Archive for February 2016
Brian and I had a great time at the Heart Ball last night.
One of these days we’ll get use to the lavish opulence of this event.
This is our third year attending and it just keeps getting better and better.
I loved this year’s event lighting. They had these charming chandeliers all over the place. It all looked so luxe and extravagant.
This isn’t a very flattering photo but I have to share it with you so you can see the very fancy chandelier behind us.
Here’s another selfie early in the evening. One that looks somewhat normal.
We had trouble filling our table because of the late notice. I actually didn’t know we had a table until the week of the event. That’s why mom and dad got to go this year. By Wednesday Brian and I were the only ones confirmed, so I asked Lacie if mom and dad could come so that Brian and I wouldn’t be by ourselves at our table.
Speaking of our table, Moore Flowers did a great job on the table centerpieces. I loved the one they had at our table. If I were to have an event, I would totally hire them. The place looked great and the decor went really well with the theme.
Isaac and Crystal attended again this year. I’m glad Crystal convinced Isaac to attend. That brought our count to six people.
Misty and Amy and James and his wife attended as well so we actually managed to fill the table. Impressive on such short notice.
Dinner was pretty good. We enjoyed the salad and the main course (pictured above). They had two dessert options this year even though only the vanilla bean creme brûlée was published in the program. The other dessert was a very rich chocolate cake.
I ran into a few familiar faces. Pictured below is Zoe, my favorite Group Power instructor at Genesis Health Clubs. She was there with EagleMed. Two of my classmates from Leadership Wichita were also at the event: Jennifer with Grant Thornton and Marc who is on the local AHA board.
We had a little fun during the live auction. Luckily there were no puppies or we would have been in trouble. LOL.
I was forbidden from bidding on anything but I couldn’t help myself. I managed to win one of the silent auction items that I bid on that evening: a shopping party at Chic Street Boutique. I can’t wait to set it up!
I wish we could have stayed because I love The Source. They’ve performed several times at the annual Filipino ball.
We pretty much just stayed long enough to claim our silent auction prize. We even skipped the chocolate fountain. What’s wrong with us? LOL.
If we have the opportunity to attend again next year (which I’m hoping that it won’t be last minute so I’ll have a chance to plan a better outfit) I need to remember to wear my comfortable dancing shoes.
Posted on February 19, 2016 by Ching under Food and Drink.
Remember when we were at the Boo and Brew Ball and Rune bought a private dinner for eight prepared by Chef Jason? Well, that private dinner happened a couple of weeks ago. Here are some pictures…
Becca and Kristen
Rune and Becca
Our great looking group getting ready to chow down.
Chef Jason prepping us for our six course meal.
Leave it the Larnengs to have fancy napkins.
Our first course…
Here’s Chef Jason describing the dish…
This dish was right up Brian’s alley. He was like, “Yes! I love tomato bisque!” LOL.
Our second course…
I would describe it to you but I’m afraid I’d butcher it.
Best to leave the explaining to the chef.
Bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapeño. I was a little bit worried about this one because I can’t handle too much spiciness but Chef Jason reassured us that this is “gringo hot” meaning not so spicy. I’m glad I tried it because, as with the first two courses, it was delicious.
Here’s Chef Jason preparing the quail dish.
Here’s a picture of the finished product…
Here’s Chef Jason describing the dish…
Here’s Rune enjoying the quail… immensely.
Here’s what my plate looked like after…
Here’s Chef Jason describing the dish…
Here’s Rune eating the flower… I did not eat mine.
And then here’s the pièce de résistance… It was the most delicious dessert ever.
Here’s Chef Jason describing it…
I loved all six courses. Everything was delicious. But, I have to admit, the dessert was the best course of all. If you ask Brian, he could care less about all of the courses in the middle. He liked the first and final courses the best.
Even though the courses seemed small (intentionally so for the sake of presentation), they were all very filling. I was regretting all of my soup because, by the third course, I was already full. This was an amazing and memorable dinner. I’m so grateful to Rune and Kristen for inviting us.
The ship looked so empty on debarkation day.
No more Zumba banners and window clings.
Even thought Brian and I didn’t have a flight until 3:45 PM that day, we got up early anyway. We had a nice leisurely breakfast and then went down to Café Promenade so I can have one more Creamice Mocha.
This drink is so delicious. I wish that I would have discovered it sooner than halfway through the cruise.
Anyway, the valets picked up our bags the night before and we were pretty much all set so we went ahead and got ready to disembark the ship at eight o’clock. We thought it would take a few hours to get off the boat and go through customs. Little did we know that our stateroom attendant hooked us up with these special, VIP tags that worked like magic. There were tags numbered 1 to 45 – the higher the number the later it would be before your bags would be delivered to the baggage claim/staging area. I think we were supposed to be number 15 according to Guest Services. Somehow, we ended up with these “Suites/Pinnacle” tags in our stateroom which we were grateful for because that mean our bags would be ready at the baggage claim area by 8 AM. “Suites/Pinnacle” had priority over all the numbered tags.
You basically had two options, you let the valets take your bags the night before and then they put it in the baggage area for you or you lug your bags with you. The downside of letting them valet your bag is that you’re at the mercy of their schedule, which meant the higher numbers would be ready last. Some people don’t want to wait to they decide to cart their bags with them. Brian and I only had carry-ons but I remembered that the elevators only go down to a certain floor on debarkation day and you have to take the stairs all the way down. I told Brian that I didn’t want to lug my bag around so if he insisted on taking our bags ourselves then he would be carting both carry-ons. Plus, I told him that we should use our ultra-special bag tags.
Brian was really glad that he listened to me as went down the stairs from Deck 3 to Deck 1. Since we went down early, the line moved pretty quickly and we were off the ship in no time. When we got to the place where they line up everyone’s luggage, there were only a dozen bags or so there but we easily spotted our bags. We used our red luggage for this very reason.
Several people got off the ship before us, and I think there were seven other ships disembarking that same day, so the line through customs had already started snaking. After grabbing our bags, we asked one of the port staff where we should go and she told us to stand by the red pole. It just happened to be the end of the long line. There were a handful of people getting in line so we let them get ahead of us and then fell in line behind them. We started to follow the line as it started moving but then the lady walked toward us and asked us to follow her. She then lifted one of the barricades and told us to go through and wait right there right in front of one of the customs officers’ stations. We were called up to next so we effectively bypassed the customs line altogether. I’m convinced we got special treatment because of our special “Suites/Pinnacle” bag tags.
It only took about 30 minutes from the time we got in line for debarkation to get off the ship, completely through customs, and out to the shuttle pick up area. It was amazing. I’d never gotten off a cruise ship that quickly before. And then, as luck would have it, our ride to the airport showed up within a couple of minutes and then we were at the airport by quarter till nine. The crazy part is that our flight wasn’t even until later that afternoon.
Anyway, they’re a lot stricter at the Fort Lauderdale airport than in Wichita. They had this Delta attendant there who did nothing but point people to the security line and/or make them check the size of their carry-on against the metal carry-on measurement stand. Brian’s duffel was just a tad too long. We tried to explain to the lady that we carried both of our bags on during our arrival flights and they fit with no problems but she was not having it. She wanted Brian to take items out of his duffel until the bag would fit. There was no amount of stuff we could take out that would make it work because it was the shape of the bag that was the problem and we didn’t want to hassle with trying. Since we were early, we decided to just go to the desk and pay to check our bags. We figured that while we were doing that we could see if we could get on earlier flights home.
The lady at the Delta desk was a lot more helpful and pleasant than the first woman we encountered. She punched some keys on her computer and broke the news to us.
“If I type fast enough,” she told us, “I can get you on the 9:45 AM flight.” It would cost $50 each to change our flights, plus $25 for each of the bags, so we’d have to play $150 total; and we only had a split second to think about it.
Brian and I looked at each other and were like, “Let’s do it!”
She quickly took our payment, printed our new boarding passes, tagged our bags, and placed them on the conveyor belt behind her. I was a little worried that our bags wouldn’t make it on our new flights since we were cutting it so close but she reassured us that our bags would make it.
At the end of our transaction she was like, “It’s 9:08 now so you better hurry because your flight is boarding.” With that, we quickly said our thanks and skedaddled to security.
Security was long and cumbersome per usual but, lucky for us, our gate was close by. When we got to the gate, they were boarding Zone 2, which just happened to be our zone so we fell in line with everyone and got on the plane. We didn’t have to wait around at the gate, which is just the way I like it.
This plane wasn’t as nice as the plane that we flew in going to Florida. There were no free inflight games but the flight seemed to go fairly quick and we were in Atlanta in no time. I think we were 10 minutes early actually. We had a decent layover length before getting on our flight to Wichita. That flight went smoothly as well. We were either early or right on time. We landed shortly after 2 PM. Our bags safely made it and were one of the first few to hit the baggage claim carousel. Our ride home was already waiting for us so we got in the van and were home by 2:30 PM or so.
Brian and I were completely amazed because our original flights wouldn’t have put us back in Wichita until after 9 PM. We got on the flights that, just the night before, Brian told Missy and Todd they wouldn’t be able to make. Crazy!
Things seemed to be going perfectly our way until we got home and found Molly had been badly hurt. She and Saki got in a fight the day before that resulted in Molly getting staples on her head. I guess the reason why things worked out for us and we were able to get home early is that the universe wanted us to quickly get back so we could take care of our poor baby.
It wasn’t fun coming home to a $175 vet bill but we were grateful to be back early to be with our beloved dogs.
On the fifth and final day of our sailing, the ship was booking it back to Fort Lauderdale. You could feel the difference. We were no longer cruising leisurely along. Anyway, true to my craziness, I had yet another 8 AM class. I could not miss this one though, because it’s a masterclass with ZES Loretta Bates and she is amazing. Such an inspiration!
Just listen to her message. Dance to inspire, not to impress. We should all take this to heart and not judge one another and just dance for the sheer joy of it.
I got up early and got a great spot. Not hard considering I think almost everyone was pretty worn out. I was feeling it too. Thus, the need for the massage the day before.
Do you see Loretta’s head peaking out above the stage? She is so cute.
Do you see Brian? We were taking pictures of each other, I guess. He wasn’t supposed to be up there, though. That’s the special observation area for ZESes and other Zumba VIPs. He found that out later. They didn’t make him leave. Brian realized it on his own.
A couple more of Loretta…
Do you see the guy in the gray and white shirt? Well, that’s J. Perry.
If you don’t know J. Perry, he sings some of my favorite Zumba tracks: Dekole, Boujé, and Konsey. If you’ve ever been to my class, you’ll recognize the songs when you hear them. The rhythm is soca, which is my favorite beat to dance to. I have no idea what he’s saying most of the time but the songs are so enjoyable.
This is where we found out that our special guest will be performing while we Zumba to his tunes. Here are a couple more pics…
Here are some videos from the masterclass…
TI PAM NAN
There were some technical difficulties in that last one but J. Perry and Loretta took it all in stride. Such pros! They make a great team also. This was definitely the highlight of the whole trip for me. I love, love, love J. Perry and I love, love, love Loretta Bates! Having the two of them together just made me want to explode. I could hardly contain myself.
I got a shameless selfie with J. Perry!
And another with him and Loretta both. I was totally fan-girling it. I was so giddy! I was on a roll, too. I ran into ZES Ricardo Marmitte in the elevator on my way to my next masterclass and grabbed a quick selfie with him as well. LOL.
It was real shame that I didn’t get to take Ricardo’s class. I love his African style. Anyway, they canceled his class the first day because they were still installing/constructing stuff and then we were all going to take his make up class on Thursday night at the jogging track but that got canceled too due to weather. Stupid rain!
Missy and I ran into Ricardo later on. They had him peeling the Zumba decals from the store window at the Royal Promenade. I guess they put him to work because he didn’t have to teach his class. When we walked by, Missy whispered something to him and then he made a face and pretended to spray her with Windex.
“What did you say to him?” I asked.
“I told him that he needs to come over to my house when he’s finished because my windows also need to be cleaned.”
This is Australian ZES Jarrod Tucker. He was my last official masterclass of the cruise. It was my first time taking his class. He was super nice and friendly and absolutely fantastic but the class was held at the helipad, which was my least favorite surface to dance on. The floor was really grippy and it felt like sandpaper under my shoes. Also, it was super duper windy. It was like doing Aqua Zumba but with air as the source of resistance. That made it really interesting.
Meanwhile, back at the main pool deck this was happening…
And at the H20 Zone, Richard Gormley was leading an Aqua Zumba masterclass…
And Brian got a selfie with ZES Erick Santana…
I heard part of his playlist while I was at the spa the previous day. He has great song choices. We also got to watch Missy dance with him (she was taking his class at the jogging track while we were at the spa) and she was having a blast. She was so focused that she didn’t even see us trying to wave at her on the other side of the window.
And I got another elevator selfie. This time with ZES Eliza Stone. We ran into her on our way to back to our room. That was the best part about being on a ship. My Zumba idols could not escape me.
We made the mistake of taking a brief nap and were late to ZES Armando Salcedo’s class in the Alhambra Theater. Yes, every inch of the ship was being used for Zumba classes. Rob, Todd, Heather, and Missy were already there when we arrived. They got their late too so the stage was already at capacity.
They were only slightly ahead of us.
I didn’t get to take any classes in Alhambra Theater but that stage floor looked perfect for Zumba. That might have been the best floor to dance on; even better than the Sports Court, which had been my favorite up to that point..
Armando had some fun routines. I was bummed that I didn’t get to take his class.
That theater was rockin’! Everyone was dancing, even in the aisles and between the rows. People kept piling in after us and, since the class was full, they were just dancing in place wherever they could find some space.
Here are some clips from Armando’s masterclass…
This was the pow-wow about debarkation the next morning.
Always the bearer of bad news, I think this was Brian telling Todd that chances of them making their 9:45 AM flight in the morning were slim. Brian is kind of a downer like that.
I made them cheese for the picture.
Obligatory selfie… You know how that goes.
Group selfie! Groupie?
This is ZES Michael Marmitte, Ricardo’s older brother. That was a revelation. He told us that he’s actually older. Everyone assumes Ricardo is older because he’s taller but he’s actually the middle brother. Their youngest brother mixes their music.
I would have taken his masterclass but I had to use the restroom. By the time I got out, they were at capacity and wouldn’t let any more participants in. It was fine though, because I felt tentative about dancing on carpet with carpet gliders. You have to be really careful or you could twist your ankle and seriously hurt yourself.
It was a super fun class, though. I did a few songs with the class right outside the karaoke bar. In this space…
Michael’s class was overflowing.
He needed a much bigger space than the karaoke bar.
And then, ZES Walter Diaz (Wally) showed up looking for the same ice skating show that we were looking for that apparently wasn’t going on until seven o’clock that evening.
I love Wally. I took his Salsa and Merengue Mashup workshop at my first Zumba Instructor Conference almost three years ago. He is amazing!
Group selfie right before our final dinner together. The first one was tricky because I’m much shorter than everyone so they all had to crouch down. We had to have Brian take another, which was better.
And yet another group selfie when Rob and Heather showed up.
Don’t ask me about the selfie stick. I brought it with me but I forgot to pack the charger. I had it with me the entire time but we never used it because it was dead.
We all hung out for bit after dinner but Brian and I went to bed early that night because we wanted to be ready for debarkation the next day. We had to finish packing so we could set our luggage outside our door before 11 PM. The funniest part is that Brian and I both set our clothes for the next day and packed all of our clothes including our dirties. Brian had his clothes for the next day laid out and was completely naked (so was I, actually) and then it dawned on me, “Now, how are we going to put our luggage outside?” We both busted up laughing.
Brian put his next day jeans on and then put our bags outside and then took his jeans back off and hopped into bed. We had some great laughs throughout the trip. It was such a blast hanging out with Glynda, Missy, Todd, Rob, and Heather; but as they say, all good things must come to an end.
Come back soon for the final installment of our cruise recaps!
Our fourth day on the cruise was spent docked in Falmouth, Jamaica. Having visited Jamaica a few times before, Brian and I decided to not even get off the ship. We wanted to have a nice leisurely day while everyone else was off the boat, but I had to get all my Zumba classes out of the way first.
ZES Gina Grant and Dahrio Wonder’s class was my first stop. They gave us a taste of the Hip Hop Turn Up workshop that they do at Convention.
We learned the moves during the warm up and we got to practice them almost to mind-numbing repetitiveness. Eventually we got to put it all together and actually dance a few songs. Maybe I would feel differently if I didn’t look so goofy dancing hip hop. LOL. I did like the Water Dance.
Here’s the official choreo video from Gina’s YouTube:
My next class was with the amazing ZES Betsy Dopico.
Here’s a video of her in action:
While everyone else was doing excursions in Jamaica, Brian and I decided to hit the spa and take advantage of the 20-20-20 special.
The one complaint that we’d heard from people about the spa was that you couldn’t really relax because you could hear Zumba music thump, thump, thumping all through your spa therapy session.
Brian and I thought we were pretty clever about scheduling our massages at 3 PM while most people were off the ship and there was no Zumba going on. When we were in Labadee, the first afternoon classes didn’t start until four-thirty. Since there was no live concert in Jamaica, the afternoon classes at the jogging track (the stage and speakers were set up right outside the spa) started at three-thirty. Halfway through my massage, the Zumba music started going.
It was ZES Erick Santana’s masterclass which Missy was in. We watched her from the window but she was so focused. She didn’t see us at all.
We met up with Missy, Todd, and Glynda for dinner that night. Not sure what Rob and Heather were up to but we left a message on their room phone. I think they might not have gotten our message until late, though.
This is me playing peak-a-boo with one of the dining room curtains.
We finally got some lobster on the menu. I think almost everyone except Brian got lobster. I should have had him ask for one too so I could have two of them.
In case you were wondering how to gracefully take the lobster meat out of the shell, here’s how it’s done.
One of the funniest things about the dinners is that it seemed like I would always end up with the wrong menu. We’d all be talking about what each of us would have and I’d say something like, “I’m having the baked Alaska.” And everyone would be like, “Where do you see that?” Because their menus were different than mine. I think it happened three times. The uncanny part is, I was always the one it happened to.
Oh, Brian and I were just a few doors down from Beto’s suite so we had to take a picture. Room #1677 is our meager 150 sq ft interior stateroom which. Beto’s suite is the big, bright pink one in the picture below. I think it’s over 1300 sq ft. I saw into the room one day when the doors were open while they were cleaning it. It looked luxurious compared to our closet of a room.
Seriously, our stateroom is about the size of our master bathroom at home. It’s amazing considering it cost about $1800, without the daily gratuities and drink packages. For comparison a typical Royal Caribbean five-day cruise with the same itinerary would have only cost half that (about $400 per person). That’s the premium you pay for Zumba.
We almost didn’t go at first because of the price, but then Brian and I decided that we would take the cheapest stateroom option just so we could get on the ship and be part of the first ever Zumba cruise. I was afraid that it may not happen again and, if we didn’t go, I’d miss out on the experience completely.
Now, having experienced everything – the plethora of masterclasses and all of the awesome surprises – I have to say that I would gladly pay the same amount all over again. The experience was absolutely worth every penny.
Even though we splurged on Brian’s unlimited drink package (he got the ultimate, ultimate one which included unlimited alcoholic beverages, whereas mine only included unlimited non-alcoholic cocktails, juices, premium coffees, soda and bottled water), we did employ some cost cutting measures such as not buying any overpriced products from the spa (made this mistake on the poker cruise when we spent a grand in a matter of minutes) and not buying any overpriced pictures (even though the cruise photographers actually managed to take some good ones).
Looking back, I think we could have saved even more by skipping my drink package altogether. I don’t think I drank my money’s worth and you could get ice and water from the bar and multitude of water stations throughout the ship. Brian tried to drink his money’s worth in beer and wine and coffee, but he really had to try. I guess we’re just not that big of drinkers.
Some nights we did our own thing, like the night that we went to the adult comedy show. OMG. I had drank so much that day that I had to use the bathroom really badly. I didn’t know how much longer it would go and I couldn’t wait any longer so I had to get up and use the restroom. Jim David, the comedian, naturally had to crack some jokes at my expense. I guess I broke the cardinal rule of comedy shows: never get up in the middle of the show.
On this night Missy and Todd talked about going to see the Disney musical variety show after dinner. Brian and I were going to do something else, but decided to see the show at the last minute. They were already a few of minutes into the show when we arrived at the theater. Luckily, Missy and Todd were easy to spot. We just looked for Todd’s head. We found a couple of empty seats right behind them. We hung out with Missy and Todd a little bit after the show while waiting for the party at the Royal Promenade.
We took some porthole pictures at Café Promenade. I really like this place because they had this yummy Creamice Mocha drink. Although, they tried to charge me for it twice even though it was included in my drink package. I wish I would have know about that drink sooner because I probably would have gotten my money’s worth on my drink package then. LOL.
Alright, it’s bed time. I’ll finish the cruise recap next weekend. Until then…
HAPPY SUPER BOWL SUNDAY!