Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Big New Thrills in the Lone Star State

Liberty of the Seas
Everything's bigger in Texas — including the newly reimagined Liberty of the Seas®, with bigger excitement for every adventurer. Bigger thrill rides, beginning with three new waterslides, including the first Tidal WaveSM at sea. Bigger splashes, with fun by the gallon in our bigger-than-ever aqua park, Splashaway Bay, complete with drench bucket and two slides of its own. Bigger views of breathtaking Caribbean shores in brand new Panoramic Ocean View staterooms. Bigger flavor, including Sabor Modern Mexican's Latin-inspired flavors, Giovanni's Table, serving Italian fare family style, and timeless cocktails at R Bar. Introducing the revamped Liberty of the Seas — this is going to be huge.
Experience the new Liberty of the Seas® for yourself.
Sailing from Galveston February 2016.

You can experience these new thrills on the following Cruise & Crop cruises...Click on the images for all the details!

Book online or by calling 1-800-645-1481

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Office Make Over

Have you ever gotten tired of looking at the same furniture?  Well, I did.  I purchased a very solid set of oak office furniture, but after looking at it for 22 years......I needed a change.  So, I thought I would go out and buy some new furniture, but could not find what I really needed.  Many of the new office pieces were particle board and not really as nice as what I already had.  So, I decided I would paint mine.  I spent countless hours watching DIY videos on YouTube, scoured Pinterest and went to every furniture store in our area for inspiration.  Finally, I had the nerve to tackle my project.  I had quite a bit of furniture, so I took a week's vacation and got busy.

Here's what my office looked like before and after.

Chalk Paint seemed to be the way to go.  Many of the chalk paint videos mention Annie Sloan Chalk paint, but it was not available in my area and I was too impatient to order it online.  I wanted to get started!  Lowes sold a Valspar Chalk Paint, so I tried that for my larger beige piece.  It came out a bit whiter than I anticipated, but with the dark wax, I achieved my desired results.   The beauty of Chalk Paint is that you don't have to sand or prime your piece.  I really was not interested in doing that!  You just start painting.  It is a thicker paint and a little pricey, but no mixing.  Just open the can and paint.  You can just use one coat if you want a really distressed look, but I wanted to fully cover the piece so I did a couple of coats.  Here we go!

The second method with Chalk Paint is to make your own.  I looked at a lot of recipes but ended up going with Plaster of Paris and latex paint.    My recipe for DIY Chalk Paint:

5 Tablespoons of Plaster of Paris
2 Tablespoons of water
Mix this together in a separate cup until you get a very smooth consistency.  Trust me....you don't want lumps.  The lumps end up being white specks in your paint. I just mixed mine in a dixie cup with a plastic fork so I could throw it away when I was done.
Add the above mixture to about 1 1/2 cups of latex paint and mix well.  Again - no lumps.  This will come out to a consistency of pudding.

I used this for all of the blue paint.  The DIY paint needs time to cure and scratches easily.  Some web sites said a week, some said a month.  The good news is that it is very forgiving when you patch over a scratch.  Don't know if this works well on all colors, but on this shade of blue you can't see where I have fixed a scratch.

I also needed 2 coats of the blue DIY Chalk paint.

Once I had all of the furniture painted, I wanted to stencil on it before I added the wax.  There are a lot of wonderful stencils that you can buy, but I wanted my furniture to be custom and unique to me.  Being a travel agent, I just had to do something that expressed that.  So, I finally came up with the lyrics to my husband's favorite song:  "And I think to myself, What a wonderful world"  It was just perfect.  We do live in a wonderful world and we should all travel as much as possible to see it!  Of course, this saying was not waiting for me at my local craft store so I used my very favorite craft tool, my Pazzles.  With a Pazzles, you can cut anything you want - any font, any picture, anything on your screen.  It allows you to be as creative as you want to be.  Here's a picture of my Pazzles:

It uses cutting mats like many of the other cutting machines, but it does not use cartridges.  I just love it!  If you are interested in learning more about this amazing machine, go to their web site:  http://pazzles.com/   They had lots of wonderful swirly patterns I could download, so I chose one, blew it up to the size I wanted and cut it out on my Pazzles.  I cut it out in a plastic stencil material so that I could use it over and over again and then stenciled it in a yellow chalk paint right over my beige.  I just purchased a little sample of yellow Valspar paint for about $3.00 at Lowes and used that, mixing it with my Plaster of Paris to make chalk paint.  For the lettering, I cut out my stencils in cardstock paper since I was only using them once.

We all learn from our mistakes, so of course I had to have one one on this project.  I had read that you can mix the Plaster of Paris with any paint to make chalk paint.  I did not find this to be true.  While I thought to buy the yellow latex paint, I did not buy the black paint.  I just used a very inexpensive craft acrylic paint from Walmart.  It went on beautifully, but when I added the wax over it....it smeared!  Yuck!  I had quite a little mess that I spent a lot of time trying to make it look better.  I ended up having to go over some of my lettering with the new black latex sample paint that I had to go and get.  My advise....only use latex paint.

After you get it painted, you will need to apply clear wax.  The clear wax is what protects the furniture.  I used 1-2 coats on the sides and 5-6 coats on the writing surfaces.  Again, this takes time to cure - any where between 7 days to a month.

The above photo shows the hutch before I applied the dark wax.  The photos below show it half done and completed with the dark wax.

Hints on applying wax:
Always use clear wax first.  It will not change the color of your paint, just make it look a little richer.  It does not have much of a sheen.  The dark wax is very dark and a little scary to apply, but the good news is that you can erase it by applying more clear wax to it.  That helps so much.  What I did was while my clear wax was still wet, I applied the dark wax on top of it and immediately began to wipe it off.  You can apply both of the waxes with either a wax brush or a soft cloth.  I used both methods.  When applying the clear wax, I put it on with a brush, rubbing in circles and then finishing with a stroke the same grain as the wood.  Then I wiped it off with a soft cloth.

You might notice that I no longer have my free standing desk.  I went to the hardware store and bought a 4x8 piece of cabinet grade plywood and had them cut it to the size that fit inside of my bookshelf.  Then, I used one of the lower pieces to anchor it on the other end.  I painted that one in the garage and added the stencils I cut out with my Pazzles to break up this long space.  I love having this giant work desk!

I cut out the "Come Sail Away" using Vinyl on my Pazzles.  It was fun choosing the font and having it look exactly the way I wanted.  I love this flexibility you get with the machine!  Did I say I love my Pazzles?  LOL

Next, I had to change out the curtain.  I wanted something that looked like flags or pennants.   What do you think?

To complete the look, I added a little more travel decor.  I had this chest in another room and just moved it in here and added other suitcases around it.
My next project is to scrapbook all of those squares in the window pane photo door.

Hope this helps you a little with your re-decorating plans!  Now it is time for me to get back to work and help you plan your next vacation.  We book crafting/scrapbooking/stamping/mixed-media cruises.  Visit our web site:  CruiseAndCrop to to on one of these cruises.  We have so many to choose from.  Or, if you just want to get away we handle all kinds of cruises as well as land packages.  Visit our other web site:  CruiseOne.com/gpastor

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Have you seen this? Bible Art Journaling

I have a new passion.  It is Bible Art Journaling.  I first found out about this when a good friend of mine was going to a class at her local scrapbooking store, Little Blue House in Texas.  Pat immediately texted me and told me that this is something that she thought I would enjoy.  The teacher of the class was Shanna Noel.  I did a little research and found out that she had a Facebook page called:  Journaling Bible Community and also another Facebook page under her new brand name called:   Illustrated Faith.  I could not believe what I was seeing.  There was such beauty of expression in each and every entry.  I wanted to try this, so I ordered a Journaling Bible on Amazon and got started.  I am not going to post my first attempts, but I think that with time, I have had a bit of improvement.  The cool thing about this is that it is an expression of how you are feeling about a particular passage and you just express it in the margins of the bible pages.  I was a bit afraid to put something wet such as paint on the thin pages, but was amazed that if you use the right products, you could get the desired results without ruining the back side of the paper.

Once I saw for myself how cool this was, I gave Shanna Noel a call and asked her if she would like to teach on one of our Cruise and Crop Cruises.  It did not take her but a few seconds to say:  Yes!  We are soooooo very excited that she will be cruising to Alaska in 2016 on a Cruise & Crop Cruise!  You can see all of the details on:  www.cruiseandcrop.com   Just click on "Cruises" and then you will see her listed as Illustrated Faith under our 2016 cruises.

Here's an example of what you can do.  I am currently going through a "Season".  I have parents who are in their 90's, children, grandchildren, a husband and a business.  Needless to say.......I am busy and often overwhelmed.   I took comfort in this passage that spoke of the Seasons we all go through.  There is a time for everything and I am embracing this wonderful time in my life that I am sure will be full of precious memories I will cherish for a lifetime.  I painted a spring and a fall tree on this page to show me that time does pass, but each season is beautiful in its own way.

Here's the products that I used:  First I prepped my page margins with Liquitex Matte Medium.  Then I used Gelatos to create the background behind the trees and also used Gelatos and colored pencils on the trees.  I also used a bit of acrylic paint, and of course, a little glitter.  I was going to leave the area with the scripture white, so that is why I did not prep that area.  However, in the creative process, I thought it needed a bit of color.  So, I used my Pan Pastels and rubbed a little color on with my fingers.  
To keep me from painting ALL of the pages of my bible, I put tucked a few of the subsequent pages into an 8x8 page protector to keep the rest of the bible clean.  That allowed me to paint right up to the edges of my page and brush my paint onto the plastic page without disturbing the underlying pages.

 As you can see, the back side of my page is perfectly clean.  It is ready for a new post whenever I feel inspired.
I used Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pen - Big Brush for the wording.  I was so pleased with this product as it did not bleed through the page.

I hope you enjoyed this and that you will plan on joining Shanna Noel of Illustrated Faith on her cruise to Alaska.  I am sure that you will be glad that you did!

If you want to know about other Cruise & Crop Cruises, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter on www.cruiseandcrop.com

Leave us a comment - How long have you been journaling in your Bible?  What are your favorite products?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Contest Winner

Congratulations to Laurie Jimenez - winner of our Social Media Hop contest.  Your travel journal will go out soon!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Last Minute Deals - Azamara Cruise Line

Check out these great last-minute deals from Azamara Club Cruises.
Call CruiseOne to book!  1-800-645-1481

To view these flyers larger, go here.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

It's a Boy! + Media Hop Contest

Thanks for hopping on over to our Blog for this special baby reveal and Social Media Hop Contest.

This contest is simple - all you have to do is leave a comment on one or more of our Social Media sites for a chance to win a travel journal from Cruise & Crop.  The more sites you comment on, the more chances you have to win.  But let's face it...the real prize here is seeing the baby!  And yes - I'm using my baby's cuteness to increase our Social Media followers.  Don't judge.

When you arrive on our Blog (this post), Facebook, Twitter or Instagram sites, look for a picture of Baby Landon (posted on 5/3/15) and leave your comment there.  Comments on other posts are always welcomed but will not count towards the contest.

FACEBOOK (Comment on Post)

TWITTER (Favorite or Re-Tweet)

INSTAGRAM (Comment on Picture)

Before you leave our blog - be sure to leave a comment below and tell us what your DREAM Cruise & Crop itinerary is (this counts as one contest entry).  And don't forget to subscribe to our blog if you haven't already.

You will need to have accounts with Facebook/Twitter/Instagram in order to participate.  The contest closes at mid-night on Sunday, May 10th {Mother's Day}.  Our winner will be announced on Monday, May 11th.

Now here is what you've been waiting for...my super cool, travel savvy new baby, Landon...all ready for vacation!

I can hear you now...."awwww."  :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Carnival Journeys

Introducing Carnival Journeys, A New Series of One-Of-A-Kind Longer Length Voyages Featuring Spectacular Ports Of Call And Special Onboard Experiences

Carnival Cruise Line has launched Carnival Journeys - a unique collection of nine-to-15-day seagoing adventures that kick off this fall and feature spectacular ports throughout the Caribbean, Central America, Hawaii and Mexico, along with unique shipboard experiences created especially for this one-of-a-kind cruise program.

Carnival Journeys is designed to provide guests with exciting new itinerary choices that will feature less traveled, more exotic ports of call. Carnival Journeys itineraries have been specifically designed for guests who are looking for a longer cruise vacation that will provide the opportunity to visit a wide variety of great destinations and more time to fully enjoy all of the features and facilities available on a selection of the line's newest and most innovative ships. Carnival Journeys cruises will also include exciting shipboard activities to provide a truly unique Carnival vacation experience.

Incredible Itineraries
Carnival Journeys will debut with an 11-day cruise aboard Carnival Dream from New Orleans to San Juan Oct. 4, 2015. The program will run through Nov. 27, 2016, encompassing 28 departures from eight convenient North American homeports including Los Angeles, Galveston, New Orleans, Miami, Port Canaveral, New York, Baltimore and San Juan. Cruises will operate either round-trip from these homeports or one-way between these ports and San Juan. The itineraries are unique and not available on any other cruise line. A detailed listing of all 28 Carnival Journeys sailings is available here. Additional Carnival Journeys sailings will be announced in the near future.

On Carnival Journeys, guests can experience and explore nearly 40 different tropical destinations, including less visited ports like Tobago, Grenada, La Paz, Martinique, Bonaire and Ixtapa, each home to diverse cultures, centuries-old landmarks and historical structures, and unforgettable natural attractions.
Memorable Activities
Carnival Journeys participants can also enjoy unique shipboard experiences that will be tailored to each itinerary in the areas of dining, entertainment, team member connections and enrichment, all infused with the line's spirited brand of fun. These experiences will include:
* Authentic Eats: Partnering with local restaurants and chefs, Carnival Journeys participants can enjoy on-board cooking demonstrations where these culinary artists will recreate their signature dishes and traditional cuisines from their country. Participants will also have an opportunity to dine at the chef's restaurant ashore for a nominal fee and accompany the chef as he or she visits local markets for delectable regional specialties.
* "Local"-tainment: From calypso, soca and Goombay to colorful folkloric entertainment, Carnival Journeys participants will get an up close and personal look at their destination through local entertainment performances taking place outside the ship or on board.
* Academy of Fun: Through these educational enrichment sessions, Carnival's shipboard experts will instruct guests in topics ranging from cooking and arts and crafts to digital photography and social media, even celestial navigation. All of these activities will be performed with the fun and entertaining style that only Carnival can provide.
* Throwback Sea Day: Carnival will set the "way back machine" to 1987 and recreate a fun day at sea with retro pool and deck games, old school dining options like Baked Alaska and the gala midnight buffet, a white glove Captain's Celebration, popular movies from that era, a circa 1987 version of the Carnival Capers shipboard newsletter, and more.
* Shipboard Team Member Connections: Here, Carnival Journeys participants can learn more about shipboard life through informative question and answer sessions hosted by the ship's captain, cruise director, hotel director and others, held at different times throughout the voyage and providing an opportunity to engage and interact with the Carnival team in a fun and casual setting. There will also be an unforgettable show performed by the ship's crew during the voyage.

"We have received a tremendous amount of feedback from our guests and travel agent partners about the importance of consistently offering new Carnival cruise experiences," said Christine Duffy, Carnival's president. "Carnival Journeys was created to offer our existing customers even more options while helping us to attract those guests who have not had the opportunity to sail with Carnival and may be enticed by these longer, more exotic itineraries. These new cruises also offer our valued travel agent partners a tremendous new sales opportunity and a great way to earn enhanced commissions based on the longer cruise duration," she added.

To book your next Carnival Cruise, contact us, Gail & Cheri of CruiseOne 1-800-645-1481.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

NEW Royal Caribbean Ship Announcement

Royal Caribbean International’s Ship Debuts April 2016

MIAMI, February 25, 2015 – Royal Caribbean International’s new generation Oasis-class ship, Harmony of the Seas, is set to launch in April 2016The third in the Oasis class of ships – currently the largest cruise ships in the world – will continue the award-winning cruise line’s philosophy of innovation and imagination to offer a unique vacation adventure for guests.

        “We are orchestrating a medley of new exciting concepts with the best Royal Caribbean innovations to strike the perfect chord for adventurous vacationers. That is why we are calling our third Oasis-class ship Harmony of the Seas,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. 

Harmony of the Seas, featuring the cruise line’s design of seven distinct neighborhoods for which Oasis class is known, will offer the most amazing collection of experiences, amenities and activities at sea. Guests can test their mettle on the ship’s three multi-story waterslides, all of which twist and turn over Central Park 10 decks below. One of the slides also will feature a champagne bowl that swirls guests around as they make their approach to the end of the ride.      
        “The Oasis class ships continue to astound and delight both new and experienced cruisers. They shatter preconceived notions of what cruising can be and continue to stand in a category by themselves,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “With Harmony of the Seas, we are making the most exciting experience at sea even better.” 

Harmony of the Seas also will feature a new Bionic Bar on the Royal Promenade.  The Bionic Bar was first introduced aboard Quantum of the Seas, and feature robot bartenders serving up one-of-a-kind crafted cocktails while dancing to a fluid beat. Additionally, guests onboard Harmony of the Seas will enjoy RFID technology with Royal WOWBands that provide them access to their staterooms as well as make onboard purchases and reservations.  Like her sisters, Harmony also will feature the fastest Internet connection at sea where guests can stream video; Skype with family and friends back at home; and share their vacation memories through social media instantly while at sea. 

While Oasis and Allure offered some of the largest staterooms in the fleet, on Harmony of the Seas the company has made some stateroom categories even larger.  Interior accommodations also will be outfitted with Royal Caribbean’s exclusive Virtual Balconies which offer a view in every stateroom, while single travelers will have studio stateroom choices. Suite guests also will have exclusive new areas to enjoy, from a well-appointed suite lounge and a private suites-only restaurant called Coastal Kitchen to an exclusive full-service Suite Sun Zone sun deck. 

Younger and young-at-heart guests can take a spin on the handcrafted carousel or enjoy a new classic games arcade on the ship’s Boardwalk neighborhood. While parents enjoy the newly relocated Starbucks cafĂ© on the Boardwalk, kids can meet new friends at a new climbing play area. 

Royal Caribbean’s Dynamic Dining will give Harmony of the Seas’ guests a culinary experience as vast and varied as dining in the world’s most cosmopolitan cities with more choice and flexibility than ever before. Those preferring a more traditional cruise dining style may select the “Classic” option which will offer two set seating times. Dynamic Dining’s “Classic” option allows guests to rotate through each of the main complimentary restaurants at an early- or a late-seating time throughout their cruise with their dining group and the same assigned waiter each evening. 

New specialty restaurant concepts will provide even more variety for guests including Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, with a new teppanyaki menu, and the Sabor Modern Mexican restaurant. The new Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine will give guests the chance to experience a unique culinary adventure for the senses when Royal Caribbean chefs twist their culinary kaleidoscopes in a whimsical setting that challenges the imagination with never-before-seen fare. 

Harmony of the Seas will span 16 decks, encompass 227,000 gross registered tons, carry 5,479 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,747 staterooms. The Oasis class is an architectural marvel touting Royal Caribbean’s exclusive seven neighborhood concept, including Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone. For more information about Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships, please visit Royal Caribbean Press Center

With Quantum-class ships Anthem of the Seas (launching in April 2015 in Southampton, U.K.) and Ovation of the Seas (debuting in April 2016), Harmony of the Seas will be Royal Caribbean’s third new ship to launch throughout the next 18 months. Itineraries for Ovation of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas will be announced this March. 

Royal Caribbean International is an award-winning global cruise brand with a 45-year legacy of innovation and introducing industry “firsts” never before seen at sea.  The cruise line features an expansive and unmatched array of features and amenities only found on Royal Caribbean including, jaw-dropping, Broadway-style entertainment and industry-acclaimed programming that appeals to families and adventurous vacationers alike. 

Cruise & Crop is proud to offer so many craft-cruise options on Royal Caribbean's ships.  See a full list of our cruises by going here.

Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE/OSE: RCL), the cruise line sails 22 of the world’s most innovative cruise ships to the most popular destinations in Bermuda and the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska, South America, the Far East, and Australia and New Zealand.  World renowned for its friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service, delivered by every staff and crew member, Royal Caribbean has been voted “Best Cruise Line Overall” for 12 consecutive years in the Travel Weekly Readers.