Cruising, Culinary Cuisine

Carnival Fantasy — Cruising Along On A Rocking Ship!


Hello Readers, and Carnival Fantasy:

Yesterday, I reported briefly about the first bitterly cold day of our cruise. Although it was cold, Phil and I could not check into our room for a bit, so we dragged laptops, cameras and other items around with us. We chose to eat at the Mongolian Wok and Off the Grill where food was plenty along the buffet lines. I was impressed with how clean the buffet area was, choosing to do my best to eat healthy via the Mongolian Wok. After lunch we continued our journey to find our friends and tour the ship. Climbing onto the next level, I found the jogging and walking track and mini-golf.

Carnival Fantasy would not depart until 4pm, so we walked around in hopes to stay warm. Of course my husband is always hot natured so he wasn’t cold. We chose to locate our cabin so we could drop off the personal items we were carrying. Trust me, next time we will not pack laptops. Never did we use them, along with cell phones! This was a nice way to ‘unplug’ for a bit.

I changed from boots to my ShapeUps, deciding to find the walking and jogging track. Believe me, it was cold there. The wind rushed thru my hair, freezing my ears, but I was determined to get a few laps in. Meanwhile, Phil is still trying to find our friends — on a cruise ship loaded with guests, staff and a few children.

After my brutally cold walk, Phil continued leaving voice mails to locate our friends. I heard someone whistling in the distance, looked up and finally — our friends approached!

We were scheduled for early dinner at the Jubilee Dining Room. Jubilee Dining Room resembled an upscale restaurant, with the wait staff dressed in black and white, intimate lighting and soft music. While the ship rocked back and forth, ever so relaxing, I ordered chicken breast — the driest chicken breast I have ever eaten. If memory is correct, Phil ordered a steak or maybe it was prime rib. Nevertheless, it was small. When I saw the prime rib, I could not believe my eyes…. The prime rib was the thinnest prime rib I have ever seen – reminding me of a package of thin deli meat.

On the menu, there was a box with several tempting entrees that I do not recall now. Lesson and note to myself – carry your journal everywhere, even when on a vacation. What I do recall is the entrees listed within the box were an additional $20.00!

As a food and travel writer, I know quite a bit about culinary cuisine. The baked potato our friends ordered was overcooked and dry. Carnival Fantasy could do a much better job with their dinner presentations along with serving sizes and culinary skills! The wait staff was amazing. Never did I have to request a refill of water or decaf coffee. I splurged on the chocolate molten cake, served in a small ramekin dish with vanilla ice cream. It was delicious!

After dinner, we relaxed a bit and went to the Cat’s Lounge. Some critics have reported the Cat Lounge is a smoking lounge. Trust me, no one ever smoked in the lounge while we were there. Nor did I smell the dreadful tobacco aroma in the lounge! As the ship continued to rock back and forth, like a slow-moving swing or rocking chair, we relaxed, enjoying the music of most of the karaoke singers. Of course, I sang although on this night we had a new karaoke DJ who catered to one particular singer I reported about yesterday in my blog post. This singer sang four songs before I was able to sing a second song. And in case you were wondering what I drink before finding the courage to sing??? ‘Water with lots of lemon!’ I am one of the rare animals who loves to hop on a stage and take it over!

What songs did I sing? My signature songs — of course:

At Last, Etta James version
Georgia On My Mind, Ray Charles version
Unchained Melody, Righteous Brothers

After three songs, I was ready to call it a night, while the ship continued rocking and relaxing me. I do believe this is the most I have relaxed in a long — LONG TIME!

Carnival Fantasy — I hope you change a few things on my next cruise — I am more than certain we will cruise on the Carnival Fantasy again. When? That’s my little secret!

Bon Voyage!

Carnival Fantasy, Cruising

Cruising On The Carnival Fantasy…


Dearest Readers, and Carnival Fantasy:

Yes, it is true. During January 8 – January 13, 2015, my husband and I cruised from Charleston, SC to Freeport and Nassau, Bahamas on a bitterly cold day in Charleston. Just picture it, if you will. Packing for the cruise, I listened to the weather forecast in Charleston and the Bahamas. The forecast for Charleston on the morning we boarded the ship was a whopping — 19 degrees! Yes, you read correctly — 19 degrees with a bitterly cold wind! The forecast for the Bahamas was 72 degrees.

Dressed in a turtle neck with long sleeves, a tunic, a scarf, sweater and leggings, I slipped my gorgeous fake fur coat on, along with mittens. I was certain once I boarded the ship I would change into appropriate resort clothing for the cruise. I did not!

Walking on the ship, I shivered. The ship was so cold. I asked an employee of the cruise line why it was so cold on the ship. He smiled. “Carnival Fantasy does not have heat on board.”

Br-r-r-r! I remained dressed for Alaska, or New England!

Did we enjoy the cruise? Well…let’s just say, Carnival Fantasy chose to change a few things during the cruise.

WHAT CHANGED?

Mainly, the singing competition. Since Carnival Fantasy departs from Charleston, I have several friends who cruise on this ship on a yearly basis. I was told to make certain that I sign up for the singing competition. When I inquired about it at guest services, I was told the singing competition had been cancelled — due to — the FOOTBALL game!

“You mean to tell me that I’ve paid for a cruise where I planned to enter the competition only to watch a football game?”

I should’ve stayed at home! Perhaps that set the mood for me at Carnival Fantasy; however, since this ship departs from Charleston on a regular basis, my husband and I will probably cruise on it again in the future — that is — when it is warm enough to cruise on a ship without heat!

CARNIVAL FANTASY NEEDS TO IMPROVE, OR REMODEL A FEW THINGS…

Such as Cats Lounge where karaoke was held. Cats Lounge is decorated with gigantic Campbell’s Soup Can memorabilia, and the stage consists of a gigantic Goodyear tire — with only a slight step where the performer (excuse me, karaoke singer) must EVER SO CAREFULLY step onto the thin tire edge of the stage. I wore boots, making it a big difficult to step on to the stage. My recommendation for Carnival Fantasy is to modify this stage – considering those who wear high heels and boots. Otherwise, someone will fall – and perhaps get a free cruise — due to injuries!

The sound system on the first night of the cruise was a bit off. Fortunately, an engineer climbed on to the stage to adjust the sound and all was better. Of course, I sang — several songs on the first night. The DJ, Adien, gave me a small Carnival Fantasy trophy. How nice! On the next evening, we had a new DJ. Although he tried to please the entire audience, he appeared to favor one singer – over and over again. Yes, his voice was a good voice, reminding me of Lou Rawls, and I listened with delight while wondering just WHEN I would sing again. This large, a bit disabled guy who entered Cats Lounge on a mobilized scooter, amazed me how he could get on stage! Remember, the stage is not exactly safe, nor is it meeting any ADA [American Disability Act] guidelines. Maybe they are exempt from these guidelines since they are a cruise ship. I confess, each time this man got on the stage I held my breath, and each time I stumbled wearing boots on the stage, I held my breath — since I am a bit clumsy!

I will have more details later about our cruise — along with photographs to share, but for now, I must complete my work out and get busy with this day.

Will I go back to Carnival Fantasy? Probably yes — only this time, I will inquire about the events, along with the cancelled events. PLEASE CARNIVAL FANTASY – don’t cancel an event due to football again. Guests can watch football at home!

Losing Weight, Weight Watchers

Moving On — With Weight Watchers…


Dearest Readers:

I apologize for not posting much this month. Let’s just say, it’s been a most unusual month for me, starting with getting so frustrated with weight loss, the holidays and my lack of interest in losing weight, combined with a cruise we took on the Carnival Fantasy. I promised myself I would be good on the cruise…the reality is – I’m human and I blew it big time! Arriving home from the cruise I hopped on the scales and almost cried. A ten pound gain! Yes, I beat myself up — not physically, just mentally…and then, I decided it was time to return to Weight Watchers and face the music.

From January 8 – January 13, we were cruising from the Charleston, SC port to Freeport and the Bahamas. Every day, I ate breakfast, ever so careful of what I ate. Fruit. Cheese omelet. No toast. Coffee. When I tried to log in to e-tools of Weight Watchers, I could not — unless I wanted to pay the outrageous rates for “Cellular by the sea.” I got lazy. Never writing any of my food intake in my journal. Lazy…LAZY…just downright a Lazy Lion. After all, I was on vacation! At lunch, I treated myself to cheeseburgers and fruit and — the dreaded — french fries!

I said a prayer that God would motivate me. He replied it was time for me to find my motivation, and so I did. On the cruise, I took the stairs most of the time, clocking over 500 steps in five days. Yes, occasionally, I huffed and puffed on the stairs, but I refused to stop. Breathing a bit heavily (thanks to asthma) I refused to give up. I did the jogging track, walking 15 laps – daily, with exception of the day it rained. Back at home, I hopped on the treadmill, increasing the speed and incline. I huffed and puffed my way with a newfound determination. I was so angry and disappointed with myself.

Although Weight Watchers does not encourage it, I weighed daily, watching those dreaded pounds decreasing! “Eureka,” I shouted to myself. My four-legged friends popped their heads up to see why I was so excited. Those uninvited pounds were going away! I was so proud.

Today, I decided it was time to face the music completely, get on the scales at Weight Watchers and get rededicated to my new healthy eating weight loss style. “Hello, NordicTrack…You are now my best friend.”

Using the treadmill five days last week, I think I actually heard it moaning from overworking. I suppose that treadmill had a nice rest while I was out-of-town, and now, I am a workout queen!

Arriving at Weight Watchers this morning, I could not find my weekly pass booklet, so I opened e-tools to show I was a member. Believe me, everyone at Weight Watchers knows this ‘totally shy and reserved’ woman that I am not, so they were happy to see me returning to face the music. My weight gain that was over ten pounds? Now, according to Weight Watchers, it is only a 2.2 pound gain! Think I’ll do a happy dance, just to get a few more steps and movements going!

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE HOLIDAYS AND WEIGHT LOSS/GAINS?

According to Weight Watchers, the average gain of a person during the holidays is only one pound. Okay…So, I’m not an average person – or normal! I am me. Determined. Stubborn, Opinionated and Gregarious. I simply LOVE being the center of attention. Anyone who knows me can attest to that statement!

This year, even though I told myself I would not gain — I would lose, and on the cruise, I would not gain — I sabotaged myself! Like most women who cook during the holidays, I found myself nibbling and not counting those infamous “B-L-T’s.” BITES…LICKS…and TASTES. I baked cookies and cakes. Some of you who read my blog regularly might remember two years ago when I went on a binge with “Christmas cookies.” I do not know what caused me to be so weak during the holidays of 2014, but something certainly sent me on a downward spin. I am so happy that I had a talk with myself, telling myself I could not afford to gain ten pounds, and I could not afford to quit Weight Watchers.

Today was a good day for me. Although at Weight Watchers it appears that I only gained 2.2 pounds. The reality is since last week I have lost eight pounds!

Yes, I am using that NordicTrack and I’m certain it is a bit tired from all the workout…and I do aerobics, so I am back on the move — ready to attack this year of 2015 with a force. I do plan to make my goal weight this year and become a Lifetime member of Weight Watchers. Will I accomplish this?

Don’t laugh! Of course I will. After all, I am a stubborn, opinionated, determined woman who does not believe in the word No! Think I’ve proven that over the holidays and at the cruise. No is not an option! This I WILL achieve!

You JUST WAIT!

DREAM…

BELIEVE…

ACHIEVE…

My bracelet reminds me of this daily. After all, today is a new day…and I AM BACK!

Music Notes, Press Releases

The Top 10 Workout Songs for January 2015


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

The Top 10 Workout Songs for January 2015

Fort Wayne, IN – January 4, 2014 – The highlight of this month’s workout music round-up is the balance it strikes between perennial favorites and relative newcomers. By veering between the two, the mix manages to send both familiar and fresh at the same time.

Starting with the hits, you’ve got a pair of collaborations uniting Jessie J with 2 Chainz and Wyclef Jean with Avicii. Continuing with the upstarts, you’ll find a song from Penguin Prison that could pass for vintage Hall & Oates along with a club track from Alesso & Tove Lo featuring lyrics by David Bowie.

The whole affair kicks off with AC/DC’s first new song in six years. The song’s beats-per-minute count (BPM) is slow enough to ease you into things physically, while its thundering riff gets you fired up mentally. If you need a power track mid-routine, press play on the fastest (and most popular) song of the month: Sheppard’s ode to taking plunges.

For most folks, the new year is a time for taking stock and making changes–mixing things that worked in the past with new approaches for the future. This month’s top 10 list does a little of the same–blending veteran hit makers with promising, newer acts. To that end, it might just be the perfect playlist for the new year and your next workout.

Here’s the full list, according to votes placed at Run Hundred–the web’s most popular workout music blog.

AC/DC – Play Ball – 119 BPM

Deadmau5 – Some Chords (Dillon Francis Remix) – 129 BPM

Penguin Prison – Calling Out – 124 BPM

Charli XCX – Break the Rules – 125 BPM

Wyclef Jean & Avicii – Divine Sorrow – 130 BPM

Mr. Probz, T.I. & Chris Brown – Waves (Robin Schulz Remix) – 120 BPM

Jessie J & 2 Chainz – Burnin’ Up – 124 BPM

Alesso & Tove Lo – Heroes (We Could Be) – 126 BPM

Sheppard – Geronimo – 142 BPM

Ella Henderson – Ghost – 105 BPM

To find more workout songs, folks can check out the free database at RunHundred.com. Visitors can browse the song selections there by genre, tempo, and era—to find the music that best fits with their particular workout routine.

Contact:
Chris Lawhorn
Run Hundred
Email: mail@runhundred.com
###

Free Writing, Holidays

Happy New Year…2015


Hello Readers and Happy New Year:

Just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a fresh and Happy New Year, 2015. Today, all of us step into a new journey in our lives…a new year.

What will happen to our world in 2015?

What will we accomplish?

No one has a magical looking-glass to glance into to find out, or predict. Some people have the power to predict what might happen, but none of us truly know.

We must face each morning with a new outlook. A new beginning…A new breath.

I wish all of my readers a Happy and Healthy New Year. May all of us step into our new year with a fresh outlook. A positive attitude. Faith. Belief. And most of all, may we appreciate those we know, and those we will meet this year.

May our lives be blessed just to know, appreciate and love one another! May we all dance to our own music. May we see and appreciate the sunrises and sunsets in our lives and most of all, may we face each day with a new beginning!

Happy New Year, 2015!