Disney Fantasy Eastern Caribbean Day 7

Today was another sea day!  I like sea days because they give you time to enjoy the ship.  Today we woke up and showered and got ready for brunch at Palo.  Palo is on the back end of the ship with gorgeous views of the sea.Untitled We went up to Palo and Luca, our server, met us in the Meridian Lounge.Untitled The chandelier at the entrance of Palo. Untitled There is a big debate amongst Disney Cruisers as to which is better at Palo- brunch or dinner?  I love them both!  Brunch is amazing.Untitled First your server gets your drink order then walks you through the brunch buffet,explaining each sectionUntitled and giving recommendations.Untitled Then you are on your own to explore the buffet. UntitledUntitledUntitled Your server will check in on you from time to time and will place orders for the larger entrees and pizzas.  Today CSP got the orecchiette with salmon, salmon and risotto (he loves seafood!), and lasagne.  Luca brought us both lasagnes even though I said I didn’t want one.  He told me trust me, you want this lasagne.  The portions are on the smaller side compared to dinner so you can try many things.  Luca said he wanted us to try everything!  I ordered a goat cheese and sun dried tomato pizza, chicken parmesan, strawberry soup,Untitled and of course, the lasagne. CSP picked the sun dried tomatoes off the pizza and tried some of it too.  I don’t order chicken parmesan anywhere else- it’s incredible! And Luca was right about the lasagne.  It melted in your mouth.  It was made with a béchamel sauce instead of cheese and the meat sauce had carrots in it, so it was quite different from the lasagne I make at home!  I wish I could make lasagne like that! One of the touches that makes Palo special is how they present their iced tea.  Instead of frozen water ice cubes they use frozen tea! So your tea never gets diluted. Arguably the best part of brunch though, is the dessert. Untitled They offer an array of tiny little sweet masterpieces Untitled and they always remind you that on vacation calories don’t count! Untitled They even give you the tiniest of spoons to taste everything with.  Love.

After brunch we waddled back to our room to relax for a bit until it was time to meet up with Amy and Kevin. On the way we heard bits and pieces of an announcement from the captain, but we didn’t know the full story.  We found out more about that later.

Kevin and CSP went up to the sports deck to play in the golf simulator while Amy, Ellen and I went to the Royal Court Royal Tea Party. We were seated at a table with Ruby (age 4), Ruby’s mom, and Ruby’s Godmother, all from Dublin, Ireland. They were fun to talk to.  The event was too cute. Each girl was deemed a Princess and was announced to the room upon entering. At the table there were gifts waiting for each princess. They received a Cinderella doll,Untitled a jewelry box with a charm bracelet and necklace inside, a gorgeous autograph/memory book, a fancy pen for getting autographs, and a cookie with their name on it.  Once we were all seated Lady Chamomile came out and welcomed us.Untitled Untitled Then Chef Brule (pronounced like creme brule) came out Untitled and the two of them sang songs and worked the room.Untitled Next it was time for the princesses to arrive.  First came Belle,Untitled then Tiana,Untitled then Cinderella.Untitled Each princess stopped by the table twice.  The first time to chat with each girl, then the second time to sign autographs and take pictures and chat a little more.  They were all so beautiful and sweet to the girls.  And each princess brought the girls a gift- a charm for their charm bracelets.  We were served teas of our choosing (the girls received apple juice), and they brought out a serving platter full of tiny finger sandwiches and sweets.Untitled  Then the adults were brought warm scones with clotted cream and jam while the little girls each got a cupcake in a tea cup.Untitled It was all just lovely and I’m sure any little girl’s dream!Untitled

After the tea I went down to O’Gills Pub to meet up with the boys. I visited with them for a while then went to the Future Cruise Desk.  By this time Amy had filled me in on that captain’s announcement.  One of the ship’s motors was out and it meant we would not be able to stop at Castaway Cay tomorrow! Boo! This is the second cruise in a row where we’ve missed Castaway Cay!  In October it was because of Hurricane Joaquin, and now this. Because of missing Castaway Cay and it was technically Disney Cruise Line’s fault, they offered us compensation.  Each stateroom received a $200 onboard credit and 20% off a future cruise. Normally when you book a future cruise on board you get a 10% discount. So you can imagine the line was pretty long.  I found Amy in line ahead of me, and got in line behind a couple we’d met during the cruise. Chatting with them made the wait more bearable. I booked our cruise and went back to the room to meet up with CSP and get ready for dinner.

Dinner tonight was back at Animator’s Palate.  Tonight everyone drew a cartoon person on a paper we were given. Untitled They were collected by the waitstaff and animated on the big screens around the room. It’s really cute how they do it.

After dinner it was back to the room for bed, where we were greeted by a towel frog!Untitled

Tomorrow… Castaway Cay!  Nope, another sea day!

 

 

Essential Oil Make & Take Spa Party!

Saturday night I threw a fun Essential Oil Make & Take Spa Party!  8 of my friends came over to make bath and body products and learn about essential oils from my sister Sara.  I put out some food.  And some kick ass punch.  I’m so mad I didn’t get a picture of it.  But trust, it was awesome.  Recipe: 2 bottles moscato wine, 2 bottles Sprite, 2 cans/tubes of frozen pink lemonade.  Mix together, slice up a lemon or lime to float in the punch and serve.  SO good.  Everyone loved it.  Thanks for the recipe Bonnie!

Sara arrived a half hour before everyone else to set up.  She set up the table in such a cute way with trays with all our supplies we’d need.    Here’s a close up of each place setting.   We were able to take notes in the inside of each flier that she made.  So cute!  First Sara told us all about essential oils and what they are, how to use them etc.  Then she passed around each of the eleven oils that come in the Premier Starter Kit from Young Living.   We all smelled the oils and picked out our favorites (Stress Away!!!)  Then we got to work.  We made body wash, linen/room spray, and sugar scrub.  Sara had made lip balms for all of us ahead of time.  And at the party she made us whipped body butter.  It was all so easy!  And by the end of it we all smelled amazing! Check out the finished products!   If you’d like to smell amazing like us and be able to make all your own bath and body products, you can sign up for the premier starter kit here.

Disney Magic Western Caribbean- Day 1

We woke up at the Art of Animation resort in Walt Disney World.  We showered and dressed and packed up.  We had chosen express checkout so we were able to just get in the car and leave.  Hopped on the highway bound for Port Canaveral.  We parked and went through security then on to check in.  We had the Port Arrival time of 12:30-1:00 PM.  We arrived closer to 1pm but were able to walk right on up to an attendant.  No waiting!  We were on the ship within 15 minutes of parking!  Love that Disney efficiency!   When you check in you’re issued a Key to the World card.  You use this card to get into your stateroom, get on and off the ship at ports of call, pay for adult drinks and souvenirs.  It also has your muster station location on it as well as your dining rotation, table number and dinner time, sail dates and ship name.IMG_6446

We went to Carioca’s for their buffet lunch. DSC_0023 Less people go to the sit down restaurant vs. the buffet up on deck.  We enjoyed a nice lunch then went to Guest Services to borrow an extension cord for my CPAP machine.  Turns out though we didn’t need it.  There was a 2 port outlet right next to the bed.  Of course we didn’t know that at the time so we borrowed the cord.  Then it was time for our meet up!  Our cruise group from Facebook met up at O’Gill’s Pub.  It was great to finally put real faces to names that we’ve been chatting with for a year!  One of our members ordered bracelets for us. IMG_6374 After the meet up it was time for the dreaded Muster Drill.  It IS mandatory though, so don’t try to skip it or they can throw you off the ship! At the muster drill I noticed CSP was still wearing his MagicBand (which are not used on the ships).  I asked why and he said it “Made him look important.”

When the muster drill was finished we went to O’Gill’s so CSP could get his refillable beer mug.  I got a coconut mojito on the recommendation of my friend Christina.  OMG! SOOO good.  My new favorite!!!  IMG_6373

We were heading back to our room when we saw a bunch of characters – Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Chip and Dale all squished into an elevator to take them up to the sail away party.  So funny seeing them all squished in there like that.  Unfortunately all I had on my camera wise was my phone and I couldn’t get a clear shot.

We went back to our room to watch us set sail.  There were 4 other ships sailing away at the same time!  Click on all pics to enlarge by the way.DSC_0011

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I grabbed my big camera and my refillable cup and we went up on deck to get a good seat for the Super Bowl. They had just lined up the lounge chairs by the pool so I was able to snag us fantastic seats while CSP went to get me a drink from the drink station.  Hence the refillable cup.  The cups they provide at the drink station are basically large shot glasses so I brought my big refillable Starbucks cold cup with lid.

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The sun went down and the wind really picked up.  Like hair whipping all around windy.  Luckily the pool crew came around with soft, fleece blankets for us!  How nice!  I wrapped up in one and was all set to watch the game!

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I’m not the biggest sports fan but I do enjoy watching the Super Bowl and there’s something to be said about watching the game on a GIANT screen like this!  We always root for the underdogs so we were rooting for Seattle. Well come close to halftime CSP was convinced that New England was going to win so he decided he wanted to go to dinner in the dining room instead of stay and watch the 2nd half.  I was really ok with that as I was wind whipped and frozen!  We popped by the room really quickly so I could run a brush through my hair and our room steward Edwin was in the hall.  He introduced himself.  He’s from Honduras.  Super nice man.

Down to Carioca’s for dinner.  IMG_6370

On Disney ships you eat in a different restaurant each night with a different menu.  But your service team travels with you from restaurant to restaurant.  Speaking of service teams…our server was Bianca from South America!  She was our assistant server on the Magic in 2012!  Our assistant server was Widi from Indonesia.   He was fantastic!  LOVE Widi!

DSC_0017Don’t worry if you’re a vegetarian or Gluten Free.  There are tons of options for you!

For my appetizer I got the empeñada (which was awesome!).  DSC_0019

CSP ordered the tuna and avocado towerDSC_0018 and the shrimp ceviche.DSC_0020For my entree I chose the Lobster, Salmon, & Shrimp skewer. DSC_0022

It was on a bed of quinoa.  Very yummy.  CSP got the swordfish for his entree. DSC_0021 Dessert was Coconut Tres Leches cake for me: DSC_0025While CSP chose the ice cream sundae: DSC_0024

After dinner we went back to our room and got me all unpacked.  CSP didn’t want to unpack yet which drove me insane.  I say unpack right away and get those suitcases under the bed so you’ll have more room!  We came back to a fun towel animal each night.  Here’s our first! DSC_0027

CSP turns 40! Day 1 of birthday bonanza!

Saturday CSP & I met up with Papa, Gigi, Marc, Sara, Jacob, & Joey at Growler’s Pour House in NoDa for CSP’s birthday lunch.  Growler’s is this cool pub/restaurant that CSP really likes.  I like that it’s next door to the Crepe Cellar.  Papa & Gigi brought the birthday hat and some presents for CSP.   Then much food was ordered.  Wings, beer cheese, pimento cheese, brats, paninis, the works!   We couldn’t eat it all and had to get boxes to go.  Such good food!  The boys came to lunch right after their first basketball games of the season.  Joey had his hair in a fun mohawk!   We stayed about 3 hours and had a great time! I snuck in some 40 candles and gave them to the chef to put in a brownie for CSP.  We all sang and clapped.  Not something you often see in a pub! 

Hometown pride

A short time ago I was SO pleased to see that visiting my favorite restaurant was voted the NUMBER 1 thing to do before you die by Parade Magazine!   Parade magazine publishes America’s Bucket List every year.  The article reads, “Eat real bar-b-que like at Shealy’s Bar-B-Que in Batesburg-Leesville, S.C., famous for its fried pulley bone—the part of the chicken around the wishbone. Or go to one of America’s BBQ meccas, like Memphis, Tenn., Austin, Tex., or Kansas City, Mo., and dine your way from joint to joint.”

Little Shealy’s Bar-B-Que house in Batesville-Leesburg, SC!  I’ve been going there since I was a little kid.  It’s no fancy place, but it feels like home.  You walk in and if it’s busy or a weekend day you’ll pay first then eat, but on the other days you just grab a plate and fill it up off the buffet.  The buffet is HUGE.  Filled with bbq, fried chicken so good you’ll faint,and all kinds of homemade sides.  The sauce is famous too.  We always buy a bunch to last us until we can make the 2 hour trek back down.  I can’t wait for our next trip- just in time for my birthday!!

People, please!

I haz a grumpy.  I’m so annoyed lately with some basic 5th grade grammatical errors that I’m seeing around the interwebs.   I don’t ask for much, people.  I just ask that you please remember a few things:

  • You lose your keys.  Your sister is loose.
  • Aldi and Best Buy do not have the letter ‘S’ at the end of their names. Check the sign if you don’t believe me.  You don’t go to Aldi’s and Best Buy’s.
  • The plural of book is books.  Not book’s.  (that one is a real stickler for me)
  • There are no books.  There is no book.  Please don’t say “there is no books”.

That’s it for right now.  See, I told you I don’t ask for much!

Interview with Desirae from Extreme Savings With Diva Desirae

If you watch TLC’s Extreme Couponing then you may have seen Desirae’s episode.   Desirae and I met a few years ago playing bunco, and now look at her!  She’s a tv star!  I just got into couponing a few months ago so after Desirae’s episode aired I knew I wanted to ask her a few questions about extreme couponing.  Some of my readers also had some questions.  Here are her answers:

First I want to say is that everyone needs to take this show like a grain of salt. A lot of this show was staged! None of us shop like this, we did it for the show. They wanted us to go extreme so we went extreme. All of those items you see in our carts are not something we buy every day on our normal shopping days. We had to get our totals high and bring them down to basically nothing. So we had to buy multiples of free and cheap items. 80% of my trip was donated, and most of all others on the show donated too. Just because you didnt see it doesnt mean it doesnt happen. Ohh and I do not spend 60hrs+ a week, and I never get into the dumpster. They have to bump of the ratings somehow right? I always say you wouldn’t watch the jersey shore without drama right? If they turned this into joe went to the grocery store and saved 15% that show would be boring!

From Ani: How do you get started? Do you have a system for each store? Is it (couponing) cheaper than buying store brand?
I got started almost 5yrs ago when my husband was working 2 jobs, just graduated college & we were welcoming the birth of our son. We were living paycheck to paycheck and I just couldn’t do it anymore. Thats when I started looking online & found coupons, and after that it was history!
I wouldn’t say I have a system for each store. I know mostly all stores policies so that makes it easier to shop at. I have never bought store brand anything. I can always get the name brand for cheap or free!

From Tina: Which charities do you donate to?
I have donated to several-Cabarrus pregnancy center got over 80 bottles of formula, plus feminine products. I have given to the mooresville soup kitchen, cabarrus humane society Plus i have given to families that I know need items the most. Recently there was a family who’s husband got laid off and they were struggling so i packed my trunk full and delivered it. They were grateful!

From Yvett: I’d like to know how to save on food I use. I see a lot of coupons for processed foods like mac & cheese and sugary cereal, but never for products that are good for you. I try to feed my family well,
but it’s really expensive. How can I start to save?
I would recommend calling the companies and requesting coupons. Organic/whole food companies are really great about sending out coupons! I actually have a whole blog list full of coupons to request and to print for organic/healthy items. Also there are several great coupons that come in the sunday paper for organic/gluten free/healthy items. Of course the other ones are included too!

From Jacquie: Ok, just watched the episode with Desirae. #1: I notice with all these extreme couponers their stores double the coupons. Our stores here don’t do that. So that means I can’t have these huge retail
values that end up only costing me a little bit, right? #2 What does one do with 45 boxes of cake mix? 😉
You can save by not having doubles. There are a couple of people on there that didnt have stores that didnt double either and they still saved thousands. Of course when you get started out you will not save that much on your first bill. It takes a lot of time and dedication to save like that. I did have a guest poster on my blog recently where he talked about how he survives in the land of no doubles.
Ohh and all those cake mixes were donated! I hardly use them, but they were part of the show. I had to get my totals in the thousands and bring it down to nothing. So basically i just bought all cheap or free items!

From Maureen: How is this different from hoarding? Some of these people have filled up every room of their houses, even the kid’s rooms, with this stuff. One guy donated a pallet of cereal to the food bank, why don’t we see more of these people do this? At least this way the product will be used before it is out of date.
Well the thing about this show is that its not to teach you and its not to talk about donations. Its to show you the extreme part. That is why they are not focusing on this subject. Most of us do all donate-just because it doesnt show it doesnt mean we don’t. Hoarding to me in living in a filthy house with thousand apon thousands of items everywhere to where you cant walk, you dont know what you have, and you wont part with it. Here i have everything secluded to one room, and its nicely organized. Plus i will give away anything in a min. I don’t hoard my items.

From Kristen: and they have thousands of shampoos and toothbrushes, but then go and buy 100 more. is there a way to get the great savings, but only get a reasonable amount of items?
Yes! I never get 100 of the same items except for on the show but I still have great savings. 2-3 of each items is great! You still get them for free and your still stocking up!

From Kristine: Seriously…what do they do with things that eventually will go bad? I saw some woman on the show this past weekend who bought about 100 packages of deli turkey or something.
Who eats that many sandwiches?!?
Like I said above it was all for the show. She never buys over 100 of the same items.

From Shannon G.: I’d like to know if she does all the sale matchups herself, or if she relies on sites like Southern Savers.com, or Hot Coupon World. I’d also like to know if she gets coupons from Ebay or trades for them in coupon circles or what. I mean, how do you GET 55 coupons for toothpaste without spending $55 on the newspaper??
Nooooo!!! Never do the matchups yourself! Save yourself some time. I like to go to weusecoupons.com and use that site. It has everything for every store you would need! It tells you the matchups a week early before the sales hit, it tells you every single thing about coupons and sales you would ever need to know! And yes I do order off ebay sometimes. But I dumpster dive for my coupons Thats how i get 50 of one coupons. Plus I do coupon trades and coupon trains that give me more coupons!

Now for my questions:

1. I’ve only been couponing for a couple of months. I started with the purse sized coupon organizer (accordion file) but I’m tired of shuffling through coupons at the store. How do you organize your coupons? I’ve seen the binder method and the filing then clip method on TLC’s Extreme Couponing but I’m not sure which will work better for me. If you file then clip only when the match ups tell you to what do you do when you’re at the store and you see a product you’d like but your coupons are at home? On the flip side, I’ve heard that the binder method is very time consuming. What are your thoughts?
I use the binder method. I always have and it works best for me. I like that i can flip to a page and my coupons are right there. I have a binder video on my youtube that will help you see how i set it all up. Also never leave the house without your coupons!

2. Do you clip EVERY coupon or just the ones you think you’ll use?
I clip every single one because I do a lot of trades, and trains so that I can giveaway my coupons I wont use for coupons I will use. Plus troops oversea’s can use them now and even after they expire.

3. Do you shop every drug store or pick one and stick with it?
Nope! I love CVS! I usually hit the store once a week to get my weekly deals and thats it. Its easier to stick to one so that you dont get confused and burnt out.

4. On the show you said “I’ll tell my neighbor to come shop” your stockpile. Do you charge them or just let people take things they want?
Nope everyone is allowed to come and shop! I do charge some people but that is because they are still getting a good discount instead of going to the store and paying full price. Its just like shopping at good will. Someone bought those items at full price and now they are selling them to you at half. When you think about it I had to spend the time to search, get the coupons, organize them, use my gas, pay tax and my time. So really it wasnt all free. My mom and family comes and shop for free. I have some friends that will pay me $10 and fill up bags. I don’t sit here and charge everyone full price its like pennies to the dollars 🙂

5. Is your stockpile insured?
Haha No!

6. As for donations, on the show you said you donate only “when I’m pressed for space”, but your stockpile clearly holds more items than you and your family could ever use (480 razors according to the show). Was that edited for tv or do you donate more often than when you’re just “pressed for space”?
That was edited for tv! I actually don’t even remember saying that. But heck we filmed for 24hrs I was exhausted! I donate what I don’t need and what I wont use. Before the show I couldn’t donate anything because they wanted my room to be filled. It doesn’t look like it does on tv. But heck I will keep 50 razors because I will never have to pay for another razor again and we will need them for life!

7. When you donate, since most of the items are items you were able to get for free, are you still eligible for a tax deduction on those donations?
Good question. I have never put them on my tax returns because I never keep up with what I donate.

8. Back to your stockpile, the show’s narrator said you have 45 dish soaps, 105 deodorants, 125 hair and body washes, and 480 razors. How much is enough? When you see a coupon for razors now or any of the other items mentioned above, do you still buy it or just hold off until you’ve used all that you have in your stockpile? Or is there a point where you say “OK I’m down to 15 dish soaps now I’ll start buying again ” (as an example)? Those of us just starting our stockpiles don’t really know how big is big enough.
I never buy anything that I already have in my room unless its free or cheap. I really don’t grocery shop anymore. If it cant fit on the shelf or in the room then i wont buy it. I dont want it to overtake my house.

9. On the show there have been some couponers featured that have tons and tons of coupon inserts. Remember the lady with the coupon room? All those crates full of coupons? I know you don’t store near that many in your home but what is your weekly goal as far as number of inserts to clip from?
I really dont have a goal. Some weeks I get 10 and dive for more and like this week I only got 6 and I am okay with that. It just depends on the week and the coupons that are coming.

10. How has being on the show changed your life?
It has changed a whole lot! I am always recognized in the store so going to the store for 30min is impossible because someone always see’s me and ask a million questions lol! Plus I am filming for fox news every wednesday morning which has been awesome! People freak out when they see me and ask for my autograph, my picture when really I just try and tell them I am a normal person! 🙂

11. How has being on the show changed your couponing style?
A lot! Only because everyone is now doing it so I never really shop anymore because 238420349203 people are doing the same deals.

12. You demonstrated a level of politeness on your episode that seemed lost on some of the other featured couponers in that you didn’t clear shelves, you ordered ahead, etc. What is your stance on shelf clearing?
Well the thing is, is that we all pre-ordered! The store took their stock off the shelf and put our stock on the shelf, we took it and then they restocked it. So no one was taking away from others. Of course it looks like this and that is what I hated. I told them when I started filming to not get that because I dont believe in shelf clearing. Well now that others have seen it they will do the same things. I hate hate hate it!

13. When you were filming, what was “for good tv” and what was real? Do you really climb into dumpsters? Do you really spend 60 hours a week couponing? If not, then how much time do you devote to couponing and how are dumpsters a part of your couponing?
Nope it just made good tv! When they flash money in your face you will do whatever right? LOL!
I don’t coupon for 60hrs and my schedule is never like the one they made me make. I usualy only use 20-30hrs but that includes eveyrthing that has to do with couponing including my blog/facebook. I do dumpster dive but never get into the dumpsters! I just look through recycle bins with my hands.

14. Will you buy something without a coupon?
Only if we absolutely need it and its still on sale with a great price.

15. When you created your coupon binders did you build them yourself or buy them pre-assembled? Do you have a tutorial to show us how to create the perfect binder? It can be overwhelming trying to decide on categories, what type binder to use, what type of insert pages, etc.
Yes check my youtube video

16. Do you still maintain your photography business? Will you continue to operate your photography business if your couponing business continues to grow?
Its still there although been neglected. Its okay because I was so busy last summer that this break is nice. I will still do pictures but wont advertise as much as I do.

17. Where do you see couponing taking you professionally and personally?
Hmm good question! Right now I have a permanet spot on fox charlotte every wednesday morning. And fox & I are starting up a deal site that is goign to be pretty cool! So being branded as the fox extreme saver is good for me!

18. What advice do you have for those of us with small homes and no space for a spare bedroom or garage sized stockpile?
Use your closets! Get rubbermaid bins and store your items in there. Where ever you have room I would use it. Cabinets, closets, and under sink storage work great!

Want to learn more from Desirae?  You can find her on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube:

Thank you so much Desirae!  We all appreciate your knowledge and insight into the world of couponing!