fun, free happenings onboard.  This is my kind of life…schedules and plans and newsletters, and I don’t even have to do the planning!

 

We made it to the Trivia Challenge quite a few times.  We met a lady who had been on Jeopardy, so needless to say we didn’t win.  At one challenge, I left to go to the restroom.  Omar (we were totally on a first name basis with the trivia guy) began to heckle Eric about his wife leaving him.  Eric shot back with, “I’m the beauty and the brains of this relationship”.  Um, bad for Eric that there were speakers in the bathroom…

We also went to a napkin folding class.  We learned 5 or 6 different designs in which to fold napkins for dinner parties.  Eric and I were able to follow along the booklet on our own, and worked ahead.  We got yelled at.  Eric continued to work ahead, and the activities leader made him come to the front of the class to teach everyone else how to do it.  His lack of accent and natural personality led him to do a fantastic job, with everyone completing the design.

 

We went to a few game shows, though we didn’t participate.  Well, Eric’s belt participated, but that’s another story.  You see, each ship does “The Quest”, which is an adult only game show.  Groups have to be the first to show an item, much like a Scavenger Hunt.  For example, a picture of the White House (on money), a piercing (no matter where it is!), or a man in bra…

 

Obviously, things get out of hand quickly.  Someone needed a man’s belt, and Eric was the closest man, so he got undressed. 

Of course, we enjoyed soaking up the sun on deck.  The wind made the heat and sun pleasant, though we could only manage to stay out for 20-25 minutes at a time.  This was the perfect atmosphere to crack the spine on a good book.

 

And no discussion about cruising is complete without mentioning the food! Mmmm.  How great was it?  Well, one night Eric had 3 lobster tails and filet mignon–just as the entrée.  We ate in the main dining room every night, as it was included in the price of the cruise.  For breakfast and lunch, we ate at the Windjammer (buffet style) every day, though the main dining room was open a few times. To me, this is the best part of cruising, not having to worry about where and what to eat, and the fact that the price of all meals are included in the price.  The only bad thing about this dining experience was that the table behind us was a bunch of bi-atches.  Yes, I just went there.   Eric likened the daughter to a cat in heat, and the mother to a dying hyena.  They were so loud and obnoxious, that by the 4th day, the Director of Guest Services approached their table and asked them to be quiet.  This was after just about every table in the room complained, AND the comedians during the shows made fun of them because they were so loud in the audience.  At least the service staff tried to make us for it by doing an extra night of singing and dancing…

 

One of the other couples at our table were celebrating the husband’s birthday (he got double dessert!).  They were such a nice couple, and we were supposed to have a Game Night with them on the last night, but Eric tried to throw a cup of coffee at the laughing hyena and cat in heat, so I had to drag him out of there without saying good-bye.  If anyone knows Brad and Amy from Atlanta, tell them good-bye for us!

While I didn’t take advantage of 7 full meals, or even double entrees,  I did splurge and have two desserts on the last night.  I figured after traipsing through the rainforest, swimming between gorges, and kayaking 6 miles, that I was entitled to double chocolate cake and strawberry angel food cake, no?  And because we made a pact to never take the elevator, meaning we walked 15-20 flights of stairs/day, I may just be the first person who came back from a cruise who LOST weight and tone my jiggly bum bum.

{The Vacation Chronicles: Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas}

Our last port of call was also one that we’ve had the pleasure to visit before.  We stopped at St. Thomas on our Honeymoon, and had a blast on our eco-hike.  So this time, we didn’t book an excursion beforehand, for a few different reasons.  First, there wasn’t much that sounded like fun.  Two, we thought since it was the last day of the cruise, we may enjoy napping and doing last-minute “ship things” instead of being out on an excursion.  And third, we thought that after kayaking, spending 4 hours at the beach, and hiking through the rainforest, that we may indeed be a bit too sore, tired, and burnt for much else.  But alas, after finding the Fountain of Youth in Dominica, we walked down to the Explorations! desk that on the ship at 9pm the night before to book a last minute tryst. 

We narrowed our options down to two.  A voluntourism experience at the Virgin Islands National Park, or mountain biking.  Since we visited the National Park before, and we would have been the only ones on the tour (fear: being left behind!), we decided on the mountain biking.

Bad. Bad. Bad idea.  You see, the biking tour was on Water Island.  Water Island is a small island just a 15 minute ferry ride from St. Thomas.  Once a nice resort island, with tennis clubs and restaurants, the island is now…nothing.  At one point, we visited the site of an old resort tennis court and looked at a brochure from the 80’s to see what it used to look like.  We happened to be there on “gas day” and everyone on the island brought their cars to the dock to get gas.  They also have to bus water over, so the tour guide so informatively told us that unless “you go # 2, you don’t flush”.  Hurricane destruction also added to the nothingness.  One of the guides shared her personal story of an insurance scam after a hurricane—the company just boarded up and moved away because they couldn’t cover the claims for all the damage.  Perhaps most interestingly was our first stop.  During WWII, troops were stationed here, so a bunker was built.  However, the war ended before the bunker was finished, so now they use it as a hurricane shelter.

But the fact that the tour was a bit bland was nothing compared to the insect problem.  This island should be renamed Mosquito Island.  I have never NEVER seen so many mosquitoes, or such big mosquitoes.  Nor did the trip guide give any indication that this was problem UNTIL we got to the island and there was no turning back. It seriously ruined the experience.  If we kept moving, they didn’t land on us, but they did fly up our noses, into our eyes, and in our mouths.  If we stopped (to hear about history or just to breathe), we were swarmed and eaten alive.  Seriously.  Between the two of us, we counted over 60 mosquito bites before we even got back to the ship.

The biking itself was a blast, although my bike was broken.  Besides a quick ride with Eric in college a few times, I haven’t been on a bike since I was about 14.  So when the gears kept catching, and it was really hard to get up the hills, I thought it was just me at first.  Then I had someone look at the bike.  Then at the end (oh, I’ll tell you about the end in a minute…), the tour guide finally admitted that my bike was stuck in 3rd gear and he couldn’t believe I’d made the whole trip!  Uh, thanks!  I TOLD you I was dying. 

(I look lost, but I think I’m asking the tour guide where they want me to pull over so they can look at my bike.)

So after biking 3.5 miles up and down very steep hills, the option was given to go to the beach and swim, or continue for another 20 minutes or so.  Being the nice wife that I am, I followed Eric as he continued the ride. This did me in.  This was off the beaten path (although there was not really any paths to begin with), riddled with mosquitoes, and my legs completely gave up.  At one point, I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or throw up.  I think I did a little of all three.  I walked the last half mile, with Eric laughing seriously worried about where I was.  You see, he was waaay ahead, and had no idea that I was upon death’s door.  The nice old tour guide stayed with me.  And decided to try to talk to me.  I’m dry heaving off the side of the mountain, and you want to talk about your tenure at Ohio State.  Thanks, buddy.  After making it back to the rally point, we had to make our way to the beach…down an extremely steep hill.  I almost died.  Again.

(Yes, the guy in front of me is falling over.)

Then, it was off to the beach.  But, wait.  This is the same mosquito-infested beach where we started our trip.  So after stripping down and sprinting to the water, we stayed almost entirely underwater until the bus came back to pick us up.  Surprisingly, the salt water did wonders for the itchy mosquito bites, but it didn’t help the new ones we got while getting on the bus.   I was trying to stop myself from being munched on, but there wasn’t much I could do…

When we got back to the ship, we still had time to walk around the Havensight Shopping Mall right on the dock.  We were the only ship in port that day, so things weren’t crowded.  The tour guide did tell us that during peak season, there will be 9-12 ships in port, and when Oasis of the Seas comes in, that the number of  tourists on St. Thomas equals 1/3 of the normal population.  The only thing we bought was some perfume—I’ve been looking for Ralph Lauren Rocks for months now, and was happy to find it TAX & DUTY FREE (that’s a joke).  I have a hard time understanding why people get so excited about going to ports to shop, and how excited they get about diamonds, gems, and watches.  This island is just too “touristy” for me.  I’m so ticked about the mosquito bites that I don’t even care to talk about the history.

Just a quick shout-out to the hubby, who finished the whole trip without even breaking a sweat.  Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but seriously–watch out, Lance Armstrong.  Eric seriously has some biking skills.  I heart him.

{The Vacation Chronicles: Roseau, Dominica}

The third stop on our cruise was the beautiful, lush island of Dominica (pronounced Dom-uh-nee-ka, and not to be confused with the Dominican Republic).  It is an independent nation, gaining independence in 1978, but it has a rich history.  It was discovered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus.  He gave it its name—“Sunday” (dominca in Latin)—yes, that crazy guy was so creative he named it after the day he discovered it.  The Carib name for the island is Wai’tu kubuli, which means “tall is her body”.  I’m going to start making Eric refer to me as Wai’tu kubuli…

Aside from the local Carib Indians (which still remain today and Dominica is the only Caribbean island to have native inhabitants), it remained unpopulated until France claimed it some years later.  It was abandoned by the missionaries though, as the Carib Indians attacked the settlers.  It was a bloody war, with many natives dying and one river being nicknamed the “massacre” river because the water was red with blood for days.  England then became the owner after the Treaty of Paris following the 7 Year’s War, although the French did try to invade twice to regain control.  After the British abolition of slavery, Dominica became the first British nation to have an elected governmental body with a majority of Africans.  Though there was some uprising and outrage, this eventually paved the way for Dominica to become an independent nation, holding much of its Carib, French, and English heritage.  In the 1980’s Dominica saw many economic troubles and even an attempt at overthrowing the government by American and Canadian mercenaries.  Their ultimate plan was to make this a hot-spot for criminal activity, but the FBI was tipped off and stopped the whole thing.  There’s a book about the whole thing…

The official languages are English, French and Antillean Creole (a local dialect).  Most of the folks are Roman Catholic, but the first mosque was built just a few years ago.  They drive on the left side of the road…wait, I said road?  Let me clarify—by “road” I mean muddy, rocky paths at high elevations.  Dominica has no highway system, and little in terms of roadways.  As the island is still being formed by volcanic activity, hurricanes are frequent, and landslides are common, roadways are difficult to maintain. 

Check out this devastation from Hurricane David in 1979.  Yes, that is a school bus, and YES, the tree is still alive and growing on its side.

On our excursion, we saw many men on the side of the mountains with nothing but shovels and bags of gravel trying to build roadways. 

Of course, this sight did nothing to calm the fears of the woman in the van with us…who continued to yell at the driver because she was terrified of his driving.  I’ll give the guy credit, the roads were only wide enough for one car, but he still found a way to pass.  The tour guide actually started making everyone sing songs to try to calm her down.  However, there was a little old lady (in her 70’s) who was awesome.  She told the lady to “shut up because if it’s your time, it’s your time.”  She also was the first to lead the way through the entire excursion.  Kudos to her!

Our excursion here was FANTABULOUS.  Amazing.  Truly, one of those experiences that I’m glad I’ve had.  First we visited Titou Gorge.  This was one of the filming sites for Pirates of the Caribbean 2. 

The scenes from the movie where Johnny Depp was being hailed as the God by the locals, and then later roasted and chased, were filmed here, and included local Carib peoples.  Our tour driver was one of the equipment drivers for the filming.  Other scenes were filmed here as well, including inside Titou Gorge. 

That’s right—inside.  After taking a short walk through the rainforest (aka across a rickety, old bridge),

we waded into the cool (okay, cold!) freshwater. 

We then swam between the gorge, in depths up to 40 ft. of water.  After swimming for 10 minutes or so, we came to a waterfall with a rocky ledge.  We climbed up the waterfall and plunged back into the water.  Truly, the cold water was invigorating, and the experience was surreal.

Then, we made our way to the Screw Lodge.  Um…yep.  I’m not sure why it’s named that, but I like to refer to it as the Sulfur Springs.  Heavenly.  Seriously, I think I found the fountain of youth.  We dipped into the springs, which was HOT.  But, as I’m always cold, I thought it was perfect.  Many folks with a hot tub at home commented that this was much, much hotter than they keep their hot tubs.  While the water was cloudy, there wasn’t a hint of sulfur smell to be, well, smelled.  I wore an old bathing suit because I didn’t want to risk ruin, but it was unnecessary as there was zero smell.

After chillin’, er burnin’, here for 30 minutes or so, we went to the lodge to enjoy fresh fruit and punch.  And when I say fresh, I mean the tour guide walked into the forest and pulled some fruit from the tree. It was delicious, and we had the chance to try a few different things—like white oranges.   

I couldn’t get over how good my skin looked and felt.  Even Eric was running around talking about how much energy he had and how fantastic he felt.  When we got back to dinner later that evening, we got comments about how glowing and healthy we looked.  I’m assuming this is why Dominica has more centenarians per capita than any other place in the world.  It’s not uncommon for folks to live to at least 90 years old, with little to no health problems.

Dominica relies heavily on tourism, but also wants to maintain the native heritage and land.  They try to push eco-tourism, such as waterfall hikes and whale-watching instead of shopping and beach sports.  However, due to the rainy season from June-October, and times when relative humidity can reach 90%, many cruise ships choose not to make this a main port.  In fact, Dominica is the least visited Caribbean island.  It was humbling to see the disparity between Aruba and Curacao (two of the highest standards of living), and Dominica (in economic hardship).  I think the excursions here were more worthwhile, however, so I hope the new docks built in Dominica recently bring more tourism for the nation.

And just for fun, we had to do the typical self-portrait shot…especially considering all of our other shots were with a water camera.  We will be buying the water case shortly.

{The Vacation Chronicles: Oranjestad, Aruba and the Kukoo Kunuku Party Bus}

The next stop on our cruise was Aruba…Bahama, come on pretty mama…Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go down to…Oh, sorry.  Yes, I hummed this song the entire trip.

Aruba is an independently governed island within The Kingdom of the Netherlands, which means its citizens hold Dutch passports, but have their own monarchy.  The official languages are Dutch and Papiamento, with many folks speaking both English and French due to the island’s history with both France and Britain.  It’s located just 17 miles north of Venezuela.  This area is fantastic for many reasons.  First, it puts it outside the hurricane belt.  Aruba has very little rainfall each year, and a steady temperature of around 84 degrees year-round.  Surprisingly, Aruba is more desert than traditional Caribbean island.  Cacti and other succulents line the dry, sandy roads.  Though, of course, the coast is beautiful, blue, warm water. 

 

Secondly, it’s in a kind of obscure area with low currents which made it difficult to discover.  This means that it went uninhabited for a long time, and also kept it out of the whole nasty Atlantic Slave trade thing.

As Aruba is also renowned for their oil refineries, it along with Curacao was the major supplier of oil to the Allies during World War II.  Many Allied troops were stationed in Aruba during the war and Eleanor Roosevelt even paid a visit.  All was good until a German sub attacked the island, but a plane took it out pretty quickly.  A tour can be taken to scuba and snorkel at the wreck. 

Aruba has one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean.  In fact, so many people began to emigrate for better jobs, that the government issues working permits for only three years.  It’s known for its aloe manufacturing, gold and phosphate mining, and of course, tourism.  We got to experience a few of those industries while on our excursion…

Enter: The Kukoo Kunuku Tour…aka “The Party Bus”

 

When I read the description for this tour, I chose it simply because it was the cheapest option to get us from the ship to the beach.  For $32, we were promised a brightly painted bus, with maracas to shake along to Caribbean music, and a brief, informative island tour before being dropped off at the beach for 4 hours.  This sounded fun.  And it was.  Oh, it really was.  Once we got over the whole “we are the epitome of stereotypical Americans being driven around a tourist trap” feeling.  But it was so much energy and fun we couldn’t care for too long. 

You see, the brightly painted bus was so much more.

 

(and before the questions start…no, I’m not preggers…there is simply wind up my dress…)

And the festive Caribbean music was more like “Who Let the Dogs Out”, “I Like Big Butts”, and a little Black Eyed Peas thrown in for good measure.  It was 9am, and we’re in a party bus driving through every neighborhood in Aruba BLASTING music, screaming, shaking maracas, blaring the horn (which was the typical clown-car jingle), and generally holding up traffic.  Yep.  There were tons of round-a-bouts, which our driver would encircle 6 or 7 times before moving along. Check out the video.

And our driver?!  Did I show him to you?

I wish I could say his name was something fun and he was a local.  But alas, I think his name was Victor and he was from Brooklyn (though he did master a stereotypical Jamaican accent for our amusement).

And the tour?  The tour was my kind of tour.  He would pull up to a site (with music blaring—who cares about the other tourists), and say: “you have 5 minutes to see what you need to see, take your pictures, and get back on the bus”.  I like to delve into a place, but actually, I got to see more, and learn more, because we covered so much.

Our first stop was the aloe plant.

Then, we visited the Alto Vista Chapel.  Builtin 1750, it’s one of the oldest churches in the Caribbean, and was maintained for awhile by native converts to Catholicism.  The Stations of the Cross wind up the dusty path, leading the church.

Then, the lighthouse.  Now this has an interesting story.  The lighthouse is called the Californian, named after the same ship that ignored the Titanic’s request for assistance.  A few years later, it also ignored the signal from the lighthouse, ran aground, and sank.

We also got to see many gorgeous houses.  And graffiti, which is interesting because it was all written in English…

Of course, we then enjoyed a beautiful day at the beach.  Picturesque.  The water was heavenly, and the tour included a complimentary beach chair, and discounts on floats and nearby attractions.  I did a lot of reading, swimming, napping, and making out with my husband.  I would never do that in public…

When the beach day was over, Dr. Vic picked us up again, with the music blaring.  The other couple at our dinner table told us they were snorkeling a few miles away, and they could hear our bus in the water.  Fantastic.

I think the best part was the other folks on the bus.  The family in front of us including a 10 year old boy and an 80 year old grandmother.  She shook the heck out of her maracas!  The couple behind us was made up of a big-bootied black gal who had no problem shaking her thang in the aisles.  She was fun.  The tour really was the topic of conversation on the ship the rest of day.  Highly recommended (as long as you don’t mind people taking pictures of you and generally annoying the locals).

**After returning home and doing some googling, I realized the main audience for the Kukoo Kunuku bus is bar-hopping through Aruba on the weekends.  During the week, they cater to cruisers.  Check out this website for a guestbook and pictures from some of the more “wild” times.

{The Vacation Chronicles: Willemstad, Curacao & The Swinging Old Lady}

 On our recent cruise, our first port of call was Curacao (pronounced coor-uh-sow).  It was be-a-u-ti-ful.  Lovely. Gorgeous.  And we met many nice folks, in addition to having a great time.

Curacao is a Dutch owned island off the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean.  There are many theories of how the name came to be, ranging from the Portuguese word for “heart” because of its shape, to a Spanish phrase “Island of Healing” because a ship of sailors were cured from scurvy here (magically, of course…it had nothing to do with the abundance of fruit).  It is part of the Netherlands Antilles, along with a few other islands. 

The Dutch took control of the island in 1634, although it was founded by the Spanish. (Granted, there were native peoples there, but we modern folk just pillage and trade them and don’t really count them, right?…)  Many early explorers overlooked the value of Curacao, as it contained no gold deposits, gems, or unlimited peoples for slaves.  However, the Dutch in all their brilliance realized it would be a fantastic spot for a port of trade, including as center of the Atlantic slave trade.  This trading led Curacao to become the most affluent Caribbean island.  However, when the Dutch abolished slavery in 1863, the island fell on troubled times, and many migrated to other islands in search of work.  Fear not!  In 1914, oil was found (oil, precious oil!) which caused many to immigrate back for work.  The original finder of this precious oil was the Royal Dutch Shell company—known today as Shell. 

Now, Curacao relies heavily on tourism, scuba diving, and of course, shopping.  Oh, and prostitution.  I learned after the trip that prostitution is tolerated, and medical facilities are set up to aid these women.  So…this leads to Curacao also being one of the major ports of human trafficking.  Apparently, the government continues to turn a blind eye to this fact…

There are four main languages spoken on the island: Dutch, English, Papiamentu (the local language), and Spanish.  Most people do indeed speak all four languages, and they enjoy making fun of Americans who only speak “American” (yes, one gentleman on our tour told the tour guide he speaks ‘American’). ::sigh::

Our excursion in Curacao was ocean kayaking.  It was really, really fun. (Please forgive the horrendous pictures from the water camera…)

For $69/person, we got picked up in an air-conditioned van, driven on a short tour throughout Willemstad (the capital city), 2 hours of kayaking, and 1 hour of swimming/snorkeling at a private beach. 

We had two tour guides, one who spoke no English, and one who spoke all the previously mentioned languages plus German and French.  He was an intern student from Holland who is majoring in eco-tourism.  Ummm…sign me up, please! 

Before entering college, he played soccer for the Netherlands.  Like real soccer, like World Cup soccer.  It took me awhile to figure out why he kept talking to me about soccer…the only waterproof backpack I could find was an Adidas backpack…with MLS logos on the other side. Ah!  I was very confused when he walked up and said, “I used to play football until I broke my club” aka, I used to play soccer until I broke my foot.

Our kayaks were two person kayaks, which means the hubby and I got to practice our teamwork and communication skills.  We totally rocked it.  We can’t wait to try out a more advanced kayaking tour.  For this tour, the most difficult was getting through what was called the “Storm Plas”, an area where multiple currents come together.  We did get pretty wet from choppy waves, but we weren’t soaked.  In fact, by the time we got back to the docks, we were already dry, even after swimming.  The tour guides stopped every so often to point out local points of interests, and to give everyone’s arms a break!  Out of all the excursions we’ve done through Royal Caribbean, this was definitely one of the best, and definitely worth the money. 

We were back to the ship around 1:00, so we had time to grab lunch, and make it out for a little shopping and photography before leaving port.

To get to the shopping area, we had to walk across “the Swinging Old Lady,” also known as the Queen Emma Bridge.  The bridge is one of the oldest and longest floating bridges in the world. Its design was a necessity; by the time a bridge was contemplated, buildings covered every inch of shoreline and a traditional bridge would have required destruction of many structures. When the original bridge was completed in 1888, tolls were charged: two cents for pedestrians wearing shoes, ten cents for horses and later, 25 cents for each car, but so many pedestrians removed their shoes and crossed barefoot that the toll was finally eliminated.

It floats because every time a boat approaches, the bridge is swung out of the way for boats to pass.  I was shocked, shocked!, that the thing would start swinging with people on it.  An alarm would sound, and gates would stop people from entering, but if you were already on the bridge, too bad, so sad.  It made me laugh because in America, you probably would have to sign a liability waiver just to look at such a contraption.

It was widened in 1938, but there was still a lot of congestion.  The Queen Juliana Bridge was built right down the way—at 185 ft. high, it’s the highest bridge in the Caribbean and one of the highest in the world.

Besides the whole slave and prostitution thing, this island is fantastic.  It’s a somewhat arid climate, has a long dry season, a nice tradewind (okay, the wind was a bit ridiculous), and a steady temperature of 78-88 degrees year-round.

{Lookin’ Fly in July}

 

I don’t really know what that means, it just sounded fun.  And the hubby is looking pretty fly (for a white guy)…a little Offspring anyone…no?

So, it’s July.  (Yes, I know that we are already 1 week into July…I was on VACATION!)  So now that I’m back, adjusted to non-island life, and getting on with my chores, I suppose I should check back on those June goals.  ::Groan::

Take vitamin every day, B
Take herbal supplement 3x/day, B
Eat dinner in 4x/week, Hmm…I don’t know how to count this being on vacation and all…
Be in bed (and asleep) by 11:00 on weekdays, F.  This will just never happen, I fear.
Walk to or from work 4x/week, Umm…we had a lot of rain.
Go for at least a 20min. walk outside 1x/week, A
Stretch and do “mini-workout” every day, C
Mail a card to a friend via snail-mail, A
Organize my clothes closet, Yes.  I mean I did, but then it got messy again.  The hubby finally agreed to install an organizer…after I kicked a suitcase…not one of my finer moments, I admit.
Make 3 more cards for Fall craft fair (gotta start early…), I’m more of a wait-til-the-last-minute kind of gal.
Try one new recipe, A
Read 2 books out of the “To Be Read” pile accumulating on my coffee table, A

Oh, wait.  That wasn’t too painful.  Or maybe I’m still on a vacation high.

So besides vacation (did I mention I went on vacation yet?!), check out what else kept us busy in June.

GARDENING

I only killed 1 Gerbera daisy plant.  However, my gladiolus have yet to bloom.  I mean they sprouted, and they look lush and green, but no spikes or blooms.  Any suggestions?!

COOKING

I did try a new recipe.  I made zucchini bread.  We’ve also had friends over for dinner a few times, which is nice—cooking for 3,4, or 5 instead of 2.  No leftovers!

MOVIES & TV

Wipeout is back! Best show ever! Okay, not ever, but close.

 We also started watching The Tudors on Netflix.  I don’t know why we’re so interested…it’s not like we don’t know what’s going to happen…rebellion, sex, & beheadings anyone?  And since no post is complete without a Twilight reference: Did you know that Henry Cavill, who plays Charles Brandon Duke of Suffolk in The Tudors, was Stephenie Meyers’ first choice to play Edward?

Just Henry - A collection of news and notes about British actor Henry Cavill

We also watched Love Happens, which was pretty good.  I’d recommend a couple hours of your life for it.

BOOKS

Ha! I get to talk about Twilight again.  I read the Bree Tanner novella.  Not earth-shattering, but I enjoyed it.  It was an extremely quick read, like a few hours quick, and it was a nice back-story to have before seeing the movie.

I then read Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress.  Highly recommended.  Set during the 1970’s cultural reeducation in China, it provides a brief glimpse into a part of history I was unfamiliar with.

So I guess I should finally get around to setting some July goals, no?

Take vitamin everyday
Take herbal supplement 1x/day
Eat dinner in 4x/week
Be in bed and asleep by 11:00
Walk to work 2x/week (it’s hot out there!)
Do 1 adventurous outdoor activity each week (yeah…I know that’s open-ended)
Mail a card to friend via snail-mail
Try 2 new recipes
Read a book
Organize filing cabinet
Organize clothes closet
Pass my graduate school class (preferably an “A”, yes, but we’ll see…)

Wish me luck! :/