Cruisin’ by the Seat of our Pants

Just for Fun

I am a planner. I like to research, analyze, and organize my life as much as possible. Not because I don’t like surprises (or not just because I don’t like surprises), but so that I can handle the inevitable hiccups when they occur. And I doubt anyone reading this is at all surprised by that statement.

But you might be surprised that a little over a month ago Todd and I booked an anniversary trip with no planning other than our travel dates!

Questions had come up about travelling for Thanksgiving, but I only had enough vacation days left to do one trip before the end of the year, and one of the few goals I set at the beginning of the year was that we would take a trip for our anniversary, even if it was just a small weekend getaway. That was on a Tuesday, I believe, and by Friday Todd booked us into a suite on the Carnival Sensation for 3 nights leaving out of Cape Canaveral and heading to Nassau, Bahamas.

Have monkey, will travel. She was impatient waiting for us to get to the car...

Have monkey, will travel. She was impatient waiting for us to get to the car…

We left Wednesday night after work, the plan being (and I use that term loosely) to drive as far as Todd was comfortable and then get a hotel room for the night. It’s not a terribly long drive from Thomasville to Cape Canaveral–only about 4 1/2 hours–but to leave our successful arrival in the hands of us waking up on time early on Thursday and no major traffic snarls didn’t sound like a great idea. Around 11ish we were getting ready to stop, but before we settled on an exit we were already on SR-528E and there didn’t seem like any place to stop by that point. So we drove the whole way down, after all, and pulled into the first hotel we saw once we passed the Welcome to Cape Canaveral sign: Country Inn & Suites.

Apparently all my room "pictures" are in video format and that hasn't been edited yet. Instead, have some breakfast pics and a monkey posing with an astronaut.

Apparently all my room “pictures” are in video format and that hasn’t been edited yet. Instead, have some breakfast pics and a monkey posing with an astronaut.

It was late, but we still had time to be pretty impressed with the pretty first-floor room with very high ceilings and the next morning we enjoyed a very tasty breakfast (including omelets) before heading to Park Port Canaveral. Parking at the ports is usually around $20 a day, but I heard about Park Port Canaveral on one of the cruise boards (I did do some post-booking research) and it was far cheaper, a little over $20 total, and just a quick shuttle ride to the port. Definitely recommend looking into port parking alternatives in the future!

Our first glimpse of the Sensation on the parking shuttle (with various marina bits in the way).

I see the funnel!!!

One of the perks of booking a suite was that it qualified us for priority check-in and the Captain’s Lounge waiting area. Before you get the wrong idea, it wasn’t all that. We did get to sit in cushy chairs to check in and not have to wait in line, but the waiting area was just one end of the larger waiting area cordoned off from the rest. (No pictures allowed in the terminal.) Still, we got to board the ship in the first wave of guests and it was kind of eerie to walk around the Lido deck when there was no one else around. Definitely a first. We picked a table with a nice view and had an early lunch from the buffet.

Some highlights of our meals on the Carnival Sensation.

Some highlights of our meals on the Carnival Sensation.

Rather than do a day-by-day play-by-play, I’ll just highlight the different bits of our trip. First, the food. The menu selections were a little less elaborate than our last cruise, 6 years ago, but the food was fine and plentiful. I don’t think there was anything I was absolutely floored by, but we didn’t have a bad meal on the ship. Over the course of the 4 days we dined in the buffet, the main dining room, at the poolside grill, and in the alternate dining room for the SeaDay Brunch. We never made use of the pizzeria, the deli, or room service on this trip, but I did grab a mochachino from the coffee shop on the sea day and we did the afternoon tea in the piano lounge. Again, nothing bad to say about any of the dining amenities available.

Suite V3, Carnival Sensation

Suite V3, Carnival Sensation

After a couple hours exploring the common areas on deck, we headed up to our stateroom on the Verandah deck (deck 11 of 12). We were just over the bridge and just behind the observation deck on the starboard side. When Todd booked the suite, be booked by category, meaning he didn’t choose the specific room himself. About a week later our online registration showed our stateroom assignment and I was happy to see we were not in one of the obstructed-view suites (those are parallel to the lifeboats, a little farther back). Our steward left a sweet note on the mirror wishing us a happy anniversary and we came back from dinner the first night to a couple of gift cards–$25 off a bottle of wine and $50 for the spa–as anniversary gifts.


I used the spa card for a shellac manicure after we got back from touring Nassau. I called that morning and they were already pretty full for the day, but thanks to our late dinner seating I was able to snag a spot after our excursion with plenty of time to clean up for supper. We wandered through the gym and the Serenity pool area on our first day, but aside from a seminar that Todd attended before we got to Nassau (which ended in a $600 sales pitch, to the surprise of no one), we didn’t end up using those areas much. A) We were here to relax and b) we had our own balcony if we wanted some sun. Todd had wanted to play mini golf one day, but the sea day was overcast and very windy, so we never made it up

There's plenty to do on the ship, even if you're not interested in gambling or pool antics.

There’s plenty to do on the ship, even if you’re not interested in gambling or pool antics.

We’re not really one for poolside activities (that would require us being at the pool, after all), but we generally enjoy the shows on the ship. The first night was a show called 88 Keys and it featured an ensemble singing and dancing their way through all sorts of music. I was particularly impressed with Come Sail Away (fitting, no?) and that they included one of my favorite Barry Manilow tunes as well. The second night we skipped the Love & Marriage game show in favor of an early night (though it was replayed on the ship’s television channel the following day and was pretty funny) and opted for the late night comedy show after dinner on the third night. We’d hoped to meet up with our tablemates from dinner but the Polo Lounge was standing room only when we arrived, so we just hung out in the back.

The fun 66% of our dinner table.

The fun 66% of our dinner table.

Speaking of our tablemates, we were assigned to a 10-top in the main dining room with 4 other couples. One couple was celebrating the husband’s birthday on this trip, two couples were on their honeymoon, and the other couple… well, there was a misunderstanding. The birthday couple was travelling with another couple, but they didn’t make it to dinner the first night. So, on the second night, when the missing couple turned up, we thought it was the aforementioned friends and acted like they knew what was going on (though we thought it strange that they didn’t engage with their friends or us much during supper). Turns out that, no, the missing friends were at another table entirely and those folks probably didn’t know what hit them. The other honeymooners weren’t quite as chatty as the rest of us, left early the first night, and didn’t even show up the last. But that was okay, the rest of us had more than enough fun for 10!

Highlights from our Nassau Excursion

Highlights from our Nassau Excursion

Another last-minute decision was our plan for Nassau. We’ve scheduled excursions in some ports and gone off on our own in others, and I can usually take or leave a Caribbean port–I just like being on the ship. Todd definitely wanted to get onto dry land for a bit, though, so we booked the Nassau Top 10 Tour, a bus tour that took us a good way around the island and featured stops at the Bahamas Rum Cake Factory for a tasting, Atlantis resort for pictures, Fort Fincastle, John Watling’s Distillery, Frankie Gone Bananas Fish Fry for a conch demonstration, and ending up at the Straw Market, among other stops. We bought rum cakes, rum, and sugar cane-based vodka, had a late lunch of conch chowder, fritters, and salad, and made a cursory pass through the Straw Market so Todd could see it (and see why I wasn’t crazy about going to it in the first place). It was a fun 3.5 hours (more like 4, thanks to a slight delay at Frankie’s), and we’re glad we did it.


And with this last, cheesey picture of us from “Cruise Elegant” night in the dining room (the same day as our Nassau excursion), I’ll wrap up our unplanned cruise vacation highlight reel. We took over 600 pictures and I’ve got probably an hour or more of video to go through and edit. It was a fabulous anniversary trip and I’m so grateful to Todd for just going ahead and booking it, research be damned! I’m not sure I’d always opt for this sort of loosey-goosey vacationing, but it definitely paid off this time.

There and Back Again: Jacksonville Mini-Break

Everyday Adventures

For the past several years, my vacation time has been used 2 days at a time, book-ending conventions weekends across the southeast. With the store plans making convention commitments a wee bit tough–a good thing, seeing as how much time I ended up using for Todd’s surgeries, etc.–but Ancient City Con in Jacksonville was the first one we took Raiding Party to and it quickly became the highlight of our year. We decided to head over for a quick trip on Saturday and hit up not just the convention, but some of our other Jacksonville spots as well.

Ancient City Con 2015

Ancient City Con 2015

Previously ACC has been held in hotel ballrooms but this year they moved to the Prime F Osborne Convention Center, which also happens to be an old train station, so there were lots of fun details around to spot while we waited in line to register for our wristbands, as well as some good people watching. They could have used some stanchions to make the line easier to handle, but for the first year in a new location, things seemed to run pretty well!

All of the vendors I asked about the venue change (we’re chatty with quite a few thanks to previous years on their side of the table) seemed pretty happy with it–there was more space and the creator’s alley was separate from the vendor room. Traffic seemed to be pretty good in both rooms while we were there, so I hope it worked out for them (sometimes being in separate rooms means people miss one or the other, but the maps hung up and on the back of the program had each space clearly marked).

Ancient City Con 2015

Ancient City Con 2015

Cosplay is big at any convention and I tried to remind myself to take pictures this time–I’m usually too distracted to remember! I’m clearly drawn to the steampunk cosplay; I find their outfits the most fascinating as most are based on original concepts. There was also a lot of Attack on Titan characters walking around (the one in the collage, above, is a vendor friend responsible for The Casual Warrior’s Kimono-ya booth) and there’s usually a furry or two walking around as well. I know some folks find furries creepy but I admire their commitment to walking around in those hot costumes!

I was happily surprised that several people–vendors and attendees alike–recognized me without my usual convention get-up (which I call Chef Coat Cosplay) and out from behind the table. We have always felt like we make friends on the convention circuit (even if we only see most of them once a year) and this trip really reinforced that idea. For that alone I’m happy we made the drive.

After walking around for a few hours we decided to go grab some lunch and check into our hotel for the night. After a few misses on the where to eat roulette (we were using my GPS to pick someplace nearby that sounded interesting, and struck out first with a closed deli, then another place that was definitely open but there was absolutely no parking within several blocks) we ended up at River City Brewing Company just before the end of their lunch seating.

River City Brewing Company

River City Brewing Company

Right on the marina we had a great view of the water and downtown skyline, ordered some drinks, and then settled in with an Asian Tuna Salad for me and the Fish and Chips for Todd. Overall it was quite tasty, though I could have done with fewer wasabi peas on my salad (not a huge fan in general, but an interesting “stand in” for croutons) and they made Todd’s Planters Punch extra strong to apologize for our wait. There wasn’t much of a wait, and the strength of the punch made it unbalanced. I was much happier with my Red Rooster Ale.

As we were leaving the restaurant we spotted Koi in an indoor pond and then spotted a cat outside being hand-fed the dish of the day. The waitress on kitty duty said they’d adopted him 17 years ago, made sure he got his shots and treatments, and fed him from the kitchen every day. A pampered pet that looks like he might have some Scottish fold in him with his little tucked ears.

It's important to secure all passengers, even the plush ones!

It’s important to secure all passengers, even the plush ones!

We stayed just a bridge away from downtown proper at an Extended Stay hotel–we usually use these sorts of hotels when we’re travelling with samples for conventions and have stayed in this one in the past. I had a free “night” credit via (since I book all our convention hotels through them, we rack up at least 1 free night a year) and the hotel was clean and comfortable. The monkeys approved.

Speaking of monkeys, we started the trip with three but had to do some shuffling in the backseat once we picked up Maya and Kip (from Disney Nature’s Monkey Kingdom) at the Disney Store. We may not have gotten our morning mile in at home this weekend, but we made up for it while walking from one end of St Johns Town Center to the other and back again. We originally went to the large open-air mall so I could get some more of the Ayurvedic White Chai Tea from Teavana (I got it, plus 3 other teas for an somewhat obscene amount of money) but then I saw the Disney Store sign and, well, off we went. I also picked up a bath bomb from Lush before heading back to the car.

Now, here’s where my habit of overpacking (which I’m sure I share with a great many women) paid off. It was hot as blazes walking around that shopping complex and by the time we left I was hot, sticky, and sweaty. Thank goodness I had a couple extra outfits with me (I packed 3 for a simple overnight trip, though I did coordinate them all to a single pair of shoes) as it meant I could grab a quick shower and put on fresh clothes before heading back to the convention.

I’m also grateful we decided to squeeze the shopping trip in on Saturday instead of waiting until Sunday. If we’d had to drive home all sticky and sweaty it would have been a miserable 3 hours!

The Gin Rebellion

The Gin Rebellion

Meanwhile, back at the convention center, we returned in time to see the 7pm performance of The Gin Rebellion, a steampunk trio we met at last year’s ACC and really enjoy listening to. H.M. (the white-haired gent) is such an expressive storyteller and Renfield (the man in the middle) inspired the Gin Rebellion drinking game (which involves taking a drink every time he switches instruments or any time the band members say–or think about–the word accordion; considering they have a song about a haunted accordion, you’ll be quite sauced if play by the rules). Ophelia Baptista has a broad vocal range and changed instruments a few times, herself, over the course of the set. They are a delight to listen to and I’m not just saying that because they bought 2 books from me, last year, and Ophelia used my Paladin Punch at her wedding last fall!

European Street Cafe (San Marco)

European Street Cafe (San Marco)

Our final destination of the day was European Street Cafe, our long-time favorite eatery in Jacksonville featuring German sausages, all sorts of beers, and absolutely amazing pretzel bread. Yes, I indulged in the pretzel sticks with a side of Boursin and it was heavenly. We also ordered raspberry Lambics and Todd got his usual Knockwurst with Red Curry Sauce while I ordered the Kielbasa and Corned Beef (though I ate the insides and skipped the bread in deference to my pretzel dalliance). We had planned to pick up dessert to go and have it later, at the hotel, but we were both too stuffed to even think about something from their well-stocked pastry case. Another trip! (The Chocolate Beast layer cake is amazing and I remember it fondly from my birthday trip several years back.)

Just like any other convention trip, we were exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel around 9:30 and crashed hard. Since we’d accomplished our goals on Saturday, we slept in on Sunday morning and still made it home around 1pm. I made a pitcher of iced tea from my Teavana haul (a blend of Youthberry and Wild Orange Blossom that we tried in the store–divine!) and contemplated a nap. Travel wears me out, but I was grateful for our little no-stress getaway.

Don’t Tell the Dollhouse, But…

The Gingerbread Diaries

We went away for the weekend and didn’t miss our new home–I know, it’s scandalous.

This past weekend we were in Jacksonville for Ancient City Con and stayed at a Hometown Suites room that couldn’t be farther from our new home:

  • Where the Dollhouse is nearly 3K square feet, this room made our cabin on the cruise ship look spacious.
  • Where the Dollhouse has lovely (if dusty and worn) wood floors throughout, the hotel room was carpeted.
  • Where the Dollhouse currently requires us to sleep with multiple fans pointed at us to stay comfortable, I frequently needed an extra layer in the hotel room.
  • Where I have trouble falling asleep at the Dollhouse because of all the still-new-to-me noises, I fell asleep easily each night at the hotel (even though I usually sleep horribly in a new place the first night).

And let’s not even get into how wonderful it was to be on the first floor–no stairs!

Now, I’m not saying I want to go give up the Dollhouse and build a Tiny House in our backyard or anything, it was just nice to feel a bit normal again surrounded by the towers of boxes and bins as we are. And I did feel a bit guilty about not missing home about midway through our stay. Even the “hotel smell” that some folks complain about was preferable to the still-musty smell some of the Dollhouse rooms have.

Despite all of that, it did feel good coming home to the Dollhouse, and I did sleep better that night that I have since we moved in. Sure, there’s noises coming from the wall of my studio, the water heater is being temperamental, and I’m not yet comfortable walking around this place barefoot, but we’ll get there. Eventually.

About the only apprehension I had about the trip was that it was the first time we’d be away from the Dollhouse overnight since moving in for real. The idea of coming home and things not being as we left them spurred me to contact our insurance agent and get the Rehab/Renovation/Not-Covering-Contents policy transformed into a full-on homeowner’s policy. And if you thought it was as simple as a phone call you’re obviously new to the saga of the Dollhouse; nothing is simple in our world.

Take one part stressed-out homeowner with a habit of active listening (which, on the phone, leads to several ‘rights, okays, and I understands) and one part overwhelmed agent (who interprets the active listening habits of the homeowner as defensive interruptions) and you get a recipe for a very tense transaction. We finally got where we needed to go only to find that no one knew how the bank wanted to handle it. I thought this was agreed upon back during the negotiations pre-closing, but apparently not. So add in a call to Wells Fargo while I’m still packing to go out of town and realizing there’s not a single pen upstairs when I needed to take down the contact info for the bank!

Then, of course, the long email I sent before getting on the road? Never arrived in her Inbox so the included request to send me the rundown of out policy options so I could actually make a decision? Yeah, that never happened. The cell reception in the convention area was horrible, but we finally got it together around 5pm on Friday. Because of the age of the house, our provider options were pretty slim anyway–note of caution to those looking to buy historic properties. The major decision was whether or not to go with Cash Value or Replacement Value on the contents coverage. The latter makes for a more expensive premium but Todd and I agreed that it was worth the additional expense to have that additional peace of mind.

So now I’m just waiting on refund checks from the two policies (the 6-month reno policy I paid directly before closing and the annual HOI that the bank recently paid on our behalf). When the HOI comes back I have to deposit back into the escrow account (I wish they could just refund it directly to Wells Fargo, but apparently it wasn’t an option) to put things back to rights. We had a bit of paperwork to settle up when we got back to town on Monday, and it was a good thing we did: a piece of mail from the insurance company got returned (for reasons completely unknown) and they took that to mean the house was vacant and violating the policy and were going to cancel it at the end of the month.

It’s always something with this place, it seems, but at least it’s never dull!

Tuesday Reviews-Day: The French House

Tuesday Revews-Day


“An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village That Restored Them All”

Who wouldn’t be curious about a book with such an intriguing subtitle. Especially if that who happens to be me, at the time in the throes of purchasing my own home (which some would also have considered ruined where we just saw potential). In The French House, Don Wallace tells the story of how he and his wife Mindy came to own a falling-down house on the island of Belle Isle off the coast of Brittany, back in the 80s as fledgling writers living in Manhattan. 30 years after they purchased the home, almost sight-unseen, at the urging of a local friend and former school mentor of Mindy’s, the house went from ruin to what I would call full of character and quirks, and a fitting retreat in a French village that has staved off many of the modern advances and tourists threats over the decades.

The writing is infectious. Take, for instance, these passages from early in the book, a page of Instructions they uncovered in some old notebooks.

Bonjour et bienvenue

There are a few things that have to be done immediately when you open the house. Please read ALL these points carefully.

3. Water heater. To turn on the water for the water heater, go to the closet across from the cabinet. It is full of sporty stuff (tennis rackets, golf clubs, swim fins, masks and snorkels, spear guns, wet suits, Frisbees, bocce balls, all of which you may use after you complete every step of these instructions).
You want to get water going into the heater. To do this, peer behind the water take–at the base near the wall you will see a black switch. Turn it parallel to the floor. You should hear a clunk. Note: do not touch the red faucet. Nobody knows what it does. We think it connects to the secret core of hot magma that lies under the island and, if thrown, will result in worldwide catastrophe. You will have hot water in about three to four hours. And it will be hot. Very! Be careful not to scald yourself….

4. Bathroom. Go upstairs to the bathroom. By the toilet you will see boxes of the septic tank chemical that will keep everything smelling sweet. Put two packets in the bowl and flush.
Despite this, you may notice a sort of sickly odor that rises like a miasma at night when the entire village is humming behind closed doors and windows are fogged from all the shower baths taken in succession. This odor should be ignored; taking notice of it will only encourage it.
For Women Only: You will note that there is only one tiny mirror in the bathroom and no mirrors anywhere else in the house. This is deliberate and done for your own well-being…we recommend cultivating the Belle Ile look of bohemian-athletic-seaside dishevelment to go with that Coco Chanel suntan you’re working on. The same goes for clothes….
For Men Only: If you have any male children, it may be wise to have Daddy demonstrate how the toilet lid works, or fails to, if you’re attempting to take a whiz while standing up. Just when you least expect it–bang!–the lid falls like a guillotine.
Don’t worry if you botch this demonstration. Even if your son starts wetting the bed because you nearly amputated your own unit, you’re in luck–not for nothing is Belle Ile known as “the island of psychiatrists.” There are two in Kerbordardoue, another three in adjoining villages, and then all sit down at the beach together, which makes an informal consultation easy to arrange.

5. Stove/Oven: France uses propane for cooking, which is interesting if you think of her distinguished pedigree for cuisine and how, in America, a propane tank is associated with backyard barbecue or football tailgating.
Under the sink is a blue bottle with a round disk valve on top. Turn this all the way open. Wait a minute and turn on a burner and light a match to test it. Note: We turn off the blue gas bottle at night. (Just our neurotic American ways, I guess, but once you read about the the oven you will understand.)
Important oven note: sadly, the oven has become so unpredictable we have to say: try to avoid using it. The dials mean nothing, so you may think you have turned it off and it is merrily filling with gas.  There’s a reason the knobs are unreliable. One afternoon our son Ror’s older cousin Devo filled the stove with gas before lighting the oven. The resulting explosion removed his eyebrows and budding soul patch. It also blew the knobs across the room….I think one knob is still embedded in the wall, the others dangle on the stove, looking deceptively functional….

6. The fireplace: Works well….just keep the fires small, especially at first, so the smoke has a chance to draw up the chimney and dry it out after the long winter….
P.S. The barbecue in the fireplace goes outside, to the right, where our house’s white wall meets the rough stone of the shed….
P.P.S The bicycle in the chimney is also to be removed before starting any fires. If you can get the chain to stay on, feel free to ride it. Don’t ask why it’s there. That’s a story for another time.

Reading this before bed that first night I stopped and reread the entirety of the Instructions to Todd, stifling some giggles along the way. I don’t think the author would mind in the least, though.

Go ahead and laugh–at the joke, at the house, at us. We’re used to it.

With an introduction like the above, you might get the idea that The French House is all droll humor and quips when in reality it gets real, fast. They buy the Belle Ile house, their building in New York City goes co-op. They have a child. They have career struggles, are unable to make it to their crumbling island paradise some summers due to family and financial dramas, all while trying to orchestrate needed repairs on a shoestring via letters and phone calls.

Frankly I find it frustrating to deal with a contractor 30 miles and a state line away, I cannot imagine how it was for them; or, rather, couldn’t if not for Wallace’s way of getting to the point while maintaining a gallows-humor even through the rough patches. There were highs and lows, as is to be expected in a story that spans three decades, and the “end” is bittersweet as so much changes in this village we come to know and love through the story-telling skills of the author.

It’s not just the story of a couple or their home, it’s the story of a way of life, both one that pre-dated them and the one that will follow.

I read this book in spurts. It was easy to devour (just another section more) but I wanted to spread it out. Unlike a series where you know there’s more to come, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the Wallace family or their village, so I would force myself to stop, put down the Kindle, and go to sleep. Now that I have read to the end, I’m left with the feeling of having had a wonderful, virtual vacation on that island, leaving behind good friends and fond memories.

For the rest I’ll just have to subscribe to his tumblr feed:

***I was provided a digital review copy of The French House for purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own. The French House was published June 1, 2014, by Sourcebooks.***

Notes From the Road

Just for Fun


We were, as you might guess, on the road this past weekend, specifically to and from Mobile, Alabama, for MobiCon. It was #3 on the circuit of 6 conventions I’m taking my book to this year and we had a fabulous time.

We usually try to drive over the night before any given convention so we’re not road-weary when the show opens (usually around noon on Fridays for most cons), but that means grabbing dinner somewhere on the road. Since travelling is one of those times I try to be especially careful what I eat (so I don’t end up ill between points A and B), we try to find a sit-down place to eat rather than an drive-through.

Did you know Cracker Barrel has salads?

And not just the side salad or coleslaw variety. It’s not what you usually think of when you see the wooden rockers on that wide front porch, but they’ve apparently added some lighter fare options including this Chef Salad that was quite tasty.

Chef Salad from Cracker Barrel

Chef Salad from Cracker Barrel

Dinner salads are my default option for dining out while keeping the FODMAPs low.

Trying to get back into the Illustration Friday habit.

Ages ago I was among the first wave of artists to sign up for Illustration Friday prompts but my participation has been lacking for most of that time. I’d sketch some of them out but seldom would I get around to posting them. Friday’s prompt was “Universe” and immediately the Beatles started playing through my head. That song was stuck in my head all weekend long, but I didn’t mind.

Across the Universe

Across the Universe

I’d seen (somewhere, I failed to bookmark it) a coloring style that concentrated on outlines and corners (for lack of a better description), more a suggestion of color than anything else, and I was curious to try it. It worked especially well with colored pencils, and I like the composition enough that I might recreate it digitally for prints. Maybe. It was fun to have something to draw just for fun in the moment.

A little detour on the way home.

While I’m generally content to snooze my way home while Todd drives (I generally fight sleep if I’m driving the return trip, so we’ve just given up trying at this point), this time we made a little detour to the Tanger Outlet shops. Now, usually I stick with the outlets that are right off the Interstate but this one was 20 miles down a state highway and then had the nerve to more mall than outlet. What is up with the prices being just as high there as they would be in a non-outlet store?! My bargain-loving self was not amused.

I did, however, manage to find a good bargain on a handbag from Wilson’s Leather; $200 bag for $50? I’ll take that deal! But most of our time was spent in the kitchen stores (no surprise there) where we picked up a couple of Snap ‘n Stack Cupcake/Cookie Carriers at essentially 2 for 1 and the hope is that they will make taking our samples to conventions that much simpler.

The cupcake inserts flip to make 2 tiers per container.

The cupcake inserts flip to make 2 tiers per container. (image via Amazon)

It was a fun, if exhausting weekend. Our next convention isn’t until mid-July. That’s a good thing as now we’ve got to get on the ball and start packing!