Elf on the Shelf While on Vacation

What to do with your Elf on the Shelf when you're away on vacation! Such a cute idea! #Christmas #ElfontheShelf

I mentioned yesterday that we just returned from a week long vacation to Florida.  The night before we left for our trip, our Elf on the Shelf, Charlotte, made her grand entrance.  (I wanted to name her Penelope, but as we are currently reading Charlotte’s Web, you can see that I lost that battle.)  She showed up at the top of our (undecorated) Christmas tree the morning we were to leave.  When we left, I made sure I was the last one to leave the house and I wrapped the tree in toilet paper and sat Charlotte on the table beside it holding an empty roll so she would be ready to go when we got back.

The night before Charlotte made her debut, I took pictures of her in a different place in the house for every morning that we would be away on our vacation.  I took one of her making a “snow angel” out of powdered sugar, watching TV while holding the remote, eating a bowl of Christmas M&M’s, playing UNO with a dolly, and drinking maple syrup from a straw. 

What to do with your Elf on the Shelf when you're away on vacation! Such a cute idea! #Christmas #ElfontheShelfDuring our roughly 1200 mile trip, I used Social Print Studio to have my pictures printed.  I’ve used Printstagram in the past to make a really awesome collage with my Instagram photos, but this time I needed to print tiny photos… as in Elf sized.  You can print a set of 48 mini square 2×2 pictures for $15.  There’s an app for your iPhone which makes it even easier to order your prints.  Fixed price $6 shipping no matter how many prints you order, and most deliveries arrive in less than 7 days.  My prints were ready and waiting for me when we got home.  

What to do with your Elf on the Shelf when you're away on vacation! Such a cute idea! #Christmas #ElfontheShelf

I used some festive twine and paper straws to create a little display on the mantel.  Isabella loved seeing what Charlotte was up to while we were away and thought it was so funny that she continued to “move” while we were gone.  I didn’t Instagram these pics prior to doing this because I didn’t want Bella to accidentally see it, but with the Social Print app you can upload from Instagram or your phone, so just be sure to take the photos in “square” mode.  I’m sure you can print & cut them yourself, but seriously it was so easy this way, and they are so well made.  I printed off 40 of my Instagram favorites to complete the order, and plan on wrapping them from Santa; this way I wouldn’t have to worry about Bella seeing me with them.  I made a big deal to mention that I thought the “mini pictures” were so cute so she will think that Charlotte told Santa I wanted some. 

What do you with your Elf when you go on vacation?  Does he or she stay in the same spot?

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Miami, Florida


The last stop of our honeymoon was back to Miami.  We had unbelievable weather the entire trip… until Miami.  It was raining from the minute we got off the ship.  Since our flight wasn’t until the evening, we decided to spend the day at Jungle Island.  Which of course included… wait for it…. a tour through the city.  Ha-ha who knew our honeymoon was going to be such a history lesson?



What is that???

 

Born in 1941!!!

 

Uh, little help here?

 

Napoleon?



Again, what the heck?

Trying to shield herself from the rain, I don’t blame ya girl

Once you have marched with the flamingos, these are not as cool

Haha not funny, reminds me of:

 
 
 

Tomorrow I will finish out our week of wedding wrap-up with some of the personal touches that made our day special: the sand ceremony, the guestbook tree, the earlier promised table numbers my husband designed and more.

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Nassau, Bahamas

Our final stop before heading back to the U.S. was in Nassau.  I have always wanted to go to Nassau and visit the Atlantis Resort, unfortunately we didn’t make it over to that side of the island this trip. 

Nassau was very tourist (and shopping) friendly.  We saw a McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Hilton, and a few other places that resembled home.  The bus driver joked that if you need to find the Embassy, just find the McDonalds (which were right next to each other).
For this excursion we chose a trip to the Ardastra Gardens & Zoo, which included another bus tour through the city with a few stops along the way.

One of the nights on the ship we watched Gnomeo and Juliet… I know, I know, watching an animated kid movie on our honeymoon… but it was actually very cute.  This little guy above reminded me of Featherstone.  (See clip below)

 

The world famous marching flamingos
 


I think that big guy on the right was sizing me up
It was amazing how the animals just walk around outside of cages

Feeding the Lory Parrots… very friendly little guys

And smart… they could eat the apple and leave the peel

The Queen’s Staircase

I know they say not to drink the water anywhere, but what about local cokes?

Tomorrow I will post our final stop back in Miami, where we had a several hours before our flight departed so we decided to visit Jungle Island.

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Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Today I promised you no history lesson…  Which is really easy because I know nothing about Half Moon Cay- other than it’s a private island owned by a cruise company.  Most (if not all?) the people who live there work (seasonally) for the cruise excursions. 
For this stop we chose a horseback ride on the beach; this excursion was my “string quartet” of the honeymoon. Because, really, what is a honeymoon to the islands without a horseback ride on a beach??
Funny story #1: Now just as we mentioned how you see the same people over and over on the ship, the same is inevitably true for the excursions.  This one particular lady had been with us the day before… and let me tell you, she was an “expert” at everything.  She was an expert at power snorkeling, because she had seen a show on the Discovery Channel.  (Listen lady, I watch a bleep ton of Grey’s Anatomy but I don’t think you want me in your operating room…)  Turns out she was also an expert equestrian!  Apparently her uncle’s- coworker’s- hairdresser’s- nephew owned horses… or something ridiculously relevant like that.  So of course, she made sure everyone knew what an expert she was.
I am NO expert…. but I have had horses since I was 5 years old, was the ‘Queen’ of my high school rodeo team, and my mom taught lessons professionally for several years.  So when they guide asked me if I had ever been on a horse before, I simply replied “Yes”… he said “Ok, princess that makes you an expert”… as he slapped my horse on the hiney to lead the pack. 

Funny story #2:  What is the first thing horses do when they get in the ocean?  Poop.  Every-single-one on our tour went to the bathroom the second their hooves hit the water.  Did I mention we were all still in a line following one another, thigh deep in the ocean?  (Let me just tell you how glad I was to be the “expert” at the front now…)

Funny Story #3:  Our resident expert-at-everything lady was also very taken with how blue the water was.  She kept repeating it, until finally she decided she had to go swim in it.  Now, this was after our ride.  After our “swim” with the horses.  After they had all just used the ocean as their personal toilet.  And this woman is out there swimming in it (alone) and yelling back at the group how she can’t believe ‘we aren’t out there enjoying it while we can’.  Um, no thanks lady.  I think I’ll wait until we go back to the other side of the island where the horses didn’t JUST poo.  You know, where there’s just regular ol’ fish poo.

Apparently the island is also known as ‘Little San Salvador Island’

Clearest water I had ever seen… minus the horse poo :)

“Captain on the Rocks”… a bar on the island
I might love clouds as much as I love towel animals

James and I did enjoy laughing while being an expert at everything for the rest of the cruise.  ‘Do you want to go eat?’ ‘Oh, I’m an expert at eating.’  ‘Do you want to take a nap?’  ‘Oh, I’m an expert at taking naps’… actually this one might be true.

Tomorrow is our next stop: Nassau, Bahamas… where we got to pet flamingos and feed parrots!

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Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands

Our first stop was in Grand Turk of the Turks and Caicos Islands.  I will be the first to admit that I knew nothing about this island prior to visiting, other than the fact that they are a part of the British Kingdom.  (The honeymoon was my first trip outside of the United States; I at least wanted to know what government we were dealing with ha-ha.)
When we disembarked we walked along a pier to the southwestern beach at Grand Turk.  Everything was so blue; it was hard to determine where the water stopped and sky began. 
For this stop we chose power snorkeling as our excursion.  On the way to our dive site, the bus driver told us about the history of the island.  Some estimate that Grand Turk was the landfall island of Christopher Columbus during his discovery of the New World in 1492.  The island was first colonized by salt miners from Bermuda.  (The island is no longer used for this.)   
Grand Turk gained international attention when John Glen landed near the island in 1962.  There is a replica of Friendship 7 at the entrance to the Grand Turk Island airport.

There were wild horses roaming freely all over the island. When the population gets too large they ship a portion of them to Haiti. 

In September 2008, Grand Turk was devastated by Category 4 Hurricane Ike with 135mph winds causing $500 million in damages.  The island was declared a disaster area, with 95% of houses lost.  Signs of the destruction, and continuous rebuilding, were still apparent during our trip.

I’m sorry, I just realized this is starting to sound like a book report version of “what I did during my summer vacation”.  The fun part of this stop was absolutely the power snorkeling.  Now, I will say that I am not a huge fan of swimming.  Swimming… as in too far from the shore to stand up and going deep underwater… swimming.  My husband on the other hand, LOVED it.  He was going all over the place, swimming right up next to the barracudas, trying to go down as deep as the guide.  By the time we had to swim back to the boat his machine had almost ran out of power ha-ha.
Excuse the goggle face.
Here are some pictures from our not-so-great underwater camera.  Remember what James said about this yesterday?

Jellyfish… and my husband’s finger

Barracuda… and even more of my husband’s finger

The snorkel machine (?)

I love this picture…and look NO fingers! (Pretty sure I took it ha-ha)
Tomorrow I will post about our stop in Half Moon Cay.  (I promise, no history lesson.)

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Heaven on… a boat?

Our ship

When James and I started talking about honeymoon options we kept coming back to what a great deal cruising is.  Great pools, spa, dining/buffets, shopping, shows, and casinos all in one place, all for one price?  Sign us up.  We decided on the Eastern Caribbean- Nassau, Half Moon Cay, and Grand Turk, leaving out of Miami.

 

What I learned from my first cruise
-I get sea sick.  We prepared for this thankfully, as I also get sick in the car and on planes ha-ha.  I would recommend taking a pill the day before you depart, and make sure to try to take it at the same time each day.  After 24hours I could definitely tell it was starting to wear off.  Also, no one really prepared me that you still feel like you are on the boat after you get back.  (Think the feeling you get after you get off a trampoline.)
-The food is good but not spectacular.  Think catered food.  Rarely do I leave a luncheon or event thinking ‘wow that [insert generic caterer here] meal was amazing.’  (FYI the French baguettes put the dinner rolls to shame.  Only made that mistake once.)
-The chocolate cake, however, was to die for.  I will talk more about this below because it warrants it’s own section.
-They try to seat ‘Honeymooners’ at a table alone for dinner.  Note to self: Be on honeymoon for every cruise, check.
-The spa/fitness areas were really nice.  We got a couples massage that I probably could have done without.  Sounded nice in theory, but think about hot stones boiling in a crock pot in a room the size of your closet.  I did choose to get my hair done (wash/dry/style) before the ‘formal night’ and LOVED that.
-I love towel animals.  Seriously.  Coming home to boring, folded towels was such a let down.



(L) James stole a towel animal for me when I thought we didn’t get one.
(Center) My towel animal collection on the last day.
(R) What is that???

 What James learned from our first cruise
-Don’t give your bags to the guy standing outside the ship.  I don’t believe they are a part of Carnival (?) and more than likely you will board the ship before your bags.  Also, the guy reminded me to tip him at least 17 times.
-Make sure you pack your wife’s motion sickness pills.  (Also, if your wife is like mine, they will make her sleepy to the point that you can sneak away to the pub to catch the game while she naps.  You know, just in case you happen to be cruising while the Rangers happen to be in a pennant race for the 2nd year in a row.)

-You will see the same people over and over and over.  Some people love this.  What really sucks is when those people are annoying and obnoxious.  There was a group of 7-10 there for a wedding, and I don’t know who I was more sick of seeing (hearing, really) by day 3- the bride or the groom.  Thankfully, the family next to us at dinner were good people.

-The staff learn your name and you have the same waiter every night.  We met a lot of cool people from all over the world.  Don’t be afraid to talk to them.
-Skip the ‘sit down’ breakfast and go to the buffet.  The food is comparable (if not better) and takes half the time. 
-Speaking of saving time… the elevators take forever, so be prepared to take the stairs.
-The excursions can be pricey, but they were worth it.  Power snorkeling was AWESOME.
-If you buy an underwater camera to take pictures while you are power snorkeling… make sure your finger is out of the way of the lens… otherwise you will end up with the tip of your finger in every…single…picture.
-The drinks can also be pricey, but they are worth it (ha-ha).  Skip the “drink of the day” they are usually too sweet/very fruity.


Enjoying one of the ‘drinks of the day’



The Chocolate Cake

The chocolate molten cake may have been my favorite part of the cruise.  (You know, besides being on my honeymoon with my new husband…)  By the 3rd night our waiter didn’t even give me a dessert menu anymore, he just brought out the cake.  It really was heaven on a boat and I’ve been trying desperately to find it on land.  I found a recipe, pinned here, but my first attempt was a major fail.  I’m holding off on attempt #2 only because I’m pregnant and the recipe is basically a barely cooked cake with a large amount of eggs.  Anyone know where I can get one of these?!?!  I will be your best friend forever…BFF… BFFL even!
All in all, I really enjoyed our cruise and I would do it again.  I thought I would have been more freaked out about being surrounded by nothing but water (hello Titanic) but as long as you don’t stare out over the side it’s not too bad.  (Which was easy for me to not do because of the motion sickness.)

Tomorrow I will post pics from our first stop, Grand Turk!

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I am getting married!

… in 47 days to be exact!

Don’t worry, wedding plans are in full swing.  As you can tell, I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to blog!  I have a two week break from school (before my LAST semester) so I feel like I have a few days to breathe.

I have already booked/ordered/decided on: the venue, the caterer, the cakes, the string quartet, the linens, the flowers, the groom/groomsmen attire, the bridesmaids dresses, flower girl dress, and the centerpieces.  I am doing everything in Tiffany blue, black and white damask, with red and pink flowers.  Sounds like a lot, but it comes together I promise… see below…

Follow more of my wedding style at my other latest addiction: Pinterest

Of course that’s not *THE* dress because my future hubby has been known to visit my blog :) … but it was my inspiration when I went shopping.  I am seriously in love with that boutonniere! (How cute, right???)  The bridesmaids and groomsmen will wear all black.  That is the exact picture I took to the cake place, so it will look very similar.  I also have those exact place cards but the flowers will be red and pink instead.  (Does anyone know a printer that could print these? Since they are so small I am thinking I will have to hand write.)  The tables will be Tiffany blue floor length tablecloths with damask runners and white chair covers with damask sashes.  Whew!  I joke that this isn’t so fun anymore now that everything has been decided on and now it’s just down to paying for it haha.

One thing I am most excited about is the string quartet for the ceremony.  I love the sound of Pachelbel’s Canon D played with strings.  Next thing I’m most excited about? The Honeymoon! We are going on a cruise to the Bahamas for a week.  A week away with no cell phones, no Facebook, no work…. just the two of us on an island!  Ahhhh, is it October yet???

Have you been on a cruise?  Any tips?

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