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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Laura Lately: September Edition

Guys.  It's been June since I did one of these! Whoah! Time certainly flies.  So lets do this thang! 
If you are new here, you may need a little introduction to what I call "Laura Lately." It is basically a time I thought we could use to connect. Think of it like we are having a cup of coffee together and catching up.  Except here's the catch: contrary to what it may seem on this blog, I'm much more inclined to be the one asking the questions than giving out the answers.  So here's the deal, I'm going to share a bit about what I've been up to lately, and I'd love to hear from you! 

So comment back with any or all of the following:
- things you can't get enough of -
- things you've been watching -
-things that you've been thinking about-
- what you're looking forward to -
- things you've been shopping for -
- what you've been munching on -
-things you've been reading-


Lately I can't get enough of..

Duh.  Fall! It's my favorite season of all... unless you count Christmas as a season (which I do), then they are tied.  One reason I can't get enough is because I haven't had enough time for it! It's been a busy couple of weeks with lots of different things, so I'm about halfway through my fall decorating and I haven't even started baking yet! But I did make some delicious soup the other day, so that's a start!

This coming weekend is the Harvest Festival at our family's apple orchard.  If you are anywhere near Northern Indiana, you should definitely come out! If not this weekend then, any weekend in October.  There's all the best things of fall: apple picking, hay rides, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, cider, mums, gourds, donuts, and of course Mrs. Apple herself!
Love her (she's my mom)!


Lately I've been watching...

The new season of some of my favorite shows have started, or are starting soon.  I'm so sad to say goodbye to Parenthood after this season.
Parenthood - Season 5 - Life Divides. Family Unites.
What a great show.  Michael and I are sure going to miss sitting down together and enjoying the laughs and tears. 


Lately I've been thinking about...

What it means to leave a legacy. 
That's me in that super awkward kid stage.  You're welcome for the inside chuckle.
My Great Great Aunt Betty Jean passed away recently.  She was a very talented artist and I was fortunate enough to inherit several of her pieces.  It's so special to have them in my home.  I look forward to enjoying them my whole life and then passing them down to my children to enjoy.   Her paintings are her legacy... they keep the memory of Aunt Betty Jean's creativity and artistry alive.  So lately, I've been wondering: does it mean to leave a legacy?  It seems like it's a bit different for each person.  It could be a beautifully curated collection of antiques, or financial wealth, or a business, or property, or community, or faith.  What will it look like to develop and pass on a legacy?  What will my legacy be?

I hope that my legacy is made of heartfelt and family-centered traditions. I hope that my legacy is a love for people the encourages and reaches out.  I hope that my legacy is a living faith in Jesus that is life directing. That sounds like my kind of legacy.  


Lately I'm looking forward to...

Parties!!  You better get your party pants on because this girl is all about the party planning! I have three parties that I'm in the midst of planning! Waahoo!  So I'll be excited to share with you as I plan a work party, Halloween party, and a bridal shower for my sister-in-law.  Eeek! Soooo excited! 


Lately I've been shopping for...

A new computer.  We have been using the same computers since we graduated High School.  High School.  (that's almost 9 years!) But I ain't complaining! Our Dells have been faithful servants to us for a long time, but they are showing their age and it's time to move on to thinner and faster things.
I'm looking at either a Macbook Pro or Air.  Any advice out there?! Anyone want to talk me out of a Mac?


Lately I've been munching on...

Campin' Food! Last weekend we went camping with our friends the Benders (who we went to Alaska with... I guess they aren't sick of us yet!) and got to experience a weekend of Glamping in their camper! It was so fun and we ate so many delicious meals cooked over the fire! Including this mouth-watering concoction that we called a Mexi-Skillet!

Chorizzo, potatoes, onion, peppers, black beans, eggs-all topped off with Emily's homemade guacamole, salsa and pepperjack cheese.  To. Die. For.  


Lately I've been reading...

Attention! This is one of my favorite books.  Ever.  I knew I would like it...I just wasn't expecting to get so much out of it.  I think it would be fun to write a post about it sometime.  Maybe I will.  But don't wait for that.  If you want to feel inspired by the home you have, not the home you want, and want to find contentment and peace when it comes to developing a home, read this book! Read it and have a friend read it.  It's so good. 

So now it's your turn! What can't you get enough of?  What have you been watching, eating, reading and munching?  What are you looking forward to? What's been on your mind? I'd love to hear about it! 

Don't miss a beat.  
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Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Time I Bought a Teepee...

If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen that last weekend Michael and I met up with some friends at an auction.

Michael LOVEs auctions.  It's a sport to him.  He gets a thrill out of the competition of it all.

I'm more like "eh".  If I like something, I like to know what the price is, decide if I want to own it, buy it and be done.

But what I DO love is hanging out with friends and getting smoking deals for things.  And this auction had all of that.

I swear, every time we turned around we saw somebody else we knew! It was awesome!

Anywho, would you like to see what we brought home with us?...

The title wasn't lyin', we bought a teepee!!

Super cool, huh?!
You might be thinking, "why?!" And my answer, of course, would be.. "Why not?!"

I totally fell in love with it as soon as I saw it! And we almost missed out on the bid, but our friend Scott saved the day! He knew we wanted it and we weren't anywhere to be seen, so he bid on it for us.  $15!! I don't want to jump the gun in saying that it's the best $15 I ever spent but, isn't it?

We can see it in the corner of a kids room someday or in a playroom.  But before all that happens down the road, we just thought it would be a quirky item that our niece and nephew would have fun with now. 

I would have been happy to call the day a success at the teepee - It was absolutely the buy of the day - but we scored even more good stuff that day.

Three Sawhorses for $7.  We could always use more sawhorses. 

And also..

This little side table for $25.  Isn't she sweet?  I really like the interesting lines and the rope like legs.  Kind of nautical feeling which I'm always a fan of! I have plans to give this little gal a coat of paint.  Maybe navy!

We also bought this coffee table! Check out the drawers! I love that it has storage!!  Although, I'll admit, it does need a little work.  It's pretty scratched up and that bottom scroll-y piece is coming off for sure.  But other than that I think it is a really great piece!  I love the scale of it in the room.  I think it's much better compared to what we had before.  I am thinking about refinishing it similar to how I refinished my dining room table - stained top, green antiqued paint on the bottom.  But I'm open to other suggestions if you guys have some ideas!

So that's the gist of what we got at the auction! But more than that we got to hang out with a couple of our friends from small group, some other church friends, work friends, and some other friends we haven't seen in years! It was a Saturday well spent!

But ma recent deals haven't stopped there! The other day I stopped by my favorite local thrift shop called Home Again and found this little number.

 So cute and I love anything caned!  See the fun texture in the picture below? I love it!  I can't remember exactly what I paid for it but I don't think it was much over $20. 

I also have been waiting for these guys to go on sale at Kohls (online it says they are currently unavailable but they had quite a few in stock in the store). 
And it just so happened to work out that we got a 30% off coupon in the mail a week or so ago.  Double score! So we got these storage ottomans for about $50 bucks each... and knowing that you can easily spend more than $100 on one makes this girl feel pretty fantastic!
 I love a collected home, one that grows over time.  I'm all about finding furniture that come with stories.  Yes, stories and teepees! :-)

Don't miss a beat.  
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How To Pack For An Alaskan Vacation

As you well know now, the hubs and I just returned from our dream vacation to Alaska.  And if you don't know that, then you can read more about it here and here.

But as with many vacations, it is hard to know what to pack.  I have heard from so many people saying "Wow! Now I have to go to Alaska!" or "Alaska has always been on our bucket list for a long time."  So I thought I would post a little bit about what we packed and how that worked out for help you out when you start getting ready for your own Alaskan vacation!

For a girl who wants to look good, and a guy who always wants to be prepared, the task of packing for Alaska was a bit daunting to us.  Luckily, we were pleasantly surprised to find out we had packed pretty well!

So here's a listing of things I'm glad we packed, things I wish we would have packed, and things that we did pack but could have left at home.  

Things to Pack For Your Alaskan Vacation:

  • Rain Jacket - it rains a lot in Alaska (did you know that Alaska has it's own Rain Forest?).  Make sure the coat you bring is windproof and waterproof and has a hood!
  • Scarves/Hats 
  • Fleece - Nice to layer under the rain jacket on chilly days.  Temperatures ranged from 50s-70s while we were there in Mid August so its important to layer. 
  • Puffy Vest -Another good layering piece that also adds a cute factor
  • Hiking pants - If you plan to hike at all, these are nice to have.  Mine were a bit stretchy and were water resistant. 
  • Warm Socks
  • Sturdy Hiking Shoes - If you are doing more than walking around town, tennis shoes won't cut it. Although, up on the glacier? They do provide glacier boots to slip on over your normal shoes.  So you won't need to pack your own glacier boots- which is nice! :-)
  • Binoculars - Nice to have while you are scenic cruising.  But if you have a good enough zoom on your camera, you could probably do without.
  • Camera - I have a DSLR and I brought my 55-200mm lens as well as my 35mm lens which worked out pretty well.  On days we were just going into town I brought my 35mm lens but if we were viewing scenery or whale watching I brought my zoom.  We also had our iphones and the Benders brought their point-and-shoot camera.  These were all nice to have as well, because they are great for wider shots, including panoramas.  Additionally, they are just much more convenient to access and use.  
  • 2nd Camera Battery and Large SD card - Its nice to have a back up battery just in case you need it.  Also, you don't want to get 3/4 your way through vacation and have to start conserving room on your SD card.  Ours was 8gb and was plenty big but if you take video, you would definitely need more! 
  • Backpack and sinch sack - for hiking and walking around town.  Michael would usually bring his day-pack hiking pack which was super nice to have to be able to store various things in while we walked around town or while we hiked.  At the beginning of the day we would packed a sinch sack in his pack which allowed us additional carrying capacity if we needed it. 
  • Water bottle- Super nice to have on travel days.  Just remember to empty it before going through security.  Then you can fill it back up at a water fountain for the plane ride.  We also liked having it in Skagway when we went hiking. 
  • Games- The cruise ship has a fair selection of games but we were glad we brought a few.  We then had the freedom to take them wherever we were on the ship and play them -instead of just in the designated game room.  We brought a deck of cards and BananaGrams.
  • Comfy dresses/dressy pants for dinner - Something I did not enjoy about the cruise was being outside all day and then coming back to the boat and realizing I had to put on fancy clothes to go to dinner.  Comfy dresses or skirts/nice pants and a blouse go a long way over cold uncomfortable cocktail dresses. 
  • Sweatpants - Because sometimes you just need them....ok, you need them a lot.
  • Slippers/Flip Flops/Comfortable Flats - to use while walking around the boat
  • Books/Ipads/Magazines/E-reader - for travel days or leisurely days on the boat. Side bar: The Nesting Place = SO. GOOD. and so inspiring! I highly recommend it!
  • Dramamine/Meclizine - We didn't experience a lot of motion sickness but it was nice to have something there to take the edge off if needed.
  • EmergenC/Zinc/Airborne - A couple of us caught colds half way through so it was good to have some cold medication
  • Probiotics/FiberOne/Colace = for regularity while traveling :-)
  • Good Lotion/Chapstick - It can be a bit cool and a bit windy, its nice to have some moisturizing relief other than what the cruise ship provides.
  • Small Versatile Purse - A cross body bag is a must! Things I carried with me at all times were my cruise card and camera. 
  • Warm Boots - It was nice to have warm boots on the days we were scenic cruising
  • Sunglasses 
  • Sunscreen - Important to have in case there are warm days when your skin is exposed, we only used it in Skagway when it was pretty warm and sunny.  Other than that we were pretty well covered.  Although, its not a bad idea to apply it to your face on most days - or a least make sure you daily moisturizer has at least SPF 15 in it.  Sorry, the oncology nurse in me is just looking out for you! 

 Things we didn't bring but Would Have Been Nice 

  • Alarm Clock - There is literally no clock in the room except for on the phone so it would have been nice to have an alarm clock to set up to be able to see what time it is quickly, especially when you wake up in the middle of the night.
  • Gloves - It would have been nice to have gloves, daily.  Bring them.  You'll thank me later.
  • 2nd pair of sweats - Emily wished she had had this since her sweats got dirty while hiking and then she didn't have any the rest of the week.
  • Short Extension Cord - Cory's dad always brings one whenever they travel and apparently its nice to have in case you need an additional outlet or if the outlet is not exactly where you'd like it to be. It would have been nice to have several times throughout our trip.  Michael tells me that, from now on, we will be bringing a short extension cord on all our trips.  :-)

Things We Brought but Never Used

  • Bathing Suit - Could we have used our swim suits?  Yeah.  There were a few days that it may have been warm enough to lay in the sun.  But we are not the lay-out-and-get-skin-cancer kind of people.  Plus! We went to Alaska to see mountains and go adventuring, not get a tan! But if you are a sun worshiper, I would bring it along because you could very likely use it! Also, there was an indoor pool and hot tub that was available, we just never used it.
  • Tripod - we have a gorillapod tripod that we packed but we kept forgetting to it bring with us on shore excursions, so we never used it.  :-(  Plus, whenever we wanted a group shot, there were plenty of other people around and more than happy to take a picture for us.
  • Rain Pants - this would have been one of those things that if we would have needed them, it would have been awesome to have.  But we had pretty good weather and the only time we may have really needed them, on our Adventure Cart excursion, they provided protective rain and mud gear for us.
  • Umbrella - If you have a good rain jacket with a hood, you shouldn't need an umbrella.
So my overall advice is to pack for temperatures ranging from the 50s to Mid 70s - Sun, rain, and wind.  For me, that is my favorite temperature range! It was glorious!

But then you also have to pack for the ship too.  We had 2 "formal nights" on the boat.  I think the most appropriate dress for formal nights is comparable to what you would wear to a nice evening wedding.  Cocktail dresses and guys in at least a collard shirt and tie.  Can you get away with less? Certainly, but you may feel a little underdressed... at least with Princess.  Now I have heard it is different on cruise ships like Carnival, in the Caribbean where things are a bit more casual and laid back.  

Each of us had our own carry on suitcases as well as one large <50lb suitcase per person.  That's a lot of luggage but when you have to pack the whole spectrum, from adventure clothing to cocktail dresses -and all those shoes!- you need a lot of luggage space!

This concludes the Adventuring Alaska Series.  If you missed part 1 click here.  If you missed part 2 click here

Any other questions?  Feel free to shoot me an email or leave it in the comments!  Hope you enjoyed hearing about our vacation and I hope you can start planning your Alaskan Vacation very soon!

Don't miss a beat.  
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Building Our Own Floating Shelves! It's Easy!

When we got back from Alaska, I was itchin' to get my hands in a project.  So we considered a couple of painting project, but realized that both of us would have a full 3 days to work on things together thanks to the Labor Day weekend. 

So we decided to tackle a project that I have had on my radar for a while.

The bathroom tub nook.
I love the tub and the storage that we built out behind it with beadboard. But the space above was feeling a bit empty.

The plan?  Build three floating shelves wall to wall.

Guys.  These are SO easy! You can do this! You barely even have to have any power tools! And Bam! You got your selves some built in shelves!

Let me show you how its done.  Or I guess, Michael will show you, I will tell you. 

The shelving DNA:
We went with select pine wood to make up the shelf and the face pieces.  It's a good choice for wood that we were just planning on painting.  But since we didn't have to worry about the cleats of the shelf being pretty, we went with the less expensive whitewood. 

Michael measured and marked all the boards according to the wall measurement. 

After Michael cut all the pieces to size.  I sanded them down.  I got really good at that job about a year ago when we were putting up the trim in the whole house.  Really all I needed to do was make sure the boards were smooth and then knock off the corners. 
See how the board on the left has sharp edges and the board on the right has more rounded edges?  I did that.
I just work the power sander down each edge- actually just the edges that will be exposed, you don't need to do that to the edges that will be against a wall or another piece of wood. 

Once everything was sanded, it was time to space everything out on the wall.  We measured the distance from the top of the chair rail to the ceiling - spacing them out evenly.   Note: We did allow for a little bit extra space for the top because Michael had to be able to fit his drill up there to secure the shelf to the cleat.  You'll see what I mean in a minute. 
Find you studs, level, and screw the cleat into the wall. 
The side cleats were not long enough to reach another stud so we used several nails to secure those.  Should we have used drywall anchors and screws?  Probably.  But we felt pretty confident that the nails secured it well enough. I trust my engineer! ;-)
For every nail, we also had to use a nail set to drive the nail head back deeper into the wood so that later we could fill those holes with wood filler and make them disappear forever.  - A very important step!

Once the cleats are secured to the wall, you can add the shelf on top.  We screwed the shelf to the cleats.  This is where Michael's forethought saved us from a BIG headache! Remember when I told you to make sure that you leave enough space to get your drill in there?  Phew! Plenty of space!

Then we hammered the face plates on to give the shelves more substancialness.  Fact.  Substancialness is a word.  Look it up.  Actually, maybe don't look it up. 

Then all you gotta do is fill the holes, sand, caulk, prime and paint! And don't forget to look fabulous while you are doing it! Exhibit A:

For more details on how we paint our trim and get a finish we can be proud of, check out this post I wrote last year that explains it all.

So without further ado, shelves!! 

So what do you think?  All it took was $92 and two days (including the priming and painting).  Do you think you could do it?  I KNOW you can!
Also, we finally decided on a new paint color for our bathroom.  It's called Quiet Moments from Benjamin Moore (I believe the picture above is the best color representation of what it looks like in real life).  And its oh-so-wonderful! The color we had before was called Refreshing Teal.  It was fine but it was not what I was going for.  I wanted a soft seafoam green, and it was definitely more on the teal side - who would have guessed - refreshing teal?
So after going through many possibilities the last week, and living with no bathroom mirrors for that week, we finally found our color. I would describe it as a bluish green with a decent amount of grey.  I think it helps to bring our bathroom up to a more sophisticated level over the teal, that just felt a little bit too playful.  I mean, not that I'm not a playful person... maybe just not so much in my bathroom ;-)

So that's where we are at in the bathroom!  And I realize now that I never actually did a complete before and after post of the bathroom renovation, including before, during and after photos.  So consider this is my official IOU slip for that! 
Don't miss a beat.  
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linked to: Frugal Crafty Blog Hop, DIY Showoff, Amaze Me Monday, Monday Funday, Making Monday, Much Ado About Monday, Before and After Party,

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Adventuring Alaska: Part 2

When we left off last Wednesday the Bloughs and the Benders ("The Blenders" as we like to call ourselves) had just boarded the Island Princess and set sail southbound down the coast of Alaska. 

We quickly got acclimated to the ship and it's amenities.  And like any vibrant 20 somethings, we knew just what we needed in order to unwind...

Shuffleboard and chess.  Like a bunch of cruise ship gangstas!
(Not to mention the time I straddled the chess knight and reenacted Ron's chess scene from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  "Knight to H3."  Nailed it.)

The first two days were scenic cruising days - as we sailed, we got to see gorgeous views of the Alaskan coast line.  None stop beauty.

The first day we cruised through Yakatut Bay toward Hubbard Glacier.
The color of the water was so beautiful!

 As were the mountains.
And the glacier too, of course.

Sailing through Yakatut Bay was definitely an appi-teaser while we made our way toward Glacier Bay. 

Glacier bay was certainly a highlight of our Alaskan vacation and something that should not be missed if you go.

On Travel Alaska's website, Glacier Bay is described as follows: "Lofty mountain peaks, ice-sculptured fjords, an abundance of marine wildlife and, most of all, massive tidewater glaciers, have made Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve one of Alaska's most spectacular settings and a must-stop for every cruise ship sailing through Southeast Alaska."

Yeah, what they said.

And also what these pictures say...

So you can see, you don't want to miss it.  They also brought a park ranger on the ship for a presentation about Glacier Bay which was super interesting.  The rangers also narrated on overhead speakers as we sailed through Glacier Bay, pointing out mountain peaks, glacier names, and wild life.  It really enhanced the overall experience for nerdy science lovers like us.  

So. Long story short about Glacier Bay: When you cruise, make sure your cruise ship includes Glacier Bay in the itinerary.  It's a must see.

The next day we came to port at Skagway.  And 8am meant that it was time for our helicopter excursion.

 All geared up ready to go!

 And we're off!

The destination? Chilkat Glacier!

 We landed right on top of it!

And explored all around it!

We even got to drink the water flowing through it!

It. Was. Amazing.

Back in the helicopter, we flew over glacial waterfalls,

beds of snow - hundreds of feet deep,

and zoomed through towering mountain peaks.

What an experience!! You gotta climb a mountain to have these kind of views!

Off cloud 9, literally, we landing back in Skagway which meant it was time to explore the town!
We easily had the most time in Skagway compared to the rest of the ports.  Skagway is such a quirky and and interesting place.
Even  after exploring town, lunching at the local brewery, we also had enough time to hike up to a lake.
Which served as the perfect place to cool off after our hike. 

Skagway Review:

Great for:
  • Helicopter rides! It was easily our favorite excursion, a bit expensive, but well worth the money!
  • Hiking, the great thing about hiking in Skagway is that you can get to the trails right from town - we did the one to Lower Dewey Lake.
  • Photo adventuring - I went crazy. 

Great Eats: We ate at the Skagway Brewery Co. Highly recommend the burger and fries.  The fries rocked my world- but don't forget the malt vinegar!  We drank their signature Spruce Tip Blonde which was featured in Draft Magazine.  However, if you are tempted by the soft pretzel - we were - don't be. It wasn't like the delicious homemade ones we get around home.

Great Shops:  Many of the shops are touristy but there are a few that are worth a second look, like The Loom which had eye candy left and right, or the Back Alley Rock Shop - weird, quirky, random and I LOVED it! Others in my party didn't get it but I was all over it with camera in hand.  A bunch the pictures in the collage above were taken there. 

 The next day we made it to Juneau.
If you are looking for bald eagles, they are everywhere in Juneau!

Juneau is also the place for whales!

We went whale watching through Orca Enterprises.  This was the only excursion we did not book through Princess.  Captain Larry and his crew were enthusiastic and super knowledgeable.

 Everyone, Captain Larry.  Captain Larry, Everyone.

It was a great experience.  The weather was fair, but the whales were everywhere! And so were the sea lions!

Juneau Review:

Great For:
  • Whale watching!  It's the place to do it!
  • Shopping! More on that in a sec. 

Great Eats:  Well I'm sorry to say, I cannot list the Red Dog Saloon as a "Good Eats" place.  It just wasn't.  The atmosphere was interesting with the sawdust floors, so if that's all you want, take a stroll around.  But the food was mediocre, and the prices were outrageous for the amount of food you got.  On the other hand, I would highly recommend Heritage Coffee!  Best Chai OF MY LIFE! So good!

Great Shops:  We spent close to an hour in a store called Trove because of all the unique home, accessory, and gift options.  We also bought some sweet Alaskan merch at Alaska Shirt Co.  They had tons of attractive options and the prices were pretty reasonable. Then Emily found herself a beautiful pair of lambskin lined slippers at Simply Natural (sorry no link for the store, but here is a link to the brand of slippers they sell). They seem very luxuriously durable

The last port we came to was Ketchikan.

In Ketchikan we did an adventure cart excursion where we got to drive these all terrain vehicles.  

We zoomed up and down trails through the Alaskan rain forest, past gorgeous views - including a waterfall!

 That's one of our guides photobombing a magical moment between Michael and me.  :-) The guides were a bunch of characters and were pretty much half of the experience.  
The adventure cart excursion was fun but was a bit tame for us - it was more driving on trails than it was off-roading.  But we still enjoyed it and it certainly was the most fun way to spend a drizzly day in Ketchikan.

Ketchikan Review: 

Great for: 
  • Salmon
  • Totem polls
  • Lumberjacks
Which is funny because we didn't really do anything that involved any of those things! But supposedly, you can enjoy all them in Ketchikan :-)

Great Eats: The Burger Queen.  A hole in the wall burger joint that locals frequent.  The burger, fries, and shakes are good.  But don't go there expecting a quick meal, we had a 45 minute wait.  But, bonus!, they will deliver for free. 

Great Shops: Ketchikan had a lot of the same touristy shops that the other ports had but we did stumble upon a stand where a water color artist was selling some of her paintings.  So we bought a sweet little painting to take home with us. 

The ports felt like only half of the vacation! We had a wonderful time on the boat as well! 
Here are some of the highlights from sailing on the Island Princess!

On the Boat

  • The constant and beautiful views, every time we looked out the window
  • Being able to eat foods we have never had before but always wanted to try: Escargot, Oysters, Beef Wellington, Scallops, King Crab, Sardines, Lobster etc..
  • Playing Euchre at least once a day, usually more.  For those of you outside of the Midwest, Euchre is a super competitive and popular card game of the Midwest. 
  • The "horse races" in the casino where we cheered on our own wooden horses.  "Go Terri!"
  • The vending machine game that Michael and Cory were convinced they were going to win by the end of the trip... they did not.
  • My absolute all time favorite breakfast ever.  Smoked salmon atop a cream cheese schmeered bagel.  I had it almost every morning.
  • The night we enjoyed all you can eat Alaskan King Crab at the Crab Shack.
  • Participating in the Egg Drop Challenge.  Where we were challenged to build a contraption to prevent an egg from breaking when dropped 4 stories.  Our parachute was floating perfectly, but got caught in the nearby palm tree on the way down.  What are the chances!?  What the heck is a palm tree doing on an Alaskan cruise anyway!?
  • Jules the onboard naturalist. His presentations left some things to be desired. That's all I'm going to say. 
  • The night we ordered room service, grabbed a pizza, and ate it on Cory and Emily's bed.  
  • The time I fell asleep during the comedian/magician's performance.
  • When Emily and I wore sweat pants to the evening show and Michael was mortified.
  • Participating in the Majority Wins game show.
  • The afternoon when the boys brought us nachos from the buffet, we ordered margaritas, and watched Frozen on the outdoor movie screen.  
But one of my favorite memories came from the last day of the cruise.  We were scenic cruising that day, on our way to Vancouver.  While getting ready for dinner that night, the captain made an announcement overhead.  I didn't pay much attention to it but next thing I know I hear a fervent knock at our door.  I open the door and Emily hollers, "Get your camera! There's killer whales on the starboard side!"  

"What?!" I dove back into the room to retrieve my camera, yelled for Michael, who was in the bathroom, and zoomed out the door.  Just in time to see a group of 4 orcas swim past the ship :-D 

It was the one thing that I hadn't gotten to check off my Alaskan bucket list! 

It was a beautiful end to an amazingly blessed vacation. 

Props to you if you got all the way through this post! I apologize for the length of this post but it was mainly pictures right? - and that's the best part anyway!

Next Wednesday I will complete the Adventuring Alaska series with a packing list for an Alaskan cruise - it was undoubtedly the most difficult part of planning our trip.   But before that, Sunday I am planning to post about the exciting changes going on in our bathroom! See you then!

To read Part 1 of Adventuring Alaska, click here.  To read my recommendations on what to pack for your trip, click here.

Don't miss a beat.  
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