Tag Archives: home sweet sunshine

Happy 2nd Blogiversary!

17 Mar

Hi Everyone!

We are so pleased to celebrate our 2nd Blogiversary!  It’s amazing how time flies by so fast but this blog has been a great way to keep track of all of our adventures.  This past year we added more than double the content to the blog and had over 1000 visitors!

Here are some of our most popular posts from the past year:

In celebration of our blogiversary we decided to bake some delicious vanilla cupcakes!
Blogiversary2015We want to thank our visitors and everyone who has liked our posts over the past two years.  Your comments and interest in our stories are what makes this such a fun experience!  We look forward to creating many more memorable posts in 2015!

XO,

Josh and Jany

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Oasis of The Seas Days 5 and 6: St. Maarten and Dreamworks Parade

4 Aug

Ahoy Fellow Cruise Enthusiasts!

I decided to combine days 5 and 6 because we mostly spent day 5 relaxing on the beach without our camera.  We chose to do the 4 X 4 St. Maarten and Beach Escape for a couple of reasons: First, I love Jeeps and second, we wanted to just relax on the beach for most of the day.  We had a great time and actually got to see a lot of St. Maarten and spend some nice time on the beach.

Here you can see me plotting out our course for the day…approximately.

st-maarten-oasis-of-the-seas

When we got back to the ship we were scheduled for our only return to the Main Opus Dining Room for dinner.  As discussed in previous posts we were not very happy with our first night in the main dining room and decided to visit the 150 Park Central specialty restaurant the next night.  We were so happy with the experience that we dined at the other specialty restaurants the following nights. But the customer service on Royal Caribbean lived up to its reputation and they followed up with us to see why we were not happy with the main dining room.

The Maitre’D promised to improve our experience by giving us a table that was separate from everyone else.  It was definitely an improvement but the service was still a bit slow so we decided to return to our beloved 150 Central Park on night 6.  It worked out great because they change the menu for 150 Central Park halfway through the trip so we were able to try a whole new menu and it was just as delicious as the first menu!

The chandelier is the highlight of the Main Opus Dining Room.

oasis-of-the-seas-opus-chandelier

But our love of the specialty restaurants is old news from previous posts.  The main purpose of this post is to tell you the importance of arriving early to the Dreamworks Parade on the promenade!  The Dreamworks Parade only happens on the days at sea.  On the first day we showed up about 30 minutes before the parade was going to start and we could not even see what was going on.  There were so many people in front of us on the parade route that we could only catch glimpses of the performers, but we knew from the little bit that we could see (and from the applause and cheers) that we were missing an incredible show.  So we vowed to show up early for the next parade.

We decided that arriving almost two hours early for the parade would ensure us a front row seat.  And luckily we were right!  But not by much because we got one of the last front row seats on the route.  You might think two hours is a bit excessive but if you want a seat instead of standing it is worth it.  The time waiting for the parade passed quickly, as I grabbed a couple of beers and watched the people while Jany went to check out some of the awesome shops on the promenade.  Her favorite was a cupcake shop where she bought a couple of books and a few cupcakes for us.

They started setting up for the parade about an hour before it started and we could tell it was going to be incredible.  This is also when the rest of the passengers started showing up and I had to do the old “Sorry this seat’s taken”.  I was only defending one seat so I didn’t get much argument but there were a few people that were defending multiple seats and there were some minor arguments…enough to keep me entertained.

The parade was so worth the wait.  All of our favorite Dreamworks characters were there, including the crazy lemur from Madagascar and the whole cast from How To Train Your Dragon!  Yes we are adults but we love the modern computer animated features…who doesn’t?

It starts with an incredible acrobatic display.

oasis-of-the-seas-acrobatThen the lion from Madacascar shows up with the scheming secret service penguins!

oasis-of-the-seas-parade-lion

oasis-of-the-seas-parade-penguinsThen Puss in Boots makes an appearance on the Rising Tide Bar!

oasis-of-the-seas-puss-in-boots

And finally the family from How to Train Your Dragon shows up!oasis-of-the-seas-parade-dragon

The show lasted around a half hour but it was full of fun and entertainment and it is one of our best memories from the cruise!  Remember the early bird gets the front row!

Below are links to the other posts in the Oasis of The Seas series…

Oasis of The Seas Pre-Cruise Planning
Oasis of The Seas Boarding and Day 1
Oasis of The Seas Day 2: Atlantis and 150 Central Park
Oasis of The Seas Day 3: Central Park, Rising Tide Bar and a Bow for the Bow
Oasis of The Seas Day 4: Sort of Alone on the Ship

4th of July BBQ Appetizers: Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Caramelized Sausage Bites

2 Jul

Hi Everyone!

Today I am going to tell you how to make one of the easiest and most delicious appetizers you will ever try!  I am not kidding, these things will be flying off the plate and your guests will be demanding more.  Make sure you grab some for yourself while you are cooking them because if not there may not be any left for you!

Jack Daniels BBQ Appetizer 5

I came up with this tasty appetizer in college.  I would always BBQ at my house for the Miami Hurricanes away games but one day I wanted to create something different but easy so that I could spend more time watching the game and less time cooking.

Here is what you will need:

  • Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Recipe Barbecue Sauce
  • 1 Hillshire Farm Beef Smoked Sausage (will make about 25 pieces)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • BBQ Tongs
  • Dipping ramekin or sauce cup

Directions:

  1. About a half hour before you plan to cook the sausage cut it up into bite size pieces. IMPORTANT: Do not skip this step, some people prefer to cook the sausage whole and then cut it after but then you won’t get the caramelized sauce on all sides!
  2. Pour the sausages and enough of the Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Barbecue Sauce into a bowl so that there is enough sauce to cover all of the sausages
  3. Let that sit for 20-30 minutes
    Jack Daniels BBQ Appetizer 1
  4. Fire your grill to medium-high heat
  5. Cut a sheet of aluminum foil that is big enough to fit your sausages and double it up so that it is extra thick.  If you have heavy duty foil you don’t need to double it up
  6. Pour your sausages onto the foil
    Jack Daniels BBQ Appetizer 2
  7. Keep an eye on the sausages, when they start to caramelize and cook on one side turn them over to cook the other side
  8. Cook to desired color, some people like them a little charred others don’t, but I find that if part of each sausage is a little charred they have a good mix of flavor and texture
  9. Poor them on to a plate and stick toothpicks in them so that people can easily serve themselves
  10. Add a dipping ramekin with the left over BBQ Sauce for extra enjoyment!
    Jack Daniels BBQ Appetizer 3Jack Daniels BBQ Appetizer 4

Obviously there are many variations that you can try.  If you like your sausage spicy you can get a hot sausage, and Jack Daniel’s has a few other sauces that you may want to experiment with.  But this is the original and so far the best I have tried.  I hope you enjoy it!

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

– Josh AKA The BBQ Sauce Boss

Oasis of The Seas Day 4: Sort of Alone on the Ship

1 Jul

Hello Again!

Today I am going to tell you about our time exploring the (mostly empty) ship while the rest of the passengers were away on excursions in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.  It may seem like a strange idea to skip out on a chance to visit an island that you have never been to but we were so fascinated by the ship that we really wanted some “alone time” with it.  Since it was our first time on the ship and since we had already decided we would definitely be back we wanted to get a chance to take some pictures without many other passengers around.

One of the best things we  did (and by we I mean Jany) for this vacation was to bring a tripod for our camera.  Since it was just the two of us, the only way we could get shots of us together would be to ask someone to take a picture of us and we are not big on bothering people so we knew that wouldn’t happen much…or at all.  So Jany brought her tripod and it leads to this…Tip: Bring a tripod for your camera so you can take some shots of yourselves around the ship without having to bother anyone.

The first couple of days we tried to take a few shots but since there are approximately 3,000 passengers on board there was always someone walking in and out of our shots.  So we decided to forgo Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas because we knew most of the passengers would be off the ship and we would have some privacy.  It definitely paid off as we were able to explore the ship by ourselves with nobody else around…it was great!

Here is the first shot we took in front of our favorite restaurant…there is a waiter attempting a photo bomb in the window if you look closely!

Oasis of The Seas Josh Jany 150Here is another shot in fabulous Central Park, none of this would have been possible without the tripod…did I mention I love my wife?  She thinks of everything and she’s smoking hot!

Oasis of The Seas Josh Jany ParkAs we made our way to the Boardwalk at the back of the ship the doors opened in front of us and we were treated to this spectacular display of how the carousel animals were made!  Being a big fan of woodworking I was totally fascinated by this!  Here is one of the first stages…

Oasis of The Seas Horse1And here is the next stage where the carving is happening, notice the hands with the chisel showing exactly how the artist made the cuts!

Oasis of The Seas Horse 2And here is the finished product on the actual carousel, this carousel was so cool, it had so many different animals and the work was so intricate!  Notice the rabbit behind the horse, one of my favorites!

Oasis of The Seas Horse 3Here is another one of my favorites: The Lion!

Oasis of The Seas LionAs we left the carousel we were greeted by a very old friend…it’s Zoltar from the movie BIG!!!  Seeing this guy just brought back so many childhood memories because BIG was one of my favorite movies as a kid…wasn’t it everyone’s?

Oasis-of-The-Seas-ZoltarWhen we got to the end of the display we turned around to take in what we had just seen and I snapped this shot of Jany taking a couple more pics, notice the tripod that we used for so many of our great shots.

Oasis-of-The-Seas-Jany-CarouselThis little monkey was so perfect we just had to take a shot of him, just one of the countless details that Royal Caribbean has put into the Oasis of The Seas.

Oasis-of-The-Seas-Dancing-MonkeyHere is another awesome character, this bear looks like Teddy Ruxpin, is Royal Caribbean just extracting memories from my childhood and manifesting them before my eyes?

Oasis-of-The-Seas-BearAs we left the carousel and headed out to the main boardwalk we had to turn around again and take it all in.  Look at the staterooms that look down on the boardwalk, I was still happier with our ocean view balcony but these were cool also.  You can see the Johnny Rockets to the right of the crazy guy with the balloons.  Overall it is made to look like a street with the lamp posts and banners…amazing!

Oasis of The Seas Jany Boardwalk

Our tripod took another picture of us at the mechanic this time, now this is a memory of my adulthood that I would rather not have been reminded about but at least I got the girl!  Why is there a moose crossing sign?

Oasis of The Seas Josh Jany CarHere is the rock climbing wall that scaled in 46 seconds flat!  Wait was that in my dreams?

Oasis-of-The-Seas-Climbing-WallHere is the famous Aquatheatre where they have an awesome Swimming and Diving Show that you have to see!  Notice the diving platforms all the way at the top by the crown on the Royal Caribbean logo, they actually dive from those!  There are also two giant screens where they play movies for the kids and the kids at heart.

Oasis of The Seas AquatheatreAfter a long day of hardly working we decided to relax at the mini golf course, you can see that the guy on the right is marveling at my skills.  You can also see the basketball court on the other side of the ship.

Oasis-of-The-Seas-Josh-GolfSo that was our wonderful day alone with  Oasis of The Seas, I know we would have enjoyed St. Thomas but I am so glad we spent a day by ourselves on the ship.  That night we went to Giovanni’s Table, the last of the three premium dining restaurants on board and it did not disappoint, even though it was the lowest price of the three.  Next trip we will probably do premium dining every night, although we may spend one night at the main Opus Dining room because or second time there was not as bad.  I will tell you about our second night in the Opus dining room on the next post.

All in all I continue to be amazed by this ship, even now writing this post I am in awe of the amount of detail that was put in to every corner!

Below are links to the other posts in the Oasis of The Seas series…

Oasis of The Seas Pre-Cruise Planning
Oasis of The Seas Boarding and Day 1
Oasis of The Seas Day 2: Atlantis and 150 Central Park
Oasis of The Seas Day 3: Central Park, Rising Tide Bar and a Bow for the Bow
Oasis of The Seas Days 5 and 6: St. Maarten and Dreamworks Parade

4th of July Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese Ritz Appetizers

27 Jun

Hi Everyone!

This year we wanted to focus on one of our favorite parts of our annual 4th of July BBQ: Appetizers!

We serve several types of hot and cold appetizers throughout the afternoon to get everyone ready for the BBQ entrées.  But today we want to tell you about one of our favorites because it is so delicious and super easy!

Garlic and Herb Ritz 2

We came across the Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese a few years ago on a whim. We wanted a yummy snack for a football Sunday but we didn’t feel like making our usual nachos, so after grabbing our Tostito’s and lamenting the process of making the nachos, we saw the Boursin cheese and decided to give it a go.  It went so well with the Tostito’s that we started experimenting with it and ever since we have used it for a number of recipes including this one as well as our delicious Broccoli and Cheese Soup that we will share in a future post.

We love to prepare all of our own food, however, when you have many guests over for a big party it is difficult to make everything yourself and spend time with your guests.  With this recipe your guests will think you spent hours on such a delicious treat when in reality it is very simple to make.

Garlic and Herb Ritz 4

Tools:

Ingredients:

  • Ritz Crackers
  • Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese
  • Fresh Dill

Directions:

  1. Leave the Boursin cheese out on the counter for 15 minutes to soften
  2. Insert the Ateco tip 827 into the piping bag
  3. Fill the piping bag with the Boursin cheese
  4. Hold the piping bag so that the tip is directly above a Ritz Cracker, gently touching the cracker
  5. Gently squeeze the desired amount of Boursin cheese on to the cracker, then stop squeezing and pull the tip away
  6. Garnish with a piece of fresh Dill

Garlic and Herb Ritz 3

Garlic and Herb Ritz 1

We hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July!

Do you have any easy BBQ appetizer ideas?  We would love to hear from you in the comments section below!

Jany and Josh

PetFusion Cat Scratcher Lounge

13 Jun

To all our fellow cat lovers this blog post is for you!  How many times have you walked into a room and spotted your cat sitting on your chair or your furniture?  Well if your cat is anything like our Mr. Cat then that happens all the time! Mr. Cat has basically taken over Josh’s office chair, our foot rest in our living room, our sofa and my office chair… somehow he thinks that they are all his beds! We don’t really have a problem when he sits in our office chairs but we don’t like him to use our sofa or the foot rest because we have a leather sofa. Also Mr. Cat has all his claws and we have noticed a few holes on our sofa. We have purchased numerous cat beds, scratchers and cat towers, he seems to have an interest in them but within weeks or months he slowly loses interest. When purchasing these items for him it’s a little tricky because he’s a big cat, he weighs 16 lbs. and measures 20″ long!

I remember one afternoon walking into a Petsmart. There was a good sale on a cat tower that Josh and I were after. After looking at the item that we originally went to purchase, we both looked at each other and knew that there was no way that Mr.Cat would fit in that tower! It was just too small for him! We continued looking around and we purchased a two story cat tower that was big and sturdy enough for him. At the same time it gave us the peace of mind that it wouldn’t fall down when he attempted to jump up. As we walked out of the store with our cat tower a lady approached us and said, “Wow that’s a nice tower! You guys must have three cats!” We both looked at each other and nodded our heads and with a smile said, “Nope we only have one cat!”  She bursts out laughing and tells us, “That’s one lucky cat, he has his own cat condo!”

We have always had a cat scratcher for him in our living room which he loves! But once again because of his size it’s too small for him. His old scratcher needed to be replaced and I started looking around for a new one. I was looking for something that was bigger, sturdier and more stylish. Because I have Amazon Prime, which includes free two day shipping and other great benefits, I always tend to look there first and truth be told they always impress me! I found an amazing cat scratcher at a great price!

Let me introduce you to the PetFusion Cat Scratcher Lounge.

Mr Cat PetFusion Cat Scratcher3

This scratcher is big and spacious! Mr Cat fits on it and still has some extra room!

It you have smaller cats two can fit on it at the same time. It is also very sturdy, when he jumps up on it and digs his claws in there the scratcher doesn’t move at all! With previous scratchers they would tend to move all over the place and not be stable enough for him.

The scratcher is also pretty stylish! It has some nice curves (which Mr. Cat uses to curl up and sleep on) but the outer lining color matches with our furniture (we choose the walnut color) so it complements our living room decor.Mr Cat PetFusion Cat Scratcher4

If you are looking for a comfy, sturdy and stylish cat scratcher that your fury babies will love, look no further! This one is by far the best cat scratcher that Mr. Cat has ever owned!

Mr. Cat uses the top curve to rest his head

Mr. Cat uses the top curve to rest his head

Do you own this product? Share your thoughts with us below or #homesweetsunshine on Instagram to share your photos.

Jany

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