Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Week Ago Today.....

A week ago today I was somewhere warm and sunny. A lot changes in a week. Today it is cold; the snow is blowing; the schools are delayed and I am wondering why I got on that flight back.

I thought I would share a few of the hundreds of photos that we took.

It started with the three of us. We have been friends FOREVER. In fact, I met Renae (the one on the right) when I was 4 and Cheryl (on left) in early elementary school. We graduated from high school together; got married around the same time; had kids the same ages and always said that the first year that we were all empty-nesters we would take our husbands and the 6 of us would go on a trip. I guess I never really thought that this day would ever come! But this was the year, so we put our heads together and booked passage on....

The Independence of the Sea cruise ship bound for Belize; Costa Maya and Cozumel. We had an incredible trip with perfect weather every day. And as fun as the cruise was, the REAL highlight was being together with such dear friends and laughing until our sides hurt and we could laugh no more.

Our first port of call was Belize where we hopped on a water taxi and headed over to the island of Caye Caulker. This is probably one of the most laid back places I have been in my life. We had hired a guide to take us snorkeling and he pulled up in his boat just minutes after we got out of the water taxi.

We followed him down one of the few streets to his shop where he fit us with snorkeling gear and got us ready for our adventure out on the coral reef.

On the 25 minute ride to the reef we saw several dolphins swimming nearby. Very cool. And then we anchored and spotted our first shark. Nurse sharks populate the area and are supposedly afraid of man. At least that is what our guide assured us of!! By the end of our day, we had seen and been quite close to 10 sharks. I even jumped in to the water shortly after we stopped at our third snorkeling location so I could get closer to the shark. What is wrong with that picture??? Me who has an ENORMOUS fear of sharks!!

We also saw sea turtles; several kinds of sting rays; a moray eel and over 50 varieties of brightly colored fish. A huge WOW factor for me! And I think Steve loved it as well!!

We then hopped back on the tender back to the boat. (Ok, in reality, this was probably taken on the tender TO Belize for everyone looked a little water logged after the day snorkeling!!!) But you get the idea!!!

It was a great day swimming in the ocean and feeling the ocean breeze and the warmth of the sun on my face.

The day in Costa Maya found us ziplining over the canopy of the forest. Unfortunately they wouldn't let us bring our cameras so I can't share much about that. It was a neat experience, but it was a very short ride with lots and lots of waiting time. Fortunately we were all together and made the most of it.

Our third port of call was Cozumel where we headed to a private beach for a lazy day of laying in the sun and boogie boarding. I think this is my new 'happy place' to go to when I need a mental escape!!

We all spent a little time trying to find the perfect wave. It eluded most of us. But fun to try!!

Mostly we lounged on the chairs and enjoyed unlimited food and drinks.

The guacamole was fantastic and I may or may not have eaten more than I should have of it!!

The days at sea on the boat were great as well. These ships have everything!!! Sitting on the upper deck and watching the activity in the pools below is great fun.

And when you get hungry.. it is not far to a nearby restaurant that serves everything from burgers and fries to prime rib and lobster!! Here we enjoy a burger, fries and malt from Johnny Rockets!

On the sports deck, one can rock climb; play miniature golf or ride the Flow rider! Us girls decided to give the flow rider a shot.

Here goes nothing... It was actually quite fun. And after getting the feel of it, I was actually able to get on my knees and let go of my hands and sit up. A wrong turn, however, and I found myself back up at the top in a crumpled heap laughing as I tried to regain my footing. Not easy with the current.

Steve pretty much was a master at it and was on his knees; doing rolls and looking pretty cool!!

And after a full day outside, we'd get ready and head down for a nice dinner and an evening of shows and lively conversation. (well..not always so lively.) Vacation can be exhausting!

But much too quickly, our trip was over and we were on a plane heading back to the snow and ice of Minnesota. Our plane landed at 3:20 on Saturday and we made a mad dash in an attempt to attend my nephews 4:00 wedding. We were too late for the wedding but enjoyed family and friends at the beautiful reception. Here I am with my mom.

Steve hangs out with my 4 brothers. 2nd one from the left is the proud father of the groom!!

And my parents win the 'anniversary' dance being the longest married couple in attendance. 57 years!!!! Way to go mom and dad!!

Congratulations Mike and Marie!!! Love you both!

And now back to reality.....

Until next time...

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Mostly Knitting.....

Yes, this is actually a post that contains mostly knitting. Since this originally started out as a knitting blog, I thought maybe it would be appropriate! I do know, however, that there are some of you out there who actually SKIP the knitting content! (Not that I would ever mention any names... Michael..)

I have decided that my very favorite thing to knit is felted bags, and my favorite bag to knit is the Ballband Bag, originally designed by Monica. I think the reason that these are my favorite is because I actually see them being used all the time by the ones I have made them for. M, K and CB carry theirs all winter, and it makes me smile to see how much they enjoy them. So I decided I have two 'adopted' daughters that I need to make bags for before the start of this semester. K chose the colors, as they are friends of hers, and I got started. Here is the first one ready to felt....

And here it is, ready for the snaps. I knit it double stranded with Cascade 220. I had two skeins of each color, but didn't quite have enough of the brown to do the whole strap, hence the red section. But I think it works. I am hoping the one I made it for well love it as much as I enjoyed making it for her.

I have the second bag well under way and hope to finish it later tomorrow. The color is a bit off in this photo, but it is brown and a beautiful lavender color. Perfect for it's intended target.. I mean, recipient! I have made a slight adjustment to the original pattern that I am happy to share if you decide to cast one on. Just shoot me an email from my profile page and I will share with you what it is.

Earlier this Fall, I traded some knitting with K. I knit her a couple of pair of fingerless gloves in exchange for her knitting me this scarf. She WAY got the short end of the deal - but don't tell her!!! This is commonly referred to as 'The Scarf That Never Ends'..... You cast on 70 stitches onto a size 5 16" circular needle - join it into a circle and knit around and around and around until you either go crazy or it is as long as you need. Whatever comes first. This is made out of Alpaca With A Twist Baby Alpaca, and I will tell you this is the warmest scarf you will ever feel. I'm trying to talk her into making one for herself.

It really helps to keep one warm on these days that the temperature is WAY below zero. And it has been that cold for days and days and days it seems! I am thankful for my knight in shining snow pants who is so willing to don the snowshoes and take Sophie out on her field walks. If you could see under his coat, you would see he has on his Alpaca Never Ending Scarf on that K made him last year. He is now a firm believer in scarves and wears it ALL the time.

Well, time for more knitting.

Until Next Time.....