Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Porter House Design Blog Feature

Kelly Porter of Porter House Designs featured the e-designs projects she did for our home on her blog. You can read her post here :California Dreaming.  Her blog provides a lot of colorful inspirations for different home interiors and events.  She is easy to work with and answers my multiple questions right away and provides suggestions on color combinations and different accessories that would go with my furniture.  I still have yet to post pictures on updates but have not had the time to do it and complete my shopping list.  Home improvement projects are being done around the house.  I'm hoping to get it done soon to finally enjoy our home and not worry about cleaning up debris and dirt...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Our Disney Dream Cruise Experience

Still high from our Disney Dream Cruise Vacation, I thought I'd better share with you our recent family trip.  My brother and I initially planned for this trip to celebrate my Mom's 60th birthday with the whole family since we've never been on a cruise ship.We thought Disney Dream was the way to go since this is a brand new ship that started sailing only January of this year.. My brother booked this trip back in September or October of last year.  So you can see that even with the news of Hurricane Irene didn't dampen our spirits or discourage us to go through with this trip as it was planned awhile back.  When we heard  the news that the hurricane will be hitting the Carribean on the weekend of our trip, my brother and husband called The Disney Cruise everyday right before we leave to see if there are any changes or if the cruise will be cancelled at all.  They assured us that the Cruise will sail as planned.

We had problems with our airlines a few days before our flight- they had cancelled our flight from John Wayne Airport so we had no choice but book a flight through LAX instead so we can make it to Port Canaveral the night before the Cruise.  We didn't want to take a red eye as we'd be all groggy once we board the ship on Embarkment Day.

It was a long flight with a 3 hour lay over in Denver.  Good thing, my brother's family were with us on the flight so my kids played with their cousins during the lay over.  My daughter developed UTI during the flight so we were up all night hours before we board the ship.  We only had 2-3 hours of sleep.  We ended up seeing a doctor onboard that after noon. Disney has their own Health Center onboard wherein you can see a doctor and a nurse on board.

Day 1(August 25, Thursday)- We took a Shuttle from our Hotel to the Disney Port in Port Canaveral which was about 5 minutes drive.  Although we saw the ship the night before (right before we checked in) we were amazed on how massive the Disney Dream Cruise Ship is.
The disney dream cruise ship right before we went inside the port
While were in line for about 30-45 minutes to check in, The kids went up to Minnie Mouse for pictures
Minnie Mouse was there to welcoming the guests at the Port

At the check in, they checked  our passport documents, gave us the Key to the World Card and took our  pictures for the card.  The Key to the World Card will be your ID while on board as well as your key to your stateroom.  It can be used as a credit card (once you enter your credit card info online) to purchase drinks/cocktails for adults, photopass card (like the ones they give you at disneyland after you have your pictures taken with the Characters) and checking in and out of the ship during excursions.

We were done with the check- in process at 1pm. The Staterooms were not ready until 1:30 pm. So once we got on board, they had our pictures taken per family. And Chip and Dale where there to welcome us right before we entered the Atrium.  The Cruise Ship Interiors were exquisite and very detailed.  Reminds me so much of Titanic, the huge chandelier, the grand stair way at the Atrium.  I loved the blue chandelier, marble floors, glass tiled bathrooms.  
Welcome Aboard!!

Family Picture

Chip welcoming us

The Lobby Atrium

The Massive  Chandelier at the Lobby Atrium
Stairs close to our stateroom

Elegant Elevators

We went straight to the Cabanas which is right next to the Pool Deck and had a buffet lunch there.  It was packed. After Lunch, we went straight to our Staterooms to rest and unpack.  They gave us a navigator with all the information on schedule of activities, important telephone numbers, etc.  We went right back to the Lobby Atrium at 4:45 for the Sailing Away party.

The Disney Characters at the Sailing Away Party

We were assigned to the 5:30 dinner.  We had dinner at the Royal Palace, which was a formal setting.  I noticed that hardly anybody dresses up for dinner and most people wear what I call cruise outfits, sundresses or tops and shorts for the ladies and t shirt and shorts for men.  We learned that evening that there is one Dining Room Server and an assistant server that was assigned to us for the rest of our cruise.  We are assigned a different restaurant every night and our servers follows us every night.  Breakfast and Lunch was open seating at the different restaurants or buffet.  So you definitely get to know your servers and they get to know you as well all through out the cruise.  Our Server and his assistant was good, very attentive to our dining room needs, made suggestions for appetizers and main course, and even entertained us (especially the kids with their magic tricks).  The food was good too but at times was ok for me.  Everything was gourmet specials so I can't complain.  I forgot what I ordered the first 2 nights - should've written it and took pictures.  For the kids, they usually have a choice of mac n cheese, chicken strips, pizza, spaghetti with meatballs which is mainly what we ordered for our kids.  They also serve fruit bowls at the beginning of every meal for the kids and dessert consists of a choice of ice cream, mickey bar, i forgot the other choices.  There are  specialty cocktails and non alcoholic drinks (which what I usually order) every night.

The Royal Garden Interior

Elegant Light Fixtures of the Royal Palace Restaurant

After dinner, we watched the Musical (The Golden Mickeys) at the Walt Disney Theatre.  They described their musical shows as Broadway caliber and it is. They introduced the Cruise Director who was in charge of fun activities on board and the executive officers (including the Captain).  I feel bad that my daughter missed this show as Rapunzel and Flynn were in it singing "I see the light".  She was back in the stateroom with a fever and seasick  that first night.  

After we put the kids down to bed and my Mom agreed to babysit. My sister, hubby and I explored the The District ( An Adults only section). We went to the Evolution Club where they were having a 70s party.  The Dancers and the host wearing 70s outfit and the DJ playing 70s music.  When 11:15 came, it the host segwayd for the evolution dancers and they were dancing to the current dance tunes.  The host and the dancers were encouraging everybody to dance to keep the party going.  Besides the Evolution club, there was also a skyline lounge (A bar where in the skyline scene to different cities such as Hong Kong, Paris, etc), the 687 lounge and the Pink bar (where they serve only Pink champagne- wish I could've taken pictures there was a lot of pink in this room :).  

Day 2 (August 26, Friday) - Nassau Bahamas. Since the Ship had to take a different route to the Bahamas to avoid the Hurricane.  The Ship docked at Nassau at 11 am (2 hours late than originally planned which was 9 AM).  Good thing, I haven't booked any excursions yet as I wasn't sure if the Port Adventures were open at all that day given that the Hurricane hit the Bahamas the day before.  The Disney Dream Cruise Ship was the first cruise ship to dock right after the Hurricane.  

We went straight to the Lobby Atrium right before Breakfast to meet the Princesses. 
Her All time favorite Princess, Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)

We spent the morning at the pool after breakfast.  The kids enjoyed playing at Nemo's Reef.

with my Brother and nieces

The Pool Deck with Funnel Vision Screen and the Aqua Duck Ride

In the afternoon, after lunch,  we dropped the kids off at The Oceaneer's Club (Play areas for the kids over 3 years of age ) and It's a small world nursery (a daycare for childrens 3 months to 3 years of age. There is a $6/hour fee).
Toy Story Themed Play Room

High Tech colored floors

Movie Area

State of the art ceiling design

We took a shuttle to Atlantis Resort.  When we got there, we found out that all Port Adventures were closed that day.  Most shops were closed as well.  We were surprised that weather was great at Nassau that day without any traces of rain from the Hurricane the day before. 

The Majestic Atlantis Resort
The Atlantis Resort

Baby Sharks in the Lagoon

Different colored Fishes

not sure if this is a sting ray

Inside the Predator's Lagoon, sharks swimming above us

Inside the hotel

At Nassau Port, right before we went back to the ship

After a couple of hours, we went back to the ship to get the kids and get ready for dinner.  The theme on the ship that day  was Pirates.  So when we returned, we found red scarves in our stateroom given to us by our Hostess.  We wore the red scarves while taking pictures with Captain Jack Sparrow.  

Dinner was at the Animators Palate. The restaurant is a disney animation themed.  We were seated right next to a screen where in we can talk to Crush (from Finding Nemo), the turtle over dinner.  This is pretty much the same concept as the attraction in California Adventure.  The kids were entertained during dinner so we got to enjoy our food. 

There's Crush

After Dinner, The Captain made an announcement that the trip to Castaway Cay (Disney's own Private Island on the Carribean) was cancelled due to damages sustained by the island after being hit by Hurricane Irene.  We were disappointed about this as we were looking forward to seeing Castaway Cay.  Fortunately we found out later on that no crew members were injured during the Hurricane and they are cleaning up the Island to be used by cruise guests later on.  We were informed that the cruise ship will just return to Nassau, Bahamas the next day.

We watched another Musical, Villains Tonight featuring most of the Famous Disney Villains at the Walt Disney Theatre.  It was another great show and very entertaining.  The kids got scared at first but turned out to be a funny show.

There was a fireworks show at the pool deck so we headed there next after meeting Tinker Bell.  

Tink signing autographs

she's curious who tinkerbell is

The Pool Deck turned into Club Pirate.  After the fireworks, we were surprised to see Capt. Jack Sparrow on stage and Pirates around the pool deck.. The Guest DJ played dance music after the show.

The Pool Deck and Aqua Duck at night time

Day 3 (August 27, Saturday) Nassau, Bahamas

We didn't really care much about Nassau so we decided to stay onboard throughout the day to relax and avail of the different amenities the ship has to offer.  We spent the morning in the pool deck after breakfast and lined up at the Aqua Duck, which took us about 30 minutes before we got to ride the water slide.  

In the afternoon, we went to see The Pirates of the Caribbean- On Stranger Tides at the Buena Vista Theatre on 3D.  I fell asleep during the movie and we decided to catch the matinee of the Musical - Believe! Instead.  In my opinion, it was the best show I've seen on board as they made a recap of the different Disney magic moments (in the movies and musicals) we've come to love over the years.  

The balcony at the Walt Disney Theatre

Great ceiling details

Dinner was at the Enchanted Garden, which was inspired by the gardens of Versailles in France (Oops, I just remembered I still have yet to post our pictures of the Actual Chateau de Versailles from our recent trip).  Love the Colors all around the restaurant which has a calming effect. I had the Roaster Pork Tenderloin but regretted that I should've ordered the Pan Seared Sea Bass instead which was a lot better.
Good thing, our server gave us an extra plate.  For Dessert, I had the Sacher Chocolate Cake.

The Sacher Chocolate Cake named after the man in Germany who first made chocolate cake per our Server

The ceiling of the Enchanted Garden

Last night was spent packing-( they gave us instructions to leave our luggages outside our stateroom between 8:30-10:30pm to be brought by the crew to the holding area prior to disembarkment), shopping at the stores, purchasing our pictures, taking care of our Stateroom hostess, Dining room server and assistant tips which you can do this through your key to the world car at the Guest Services if you don't have enough cash, and walking around the ship for last minute picture ops.  They also had a going away meet and greet with the characters that night but we were too tired to line up as we have an early flight the next day.

Day 4 (August 28, Sunday) Disembarkment day.  We were instructed by our Server to be at the Enchanted Garden at 6:30 for breakfast along with our day bags before we disembark.  It was a good thing we were scheduled an early breakfast so we have enough time to catch our flight back to LA.
After breakfast, we handed our servers the tip envelope along with the tip tickets I got from Guest Services the night before.  No need for check out unless you have questions about the statements of account that they left in your room that morning.  Once we signed out at the Port, we went straight to Baggage claims and Customs which was surprisingly quick.  The line wasn't that bad, we were in line only for about 5-10 minutes max.  Then we called our shuttle to pick us up to take us to Orlando Airport.

We had a great time on board and thought of hopefully doing this again in the future as a family. It is very rare that we all get to go on a vacation like this.  My sister was suggesting of doing this as an annual thing.  My nieces and my daughter said they wanted to go back on  a Disney Cruise real soon.  But we'll see.  We'll have to save up again.  If we do this again, we'll have to book it earlier in the summer to avoid the Hurricane Season as I would definitely want to see Castaway Cay next time or probably book a different Cruise Ship.  I think this is the best cruise line for Families with kids because they have all of the state of the art amenities from the day care to the Oceaneer's Club and Lab, the tween ages as well as teenagers and adults. Nobody entertains like Disney. The Cruise is filled with activities that you can't go to all of them at once.  It has been worth the stress of a long flight  and planning this trip altogether.  It was great time to bond with my family, my parents, my sister and my brother and his family.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Photo Courtesy of Uncle Rodney and my brother, Axel
After months of waiting, the swimming pool is finally done (right before my daughter's party).  Now we can totally enjoy the rest of the summer in our backyard..

A Sneak Peek of a Fab Party!

Truly, My Mom is how we described her Party.. "Fab @ 60!".  Her all time favorite color and favorite flowers : Red Roses were all over the venue.  She was happy with all surprises we prepared for her and everyone was happy how it all turned out. So here's a sneak peek:

The Dessert Table

The Table Centerpieces my sister in law made until the wee hours of the morning

The Perfume Bar

Will have to post more pics once I have it with me.  It was truly a night to remember with family and friends to celebrate my Mom's 60th birthday.

This has what kept me busy all summer...

Planning 2 parties over the summer along with finishing landscape (exterior) ad some home renovations (interior) had been extremely stressful..  It wasn't a fun summer  for me at all.  But all's well that ends well and I'm happy with how both parties turned out.  Let me blog about the first party first.  The second party which is my Mom's Fab 60th birthday party will be another post along with the current updates on our home improvement projects.  I have most of the pictures and now I have time to sit back, relax go through pictures and blog before packing tonight for another trip (Our most awaited Family Disney Dream Cruise).  I think our family totally deserve this after a stressful week last week finalizing details for my Mom's party.

My daughter wanted an Angelina Ballerina Inspired Party for her 4th birthday.  She loves Angelina Ballerina and calls herself "Angelina" and her little sister "Polly".  So I decided to use Angelina's outfit colors :Baby Pink, White and Purple (from Alice, Angelina's Best friend).  I wanted it to have a bit of a whimsical look so I opted for pink and white polka dot on most of the details and I asked Adria of Andersruff Designs to come up with a design for the Invites, Favor Tags, Banners and Stickers.  The Little Girl Ballerina Silhouette that she designed was carried out all throughout the details from the cookies, stickers, papers.

Ballerina Invite by Adria of  Andersruff (Pardon the blurry photo- I just used my phone cam with this)

Pink, Purple and White balloons I ordered from Party City and Shop Sweet Lulu

Ballerina Cake by Sweet and Saucy Shop

Strawberry & Brownie Cake Pops 

Top View of the Dessert Table

Pink, Purples candies, Cupcakes, Star & Ballerina Cookies and Yogurt Star Cookies(from Trader Joe's)

Dessert Table

Tutu Skirt for the Little Ballerinas

Canvas Ballerina Favor Bags- I bought at Oriental Trading and used Iron on Transfer Paper for the Ballerina designs.
The favor bags each have a tutu skirt, ballerina slippers, pearls, star wands, lipgloss or nail polish, dance stickers, pens that I also got at Joanns and Halo Haven

This "Sweet Ballerina" Signage I found at Joanns for a $1 each

Oreo Cake Pops I got from Sweeties by Kim

The Pink Ballerina character came to give our little ballerinas (Ella and her friends) Ballet lessons and entertain them for the party

Sweet Ballerina kid's table center pieces with my all time favorite flowers - Peonies, which looked perfect

Our buffet table dressed up for the occassion
Food from our favorite restaurant Bucca de Beppo

Buffet Table Set Up

The Backyard Set Up

Sweet Ballerina

Custom Tulle Wreath that I handmade to greet guests as they enter the front door
Welcome Sign at the Front Door

The Mini Express Train  took the kids for a ride around the neighborhood

It was a fun and memorable party.  My little girl had a lot of fun and was happy to see her cousins and friends and hang out with all of them. Thank You to my brother, Axel and Uncle Rodney for taking great pictures of the event...  Hubby and I were so busy that day that we weren't able to take pictures.