Friday, December 8, 2023

November 2023 Photo A Day Project

I’m still enjoying my Photo a Day project on Flickr. I find it helpful to look at other people’s photos and see what I like about them, what makes them stand out to me, and the composition of the photo. I believe these will help me take better photos. 

Here are my photos from November

1. 11/1/23 Rainbow, 2. 11/2/23 Morning Sky, 3. 11/3/23 Gnome At Sea, 4. 11/4/23 Alcazaba, 5. 11/5/23 Sunset, 6. 11/6/23Canapes, 7. 11/8/23 Funchal, Portugal, 8. 11/7/23 Robot, 9. 11/9/23 Yuri, 10. 11/10/23 Morning Sky, 11. 11/11/23 Cappucino Swan, 12. 11/12/23 Cocktail party, 13. 11/13/23 Yuri, 14. 11/14/23 Gifts, 15. 11/15/23 St. Maarten Sign, 16. 11/16/23 Having a Whale of a Time!, 17. 11/17/23 San Juan, Puerto Rico, 18. 11/18/23 Red sky at morning..., 19. 11/19/23 Trampoline Artists, 20. 11/20/23 Miami, 21. 11/21/23 Lunch at Oriental Plaza, 22. 11/22/23 Lighthouse, 23. 11/23/23 Sunset, 24. 11/24/23 Miami, 25. 11/25/23 Alligator, 26. 11/26/23 Christmas suit, 27. 11/28/23 Stamp Club, 28. 11:27/23 Snake plant bloom, 29. 11/29/23 relaxed kitty, 30. 11/30/23 Fluffy clouds

Friday, December 1, 2023

2023 Goals Review for November

For most of the month of November, we were on a cruise ship. We left Valencia, Spain and arrived in Miami on November. 24. 

1. Learn something new. - I learned Tunisian crochet to make a couple of dishcloths. I’m still practicing my watercolor painting and my ukulele.

2. Knit at least 1 sweater - I finished with my sweater. (Collins Tee)

3. Yarn - more out than in (use more yardage than I buy) – I finished 2 projects on the cruise. 

●  Yarn used - 10737 yds.

●  Yarn bought - 9009

3. Complete a shawl - I finished my Shawlography shawl

4. Try 4 new recipes. - I couldn’t cook on a cruise ship. LOL

5. Stretch regularly (at least 20 days out of the month) - We are walking and exercising regularly

6. Create at least 2 scrapbook pages each month. - Made 0 pages in November.  (Total - 82)

7. Participate in the Photo a Day challenge – Completed through November. 

8. Read the Bible every day. - yes

9. Read 100 books - Read 14 in January, 2 in February, 6 in March, 5 in April. 4 in May, 3 in June,  3 in July, 12 in August, 20 in September,  10 books in October, 15 books in November (Total: 91)

10. Read 12 nonfiction books. – (Total: 11).

-   Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today by Valerie Bertinelli

-   Prince William: The Man Who Will Be King by Penny Junor

-   I Still Believe: A Memoir by Jeremy Camp

-   Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

-  I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

-  Nowhere for Very Long by Brianna Madia

-  My Extraordinary Ordinary Life by Sissy Spacek

-  Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

-  No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality by Michael J. Fox

-  Spare by Prince Harry

-  John le CarrĂ©: The Biography by Adam Sisman

What are your goals for this year? Please share.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

MSC Magnifica Week 4

Click here for pictures of our days on the ship.

Day 22: 11/18/23 At Sea

After breakfast, we sat around the pool area and relaxed. Right before lunch, it started pouring down rain, so we went inside to wait for lunch to start. After lunch, we relaxed in our cabin until dinner. We watched Westworld on TV which was an old movie but still good. After dinner at the buffet, we went to the show featuring the magician, Juan Alvarez again. Then we had some cappuccino and visited with Jeff and Holly from Colorado/Mexico. We had to turn our clocks back an hour so we should be back on Eastern Time in the morning.

Day 23: 11/19/23 At Sea

After breakfast, we sat around the pool area until lunchtime and relaxed. After lunch, we went to the port talk about Miami, and it was very nice. After that, we went back to the cabin and relaxed until dinner. After dinner at the buffet, we went to the show, Circus Story featuring the international dancers and singers. The show was the best one we’ve seen! The costumes and the acts were wonderful. I’m so glad we went to see it.

Day 24: 11/20/23 Miami

Click here for pictures of Miami.

Since we planned on staying on the ship, we had to meet in the dining room on deck 6 in order to go through customs. They took us off the ship around 10:20 and we got back on the ship by 11. Even though we had our passports, we never had to show them to anyone. After lunch, we sat out by the pool and had some beers. We were really surprised when they said they were out of Miller Lite by 2:30 in the afternoon! We ended up going to another bar on Deck 5 and was able to get some Miller Lite. The ship is full and it has been crazy all day. The bars are so busy, and the crew is working hard. We went to the dining room for dinner, and I had a NY strip which was wonderful! It was the best meal I’ve had on the ship. After dinner, we had a cappuccino before going to the show. The show, Legends of Rock, featured the singers and the dancers. It was a great show!

Day 25: 11/21/23 Nassau

Click here for pictures of our day in Nassau.

We didn’t get off the ship and after breakfast, we just relaxed on the pool deck. For lunch, we ate at the Oriental Plaza restaurant and we each had the “Asian Dining Experience” ($34), complimentary for Diamond members. When we got back to our cabin, I was surprised to see a note that they changed our dining assignment as requested from our assigned table with a great server to My Choice Dining. When I called to tell them that we didn’t request a change, the man at guest services kept telling me that this was a better choice because we could go to early seating. I kept trying to tell him that we had been assigned to early seating like we wanted but I finally gave up since we were only here for 2 more days. We relaxed in the cabin until it was time to go to dinner. After dinner, we stopped and had some cappuccinos before going to the show. The show featured the comedian, Matt Wright. Before the show, the Captain presented his senior officers and heads of departments.

Day 26: 11/22/23 Ocean Cay

Click here for pictures of Ocean Cay

We arrived in Ocean Cay (MSC’s Private Island) and got off the ship around 9:15. We got our favorite spot at the beach near a big sea grape tree with lots of shade. Then we got in the water which was a little cold at first but once you got used to it, it was comfortable. We met a family from Delaware (dad was from Panama and mom was from Peru). We finally got out and sat in the shade drinking Miller Lites. Sam (born in Lebanon; and from Montreal, Canada) sat near us and we visited all day. He has been on the ship as long as we have. Around lunchtime, I stopped at the food truck and got us some French fries. They were good but the ketchup gave Don heartburn so he stayed away from the ketchup. I went in the water one more time but then just stayed in the shade in all day. Around 3pm, the wind picked up and the water got a little rougher so by 3:30, we headed back to the ship. After cleaning up, we had some cappuccino before dinner. After dinner, we went back to the cabin. We were so tired that I told the housekeeper that she didn’t need to clean our room for the evening because we were going to bed early.

Day 27: 11/23/23 At Sea – Happy Thanksgiving!

After breakfast, we sat on the deck and watched the activities around the pool. Before lunch we got cappuccinos. After lunch, we went to the shops and bought a magnet. Then we went back to the cabin and packed our suitcases. Veronica, our housekeeper, had to go get our luggage tags. After packing we watched Lassie, National Velvet, and Chitty Bang Bang. During National Velvet, they announced that there was a medical emergency. A helicopter evacuation was going to take place and all open decks would be closed. Those with balcony cabins had to keep their doors closed and stay inside. After dinner, we went back to the cabin to watch TV until bedtime/

Day 28: 11/24/23 Miami

We had to meet in the theater at 8:10 (Diamond members) but we didn't get off the ship until around 8:45. Going through customs was easy because they were using facial recognition. When we walked outside, I texted Bob and he was in the parking lot right across the street. There was a fatal accident on I-95 and traffic was a nightmare. We stopped around 10:30 to eat at Bass Pro Shop. 

Things I’ve Learned

  • I don’t like 4-day cruises. The guests act too crazy. Maybe because it is cheaper and attracts a younger crowd and I’m getting too old for that.
  • I’m not a big fan of sushi.
  • The hotel director is over 85% of the ship’s crew!
  • A month on a cruise ship is long enough for me. I don’t know how the officers and crew can stand a contract that lasts for 6-10 months!
  • If you wear a thong bathing suit, you need to work on making your butt cheeks tight before wearing one. It doesn’t matter what size you are.

Click here for the write ups for:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

MSC Magnifica Week 3

Click here for pictures of our days on the ship. 

Day 15: 11/11/23 At Sea


After breakfast, Don walked, and I relaxed on the deck and read a book. After that, we relaxed in our cabin until lunch. At 2pm, the retired guy from NASA spoke again and the room was full. He was really interesting and talked about the Shuttle Columbia and other things that have gone wrong.  After that, we had a few drinks until dinner time. We had dinner in the dining room, so we didn’t go to the show. The show starts at 9:15 so we went back to the cabin for the night.


Day 16: 11/12/23 At Sea


After breakfast, Don walked again, and I relaxed and read on the deck. At 11, we went to a talk about Columbus, Vespucci and other explorers. After lunch, we had another NASA talk where he talked about the Shuttle Challenger and other things. He showed us a model of the “O-ring” that he had made. Then we relaxed in the cabin until it was time to go to the Diamond Party. I got pictures with some of the officers, and it was a nice party. We ate at the buffet so we could go to the early show featuring the singers and dancers performing an Elvis show. They were very good and we enjoyed the show.


Day 17: 11/13/23 At Sea


We had another lovely day at sea. After breakfast, Don walked, and I sat on the deck reading. While he was walking, he saw a small sailboat out in the ocean. After that, we had some cappuccinos and met a guy, also named Don from Idaho, and enjoyed our conversation until lunchtime. In the afternoon we went to a talk about San Juan. After that we relaxed in our cabin. While we were watching the Whitney Houston movie (again), it suddenly switched to the Discovery Channel. I think we got in range of a TV signal. We also noticed that we got the Travel Channel too. Then we had pre-dinner drinks. After dinner, we went to the show featuring Yuri and Nato again. It was very entertaining. We stopped for some cappuccinos after the show and returned to our cabin. Before going to sleep, we watched some of the Discovery Channel. It was a nice change from seeing those same movies over and over again.


Day 18: 11/14/23 At Sea


This was our last day at sea crossing the Atlantic Ocean. We relaxed and read on the deck. At 11, we went to a fun Italian lesson. After lunch, we relaxed in our cabin until it was dinner time. Every day, we get gifts sent to our cabin. Today we got another bottle of Prosecco and a fruit basket. We now have 3 bottles in the fridge that we need to drink. While in the cabin, we watched some old movies. One was Follow the Boys with Connie Frances and Paula Prentiss. Another starred Jane Powell and Gordon MacCrae. I started watching one with Frank Sinatra but it was time to get our predinner cocktails before dinner. Don said that he was ready to get home now but he may change his mind once we are going to some ports every day.


Day 19: 11/15/23 St. Maarten


Click here for pictures of St. Maarten.


We got off the ship at 8:30 and walked into town (about 1 mile).  There were 5 ships in port and there were heavy crowds on the beach, so we decided to skip the beach. They were asking $25 for 2 chairs, an umbrella, and a bucket of 5 beers which was a reasonable price, but we knew it was just too hot for me and we wouldn’t be there long enough to enjoy that. So, we found the post office on Pond Island and the clerk there was so helpful. She ended up showing Don all these sheets of stamps that he bought for around $76. We stopped at a supermarket and bought 2 sodas for $2.50. Then we went to Caribbean Blue to say Hi to Suzette. I was so hot and tired that I forgot to take a picture of her! After that, we returned to the ship around noon.  When we got to our cabin, we had a plate of bonbons waiting for us. After lunch, we napped and watched old 1940s movies on TV (TCM channel). Then we had pre-dinner drinks. While eating dinner, we watched the Viking Sea ship leave and people on their balconies were waving their phone flashlights goodbye to us. I thought that was pretty cool. After dinner, we had a cappuccino before bedtime.


Day 20: 11/16/23 Tortola


Click here for pictures of Tortola


We got off the ship around 8:15 and asked at the information counter where the post office was. She gave me a map and explained how to get there. It wasn’t far away at all. So, we went to the post office and the clerk there was very patient and helpful. Don ended up buying around $50 worth of Tortola stamps. Then we walked to Pusser’s store, but they don’t sell hats anymore. We walked around town until 11am and then returned to the ship. When we got to our cabin there was another gift of canapes (caviar, salmon, and prosciutto). We had trouble finding Amstel Light or Dos Equis beer at the bars. They said they were low on supplies. After lunch, we returned to our cabin to relax until dinner. After dinner, we went to the show featuring Magician Juan Alvarez.


Day 21: 11/17/23 San Juan, Puerto Rico


Click here for pictures of San Juan.


We got into port at 8am but we had to do face-to-face customs. Our group C had to meet in the theater at 10am with our passports and key cards but they called us early.  Then they escort the group off the ship to customs. This whole process was well organized and went smoothly. We couldn’t return to the ship until after everyone had gone through customs and there was no one on the ship which was around noon. We walked around town and looked for some thrift stores but didn’t find any. When we got hot and thirsty, we stopped at our favorite fast food place, El Meson, and got mallorcas with cheese. I was able to order them using my Spanish and was thrilled when they understood me. After that, we walked around some more before ending up at CVS to buy some snacks to take back to the ship. Don had a stomach ache so we returned to the ship around 1pm. We had lunch and returned to the cabin so Don could rest. New treats arrived at our cabin again from the hotel director! Before dinner, we had a couple of drinks and ate dinner at the buffet. San Juan was pretty at night.


Things I’ve Learned:

  • They played the same 6 movies in different languages every day.
  • Check out both sides of the buffet because there may be different foods on each side.
  • I like the Holland America ships that have movies on Demand in the cabin so you can stop and start them back as needed.
  • Walking around the ship is good exercise (especially if you don’t use the elevator).
  • Old movies are still fun to watch.
  • You need to know how to tell military time on a ship.
  • I need to carry 2 bottles of water when walking in the heat.

Click here for the write-ups for

Week 1

Week 2

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

MSC Magnifica Week 2

Click here for pictures of our days on the ship.

Day 8: 11/4/23 Malaga, Spain


Click here for pictures of Malaga.


We started out having breakfast in the dining room which was excellent.  We will probably do this more often. At 9:30, I went to the arts and crafts session where we made dream catchers. It was more fun than the previous activities. We arrived in Malaga at noon and decided to have lunch before we got off the ship. When we got back to our cabin, there was another bottle of champagne and a basket of fruit waiting for us but no note telling us who it was from. We got on the shuttle to town around 12:30. Since we arrived a day early, there were 2 ships docked in the usual spaces so we had to take a shuttle into town which took 25 minutes. The shuttle let us off in the City Center and we walked to the Central Market. It was very crowded but such a wonderful place full of different meats, fish, and vegetables. There were places to eat inside and outside as well as locals buying food. After that, we walked around the historic town and enjoyed looking at the architecture and shops. We saw the cathedral that only had one tower because the second one never got finished. Next, we walked to the Roman amphitheater which was near the Alcazaba (the fortress). We walked around the fortress, and I took plenty of pictures. Around 3:30, we headed back to the shuttle and went back to the ship. We relaxed in the Le Gocce bar until it was dinner time. While we were there, we heard a man telling the bar staff that he got pickpocketed and lost his phone, passport and 25 euros. We are enjoying the dinner in the dining room every night and the service is excellent. After dinner, we had our cappuccinos before heading back to our cabin for the evening.


Day 9: 11/5/23 Malaga, Spain


We had breakfast in the dining room again and then decided to walk into town. We left around 8:30 and got back around 1:30. We decided to pay for the tickets to get into Alcazaba and the Castillo de Gibralfaro. We walked around Alcazaba (the fortress) which involved a lot of stairs. Then we had to go back down to street level in order to climb up the mountain to the castle. It was extremely steep and involved lots of stairs and switchbacks. On the way back to the ship, we walked to the beach and was surprised to see people in bathing suits (because we were a little chilly and wearing long pants!). We had lunch and then had a couple of drinks in the bar. After that, we took a nap in the cabin before dinner. We had dinner at the buffet and then went to the show which involved Celtic dancing (The Emerald Isle Show). The show was very good and we enjoyed it! After the show, we had our evening cappuccino and then went to bed.


Day 10: 11/6/23 At Sea


We went to the dining room at 7:30 but by 8am, no one had come to take our order, so we left and went up to the buffet to eat breakfast. After breakfast, we went to our favorite bar for cappuccinos. At 11am, there was a talk about the next 2 ports we would be visiting: Tenerife and Funchal. By then it was lunch time. After lunch, we relaxed in our cabin, reading and eating the treats that had been sent to our cabin. At 6:30, we had dinner in the dining room. My ossobuco was very good! Then we stopped at the bar for a drink. We met one of our Facebook group friends, Mark, who recognized me from my knitting. Then more of the Facebook group, who was waiting for their dinner to start, stopped by. It was fun meeting them! We had a nice restful day.


Day 11: 11/7/23 Tenerife, Canary Islands

Click here for pictures of Tenerife.


We got off the ship around 10am and it felt like a long walk into town. First, we went to the Farmer’s market and I was able to buy a bracelet there for 3 euros made of Canary Island volcano rock. Then we walked around the town. It was mostly a shopping area. We found the post office but there were long lines so we left. It was a pretty city but felt like a resort town. Around 1 pm, we returned to the ship for lunch. After lunch we took a nap before dinner. As usual we had dinner and a cappuccino before bedtime.


Day 12: 11/8/23 Funchal, Portugal


Click here for pictures of Funchal.


We got off the ship at 8am and it was a long walk out of the port and into town. The first place we went was to the Farmer’s Market and it was nice there. We tried some macadamian nuts (very salty) and some ananas bananas fruit (looked like corn kernels that tasted like pineapple). We saw eels in the fish market. We found 3 magnets for 1.50 euros each at one of the vendors who was so friendly. After we left the market, we found 2 yarn shops, so I had to buy yarn, of course. Then we found the post office and saw their collectible stamps. This lady helped us for 30 minutes choosing the stamp sets Don wanted but when we went to pay for it all (160 euros), but she refused to take a US credit card and only wanted cash. She saw me holding the credit card the whole time she was helping us! Her colleague asked her in Spanish why she wouldn’t take our credit card and all she would say was US so I think she didn’t like us once she found out that we were from the US. We ended up leaving without buying any stamps. Then we walked around town some more before stopping at McDonalds. Don likes to get a happy meal in every foreign country we go to. Then we climbed a lot of stairs and walked up to a park which had beautiful overlooks and flowers. We returned to the ship around 2pm and some drinks to rest and relax. As we were getting ready for dinner, our toilet overflowed again! I called 3 times to let them know that we had a waterfall and water was accumulating. Finally, we left and got some dinner but returned in 30 minutes to see that someone was finally working on the problem. So, we went to the bar for a cappuccino and Bloody Mary before going back to our cabin. We talked with Mary Ann from Boston while we were there. Before going to bed, I had to turn our clocks back 1 hour.


Day 13: 11/9/23 At Sea


We had a lovely day at sea today. After breakfast, I sat on the balcony and read while Don walked around the deck. It was warm enough for me to wear shorts during the day. Before lunch, another bottle of Prosecco and a basket of fruit was delivered to our cabin.  After lumch we went to a presentation put on by one of our Facebook group friends about NASA which was really interesting. After that, we returned to the room to enjoy a bottle of Prosecco. We relaxed until dinner and we ate at the buffet because I wanted to go to the 7:15 show featuring the acrobatic talents of Yuri and Nato. They were amazing and I’m so glad we went to see their performance. After the show, we finished the evening with a cup of cappuccino.


Day 14: 11/10/23 At Sea


It was a beautiful day at sea! I went to the arts & crafts session where we made bracelets from embroidery thread. It was chaotic because a lot of people showed up and I’m not sure the girl who is the “instructor” knew how to make them. She showed the video which wasn’t very clear. Then we went to meet our friend, Guglielmo Gargiulo, who is the Hotel Director on the ship. We saw his wonderful office and visited about 40 minutes. Then after lunch, I sat by the pool while Don went on his exercise walk. Then we relaxed in the cabin until dinner. After dinner, we had our cappuccino before returning to our cabin.


Things I’ve Learned:

  • I need to bring more paperback books for the sea days.
  • I need to bring notecards so I can write thank you notes.
  • It’s good to download maps on your phone in case you need it in town.
  • Protect yourself from pickpockets.
  • Ask vendors if they take US credit cards before buying anything.
  • Find a bar that you like and get to know the bar staff.

Click here for the write-ups for

Week 1

Original photo by Pat Hensley