Friday, November 30, 2012

Suggestions Welcome

Photobucket

The Challenge:
5 points: Read a book written by an author you have never read before.
5: Read a book you already have at home but haven’t gotten around to yet (from the library, from a bookstore, borrowed from a friend, on your e-reader, whatever).
10: Read a book written in the decade that you were born.
10: Read a book that takes place in the state/province where you were born. If you were born outside the U.S. and Canada, read a book that takes place in the country you were born.
15: Read a book titled The _______'s Daughter or The _______'s Wife.
15:  Read a book that was originally written in a language other than English.
20: Read a book with a number in the title. This could be an actual digit or a number like “hundred” or “thousand.” No arbitrary numbers are allowed (e.g. several, few, many, couple).
20:  Read a book set during Christmas or another winter holiday.
20: Read a book written by an author who shares your initials.
25: Read a Pulitzer Prize winner or finalist for fiction.
25:  Re-read a book.
30: Read three books from three different genres (e.g. romance, historical fiction, horror, biography, etc.).

One of my favorite bloggers is hosting another book challenge and I'm super late to the game. If you want to play catch up like me, click the image and sign up! I participated (and failed to complete) the summer challenge and it was a lot of fun. Here's hoping I can keep up this time around. Does anyone have any suggestions for any of the categories?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Worst Timing Ever

On about Day 2 of our cruise, I started to wake up with a mild sore throat. I chalked it up to the air being pumped into the cabin all night. But I ended up spending most of my time in bed on the last two days of our cruise.

Of course I dragged myself out of bed for dinners every night. I'm not going to miss out on a fancy dinner just because of a little cold. I also made it to the Motown show. SO fun! I wish I could have lived in that musical era.

I completely missed out on our last port, Dubrovnik, Croatia. I was SO looking forward to it, but there's no way I would have enjoyed myself if I left the bed. Mama and Will got some in-law bonding time together on shore.

Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik, Croatia

I asked them to come up with a blog post about Dubrovnik, but neither of them had a lot to say. So this turned out to be more of a picture post than a blog post. They were, however, both really excited about seeing a pirate ship.

pirate ship

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

No hot water, no electricity, Happy Thanksgiving

Last week our water heater started leaking. No big deal, we kept an eye on it and Will thought he might have seen a spot he could tighten a few screws or nuts or bolts or whatever. The next morning we woke up to no electricity. BIG DEAL! We're on a swings shift schedule so we woke up in the early afternoon. We couldn't tell by our neighbors' lights if we were the only ones without power. We had errands to do on base so we got things done and crossed our fingers that it was a neighborhood power outage and it would be fixed when we got back. Nope. Will tried calling our landlord several times, but he went straight to voice mail. He shrugged, gave me a kiss on the forehead, wished me luck, and left for work.

An hour later, our landlord was knocking on the door. I'd love to know what he did differently. Because Will and I flipped switches and played with the panel with no results. I swear the landlord did the exact thing we did and the power came back. He must have whispered some magic incantations and blew some fairy dust or something. He took a look at our water heater and deemed it inoperable. He pointed to where it was leaking and said the power probably went out because the leak was near the electrical part of the heater. He shut it off and called a technician. Luckily they were able to come out the next day (Thanksgiving Day). I texted Will to take a shower at work or to ask Pierce if he could borrow their shower. But he was tired when he got out and went on autopilot straight home. Poor guy had to take a cold shower. And since our heat is connected to the water heater, we had to bundle up to hang out in the house.

Luckily, Will and I decided to forego a traditional Thanksgiving meal. We didn't make any plans with friends this year. We wanted to stay at home, enjoy each other's company, and eat pizza. Since our oven runs on gas, our plans weren't foiled even if the electricity had stayed out. The technician came in the late afternoon, tinkered around for an hour or so, then let us know that we wouldn't have hot water again. (He spoke English amazingly well.) He had to bring back a replacement part in the morning. No big deal. The next day he popped in the new part and we practically kissed his feet. We immediately enjoyed a hot shower and turned on the heat.

That would be our big Thanksgiving adventure....OH WAIT!

...there's more.

"Babe, it's leaking again."

Noooooo!

Albino came to check it out and let us know the technician wouldn't be able to come until Monday. Since the leak was in a different spot, he couldn't see a reason to have to turn off the heat again. Thankfully it took a little more tinkering but it's fixed...fingers crossed.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Uh...Oops

At The Temple of Zeus Will and I made friends with the local animals.

This little cutie was like putty in my hands as soon as I started scratching behind her ears and under her chin.

The Temple of Zeus

I tried stalking some pigeons when Will scared of a few of them into flying up. I missed a cool shot so I told him to do it again. He ran at a cluster of four of them hanging out near us.

stalking pigeons


Success! I got a couple cool shots out of it.


"Oh crap!" Will started ducking down.

pigeons

That handful of pigeons scared up the whole flock and next thing we know...

Temple of Zeus

We were terrified they were going to fly into us or poop on our heads, but at the same time we couldn't stop laughing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Am I Invisible?

While we were at the Panathenaic Stadium, I turned around and noticed there was a nice view of The Acropolis.

"Hey! Hey, Mama! Will!"


"HEY! Look over here and smile!"


"SERIOUSLY?"


Palm, meet face. I gave up after the third attempt. Oh and they were standing maybe two feet away from me the whole time.

I could do a whole series of the two of them "not hearing me" aka what I call "ignoring me". 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ATHENS!

I have been dying to go to Greece since I was very very young.

Sidebar: I started reading at a young age. By reading I mean devouring all the books I could. True story: Seester and I got grounded from reading as a punishment when we didn't do our chores. So that kind of gives you an idea of what I mean by I was reading at a young age.

All those Greek mythologies and the Hercules show (you know which one I'm talking about...the one with Kevin Sorbo) had me falling in love with the country. So you can imagine how much I was looking forward to this stop on our cruise.

After some research and discussion we decided to book a tour for this stop. We wanted to see as much as possible as efficiently as possible and we wanted reliable transportation. It's a good thing we did! There were three major cruise ships docked at the same time, each carrying over 2,000 passengers. The traffic was HORRIBLE.


Athens tour bus
Our tour guide and bus
Our first stop was The Acropolis. It was a traffic jam from start to finish. But that didn't stop me from giddily running around snapping millions of pictures.


The Acropolis
The ridiculous crowds at The Acropolis
The Erechtheum
The Erechtheum
Parthenon
Then our bus stopped by Panathenaic Stadium, home of the first modern day Olympic Games.

Panathenaic Stadium
In front of the stadium
Panathenaic Stadium
Such a pretty venue to see in person
After that, we were dropped off in Plaka. We walked a short way up to The Acropolis Museum. They had an excavation site beneath the building. There were glass floors so we could see what was going on down there.


The Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis Museum
Next we walked by Hadrian's Arch on our way to The Temple of Zeus.


Hadrian's Arch
Gateway between old and new Athens
The Temple of Zeus
The Temple of Zeus with The Acropolis in the background.
We rounded out our time in Athens with some Greek yogurt. I got mine with local honey and walnuts. I'm not normally a fan of nuts, but it was delicious with my yogurt.

Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt!

Friday, November 16, 2012

It's Confirmed

While Mama was traveling all over with Will and I, she confirmed a question that has been weighing on me for awhile:

Do I still talk in my sleep?

Answer? I sure do!

The mister is a heavy sleeper and an occasional talker. Sometimes he'll wake me up with his chatter and, much to my delight, he usually responds if I try to engage him in a conversation. One of my more favorite nighttime conversations:
Will: It's your loss.
Ech: What?
Will: You lost.
Ech: I lost what?
Will: The twenty grand.
Ech: Yeah right. How?
Will: In the fight. (starting to kind of wake up)
Ech: (trying really hard not to laugh now) No, I didn't lose. You did!
Will: It's how it went in the dream.
Ech: There's no way you beat me in a fight.
Will: We didn't get to it. But that's where it was going. 
At this point he woke up fully and was very grumpy (as always) that I was talking to him in his sleep again. But it's funny that my husband dreams about fighting me in an MMA fight. Apparently he's cocky too if we didn't even get to the fight and he's already claiming the $20,000 prize.

According to Mama, I wasn't saying actual words. But I was giving the impression that I was scolding Will for something. So I guess even in my dreams, he's annoying me. Ha! No wonder we're duking it out in his dreams.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mykonos

Cruise Stop #2: Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos was pretty...from afar. We didn't go to the other side of the island where I hear all the beautiful beaches are. I wasn't feeling well so we stuck close to town and the boat. The town was pretty to look at while riding the tender from the ship to the shore. But once we got off, there was a lot of trash and cat/dog poop lying around. Not exactly welcoming, but the buildings with their pretty doors and windows helped offset the mess.


The island can be subjected to some fierce winds, so their famous (now defunct) windmills are a cool sight to see. I wish I could show you our pictures from our day. But somehow through user error (mine) and my computer's umpteenth attempt to annoy me to death, all our pictures from the day were lost. I was downloading all our pictures from our cameras everyday to my laptop to keep our cards free. I also backed them up onto a thumb drive. Even with all my carefulness, the pictures are gone. 



Mykonos art
The art we bought. It's at a weird angle to reduce the glare from the plastic around it.
We got our first taste of Greek food in Mykonos. I got a plate of Greek meatballs, Mama got baklava  and Will got a Greek beer. Mama and I enjoyed the meatballs. Will discovered he's not a fan of Greek spices. Mama's baklava was delicious and Will's beer wasn't bad.

There were tons of stray cats hanging out around town. I bonded with as many as I could. In fact, I got left at the windmills because Will and Mama didn't realize I had stopped to pet a little cutie. If I could, I would have brought her home.


Thank goodness for souvenirs to help remind us of our day.



Mykonos art
Got this small platter for a deal since they were clearing out their store for the end of the high tourist season.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Corfu


Cruise Stop #2: Corfu, Greece

The port of Corfu was outside the actual town so we used the ship's shuttle service and got dropped off in town.

Corfu shuttle
On the shuttle with Mama
The shuttle stop was right outside the Old Fortress of Corfu and it had just opened so we decided to check it out first. We only saw a few couples the entire time we were exploring the huge fort.

Old Fortress of Corfu
The entrance to the Old Fortress (Will is pretending to fire the cannon)
Old Fortress of Corfu
Ech & Will
St. George's Church
Church within the fortress.
We started wandering through all the areas and realized that we could climb to the very top.

Old Fortress of Corfu
We followed a path that wrapped around to the top.
There were some amazing views from there.

Old Fortress of Corfu
View from the top
By the time we made our way back down, a lot more people had started showing up so it's a good thing we got all our pictures in early.

After that we wandered through the streets and shopped.

Corfu
Shopping in Corfu
I got myself a Nutella crepe...best crepe I've had in a long time.

Nutella crepe
Mama was awed by the size of the Nutella jars.
While I ate, Mama and Cass tried out a fish spa. Fish freak me out so even when I was done eating, I had no desire to join them. I like to look at pretty fish. But it's the idea of them touching me that gives me the heebie jeebies.

fish spa
Letting fishies eat their dead skin...gross.
That night they had an aerial show in the center of the ship and an Abba show. The aerial show was pretty cool. The Abba show was just alright. I only recognized the songs from Mamma Mia!

aerial show
They danced on the ship's chandelier. So cool!

We all enjoyed Corfu. The fortress was well worth the entrance fee and we found some great buys in Old Town Corfu. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bari

Cruise Stop #1: Bari, Italy

I assumed Bari would be a charming seaside town in southern Italy. I was so looking forward to visiting! But I was wrong. I sure, there were a few charming aspects. But for the most part Mom, Will, and I spent our time making the best of the trip. Luckily we got to see some pretty interesting sites. Unluckily, we docked on a Sunday so only a handful of shops were open. I guess that's a good thing because I'm a big impulse shopper and a terrible window shopper once I get in the spending mood.

The port itself was a typical port. Industrial and not really pretty. 


Port of Bari
Port of Bari
We made our way through the Bari maze to Basilica di San Nicola (Church of Saint Nicholas). When we got there, they were finishing up their Sunday service. It was amazing how many tourists didn't care. They walked around taking pictures of the priest and the church without any regard for the congregation. We came back 10 minutes later when they were done.


Basilica di San Nicola
Basilica di San Nicola
The church has a beautiful golden roof and an amazing...uh...pulpit area. I'm not familiar with what it's officially called. If anyone knows, I'd love to be educated on the matter.


Basilica di San Nicola
Gorgeous golden roof
Basilica di San Nicola
Pulpit Area
We wound our way along the water all the way around to Castello Svevo. They turned parts of the castle into a museum of old artifacts and art.


Castello Svevo
Castello Svevo
Castello Svevo
Will checking out some carvings
After the castle, Mama got her first taste of Italian gelato. She chose fragola (strawberry). I had my favorite (yogurt). Will passed and was designated as picture taker for the momentous occasion


Gelato
Gelato!!!
Next, we found the Cattedrale di San Sabino aka the Bari Cathedral.


Cattedrale di San Sabino
Cattedrale di San Sabino
Mama wanted to take more pictures of the cute buildings we found, so I took a rest on a bench and I found this graffiti:


Ti Amo
Ech loves Will
After getting back to the boat, going to dinner, and seeing that night's show we got back to the room to find this surprise!


towel art
Mr Penguin
Will had left his sunglasses on the bed so our attendant used them for his work of art. We were thoroughly entertained by our little penguin.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I Can See Our Ship, But I Can't Get to It!

Before a cruise, one normally looks up the port and where exactly it's located. Easier said than done when it comes to Venice. If you want to save a buck or two, here's exact directions on how to get there from the Santa Lucia Train Station.

--As soon as you reach the front steps of the station, turn right and follow the canal.
--Go over that big ol' bridge. There are porters that will cart your luggage over if you wish. I had a husband and a freakishly strong mother to carry our bags. I got maybe halfway...probably less...before Will came back and grabbed my bag in one hand and his in the other and walked off with them.
--Once you're over the bridge, take a right. Cross over to the other side if you have an opening now, or wait until you get to the top of the hill. You should have a parking structure on your left and a low brick wall on your right.
--Follow that and loop around down to the main entrance to the ports. **You can skip this step if you like and catch the People Mover (yes, that's really the name of it) to the first stop for a euro per person**
--Keep walking until you see signs for the ships. There might be some cruise workers near the People Mover stop calling out either your ship name or cruise line name. They'll direct you or hook you up with a shuttle ride to your ship.

If you're coming straight from the airport, here's a great read for you. They give all your options.

We went the most indirect route resulting in a dead end, a few turn around moments, and an extra walk up hill for no reason. At one point we could see the port, but a fence and some sort of lot, and possibly some water was separating us from it. My mom and husband were more than happy to walk back to the People Mover or try to catch a water bus, but I was stubborn and insisted we pinch pennies for my pride's sake. The worst part? We started to walk up the correct street when we came off the bridge...but halfway up we turned around and walked another way because it didn't look right. Palms definitely met faces when we realized our mistake.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Recipe Swap!

I'm four days late in posting this, I'm so sorry! Originally, I thought I'd be a part of the swap. But then life happened and my vacation is turning out to be more GO GO GO than I thought it would be. Since there's only four people participating, I thought I'd introduce you all to each other here and you can all throw in your recipes to each other. Genius right? Okay, so in reality I forgot to ask for all your emails and this was the easiest solution I could come up with.

Without further ado, I introduce you to the cooks/bakers of the swap. Click on their image to check out their sites.:
Abbey: Vegetarian! Love fall recipes and Christmas treats and food altogether really :)
Jennifer: I'm a recovering picky-eater with a newfound sense of adventure and a wicked sweet tooth. I love baking, and although I'm not on a gluten-free diet, I'm always looking for new gluten-free recipes to make for my gramps (who has Celiac's disease). I'm the kind of girl who makes homemade pickles, accepts meatballs as payment, and always licks the spoon.
Sarah: I'm in England, so I don't really know what you guys do for Thanksgiving. But I know Halloween and Christmas recipes that I could swap with people. Or introduce you to the traditional Bonfire Night fare.
Dmitri: Amateur cook but ambitious, grew up with Russian/Irish cuisine and now taking on French gastronomy :)

Dmitri actually included a link to his post on Apple Crumble. It looks amazing.

I hope you all are able to get some great recipes out of this swap/online meet up. I'm sorry I couldn't be involved. Let me know when you post about your new recipes! I'd love to see how they came out and feature them here on Ech & Will. Email me here.