Friday, April 29, 2022

Evening Entertainment on the Virtual Cruise

The clock is ticking and I needed to to plan our evening activities on my virtual cruise on the Queen Mary 2 to England! Sunday night we will be settling in and Monday night is our Red and Gold Gala. I don't own red clothes, but my table will shine! Last night I hand washed and dried some of my grandmother's wedding crystal! 

In searching for other evening activities, I have a list of cruise movies. This is my list and my choices! When I googled the titles, there is a drop down that shows where you can view different titles.  Most are available for a small cost, some are free, on various services such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube or HBO Max. There may even be some titles on your local cable service.  My list of titles new to me, along with old favorites is: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Out to Sea, Like Father, Romance on the High Sea (1948), Shall We Dance?, Royal Wedding, Bon Voyage, Table for Five, and High Seas. 

For my crew, I am recommending Alvin and the Chipmunks- Chip Wrecked and The Parent Trap remake.  Here are some of my crew members on this sunny morning waiting for their school bus. 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Afternoon Tea

Today I finally made it to the grocery store! I am purchasing from my list for the lovely dinners I have planned for my imaginary cruise with author Susan Branch on the Queen Mary 2! (Susan is actually traveling with her husband and about 100 Girlfriends on the real life Queen Mary 2 from New York to Southampton). 

The QM2 offers a traditional and elegant afternoon tea each afternoon from 3:30 to 4:30 where waiters in white gloves serve tea sandwiches, scones and lovely desserts in the Queens Room as part of your ticket price. We definitely don't want to leave out this very special experience from our cruise! 

I have found some great inexpensive trays at Dollar Tree and plan to make a variety of fillings for our crust less sandwiches. With time slipping away from me I will be purchasing scones and pastries. I did score a box of frozen Macaroons at Aldi. 

Me and my little captains will be moving tea time to 11:30 a.m. and enjoying our repast during episodes of Paw Patrol. 

I did discover that Kroger sells trays of tea sandwiches (order 24 hours in advance). However the nearest Kroger is two towns away and that store is not large enough to offer this service.  The Kroger nearest to my daughter's house which is one hour and 45 minutes one way does offer them, but I think it will be easier to just make the sandwiches myself! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Shipboard Activities

I am gathering items to keep busy aboard my imaginary ship as I pretend to cruise on the Queen Mary 2 to England! I do wish I had started sooner but gosh knows how much more I might have spent if I did! 

I decided I needed a jigsaw puzzle. The one in my head was, of course, the actual Queen Mary 2. And to make it even more interesting, I was hoping that it was a cross section of the ship, sort of like peeking in a dollhouse! We would see the chefs in the kitchen, the lovely lounges and dining rooms, the decks and outdoor areas, the service areas with women getting hair styles and men doing whatever they do. And peeking inside the staterooms with all kinds of vignettes. 

This puzzle does not exist. But wouldn't it have been great? Does anyone know a puzzle maker? Well, too late now. I looked over several with an "English" theme since there was nothing in the "Cruise Ship" theme.  This is what I finally ended up with. 

*UPDATE* - later tonight I just happened to search cruise ship puzzles on Amazon and I think I might have found a puzzle similar to what I was looking for. But it is too late. I am sticking with what I got. Darn. 

I have to be honest about this book I found on Ebay. I plan to read the recipes and look at the lovely photos while i am sipping tea. 

I love "cozy" mysteries and I need to check, I might even have more coming from Ebay. I have never read any of the tv-based Jessica Fletcher books, so I will let you know how it goes. The middle book is more espionage so I will save it for last. I do have a couple other titles by Laura Levine and they are really cute and funny. I am looking forward to this one. 

I have been sick since last Friday with a stomach thing my grandkids were passing around. I finally feel better today, but I am so fair behind on decorating and everything else I planned. I did think I might try to go to the grocery store tomorrow; I was a little dizzy today since I hadn't eaten in a few days and most people will tell you I am dizzy already. But Mr. Merry has it now and also seems to be working on a monster cold. It making me a little nervous. None of the kids has had any respiratory symptoms and he has not left the house or been around anyone in weeks. So I might wait another day, we will see. I think I have enough bread and milk to squeeze out one more day.  

And I haven't made my elaborate grocery list yet either. I don't want to wait until the last minute since SS checks start depositing on Friday. I live in a town small enough that this does cause a rush at the grocery store. My original plan was to do basic shopping this past Sunday and make a run on Thursday to get any special items. I think my theme this week is the more forward the week goes, the more behinder I get.  

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Decorating for the Cruise

The joy of being able to help care for your grandchildren is that you are able to share so many things.  This included germs. Now that the older ones have returned to elementary school, we are bring back all the old pre-covid favorites. This past week we have been sharing a stomach virus.  Since Friday, when our snow turned to sunshine and up to 80 degrees - the victim was me. 

This has slowed preparations for the virtual cruise from my living room. 

We did received a few shipments from Amazon and Oriental Trading. 

And here is a banner my third grade grandson is working on for me. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

My Favorite Part is the Food

I am continuing my whirlwind planning for my virtual cruise on the QM2 from my living room (and dining room and kitchen).  

One of the things I was most looking forward to on my cruise was the food! Of course my first choice would have been to have catered meals, but that is not possible in my small town. Even picking up a nice meal at a restaurant means driving out of town and reheating when I get home. 

I visited several blogs, some cruise sites and even ordered a QE2 recipe book from eBay. I took into account what I had in my freezer, what I thought I could find at my grocery, what I thought I could cook and what I might even be able to find in the frozen food section. And, looking at my menus after I was finished, it looks like I took my tart pan into consideration. I see the word "tart" a lot.  

Here are my dinner plans for the week. I am planning to dress for each dinner, including the galas! I am not sure I have convinced my husband to honor the dress code yet. 

May 1, Sunday: Bon Voyage Dinner

Shrimp Cocktail Shooters

Steak Au Poivre

Chateau Potatoes

Steamed Spinach


Chocolate Gateau

 May 2, Monday: Red and Gold Dinner

Lobster Bisque

Cannelloni of Crab and Asparagus

Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Quinoa

Red Raspberry Tart

 May 3, Tuesday

Spinach and Gruyere Tartlet

Chicken Breast Francese

Creamed Potatoes

Grilled Gourgettes

Warm Chocolate Cake with French  

    Vanilla Ice Cream

 May 4, Wednesday

Wedge Salad with Bacon and Cheese

Mustard Crested Loin of Pork

Boulangere Potatoes

Wilted Spinach

Roasted Pear with Cream


May 5, Thursday

Mushroom Tarts

Chicken Marsala

Long Grain Wild Rice

      with Roasted Vegetables

Apple Crumble

 May 6, Friday: Roaring 20’s Dinner

Capone Caprese Skewers

Prohibition Meatballs

Sidecar Spaghetti with

     Bootlegger Basil Tomato Sauce

Bees Knees Bruschetta

Fizzy Flapper Cosmopolitans

Great Gatsby Granita

May 7, Saturday

Tuna Tartlets with Lime and Cilantro

Berry Glazed Pork Chops

Pureed Potatoes with Parsley

Grilled Corn with Pimento Butter`

Champagne Mousse

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

All Aboard

Here I go again, off on another tangent. Easter decorations still up, daily daycare of toddlers, closet storage project on hold and a light bulb went off in my head. 

Let's go back in time, maybe to February 2020. My best friend from high school and I signed up to travel on the senior bus for a vacation in New York City in the fall. It was a dream for both of us and she actually had a previous opportunity when she was asked to help chaperone a bus of teenagers from her local high school. But her husband became ill and she could not go. We loved that they had organized all kinds of activities, restaurants and we could even order tickets ahead to an optional side trip to see Hamilton on Broadway! 

Then let's travel back to March 2020. The first Friday when I slipped in my kitchen and smashed my arm. As I lay in trauma I swear to you I was thinking about how long this would take to heal and how I had to be able to go to New York City! 

By the time the smoke cleared and I was immobilized in my recliner, the powers that be had shut down the world. I didn't mind. By the time I was able to shower and comb my own hair, this funny virus would disappear and my job would be to work on being able to dress myself by fall. My husband tried to slow my roll, he was very concerned (he is such a sweet guy) if I would be able to do all this and also very nervous because he wasn't on massive pain medication and could follow the news. Meanwhile, once I ran out of pain pills and my vision cleared. I began online clothes shopping for my trip! 

As you know, New York City got pretty scary. Our trip was completely cancelled. The travel companies were not sure when and if anyone could travel. I could finally raise my arm up to shampoo my own hair, but it took longer than I thought possible to be able to accomplish the impossible - being able to fasten and unfasten my bra all by myself! 

Then the vaccines! I actually sent an email to the senior center in January 2021 to make sure they knew I was still interested in the trip, even though their offices had not yet reopened. 

Then on April 9, 2021, my favorite author and blogger and total girlfriend, the fabulous Susan Branch announced that she was booking a cruise to England in 2022 on the Queen Mary 2! After all, we would all be vaccinated and this stinky old virus would be a distant memory. And she was inviting all her girl friends to be a part of it! I was ecstatic!  

My enthusiasm flagged when my dear sweet husband started on about what a horrible plan this was and how dangerous it would be and did I remember that he refuses to ever step foot on a boat? No problems, I would call my girlfriend. Unfortunately her first words were "are you seriously considering this?".  Due to a mixture of health concerns, pandemic  concerns, financial concerns, work and job concerns, I am sure there were more concerns, I was unable to find someone to go with me. And as much as I think I am such a free spirit, after my fall I have become very intrepid about traveling alone, much less across an entire ocean! 

I gave up the dream (boo hoo). Spent all my trip money and more on a new car (a story unto itself; if you are not leaving your house, why are you buying a new car?), but I still subscribed to the trip page, still monitored every price increase and decrease, looked up and studied every travel restriction, read every passenger review when travel began. I followed Susan's blogs on trip planning, followed other's comments on cancelling and rebooking. I kept thinking maybe, just maybe, there would be a way I could come up with a plan to join them. 

The clock is running down. The ship sails on May 1, 2022. 

I came up with a plan! I am going to sail with them virtually. I did what I do best, online shopping. I have decorations, buntings, books and accessories on their way to decorate my living room. Some arrived today! It looks like one of the best parts of the cruise is the food so I have been stalking travel blogs and have been recreating menus and recipes from the QM2. I am planning the virtual activities while on board the ship and I started laying in supplies in the ship's kitchen. I have ordered cozy mystery books with cruise themes, a jigsaw puzzle of a London street scene and scouted some movies and PBS shows to watch in the evenings. 

I mentioned this on the cruise page and it turns out there are Susan Branch girlfriends as crazy as me! We are going to post our virtual adventures along with the lucky girlfriends traveling in person. One girlfriend already has her office cubicle decorated for the trip! (I am really behind on this!). 

Today's find - dishes from Dollar Tree that almost match the china on the Queen Mary 2!  Dollar Tree china on the left, photo from Cunard showing a dish on the QM2 on the right. 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Disappearing Act

Just posting to let you know I am still here. 

Been a little busy around here in the gramma daycare business with an ill in-law grandparent so we have been having double trouble in the little boy department. Potty training is still an abysmal failure despite hours spent cajoling little boys in the bathroom. 

Every school system my school aged grandchildren attend has celebrated a spring break a different week so that I can stay on my toes planning day long activities for them. 

My husband's eighty year old aunt and her oldest daughter stopped by for a visit while traveling through our state, resulting in a massive cleaning and cooking marathon. (and packing my sorting project away yet again). His aunt had a pretty serious health crisis a few years ago and stopped by the Cleveland Clinic cardiology department for a check up that seemed to go well. 

My niece from Mississippi and my adorable great niece had a free weekend and a deal on plane tickets so more massive cleaning and clearing so we could host house guests for a few days. A few prayers for a pretty dramatic health issue here are needed, too. She was part of a trial at The Ohio State University a few weeks ago. She and her husband flew up but had to be in seclusion before and after the procedure. 

All this cleaning and cooking (Mr Merry still does not feel comfortable in restaurants) has exhausted me as evidenced in my two hour nap while sitting in a chair this afternoon. 

Since we include all my children, bonus children and grandchildren in these visits, I cook up a storm. The good news (for me) is that we can now feast on leftovers for days. 

Miss Merry