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Winners!

We’ve been having some issue’s with our internet, so I appologize for the lack of updates.  I was finally able to pick winners for the two giveaways though!

The winner of the Cook’n recipe software was – Debbie Johnston

The Winner of the Tropical Traditions Coconut oil was – Nancy PA

Winners will have 72 hours to contact me before I move on to someone else.

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Real Adventures on St Marten

Phillipsburgh St Maarten was our 2nd stop of the cruise.  This was the only island where we actually booked a proper tour, mostly because it was so inexpensive and there didn’t seem to be a lot of things to do, or at least not stuff we could do on our own.  By taking the tour we ended up seeing a lot more than we would have on our own.  In the end it was the best visit we had due to a combination of the amount of things we were able to see and the ginormous family we shared the tour bus with.  There were 20 of them plus us, and they were so awesome that they helped make our day.

We went with Jo Junie tours.  The cost was $40 per person and that included all you can drink refreshments.  The tour was a little different from what was advertised but none of us were complaining.  We hopped on the bus, got our drinks, got to know the others a little.  I must say again, what a fabulous group!  I was a little worried about being surrounded by such a large group that we didn’t know but they made us feel right at home.  Our first stop was at an iguana farm which was totally Chelsea’s thing.  Growing up she had geckos and always wanted an iguana, so she took about 50 pictures.  It was neat to see them all running around in their natural environment.  The largest was over 15 pounds!

The next stop was Orient Bay where we were treated to the site of the most beautiful ocean view I’ve ever seen along with some coral and sea animals that had been brought up for us by a local.  I actually got up the nerve to hold one of the animals and wow, was it weird.  In the picture it looks sort of soft and fluffy, it wasn’t.  More prickly, and the thing was constantly *moving.*  You can see Chelsea’s reaction in the picture.  After that we headed in to Marigot for a short shopping trip.  Marigot was beautiful.  It is called the French Riviera of the Caribbean, and I can totally see that.  We were under a bit of time constraint at that point so we all quickly hopped out to grab a souvenir or two then hopped back on for our last stop.

Our last stop was Maho Bay/Sunset Beach.  Stunning, just absolutely stunning.  Not only was the beach downright gorgeous but it’s draw is that it’s so close to the airport that the planes get so close you can practically touch them when they come in for landing.  I’m told you can see the pilots, although I didn’t try.  By the time we were set to go I think we were all exhausted and ready to head back to the boat, that is the sign of a good day if you ask me.

St Martin seemed to be the least commercialized for tourists, and I really enjoyed it all the more for that.  I think I mentioned once before that seeing what a place wants to show me isn’t really what I’m looking for when I visit.  I want to see who and what they really are.  Hopefully experience the day to day lives of the locals even just a tiny bit is more exciting to me than going to a full blown luxury resort.  I felt like I got a tiny glimpse in St Martin, and if I had to choose one island to spend more time on it would be this one.

Some of my fav pics that we took on St Marten.

   
   
   
   
 

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Real Adventures in St Thomas

We’ve been home for 4 days already, and I’m still having a hard time getting my head where it needs to be.  Seems I’m still on Caribbean time, and I have a feeling I will be for a while.  We had such a good time that I’m already planning our next one!  Of course I have to win another trip before that can happen but I’m working on it.

I’m going to do a review of the cruise itself but since it was the largest part of our vacation I will save that for the last post.  For now, I’ll be sharing our adventures on each island.  They didn’t really turn out as we had planned but that’s ok, we had fun, which is the important thing.  I still find it kind of hard to believe we visited four different countries while we were away.

St Thomas was our first port.  While we were pulling in both Chelsea and I were in awe that first, it was no longer ocean for as far as the eye could see, second, how pretty the water was, and mostly just how beautiful it was over all.  I think we took fifty or so pictures just pulling into port.

If you remember from my previous posts we had planned to visit Coral World for this stop.  So when we finally got off the boat we hopped a bus to get downtown to browse before we made our way further in.  Downtown was pretty, although crammed with people which I suppose is to be expected.  On one side there were stores, on the other there was the ocean.  Can’t ask for better shopping scenery!  We skipped the main shopping places in lieu of the flea market type stalls.  We had a very tiny budget so had to be very careful what we purchased.  That day we each bought an inexpensive sundress, and something for the boys back home.

As we decided to explore a little more we found ourselves a street or two into the downtown area and were all of a sudden surrounded by jewellery stores.  We’d attended a seminar on the boat in regards to shopping on the islands, so we had some coupons for free stuff that we figured we would cash in at that point.  If you find yourself in the same situation, don’t bother.  While the items you get are sort of cute little tokens, they are similar to something you would get from a 25 cent candy machine, but that’s how they get people in the doors, and then they really do expect you to buy something.  There had to have been a couple hundred jewellery stores just along that street and while the prices were really amazing, they still weren’t in our range.

After exploring for a bit we had to start figuring out how to get to Coral World.  We approached a police officer for directions, as we figured it would be the safest way to find out.  We had asked several people before then and couldn’t figure out why no one understood that we wanted a regular ol’ bus.  Not a charter, tour, taxi, etc.  As it turns out they do have a city bus but it’s the same type of vehicle they use for tours.  Coral World was at the very opposite end of the island, but by taking the bus it only cost us $2/each to get there.

We had to walk a little bit but for the price neither of us were complaining.  When we got there, the admission price was a bit more than we expected.  It turned out well though because there was a beautiful beach right next door.  Having looked at photos before we left I knew it was there, just hadn’t expected to use it.  So we ended up spending a good portion of our day laid out on Coki beach.  It was packed, but still so relaxing to lay out on the white sand beaches and swim in the clear water.  By the time we were ready to leave we were both mush from the heat and relaxation, great way to spend an afternoon if you ask me.

We still had about 4 hours to spend on St Thomas so we decided to take the bus back as well.  The ride back was considerably longer but for a total of $4 we got to see the entire island.  We talked with locals who told us where we needed to get off, pointed out landmarks, and interesting little tidbits.  We basically had our own little tour, in the same type of open vehicle, saw more than most since the bus traversed the entire island, and paid a fraction of the amount.  It was a little nerve wracking since we had to watch our own time table, but that was ok because it was an experience I won’t soon forget.  I also hope that it showed Chelsea that if you’re willing to travel off the beaten path it just might be worth the extra trouble.  If you’re looking for more info on how to get around St Thomas, this link has good information.

Of the three islands we visited, St Thomas seemed to be the least commercialized.  Considering the amount of jewellery stores that might sound odd, but even those stores were mostly ma and pop type fronts.  We both loved the easy atmosphere, beautiful murals along the roads, and the beach was the prettiest we saw on our trip.  One day I’ll go back and be able to spend a little more time there.

Here are just a few of my favorite pics from St Thomas…

   
   
   
 

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We’re Home!

A very quick post to say that we’re home, safe and sound!  We had a wonderful time, and even more than that I got to spend some quality time with my daughter.  I will be posting an absolute ton of pictures and stories soon.  Just about everything we saw and did was incredible and I can’t wait to share.

If you haven’t yet, don’t forget to enter our J. Edgar Hoover DVD/Bluray combo pack giveaway.  It ends tomorrow.  We also have our Cook’n, and Tropical Traditions giveaways for you to enter, and keep an eye for our giant Vera Wang giveaway.  I will hopefully be posting that some time next week.

More Adventures soon!

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Earth Hour – Please Do Your Part

Earth Hour is today, March 31st begining at 8:30pm (your own time zone) and ending at 9:30.

The Earth really is in your hands.

If I’m not mistaken this will be the fourth year in a row we have participated in earth hour.  I wholeheartedly support the efforts of this organization and think it highly important that we all do everything we can to participate.  It is a great opportunity to educate your children, and spend time with them ‘off the grid.’

I worry a lot about the place that we are leaving for our children, and firmly believe that we as North American’s need to start giving up some of our comforts to benefit the planet.  I realize it will not all happen all at once, but it also won’t happen at all if we don’t.  Something has got to give somewhere or our planet is eventually going to implode.  I also realize that strides are being made every day towards a greener earth, but after how long we’ve been abusing the planet, is it really fast enough?

I have a child with autism.  Autism was 1 in 10,000 20 years ago.  When Ben was diagnosed in 2000 it was one in 170, and today it is one in every 130.  It is reaching epidemic proportions, and while there is nothing to prove my thoughs, I believe there is a genetic predisposition but also that our environment plays a role in onset.

The first year that we participated was the first year we were living in Calgary.  I was mortified the next day when I found out that Calgary was the only city in the world who’s energy useage had gone UP during earth hour!  Unfortunately It kind of personifies the city we live in.  I had more than one person say to me that year when I mentioned it was coming up that they would be sure to turn on every electronic gadget in their house, and that the whole thing was ‘hogwash.’  On the radio I heard a phone call from a woman who exclaimed that it was all just a giant government scam.  Some people really just aren’t getting it.  After the winter we’ve had here in Canada though, I hope things are becoming abundantly clear.

The year after that debacle, I decided to show my kids that to really make a difference we have to get off our butts and actually do something.  So that evening as earth hour began I flipped off the breakers, then I grabbed the kids, and the dogs on leashes and we all started going to the doors of houses who still had their lights on.  We were polite, and just explained that it was earth hour and the reasons behind it, and most proceeded to turn their lights off too!  For the most part people just didn’t know.  In the years since, almost our entire block has remained blacked out for the duration.  The kids are always very proud to know they played a role in educating others.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Exciting Book News!

In the last couple of days I’ve come across tons of interesting news regarding my favorite books that I thought I’d share.

First, I was going through some tweets and saw Jim Butchers name.  If you have read my ‘about’ page you know that I LOVE Jim Butcher and his Dresden Files series.  If you haven’t read it yet, you are seriously missing out.  It is one of the most entertaining, well written, action packed, and just plain sincere series I have ever read.  So, naturally, when I see Jim Butcher’s name I pay attention.

I clicked the link and was brought to this wonderful article/interview promoting a new book called ‘Fated’ by Benedict Jacka.  It is being compared to The Dresden files which is seriously high praise, but what was more interesting is that the two authors are interviewing each other.

Jim Butcher & Benedict Jacka article

Also, if you’ve been following along, you know I’m currently reading The Hollows series.  Once again, I was on twitter, and all of a sudden dozens were tweeting about a live chat with Kim Harrison, and Patricia Briggs.  I love the Mercy Thompson series, and I’m in the process of falling in love with The Hollows so I figured I’d check it out.

What a blast!  These ladies were so much fun to watch.  Caution though, there were a LOT of spoilers, but even though I was spoiled to death, I thought it was well worth it.  Did you know The Hollows is on it’s way to the small screen?  I didn’t.  It’s being written by the same writer as Smallville, and if it makes it, it will be aired on the CW.

They each read excerpts from their new books, The Perfect Blood, and Fair Game, then did a Q & A.  I’m glad I tuned in.  If you’re interested in seeing it, it’s been archived here.

Lastly, but certinaly not leastly 😉  The most exciting news I came across was the cover release of Ilona Andrews latest in the Kate Daniels world, Gunmetal Magic.  I felt like a squeling teenager when I saw it, it’s absolutely fantastic and almost exactly what I pictured Andrea to look like.

To top if all off Gordon Andrews has written a new Curran POV!  See the Hot Tub scene from Curran’s POV here.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Adventures Indeed

Everything I’ve read has stated that starting a blog is as easy as 1, 2, 3, HAH!  Not so much.  About a dozen years ago I was fully versed in HTML, had my own, hosted site, and managed to teach myself everything I needed to know including doing my own graphics, link maps etc.  That was however 12 years ago.  Things change, knowlege fades, and my know how is long past it’s due.  This may take a while.

Since this is a learning experience for me, I may as well share what I’ve learned as I go.  The world of blogging is a brand new one to me, so this will hopefully help others in the same boat.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2012 in Uncategorized