The day we came back from vacation, we found out on Facebook that a deadly shooting happened within walking distance from our house. Police say it's an isolated incident that took place at a nearby parking lot. Still, when my husband and I arrived home from the airport around 11 p.m., we were a little more cautious and aware of our surroundings.
When we got home, we walked out to our front doorstep to find remnants of a box and (what looked like) a men's ring. My first thought was that someone must have stolen a package. I thought about it all night before going to bed.
The next morning we could get a better look. I swear the doorstep looked worse the night before...
When Jim saw the "Swiss" lettering, I knew right away it was a Swiss Colony box. My parents have sent us Swiss Colony holiday packages for years... and now that I live minutes away from the company, I find it slightly comical they still send me something from there.
But who stole it?
Turns out the culprit was watching me while we tried to figure it out. Creepy.
Apparently, my neighbor Sue was picking up our mail when her ring slid off her finger. Our little tenant couldn't resist the smell of cheese and chocolate and began nibbling away at the packaging. He couldn't get through the tins but he sure did enjoy the box!
I feel like after all that work... he deserves a snack. Should I give him some food?! I think it's time to come up with a name for him, too. Anyway, if you've ever had any pesky friends in your yard, I'd love to hear the stories!! Our little fella is pretty cute to us but I'm afraid one day he's going to end up a dog chew toy.
I'll be honest. I never really wanted to take a cruise because I was fearful of getting norovirus and/or getting stranded at sea (like I occasionally tell you about on the news.)
But the older I get, the less I want to plan. Planning vacations is stressful - where's the best place to stay? eat? drink? shop? play? I get tired of trying to figure it out. How do we get there? Should we rent a car? Take a shuttle? Public transportation?
By the time you get back from your vacation, you need a vacation... am I right?
So this winter, we just kind of said "screw it!" After several recommendations from co-workers (ahem, Mark Koehn and Nicole Nelson), we booked our cruise on Celebrity. Granted, we took the shortest cruise we could find just in case we hated it.
The truth is -- we really enjoyed it! It was the first vacation we had in a long time where we did NOTHING but chill out.
Overall, it goes something like this - wake, eat, sleep...wake, eat, drink, nap...wake, eat, lay out, sleep... Of course, you can do a lot more - play basketball, go swimming, gamble, hang out at the spa, shop on board, watch a show, play bingo, learn about fine art, fine wine, fine jewelry... or bar hop. You can be as active as you want and there are also a lot of things for kids to do.
We did a massage the first day and napped in-and-out of consciousness for the rest of the day. We have NEVER done that and it was truly GLORIOUS.
We eventually got up and ate a late dinner... before crawling back to bed with the sound of the waves hitting the boat and the motion of the sea rocking us into a deep sleep. Seriously, it was awesome. I feel like we've been on-the-go for about five years now and I imagine this would be the ultimate vacation for many of my friends who are parents! Send the kiddos to grandma's stateroom and sleep!
The food was amazing. It honestly, truly surprised me. We had a scheduled dinner time every night at a really nice restaurant but we only went the first evening. We ended up restaurant-hopping, including an incredible upscale French restaurant with a seemingly endless amount of courses. I don't want to sound too "country" but sometimes formal restaurants can feel intimidating... but the staff at the Ocean Liners Restaurant was so friendly and approachable. No one really cares if you don't know what to do with that fifth fork on your table. It was too dark to really take good pictures inside Ocean Liners but I shared a few.
We ate most of our meals from every day classic restaurants and the cafe by the pool. We also ordered breakfast to our room so we could eat it from our balcony -- highly recommended!
The excursions can be a ton of fun. We raced sailboats in Cozumel, called the 12 Metre America's Cup Challenge. You can get fairly physical if you want to get involved in the race. Jim and I were primary grinders and we burned a lot of energy!
Oh, I should mention - I posted on Facebook that I got a little seasick -- this totally surprised me! I grew up fishing on boats so this wasn't even something I had considered as a possibility. It was manageable but it made me a little woozy. It shouldn't deter anyone because I kept hearing from folks that it can happen on your first cruise. To treat, it's as simple as getting a little set of wristbands (you can buy them on the ship like me... or buy them cheaper ahead of time.) Those bands work within 5 minutes.
Overall, we had a wonderful time. We would like to visit the Panama Canal or even Galapagos in the future.
I kept thinking how great it would be to get a group of girlfriends together for a short cruise... or do a family event on one of the bigger cruises. It's literally great for young kids and older people. You can do so much without getting on each others' nerves.
I'll get more specific later because it was really helpful for me to read reviews before booking. Honestly, I would recommend it. We had a surprisingly good time and are thankful to come home from vacation...actually feeling rested and ready to conquer the next work week!
I love sharing news I think people will enjoy. I came across the #WhiteCouchProject this week and wanted to share it with you!
If you are in Madison Friday and Saturday, you can get wonderful, adorable pictures with your family to help raise money for the UW Carbone Cancer Center.
The idea came from Casey Klein from Klein Captured Photography is offering FREE photo sessions for families, friends and even business headshots... to support cancer research.
She says she'll stay as long as she can to get everyone who wants a picture. She'll be on the 2nd floor at Sundance in Hilldale Friday and Saturday. Appointments are encouraged but walk-ins are fine, too.
#WhiteCouchProject Facebook Event Page
I may see you there! I'll be headed over on Saturday afternoon with my family. If you end up going, let me know!
The best pad see ew I ever had was at Monsoon Siam in Atwood. If you don't know what pad see ew looks like, it's the dish on the bottom right.
READ: 5 reasons to take on Thai food at Monsoon Siam
The truth is, I'll never be able to make it taste like the dish I love so much in Atwood.
However, I recently tried to make the popular street food for my husband. For as haphazardly as I put it together, I think it turned out well. I made this version of pad see ew in about 15 minutes. I think if I put more effort into it, it would taste even better.
The recipe I played with came from Recipe Tin Eats. Definitely check it out.
Here's the recipe:
Fat rice noodles (Asian market like Yue Wah or Asian Midway Foods in Madison)
2 T sweet dark soy sauce
2 T oyster sauce
2 t soy sauce
2 t white vinegar (I used rice vinegar b/c that's what I had)
2 t sugar (or more)
2 T water
2 T vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic
1 cup chicken, slicked thin
1 large eggs (I used 2)
4 cups Chinese broccoli (leaves separated from stems, stems cut into thin sticks)
Prepare the noodles according to the packet. Basically put them in warm water, though some require soaking in boiling water. Combine the sauce ingredients.
Put a wok on high heat. Mince the garlic straight into the wok with oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and the broccoli stems and stir fry for a minute or so.
Add the noodles, broccoli leaves and the sauce. Make sure you fold in gently for the sauce to coat the noodle -- don't stir too hard or sometimes the rice noodles will turn into a giant ball of mush. I love it when the eggs get a little brown and caramelized.
I posted some pics of the dark soy sauce and the oyster sauce... because I never buy those items and thought someone might appreciate it.