I was recently honored with the opportunity to help launch Jen Hatmaker’s newest book baby. This mean that I received an advance copy of the book so I can tell the world what I think of it. Well, hello, I knew I would love it because, Jen Hatmaker.
I started following Jen on social media and reading her books (generally in one sitting) probably five years ago. I was immediately drawn to her humor.. I honestly had no idea that Christians were even allowed to be funny. I guess I thought they were supposed to only talk about Bible Verses and eat communion wafers. Little did I know that they could write hilarious words that speak to my soul and make me feel a little less alone in this giant, weird world.
I’ve always been one of the first in time to read Jen’s newest work. I’m also a member of her book club. I promise I’m not a weird stalker but it kinda sounds like that’s where this is headed. Anyway, when the chance arose to be on her launch team, it was a no brainer.
I received my digital copy of her book and dove right in. After reading the first two chapters, I read them over again because they were that good. And it was a good thing because this quote hit me harder and deeper the second time around.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the life I want to lead. I want to love and have open arms. I am sick of the judgy crap that turns me away from the church so fast it makes my neck hurt. I love my current church and I am so grateful for them, but damn, some of my previous church experiences make my heart hurt. What if I had give up? What if I had believed that God didn’t love me because I’m not perfect? This isn’t ok.
Jen covers so many topics and I’m sure it was all written with me in mind since we are obviously the best of friends. She talks about owning who you are, body imagine, deserving to be treated right, parenting and marriage and so many things. There is help in this book for all of us.
I am ready to put these things into practice. Some, I have already started. Some I need to sit down and chew on for a minute.
I highly, super mega encourage you to add this one to your list. Order the pre-order. You won’t regret it!
*This post includes affiliate links. If you purchase anything through my link I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
So… we just got back from a Carnival cruise about two weeks ago and the first thing I said was “we probably won’t go on another one…” Right? Well guess who booked another cruise for next December for our 10th anniversary? Yep, that’s me. Obviously the last one was a trial run and a good opportunity for us to learn things for next time. Here are the things I definitely learned for next time:
Bring a plug adapter. We have one plug in our room. Not one outlet. One plug. We could charge our phones on our multi USB port OR we could use our fan. I ordered this one from amazon. It has USB’s and outlets so I’m already loving it. It’ll be a permanent part of my travel stuff now.
Don’t bring 1000 pairs of shoes. I ended up wearing my sandals, flip flops and sneakers. My ankle boots and high heels were basically a waste of luggage. However, I will probably bring water shoes for excursions. The shore at Mr. Sancho’s was hard to walk on barefoot.
While we are at it, chill with overpacking of productive stuff. I brought 3 books, my laptop (for the car trip, never opened it) and my ipad. I read one chapter in one book and touched nothing else. I joked that it was in case I caught Corona Virus and had to be quarantined for two weeks. This did not happen. (Thank God)
I did not need a blanket. I bring one when we travel because my husband likes the hotel room to be 23 degrees. The cabin wasn’t hot, but also not cold. And if you ask for an extra blanket they will get you one.
We did not need towels. I packed beach towels for Cozumel. The ship leaves towels for you to use on deck or at port. You just have to return them. That room we could have saved in my suitcase would have been fantastic.
Just because you have the drink package (which is highly recommend) doesn’t mean you have to “get your monies worth”. 6 mojitos after dinner was maybe too much. I did love the drink package though. No worrying about budgeting. And it includes soda, and specialty coffee. Order a drink and don’t like it? Who cares. Order something else.
If you want a snack, get it before 11 pm. After 11 Pizza was the only thing opened and I did not love the pizza on the Valor.
The photo package is not a must do. We bought a photo package for $99. After formal night we looked at our pictures and decided that we wasted our money. Some photos were good but not anything I was dying to purchase. We had to really search to choose our 5 photos, and that was after having a few drinks and running from backdrop to backdrop getting goofy photos on the last available night. Next time we will just purchase one or two as needed.
Enjoy and relax. Your first cruise is a learning experience. Once you’ve been on one you know what to expect for the next one!
Recently, my hubby and I went on our first cruise. We left from New Orleans with Carnival and visited Cozumel, Mexico. Recap from Port Day here.
On our second Sea Day and really the last day of our cruise, I may have woken up with a slight hangover. Turns out trying to “get your monies worth” of your drink package by drinking 6 mojitos in 6 hours isn’t a great idea. Who would have thought. Weird.
Basically, I spent most of the day napping, sipping Sprite and feeling like garbage. The effects of eating junk for three days were catching up with me so I went in search of a salad from the buffet. I had no idea the buffet would be so good! I was able to make a huge salad. Getting some vegetables in my stomach made me feel human almost immediately. Next time I will for sure be utilizing the buffet more.
The rest of the day was spent walking around and watching. People watching, searching for dolphins (no luck!) and just enjoying our last bit of Sea Time.
After our last dinner with our friends we went to pick up the last of our photos from our photo package. And we watched a couple of shows. There was an 80’s Rock Show in the theater and 90’s night in the lobby. They were both really good. Also, we caught part of the comedy show. So funny and definitely not kid friendly. I feel like this is the night I finally relaxed a bit. The rocking of the boat was still annoying but less bothersome.
I will say I am so glad our dinnermates warned us of what to expect when the boat turned into the Mississippi River. We were standing by the photo lab waiting to pick up pictures when we made the turn. Everyone leaned hard to the right and even knowing to expect it I was still kinda wondering if I was going to have to learn to swim real quick.
Last but not least we ran to the deli and got sandwiches for a late night snack. We were so over the pizza and refused to be be fooled by not making it there before 11 again. They were sold out of many things, but I was able to get a grilled cheese sandwich so I was happy as any 8 year old could be.
The next morning was disembarkation day! We woke up early (6!) and got ready to go back to reality. We had packed the night before so all we had to do in the morning was get ready and get our alcohol. (They keep any alcohol you buy in Mexico and you can pick it up in the morning.) Justin went to get our booze while I put on my makeup and did my hair. They start letting people off at 7:30, and they want you out of your stateroom by 8:30 so as soon as I was ready we went to the buffet to get some breakfast and wait for our turn. We were on the second floor and they start letting people from the first floor off first. It helps to carry your own luggage too. Otherwise, if you check your bags you will be waiting a while.
Our floor was called by 8:00 and we were outta there. Once we went through customs we called the hotel to pick us up. We had stayed in the Hampton Inn and Suites downtown Convention Center. They let us leave our car parked there for $14 a day. When they dropped us off our car was ready and waiting for us. Perfection. We were on the road home in no time.
Just because this is the end of our recap doesn’t mean it’s the end! Stay tuned. Next time I will share a summary of all my tips and tricks I learned on this trip. Plus, I need to share our time in NOLA!
Since we just took a short cruise, we only had one port stop, Cozumel!
I’m going to be honest. We were kind of nervous about what to expect. This is the first time I had ever traveled outside of the US and I didn’t know what I was going to be walking into.
Oh also, did you know that you do not have to have a passport to cruise to another country. Is it recommended, however if you are an un-organized disaster who forgets to apply for a passport until 5 weeks before you leave, then you just wing it. If you don’t have a passport, then I don’t suggest missing the boat because you will have to find your own way home… which would be a pain without a passport.
Anyway, as soon as we got off the boat there were Carnival photographers EVERY WHERE. Hop into more than one photo. Especially if you bought the photo package. We found that our pictures so far had not been amazing, and I regret not taking more during formal night! (more on that later)
Once we made our way down the pier were walked through a store filled floor to ceiling with cosmetics and alcohol and vanilla and everything your little heart could desire.
We pushed our way through with promises that we would check things out on the way back. Who wants to carry a bottle of vanilla all over Mexico?
Once we got out on the other side we got sniffed by some drug dogs and then we were free to figure out what we were doing. We walked through the port while being called from every direction to check out their diamonds and taste test tequila, but if you said no thank you, they left you alone and everything was literally fine.
We had reservations for Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club so we found a taxi, and off we went! He did confirm that we had reservations, because it was a busy day there apparently. It was a $17 cab ride for the two of us, we gave him $20.
Once we arrived they took our name, and confirmed our reservation. It’s $60 per person for unlimited drinks, food and beach access. As soon as we walked in our waiter found us (I’m so mad that I can’t remember his name!) and he led us right to our table. We hadn’t had breakfast yet, so being the mature responsible adults that we are, we ordered french fries and margaritas. With guacamole, of course. Best fries I had for breakfast this whole trip. Possibly ever.
After we ate our nutritious meal, we changed clothes and headed down to the beach. The water was cold, but like a pool, once you got in you got used to it. I’ve never really swam in the sea before, so kicking back and floating felt incredible.
Once we got done in the water we grabbed our drinks and went back to our table to enjoy some lunch. By then I had drank a strawberry margarita and a Miami Vice. They were both really good. The Miami Vice was better than it was on the cruise ship. Here are the menus:
Justin had chicken tacos and I had shrimp tacos. Easily this was my favorite meal for the entire trip. After eating we got back in the water for a little bit before drying off and heading back into town.
Hands down I 10/10 recommend Mr.Sancho’s. They have it all. You can eat, swim, relax, play on inflatables, ride horses, get a massage.. whatever. If I’m ever back in Cozumel I will absolutely go back. I felt safe and relaxed the whole time we were there.
Before leaving I had to have a shot glass to add to our liquor cabinet. What I wasn’t prepared for was the people trying to get us to go into their shops on the way out. I don’t love to buy a lot of clutter so we politely looked and then got out of the there. We took a taxi back to town, same price as before.
When we got back to the port we walked around a little bit. I was super excited to see these iguanas.
On the way out I saw some ladies trying to selfie in front of this sign. Pro tip: If you see someone struggling offer to take their photo in exchange for the same. Then you don’t have to try to take a selfie with a sign!
As promised we ran through the shop and bought a bottle of Mexican Tequila and some vanilla before boarding early. Out of fear that we were going to get left. We checked our booze and then I took a nap. Justin watched the pier runners from the Lido Deck.
After my afternoon nap (sunburns make me sleepy.. it does not matter that I applied SPF 100 3 times) we got ready for dinner. First we went to look at our pictures from the previous night, which is when I wanted to DIE. I bought the photo package when I got the beverage package. Gathering all of our photos from the trip so far, I found that choosing 5 pictures was going to DIFFICULT. We decided to run around after dinner and take as many pictures as possible.
So we met our table mates for dinner and then we ran around and took a bunch of pictures. There is no pain like waiting until the next day to see how they turned out. ugh. I wore my new faux leather leggings from Amazon that night. Seriously any kind of clothing goes. Want to wear a cocktail dress every night? Do it. Want to wear jeans and sneakers? Do it. As long as you aren’t trying to wear flip flops and a swimsuit into the dining room for dinner you are fine.
After our photo sessions we met up with our dinner friends again and went to the Love and Marriage Show. It was actually super funny and a lot of fun to watch. I might have maybe had too many mojitos (had to get my 5-6 to get my monies worth of my drink package, right?). Then we ate some pizza and headed off to bed. Definitely a fun night!
Have you ever been to Cozumel? What’s your favorite excursion?
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything using my link I may receive a commission. This is at no additional cost to you.
Today as my husband and I were reflecting on our trip, we are thinking we may want to give another cruise a try after all. It’s hard to say no to all cruises based off of one Eh Experience, right?
Day 2 was Sea Day! We started the day by immediately running to running to the Lido deck in search of Coffee. The free coffee in the dining room is actually not awful. If you want/need fancy flavored creamers make sure to bring some single serving packs with you. Otherwise, you are stuck with sugar and cream.
After getting our caffeine, we went we went to look at the water. Oh my goodness it was gorgeous. The water was so blue… for sure a lot different that the Mississippi River.
After taking in the view we went to the dining room for Sea Day Brunch. I had been told a least a hundred times not to miss out on Sea Day Brunch. I was annoying about how important it was that we did not miss it.
When we arrived in the dining room, they asked if we minded sitting with other people. Of course not! So we were seated at a table with some other cruisers. I ordered steak and eggs, and honestly seeing this picture made me laugh again. The steak is sitting on top of a half of a tomato, with fries, brown gravy, eggs and a dollop of soggy spinach tucked under my eggs. Also, I had a mimosa that tasted like Bud Light. We skipped the second sea day brunch.
The rest of our Sea Day was spent people watching, searching for dolphins (no luck!), and little bit of relaxing on the Serenity deck. If I did it over, I would have found a chair on the serenity deck and claimed it nice and early. I wish I could have gotten some more reading time in!
Reading a book by one of my favorite local authors! Check out her series on Amazon, if you haven’t yet!
The evening of our first day was Formal Night! Basically this is the whole reason for going on a cruise. Forcing my husband to wear a suit. It was so fun to dress up and take some photos. I really wish we had taken more! Here is the formal picture we purchased. Love it!
After dinner we spent the evening with some local friends that were on the same cruise. We really liked having other people around that we knew! Overall it was a fun night! Still some rocking but I was getting a little more used to it. The motion sickness medicine I brought with me told me to not take with alcohol soooooo I chose alcohol. ( I mean, we got the drink package…) Next time I will get some patches!
If you’ve cruised before, what’s your favorite Sea Day activity?
Hi. It’s Me. Michelle. I hope you haven’t forgotten all about me since I fell off the face of the planet for a couple of weeks. I was dealing with a super stressful situation. Preparing for vacation.
Why in the hell is vacation so stressful? It’s supposed to be the exact opposite of that , but somehow I manage to turn it into just another circle of hell. Packing gives me hives. Pre-vacation cleaning goes from “not having things to do when I get home” to “the entire house needs to be Spring Cleaned”. What the heck is that.
And then I get home and I still have 800 billion things to do. So, all that pre-vacation stress was not even worth it. GAH. A friend of mine said “Oh you just got back from vacation, you’re already rested.” And then I laughed so hard that I died and I came back to life and then died again.
Anyway, enough whining. Hi! I’m back. I missed you.
Last week my husband and I took our very first cruise. We sailed out of New Orleans and took a 4 day Carnival cruise to Cozumel.
We live in a small community, so everywhere I go I hear “How was your cruise?!”
And when I look at them and kind of shrug and say “Ehhhh”, it’s fun to watch their head explode.
Don’t get me wrong, because we really did have a good time and Cozumel was gorgeous. But will we rush to book our next one? Probably not.
We boarded the Valor on Thursday afternoon. Remember, this was our first cruise so we weren’t sure what to expect. Oh also, I’ve never flown so I was very lost. After going through customs we got an unflattering picture taken, and sat in rows of chairs elbow to elbow with and knee to knee with strangers. So, have a fully charged phone!
Once we finally got on the ship, we had some time to kill and were pointed in the direction of Deck 9 (The Lido Deck) for lunch. We had done plenty of research so we ran like crazy people straight to Guys Burgers. As we were sitting down we were handed some very delicious tropical drinks. I have no freaking clue what it was, but it was yummy! This wasn’t our last trip to Guys. Definitely one of the best food places on the ship. They also have a topping bar with things like jalapenos, onions, mushrooms, etc.
After eating we did some exploring, because we couldn’t get into our room until after 1:30. The Serenity (Adults Only) deck was amazing. No kids, and this little pod chairs? Yes please. Unfortunately, I never got to lay in one of these in read. Pretty sure we both have ADHD because we never sat anywhere for long.
After our tour we were able to get into our room and get our Sign and Sail Cards. Bring a lanyard so you don’t have to pay for one, to carry your lanyard. Walmart doesn’t have many great options (automotive department for men lanyards), but Lowes has a bunch to choose from. I had already bought him a fancy camo one from Wal-Mart when I found this out. Ha! Your sign and sail card will be your life line for all our cruise. Especially if you bought the drink package. You will want a lanyard. Trust me.
After we got settled it was time for Muster Drill. No, you can not get out of muster drill. If you skip it, they will find you and it will be at a super inconvenient time. Just go do it and stand uncomfortably close to strangers and hope you’ll never need to know the shit they are telling you. It’s a fun time. Its just a run down of what to do if you need to evacuate the ship. No biggie. Anxiety is neat. According to my apple watch heart rate monitor I definitely still have anxiety.
We chose the early dining time 6:00 so after getting lost all over the place, we finally found the Washington Dining Room. We were led to our table and much to our surprise we had table mates. I didn’t know that was even a thing. I can only assume that there is a magical elf at Carnival that pairs up the best potential dinner partners. They totally knocked that one out of the park. We couldn’t have been paired with a better couple, and we ended up hanging out with them on the ship. Good job Carnival match maker, if you are reading this.
I will say I wish I had thrown on a sundress for dinner! I was still in my leggings and pullover, which was FINE but lots of people were dressed up. It isn’t a necessity but I was a little jealous! I wear leggings and t-shirts every day so I should have taken the opportunity to dress up a bit. Eating dinner in the dining room was an interesting experience. Honestly, I wasn’t super impressed by the food. It was kind of flavorless, and maybe too fancy for us. But the table company was great and our wait staff was awesome. Just remember that you can order as many things as you want. You will order your appetizer, main dish, sides and desserts all at the same time. Want a salad and stuffed mushrooms? Do it. No one will judge you and if they do, they are losers. Try all the foods because it’s included, so you might as well!
Also, FYI, pizza is the only thing you can get after 11:00 so when you don’t get enough to eat in the dining room and you want a snack, pizza will do in a pinch. It’s not the best pizza ever but it will work. You can get room service after 11 but you do have to pay extra for it so it’s up to you.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad first day. But MAN, I was not prepared to be woken up at 1:45 in the morning because the boat was rocking all over the place. Our cabinets were flying open and the drawers were slamming. I woke up and said OMG we are going over. I took some sea sickness meds and tried to sleep but it was a rocky night (pun intended).
That’s all for day one! Stayed tuned for more recaps from our trip! Have you ever cruised? Was it a rocky trip?
When one of my besties told me she was bringing Mac and Cheese to my New Years Eve Party, I was automatically excited. Mac and Cheese is one of my love languages. This one is so good, I’ve already made it twice this month.
Warning I didn’t get a picture of just the macaroni, but we topped ours with chicken and bacon crumbles last night!
Macaroni and Cheese
2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked
1/4 cup butter, divided
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
1/2 lb (8 oz) Velveeta, cubed
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 ritz crackers, crushed
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 3 tbsp. butter in medium saucepan on medium heat. Whisk in flour. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil, cook and stir for 3-5 minutes or until thickened. Add Velveeta. Cook 3 minutes or until melted. Stir in macaroni.
Spray a 9×13 baking dish and spoon macaroni into the dish. Melt remaining tbsp. of butter and mix with crushed crackers. Sprinkle on top of macaroni. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake 20 minutes or until heated throughout.
I ate so fast last night that I forgot to get a picture. So, here is my toddlers mac and cheese!
This is super versatile. We have had it as a side, but last night we topped it with chicken, bacon crumbles and jalapenos. So good!
Oh goodness friends. I thought that once Christmas was over I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed but I’m pretty sure this is the Holiday Season that never ends. It just seemed like I have so many tasks looming over my head and not enough time to work on any of it. I was making a to do list in the morning and falling asleep with almost the same list every night. Finally, I just hit a brick wall. I wore myself out, ended up getting a nasty cold, and then spent all day sitting around with a sore, achy body,
The other day I was on the phone with my cousin, whining about how I felt like garbage and she suggested a few things. After putting some of her ideas into action, combined with my own, I am finally feeling human again. Here are a few ideas to consider if you need to overcome overwhelm.
Making healthy choices.
Roll your eyes all you want, but I can tell you that my brain and body both work a whole lot better if I watch what I am putting in my body. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, and work on eating clean. You don’t have to be perfect, but I promise when I eat fruits and veggies, I feel a lot better than when I eat processed crap.
Move your body
It’s a good idea in general to get some sort of exercise daily. And if you get bored easily, like me, you can switch it up to keep yourself interested. Right now I am working on lifting weights every other day (arms/shoulders one day, legs another) and then doing yoga on my off days. I can’t say enough good things about yoga. My body and mind feel better, and I’m going to the chiropractor less often. The FitOn app is great for yoga workouts and I love Yoga with Adrienne on Youtube. Both are great resources and wonderful for learning foundational poses.
Ok, call me a hippie all you want but I really do enjoy essential oils. I don’t use them as a cure all, but I have absolutely had some great results with them. Yesterday, I slathered my neck with Stress Away oil from Young Living. My neck and shoulders were so tight and I was about at the end of my rope. Within an hour the tension was subsided and today it was gone. It could be a coincidence but honestly it had been on going weeks, so whatever it was worked for me. Also, I started diffusing 3 drops of orange oil and 3 drops of peppermint oil. I feel like this really did help with my energy and clarity.
Make a list and get it done
When all else fails, I return to the fact that I’m a list maker. I have a long to do list going on right now, but within the past few days I have finally checked a few things off. Some were easy tasks, some were pain the ass tasks. Try to choose the one thing that you need to do, but don’t want to. Once its done, it’s done and you can’t procrastinate on it anymore. AND it will make all the other tasks easier.
Self care doesn’t have to be a spa day, but it should be something you enjoy. I like to take a bath after the kids go to bed with epsom salts. Maybe it’s only 30 minutes of alone time, but it’s alone time. Find something that recharges you and schedule it in. Stick to it because you should not break promises to yourself.
Lately I’ve been trying to think of what I can blog about to be helpful to other crafters. I’ve been thinking that I should talk about trademarks for a while now. Yesterday, a local business owner shared some posts about NFL Logo and Trademarks. A lot of my crafting friends shared it around, so I’m thinking maybe this is something that needs to be dug into a little bit more.
This week the Kansas City Chiefs won a play off game and they are headed to the Super Bowl. This is a huge deal because we live in the Midwest and this is basically everyone’s team. Immediately after the game local businesses starting posting orders for Chiefs shirts. And it kinda made me cringe a little, but also Not My Business.
The next day I got a few messages from people asking if I could make them Chiefs decals and shirts and I quickly said “nope… copyright laws!” and held my breath because I’m a people pleaser and hate disappointing people. But, also I have to stand my ground too. I have absolutely done things in the past for friends, because they were my friends and I hate telling people no.
However, now that I have revamped by business and rebranded, I have set ground rules to myself and one of them is that it’s ok to say no. There are so many other people in my area that do this type of thing, so maybe someone else will be willing to help them. But, I don’t do custom orders, and I certainly am not doing trademarked stuff.
And it’s for a good reason! In order to be able to see licensed stuff, you have to purchase the license… and it’s expensive. And the company has to approve what you are selling. As in: “Ok, for $3,000 you can sell up to 500 shirts with this particular design”. No thank you.
When you are selling things that aren’t your intellectual property, you are running a risk of receiving letters in the mail telling you to stop, being sued, having to pay back those profits, having your facebook shut down.
This includes buying designs. Baby Yoda is all over Etsy and Disney will shut you down in a heartbeat. Just because the design is for sale, doesn’t mean its legal to sell it.
Now, please know that I’m not trying to tell anyone how to run their business. It’s not my business how you do business. However, this is stuff that I wasn’t aware of when I started making and selling vinyl crafts. To each their own, but its food for thought. I don’t think it’s worth the risk.