Monthly Archives: September 2015

How To Pack For A Cruise!

Click here for a printable PDF version!


  • Pants-Skirts
  • Shirts-Blouses
  • Belt
  • Dress Shoes
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Flippy-floppies
  • Socks
  • Workout clothes
  • Swimsuits (2 at least so one dries while the other in use)
  • Suit Coverup
  • Undies and bras
  • Formal Evening Wear for Captain’s Dinner night
  • Dinner Wear for formal dining room dinners
  • Sundresses
  • Shorts
  • Tops
  • T-shirts
  • Light sweater-Hoodie
  • Robe
  • Jammies
  • Hat/visor (wide brim sunhat recommended)


  • Hair ties/clips
  • Makeup
  • Hairbrush
  • Hairspray/Gel
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Soap
  • Razors-shave gel
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Curling or Flat Iron (After some debate they do allow these on the boat. Yay!)
  • Lotion
  • Face moisturizer (even if you don’t do this at home – trust me)
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick
  • Kleenex
  • Tweezers
  • Nail clippers/file/polish
  • Cologne
  • Q-tips
  • Tampons
  • Prescription Glasses
  • Contact Lenses/Solution
  • Medicine (aspirin, pepto, Lactaid, tums, bandaids, vitamins, eye drops)
  • Medical ID info
  • Birth Control Pills/Condoms
  • Prescription medicine and medical devices

Documents & Misc.

electrical plug

  • Cell phone & Charger
  • USB wall plug
  • Multi-plug for outlet (Like above. Usually there’s one outlet and many things to charge. Note: they can’t have surge protection or they will confiscate it from you. )
  • Sunglasses
  • Earbuds
  • Laptop/Tablet & Charger (I wouldn’t recommend this, you might be tempted to work and the wi-fi is really expensive out to sea)
  • Credit Cards-Debit Card
  • Money (Most ports of call take US cash)
  • I.D.-Drivers License
  • Passport
  • Birth Certificate if no passport
  • Itinerary
  • Tickets – boarding passes – confirmation #’s
  • Luggage Tags (Most ships print these with your other documents)
  • Keys
  • Jewelry
  • Watch
  • Purse – Wallet
  • Journal
  • Luggage Locks/keys
  • Safety pins-sewing kit
  • Ziploc bags (for waterproofing your phone and collecting shells)
  • Cigs, Lighter, E-Cigarette-Charger
  • Gum/Mints
  • A leisurely book or magazine
  • Your Hangover Cure

Don’t forget to…

  • Throw out stuff in the fridge that will be gross by the time you get back
  • Lock all doors and windows- set alarm
  • Lock your car
  • Have neighbor check the mail/feed animals
  • Go shopping for missing items-in travel sizes!!!
  • Put ID tags inside luggage in case your luggage tags fall off
  • Change $40 into small bills for street vendor purchases and tips
  • Put all nail files, scissors in checked luggage if flying
  • Send email to important people (I’ll be out of the country…)
  • Get a ride to the port
  • Call mom – give her your itinerary, she worries you know
  • Pay bills that will come due while you’re gone
  • Put all “necessities” in the carry-on, you may not get your bags delivered for hours
  • Double check all reservations – you need ID, ticket and boarding pass
  • Get to the port early – plan to spend time parking whether on-site or off-site
  • Bring goodies for theme nights


  • I generally change 3 times a day. Pj’s to shorts and tee, to swimsuit, to dinner wear back to PJs. Yes, bring that crazy print shirt, now’s the time for these type of things.
  • I listed shampoo and soap because I can’t use any old brand, that will be in the room as will a blow dryer.
  • Make sure you don’t pack your ID and boarding pass in your checked luggage.
  • You may not be able to get into your room right away, don’t carry on too much.
  • Your bags won’t arrive at your room right away, don’t leave necessities in them.
  • You are allowed to bring one regular sized bottle of wine per person, it must be in your carry-on. Get screw top so you don’t need an opener.
  • If you don’t drink you can usually bring a 12 pack of your favorite soda instead.
  • If you get tipsy on 2 drinks or don’t drink, don’t get the drink package, Otherwise, get the drink package! Drink package allows you to grab bottled water at the bar. Bring a few back to the room so you don’t drink the expensive mini-bar offerings in desperation. Also sink water kind of ick to brush your teeth with.
  • Room service is free and it’s nice to have a coffee and some fruit before you go battle the crowds at breakfast. Put your request outside your door before you go to bed.
  • Make your room number your phone lock screen.
  • Every day your room attendant will leave a brochure of ship activities for you. Be sure to read it so you don’t miss out on Bingo or an amazing theater show. Last trip my roomie paid for the whole cruise by winning Bingo.

Click here for a printable PDF version!

How To Host A Mongolian BBQ

So every year my lovely and talented friend Tasha throws a Mongolian BBQ for her boyfriend Mike on his birthday. The party is always a hit and every year it gets bigger and bigger. Let me preface this instruction with the notion that this party takes a lot of prep! I only help dice and slice and my hands still smell like garlic. But the result is always amazing. You can base the amount of food you prep depending on the number of party goers. I would suggest starting small, a dozen or so people and work your way up to Tasha and Mike’s level of 50-100. Here’s what you’ll need:


  • An outdoor wok or a grill with a flat tray to grill up your food
  • A meat slicer – otherwise you’ll be doing it all by hand
  • Disposable bowls for raw ingredients
  • Bowls for finished product
  • Clothespins for identifying whose bowl is whose
  • Utensils for cooking and eating including chopsticks for fun


Sauces:  Make as many as you can for diverse tastes. Garlic water is always the biggest hit so make plenty. Add boiling water or chicken broth to ingredients to bring out the most flavor and let cool. Water is what makes the food cook quickly and evenly. So be sure to have plenty of flavored water on hand. Here are some of the ones Tasha offered.

  • Garlic Water
  • Garlic Lemon
  • Sweet and Sour
  • Hoisin Wasabi
  • Mushroom and Eggplant
  • Ginger and Black Pepper
  • Hot Pepper
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sugar water

Meats and Noodles: Slicing can be done days in advance and frozen until the day of the party. Soba noodles can be cooked the night before and left in a drizzle of sesame oil to keep them from sticking together.

  • Sliced Beef
  • Slice Chicken
  • Sliced Pork
  • Large Shrimp
  • Diced Tofu
  • Soba Noodles

Vegetables: Be sure to dice in similar sizes so that the food cooks evenly. Include anything you would enjoy in a stir fry type meal. Some of these can done the day before but most are best when done the day of the party.

  • Bok Choy
  • Napa Cabbage
  • Red Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Green Beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Water Chestnuts
  • Celery
  • Pea Pods
  • Peppers
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Onions
  • Scallions
  • Green peas
  • Baby Corn
  • Pineapple
  • Bamboo Shoots
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Sesame seeds
  • Peanuts

Guest Prep: Making signs with instructions is the easiest way to let guests know how the process works. We got inventive with our list:


Be sure your wok or grill is nice and hot before you begin. Here in Florida, the chef gets pretty warm in the outdoor kitchen so be sure to keep the cold beverages coming. It’s best to have 2 chefs so one can cover for the other so everyone can enjoy the party. It also helps to have a sous chef of sorts to help keep bowls in the order they were turned in.

Bowls cook really quickly. Add oil to the wok before adding a bowl. Constantly stir to get an even cook on all pieces. Be sure to cook chicken and pork thoroughly. Beware of any guests with allergies. We couldn’t do shrimp or pineapple for this reason. Be sure to clean your wok with water occasionally to get out old pieces of food that may burn and effect future bowls. Also clean after your friend who likes things spicy has theirs done. You don’t want a 5 year old getting residual heat in their bowl.

A constant stream of bowls will be coming in so it’s best to have the prep chef not be the same as the chef that cooks the bowls. Because, well… exhaustion. Be sure to have a pitcher of plain water on hand for guests who didn’t add enough liquid to their bowl. Bowl should be filled to the brim with water after meats and veggies are added.

And this is me, a happy girl with a bowl of Mongolian! Enjoy your Mongolian Barbeque!



When People’s Dining Habits Make You Crazy

Since the beginning of mankind humans have gathered together to eat food in a communal fashion. You would think after thousands of years certain criteria for dining in a group would be “set in stone” as it were to keep peace among the natives. However, time and again I find people doing the same disgusting and irritating things over and over again. When you bust them they look at you blankly like “What’d I do?” or the smile mischievously for they know they’ve been caught in a faux pas. The worst offenders in my mind are as follows:

1)   Double-dipping – I don’t care if you 3 or 93 this is by far the most disgusting of communal eating wrongs. What makes you think I want your saliva in my taco dip? How about I come over and put a booger in your spaghetti sauce? I feel these two things are equivalent. Even worse is watching a snot nose kid put a soggy sucked-on Ritz back in a couple of times. YUCK! And yes this goes for chefs putting the spoon back in the pot after a taste.

2)   Touching all of the food – I once watched a 6 year old touch every piece of cake on a buffet line. I think he was counting them?? Yay for math, boo for your frog-catching grimy mitts on the dessert. You know children don’t wash their hands (neither do some adults) and they for sure itch their privates, play with their gum and pick their noses. This goes for dipping your bare fingers into bowls of food, cakes, etc. Tongs, people, tongs!!!

3)   Eating the best part of a dish to pass – Please quit eating all the cheese off the bean dip, all the bacon off the baked beans and picking all of the shrimps out of the pasta salad. Yeah, I know, it’s your favorite part. But it’s everyone else’s favorite part too!! What entitles you to the cream of everything?

4)   Eating over the pan – I went to one of those charity-social downtown type of things where they were serving a buffet of appetizers for the crowd. I’m minding my own beer when my friend A.M. says “Aw hell naw” and points out a fella eating a chicken wing over the whole chafing dish of wings. She strolls over to tell this guy the wing pan ain’t his momma’s kitchen sink and to grab a plate like a civilized person. AHAHAH. Get ’em girl. I mean really… these are adults!!

5)   The presumptive addition – Please do not squeeze lemon over the seafood appetizer we are all about to share! I hate lemon on my fried seafood and you ruined it for me! Same goes for salting or saucing. Also, as someone who strives very hard to make good food, please do not automatically salt my food before you eat. It shows your lack of forethought and an impulsiveness I find to be a character flaw.

6)   Chewing with you mouth open – No one wants to see your cud, moo-cow. Close your trap. (This goes for popping gum too)

7)   Blowing your nose in a restaurant – I’m halfway through a plate of bacon and eggs and you Mr. Booth-Next-Door decide it’s a good time to clear your sinuses into a hanky. Take it to the restroom!

8)   The loud extended burp – So many people feel it’s OK to burp loud and long at a table full of people. “It’s a compliment in Arab nations -hahah” STFU, it’s gross.

9)  Talking on the cell phone at dinner – It’s rude. It’s even ruder at a restaurant. It’s a rare treat for me to get to go out to eat and I don’t want to listen to you on the phone whether your my dinner companion or someone close by. Oh, it’s an important business call? Fine. Take it to the lobby. Now that I think about it, it is just as rude at home where I’ve spent time and energy to make a nice meal, tell them you’re at dinner and to call back, they’ll understand.

10)   Rude to the server – Making someone take 5 trips to the kitchen because you think of something you want each time they return is rude. Speaking down to staff is rude. Making a server stand there while you take 5 minutes to decide… rude. Tipping poorly, rude. They are a server, not a servant. I think everyone should spend 6 months as a server so they understand the grueling nature of restaurant service. They would never tip poorly or be obnoxious again. Oh and if your toddler just left a explosion of finger food all over a 5 foot radius, tip even better.

11) Taking half a donut from the break room. Here’s the thing, either you commit to eating a donut or you commit to NOT eating a donut. By taking a half you are just letting the next guy know that sadly they only get half of their favorite donut. (If they can get past the idea that you probably touched it to saw it in half). If you had eaten it entirely there would be less pain not knowing what might have been. Also taking half a bagel. OK I get bagels are a lot of carbs for one meal. If you’re going to take half a bagel, take the bottom half. Taking the top and leaving the stump is rude. Might as well take the whole thing because no one wants a stump OK?

12) Don’t feed the animals. So here in Florida we have seagulls, please don’t feed them. Our dinner will henceforth be ruined by a flock of dirty beach bum birds looking for another french fry. Also don’t give my dog people food. She’s prone to ralphing when not on her diet. (Off topic PSA: Bread is bad for ducks, feed them the duck chow in the gumball machines or nothing at all).

(Modified and reblogged from September 4, 2010)