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Posted on Jan 27, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 6 comments

Final Vacation Post – Adios Miami!

Before I jump into things, has everyone had a chance to see the article on Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen! in the Falls Church News-Press today? Okay, sorry, had to do another shameless plug. Onto the actual post!

Well, here we are mi amigos, the final (and extremely belated) vacation post! Where we last left off, we had just finished the final port stop: Roatan, Honduras! All that was left on the cruise was a final day at sea (sorry, not too many pictures taken of that rainy day!) and then our couple of days left in Miami before heading back up north!

We did get to have one last delicious dinner on the cruise that day, but because of I was so stuffed from eating throughout the day I only partook in 2 of the customary 4 courses, hahaha.

Entree:

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A delicious, perfectly cooked medium-rare filet mignon (wrapped in bacon, naturally!) with a pea puree pyramid and carrot mash.

Dessert:

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An almond amaretto cake. Mm-mmm. It a nice portion (a small sliver) and I looooove almond-flavored anything! It was the perfect finish to all of the amazing meals we (over)ate while cruising.

Admittedly, it wasn’t as good as the almond-pistachio cake we ended up having at Icebox Cafe in Miami, but then again, Oprah did declare their cake “the best cake in America” so I don’t think our sweet little cruise could compete.

Here’s a photo of that deliciousness that Ben took while while we were visiting Icebox:

Seriously, Oprah. You know your cake.

We spent the last two days of vacation lounging around Miami Beach, including eating at the famous Joe’s Stone Crab in South Beach! We hung out by the pool, walked along the beach, and got to check out the awesome Art Deco fair that they had going on!

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Hokay! So, here we are. I promised you pictures of me, lounging in all my swimsuited glory. While yes, you have probably a few already via some past cruise posts (here and here), the fact that I was wearing a swimsuit was kind of incidental. So I forced myself to pull out all my knowledge from watching 16 cycles of America’s Next Top Model, channel my inner Tyra, and posed for a couple of pics. Mortifying though it may be is.

Click the “Read More” to see them… if you dare (does this qualify as “NSFW”? I have no idea. Well, at least you’re prepared.) And try not to judge too harshly. I’ve still got at least 30 pounds to go! And also bear in mind how hard I would have laughed in your face had you asked me to do this 40 pounds ago.

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Posted on Jan 23, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 2 comments

Tea, Milady?

Hi Friends, how’s everyone’s weekend going? Today I thought that I’d try to knock a couple of posts out of the way, but we’ll see how that all ends up going, haha. First things first – one more cruise post for you all to revel in! Apologies in advance that this is probably going to be a long one!

So, Roatan, Honduras! Our last port stop on the cruise, and the day that I didn’t even get off the boat. Hahaha. I wasn’t feeling very well, so I ended up taking a little pampering session in the on-board spa. Did a little package that included a back massage, facial, and body exfoliation. Not too bad a way to spend the day!

While I was feeling puny and getting pampered, my sister, mom, aunt, uncle, and cousin ended up going on a pretty cool island tour. Here are some photos from their outing:

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Looked pretty cool, huh? After they got back from the trip, I was feeling much better. Which is good, because we had High Tea to go to! All of the ladies of the cruise got dolled up and went to one of the specialty restaurants for afternoon tea. It was delicious, and I felt supah classy (heh.) I obviously ate way too much, between the delicious cream cheese-laden tea sandwiches and all of the sweets, but it was totally worth it! We did a similar thing on the Alaskan cruise my family did a few years ago. It was a highlight then as it was this time:

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That night was the second formal night for the cruise. I didn’t feel quite as pretty or glamorous on this night, but maybe that’s because I was already feeling the effect of all the rich, heavy food from the previous days, haha. Here are some pictures for you anyway:

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The dinner that night, as expected, was amazing!

Appetizer:

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Some kind of French-named thing, but basically puff pastry topped with mushrooms. Yum-o!

Salad:

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A Mediterranean grilled veggie salad. Tasted good, kind of like antipasti, but I didn’t eat all of it because I was saving myself for…

Entree:

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LLLLOOOBBBBSSSTTTEEEEEEERRRRR!! I was waiting all cruise to be able to have lobster, and they served it up (and how!) on the last formal dinner night. It was delicious, although the steak dish that Ben got (in addition to his lobster dish, hahahaha) was pretty fantastic, too.

Dessert:

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In Celebrity cruise fashion, they served up Baked Alaska for everyone’s dessert that night. It was good – always a fun treat, but they didn’t serve it flambé-style at the tableside, like they did on our Alaskan cruise (also Celebrity)! Oh well, must be regulations against open flames nowadays or something.

Anyway, if you’ve made it this far through this behemoth of a post, I commend you! I’ll let you go for now, but check back later for a little weekend recap with an exciting announcement!

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Posted on Jan 20, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 1 comment

Puerto Costa Maya

I’m running out of ideas for post titles guys… really struggling here… Hey, look! It’s history!

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The third port stop on our fabulous cruise vacation was Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico! We did an awesome tour of the Mayan ruins there. It was so cool to be able to climb up the same buildings that the Mayans built… by hand! No cranes or bulldozers back then!

I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of heavily detailed writing in these posts lately, so I’m going to cut you all a little slack. Time for photos! (I think I took more photos at the Mayan ruins than I did the rest of the trip combined!)

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The tour was very cool, but the weather was NOT. It was soooo humid that day in Costa Maya. The air was heavy and wet — it even rained while we were at the ruins site! All that heat, walking, and climbing left me pretty exhausted, so we took it easy the rest of the day back on the boat until dinnertime.

Appetizer:

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Curried chicken salad, served on a slice of fresh pineapple! It was o-kay. Not really that curried, but still tasty.

Salad:

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A salad with an entire wedge of bleu cheese… drool. 😀

Entree:

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BBQ Chilean Seabass! It was yuuuuuummy! But not very barbeque-y. But still delicious. 🙂

Dessert:

Weeeeell, I obviously forgot to take a photo of dessert. But I can’t remember if that’s because I didn’t HAVE dessert, or if I just forgot to photograph it. Let’s say I didn’t eat any dessert… you have no proof!! Bwahahaha.

After dinner, we went to the Martini Bar onboard, and Jenny and my cousin Ellie ordered a “flight” of mini-martinis:

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It consisted of 6 marteenies (heh, get it?), and the bartender added a few other customers’ orders to his pouring show, pouring ELEVEN martinis at once!

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Drinks, anyone?
Have a sip or two.

It was quite the show! And with that, another exciting, increasingly nostalgic day of last week’s vacation. Thanks for sticking with me guys, just a couple more left, and then it’s back to my normal, boring self. 😉

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Posted on Jan 19, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 1 comment

Cozumel! Mexico! Dolphin Swim!

Bienvenidos a Mexico, mi amigos! Today’s port of call: Cozumel, Mexico (well, I guess the latter part goes without saying, huh?) Today’s excursion: Dolphin Swim & Ride!! AHHHHHHHHH!!

I think the photos pretty much speak for themselves, but yes. I got to touch, feel, be splashed by, kiss (and be kissed by), hug, swim with, and even RIDE an upside-down dolphin!

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We went to a place called Dolphinaris, where they had a total of 19 (I think) dolphins living in captivity there. The set-up they had was pretty cool. It was a collection of interconnected man-made coves set up with an underwater gate straight into the sea (so it’s direct seawater in the cove pools). In one of the back pools were all the baby dolphins, and we were able to see them playing with each other and swimming with their mamas. Two of the dolphins started play fighting and it seriously reminded me SO much of Harry and Daxter, it wasn’t even funny. Well, that’s a lie. It was hilarious. 🙂

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I did fight with myself a little between feeling bad/guilty about taking advantage of the dolphins, but on the other hand just being amazed at the experience. The trainer we had said that their dolphins live for about 45 years in captivity, though, whereas they only live around 35 years in the wild. And each dolphin only works for 3 hours each day (so she told us, at least). I’m going to stick with those thoughts… Anyway.

It really was a special experience. Here’s more proof that it actually happened:

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That’s me, Jen, Ben, my dad, and my cousin Ellie cozying up to our 780 pound Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin! (Really puts my weight into perspective, huh? Hahaha!) We also got a DVD of the experience (set to some sweeet Jamaican-sounding jams, mon! Aaaahahahahaha.) I’ll try to see if there’s a way I can piece together some of the clips of me to show you guys (in other words, try to see if there’s a way Ben can help me do that) but take it from me. It was awesome. Like, more than awesome. Like, I can’t even come up with a word awesome enough to start describing how ABOVE awesome it was.

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… I <3 dolphins. We spent the largest amount of time just floating in the water petting the dolphin as it swam by. He (the dolphin) actually seemed to really enjoy being stroked! His skin was soooooo soft and smooth. Auuuugh, I want one!

Hokay. So. Getting ahold of myself, and moving on. The dolphin excursion took a while between getting there, getting instructions, and actually getting to spend time in the water with the dolphin, so after we got back we were pretty much done and ready to get on the boat. Not before we did a little shopping, though!

The port at Cozumel was a lot bigger and had more stands and shops than Grand Cayman did, so we wandered around a bit, and made use of Jenny’s fantastic bargaining skills (I think I’m too accommodating to every be good at bargaining, sigh.) After all was said and done, we headed back to the ship!

Dinner! Appetizer:

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A citrus salad, with grapefruit, orange slices, and apples (not sure why they got included in a CITRUS salad, but they were good!)

Soup:

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Creamy Baked Potato Soup. It was only okay. I didn’t finish it. I also obviously forgot to take a photo before I started, which is why it’s a little messy, haha.

Entree:

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New York Strip & Creamy Garlic Rigatoni. This was absolutely delicious! Unfortunately, I was soooo full from other eating throughout the day that I could only eat a few bites. Sigh. Probably a good thing, all in all, considering how rich the sauce was (darn you, cream! So delicious. So dangerous.)

Dessert:

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Coconut Creme Caramel. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. I could only eat literally 2 bites, but it was smooth and creamy and delicious. I seriously could eat nothing but custard for the rest of my life and probably be okay. Well, you know, aside from dying after like a week from a massive coronary. But otherwise! 😉

Okay, another one down. Tomorrow, get ready for Costa Maya and the Mayan Ruins! It’s about time I add in an educational portion of this trip, ahahaha. TTFN, ta-ta for now! 🙂

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Posted on Jan 17, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 3 comments

Ahoy-hoy!

Wellps, the first day at sea came and went, and it was chock-full of activities, and (of course) more food. We were up bright and early to hit the gym before the day really began: I went through 20 minutes on the treadmill (there was a time limit) doing intervals of 3.5 mph, 5.0 mph, and sprinting 7.0 mph. I added a little bit of an incline during the speed walking, and it made it SO hard. Phew! Then Jenny and I did an ab routine (crunches, lower leg lifts, and obliques) and some arms with free weights (I worked with 5 lb and 8 lb weights.)

We spent pretty much the whole day laying out on the sun deck — it got pretty cold with the cruise on the move, actually. So windy! We did take a break to go inside and play (and win!) a round of Broadway-themed trivia, hehehe. Then the big event for the night was the fact that it was the first of the cruise’s two Formal Nights!

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It was really fun to get all dressed up and take some really nice family photos, as well as to see everyone else all glammed out. I’ll try to resist posting too many pics, but I felt really pretty so sorry if this is an overdose for you, hahahahaha:

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That last photo is of course due to Ben’s artistic photography. Dinner that night was fantastic, as per usual.

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I actually partook in the wine for once, a beautiful, robust shiraz (don’t I sound like quite the wino? Haha!)

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Appetizer: I had my very first beef carpaccio! It was actually very delicious, especially for raw meat, I’d imagine. It was sliced so paper thing it came apart on my plate! Ben had the frogs legs, which I had a taste of. Seriously tastes just like chicken! It wasn’t the first time I’d had frogs legs, as they’re quite common in Chinese cuisine, but always a lovely change.

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Soup/Salad: I had the spinach salad for my second course, which had bacon bits, eg, and crispy shallots. Yum!

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Entree: I had Chilean sea bass for my main entree, which was served with a barbeque-inspired sauce (not really sure what to call it, though), mashed taters, and spinach. I ate the whole thing up – it was really delicious.

Dessert: I didn’t grab a picture of dessert, evidently, but Jenny and I just split two different flavors of ice cream / sorbet, so it wasn’t all that exciting. A nice way to end the meal, though!

After dinner, we headed to the Eclipse Theatre once again to watch “EDGE”, a pop- and rock-song inspired dance show. It was… okay. Definitely not the best of the shows we saw, unfortunately. It was entertaining, for sure, but there was a cheesiness factor (you should have SEEN the glitter on the singers’ costumes!) that I couldn’t really get over, and they did this horrible disco-fied version of Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose” (aka one of the best songs EVER) that was kind of hard to take, haha. Still, extremely entertaining, and some of the dancers in it were really good.

After the show we were pretty pooped (I think that I had forgotten how draining just being in the sun can be!) so we hit the sack. Another early day was to be had in the morning, after all! Stay tuned for our first port day: Georgetown, Grand Cayman, and the coolest experience EVER… you’ll just have to read all about it. 😉

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