mothers day

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

kitchen cabinets

I want to replace my Formica countertops with granite. I was told a year ago that it would be about $1000 to do all of it.  I want to replace my Formica countertops with granite.   I was told a year ago that it would be about for me.
I do want granite – I am not sure right now what colors – I think I would rather have something like river white or a lighter color although I won’t rule out black altogether.  I have light toned cabinets and I am planning on redoing my floors in wood so I could handle a dark counter top if I choose a light wood. 
Anyway - My kitchen area is somewhat small – so you might be able to give me a better price on a ‘leftover’ piece of granite.  The main counter runs a total of 10’10”.  This measurement includes the one inch thick backsplash---giving me a one inch overhang.  The counter is 25” deep except for the corner area which is a total of 38” deep.  On the other side of the stove there is a small area that is 25” deep and only 15” wide.
I have attached pictures of the countertops.  I would also like to replace my sink with either a good quality stainless steel or good quality porcelain (not the fake stuff) in off white with one large and one small sink.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Colon, Panama
February 14 2013

Because they don't have the new canal finished our cruise ship was too big to be able to transverse the canal.  Our Cruise left the port at Fort Lauderdale and returned to the same port.  We were on the Atlantic Ocean for  the full cruise.  

However, the morning of Valentines Day we were up and off the ship at 7am (yes...for you doubters, I did get up in time to shower, dress, get my makeup and hair fixed, have a full Breakfast and then head down to exit the ship by 7 am (That's FIVE AM to you Utahns!!!)

They loaded us on busses (I think there were 14 busloads of people heading out to go through the Panama canal from our ship that morning!)  and off we went to the opposite side of Panama - the Pacific Ocean!!!!

We learned an awfully lot about Panama on the hour long drive across country - especially about how much Panama received from the United States when we turned our whole system over to Panama itself.  We offloaded at a beautiful little boat dock area with lots and lots of sailboats moored and got onto some large ferries.

This is one street downtown Colon.

They drove us to a pretty little bay where they loaded us up on some ferry boats.  It was amazing how many little 'islands' were created with the dirt dug out of the canal area.  Some 283 million tons!!
This is the pilot that they brought out to our ferry to pilot us through the canal.  After waiting around for an hour we were so excited to see him clambor on board    Every  boat/ferry/ship that goes through the canal has to have an authorized panama canal pilot guide them through.
That's Panama City in the distance
One of several big bridges we went under.  The large equipment on the right is a large dredging machine to help keep the canal cleared out
After another hour or two we are finally heading up to the canal
Heading in!
To think this was FINISHED IN 1914!

Our ferries seem so small even though each one carried about 200 people!

tying us down (I guess in case the huge doors opened when the shouldn't and they don't want us being washed away!)
They tied two of the ferries next to each other -
Looking back at our side of the ferry.  Thank heavens we weren't up on top - eight hours of sun would have had us broiled!
There was so much extra room on our side and the ship on the other side filled the lock from stem to stern - it was a Greek Tanker that was built just FOR the canal - these ships have TWO feet clearance on each side of the ship!
We are almost to the top can see the tracks for the 'mules' that keep the huge ships centered so they don't hit the sides of the lock.  Each boat travels through the lock under its own power.
Heading into the second part of the first lock.  On the Pacific side of the canal there are two locks but the first one has two sections.  The two locks raise the ships up a total of 85 feet.  Sea Level is sea level - so the Atlantic and Pacific are at the same level.  However the tides in the Pacific Ocean are up to 20 feet higher.  The French started building the canal first and were trying to duplicate what they did in building the Suez Canal - just a BIG ditch.  In come the American's and their engineer's come up with the lock system!  Voila!
These cement walls are almost 110 years old.
another gorgeous bridge!
Huge cables holding it up
Following our Greek ship again
Heading into the second lock

They are building a new canal to the West of this larger ships can go through the locks.  I am so glad we went through this was fascinating!
watch tower over the locks
gates - it takes 1.8 minutes for these gates to totally close.  Once they are closed it only takes 8 minutes to raise or lower the level of the water so the gates can open again...12 minutes total!
Noriega's prison.  Didn't look real high security!     We also got to see a brief flash of the Panama Temple - I saw a flash of white and said "look Ed"....He took a FAST picture and lo and behold, when we opened the pictures up on our computer and zoomed in - you could just barely see the angel moroni on the top!
old cement walls!!!  After we went through the second lock we entered into a big lake - we were about half way through the whole canal...a good 8 hours after we got on the ferry.  they unloaded us at a small town on the canal.  It would have taken another 3-4 hours to go all the way through the canal and we got back to our ship about an hour after it was supposed to leave as it was.  It was a long long day but definitely worth it - check that one off of my bucket list!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Costa Rica

We arrived in Costa Rice on Wednesday February 13 - Ed and I had signed up for a Bus, Boat and Train Tour.  We had a little time so we wandered around a little outdoor market set up at the port and were really excited about the items for sale.  They were by and large all made in country - not the same old same old stuff out of China.  We wandered around for about an hour - it was hot and humid - got us a soft drink and then took our purchases back to the ship and ate a quick lunch on board and then we got on  a bus and headed out of Limon into the countryside.  Our tour guide spoke really good English and gave us lots of info about Costa Rica itself.  It sounds like the average monthly wage is about $850 plus health insurance and housing!!  They have to pay for the electricity and it sounds like that limits how much they spend on tv, computer etc.

on the bus heading to the banana plantation

 It was a Del Monte plantation and very very interesting.  Did you know that the banana tree is not a tree but a plant.  It takes about 9 months to grow a bunch of bananas - from 175 to 200 bananas in each bunch.  The put a blue plastic bag over each bunch to protect the bags, with pesticides to keep out bugs when they are just a little teensy bunch. 
 Once the plant grows the bunch of bananas it dies!!  However prior to that it sends up several shoots around the base so one of them is ready to take over and grow more bananas!
 You can see the bunches of bananas growing inside the blue bags.  They go around and put different color ribbons on the bunches to tell them easily when they are getting close to being ready to process
 If you look closely at this picture you can see a man PULLING about 200 bunches of bananas into the plant for processing.   The workers chop the bunches of mature bananas off the plant and place the bunch on a guyline - this guy has straps either around his waist or over his shoulders and he literally PULLS all these bananas into the plant.
 Here they are cutting the blue bags off of each bag and then cutting bunches off bananas of the bundles and put on a conveyor belt to take it into the open air plant
 Here ladies are sorting the bunches into 4 grades - 1 and 2 are shipped over seas, 3 is sold in country and the 4th grade is used for feed for pigs and such.  It was fascinating to see it all.  Later on in the day they fed us fresh pineapple, coconut, watermelon and banana, all cash crops for Costa Rica.  They told us that the majority of the pineapple goes to HAWAII!    We found out that fresh bananas have so much more flavor than store bought!!  Kind of like tomatoes out of our garden.
 After the tour of the plantation we got back in the bus and headed to a river where we got on a boat like the one you see here.  Then we spent about an hour and a half going up and down a river looking for all sorts of wildlife.

First thing we got to see was a Cayman!!  For those of you who know as much as we did, a Cayman is a small crocodile.  You can see him through the branches here.

Some of the birds we saw was a baby heron (did you know they are white for the first year), a snow egret, plus several others.

 We saw this cute lizard plus some green iguanas.
 Just pretty scenery along the river.
 This green lizard is a Jesus lizard- it walks along the water (really - we got to see it move)
 If you look closely at this tree in the center of the picture you will see seven little bats sticking to the tree - sleepy time.  We also got to see a sloth, and a several monkeys from the river.  Then we came back to shore and ate that nummy fresh fruit  and got back on the bus to head to the train for the third part of our tour.  We figured that the train ride would be really interesting and was sure that was a normal mode of travel in country.  HAH!
 Okay - I don't think this picture shows how much rust there was on the train, nor does it show how it was welded back together.  Evidently, this train company went out of business in the 70's and it sat and rusted and fell totally apart for 30 years until finally a tour company figured they could make some money offering a bus, boat and train tour.  So they literally welded the roof back on and a floor back in.  The covered the insides of the train with wood paneling and added plexiglass in the windows.
 You can see how lovely the windows were - who knows if they actually closed or not!!!  The wood was the original wood though!  :-)    The tracks were covered with grass - and the engine sounded like it was going to break down any minute but it moved!!  So again - we were off across the country through the jungles of Costa Rica.  All of a sudden the train stopped although they didn't shut down the engines...and they said "Can you hear that?".  There was a horrible LOUD roar, through the jungles.  I thought - Costa Rica doesn't have lions but that is exactly what it sounded like.  We thought what in the world and finally they pulled forward enough so that we could see the monkey making the noise....It was a male howler monkey - we could see the three female monkeys in another tree that he was trying to impress.  Howlers in the wild - fantastic!  We then traveled another couple miles and they stopped and let us watch about seven spider monkeys traveling through the tops of the trees.  So fun.  Several moving through the canopy of the jungles and then there was a mama and a baby monkey with the baby monkey playing all up and down the tree around mama.

This is the center of a cacoa nut - they make chocolate out of this !!  

We had a wonderful day - we got to see the big city of Limon, the jungles of Costa Rica, homes out in the country, lots of animals and birds and we got to eat fresh delicious fruits freshly picked.  We noticed that EVERY home large and small had iron bars on every window and even concertina wire on all the fences.  Interesting country - great day