Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Caribbean Christmas

Our 7 day cruise ALMOST turned into an 8 day cruise!  What a wild week we have had.  I will try to keep this post to a minimum.  It will be hard to pack in a whole week, but I'll focus on the highlights.

Friday, December 13th
First of all, I should introduce the players.  This cruise was enjoyed by my husband, his parents, and myself.  We left Dallas late afternoon and made our way to Spring, TX for the night.  Our ship didn't leave until Saturday morning from the new port in Houston.  A lot of cruises leave from Galveston.  Princess cruise line has only been porting out of Houston since this fall.  It was all new to everyone! Not much happened on Friday.  Just a lot of driving, talking, more driving, and then sleeping.

Saturday, December 14th
It's Cruise Day!! ::happy dance::  I woke up and had a message from my good friend's mom.  She was on the same ship I was about to go on, just a week earlier.  They were suppose to port that morning, get off the ship, and then we get on the ship.  However....there was fog. Fog is a problem for both Houston and Galveston ports.  This was causing a delay.  I was happy to receive the delay message, but not happy about the delay.  About 2 hours later I received a message from the cruise line with the same message.  Instead of us getting on the ship at 2pm, we were getting on closer to 4pm.  That's okay though.  We packed up and headed to Kemah, TX!  It has a cute little boardwalk with plenty of things to do.

It was finally time for us to head to the port! Yeeeeeeeah! But we still had to wait in line. Yeah.  People were getting antsy and walking around.  These people meant business!  I guess some forgot they were about to leave for vacation.  After waiting about 45 mins, the lines started moving.

There she is! Our home for the next 7 days.  The Princess Caribbean. 

 Then it was time for more the cold.  This was our best "cold" faces.  Preston did better than me.

Still waiting.......

........and waiting.... close.....

We're On!

Naturally we celebrated by going to the Wheelhouse Bar and getting our first cocktail of the trip.  

I won't bore you with the detail shots of the pictures of our room, but every day we got a newsletter outside our door called Princess Patter.  This came to be our enjoyment each morning as we would wake up and go get the Patter, much like you would the morning paper, then jump back in bed to read up on our options for the day.   Here is the one from December, 15th. 

That night was dinner in the dining room where we learned that our table for the whole week was a window seat! Awesome, but we had the 8:00pm seating so it was always dark outside.  Still, we were happy.

Sunday, December 15th
This was our first day at sea.  It was over cast with little to no sun. Not really what you want on a full day hanging out on the ocean.  We made the best of it by doing what we do every Sunday.  Watch Football!!  They had a big TV on the 15th deck so we could hang out by the pool and watch the games. 

The cowboys lost, shocker, but we didn't let that get us down.  Sunday night was the first formal night!  We got all dressed up and meet up with Preston's parents before heading to dinner and watched the introduction of the captain.  The whole ship was decorated for Christmas, it was really cool.  Our head waiter for the week was Jeffery and his assistant Oliver.  They were soooo nice.  I miss them already.  It wasn't fun to cook my own dinner tonight. #vacationproblems

 Monday, December 16th
We arrived in Cozumel, Mexico!  I was doing an excursion with Preston's mom called Salsa & Salsa.  It was salsa making and salsa dancing!! It was so much fun and I learned a lot.  Oh' and did I mention it was also margarita making? Yes...unlimited margarita making.  I think we did a pretty good job as at the end of the whole thing we were awarded the "Most Fun".  It's amazing what a couple of margarita's can do for your Salsa dancing.

Preston and his Dad went snorkeling.  They said the water was rough, but totally worth it.  They had a wonderful time.  I love this picture below, just wish it wasn't so cloudy. 

Tuesday, December 17th
Roatan, Honduras here we come! Preston and I got off the ship first thing and it wasn't more than 10 mins before the sky opened up and POURED on us.  But we had thought about this before we packed in Dallas and brought our ponchos!  We were the envy of lots of people who were running for cover.  It didn't rain long, but we went back on the ship, ate lunch, and then the sun came out!  We quickly changed into our suits and went to the beach.  We found Preston's parents and hung out by a really cool beach bar and enjoyed the live music.

Wednesday, December 18th
It's our last port of the trip.  Belize City, Belize.  I was most excited about this day.  We had an excursion that was zip lining and then cave tubing.  Unfortunately, Belize City had a lot of rain the past couple of days so the cave tubing was canceled.  We were sad. 

But once we got geared up to go zip lining....all our sadness was gone!  It was a long wait to the first platform so we struck up a convo with the lady behind us who was alone.  We started rating people on their "zipping" and the yells they would make.  It made the time go by quickly. It was then our turn.  I only got shots of Preston as I was one with the camera.  But I'm actually ok with that as those belts are not attractive!

Thursday & Friday, December 19th and 20th
The next 2 days were at sea.  And we got Sun!!  It was great.  We laid out, drank some umbrella drinks, ate tooooo much food and played games.  We made a point to go to some of the shows and events they had on the ship.  A magic show, sexy legs contest (all men), and ice sculpting!

Right before dinner on Friday, the captain made an announcement that the port of Houston had been closed and wouldn't be open till Sunday.  Wait....we are suppose to be back on Saturday! Half the ship cheered with excitement and the other half was in shock.  They said all internet service and calls were free to make your travel agreement changes.  There was a mad dash for the internet cafe.  Preston and I just watched and ordered a glass of wine at the Vine Bar.  Very exciting news! 

However, all was changed again Saturday morning as we woke up and the ship was moving.  The port had opened up and the captain was going for it!  Go Captain!!  We arrived around 11:30am and were able to get off the ship around 3:30.  Made it back to Dallas around 8:30pm.  All in all it was a GREAT trip and I loved every minute of it.  I still feel like I'm moving on a ship when sitting still or lying down.  That will take a couple of days to wear off.  If you have ever wanted to go on a cruise, my recommendation is YES.  Despite the fog delay, I love them.  This was cruise number 4 for me and it won't be last.  

Merry Christmas Everyone! 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Weekend of Ups and Downs

The past 4 days sure have been a roller coaster! I'm not even sure where to begin.  Thursday night an ice storm came through Dallas.  Seeing as we aren't a city that gets ice on an annual basis, we do not have vehicles or the service to help in these situations.  Needless to say, our offices were closed on Friday.  It seemed all down hill from there.  Friday afternoon I received this email:

Preston and I were devastated.  I won't bore you with my pity party.  We both slummed around the house until about 4pm.  Then we got out and went to Angry Dog for dinner in Deep Ellum.  It's less than a mile from our house so we didn't feel scared driving.  We made sure that we were back home before it got dark.  The temperatures were set to decrease and anything that had melted during the day would freeze again.  Some parts of DFW got actual snow, but not us.  The white in these pictures is ice/sleet. 

 I saw on the news that some people were stuck on highways for over 11 hours!  Stuck in their cars with no way of getting home and no way for anyone to come help them.  I do feel for those folks.  Ashe wasn't feeling the cold either.  He did this the majority of the day.

Saturday we go bundled up and went for a walk to Starbucks.  We put on some of our running clothes we purchased for the run.  Wanted to test it out.  Our gloves are AWESOME.  So happy we have those.  The Starbucks is only a block from our house so we didn't have to go far.  I had planned on taking pictures, but realized that it wasn't a good idea to be standing in the street, on ice, with cars, taking pictures.  We tried to avoid the ice as much as possible which was all over the sidewalk.  It was then time to get back home for the Bedlam game.  Yeeeeeeah!!  I thought at the time.  Ugh.  We lost. I love the Bedlam game because you never know what is going to happen.  I thought it was a good game and I was up screaming at the TV the last quarter.  Still hurts.  We then packed up for the night and headed to the Omni hotel.  We had booked the room for the marathon and for Preston's company Christmas party.  Oh' I forgot!  So his Christmas party was suppose to be Saturday night at the Dallas World Aquarium. 

That was also canceled.  We called the hotel to cancel our room, but because it wasn't by noon the day before we would still be charged.  Didn't want the room to go to waste so we invited another couple to come join us for the night.  We brought some of our favorite games and drinks.  All in all it was a good time.  

When we got home this morning I really wanted to make a crockpot dish so I went up to Kroger.  Beef Stroganoff it is.  It's still really cold outside so it's the perfect meal.  The house is starting to smell good, but it still have several more hours to go!  Today is going to be spent doing laundry and cleaning up around the house.  We leave for vacation next Friday and I don't want to have to come home every night from work and be buzzing around.  I'm really looking forward to vacation.  It will so relaxing.  Once we get back will both are starting our training for the Cowtown Marathon in February.  It's set for the weekend before our 3rd anniversary so I'm sure we will make a little staycation out of that one too.  

So that was our weekend.  Stay warm Dallas!  

Saturday, November 30, 2013

(Gibson) Orange Cup Sweet Potatoes

Growing up we had our sweet potatoes served in orange cups for Thanksgiving.  I thought this was totally normal until I went to college.  A lot things my family did for holiday traditions I thought were normal until leaving the nest.  Our wooden shoes at Christmas time is another one, but that's not what this blog is about today.  I've had a couple of questions about the orange cups I posted in my previous post.  Below is the recipe.  I don't have any step by step photos as my mom made them the day before Thanksgiving and I was working. #newjobproblems.  I did get 3 photos on Thursday so they will be included.  Here is what you will need:

3 large sweet potatoes (5 or 6 smallish ones, or 4 mediums)
4T butter
1/2 C drained crushed pineapple (we use a whole 10oz small can)
2t grated orange peel (about one whole orange)
2t rum or rum flavor....or not at all
2T brown sugar

Wash, grease and bake sweet potatoes one hour.
Peel and mash with butter.
Add pineapple, orange zest, rum and brown sugar.
Cut oranges in half and scoop out the insides.  We like to save the orange "inner" for breakfast the next day.

Put the mixture into the orange halves that have been scooped out.  Sprinkle with nutmeg and reheat for about 20 mins.  

They work great for individual serving and they have their own little cup so they don't touch other food.  For those that can't stand to have their food touching.  The baking in the orange up adds a nice citrus flavor and is different than your normal pan of sweet potatoes with marshmallows.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gobble Gobble! Happy Thanksgiving! Let's Eat!

I am exhausted. Wow! It takes a lot of work to host Thanksgiving dinner.  My small kitchen doesn't help the situation of course.  I was sweating at one point and told my mom that I didn't want to hear about her gravy anymore. ::blink blink:: I might have overreacted a little bit, but I was pulling the turkey out of the oven and had other thoughts on my mind.  I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let me start from the beginning.  I have never used my china so that was the first thought on my mind! Yippee!!  Buuuuuut....I didn't have the full set.  Sounds like an excuse to buy them!

My set is now complete.  First thing this morning when I came downstairs I set the table.  I wanted to do it last night, but I know Ashe would have a field day with that around 3am.  China and crystal? Yes, yes I will walk all over it and knock it over.  Thank you!  Here is my pre-dinner set up.

I picked up some flowers on my way home from work on Wednesday.  I thought they added a nice fall touch.  It was then time to get the cooking going.  Here is my turkey.  I didn't name it or anything, but it was a good little fellow.   

 This year I decided to do the Kidd Kraddick brown bag turkey recipe.  It is super easy and the turkey tasted awesome!  It wasn't dry or anything.  And the outside was nice and golden brown.  First you want to play with your turkey, like I did above.  Get to know it!  Have a little dance in the kitchen.  You will then want to clean out the inside.  Take out the neck and the little package of liver & gizzards.

Stuff it will carrots, onions, celery, and garlic.  Just stuff it on in there.  You aren't going to eat the stuff, just add flavor to it while cooking.  Then comes the messy fun part.  Put it in the roaster and smoother it with olive oil.  Just lather it on up!  As I was doing this I told my turkey that I was getting it ready for a trip to Florida.  That it needed to get some oil on it so it could bake up nice and golden brown.  I think it made the turkey feel better about it's future. 

Place it in a brown paper grocery sack.  If you need to, like myself, I used two.  One on each end of the roaster.  Then put it in the oven!  Hopefully your oven isn't has ugly as mine. Didn't realize how dirty it was till I saw this picture.  Oh' well!  We cook a lot.  

Cook it at 375 degrees for 15mins per pound.  In our case we cooked ours for 3 hours and 20 mins.  You can't look at it or anything so you just have to trust that it's doing it's thang.  ::snap hand::  The rest is the classic Thanksgiving yummies.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie
Orange's cut to be used for orange cup sweet potatoes! (you remove the orange guts and stuff with sweet pots)
Father-in-law peeling the potatoes for mashed potatoes!
TaDa - Orange Cup Sweet Potatoes

Turkey was ready!  Here are the action shots as me cutting open the brown bag to reveal the wonderful turkey.

It was beautiful!  I was so happy.  It was time to eat so we all got around the table and dug in.  

The Gibson/Sherrell clan
My plate, allllll carbs with some turkey. the dishes.  They are still sitting in the sink.  I'm about to run load number 2 in the dishwasher.  This is going to be a 3-4 cycle job to get all of this done.  Not even to mention the non dishwasher safe items I will have to hand wash.  

Finally, I leave you with a picture of Ashe.  He was such a good kitty during the whole lunch.  He didn't get any food which made me sad, but I couldn't really throw him food when we were in the middle of a nice Thanksgiving lunch!  Preston, his brother, and I were sitting at the table that had nothing but glasses left scattered about.  I looked over and saw this cute little head pop up with the sweetest look of, "I'm thankful for you."  It wasn't long after this picture that Ashe was giving some turkey.  

Happy Thanksgiving Friends and Family