Monday, April 7, 2014

More travel......Hawaii 2012, Vegas, Chartered a Moorings boat in the BVIs and the family cruise - 2013

Really?!?! August 2012 was the last post....
So much has happened....and then again not much has changed....

Hawaii in April 2012 was fantastic but as noted in my previous post was not so relaxing.

In 2013, surprisingly we were able to take 3 full spectacular vacations....
First, Vegas in March 2013....stayed at the Palazzo.  A fabulous stay for our first Vegas trip.
The food was amazing - from CarneVino to RED Sushi to Piero's to Wolfgang Puck's place in the MGM Grand.  All wonderful.
And to top off the trip, outside of the gambling and winning and shows.....we took a helicopter tour over the desert, Hoover Dam and the western rim of the Grand Canyon.  Probably the best view of it I'll ever see!

In late June/early July, we took another BVI bareboat trip - getting there and home were awful stories - I hate to relive those airport delays and will do everything in our power to avoid the San Juan airport in the future....but the sailing and the resort stay were outstanding!
We were so glad to spend one night at a marina - OH A/C How I LOVE Thee!

In late August/early September, we took a family cruise on Carnival.  The company with Mom, cousins, brother and Uncle was great.  We all met up for dinner every night and spent some good fun on and off the ship.  The highlight of this trip - and the reason for it in the first place - was to share together spreading my father's ashes at sea.
We had some of the most professional crew members on a ship I had ever encountered meet us at a specified time and place to bring us to a Crew Only area of the ship.  Each of us who chose to, had their own tube to throw into the was around sunset, it was very sad but added closure and was a special moment to share with family and was a very emotional but needed experience.
I am grateful that Carnival allowed us the opportunity to grant my father's wishes.
And afterward, we opened up a bottle of wine in one of the lounges and shared a toast in my father's memory.

These 3 vacations have amazing we go into 2014 (and the first quarter already pretty much gone), we think forward and hope to have many many more wonderful vacations and experiences to share!  So far, this year we have started back sailing - yes it's been 3-4 years since our Thursday night racing series attendance.....the first 2 races, we sailed the first, booze cruised the 2nd one and hopefully this week we'll really get some momentum or find a good boat where we can both get our training-sea legs back on.

We are unsure of any vacation plans - April/May's NYC plans may not actually come to fruition as we have a very sick kitty that we are taking care of daily - we don't know what tomorrow will bring.  I feel I can get a spectacular deal - free flight (must be used by May 2014), I plan to Priceline the hell our of hotel rate and expect to beat any of my previous awesome travel arrangement pricing deals I've ever been able to find!  Hopefully, I can post in May with some good news that we were able to make the trip!

Til then....calm seas and Happy Sailing!

Friday, August 17, 2012

What Happened to 2012?

I have neglected to share all the things that have happened since my last post in late 2011.  And nothing mattered more this year than caring for and spending time with my Dad.

The new year happened.  We enjoyed a family trip and got to spend some good times with Dad.

January flew by, Dad's condition has been somewhat stable on his Dacogen cycles.

What did I do on Valentine's Day?  (Oh yeah, a beautiful dinner at Salt Rock Grill).  February was a blur.  Dad was due for another bone marrow test.

2nd anniversary in March - very memorable dinner at Armani's.  Dad's blast count reared it's nasty head again.  Prognosis - not good, he has 3-4 months.  How disturbing to hear just before you go on vacation.

Anniversary trip to Hawaii in April was spectacular but not as relaxing as I wished.  Dad was in pain all over.

May was a very hectic month and I don't really recall anything but taking care of Dad and a short visit down south for my brother's and neice's birthdays and then back taking care of Dad.

June, spending Father's Day in the hospital and Dad's birthday he was in too much pain to go out for dinner that night....tried to make the best of it, so we ordered in.

July 4th, Dad was going back home down south the next day, we could at least have a nice grilled dinner....and it was nice.  But we missed watching the fireworks.  And the drive turned into a nightmare; what should have been a 4.5 hr drive was 9 hours....

July 11th I left my job for 4 weeks and July 18th, Dad passed away.

It's been a month.

Back at work for a week and 1/2, trying to build some normalcy back into my life, thinking about my mother continuously and always keeping my Dad in my mind and heart.

It's tough stuff.

I started a team "Miracle Moffitt Man Pepe" for the Light the Night Walk for the lymphoma and leukemia society and raising money for the organization.  So far hit the minimal goal, shooting for a team goal of $1000.

Visit my page to donate or forward to anyone you think might be interested in supporting the cause:
My Light the Night Walk webpage

I'm getting to see friends again slowly but surely.  Want to start sailing on a regular basis again.

Looking forward to a good time for my birthday next week down south.

Once the summer is over, I plan to spend more time building back the garden.  It's very sad and overgrown.  I would like to have green beans this season.  Last time we got some good ones!  We almost had cucumbers this summer, but we let them go too long.  The zucchinis, tomatoes and jalepenos never made it.  We'll try again.

I suppose we were blessed with an extra 2+ years with Dad since he was diagnosed.  It was a tough battle and he certainly fought til the end.  That's my Dad.  My hero.

June 26th, 1929 - July 18th, 2012
This picture was taken March 13th, 2012.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NEVER buy Birkenstocks (Birki's) again

The picture in my profile are of the most comfortable shoes....sandals.  My Birkenstocks.  Actually, they are my Birki's - made by Birkenstock.

I got them for my birthday last year.  I've owned a pair of Birkenstocks for 18 pair of shoes I ever bought.  But, it was time for a new pair.

Got them, felt great, loved them......and recently I noticed both shoes in the same exact spot have a crack in the cork from the sole to the liner - the whole way.  Not across the entire ball of the foot/shoe, but eventually, it will get there.

I immediately called the store where they were bought.  You know what they told me about these quality, very expensive sandals?  They couldn't do anything about it.  And when I called the corporate customer service, the first thing they asked was if I contacted the retailer and that there was nothing they could to about it.

Really?  When I've owned a pair for 18 years without issue and this same crack appears right behind the strap in the same location on both shoes in the pair.....that doesn't seem curious?  And with the reputation and quality that this company thrives on?

This is what I mean by customer service.  There typically isn't any anymore.  Why I cherish the places and give high praise to those places who still deliver the highest quality of customer service.

Will be sharing this with everyone that I can.  I will never buy another pair of Birkenstocks.  Be warned.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Customer Service - it still exists - with a TV Manufacturer (Westinghouse)

On Thanksgiving night 2010, we decided we'd pass through the Target parking lot on the way home to see how many people were lined up for the great offerings we had been reading about on and confirmed in the sale ads that day.

There was a Westinghouse 40" LCD HDTV on sale for $298.  Seriously.  (Who knew Westinghouse made tvs?!)

We bought 2!

We immediately set one up in the living room and saved the other until we could get a decent wall mount for the bedroom.  We received the wall mount from a great friend (commercial grade) in December, but due to a car accident and bad backs, we were unable to muster the strength to get it all set up until August.  Yes, 9 months later.

When it was finally up on the wall, the picture would intermittently go out.  With a slight knock or movement of the tv, it would come back on.  The audio was never disrupted.

After about 3 weeks of it progressively getting worse and quickly running out of time on our 1 year warranty, I called the manufacturer and they quickly sent me an RMA/case # and a pre-paid FedEx shipping label.  I packaged the tv back up in its original box well with bubble wrap and taped it up nicely.

Within about a week, I got a call from Westinghouse telling me they had some information on my product.  It was unrepairable.  And they no longer made that model.  So they would be replacing it with a 40" LED (yes LED) higher grade new tv (even qualifies as Energy Star)!  Within a few days, it shipped and it showed up at the house.

To our delight, we set it up and it works great and looks great and WE LOVE IT!

I had no issues with the customer service group at Westinghouse.  They were polite and quick to respond.  They were also very responsive.  WOW - customer service DOES still exist!  In some places.

I would buy a Westinghouse TV (and probably any other product they make) without hesitation in the future.  What a great experience!

(Lesson learned:  Always test out your new merchandise immediately, even if you don't end up using it for some time, so you do not lose out on your warranty!)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A New Grill (what a thrill)

Dan and I both had gas grills.  Old gas grills.  For years.

Mine was a hand me down from our fine cousins Rita and Fred.  This was probably 10 years ago.  They must have had it for at least 10 years prior.  Great little grill.  Definitely had lots of use!
The burners were replaced (they didn't make them as small as this grill required even and had to install one larger one diagonally - try cooking evenly on that!), the side shelves were replaced and even added some hooks to them.  It is very much missed.....last year, we put it on the side of the street and within 3 days, it was gone.

Then, we have Dan's old gas grill.  It's a little larger than mine was.  The propane connection and so many of its parts were destroyed over time.  It has been used as a charcoal grill for the last year or so.  It will soon be placed on the side of the street and we'll see how long it takes to disappear.

We started shopping for a grill some time many things to think about.....
Size, material, number of burners, do we want searing?, do we want a rotisserie?, do we want a side burner?, how high-end do we want to go?, etc etc etc.

We finally narrowed it down to 2.  We decided that eventhough we could spend thousands and thousands on an outdoor grill, we decided that we should keep it under $1000.  But we want to keep it for many, many, many years to come.  But, no matter what, it had to be stainless steel (Dan's requirement).

The 2 contenders were the Weber Genesis S330 and the Jenn Air 32" outdoor grill.  Both have received spectacular reviews on multiple websites.

The Weber is available at many places, similar pricing between all locations - we'd probably get ours from Lowe's.  It's very close, we have a gift card and if we purchased the floor model, they'd give us a discount.  But, they can't deliver the floor model.
It has 637 sq in cooking area, has 3 burners, is all stainless steel construction (burners and cooking grates too), a side burner, a searing station and tool holders.

It doesn't have a warming drawer, not built for rotisserie, no lighting and doesn't come with a cover (those aren't cheap!).

The Jenn Air I found at Sam's Club.
It has 828 sq in cooking area, has 5 burners, is all stainless steel construction (flame tamers are stainless steel with a porcelain coating and the cooking grates are thermal core with stainless steel coating), a searing station, rotisserie option, lighting on the knobs and inside the lid, a warming drawer and comes with a cover.
And the price??  If you add the rotisserie kit, same as the Weber described above.

What it doesn't have?  A side burner.
The other cons with this Jenn Air is that it requires electricity for the lights, warming drawer and rotisserie motor to work.

Both really great options.  Both have excellent marks for durability and quality.  The Jenn Air was Consumer Reports' top pick (even over the Weber Summit, KitchenAid and others).  The Weber is just a spectacular grill brand.

Well, we've made our decision.......
AND THE WINNER IS..........'ll have to come back and see......

THE FINAL ANSWER IS THE Jenn Air!  It's awesome.  Cooks great!  We've used it multiple times every week since we've gotten it!  Clean up is a breeze!  The only issue is that the model we purchased doesn't have the warming drawer.  Be sure to double check the model (it had a "B" at the end of it) which the manufacturer swears Sam's wasn't supposed to have in stock.  So, aside from that - we are extremely happy with the purchase!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

First time blogger...

As most people blogging for the first time, it's hard to determine what exactly to say, how to start and why should people even read my blog?  Well, let's just start with - how do I use this thing?

For starters, why am I even starting a blog?  That is an excellent question.  I don't have a particular reason and at the same time there are so many reasons.  Everyone wants to be heard (seen)...

I suppose I started thinking about it a year ago or so when I began sending very regular email updates on my father's condition to about 70 of our closest friends and family.  It started as sort of an outlet for me and at the same time it surprised people how much I had learned about leukemia and how much I sounded like a doctor and could communicate on a non-technical level all the specific details....surprised me too.  But I figure I can learn specific details about all kinds of things and communicate those things too.  Or maybe just for fun.

Once I learn how to set things up, add photos and videos and get used to posting.....I'm sure this could get quite interesting.  :)

I'm pretty sure service, travel, cooking, local stuff & me are all very broad subjects....I didn't want to dismiss anything.  This is an all-inclusive kind of blog.  Kinda.

The current background picture is from the latest travel adventure....St. Croix USVI May 7th through May 14th, 2011.
It's the view from our balcony at the Inn we stayed at.

Recommendations:  Not to visit St. Croix.
But, if you must, here is a short list of "must sees, must do's and must eats:"

**Must rent a jeep!  The roads or pretty bad and in case you get lost on a "scenic" road, like we need to be prepared for the "conditions" of the "roads."  The personnel at the Budget rental place weren't the nicest, but you get past that.
**Must stay at the Carrington's Inn on Herman Hill - the Flamboyant is the best room there!  Roger and Claudia Carrington are very warm and welcoming - and make you homemade breakfasts every day!
**Must see Rainbow Beach - best beach, in my opinion, on the entire island.
**Must see Point Udall - nothing spectacular, but you can say you've been to the most eastern point in the USA!  (Like when in Key West you can say you're at the most southern point.....)
**Must eat the Jerk Chicken sandwich at Fort Christiansted Brew Pub on the Boardwalk.
**Must eat curry at Kim's in downtown Christiansted.
**Must eat roti (request boneless chicken if you choose chicken) on Friday's at the Domino Club (and try a shot of the "mamajuana").
***If you're into history and museums, visit the Whim Plantation Museum and Botanical Gardens, although unimpressive, you'll see some neat ruins.

I think for now this is about all I know to as I learn more - you will see more.
So, send your thoughts, comments and support.  I'm looking forward to it (BE NICE!).  :)