Tampa

Last weekend CSP & I took a quick 4 day trip with his parents to Tampa.  The main goal of the trip was so CSP & his mom could go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against CSP’s beloved Minnesota Vikings.  The trip down was fairly uneventful, if loooong. We found our hotel then went to grab a quick dinner at Mimi’s.

The next morning we got up and had the hotel provided breakfast.  We were in a Homewood Suites and it was quite nice.  CSP and I had one room, then there was a living room, then CSP’s parents in their room.  Great set up.  After breakfast we got ready for the day and hung out in the room planning our route for the day.  Once it was all figured out we headed toward Ybor City (pronounced EEE-bore) to go to the Columbia Restaurant for lunch.  IMG_5927

The Columbia is Florida’s oldest restaurant. IMG_5938 It’s SO cool!  And as you can tell by the pictures, it was a GORGEOUS day!!!IMG_5923 Such amazing details and architecture. IMG_5937 You could spend a whole day there looking at everything. IMG_5924IMG_5925 We arrived right at 11:30 am and it was a good thing because the place really filled up and had a wait by the time we left.  CSP was so excited to order a real, traditional mojito, complete with sugar cane!IMG_5928IMG_5929  They bring each person their own warm loaf of Cuban bread. And all the waitstaff are in tuxedoes.  Very nice.  I ordered the Pollo Riojana.  It was so good. IMG_5934CSP enjoyed his Bean SoupIMG_5933 and the 1905 Salad that they make right by the table.  So mad I didn’t get a picture of our sweet server tossing that up!  We even had desert.  We shared an incredible White Chocolate Bread Pudding.  The best I’ve ever had.

IMG_5935After lunch we went into the Columbia’s gift shop.  CSP bought the salad dressing from the 1905 Salad, some hot sauce and a cigar (which he still hasn’t smoked!). Then we hit the road looking for the beach!

CSP’s mom really wanted to see the Gulf of Mexico since we were so close.  We thought about going to Clearwater Beach where I used to go as a child.  Boy has it grown!  It was so busy you’d think it was the middle of the summer, not the end of October! So we drove over to Sand Key and drove until we found a public beach access. IMG_5939 It was such a gorgeous day IMG_5953I would have been happy to nap on the beach and swim but we had other plans. IMG_5948 We did get to walk around a bit on the beachIMG_5949IMG_5943 and put our toes in the water. IMG_5946IMG_5952I could have stayed all day!!!  But it was time to get back in the car and drive over to St. Petersburg. We drove around looking at the city a bit and went to a park for a little while.  Then we found a Starbucks for drinks.  I tried the Shaken Green Tea Peach Lemonade and it was delish! IMG_5954By now it was starting to get late in the day and we were thinking about where to have dinner.  There were a couple of ale houses CSP was interested in located in St. Pete so we did a quick drive by.  Oops!  They were having their Halloween parties a little early so they were packed with costumed party people.  We even saw a clown throwing up on the side of the road.  At 5:30 in the afternoon!  They party hard in Florida!!!  So we headed back to Tampa.  Let me tell you that each trip from Tampa to Clearwater to St. Pete were not short.  Traffic- the struggle is real in Florida.  And people drive like maniacs. So we spent the better part of the day just in the car trying to get places!

We found ourselves back in Ybor City (Tampa’s Latin neighborhood) for dinner at Tampa Bay Brewing Company, a place visited by Guy Fieri on Diner’s, Drive Ins, and Dives. IMG_5955IMG_5956I had the beer cheese soup and the Firecracker Shrimp.  Best beer cheese soup ever! IMG_5985CSP really enjoyed the wings and house brewed beer. IMG_5984 You can see the big brew tanks behind us.  After dinner we were all tired from our long day so we went back to the hotel and promptly to sleep.  I love sleeping in hotel rooms.  It’s so dark and the sheets are so crisp and smell faintly of bleach.  Ahhh.

Sunday was game day!  We woke up and had hotel breakfast again then I laid down with a nasty headache. CSP came in to say goodbye and he was off to his game.  I napped until about 1:30 then showered and got ready for the day.  FIL wanted to go to Mimi’s again for lunch so we headed over there. After lunch we went down toward the stadium to find a place to park and wait for CSP & MIL to get out of the game.  We found some shade in a grocery store parking lot and waited.  Then the game went into overtime.  Luckily I had my phone with me so I passed the time texting friends and cruising Facebook.  We were parked on the main drag so once the game let out all the fans were walking by our car.  So fun to people watch!  Drunk people, families, people all decked out in team wear.  We found CSP & MIL and they were starving.  So we went to Miller’s Ale House back near our hotel.  I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of CSP & MIL in their jerseys.  They looked really cute.  At Miller’s we heard a play by play of the game.  I needed a cocktail so I ordered a creamsicle.  Very yum. IMG_5987We hung out at the Ale House for a couple hours watching the late football game.  Then it was time to go back to the hotel and pack up to leave!

We hit the road fairly early the next morning but ran into major traffic around Orlando so we didn’t get home until about 11 pm.  CSP fell asleep as soon as we got in the car. IMG_5993The pugs were happy to see us and we were happy to see them!  They were very well taken care of by our BIL, who stayed at our house the whole weekend and sent us funny text updates throughout.

Now we’re all rested up and ready for our next adventure!

 

 

 

CSP’s Fame Knows No Bounds

I was checking my email when I noticed a couple of familiar faces looking at me from my Cute Overload email.

Cute Overload logo

Cute Overload logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was CSP & Zoe! Apparently someone took our America’s Funniest Video submission and edited it down to a GIF.  It was even chosen for GIF of the week.  CSP keeps saying “I can’t believe I’m GIFT of the week!”

Check it out!  (you may have to click on it to get it to animate)6boi9usYou know, eventually all this fame will go to CSP’s head.  Zoe’s keeping it real though, she’s gangsta like that.

So Long Simon!

CSP wrecked his beloved truck a few weeks ago.   It’s a 2004 Chevy Silverado.  The cd player is broken but it runs great.  Our insurance covers a car rental and our body shop happens to also be a Hertz agency.  So they hooked us up with our rental car when we dropped off the injured truck, Q-Tip.

They gave us a 2014 Chevrolet Equinox. Unknown-2 Fully tricked out.  All the bells and whistles.  Leather seats, heated seats, sun roof, XM radio, back up camera, the works.  It even has lane assist so if you cross over the painted lines on the road it beeps at you.  Also if you get too close to the car in front of you it lights up and beeps at you.  CSP instantly named the car Simon, because Simon says you’re driving too close, etc.   If Hertz’s goal was to make CSP fall in love with the car, then they are clever, clever bastards because that’s exactly what happened.

I called CSP at work the other day and they said he was at lunch.  I called his mobile phone.  “Where are you?”  CSP- “Just sitting in the car”.   He swoons over this car.

We finally got the call that CSP’s truck is ready to be picked up tomorrow.  They are going to have to peel CSP away from Simon.  It’s true love.   Today I had a hair appointment.  My salon is over 30 miles away.  It’s a 65+ mile round trip (she’s fabulous and the price is right, even with gas).  So I drove Simon and CSP drove my car, Blanca, to work.  CSP said driving Blanca now is like driving a go cart.  She’s a Toyota RAV4 and she takes offense to that.  My phone beeped while I was at the salon, indicating I had a text message.  The following is the conversation I had with CSP via text:

IMG_4390Notice how it starts out so sweet.  Aw!  He wishes he was with me!  But NO!  It’s Simon he really wished he was with!  He’s obsessed!  I mean, I get that it’s going to be hard going from 2014 spaceship on wheels to a 2004 truck that smells like coffee and farts, but come on!  He may need grief counseling after he trades Simon in tomorrow.  Pray for my husband.

40th Birthday Mountain Extravaganza Days 4 & 5

Sunday- recovery day.  We woke up and had breakfast then got dressed to go to town. I had a bit of a headache from all the moscato I drank the night before playing Cranium! CSP & I went to Harris Teeter & the Starbucks inside the Teeter to use their free wifi to set up my new iPad Mini!  LOVE it!  SO cute!   CSP picked up a few lunch essentials while I played with my iPad in the Starbucks.  We stopped by Lowes for a quick minute then it was back home.  After lunch Papa, Gigi, Momo, Sara, and Joey left for Charlotte.   The house was suddenly very quiet.  CSP & I took a nap with the pugs.  While we were napping Marc heard voices on the porch.  Thinking it was us he went outside to join us but it was 2 strangers!  They were chilling out in our rocking chairs just feet from where CSP & I were snoozing (we had the door open, but there was a screen door).  The dudes said they thought our house was part of some tour.  Uh, no.  It’s private property.  So Marc shooed them away.  After our naps there was more porch sitting, knitting, reading, hammock lounging, and BB gun shooting.  IMG_4108 IMG_4109 IMG_4105That’s my Peach Nehi CSP picked up for me at the Mast General Store.  He loves getting an RC cola in the bottle.   In the middle are Jacob, Marc & CSP setting up their BB gun targets.  At the bottom are two little pug loafs hanging out on the porch (Kiki & Molly).  For dinner Marc made us each our own custom calzone (a fun way to finish up all the leftovers from our trip!)

Monday we woke up, packed up, and hit the road for Charlotte.  Being Mountain Pugs can wear you out! IMG_4112

40th Birthday Mountain Extravaganza Day 2

Friday morning Brotha Marc made us all breakfast.  Then we got dressed and ready to head into town.  That’s when I noticed Sara had snuck out and decorated my car!  Click to enlarge pics.IMG_4103 IMG_4100 IMG_4099 IMG_4101 IMG_4102 IMG_4104 She even drew CSP on his window with his goatee and baseball cap!  So fun!

We went into town to Walmart, Staples, the pet store, Harris Teeter, then picked up lunch at the Come Back Shack.  Best name for a burger joint ever!   We went home and had our lunch then it was nap time!  After our naps we hung out on the porch reading & knitting and watching Brotha Marc sell funnel cakes to tourists. IMG_4093The boys had a good time shooting beer cans with their BB guns.  I tried a couple shots but all I could hit was the tree!

IMG_4094For dinner Marc cheffed up yummy stir fry.  Then we played Phase 10 until even the pugs were conking out.  We were trying to wait up for Papa & Gigi & Momo to arrive but we were all too tired to stay up any longer.   We were in bed by 10:45.  Having mountain fun wears you out!

 

 

Disney Fantasy Western Caribbean Day 8- Beer from around the world and our final dinner

After CSP’s wild ride on the AquaDuck we changed clothes back in our stateroom.  Snapped a quick pic of our view of Castaway Cay from our verandah. IMG_3375 Such gorgeous water!

We went to O’Gills pub on deck 4.  CSP had a ticket for a beer tasting.  I do not enjoy beer so tasting 5 of them does not sound like fun for me.  So I was just there as the photographer.  I was surprised at how many people were there considering we were still docked at Castaway Cay.  O’Gills is a very cool Irish pub. IMG_3378 I loved the little area where we sat for the tasting.IMG_3379  The bartender told us all about the history of beer as well as interesting facts about each beer they tasted. IMG_3377 Their beers went from light to dark.IMG_3380 Five 10 ounce beers for $15 is a great deal!  Plus you learn stuff.  Well, if you can remember it after drinking 5 beers in an hour!   He had Stella Artois, Sam Adams, Boddington’s Cream, Newcastle Brown, and Guiness. We really liked the peanut dispenser dishes they had in the pub. IMG_3381 No grubby fingers digging around for nuts.  It’s a French company who makes it though- Revol.  I’m on a mission to find these in the States.  So far I’ve only found a UK site that sells them for a reasonable price.

After the beer tasting we went back to the room and….sob…packed.

Then it was time for our last dinner of the cruise.  Back in the Enchanted Garden. By now our sunburns had really set in!  Check out CSP’s red face! DSC_6055  And my pitiful farmer’s burn! DSC_6056 Thank goodness I use good makeup so I could tone down my red lobstah forehead!

For his appetizers CSP chose the Trio of SalmonDSC_6061, and the sesame encrusted tunaDSC_6062.  I had a potato and goat cheese Napoleon. DSC_6060  We both chose Potato Leek soup but CSP also had the lobster bisque.  I think he was taking advantage of being able to order a million things for dinner one last time!  I had a cranberry salad.  Yum!

For our entrees CSP chose the Beef Wellington. DSC_6063 I chose the seafood linguini.  DSC_6064  I can’t shells in my food so CSP had Beef Wellington and clams plus asparagus! lol

CSP picked the dessert trio- Celebration Cake, chocolate decadence, and a cappuccino mousse tartlet DSC_6065 and I had the Celebration cake. DSC_6066

After dinner we went back to our room and found our last (sob) towel animal of the cruise. DSC_6067 A stingray!  CSP surprised me by bringing out the towel monkey!  He had been saving him in the closet. DSC_6068

If you’re wondering how I remember the names of all our dishes and all the details of our trip (especially after the Mixology class and wine in my cabin) I take notes.  I went to the Dollar Store and bought a multi pack of these tiny notebooks. photo  I slipped one in my wristlet (one just like this one) images-1with a pen and at every meal I would just jot down what we ordered.  I would take a few minuted throughout the day to write down things we did and saw.  My friend Lisa has a mind like a steel trap and can write up a trip blog 6 months later without missing a detail!  Me- I need help!  Hence the notebook.

But wait!  There’s more!

Next up…Pictures of the ship and Debarkation Day

Disney Fantasy Western Caribbean Day 7- Believe and a Surprise Dinner

I talked all about the giving side of Fish Extenders but I failed to mention the receiving side.  It is so much fun to come back to your stateroom throughout the day and have little presents waiting for you!  I love it!  It’s like Christmas all week long!  While I was putting together my Fish Extender gifts the phone rang.  It was Palo asking if we’d like to have dinner there again tonight!  Well of course we would!

But first it was off to see Believe IMG_3352in the Walt Disney Theatre. IMG_3350 The theatre is gorgeous IMG_3353and the showIMG_3354 was a lot of fun. IMG_3351 We noticed a lot of people coming in to see the show holding popcorn and candy that they bought at the concession stand.  Tip:  Bring your own movie candy from home.  CSP & I brought our own drinks in for the show.  No need to spend money on snacks, get one later or before.

Since we had dinner reservations at Palo and hadn’t showered yet we didn’t get to stay all the way till the end of the show.  We’ll catch the whole thing next year!  We snuck out a little early and got showered and changed for yet another wonderful Palo dinner.

We arrived and the hostess recognized us.  She never once asked our names or anything, just seemed to know who we were each time we ate there.  Our server was Jelena again.  As we were being seated, Juan the manager brought us black napkins so we wouldn’t get white lint on our clothes.  Love that.

We had the antipasti again and CSP enjoyed another bowl of cioppino.  I had a bowl of white bean soup and theDSC_6046 mozzarella and tomato salad.  For our pasta CSP chose the gnocchi with asparagus and gorgonzola sauce. DSC_6047 It was melt in your mouth wonderful.  I chose the lobster ravioli.  Amazing again.   CSP’s entree was the turbot with potatoes, mushrooms and a ragout. DSC_6048 I had the tuna filet with truffle potatoes and artichoke hearts.DSC_6049  Fabulous.  While we were eating our entrees the chef de cuisine came out and asked CSP how he was enjoying the turbot.  They don’t get people requesting the turbot often as it can be a fishy fish and most people like more mild fish.  It was a nice touch that he came out to talk to CSP about his meal.

This time for our dessert we both chose the chocolate soufflé since we had heard so much about it the previous evening.  While we waited for it to arrive I snapped a picture of the iron work on the window treatments.  So pretty. DSC_6045  And here is one of the beautiful crystal light fixtures. DSC_6051

Our soufflés arrived and oh. my. goodness.  DSC_6050  Neither one of us had ever had chocolate soufflé before and we were both just blown away.  Pure decadence.  There is a vanilla sauce and a chocolate sauce plus a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Jelena prepared the soufflé for us by poking a little hole in it and pouring in the sauces.  It was still very warm and just sinful.  CSP had a cup of coffee and I had a pot of Jasmine tea with mine.  Juan (from Chile) told us there was a lady recently who came in to Palo and had a chocolate soufflé for her appetizer, entree, AND dessert!  All in one sitting!  So rich!

After our fantastic dinner Jelena took our picture. DSC_6052  Then it was time to say goodbye.

We went back to the room and changed clothes then gathered up the Fish Extender gifts.  We delivered gifts all over the ship.  Delivering FE gifts is a good way to see your ship!  And a good way to walk off a chocolate soufflé!   We ran into a lady from our cruise group while we were out so we chatted with her a bit.  Note- my Facebook profile picture is a picture of my face.  A lot of people use pics of their kids or dogs or sports teams.  And that’s all well and good.  But I can’t tell you how many times I was stopped on this cruise by people from our cruise group who recognized me from my profile picture on Facebook.   Just that night in Palo a lady (I wish I could remember her name) stopped by our table to chat because she recognized me.  It’s a little like being a celebrity!  Ha!  No, but seriously, it was so cool to meet so many people from our group who couldn’t make it to the initial meet up, and all because my picture is of myself!  Once we were waiting to get on an elevator and the doors opened.  I heard “Shannon!!!” and there was a lady in the back of the elevator waving her arms at me!  So fun!

Once all the FE gifts were delivered we went to bed.  We had an early morning the next day.  It was finally Castaway Cay day!

Next up…..Castaways, pelicans, lobsters (ouch) and beer!