Overambitious

Thanksgiving is so much more enjoyable when I am not spending the entire day in the kitchen. I always fall into my overambitious entertainer phase that has me chaotic in the kitchen. Multiple foods overlapping with each other, I slowly lose my mind, usually break something and then complain about how much my back hurts as I nurse wine. So this year, we took a different approach, I ordered tamales, way too many tamales, of course, but that sure was the easier route. I did make an hors d’oeuvre, which was divine!

Bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese and an almond, served with arugula and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. We had this in a restaurant in Santa Monica so I tried to relive that experience, it worked.

SO good, I will post the recipe soon.

Along with those, my mom brought a salad, we had chips and guac, crackers with cream cheese and pineapple habanero jelly, the ham of all hams, tamales AND dessert. Just stupid, but so good.

Once again I failed with the pictures, I need to figure out how to force myself to take more pictures, suggestions welcome.

My brother brought a delicious dessert and an ugly dog (hopefully the owners don’t read this blog). He was dog sitting, sweet thing, the girls had a blast chasing the poor thing around the house.

She found solace on my dad.

We did manage to take a bad selfie of our chaotic family to send to our newest (cruise) friends. We are currently trying to schedule another one with them, so that’s exciting.

That about wraps up our holiday. We sent everyone home with food, Shawna did all the cleaning (thanks babe) and when the kids went to bed we finished binging season 3 of Hanna, so good.

Spicy Beef with Peanuts and Cilantro

Our weekday dinners are planned ahead, some of the days the menu reads kid friendly and the other days have more inspiration behind it. Nights where I want to create something more complicated or technically challenging with bolder flavors and spice. Meaning the kids won’t eat it. So, half of the time we sit down at the table all together. Asking the girls about what they learned, and who got in trouble, kids always like to tattle, so that will get them talking. The other nights Shawna and I eat in the living room watching Jeopardy, where the girls are hanging out.

This recipe doesn’t fall under complicated, actually it’s quite easy to throw together, but it’s a tad spicy. So if you have children with more refined palates than ours, they might eat it for you.

*recipe adapted from https://www.nutmegnanny.com/spicy-beef-with-peanuts/

Spicy Beef with Peanuts

2 cups basmati rice

4 cups water

1 pound beef sirloin tips, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 teaspoons grated ginger

2 cloves garlic, diced or grated

1 small white or yellow onion, diced

3-4 teaspoons chile garlic paste

1/2 diced jalapeño (this can be omitted if you don’t want it spicy spicy)

1 lime, juiced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts-a little extra if you want to garnish

1/4 cup minced cilantro-a little extra if you want to garnish

Salt to taste

Sriracha for garnish

Directions

In a sauce pan cook the rice according to package directions. Or, the way I do it. Heat a drizzle of oil in the sauce pan and stir in rice, let it get a little toasty and then add the water. Season with a little salt and a dash of sugar and the cook as the package suggests.

While the rice cooks, combine the sliced beef, soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, diced onion, garlic, ginger, chile paste, diced jalapeño’s and lime juice. Stir and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the meat and the sauce (everything in the bowl) to the skillet and cook, stir until meat is browned and the sauce thickens a bit. You can always add a little cornstarch slurry if you want the sauce thicker.

Remove from heat and stir in the chopped peanuts and cilantro, taste for seasoning.

Serve over your desired amount of rice, garnish with the extra cilantro and peanuts and drizzle with some sriracha.

Let’s Talk Food

Yes, I know we all just ate an excessive amount of food.

Whether you devoured the traditional Thanksgiving classics, decided to go global with your menu, or maybe you just said f*ck it, and ran off to Vegas for drinks and chips, the other kind ch$ps.

It takes awhile to get back in the mindset to meal plan again, I know because I’m struggling.

But, I do have a couple of recipes for you to jot down, you know, for when you’re ready to eat again.

Starting with….

Whipped Feta Dip with Olive Oil, Thyme and Roasted Toms

*recipe adapted from https://www.spendwithpennies.com/whipped-feta-dip-with-roasted-tomatoes/

INGREDIENTS

TOMS

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes

3 tablespoons olive oil

3-4 cloves garlic crushed

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme (save some for garnish)

Salt and Pepper to Taste

CHEESE DIP

1 cup feta cheese, crumbled or cubed (room temperature)

4 tablespoons cream cheese ( room temperature)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 medium lemon zested & juiced

1 clove garlic minced

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven 400 degrees Place the tomatoes (toms) on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Add crushed garlic cloves and Thyme. Toss to combine, then roast for 20 minutes OR until tomatoes soft and begin to burst. Allow to cool as is, then remove the thyme and garlic.

While the tomatoes roast, prepare the cheese. In a small bowl, combine the minced garlic with the lemon juice, only if you want.

Combine the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed and smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil while pulsing, followed by the honey. Then add the lemon juice and garlic mix, salt and pepper.

Process until smooth and airy.

Transfer to a serving dish. Refrigerate until the tomatoes have fully cooled. 

Top the Whipped Feta Dip with cooled, roasted tomatoes.

Serve with anything, pita, crackers, toast, or even just your fingers.

Raise that Money

You guys, we have fifth graders…. 5th graders, that is absolute bullshit. I had lunch today with my uncle and he brought up a memory that I had completely forgotten about. In 2011 San Diego had an unprecedented and unplanned power outage. I vaguely remember trying to put a five month old

baby to bed, in the dark with no power. We live on sound machines, so I am not sure how I survived that, probably with wine.

Anyhow, now she is finishing her last year of elementary school and that makes me feel all sorts of ways.

To raise money for their fifth grade promotion, the girls volunteered at their school craft fair selling food. They loved it, they would have worked until sun down. Even Averi got in on the action, amazing, ask them to help around the house, and I am a mean mom, but at school, it’s a holiday.

They were able to raise over $1,000, so the hard work paid off. They were rewarded with free room and board.

That was the tail end of the busy week I was talking about. It was nice to see other parents that we’ve missed, we talked to the girls old, that doesn’t sound right….the teacher they had for Kindergarten? You know what I mean right? Well we chatted with her for probably an hour, and I was lucky enough to meet Averi’s teacher, in person, and see her classroom. Funny how we aren’t allowed on campus during the week but on Saturday…. Speaking of that, all the girls have gotten their first dose of the vaccine, they should be fully vaccinated by Christmas. Jesus is clapping, be like Jesus.

I celebrated getting through the week with this.

A Thai Tornado with Tiramisu foam from Ding Tea. I can’t begin to try and explain to you how GOOOOOOD this is, it’s just, so good! And rich, I put half of it in the fridge for the next morning and then when I was prepping dinner, it fell to the ground and SPLAT, I cried. So, we now have a date with Ding Tea on Friday.

Actual People?

You guys soccer fans? No? Cool, cool, well anyways, here is a little update anyhow, our U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) beat Mexico, Dos a Cero (that means 2-0) in the World Cup Qualifiers. If you aren’t sure about the history of the U.S. and Mexico rivalry referred to as Dos a Cero, then I won’t bore you with the details.

Anyways, it was fun night, good food, good people, great game.

Then it was straight into a busy week.

I was in the middle of a Peloton ride when the instructor said, “I am going to stop talking so you can be present with yourself.” My brain went straight to how much people-ing I did the past week. I don’t really have too much interaction with actual people (family doesn’t count) since Covid. Most of it is via text or email, but last week it seemed that I had somewhere to go or a meeting with someone each day. It’s quite overwhelming and I understand the anxiety some people are probably experiencing. Anyhow, I just wanted to say that if life is sometimes hard, I get it.

To help ease the busy constant that is keeping children alive, I put the kids to work.

Averi helped me make chicken piccata, which in the end, she wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. Seriously infuriating.

We also made Polvorones aka Mexican wedding cakes. When I was going through my binder of saved recipes to find the enchilada casserole recipe, I found this recipe.

You guys, this recipe is straight out of a college Mexican cooking course.

All of the girls helped. All of the girls tried the batter except….ya Averi. She was eating the pecans out of the bag but refused the batter.

But, they all thought the cookies were delicious, so that’s a win. Although, it shouldn’t be a win because they’re effin cookies, right?

Remind me Again

I’ve had a week long hiatus from classes, so now I am doing my best to catch up on life’s moments. However, I have been struggling with MO-MEN-TIA {MO’men(t)SH(ē)A}. “A persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by one or more children marked by memory disorders, personality changes and impaired reasoning.” In other words, losing my memory, madness due to said loss of memory and slight insanity. The worst part, I can’t blame it all on the the kids, I am doing it all on my own. Age I suppose? Too many balls in the air, I am not the best at compartmentalizing. I’m not even sure what I was going to write today, I had an idea, sat down at my computer, and then I was asked what 9 x 30 was. So obviously, I had to stop and ask Siri. The next thing I knew, I was up and preparing tomorrow’s lunches, then I put the girls stuff in the wrong backpacks. Luckily they caught me before they were stuck in class with the wrong lunch. I find myself having to go upstairs multiple times because I forgot what I went up there for in the first place. And, last weekend, I even forgot to feed the girls breakfast. I just went ahead with my morning workout and then Kaili comes in and asks me when she could have breakfast, uh crap, breakfast… So just in case I forget, I have ribs in the oven and cookies to bake.

Before our cruise, we all {sans kids}went out to dinner to celebrate my mom and uncle Brian’s birthday.

I’d like to tell you what we had but I’m not sure anymore, I know there was dessert.

I also took two of the girls out for a lunch date in Bay Park. Kaili ordered fish and chips, which were so good, Averi ordered….wait for it….mac and cheese, which she didn’t like because she is an animal and doesn’t like anything. I had poke, always the poke.

I found this picture on my phone later that day.

I think my original plan was to tell you guys about a recipe. This is an old Cooking Light recipe that I couldn’t even find on their site anymore. I have the recipe printed out, old school style.

I’ll tell you what, I had this dish prepped and in the oven in about 20 minutes. The fact that it can feed a handful of people and/or make for leftovers, it’s a perfect weeknight meal.

Obviously over the years my culinary talent has improved and I have become one with the kitchen. Since this is an old recipe, I made changes to suit our palates. Originally the recipe called for reduced fat cheese…um no thanks. Instead I used half shredded pepper jack and half Mexican blend. I changed the type of beans, the cheese, the oil and even the tortillas. You do you! Let this recipe be a starting point and then go for it. It’s a casserole, it will be so good in the end, no matter what cheese or sour cream you prefer.

The chicken is the most time consuming part of this recipe. If you can grab a rotisserie, you’ll save yourself an hour.

Cooking Light’s Chicken Enchilada Casserole

1 tablespoon canola oil (or olive oil)

1 cup chopped fresh onion

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

Pepper to taste

1 (15 ounce) can white Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (black beans are just as good)

2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken

1 cup thinly sliced green onions, divided

1/2 cup sliced ripe olives, divided

18 (6-inch) tortillas, divided (corn or flour)

Cooking spray

2 cups (8 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided

1 cup 1% low-fat milk

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 (16-ounce) jar salsa verde ( I used a medium spice level)

10 tablespoon sour cream, you can use light sour cream.

Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°

Grab your 13 x 9 inch baking dish and spray with cooking spray.

Heat your oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion; cook 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in cumin, chili powder, garlic salt, and pepper; cook a couple more minutes. Stir in the strained beans; cook 2 minutes. Add chicken, green onions and half of the olives, stir well, and then remove from heat.

Layer 6 tortillas on bottom Spread 2 cups chicken mixture over tortillas; sprinkle with 3/4 cup cheese. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining 6 tortillas.

*Note, these measurements are completely at your discretion.

Combine the milk, chopped cilantro, and salsa in a blender, and process until smooth. Pour over top of tortillas. Cover and bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining cheese, remaining cup green onions, and the remaining olives.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and you can’t wait any longer.

Serve with sour cream. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and your favorite hot sauce.

Take that Phyllo

I had this great plan of posting a delicious Jamie Oliver recipe for you guys, but as we all know, plans change. The recipe was very good, however my execution of it was not. Another time I suppose.

You know how when you buy the store bought pie dough, puff pastry dough or phyllo dough they always come in packs of two? Every time I end up only using one of them and the other goes in the freezer to die. Months go by, I forget I have it in there and then I buy more, literally life’s rotation. I am proud to say that I put my foot down and I was not going to put the leftover lonely roll of phyllo dough back into the freezer to meet it’s demise. Instead I made super simple apple turnovers. So easy there isn’t even a need for a recipe.

I peeled, cored and chopped two apples {I had Envy apples in the fridge} and sautéed them with a couple tablespoons of butter and a quick zest of lemon. I let those hang out at medium heat while I grabbed sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. I guestimated the measurements but I probably added in 1/4 to 1/3 cup of sugar, the tarter the apples you use the more sugar you will need. I tossed in about a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of vanilla. {Oh, the Mexican vanilla did make it home, Shawna put it in the pantry, phew!} Once the apples were pretty soft, maybe 10-15 minutes, I whisked in about one tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken it up, added a pinch of salt and then I moved on to the phyllo dough.

I took two sheets of phyllo, brushed with melted butter and then folded it in half lengthwise. Brushed with more melted butter and folded it lengthwise again giving me one long strip. I added a scoop of the apple filling on one end of the pastry dough and folded it in the form of a triangle. Remember the triangle notes we would pass to friends in high school? That’s how you want to fold these. The two apples I used made enough filling for four pastries. Once they were all folded, I popped them onto a cookie sheet, brushed one more time with butter and put them into a 350 degree oven. My oven is on the hotter side, you could probably get away with 375 degrees. I set the time for 10 minutes, but they needed a little more time. I’d say by 15 minutes they were golden brown, the apple filling was bubbling and the house smelled amazing.

Once they were cool, I moved them onto a plate and sprinkled with powder sugar.

Yes, they were good, really good and also really messy, This would be something Averi would have to eat outside.

Averi is on another level when it comes to being a messy eater. If she isn’t complaining about not liking something then she is dropping food. It’s unreal.

We took the girls to Belmont park to celebrate the older ones half birthday’s. They each got a set amount of tickets and they chose what rides they wanted to spend them on. When the tickets were gone, they were gone. That made for some serious planning and contemplating on choosing the rides they were going to go on.

I think they enjoyed themselves, I know we did.

Puerto Vallarta, This is the End

We woke up in Puerto Vallarta, and after some coffee we hit the ground running. Familiar enough with the city, we hopped in a cab and headed to Playa Los Muertos. The plan was to walk along the beach until we found a place to lay out, swim without dying, and have some adult beverages.

We didn’t have a hard time.

It wasn’t the prettiest beach, and to safely swim we had to walk south a bit, otherwise the undertow would’ve taken us to the Bermuda Triangle. Nonetheless, it was exactly what we were looking for.

We had fish taco’s and coconut shrimp, both were delish.

Oh, can we talk about the beach vendors for a second? If you’ve been down to the Mexican Riviera beach towns then you’re familiar that the beaches have vendors that sell everything from sunglasses and jewelry to basically junk. However, this time we were offered cocaine, you guys is this a new thing? It wasn’t just at this beach either, it also happened a couple of times in Cabo. So anyways, if you’re looking, I know a guy.

After a couple of hours of floating in the ocean and soaking up the Mexican sun, we gathered our stuff (no, not cocaine, I bought sunnies) and walked up the beach to the Malecón. I really, really, really wanted to get another passion fruit margarita at the Devil’s Bar. I guess the secret got out because every seat was taken and it was only a Thursday, ugh. Having seen all the shops and bars already, we dragged our feet back to the ship.

Look who greeted us.

For dinner we went to Tamarind, Asian cuisine. The shrimp dumplings were incredible. We also shared a pork belly char siu, along with crispy duck and panang curry. The waitress talked us into a ginger wasabi martini that didn’t taste at all like wasabi but Shawna enjoyed it.

That night we requested a couple of songs from Colin and Clara, the pianists. They were so great, they both sang our requests, songs they have never performed before.

After the piano bar, I’m pretty sure we danced for 2 straight hours. Sweaty and barefoot is how the night ended.

You know it’s a good night when the shoes come off.

Friday and Saturday we were at sea, and it seems like they went by in a flash.

Friday we were still far enough south that the weather was quite warm, meaning a pool day. Hopping from hot tub to pool is how the afternoon went, stopping for pizza and a ping pong break. While sitting in the pool we met this couple from Arizona. Interesting folks, a little TMI but friendly. Sitting on the steps of the pool, we talked to them for a good 45 minutes. As we talked the wife steadily became more and more intoxicated. Gradually getting more inebriated with each minute that passed, but she wasn’t intaking anything. Anyhow, that was a topic of conversation for the rest of the day.

It was our second gala night but before we hit the dining room for dinner, we popped by the pool bar for a martini happy hour.

It wasn’t a ‘choose your own martini’ type of situation, we got a trio of martini’s, that we shared and they tasted like, well, exactly as they look…fruity.

Sure enough, the Arizona couple from the pool was there. He was eager to talk and she was still upright. However, rumor has it, she passed out later at the dinner table.

Our dinner wasn’t terribly exciting, I think this was the one evening that I was actually disappointed in everything that I ordered. Luckily, we had stashed Parisian sandwiches in our fridge for late night dining.

We met two brothers early on the trip who were traveling together, and they were from La Mesa (East San Diego). Turned out that they grew up just a street away from where Shawna did, small world. Nice men, we called them our guard dog pit bulls. However, one of them fell asleep on the job.

This wasn’t like a nod of the head. You guys, he was OUT. Nowhere-ville, it was amazing…and then a little scary, but he was fine, just completely knocked the f*ck out. He slept through the bands set, he slept through cowbell, he slept through more cowbell and he slept through slaps on the cheek.

That’s the doing of tequila shots, or so they said.

SO GOOD!

We dusted off our Macarena dance moves on the dance floor ending another great day.

Is there anything sadder than waking up on the last day of a vacation? No, the answer is no.

We reached Saturday, the last day of our cruise. Somewhere near Baja California, because when we stepped outside, ready to soak up the sun, we were slapped with November San Diego weather. Meaning it was not quite warm enough to get wet.

So we played some ping pong and wandered along the outside of the ship.

I wanted to play the music trivia at the pool later in the afternoon, so we went to the Lido Market for lunch. It was delicious, I piled my plate with poke sushi rolls and crispy pork belly. Oh, so so good. After we ate, we went back to the room to change into warmer clothes and then headed to sit out for a bit at the stern of the ship.

Somehow we ended up scoring poolside lounge chairs right before trivia started. The sun came out, of course, and then it was time for a quick wardrobe change back into swimwear.

I love trivia, and I felt confident with music trivia. But you would think that I have learned my lesson by now. These ships are full of people that have lived decades longer than me. The first five questions were about classical music so there went that win. Then it was songs from the 1950’s, so unfair. I guess I don’t need to tell you that we didn’t win.

Even though it wasn’t hot outside, we knew we had gotten some sun. We took the next hour to pack our luggage, leaving out only what we needed to disembark. Then we made our way to the casino. That was a bust for me, although Shawna won some money on a slot machine. We ran into our besties, Cliff and Gail and we sat at the casino bar for a drink. Why does time fly when you’re having fun? Before we knew it, it was time to get ready for dinner. That was the one thing that I got tired of doing, getting ready. Having to do it every night is just so much to ask of me.

After a dinner of braised lamb, pasta and pavlova, we went straight to the rock room, no time to spare.

Clara was performing in the theater, before she hit the ivory keys.

Once the music was over, we all stayed in the Billboard Onboard lounge and hung out with the crew. Talking and laughing.

Laughing and talking, we stayed up past last call, which means quite late, or quite early.

Since we had packed earlier in the day, once we got to back our room, all we needed to do was set the alarm and hit the sack. Welp, the alarm didn’t go off, so we woke to the sound of the hall intercom calling disembarkation numbers. That put a pep in our step, and in minutes we were dressed and heading down to the gangway. The only good thing about running behind was that our car was already at the port waiting for us, so we were home in no time.

That’s it, that is the end of our fantastic trip. It reminded me of why I have always loved cruising and we are looking forward to another one soon, someplace new and warm.

Cabo no Wabo

We anchored in Cabo San Lucas just before 11:00am on Tuesday.

Desperate for lunch on the beach, we made our way downstairs to get the tender tickets. I’m not going to sugar coat it, this cruise ship had a lot of older folks, so getting into that Tender from the Ship, was bit of a slow process. Luckily, we sat next to the best group of Texans (you won’t hear me say that very often). They told us that a friend of their’s, who is a singer, was singing at Karlito’s Cantina on the marina, and we had to stop by to see her.

We told them that we had a date with Playa El Médano for lunch, but we would absolutely stop by later.

We strolled through the marina, stopping to browse and for photo ops along the way.

Once we hit the beach, we walked in the water until we spotted a spot that we could sit, eat, drink and swim. The weather was perfect and the water was pretty warm, warm enough to swim in.

We stopped at Omega’s where we soaked it all in for a couple of hours. This is also where I had the most delicious shrimp tacos with a fresh habanero salsa. I’ve thought about those tacos every day since.

Fully satisfied, we made our way back to the marina to see what was happening at Karlito’s. Our tender Texan friends, Pattie and her husband John, were already there, “but the fun don’t start til I walk in“. Kesha, get it?

Everybody there was so nice, the lady singing (I am horrible at names, luckily Shawna has an elephant’s memory, is that even a real fact, like how do we know that?)

Anyhow, Leslie Blasing used to be a back up singer for Reba, she lives in South Padre Island but just happened to be in Cabo visiting friends. She was singing on this sunny Tuesday at Karlito’s as a favor, ya, she is that nice of a person.

We decided to eat dinner in the dining room on the ship, so we said our goodbyes, and tootled back to the tender.

I’m guessing you know what we did after dinner, but you are going to have to hear it again.

As our group of friends grew larger with each trip to the bar, we all took turns saving seats in our favorite corner booth. That way we were always together listening to the music.


I can’t forget to mention that the Holland America bartenders make a first-class espresso martini! Pretty sure that’s one of our martini’s being shaken in the background of the video, ha.

When the clock strikes (who knows, I never knew what time it was) I should say, when the pianos stopped, the dancing began.


And when the lights went out, it was time for bed.

Just to wake up and do it all over again.

But this time, we woke up in Mazatlán.

Once we stepped off the ship we hopped in a cab with another couple and headed, well we didn’t know where we were headed. We asked to be taken to where the action was at.

We landed at Joe’s Oyster Bar.

Not bad, not bad at all. After wetting our palate, we strolled along some shops and…shit, I just remembered that I bought vanilla there, I wonder where that is, hm.

It was time for lunch and as we do, we asked a local where we should go. The next thing we knew we were dropped off between two beach restaurants. We rock paper scissored to see which one we would eat at, and it was a good choice.

I mean come on, grilled pulpo on the beach…. with a margarita, can it get any better? (insert Chandler Bings voice)

After lunch we wandered along the streets but nothing was really calling out to us. Mazatlán is pretty in some sorts and not so pretty in others, just like anywhere, but there wasn’t anything that we really had to do there. So we made our way back to the ship and hit the pool, well I’m pretty sure that’s what we did, I mean it’s been a week you guys.

Fun fact, Mazatlán’s malecón is the largest in the world. I don’t remember how long it is, but I am sure Google does, or Alexa, I’ll ask…Nope, she doesn’t know either. Oh well, here is a glimpse of the longest malecón in the world.

Once we were sun soaked, it was that time again.

That’s Johnny Tocco on the guitar, isn’t he good?

You know how the first part of a vacay moves at a perfect pace, and then all of the sudden BAAAAM, it’s over? Ya, well that started in Puerto Vallarta….stay tuned.

Let’s Cruise

If you like to cruise, let me tell you, now is the time to do it. We had the best time EVER. First of all, Costco had a mind blowing deal, not only that but the ship was only at half capacity and vaccinated cruisers only! There was also an incentive drink package that is included with your total price up front, meaning you won’t have that huge bill statement slid under your door on the last night of the trip.

So, obviously we booked through Costco. Holland America had a 7 night Mexican Riviera cruise leaving San Diego. Added bonus, no airports and no wasted travel time. After packing and repacking, making sure we had everything we needed from bathing suits to Gala attire and about 1,450 other things we maybe didn’t need and a few we wished we had, we hit the road. An entire 15 minutes later ,we were dropped off at the cruise ship terminal. Having already downloaded the ships app, we just waited for our time to be called and we were making our way up the gangway. Couldn’t have been easier.

Once we boarded this beauty, we headed to our room to drop off our carry-ons. It was a nice surprise to see our luggage already in our room. So we dropped our carry on crap and went straight to the pool deck. They had music going, small bites were being passed around along with their drink of the day. However we opted for wine instead, hey, what can I say? Before we knew it, we were making our way out of port and heading towards an amazing week.

We wandered around the ship trying to get acclimated but there were just soooo many places to see. So we stopped at the end of the ships lounge, and plopped down on a couch to check out the evenings itinerary.

Where should we eat? What should we do? There were just so many options. We decided to skip the main dining room and eat at the Market Cafe, which used to be called the buffet but now they have separate stations. You can order whatever is displayed on the menu and they make and/or serve it to you. {both ends of the cafe had hand washing stations and hand sanitizer, also masks were required in all public areas}. There were so many options that it was overwhelming. They had an Asian station, sandwich, salad, pasta, carving and dessert station. You guys, the bread, can we talk about how good the bread was? And the sandwiches were like the ones you get in Paris, fresh thin baguette with a protein, maybe some butter or brie…those became a daily or nightly and sometimes an early morning ritual.

We did not want to miss the band playing in the Rolling Stone Rock Room, so we went up for a wardrobe change and then hit the music walk. The music walk was half of one of the ships deck and it had all the different lounge/bar areas just for the entertainment.

We sat down and loved every minute that the band gave us. They alternated with the dueling pianists whom were playing just across the way in the Billboard Onboard room, they were also amazing and we instantly wanted to be best friends with all of them. We went back and forth and back and forth until all of their sets were over. Then we headed to the B.B King’s Blues club just next door, and danced and danced and danced. This in turn, would end up being our routine every night of the week.

Rolling Stone Rock Band Night 1

The next day was our day at sea. We leisurely woke up and had coffee sent up to the room. Our plans included sunning at the main pool, grabbing burgers for lunch, playing trivia and we were signed up for a wine making class in the late afternoon. There just isn’t enough time in the day. Trivia was a sad tale, we met a really nice couple who we teamed up with but we were no help. The wine making course was a good time. We started with five wines all from Washington state, all the same year and there were 3 different varietals of red. Two Cab Sauvignons, two Merlots and a Cab Franc. We went through each one, learning about where and how the vines grew and at the end, we made our own blend. Once we were done and happy with our newly made wine, Ramon, our sommelier bottled it and sent it to our room.

Monday was our Gala dinner night. I’m not sure how we don’t have any food pictures, who are we? I had the absolute best mushroom risotto and the chocolate soufflé, let’s not forget the bread and butter. The service was spectacular and the food was pretty darn good, we also had a really good chardonnay from Napa that accompanied us back to the room. Then we changed into more bar worthy attire.

This was the night we met two other couples who became people we will never forget. Each of them were older than us and they lived on opposite sides of the U.S. but we ended up sitting with them every night, laughing, drinking and sharing stories. We will most definitely see them again.

We ended the night once again on the dance floor, closing the place down.

*Side note about packing. Packing for a cruise is easier said than done. You need a couple of fancy outfits if you plan on eating in the dining room. You need a sweater to go with said fancy outfit because it can get cold inside certain areas. You need semi fancy outfits for other nights in the dining room. You need shorts and bathing suits for the day, or the Market Cafe and swimsuit covers if you plan to swim and wander around. Let’s not mention the shoes, accessories and all the other things we put on our bodies everyday. I think we did a good job packing however, we ended up changing a few nights out of our fancy clothes and into dancing clothes. I wished I had packed more jeans and tanks. I would also suggest packing a water bottle like the Yeti or whatever you use at home. Cold water is hard to come by in your stateroom, we would fill ours up at the cafe before we went out for the evening so when we got back we had water for the night. I also suggest a mini speaker if you like to get ready to music, electrolytes if you like to drink and a nightlight for the bathroom if you get an interior room. That was a lifesaver, I must have saved at least 50 bruises from happening on a middle of the night bathroom walk.

Next up… Cabo.