Our Trip to Ensenada, Mexico

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Trip-Us with the ShipEarly in January, my husband and I were able to take a trip to Ensenada on a Carnival Cruise ship.

The trip was awesome, and here are some highlights as well as a few things I learned about to plan the next cruise for our family.


FYI: We purchased the $50 per person per day option for drinks, usually called totally inclusive.  My husband and I figured that if we were able to drink five (5) drinks a day, that would make the purchase easily justifiable.  Mental note for those who purchase this plan – you can only drink 15 drinks a day, and the drink cannot cost more than $10.00.  This was easily do-able.

I’ll just let you know that we were able to meet that small goal.  Hee, hee.  Don’t be judge-y. We were without children you know.
Expedia.ca: All-Inclusive Packages for $999 with Expedia!

Trip-Queen MaryThe cruise left from Long Beach, California.  We took a photo in front of the Queen Mary, a ship that is permanently docked and is available for both dinner and nightly stays.  I’m not interested in the whole “being haunted” thing, so I probably won’t be making a vacation to stay on that ship anytime soon.

This is the Long Beach, CA skyline behind my husband. DeAndrasCrafts.com

My husband is standing at the very back of the ship in front of the Long Beach skyline as we left the port.

We picked a room with a king-sized bed and a window, and we discussed at length how we don’t know how people can pick rooms without windows.  It’s less expensive though, and we could see how being on the ship is exciting enough.  Other than sleeping or napping, you really don’t spend a whole-lot-of-time in your room.

The team of crew members treat you like royalty, and I personally love the small touches that cruises offer such as ‘all you can eat food’ at any time of the day.  It’s an extremely gluttonous experience if you haven’t experienced anything like that.  They also place extra towels on your bed each evening in the shape of animals.  The frog was my favorite on this trip.

Trip-Towel FrogThe first full day was spent in Ensenada, Mexico, and in the morning before we docked, I ran around the walking/jogging track as we came into port.

Note for any future joggers/walkers: If you use an app on your phone, the app may or may not take into consideration the movement of the ship.

This is my selfie as the ship parked into the Ensenada port.

This is my selfie as the ship parked into the Ensenada port.  I was bummed that I didn’t get to see the enormous Mexican flag that ~usually~ flies on the pole behind me.

According to the run tracking app on my phone, I was able to do the first mile in 4.32 minutes.  As I know that is not possible for me EVER, I knew the app didn’t take the speed of the ship moving into its calculation.  This also made it difficult to judge how far I actually ran that morning.  If I had to guess, it was probably about three miles, but I didn’t count the laps around the track.  The track has a distance marked on the deck as 1/11th of a mile around.  It takes 11 trips around the track to go a one-mile distance.

The shipped docked around 8:30 AM or so and cruisers were able to get off the boat for excursions and local shopping/touring.

We easily purchased a excursion that morning for a 10 AM departing time, to go see something called “La Bufadora” and wine tasting at an Ensenada winery.

This is my second (or maybe third, I can’t recall) trip to Ensenada, Mexico, and it was my husband’s third or fourth.  We had both been on mission trips to Ensenada, but separately and thus this vacation was our first trip to this city together.  Neither one of us had experienced “La Bufadora” and it was a spectacular site that was worth seeing at least once in a lifetime.

My husband is standing in front of La Bufadora in Ensenada, Mexico.

My husband is standing in front of La Bufadora in Ensenada, Mexico.

The cruise-ship provided tour guide said that there were only three locations of this type of phenomena in the world, and Ensenada is one of the three.

For me, one of the coolest things I experienced was seeing a rainbow in the occasional water spray after the water shot up from where the ocean meets the rock formation.

I wish I got video.  It was quite beautiful, loud, and breathtaking when the splashes occurred.

A rainbow formed in the spray at La Bufadora.

A rainbow formed in the spray at La Bufadora.

The drive from the ship to the spot where La Bufadora is located is about 35 to 40 minutes on a chartered bus that was part of the excursion purchase.

The tour guide told us all his favorite spots along the shops at La Bufadora, and we were one of the first visitors of the day there.  From the dirt parking lot where the bus parked, there is about a quarter-mile walk to the rock formation of La Bufadora where you walk in between local shops of clothing, purses, jewelry, souvenirs, and food of every kind imaginable.

If you haven’t been to Mexico before and you’re reading this to find out more about it, let me be the first to warn you about Mexican sales personnel.

They are VERY PUSHY.

And sometimes, just sometimes, if you know enough Spanish, you can tell they are not very nice when you politely say “no thanks.”

It’s just a hard day’s work for them and that’s how I like to look at it.

Also – The rumors about Mexican water are true – be very careful about drinking anything with ice in it as well, as that includes free samples of Pina Colada mix that the vendors push on you as you pass by.

Very few things are regulated in Mexico like they are in western countries, and water cleanliness is not a priority to them.

There were also people performing dances and singing for us, such as this fine gentlemen to allowed us to take a selfie with him.

Trip-With at LocalWe make sure we pack plenty of one-dollar bills for tips before we leave for any vacation, and this vacation was no exception.  We gave him a couple of bucks as he was not only serenading us, but let us take a photo.

I purchased a clam shell the size of my head from a local vendor that was filled with crab meat, clam meat, seasoning, and shrimp on top.  There’s no way to tell if something is undercooked while there, but I didn’t get sick so I highly recommend it.

We ate lunch at the taco shop closest to the parking lot.  (This was also something that was recommended by our guide and worth every bite.)

Before we left we paid the 50-cent fee (each) to use the bathroom at the taco shop.  Don’t forget about the water coming out of the faucet in the bathroom to wash your hands.  It’s still a good idea to wash your hands, but ensure that you pack a small container of hand sanitizer to use AFTER you wash your hands with Mexican water.

The trip back was relaxing and I took a short nap on my husband’s shoulder in the bus.

There was nothing special about the wine tasting at the San Tomas winery, although it’s always interesting to hear history of places and the wine tasting room had plenty of history in itself.  The wine we tasted was … well … it was … sweet, but it was not our preferred type of wine.  I’ll just leave that comment for your own judgement.

That evening was our “elegant” dinner on the ship, and the waiters and waitresses sand the song “Celebration” to us which was quite a treat.

We finished off the evening with a “Diva’s” song and dance tribute, and then a comedy show.  The day itself was exhausting, so it was easy to get some sleep the second night.

The second full day is on the sea, and we didn’t plan out much except to eat and play a few “what’s that tune” games.

We walked around before the games started to take photos on the ship and that’s where my Selfie Stick came in handy.

The cruise ships exhaust ports are in the background, along with one of the water slides.

The cruise ships exhaust ports are in the background, along with one of the water slides.

My husband and I talked about bringing the kiddos on a cruise like this, and for now, we’ve convinced ourselves that it would be possible.

First, it would have to be warmer, as the pool and the water slides would be a big seller for our children.  “Warmer” as in a daytime temperature of 75-degrees or higher.

Second, I think we would take grandma, or a friend to help be a sitter, as we would want to purchase three rooms and have the children in the middle.  Even though we are adults, our experience with trying to sleep during the third night reminded us that we are older adults and do not care for the young adults waking us up at midnight, 2 and 5 in the morning with his/her conversations and antics.  It was clear that one of our neighbors had a friend for the last evening, and I literally tried sleeping with my fingers in my ears.  It doesn’t work well at all.

The walls in between cabins are seemingly paper-thin.

Note for next time: Bring earplugs.

Lastly, we figured that the children would have to get off the boat for an excursion of some kind.  The bus ride was just the right length for us, but 40-minutes might have been too long for our kiddos.  Perhaps something closer or more exciting would have to be planned out for them.

Maybe after a three day cruise with the kids we could take it up a notch and go on a four or five day cruise.

All I know is that I like going on cruises.

I like them immensely.

This is my third one in my lifetime and I hope to go on many in the future.

Thanks for reading!

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Busy Kids Camping Ideas

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We are going on a week long trip to Yosemite this year.Half Dome from Glacier Point

We’ve done this before, but my youngest two were much smaller (think 16-months and just over 2 years) so it wasn’t really a problem to make them take naps, pick up sticks and rocks and play in the dirt.Keeping Kids Busy Camping

I am one of those moms who loves electronics and devices and know people say my children will need therapy because they will probably grow up thinking thier mom didn’t care about them because I put them in front of a TV for entertainment…etc., etc.

Whatever.  Like YOU know what you’re talking about.

Anyway, the chance to get away from those things also means they will have to keep themselves entertained when my knee hurts or little brother has to take a nap.  As a true vacation from most electronics (we’ll still have cameras) I plan on keeping my various aged children entertained with good old-fashioned arts and crafts that the oldest won’t get too bored with and the younger two won’t be asking me to do all the work.

It’s harder than you think (or maybe some of you know!)

Right now I have a three-year old, a four year old and an eight year old.  The 8 yr-old can read, write, color, and do most projects on his own very well once taught.  The 4-year old is currently very frustrated with the fact that she cannot read and write, and scribbles (almost incessantly) so that she feels she has her words and lists and notes down like her momma.  The 3 yr-old just wants to do whatever his brother and sister are doing.

It’s exhausting some days to get these kids to play together.  My old knee “went-out” on me a couple weeks ago and I know it’s going to be difficult, yes-definitely challenging, to go on hikes and (forget it!) bike rides like we were originally planning on doing.

So here I am, planning on spending more time in the tent-cabin playing with my children.

Here’s the list of ideas I’m working with right now.  I will link back to this thread and post photos of what we actually did on the trip.  For now, it’s just a plan and I’m looking forward to going on vacation!

Note: Yosemite has multiple rules and regulations in the park.  We will be respecting those rules.  These ideas are just to get me started on the planning on what I can do with my kiddos, even if it’s around the house on a walk.

1.  Big Leaf Painting by Kleas

I love painting with the kids.  It’s messy and fun, and might as well preserve a memory of a cool leaf we found on the ground or maybe we’ll make stick paintings.  The ideas can go on and on if I remember to bring paint and a flat surface.  Right now, I’m thinking paper plates will do fine.

2. Personalized Nature Pals by Spoonful.com

A seemingly easy idea, I won’t bring a glue gun, but rather some E6000or Aleene’s tacky glue.  I was planning on bringing glue anyway!

3. Camping Scavenger Hunt by The Creative Homemaker or Outdoor Scavenger Hunt by Today’s Mama

I printed out both of these scavenger hunts, and if we have the chance, we’ll try to do both!

4. I hope to find the Easter eggs and we’ll make Fireflies from Apartment Therapy.

5. I’m going to make my own busy bags similar to these Easy Camping Bags by Capital B.

Mine will include puzzles and planned crafts, as well as standard coloring books.  I have to plan for three different ages of children that all don’t have the same capability, but ALWAYS want to do the same thing.

Here’s my list for my busy kids.  Please feel free to share it!  I know it could be used for more than just camping supplies. kids supplies list to keep busyHopefully, at least once a day, I’m hoping to ask questions about the previous day and get them to hold onto memories in an artistic format, as well as taking photos.

There are so many things I could bring that are small, such as beading supplies, but I’m trying to stick with basics of coloring, writing, and story telling, etc.  My hope is to create a scrapbook of their mementos they created while on the trip and place them with the photos when I get them printed.
This post is just a reminder post for the links I need to look up soon.  The week of vacation is coming by fast so I’ll have to get my bags ready pretty quickly!



Tips on How to Spot a Fake Louis Vuitton Purse

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How to Spot a Fake Louis Vuitton BagAt the flea market recently (there’s one every Thursday near where I work, and yes, you can be jealous,) I spotted a cute purse that I picked up just for the color and size.  When I looked inside the purse to see the label, I noticed that it said Louis Vuitton.

So understand something about me – I am not a fine purse connoisseur.  Not even close.  But I do know the name Louis Vuitton.

 When I saw the label on the bag and asked how much, the woman said $2.  At that moment I knew it was a fake, but I didn’t care and handed her my money.  It’s so cute and still a great purchase for a small, clean purse.

When I went back to work with my find, the tiny-bit excited part of me had to make sure it was a fake.  This post is the results of my findings that I am sharing with you!

All the advertiser links on this page take you to Amazon, where although Amazon does not sell REAL, Louis Vuitton, they do sell “Inspired Designer” handbags, many of which look like Louis Vuitton purses.  Links for real Louis Vuitton sites are at the bottom of the Amazon website.

This is the video that helped me the most.

Here are examples of the workmanship, from photos of the purse I purchased.  The key for any Louis Vuitton purse is quality of workmanship.  They are valued over $300 for a reason – and that reason is the quality.

Logo Check-Spot a Fake Louis Vuitton PurseFirst indicator: A real Louis Vuitton does not have the logo under creases, straps or hardware.  Note that the tab in the photo is also not marked with an LV logo, just a plain, brass colored tab.  This photo also shows thread sticking out from the stitches!

Quailty Matters - Spot a Fake LV PurseThe “brass” hardware was not real brass, as you can hopefully see from the photo that the zipper pull is discoloring as fake brass does that.  The tabs on a real Louis Vuitton purse are marked with the LV logo, not the full name as shown on my purse.

Look at the stamped logo-Spot a Fake LV PurseThe stitching is done by hand on a real Louis Vuitton, and the video above stated that another good indicator the purse is not real is by looking at the stamped label inside the purse.  The stamped label is not supposed to be off center as shown on my purse.

Look at the handle-Spot a Fake LV PurseThe video goes into detail about the handle.  The handles on a real purse are made out of cow hide and oxidize after being used which turns them a darker colored brown.  As a result, the handle will also soften over time.  The color of the edging is supposed to be red.  Although similar to a real Louis Vuitton, I would describe the color of the edge of the handle as brick red.

Stitching, quality-Spot a Fake LV PurseIf there is anything from the things I read about how to spot a real Louis Vuitton purse, it would be that the quailty is the number one thing on a real purse.  The tab on the purse I bought for $2 was peeling away from the seam.  Clearly, this purse was made in a hurry and would never be worth even $10, let alone $300 or up.

I think I’ll be checking those labels more often.  Many people at flea markets don’t acutally know what they are selling, which is why it can be so exciting to go!  I believe I would never actually find a real Louis Vuitton purse, but I hope to share more finds with you of other super cool things.

I do like my faux bag….   My fake Louis Vuitton