Just Be YOU!

I came across this on Facebook recently and thought it was a good reminder and encouragement!



"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Romans 12:2



Cruise Day 13-November 13th, Sea Day

If you are just joining, catch up here to see what I am sharing about in the coming days & weeks!
-Day 1
-Day 2
-Day 3
-Day 4
-Day 5
-Day 6
-Day 7
-Day 8
-Day 9
-Day 10
-Day 11
-Day 12
___________________________________
Cruise Day 13th, Sea Day, Thursday November 13th

Ahh, finally a laid back day after the busyness of port days. Don’t get me wrong, we love our port days but it takes a bit more work getting ready for them. In addition to packing a beach bag for the littles, we also get water bottles ready and I have a small cooler I pack a few snacks in to hold us all off until we get back on the ship to eat a mid-afternoon snack. Just helps to keep the cost down in port.

A random view of the promenade down the center of the ship with a small view of the Schooner bar right below.

After breakfast this morning, we took Ava & Olivia up to the playroom set up for them as the gal in charge today was doing a music activity. She had a bunch of little musical instruments for them to play and she did some guided play as well as songs for them to play along with (ok so it was mainly Olivia who followed along while Ava did her own thing!) The girls had such a fun time! They have been spoiled being the youngest on board and getting this one on one attention from the staff.

She was so good with the girls! And the girls looked forward to sea days so they could hang out with her! 

Once the gal was done with her hour there, I let the girls play there while Kevin & Erik went to do the rock climbing wall. They weren't out there too long as they said the rocks were getting hot to the touch which made it hard to climb very high.

By this time it was lunch, so we grabbed some food to take back to the room to feed the little ones. I then decided to go to the MDR for lunch as they have a great salad bar where they mix up whatever you want (there are also menu items available as well). No one else wanted to go so I figured I'd sit alone and read. Well, when I got there, they sat me with 10 other people (aka strangers who didn't talk) so no reading for me. I quickly ate then left.

When I got back, Kevin took Ava for a walk for her nap and I took Olivia out to the waterslide and kiddie pool. I lost track of how many times we went down the slide! Because she is small, an adult has to go with her. She of course had a blast doing this together! I also managed to snap a photo of Olivia next to the same life preserver I took her picture by when she was on this same ship at just 6 months old.
I'm so sad this ship is going overseas and I won't be able to do this photo again in front of the same life preserver. Crazy to think how many countries this girl has visited already in her short 3 yrs of life!

 Once Ava was asleep, Kevin parked the stroller in the shade and was able to watch Olivia & I.

After Ava woke up, we found the older kiddos and asked them to watch the little ones for a while. Olivia has absolutely adored how the teens hang out with her. According to the girls, the teens love having Ava & Olivia hang out with them! 




In fact, the group of teens has taken the girls up to the play area to play with them as a group from time to time. One of the guys wanted Olivia to talk to him when she was being shy so he went and bought her a soda so she would be his friend, HA!! Yes, those girls got spoiled by the teen group. I just found it so neat how this group of teens embraced the little ones so openly.

Awesome group of kids! Most of them have still stayed in touch via texting. Some of them are even from overseas!


Meanwhile, I spent some time sitting out by the pool reading. The Caribbean band was out there playing music. I had to chuckle though when they broke out into Kenny Rogers “Know When to Fold Them”!! haha And yes, I took a video clip! What a hoot, Caribbean guys singing country, not something you hear every day!



Kevin & I then sat at the back of ship watching the wake for a little while until it was time to get ready for our third and final formal night.


Such a relaxing, peaceful view!

Can't get much more laid back than this!

Ava walking to dinner (after she ripped out her adorable hair bows). Susan is in the foreground.

Tonight’s dinner consisted of the fisherman’s platter which had lobster tail, YUM!!!! I think all of us except Kevin ordered it. 

The only time I ever get lobster is on a cruise!

Our waiter also unexpectedly brought us some more escargot for an appetizer! Yes, you can thank us for helping to keep the population of snails down in your yard, haha!! I have not ordered dessert this cruise, mainly because I am often full and I admit, I don’t have a sweet tooth. I decided to splurge tonight on the Grand Marnier Soufflé with some sort of creamy sauce. It was served warm and very delicious!

Olivia with her ketchup smiley face from Dario.

Ava insisted on "using" the menu to order her dessert, this was just TOO funny! Our waiter was a good sport!

Olivia with our sweet friend Randy.

We had our typical hour and a half after dinner hanging out with many of our friends again. I will miss this time of hanging out with friends every evening once we are home! While we were with them, the girls took Ava & Olivia to make another build-a-sea-pet as they had won another free one during another round of bingo in the teen club. Now each of them has their own souvenir from the cruise. 

The girls with their new pet at sea animal.

The towel animal in the kids room tonight.

One of our many formal photos. Have to heavily watermark it unfortunately due to people stalking & stealing my photos. But you get the idea! ;)

________________________________________
All photos can be clicked on to enlarge. The photos I am sharing are a combination of ones I took as well as my kids and husband on a variety of cameras and iPhones, hence the varying quality.

Harvestland Review- Sweet & Spicy Bacon Chicken Wrap Recipe

I was recently given a chance to try out Harvestland Brand Products thanks to Moms Meet. Ya'll know I love to cook as well as serve my family healthy food so we were excited to try out their chicken knowing it's antibiotic free as well as organic! I was encouraged to come up with a new recipe using their products which you will find down below.


Just the facts:

•All chickens are raised on family farms with very strict USDA Process Verified programs, which ensures that the chickens are fed all-vegetarian diets with no animal by-products, raised cage-free, and are never given any antibiotics, ever.

•Raised to the same standards as their chicken, HARVESTLAND® turkeys are fed an all-vegetarian diet with no antibiotics, steroids or hormones.

•Pork is the latest addition to the HARVESTLAND® brand. Their hogs are raised on family farms in the Midwest and are also fed an all-vegetarian diet with no antibiotics, hormones or steroids.*

•Harvestland also offers USDA-certified organic chicken. These chickens are raised without antibiotics on free-range, organic farms and are fed an all-vegetarian diet of certified organic ingredients.

•The HARVESTLAND® product line includes fresh chicken, turkey, and pork products, as well as a variety of fully-cooked refrigerated, frozen, and deli meats. Prices vary based on the retailer.



I had never used Harvestland products before so I wasn't sure how easily I'd be able to find them. I was pleasantly surprised to find them at Walmart, Giant and my local non-chain grocery store, although I could only find some of the chicken products & ground turkey. I hadn't seen any pork products or their fully cooked deli meats. We tried out their chicken thighs, boneless skinless chicken breasts & tenderloins. I have to say we could tell a difference between this chicken and the typical variety we purchase. We thought that this chicken was more tender & had a lot more moisture once it was done cooking.

It was dark when I was grilling hence the dark photo.

We used the chicken to make bbq chicken on the grill using my favorite powdered bbq seasoning. Chicken thighs & legs can take awhile to cook on the grill thus resulting in dried out chicken. My secret to getting juicy, flavorful bbq chicken is to cook it in the oven first, covered with foil. Then place out on the grill to crisp up the skin while adding the bbq seasoning to it. It literally falls off the bone and tastes SO good!

Grilled BBQ chicken
Grilled BBQ Chicken


I used the chicken tenderloins for 2 other recipes. I marinated and chunked up some to grill on skewers that I then turned into grilled chicken salad with homemade ranch dressing. This is one of my kids favorite suppers. They also like it served with homemade honey mustard dressing.

Grilled Chicken Salad
Grilled Chicken Salad

And now for the new recipe I made. . . 

Sweet & Spicy Bacon Chicken Wraps!


Lay cooling racks on a cookie sheet that has an edge on it. (This allows for air to get the whole way around the bacon so you don't end up with soggy bacon after it's baked.) Wrap a piece of bacon around each tenderloin.


In a bowl, mix together 2/3 cup of brown sugar with 2 Tbsp of chili powder. Take each bacon wrapped tenderloin and roll around in the mix until well coated. For some of our bacon wrapped tenderloins, I put bbq sauce on instead of the mix.

Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes or until cooked & bacon crispy.

sweet & spicy bacon chicken wraps

We devoured this chicken so fast I almost forgot to take a photo of the finished product before it was almost gone! We couldn't decide which seasoning we like better with the bacon wrapped tenderloin as both ways were awesome! You can find the printable recipe here.

For  more recipe ideas on how to use Harvestland chicken, check out my recipe page.

Connect with Harvestland on:

I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product.



Cruise Day 12- Aruba, November 12th

If you are just joining, catch up here to see what I am sharing about in the coming days & weeks!
-Day 1
-Day 2
-Day 3
-Day 4
-Day 5
-Day 6
-Day 7
-Day 8
-Day 9
-Day 10
-Day 11
_______________________________________
Cruise Day 12, Aruba, Wednesday November 12th

Today we had an early docking in Aruba at 7am. This was to be a short stay as all aboard was at 12:30 so we decided the night before to get up early to go to breakfast so we can make the most of our time on the island. For those interested in geography, we were a mere 14 nautical miles away from South America! 

We got down to breakfast by 7:20 and were off the ship by 8:15. It was amazing how hot it was so early in the morning. We had a little bit of a walk until we reached the area for taxis. A lady asked where we wanted to go so I told her which beach. It technically is within walking distance of about 20 minutes but with the little ones, I knew it would be too much especially in the heat. She told us to go to this set of benches and she’ll bring her vehicle over. After 10 minutes, she was still across the street so I said to the others let’s just forget it as she isn't coming back anytime soon. We can take the local bus to the beach like a lot of people were doing.

When the next bus came, I asked him if it goes to Nikky Beach, he said yes. So we hopped on. My first clue should’ve been when he went the opposite way of where I knew this beach to be. I just assumed maybe he would circle around.

A view of the beach.

Turns out, it didn’t go to the beach I wanted and we ended up in the high rise hotel area of the island with beaches. It wasn’t a big deal but the beach I had researched would’ve been a bit more quiet and secluded. So we ended up at Palm Beach.


Aruba is a lot more developed than some of the previous islands we’ve been to. Especially the area we stayed at on the beach. Lots of hotels and timeshares. The water where we were at was warm and calm unless a boat went by sending in a wake to the shore.

Such calm water!


 It was a hot morning unless you were out in the water to cool off. Because of the short docking time, we only stayed on the beach about 2 hours then caught the public bus again to head back to the port.

The public bus stop we waited at to head back.



Views of the port from the ship.



After getting back on board, we got Ava & Olivia some lunch to eat back in our room then Kevin took Ava for a walk to put her to sleep and the older girls took Olivia to hang out with their friends. I went out for some reading time out in the sun. 

An unfiltered photo of my afternoon view while reading. Heaven on earth people! 

Thanks to the gentle swaying of the ship & warm sun, I managed to slightly doze for a little bit on my chair. After a quick dip in the pool to cool off then reading for a bit longer, I headed in to check on the little ones.

At dinner tonight, out of the blue our waiter brought us 3 appetizers of escargot (in addition to what we had ordered) to which Susan finished off 2 of them and I had the other, yum! If you like clams, escargot is very similar in taste & texture but less chewy. I’d pick this over clams. They are served in butter with a garlic type of cheese on top. 

The only time we get escargot is on a cruise! Love this stuff!

Poor Olivia was tired but didn’t tell us that she was. She just curled up in her booster seat and fell asleep! The tables around us thought it was too cute!

This was the beginning of dinner

This was just a short time later, oops!

Tonight I joined a bunch of friends for a late night evening game called Quest. The entire room is broken up into teams with 4 team captains for each team. The quick version is that it is a scavenger hunt that the host calls out items and the teams have to come up with the objects from what everyone has on them personally. It’s quite hilarious to say the least!

We got out from that about 11:20 and we popped into The Chamber which is a 2 level club with a dance area. Tonight they had what’s called a “Silent Dance Party”. Anyone who wants to dance is given a headset with a choice of 3 different music channels to dance to. We didn’t want to participate so my friends and I peeked in from the second floor to observe. It was SO funny to see people dancing but we couldn’t hear any music.

From there, I went to grab some water to take back to my room and ran into the 3 girls hanging out with the teen club. It was fun to finally have an evening out and not be in bed by 9:30! Since tomorrow is a sea day, we didn't have to worry about being in bed early.
_________________________________
All photos can be clicked on to enlarge. The photos I am sharing are a combination of ones I took as well as my kids and husband on a variety of cameras and iPhones, hence the varying quality.