A dolphin cruise in Destin, Florida

I’ve been sitting on this Groupon for a dolphin cruise in Destin for months now, and finally found occasion to use it. That occasion was it expiring.

So I booked a Saturday dolphin cruise for the kids and me. We went with Olin Marler on the Hannah Marie. There are A TON of fishing charters and tour operators out of Destin. If one were to research and weigh them all, it might be a difficult decision. Not with a Groupon price of $13/adults and $7/kids!

One thing I did like about Olin Marler (besides great Trip Advisor reviews): If you don’t see any dolphins, you can go again the next day FOR FREE.

Dolphin cruise in Destin, FL on Olin Marler Hannah Marie

The kids were all excited on the dock before our dolphin cruise. (The bird is real.)

Pelican in Destin harbor

We watched pelicans try to steal the catch from a returning fishing charter.

As soon as we stepped on the boat Nicholas said, “I don’t want to go.” Just like rollerskating, and so many other things, he changed his mind once we got underway.

I was a little worried about wrangling two kids on a boat. Their version of “knowing how to swim” is, to you and me, a lot like drowning. It is drowning. I considered putting lifejackets on them, but this was a dolphin cruise, not a speedboat. Odds were they wouldn’t fall out.

We drove (boated?) around for quite a while. I was beginning to think we’d be using their “go again the next day free” policy. Then…DOLPHINS!
Dolphins in Destin, FL

Dolphin cruise in Destin, FL

We saw a mother and calf, and a pod swam right up to our boat and out and back again. They did this continuously until it was time for us leave.

This is why they call it Florida's Emerald Coast. Look at that water. No photoshop, no color correction. It's really that green! --On a dolphin cruise in Destin, FL

This is why they call it Florida’s Emerald Coast.
Look at that water. No photoshop, no color correction. It’s really that green!

We had a great time. I’d recommend a dolphin cruise to anyone coming to Destin for vacation. We’d absolutely go again (and might). Nicholas said it was “the best day ever.” And it was…until he went with his class to the zoo and that became the “best day ever.”

Here’s another pelican just because. Up close, they are both kind of gross and kind of beautiful. Scroll thru the photos below—at the end there are some blurry snaps of pelicans diving for scraps off the docks.

And here’s a seagull. They are just annoying. But I think the light in this photo is nice.

A pelican in Destin, FL -- http://www.blahbloblog.com/

M O R E   P H O T O S
From Dolphin Cruising in Destin, Florida. Shot in Destin, Florida

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    Hunahpu’s Day: Our first (and last) American beer fest

    Ah, Hunahpu’s Day. What can I say, except maybe: Good riddance?

    This was our first American beer fest since coming back to the states. And probably the last.

    Now I don’t want to get all “everything is better in Europe” on you. But I will. Because it is.

    Hunahpu’s Day was to be a brilliant mix of beer release and beer festival. Spend a sunny day with 3499 of your closest friends sampling delicious variants of the imperial stout and 200+ other craft beers at Cigar City Brewery. Chillax. There will be no crowds, no long lines and your ticket guarantees you will be able to purchase 3 bottles of the Hunahpu’s beer released that day.

    In reality, it was the exact opposite. Hunahpu’s Day was a complete disaster.

    The lines at Cigar City's Hunahpu's Day stretched all the way around the block

    The crazy line to get in Cigar City’s Hunahpu’s Day. The line stretched around the block. This is ahead of us, standing on the opposite corner, opposite side of the block from the brewery

    long lines at Cigar City's Hunahpu's Day stretched around the block

    And the long line behind us

    If you read the Internets, the degree to which Hunahpu’s Day failed varies from Code Red “I hate you Cigar City! DIE! DIE! DIE!” to “What are you guys talking about? I had the best time ever!” My five year old says a lot of things are the best ever…until the next thing is the best thing ever. Some times 5 minutes later.

    So take this as it is—my opinion. Maybe you had a good time; I thought it sucked. One thing everyone who attended can agree on: It was a mess.

    In summary: Only 3500 tickets were sold. There were 5000, maybe 7000, maybe more people there. How many tickets were comped? Suspicious that they never ran out of wristbands or glasses. No need to line up early they said. “Be fashionably late.” We were a fashionable 45 minutes late and waited in line more than 1.5 hours. Just to get in.

    There were counterfeited tickets. But no one was scanning the ticket QR codes at the entry point. There was no line management, almost no security, seemingly little organization. And worst of all: NO BEER. Everything we wanted to try was out by the time we got in. Some of the volunteers serving couldn’t even tell you what they were serving. Remember, each ticket guaranteed you the opportunity to buy 3 bottles of the beer being released that day. Some people didn’t even get that. (We did.)

    Hunahpu’s Day was a colossal disaster. A classic case of bad idea, poorly executed.

    For the record, Cigar City did refund the purchase price of all tickets. They will brew another batch of Hunahpu’s for everyone who didn’t get their bottles. Spawning a whole new counterfeit-wristband trade, no doubt. They gave free pints at the brewery the day after. Now there’s a genius idea. (If you didn’t read that as sarcasm, try again.) And they admitted defeat. Instead of hiring someone who actually knows what they’re doing, they quit. They’re never going to do it again. There will be no more Hunahpu’s Day. Seems like the easy way out.

    Which brings me to the point. After drinking Stone’s godawful Punishment and some nail polish remover from Seventh Sun, I have to wonder: Is this what we’ve come to? Has it gotten to the point where brewers are going to bottle whatever nasty swill they want or serve obviously infected beer simply because they can—because someone will buy it. Has craft beer become so popular that these out-of-hand beer festivals are the new norm?

    If so, I don’t want a part of it. Take me back to Europe where I can get a hug from Jean Van Roy, a hamburger at La Trappe, a barrel-aged stout at Borefts and know that everything is right in the world.



      Peony love +
      A Dollar Store DIY wreath

      Peonies at the market in Amsterdam

      Peonies are one of my most favorite flowers.
      Just look at their big lollipop-ness. How could you not love that?

      Peonies at a florist in the Netherlands

      Peonies at a florist in Roermond, NL Peonies at the market in Amsterdam

      5 peonies for 3.50€. Or 15 for 10€ in Amsterdam

      Pretty peonies

      Peonies at the market in Amsterdam

      Now that we’re big grown-ups with a house, I got all excited about growing these. Planted 4 in our backyard. Then I read it could be 3 years until they flower. 3 YEARS!

      So in the meantime, I guess I’ll fake it with…

      A Dollar Store DIY Peony Wreath

      I happened across some silk peonies at Dollar Tree, while the kids were spending some Christmas money (aka piling a basket full of dollar bags of candy). Shockingly nice flowers. And 6 flowers on each bunch. Not bad for a buck!

      I decided to get some to make a wreath for our ugly, Bandaid-beige, yet-to-be-painted front door. Now, I like my crafts like I like my recipes: With least amount of steps, the least number of ingredients and the least chance of screwing it up. Because if it seems overly complicated, I’m not even going to try.

      This was probably the easiest and best looking wreath I’ve ever made. Nothing like that stupid Christmas ornament one. Seriously, it took me longer to write this post than make the thing.

      DIY peony wreath with Dollar Store flowers

      DIY wreath supplies: Bunches of Dollar Store flowers + a wire frame, scissors and (unnecessary) pliers

      So here’s how to do it:

      1. Cut apart the stems
      2. Wrap around a wire frame (I already had one)
      3. Repeat
      4. Hang
      5. Pour yourself a drink because, whew!, that was hard work.

      I ended up using 12 bunches (72 flowers) for a 14-inch wreath. I could have used more—the dark pink ones aren’t packed in that tight—but I cleaned out my Dollar Tree.

      Bam. $12 well spent.
      Cheap and easy. Just like me. haha

      Dollar Store DIY wreath with silk peonies -- for only $12!

      $12 Dollar Store DIY wreath. How cute would this be shaped like a heart for Valentine’s Day?  


        Color inspiration: The Louvre

        color palette from a bed in the Louvre's historical collection

        I’m happy about a couple things this week. One: my new job! Going well thus far. Thank you very much for asking.

        And Two: I feel I’m finally starting to make headway on getting our house pulled together. I’ve moved furniture, moved sod, prepped for the garden in back, planted some stuff in the front, assembled a standing pot rack, assembled supervised a kitchen cart assembly, reorganized some of the cabinets, cleared and organized the pantry (you can walk in our walk-in pantry now!), made a wreath for the front door, folded almost all of the Mt. Laundry Everest…

        It’s still a crazy disorganized mess, but getting there. A lot faster now that I have a job to go to. I don’t have the luxury of being lazy anymore.

        And I’m starting to make some decisions! Carrara marble for the backsplash, red for the front door (this was actually Matt’s idea; he doesn’t know my version of red is more like tomato red or raspberry, not a true red), I think chocolate brown in the guest bathroom and maybe blue in the master bedroom.

        I’m not 100% on a blue bedroom, but how awesome is this picture? This bed is part of the historical collection at the Louvre. I couldn’t tell you anything more about it.

        Almost makes me think I could pull off a gold bed. I know I can’t. If I tried, it would be the bed I die in. Someone would stab me in my sleep for buying an ugly-ass gold bed.

        Here’s the full image.