Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ensenada Wine Country

The hubby and I just returned from a 9 day cruise to the Mexican Riviera out of San Diego.  We sailed aboard the Carnival Spirit.  As many of you may know, Royal Caribbean recently pulled out of Mexico due to the violence that has been occurring throughout the region.  I thought I would do a four part series on our experiences in Mexico as we did not encounter any issues.

Our first port of call was Ensenada Mexico. Ensenada is a coastal city in Mexico and is located only 78 miles south of San Diego.  Ensenada is well known as wine country and is regarded as the best in Mexico.  An excursion to wine country through Carnival would have cost us $39.95 per person for two wineries (which included a free bottle of wine).  We decided to venture out on our own. After talking to a few different cab drivers, we found one with a nice size van who would take all 6 of us to three different wineries for $15 each!  We loaded up the van and off we went.  It was a very scenic drive, but after 30 minutes of driving, we all started getting a little worried.  After all, Mexico has numerous safety warnings about car-jackings.  Yikes!  Like little children, we kept asking, “are we there yet?” – just a little further, the cab driver would say in his oh so broken English.  After almost 40 minutes on the road, we finally pulled into this nice little winery called La Cetto, one of the most renowned and oldest wineries in Mexico.  The winery had gardens, a picnic area, a wine tasting room, and a wine tour.  Apparently, this winery is responsible for more than half the country’s wine and also produces tequila and olive oil.

Our cab driver stayed put while we did a 25 minute tour of the winery production facilities.  After the tour, we were treated to 6 different wine tastings – all for free!  Our only cost was the tip to our tour guide.  After snapping a few more pictures, off we went to the next winery.  Thankfully, it was only a few minutes down the road.  We decided to forgo the winery tour and go straight to the tasting!  I was starting to feel like I was on an episode of “Three Sheets.” I was starting to get a little woozy and needed to get a little food into my stomach.

Although we had the option of going to a third winery, we decided to head back into town since it was such a long drive.  We asked our driver to take us to one of the best restaurants in Ensenada – you know, one that the locals would go to.  He took us to a nice little family type restaurant (I didn’t take a picture of the restaurant, so I don’t remember the name) that had amazing food and ice cold beers. It was crowded, so I took that as a good sign.  One of the members of our group suggested that we buy our cab driver lunch. Two of the girls went out and asked him what he wanted to eat.  He refused their offer, but when they insisted, he teared-up at their thoughtful gesture.  It makes me realize that sometimes, it’s the little things that matter most – never forget the little things.  It cost us less than $10 to buy his lunch and it made such a big difference.  Besides, he stayed with us all day and we were hungry so I know he had to be hungry too.

We didn’t do the excursion through Carnival, but I thought we put together a pretty good excursion on the fly for a lot less money. 

After lunch, our cabbie dropped us off and we headed back to the ship.  I didn’t pick up any souvenirs in Ensenada, but that’s OK because we have three more stops!

Other top excursions/tours in Ensenada:

1.      La Bufadora, a natural spot that shoots sea water high in the air – this is supposed to be one of Ensenada’s most famous attractions
2.      Horseback Riding
3.      Jeep Adventure Tour – see the countryside in a Jeep Wrangler
4.      Salsa and Tequila Tasting

As a side note, through hearsay at the San Diego airport, we were told by someone who travels to the area more frequently that some of the cab companies are owned by the Mexican drug cartels or mafia.  You should be careful with the cab you choose.  She told us to always ask the cabbie for an ID and to type his ID number and name into your cell phone and send that information to someone you know.  She also said not to wear flashy jewelry, low cut blouses, or any other “sexy” type clothing.  In other words, try to blend in, not stand out.  Take it for what it’s worth.

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La Cetto Vineyards

 
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Wine Barrells



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Not sure exactly what this says
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Cute Vineyard Sign
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2nd Winery
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Great way to store wine bottles
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Creative Use for Extra Wine Corks
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Wine Cork Table


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Window Seat, Built In Bookcases Reveal

Ever since we moved into our home almost 7 years ago, I had always wanted a window seat.  There was this perfect little place in the living room to the left of the gas fireplace.  I had a chair sitting in front of the window that nobody ever sat in. During the Christmas season, we always had to move the chair to make room for the tree.  I wanted my window seat!  I was on a mission. 

I started searching around the internet and found fireplaces/living room layouts similar to mine.  As I was looking, I realized I could have built-in bookcases to the right of the fireplace.  There were lots of inspiration pieces (this was last year, before pinterest).  I found a few and printed them out.

We have a friend that does amazing woodworking projects, so we approached him with the project.  He took a look at the space and looked at the pictures I had given him and said, “I can make this, no problem.”  He took the measurements and left.  A week later, he showed us the drawings and gave us a material list and cost breakdown.  We paid him to purchase the materials and off he went.  Once the project was completed, we paid him for his awesome services!

Bob (our friend) is so good at what he does, that he built the pieces in his basement and then brought them over and installed them with a perfect fit!

Before Photo’s

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Please ignore the dog’s behind Smile

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Installed (before adding decorative touches):  Note:  The window seat opens for ample storage for blankets! 

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before decoration


Decorative Pillows and seat pad.  My neighbor made the seat pad and I got the pillows on clearance at Pier One.

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Added favorite books, albums, and photo’s

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Bob even addd lighting above the top shelf - looks really cool at night!

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Completed Project!

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Thank you Bob, what an awesome job!!

If you like this article, please check out my new craft room!

Linking up to the following Parties:

Three Mango Seeds


It's Overflowing

The 36th AVENUE





 
 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Change Up Your Bedroom On A Budget


Article submitted by Christina Johnson

It helps to switch up your bedroom every so often. If you find yourself staring at the same thing every day, you can quickly become bored and uninspired. Not everybody can afford to do this with no budget in mind, however. If you want to change your room inexpensively, there are options at your disposal.

1. Paint the Walls

If you live in a home that allows you to change the color of the walls, consider painting them something a little different. Paint is not too expensive, and with so much available on the market you are bound to find something that fits your tastes and needs. A new paint job can make a room feel new again, especially if the walls were white, and it can be done in a short amount of time. If you do not believe that you can paint it yourself, ask loved ones for help or hire professionals.

2. Change the Bedspread

Sometimes, all it takes to make your bedroom feel entirely different is a new bedspread. If you have a room that does not have a lot of color in it, a bright bedspread can add something special. If you want to express your love for a certain hobby or interest, you can find a bedspread with characters or symbols that represent what you are into. If you do not want to stop at the bedspread, you can look for pillows and bedding that can add more depth to what you want to achieve. If the bedspread that you want is expensive, save up for it; there is no reason to settle for something that you do not like.

3. Swap Locations of the Furniture

Reinventing your bedroom does not have to mean driving to a store. If you want to make something different, go and look through the rest of your house. Perhaps there is a chair in the living room that nobody has ever sat on, or maybe there is a small table that would fit in a corner of your bedroom. With this option, you do not have to pay any money at all, and you can give seldom-used furniture new life.

4. Add Accessories

Another inexpensive change that you can implement involves hanging more art on your walls. The artwork does not need to be large and expensive; if you so choose, you can purchase a poster and frame it or simply place it on a wall. Wall art can be found just about anywhere, from furniture stores to department stores to garage sales. Your bedroom can feel different simply because you purchased a plant to put under your windowsill or a poster of your favorite movie to place over your bed.

Christina Johnson who works remotely for Elliman Prudential in the New York City Apartments and Rentals market. She is using her journalism major to combine what she loves most, writing and her career. Her specialties include home decor design and DIY home improvement projects.




Friday, February 17, 2012

Insanity – Get Your Workout On!


Insanity DVD 2:  Cardio Power & Resistance "Build lean muscle and upper-body definition with strength-training and power moves."  This DVD followed the same structure as the first one I reviewed (Plyometric Cardio Circuit).  There’s about ten minutes of warm-up and just when you think you can't go any further, there is ten minutes of stretching, yeah!  After stretching, you get twenty minutes of intense cardio with 30 second water breaks interspersed throughout.  It's a tough work-out.  You will be doing a lot of jumps and push-ups in this session.  I stuck it out just for you!  Keep those New Year's resolutions rolling - as Tony Horton would say, "do your best and forget the rest."

Insanity DVD 3:  Cardio Recovery "Shaun goes easier on you once a week so you're ready for the next round (33 minutes)"  My take:  The stretching feels amazing after doing cardio type exercises all week.  There are some squat sequences, but not too many.   Even though this is one of the shorter videos, everything is in slow motion so the 33 minutes feels like a lot longer.  I felt a lot more flexible after completing this DVD.

Insanity DVD 4:  Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs  "Skip the intervals-this nonstop cardio workout is all extreme. (40 minutes)  My take:  Hardest one so far!  Ten minutes of warm up, ten min of feel good stretching and then twenty minutes of non-stop, butt kicking cardio!  Even some of the on-screen workout participants who are in amazing shape drop out to take quick breaks.  

I haven’t been following the program like I should, but I’m OK with it.  Sometimes I just feel like jumping on the treadmill and doing an easy 30 minutes.  My advice:  just get out and do so something! Your body will thank you 10 years from now.

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Source

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Scarves, A Fashion Statement

My new obsession is wearing scarves. It just makes a plain colored shirt really pop! I saw this great picture on my daughter's pinterest board and thought I would share. I usually go with #3, what's your favorite way to wear a scarf?


Source: scarves.net via Kaitlyn on Pinterest


For all the how-to's, please visit:  http://www.scarves.net/blog/12-ways-to-tie-a-scarf


No Scarf






Scarf - more polished look



Another day, another look with a scarf

 
Last One!



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day French Toast

I woke up to this lovely breakfast this morning!  So sweet and simple, made my day :)  He's definitely a keeper!





Monday, February 13, 2012

How to Make Yourself Look Really Skinny

Stand next to a really large cruise ship – works every time!

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Craft Room Clean Up on Aisle 5

When we finished the basement five years ago, we planned for a craft room.  I have two daughters and they were always into something crafty.   Over the last 3 years, the room saw a lot of activity when we were scrapbooking like crazy for high school graduations.   We are such messy scrap-bookers!   In time, the room started becoming a “dump” for just about everything.  I had enough – I wanted my craft room back!
It took an entire weekend to clean it all up and get organized.   I asked hubby to put up a couple shelves above the crafting desk area for small items like jars and supplies.  These shelves were made of 2 x 8’s and cost less than $10.  I also found a small peg board in the clearance bin at Home Depot and snagged it for .79 cents - best find of the day! 

It’s so nice to have an organized crafting area!  I love my little room…..

Messy Before Photo’s (no shelves yet)!

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After Photo’s:

2 x 8 shelves that I painted white and awesome .79 peg board!

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We tried to be “forward thinkers” and made “built-ins” for the craft room

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Labeled everything!  Those soy candles you see are available at my Etsy Shop.

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Got the glass jar idea from many amazing blogs I have been reading lately

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The amazing guy that made it all happen!!  Thanks honey bunny!

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Pssst - I'm featured today on Just Jen.living.creatively - go check her out! She has a lot of great blogging and small business tips.

If you liked this article, please be sure to check out my bookcase, window seat reveal - it turned out FABULOUS!

Linking up with:
Embracing Change




It's Overflowing


Tickled Pink at 504 Main



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Handmade Nickel Linked Bracelet

This is part four of my metalsmithing/jewelry making class I have been taking.  I finally completed my hammer textured chic linked bracelet and I love it!  I ran it through the tumbler for 45 minutes to give it a nice shine.  What do you think?

 
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Want to check out the entire series?


  
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