A tale of two delicious cakes

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Classic Cold-Oven Pound Cake

It has been a busy week in the kitchen.  As I mentioned in my recent blog, I came across a copy of cooking with Paula Deen while waiting last fall in the check-out aisle of the supermarket.  Within its pages I found a recipe for a Classic Cold-Oven Pound Cake.

The recipe intrigued me as the words ‘cold-oven’ was part of the description of this pound cake.  I have always pre-heated my oven and I thought, “Okay I will give this a try”.  I had all but one ingredient in my pantry and refrigerator except the heavy whipping cream.  I made a trip to the supermarket and was ready to go.

Classic Cold-Oven Pound Cake

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

3 cups sugar

6 large eggs

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup heavy whipping cream

Directions:

  1. Spray a 9-inch tube pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with a mixer at medium-high speed until fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Gradually add flour mixture in butter mixture alternately with cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition.  Spread batter into prepared pan, and place in cold oven.
  4. Set oven to 325°, and bake until a wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean, about 75 minutes. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes.  Remove from pan, and let cool completely, right side up, on a wire rack.  Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

The cake batter was easy to prepare then it was in the oven.  I had to add an additional few minutes to the time before wooden pick came out clean.  The top of the cake was crunchy and soft inside.

As soon as the cake was thoroughly cooled I brought a slice to Randy and he loved it, especially the crunchy top.  And, yes, I sent along two slices to Bob and Sandy and asked for their feedback.

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Geri’s Rum Cake

Now, this was the first cake for the week.  The second was actually a cake I received via priority mail from our very good friend, Geri. The first time I enjoyed Geri’s beyond delicious rum cake a few years ago and had asked for the recipe.  She was kind but firm with her response saying, “I can’t do that.  It is a secret family recipe”.

Mary, Geri, Vilma, Jim and Randy

Mary, Geri, Vilma, Jim and Randy

In 2016 Jim and Vilma came for a short visit.  Geri came too and knowing how much I love her rum cake brought one along.  I was in heaven!

This past January Jim and Vilma were stopping by again. Learning about their impending visit Geri sent along an email that started, “No, I am not enclosing the rum cake recipe.  HaHaHa”.  She went on to say that she had heard that Jim and Vilma would be visiting and asked, “Was wondering if you would share her (Vilma) one night?  I will trade you a large rum cake for a bed for one night”.

Now, how funny is that?  After I stopped laughing, I replied, “Absolutely”.  Unfortunately, just before Jim and Vilma arrived, we received another email from Geri that read, “It is with heavy heart that I am letting you know, I will not be able to make the trip to see you all”.  Geri had picked up a bug and did not want to ‘pass it along’ to the rest of us.

A week later I sent an email to Geri asking after her health.  After saying that she was fine, she went on to say that she wanted to send a fresh rum cake and needed to know if we would be home for delivery.

“You are so funny!  You don’t have to send us a cake (she says with fingers crossed),” I replied.  A week later the cake arrived.  This was the email I sent to Geri after the cake arrived:

“The cake made it today and within a few minutes I had the box open, the aluminum foil peeled back, a large slice on a plate and a wondrous bite in my mouth.  Thank you, thank you, and thank you”.

Because Bob and Sandy had heard me talk about this delicious cake and my failed attempts at getting the recipe, I sent over two slices for them to enjoy and discover for themselves why I love this delicious cake so much.

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A few days later I received an email from Sandy that read as follows:

“We have always known how lucky we were to land in Del Webb AND how lucky to land on 91st Terrace Road.  What we have also learned is that our luck extended to living beside Randy and Mary, especially when Mary cooks/bakes and we are tapped to “taste test”.  Oh my.

The latest “tasting” was just yesterday when Mary delivered not one cake to test but two.  I will try to do justice to each.

The first “pound” cake would be worth its weight in gold.  It was a “simple” vanilla version that was eaten down to the last crumb.  So very moist yet with a delicious crunchy top so that you got both moist and crunchy in each bite.  And Mary said the only variation that she used was cream for the liquid.  The taste was annoyingly familiar but one that you couldn’t put a name to.  So, per Mary, the name was “cream”.  How simple is that.  We were very disappointed when our plates were empty of even the smallest crumb.

The second cake was a rum cake, but not just any rum cake. There is quite a story surrounding this.  A dear friend of Mary and Randy’s who lives afar is quite renowned for this particular item.  So much so that even her closest friends who desire the recipe are told “NO”.  Repeated pleas have gone unanswered.  So, this particular cake is almost a legend.  Anyway, this friend was scheduled for a visit recently but due to illness was not able to come to Florida.  And, not able to come to Florida with a rum cake!!!  However, those who are patient are often rewarded and so Mary and Randy were rewarded yesterday when this beloved item arrived by mail.  BY MAIL!!!

And being accredited taste testers, were rewarded with a piece for each of us.  And, we now know why the recipe is so coveted.  This cake was the most moist, the most flavorful, the most “rummiest”, the most delicious that we had ever tasted.  And the nuts in the topping were wonderful.

These two tastings made our day/month/year!!!  Each cake was beyond wonderful.  Each cake has its own reasons that make you hope you will, at some time, have more.  Each cake was different than the other; however, so much alike in that they exceeded the deliciousness quotient.

Mary is a wonderful cook/baker and we are so fortunate to have the “jobs” we have.

Keep the oven warm Mary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I think that says it all for these two delicious cakes.

Enjoy,

Mary

Posted in cake, Food, food magazines, pound cake, rum cake | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Easy, delicious Chicken Chili

 

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Super Bowl LI is just two days away and where am I?  I am in the kitchen trying out a new chili recipe for game night.

Each year I set about finding a new chili recipe.  I pour over my many cookbooks, scan cooking magazines at the grocery store and, once in a while, research recipes on the internet.  I have made chili recipes that included such wonderful ingredients as chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, a white chili with salsa and Monterey Jack cheese and more.  Some recipes were mild, some hot, some really hot and, all delicious.

One morning last fall while waiting for my groceries to be checked out, I scanned the cooking magazines and noticed a magazine I had not noticed before.  The magazine was cooking with Paula Deen.  I picked it up and flipped through the pages and noticed a section called Paula Deen’s Weekly Five – Easy Weeknight Meal Planner. 

The five meals featured included Molasses-Glazed Pork Chops with Roasted Vegetables, Chicken Chili, and Weeknight Shepherd’s Pie, Honey Mustard Turkey with Rice Pilaf and, Hearty Tomato and Italian Sausage Pasta.  Along with the recipes there was a shopping list of ingredients to prepare all the meals.

Happy that a chili recipe that sounded tasty was among the five, I purchased the magazine and made a mental note to try it before Super Bowl Sunday.

Chicken Chili by Paula Deen

Ingredients:img_4629b

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound boneless skinless chicken

1 small yellow onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 (32-ounce) container low-sodium chicken broth

3 (15.5-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained

1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained

¾ cup chopped green onion

1 (1.25-ounce) package chili seasoning

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken, and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side.  Add onion, and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.  Add garlic, and cook for 1 minute.  Add bell pepper, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in broth, beans, tomatoes, green onions, and chili seasoning, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 25-30 minutes.  Remove chicken, and shred meat with two forks.  Return chicken to pot, and cook until heated through.  Stir in cheese just before serving.

I have never used packaged chili seasoning before.  I found a variety of McCormick’s chili seasongs at the super market.  The choices included McCormick’s original, Mild, Hot, Tex-Mex and Smoky BBQ.  Randy does not like foods that are ‘hot’ so I asked his opinion.  He suggested that we try the original.

The chili was easy to prepare and cook time was wonderful for someone who wants to put a home cooked meal on the table after a busy day.

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As soon as the chili was done, I gave a spoonful to Randy to try.  I had to laugh when the man who hates ‘hot’ food said, “It is really good but I wonder if you could add a little heat?”  I went back to the kitchen and added a ¼ teaspoon of ground Cayenne red pepper.  I gave him another taste and he said, “It’s not too hot but I can feel a little heat in the back of my throat; perfect”.

Next, I put several servings in a container and brought it over to my neighbors and official taste testers, Bob and Sandy.  Later that evening a very happy Sandy called saying that they loved the chili and were so glad to be my taste testers.

A little extra cheddar cheese and warm, buttered corn muffins made for a delicious meal. This chili will definitely be added to my ever growing list of favorite chili recipes.

No matter what team you will be cheering on, have a great time.

Enjoy,

Mary

Posted in chicken, Chili, Food, food magazines | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Busy, fun last day on Rhapsody

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I woke up this morning to a beautiful sky that had been painted in soft grays and bright yellows by heavenly hands; it took my breath away.  I sat quietly and just enjoyed the view.  I was also enjoyed feeling a warm breeze coming off the water.

I stepped back into the cabin and continued the packing I had started the night before while Randy went up to the lounge to get us some coffee before going to breakfast.  As I packed I became aware of the ship starting to rock and roll just a bit.

Packing finished, we made our way down to the dining room to meet Bob and Sandy for breakfast.  As we talked about our plans for the day everyone seemed to want to keep the momentum going of just kicking back and relaxing poolside.

After breakfast Bob and Sandy went down first to secure some chairs while Randy and I went about getting our photos, going to the casino to have fun with our three free pulls and stopping by the loyalty desk so Randy could thank Diane for her help during the voyage.

Once finished, we made our way to the Solarium and settled into our poolside chairs.  I settled in quickly and returned to my book.   It was hard to keep my attention on my book as I kept hearing a great deal of laughter from the pool.

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I wanted to see what was happening so I walked over to the wall and looked over to see the pool water looking very much like a turbulent wave pool pushing people to and fro.  The smiles on their faces were wonderful to see.

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The water was at once going side-to-side and then back and forth causing sprays of salt water reaching up to the top stairs of the pool. There was a crew member keeping a keen eye on the pool in case it became too turbulent and had to be closed.

Randy wanted to attend the Captain’s Corner with Captain Tobias Oster and so at around 10:45 he left and made his way to the Broadway Melody Theater.  The event is always interesting as passengers are given an opportunity to interact with the captain and some of his senior staff and ask questions about the ship and other ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet.

When he returned, I asked Randy what kind of questions people asked.  Randy said that questions came up about why we missed the port at Costa Maya, what happens to the waste food and sewage from the ship, what kind of pollution controls exist with regards to the fuel and the exhaust from the engines.

“Did you learn anything new,” I asked.

“I did.  I learned that the cruise ships have to use several types of fuel oil based on where they are cruising.  For example, regular bulk (heavy) oil can be burned in some places, but when returning to North American waters, they must switch to low emissions diesel oil to comply with the emission requirements for the USA & Canada,” Randy replied.

He handed me a sheet that was handed out at the event that listed vital statistics about the Rhapsody and other ships in the fleet.  The sheet included such interesting facts as the ship’s maiden voyage, the ship’s capacity of crew and passengers, a typical week’s consumption of food and drink, and a list of “fun facts” about the fleet.

I thought these fun facts were interesting so I will share:

  • Our Vision class vessels are 30% larger than a Nimitz class aircraft carrier at 109,000 register tons.
  • If you stood the Rhapsody of the seas on its bow, it would be nearly as tall as the Eiffel Tower.
  • Rhapsody of the seas maximum cruising speed is approximately 22.5 knots (a little over 26 miles per hour).
  • Rhapsody of the seas has a volume of 7.5 million cubic feet, which is equivalent of a fleet about 75 Fuji-Film blimps. That’s a lot of exposure…
  • Rhapsody of the seas cost $275 million to build. For the same price, we could have bought more than 4,000 Jaguar XK-8 coupes.  Two for every guest onboard!
  • More than 900 miles of electrical cable run through the Rhapsody of the seas, enough to stretch from New York to Milwaukee.

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While Randy was off to the theater, Bob decided he wanted to be a part of the fun in the pool.  It was fun to watch him as; he too, was floating at the mercy of the waves.  Very funny!

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Sandy and JJ

All too soon it was time to prepare for the evening.  We met Bob and Sandy at the Diamond Lounge and had fun talking and laughing with JJ as we said our goodbyes.  We learned that in a few weeks she would be going home for vacation.  We wished her well and then it was hugs and picture time.

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I love the last night’s dinner menu because it includes a dish that I have come to think of as comfort food; turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce.  Now, the dish comes with sweet potato mash and Brussels sprouts but I have always been able to request mashed potatoes and green beans and received both.  I enjoy this meal very much each time we sail.

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About the time dessert rolled around music filled the and the dining room staff started making their way to the grand staircase.  Once there, they sang and danced as they thanked everyone for sailing on the Rhapsody and said their goodbyes.

Before we left the dining room for the last time we said our goodbyes to our wonderful servers Ervin and Daniel and our headwaiter Celso  We thanked them for their wonderful service and gave each one a big hug.

We said our good nights to Bob and Sandy and returned to our cabin to finish out last minute packing and relax; tomorrow would be an early day.  Randy and I were eager to get on the road early as our friends Jim and Vilma were arriving in the afternoon to stay for a few days.

Tomorrow we arrive in Tampa.

Enjoy,

Mary

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A fun day in Cozumel, Mexico

 

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I was up very early again this morning.  I tiptoed across the room and, as quietly, as I could and opened the balcony door and stepped outside.  The air was warm and the moon was still hovering overhead even though daylight was to come soon.

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I sat and watched as we made our way into the International Port of Cozumel, Mexico.  A little later a Carnival Magic cruise ship made its way into the port.  The ship looked beautiful all lit up casting a beautiful golden glow on the water.

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Randy had risen and ran to the Diamond Lounge to get us some coffee and joined me just as the sun broke across the horizon.  We sat there for a long time and we watched the Carnival Fantasy and the Carnival Vista made their way to dock at the International Pier.

We met Bob and Sandy at the dining room for breakfast and planned our day ashore.  After the last two days of rain, rough seas and high winds, we were excited when the captain announced that the skies would be sunny and the temperature would be in the 80’s.  “It is going to be a beautiful day,” I thought to myself.

Bob and Sandy had never explored the area around the International Pier so we offered to show them around and then take them to a new restaurant that we thought they would love.  The last time we were all in Cozumel we took a taxi to San Miguel to celebrate Bob’s birthday.

This visit Randy and I wanted to stay close to the pier.  Unfortunately, I am still dealing with a knee injury I incurred while on a cruise to Norway.  So, walking long distances was not an option.

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We met on the pier at 10:30am and saw that the Brilliance of the seas was docked next to us.  We stopped for a moment to take a fun souvenir photo before walking through the port area and out into the town.

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We have visited Cozumel many times over the years and remember when outside the port area around the International Pier was fairly desolate.  Over time many stores, restaurants and bars have sprung up giving visitors another option if they do not want to go downtown.  Me, I love walking down the streets of San Miguel.

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We crossed the street from the pier is the outdoor Kukulcan Mall.  I love walking around, not because of the stores but I love the way they have included points of cultural history.  But first we took Bob and Sandy to a funny photo stop featuring a very large and scary shark.  Bob and Sandy climbed up the steps and had fun posing inside the mouth of the shark.  Very funny!

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img_8793bWe continued our walk until we came upon another of my favorite sites at the mall, a Cenote.  The sign next to the first one we passed reads, “A cenote is a natural pit, or skinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath”.  The sinkholes are associated with the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, and were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings.  I think they are beautiful.

 

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We walked around two admiring the trees, flowers and other foliage growing out of the cenotes.  We smiled when we spied several turtles swimming around the pool of water.

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There was one store that caught our attention called La Ruta de las Indias.  The store was filled with beautiful armor, shields, firearms, swords, knives, model ships, nautical merchandise and so much more.  If I could, I would have spent a day just admiring everything in the store.

 

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I wanted to make sure before we left the mall to show Bob and Sandy one of my favorite places in the mall.  We walked over to a pool of water with large cream colored squares.  On these squares were inscribed the symbols used on the Mayan calendar.

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One stone described the Mayan Calendar Haab explaining, “The calendar Haab is based on the yearly path of the earth around the sun 365 days.  The Maya divided the year in 18 “months” of 20 days each.  The “Winal” plus 5 more days called “Wayeb”.

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img_7395Lunch time was approaching so we left the mall and made our way to Ernesto’s just a few walk from the mall.  We discovered Ernesto’s last fall while on a cruise on the Freedom of the seas.  Again, I did not want to do a lot of walking so we asked a very nice man if he could point us to a local restaurant that would be good.  He wanted to know what kind of food we were interested in and we replied, “Mexican”.  With that he pointed us in the direction of Ernesto’s.

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img_8817Ernesto’s is a small restaurant with seating inside and on a deck within view of the pier.  The sun was shining and a nice breeze blew across the water making it very comfortable.  We chose a table on the deck and had a great time eating cheese nachos, drinking Sol beer and watching as small boat after small boat discharged their passengers into the clear, turquoise water to do some snorkeling.

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Our server came over and asked if were interested in dessert.  We asked for the menu and spied a dessert called Cozumel lime pie.  This was Cozumel’s version of the Key West Lime pie. We ordered one slice with four forks.  The pie had a thick graham cracker crust and the filling was wonderfully creamy.  I loved the little pieces of lime zest in the pie.  We all agreed that it was delicious.

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img_8820We took a little time to take some pictures and then started to leave.  We thanked our server and made our way back to the port.  We had a great time and, yes, Bob and Sandy loved Ernesto’s. We will definitely come back again.

 

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Thai Chicken Breast with mild red curry, edamame and shitake sauce, bok choy and steamed rice. YUMMY!

Cocktail and dinner time was wonderful.  I was a little hungry this evening so ordered the Roasted Peach Soup and Thai Chicken Breast for dinner.  Both dishes were delicious and I clean my plate.

The evening entertainment was a production show called “The Piano Man”, and while we thought it would be wonderful we decided to return to the cabin for a little reading before turning in for the evening.

Tomorrow we are at sea as we make our way back to Tampa.

The color of the water in Cozumel is so beautiful.

The color of the water in Cozumel is so beautiful.

Enjoy,

Mary

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Two days of relaxation and fun on the Rhapsody of the seas

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Yesterday when we arrived in the waters of Belize it was overcast and the air felt like rain.  The forecast was for partly sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 70’s so we made plans to go ashore for lunch at our favorite spot The Wet Lizard.

We met Bob and Sandy in the Diamond Lounge for breakfast and as we enjoyed our continental breakfast we watched as the sky became more and more threatening.  By the time we finished we had all come to the same conclusion; stay on the ship.

Part of the decision to stay on the ship was based on the fact that the ship does not dock at Belize City instead it anchors offshore and small boats called tenders taxi visitors to and from the ship.  Even with an umbrella we would have been soaked by the time we reached shore.

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So, we decided to make our way to the Solarium find four chairs and relax poolside.  We had no trouble finding chairs as many passengers had left much earlier before the rain started.  Book and magazine in hand we settled down for a very pleasant day.

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I walked over to the pool and dipped my toes into the pool ever so gently to test the temperature of the water; it was warm and inviting.  Several others joined me in the pool.  I met a very nice woman from Toronto and had a great time chatting.

The rain continued off and on all day.  We stayed at the pool through lunch and early afternoon.  But it was finally time to return to the cabin and prepare for evening cocktails and dinner.  Both were very pleasant.

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img_8707bAfter dinner we attended the Crown and Anchor Society’s “Exclusive Top Tier Event” in the Shall We Dance Lounge.  Randy and I have come to enjoy these events.  The captain says a few words, members who have reach benchmark levels are introduced and honored, we are treated to a special presentation from members of the production cast and afterwards the floor is open for dancing.

There was a production show this evening but we decided to keep up the relaxation and headed back to the cabin and just kick-back and read a little before turning off the lights.

Sometime during the night I could felt that the waters becoming rougher and the wind was whistling through the overhead vent.  It made me wonder what the next day would bring.

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img_4593bI rose early today and stepped out onto the balcony to watch the sun rise.  It was still dark but I could see a glimmer of the sun on the horizon.  I must have snapped 50 pictures while waiting.  Randy joined me bearing a gift of hot cups of café latte.  “Lovely”, I thought.

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We sat and chatted quietly as we waited.  As always, the sun rise watching the sun rise was a wonderful and joyous event for the both of us to share.  We had to force ourselves to break away and get dressed and meet Bob and Sandy in the dining room.

Today we are to dock at Costa Maya, Mexico.  We all planned to catch a shuttle and make our way to the little village of Majahual find a umbrella table on the beach and enjoy lunch at the Krazy Lobster.

Tomato and cheese omelet, bacon and hash browns.

Tomato and cheese omelet, bacon and hash browns.

As we were enjoying our breakfast, the captain announced that the weather would not allow us to dock today.  He went on to explain that the rough seas and heavy winds would be dangerous to dock and since there were no other available ports we would spend the day slowly cruising to our next port-of-call Cozumel, Mexico.

As soon as the announcement was over we realized that everyone on the ship would have the same idea; stake out a deck chair near a pool.  By the time we arrived at Solarium all the chairs around the pool were covered with towels.  We did, however, find four deck chairs near the large windows and settle down but kept eyes on any chairs that were vacated.

The big disappointment about not docking today was a personal one.  Our friends Dennis, Connie, Eileen and Dennis were also arriving in Costa Maya today on a Norwegian cruise ship and the plans were to meet them on the beach. As the captain pulled away we could see that their ship had already made it into port.

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The crew did an amazing job of creating a new Cruise Compass filled with many activities to fill up the day.  There was a Zumba class, Adult Baggo (bean bag toss) Competition, games show, table tennis competition, trivia games, dance classes, seminars, piano tunes in the Schooner Lounge, and so much more.  But, we had already made the decision to stay at the pool and so we did.

We had an amazingly good day anyway.  As we moved further away from Costa Maya the sun shone bright warming the Solarium.

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The pool water was a little chilly when you first got in but before long your body temperature adjusted and it was very comfortable.  However, the turbulent sea waters caused the water in the pool to crash about sending everyone to and fro.  If you closed your eyes you could imagine that you were floating along at the beach we just left behind.  It was really quite fun!

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img_8766Cocktails and dinner were wonderful as usual.  We finished our dinner and made our way to the Centrum to watch The International Parade of Flags.  This is always a color and fun event.  Members of the crew march onto the floor carrying flags that represent the countries they call home.  Once in a while a crew member would break away from the group and perform a traditional dance from their countries.  Fun!

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Savannah Jack

Then it was off to the theatre to see tonight’s headliner group “Savannah Jack,” The write-up in the Cruise Compass read, “A high energy, crowd interactive experience, featuring music from all genres, tight harmonies, and incredible musicianship.  Something for everyone, and will be sure to leave you wanting more!”

The fiddler did an amazing job playing "The Devil Went Down to Georgia"

The fiddler did an amazing job playing “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”

The group was all that and more.  High energy was an understatement as they played, sang, moved all around the stage and interacted with members of the audience.  And, yes, the audience wanted more and by applause brought them back to the stage more than once.

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Before returning to the cabin, I stopped by the theater lobby and said a few words to members of the group, bought a CD and posed for a picture.

This was definitely a delightful day.

Tomorrow we dock at Cozumel, Mexico.

img_8786bEnjoy,

Mary

 

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A fun day in Roatan and a great evening of fun on the Rhapsody

The port of Coxen Hole

The port of Coxen Hole

After two evenings of high seas, I was happy to see a hint of blue skies and calm seas as we made our way to port.  By the time we docked the morning sky was filled with dark clouds. I looked at the Cruise Compass and it predicted that the day would be mostly cloudy with a temperature of 80°.   That sounded good to me.

Today we dock at the Honduras cruise port of Coxen Hole.  According to Wikipedia, “Coxen Hole is also known as Roatan Town and is the largest city on the Island of Roatán and is the capital of the Bay Islands department of Honduras”.

We have been to Roatan, Honduras several times over the years with family and friends and have docked at the cruise ports of Coxen Hole and Mahogany Bay.  We have enjoyed the white sands of Tabayana and Banarama Beach and browsing the many small shops at the Coxen Hole cruise port.

We did not make arrangements for an excursion this trip waiting to see what Bob and Sandy would like to do.

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The ship was greeted by a group of Garifuna musicians and dancers. We listened and watched for a while before turning our attention to getting ready for the day.  We kept the balcony door open so we could enjoy the music.

We totally missed turning our clocks back one hour which turned out to be a bonus as we had a little more time to have an extra cup of coffee before going down to the dining room to meet Bob and Sandy for breakfast.

While we enjoyed our breakfast, we talked about our day in port. Bob and Sandy said they just wanted to walk around the port for a bit then return to the ship.  Randy and I mentioned that in the several times we had been here we had never walked outside the gate and into the little town we could see from the ship.  We all agreed that that would be a fun idea and agreed to meet on the pier at 10:45am.

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We walked past the little shops and made our way to the gate.  Once there we turned to the right and started our walk into Roatán Town.  We walked along looking at the buildings to our left and right.  To the right along the water, was the Straw Market and several bars and restaurants; to the left were several small buildings filled with local handicrafts and souvenirs.

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We continued our walk and were solicited by several locals to show us around.  We thanked them and said we were just taking a walk and would not need a guide.  After a while we turned around and walked back to an establishment that looked interesting.

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We stopped at the 2 Dove Bar & Grill to rest a bit and enjoy a local beer.  We chose a table at the back of the bar and had a wonderful view of the ship.

 

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img_8580bWe looked over the menu but decided to eat lunch on the ship.  I must say that spied a few meals being delivered to other tables and the food look inviting.  Everyone who ordered seemed to enjoy their dishes.  I made a mental note to return to the 2 Dove the next time we find ourselves in Coxen Hole.  We had arrived a little early but by the time we left the tables were full of other visitors.

We walked back to the port looking at this and that as we walked along and finally boarded the ship.  We could not have been on the ship but a few moments when the skies opened up.  It rained hard for quite a while.  We made our way up to the Windjammer Café and enjoyed a lite lunch before returning to our cabin.

Randy and I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the balcony reading and watching people coming and going at the port.  Before long we prepared for evening cocktails and dinner.

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It seemed as though cocktail time passed by quickly and it was time for dinner.  I was not very hungry and ordered a shrimp cocktail to start and a ‘lunch size’ Linguini with Pomodoro Sauce for my main dish.  I must admit though I was not too full to enjoy one of my very favorite desserts; Cherries Jubilee.

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We planned on going to the headliner show this evening but it was early so we stopped at the Centrum to watch “The Battle of the Sexes” Game Show.  On our way there we ran into Activities Manager Dani dressed in a pink polka dot dress, white heels and a blonde wig. I could not resist asking if I could take a photo with him.  He said, “Absolutely”.  When I came over he said, “Touch my boobs”.  I thought I was going to laugh myself silly.

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img_8610The game show is always fun as it pits men against women in a variety of challenges to see which group is the best.  There was a singing contest, passing along an orange from one person to the next via the neck, an balloon popping challenge that had people laughing hysterically and finally, a conga line challenge.  In the end the women won the game but everyone was awarded a prize.

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img_8644bThen we were off to the Broadway Melodies Theater to see the headliner show featuring comedian and impressionist, James Stephens III.  The show was one I will remember for a long time and hope to see again.  This man with his impersonations of such stars as Michael Jackson, Elvis, Ray Charles, Prince, Bill Cosby and more and were all done perfectly.  When he said he was going to do Bill Cosby and we watched the transformation come across his face as he walked across the stage I almost jumped out of my seat; it was perfect. He spent his time on stage singing, transforming his body, face and voice to impersonate a variety of stars and played the piano all to delight of everyone in the audience.

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Throughout his performance he interacted with the audience pulling several up on stage to perform funny stints.  Also, throughout his performance the audience came up out of their seats to show their appreciation for his talent.  Stephens was given a vociferous ovation that brought him back on stage several times.  What a great evening of entertainment!!

After the show Mr. Stephens was graciously posing for pictures with passengers. Very nice!

After the show Mr. Stephens was graciously posing for pictures with passengers. Very nice!

It had been a long and good day and it was time to turn in.  We returned to our cabin for a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow we arrive in Belize City, Belize.

Enjoy,

Mary

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Rocking and rolling on the Rhapsody of the seas

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We rocked and rolled all night long with sea swells of 4-5′ and yet we both slept well finding the motion of the ship quite comforting.

As night became day the swells grew to 9 and 10 feet and skies filled with heavy cumulus clouds. I stepped onto the balcony and was pleasantly surprised to feel warm air on my face.  “It is going to be a very nice day on the ship,” I thought to myself.

Randy went up to the concierge lounge to get us cups of hot café latte before preparing to meet Bob and Sandy for breakfast at the Edelweiss dining room on deck 4 at 8:30am.

We took this picture the last night on our December cruise on the Rhapsody

We took this picture with Maricel the last night on our December cruise on the Rhapsody.

As we waited to be seated we spotted our wonderful server Maricel from our last cruise.  When I saw an opening I walked over and gave her a big hug.  She was very happy to see us again.

There are several choices of dining areas for breakfast but Bob and Sandy both enjoy the quiet of the main dining room.  This beautiful dining room indeed offers one the experience of dining surrounded by elegance.

Edelweiss Dining Room

Edelweiss Dining Room

The dining room is beautiful and spans two floors with large windows, a beautiful chandelier, red carpeted grand staircase framed by palm trees and a beautiful white column that reaches up to the ceiling. I especially enjoy being able to watch the rolling seas out of the large windows.

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The menu offered a wide variety of breakfast favorite that include eggs Benedict, omelets, pancakes, French toast, salmon, bacon, sausages, bagels, granola, yogurt, juices, coffee, tea and so much more.  I decided to order the French toast today and it was delicious.

Checking out the chair outside the Solarium Pool

Checking out the chair outside the Solarium Pool

After breakfast we took a walk over to the Solarium to hopefully find four chairs and settle down for the day.  We did manage to find four chairs so I ran back to the cabin and fetched books and magazines to read.

I had loaded my Kindle with several books but I knew that I would start my reading with a favorite I had been saving for this trip; Cross the Line by James Patterson.  I love the Alex Cross series and always save them for a time when I have very few interruptions.

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At one point I put my book down to watch the clouds roll by and was struck to see two cloud formations one appeared to be the face of  a man and the other a woman slowly floating across the sky towards each other.  I was captivated watching as the two clouds slowly closed the gap finally meeting in what looked like one long eternal kiss.  I love watching clouds as they float, part and join other clouds to form all matter of shapes.

During the noon announcements Captain Tobias Oster reported that the outside temperature had dropped to 66 degrees and we were encountering seas of 9-12’.

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Mid-afternoon we returned to the cabin to rest a bit and prepare for the evening activities.  When we opened the door we spied a covered plate.  Under the cover was a yummy looking selection of miniature desserts courtesy of Food Services. We enjoyed these as we dressed for the evening.

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By now the swells had grown to 10-12’.  I spent some time on the balcony enjoying watching the angry sea.  The waves would swell forming large and small white caps.  They whitecaps would rise until it had reached its peak and send a salty spray high into the air.  There were white caps as far as the eye could see on the watery landscape.

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We had to laugh as just a little before we left the cabin as there was a knock at the door.  On the other side of the door was a very nice gentleman holding yet another covered plate.  We lifted the cover to see a number of delicious looking chocolate covered strawberries courtesy of the Crown & Anchor Society.  We placed them in the refrigerator to be eaten later.

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We started our evening in the Diamond Lounge.  Cocktail time was fun.  The four of us chatted about many things as we took in the goings on in the room.  The room was filled with so much laughter, so much camaraderie.   JJ came by, and to the surprise of Bob and Sandy, she started a little song she had made the day before using their names.  JJ is truly amazing.

We arrived on time for dinner and were surprised to learn that our servers had been replaced.  The new servers were very nice but seemed a little overwhelmed.  We explained that we wanted to attend the Captain’s reception and would not be staying for dessert.

Oakwood Smoked Chicken Breast

Oakwood Smoked Chicken Breast

img_8558Relaxing all day at the Solarium pool I was not very hungry and decided to choose my dinner from the starters menu.  I enjoyed a Shrimp Cocktail, a bowl of Chilled Banana and Rum soup with Tahitian vanilla cream and the Oakwood Smoked Chicken Breast with sliced green apples, toasted walnuts and red grapes with a blue cheese and chive dressing.  Each serving was the perfect size and delicious.

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img_8567As soon as dinner time was over we made our way to the Centrum to attend the Captain’s reception.  The reception started with a variety of dance music played by members of the ship’s orchestra. They were very good.  We enjoyed a Champagne toast as the captain welcomed everyone on board and introduced members of his senior staff.

During his talk, Captain Tobias told everyone that there are, “70 couples on board celebrating an anniversary and 65 passengers celebrating a birthday” on this cruise.  He went on to announce how many passengers were on board from various countries.  We learned that there are 1,185 passengers from the U.S.A.

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Captain Tobias graciously stayed in the Centrum for a while posing for pictures with passengers.  Randy and I were among those who had their picture taken.

We returned to our chairs and watched as couples took to the dance floor and twirled around the dance floor.

After a while we retired for the evening and returned to our cabin.  We spent some time sitting on the balcony, chatting quietly and enjoying our strawberries.  We both agreed that it had been a very good day.

Tomorrow we arrive in Roatan, Honduras.

img_8574bEnjoy,

Mary

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